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What men get wrong about masculinity Half-hearted books about manhood don't know who to blame

The victims of masculinity are not all men. Credit: Francois Nel/Getty Images

The victims of masculinity are not all men. Credit: Francois Nel/Getty Images


February 18, 2021   5 mins

People have been talking about a “crisis of masculinity” since at least the 1980s, which means that masculinity has been doing its nut for roughly as long as I’ve been alive. Despite all that gender angst, men continue to hold more power, earn more money and do less unpaid domestic labour than women — who, it follows, hold less power, earn less money and do more than their share of the unpaid domestic labour, because someone’s going to have to pick up around here.

But masculinity takes its toll on men. Most glaringly, there’s the suicide rate. In his new book You Are Not the Man You Are Supposed to Be: Into the Chaos of Modern Masculinity, author Martin Robinson describes this as “an orange flare in the night sky, illuminating a heaving ocean of self-harm, addiction, eating disorders, violence and anti-social behaviour”. In England and Wales, three quarters of those who died by suicide in 2019 were male — a trend which has been consistent since the mid-1990s. That’s a horrifying 4,303 men, in just one year.

And there’s more. Robinson lists the stats: “95% of prisoners are male, 86% of homeless people, 73% of deaths from drug misuse.” Some of these figures are not quite as clear cut as suggested, thanks to a data gap that consistently under-measures women (female homelessness, for example, is often hidden in official figures). But nevertheless it’s true that some men pay a hell of a price for masculinity.

Yet the informal man code requires that men accept this suffering without complaint. Robert Webb put the predicament vividly in his own memoir-slash-dissection-of-manhood, How Not to Be a Boy: “if you want a vision of masculinity,” he wrote, “imagine Dr Frankenstein being constantly bum-raped by his own monster while shouting, ‘I’m fine, everyone! I’m absolutely fine!’”

Robinson is neither imprisoned, nor homeless, nor addicted (although he does make a point of mentioning just how many of his encounters over the course of reporting this book took place drunk, wasted or straight-up pissed; the use of booze as a solvent for male reticence is one trope of masculinity that isn’t getting reassessed here). He lives with his partner and their two children, and until 2016, he was a magazine journalist; in 2018, he launched the website The Book of Man, with a self-defined brief to “open up the possibilities by questioning masculinity”. You Are Not the Man You Are Supposed To Be is the book-form version of that mission.

Whose benefit is all this questioning for, though? Robinson notes that the audience at one of his many “events encouraging men to talk” is “as ever” made up of almost completely women. Most reviewers of Webb’s book were female, and here I am, female also, writing about Robinson’s. Women, it seems, feel compelled to understand men — to do the emotional picking-up. And while there is certainly a male market for introspection, the success of Jordan Peterson shows that there’s an even bigger one for hearing that maleness has been cruelly traduced.

Peterson tells men that their problems lie, not with masculinity itself, but with a society that fails to value masculinity properly. For Robinson, masculinity is the problem. He sets up the ideal of manhood in his chapter headings — “in control”, “one of the lads”, “hard”, “ripped”, “straight”, “the breadwinner” — and then tries to understand why aspiring to this role hasn’t made him happy. His explorations take him to men’s groups, to a cage fight and to a drag queen who paints him up in full femme mode (Robinson is disappointed to discover that this does not unleash an inner reservoir of campy wit).

Robinson is interested in how gender stereotypes make men unhappy. He is less curious about what they do to women. We’re halfway through the book before he mentions the problem of male violence against women, and three quarters before the wage gap comes up. A discussion of domestic abuse focuses on men and boys as unrecognised sufferers, but elides the fact that, while female perpetrators do exist, most perpetrators are men whatever the sex of their victims.

One of feminism’s perpetual battles is the insistence that to address violence, we must “name the agent”. That means rejecting passive constructions like “woman killed”, which suggest some inevitable and impersonal force at play, and instead use formulations such as “man kills woman”, identifying both the human source of the violence and the fact that committing it is a voluntary act. When Robinson baulks at naming the agent, it’s hard to resist the suspicion that his interest is less in solving the problems masculinity causes, and more in repositioning men as an afflicted class deserving of sympathy.

It’s right to sympathise with men, as it’s right to sympathise with anyone, but doing so is not a radical reframing of gender politics. It is usual for male subjectivity to take centre stage (the philosopher Kate Manne calls this phenomenon “himpathy”). The flow of feeling from women to men is one of the mass transfers of resources ensured by men’s social dominance, and if Robinson had read much feminism, he would perhaps have come across that concept.

In fact, he seems hardly to have engaged with feminism at all — there are cursory mentions of de Beauvoir and Butler, but that’s as far as it goes. And this is very strange, because masculinity and femininity exist in relation to each other. When feminists address the state of women, they write about men because it would be impossible not to. Yet women barely figure in Robinson’s book, which suggests he is less willing to leave the strictures of masculinity than might be hoped.

When it comes to the vexed issue of gender identity which has lately ripped feminism in two, he has a splendid obliviousness to the detail that I can only envy. At one excruciating point he announces that “the trans community should be worshipped as the ultimate humans, for showing the rest of us how it’s done”. This is embarrassing for everyone, including trans people, who surely do not want the burden of sainthood.

The most curious thing about gender is that while its outward forms can be flexible, its function rarely is. There have been many versions of being a man, ranging across history and geography; but however masculinities differ, they share the property of dominance over femininity, and that dominance ensures the flow of goods (power, property, reproductive labour, sex, compassion) from women to men.

If men want to stop the Frankenstein of masculinity from committing its daily violations, they need to start by admitting that this monster was made for a reason. In 1980, philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards put the matter with perfect clarity in her book The Sceptical Feminist:

“What, for instance, must be happening if an employer passes over a competent woman in favour of a less competent man? It means that the job will be less well done, and therefore (to put it schematically) that he will be losing money by appointing the man. Why should he do that? He is actually willing to pay for something or other, and it is hard to see what it could possibly be other than the simple cause of male supremacy.”

Some men are paying a hell of a price for masculinity. That price is the cost of dominance. (Of course, the class system and racism help to ensure those prices aren’t borne evenly.) Robinson says towards the end that men must “cede power for parity with others”, and deserves credit for that; he’d deserve more credit if he outlined exactly how that might happen.

Advocates for women’s rights have always known that attaining justice for their sex meant giving up the illusory securities of feminine subordination. Men who want to break the constraints of masculinity similarly have to embrace the losses, as well as the gains. Books like Robinson’s will be half-hearted so long as they are only seeking a version of masculinity with the sharp edges worn off. Men can have their new version of manhood: it starts, not with a glorious expression of pent-up emotion, but with cleaning their own bathrooms.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Unless there is such a thing as reincarnation I will never know what it feels like to be a man. However, I had a father, grandfather, uncles, partner, have a brother, son, cousins, friends and I hope I have learnt something from them.

What I think I have learnt :

Men tend to be bigger, stronger, more forceful, practical, less emotional on the surface, and enjoy ‘fighting’ in all it’s manifestations, whether that’s war, sport, any city on a Saturday night out of lockdown, politics or philosophising. And they need each other, they need to be with other men.

If there is a “crisis in masculinity” in the West I don’t think it is Sarah Ditum’s feminist version. Feminism may have something to do with it certainly, but feminism itself I think is neurotic, and probably a ‘crisis in femininity’ for them. Both are in response to social change driven by economics and technology, rather than some inevitable righting of ancient wrongs of the Left Liberal imagination.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

‘Unless there is such a thing as reincarnation I will never know what it feels like to be a man.’

A good point. However, for anyone who would like an insight into the next best thing, could I recommend Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent (London: Atlantic Books, 2006).

An American woman journalist, wanting to know what men were like when no women were present, successfully disguised herself as a man, and over the course of a year or so lived in several very different social settings (mostly all-male, some male-dominated). This included a bowling club, high-pressure sales, a men’s group, a monastery. It included trying chat women up, and indeed dating women. All successfully passing as a man.

Without giving too much away, one major result was that she ended up much more sympathetic to the male condition, and felt ashamed with herself for the prejudices and preconceptions she had previously harboured about men.

It’s a fascinating read, and I think it goes to the real-life heart of human experience more vividly than any number of partisan essays and studies.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Excellent book. What is so sour about this article is the derisory casting of masculinity and femininity (note, never defined explicitly) in purely gendered negative terms. There is no let up, it is an attack from a purely monist perspective, embracing the rhetorical strategy of ressentiment hence; “If men want to stop the Frankenstein of masculinity from committing its daily violations, they need to start by admitting that this monster was made for a reason.”

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

I agree, the piece seems to start from a preconceived position, from the comfort of which it does not aspire to rise.

I don’t understand the bit about the Frankenstein’s monster, I’m afraid.

Similarly with: ‘Men who want to break the constraints of masculinity similarly have to embrace the losses, as well as the gains.’

What constraints? What gains? What losses?

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

All monsters are made for a reason. And that reason is always: to avoid having to view the “monster” as a person.

stensworld
stensworld
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

A really brave writer.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Thanks for the reminder, William Conde. Meant to read it years ago – just ordered and looking forward to a good read!

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

A good series of observations. ‘Fighting’ would also need to be separated from assertiveness – for example, when in debates or engaged in argumentation.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I gave you “thumbs up”. It seems that this is the only way one can know who is upvoting.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
3 years ago

Can you imagine an article titled. “What women get wrong about femininity” written by a man?

David Stanley
David Stanley
3 years ago

Yes, there’s countless articles like that all over the internet.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Apologies, I did not see your post before firing off mine. Great minds etc 🙂

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

But they are not generally published in actual media outlets, with professional staff who have jobs to worry about, and a resultant editorial policy.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

Was just about to write the very same thing.
I imagine along with several dozen more people!
The double standards keep piling up. The Guardian ran a piece a week or so ago, titled: “I loved the low-key thrill of flirting, until lockdown killed it off” – (I seem not to be allowed to link to it)
The article was about flirting, written from a woman’s perspective, and was perfectly fine. It wasn’t especially well-written but I have no problem with it.
EXCEPT, … what rankles is that if EXACTLY the same article was written by a man he would have been excoriated by the Guardian, the article held up as prima facie evidence of “toxic masculinity” and social media would have organised a campaign to see the author cancelled before the ink was dry on the copy.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Sorry my comment has replaced yours at the top, I’d have preferred it if yours had remained the first to be read.

(I miss being able to see who has upticked who, it has removed quite an important element of communication on here.)

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Re:”…see who has upticked…”-many people read, and up or down tick, but rarely post-they are an important part of the UnHerd community, and leads me to wonder if the bureaucrats that instituted this change ever actually visit or read UnHerd, much less contribute. They should be sacked.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thumbs up.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Ladies first

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

You old dinosaur…thumbs up.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I tend to think up and downvoting poses some problems in general. It can lead opinion as much as it can follow it. I enjoy the endorphin rush it gives, but without it people would have no choice but to read and make up their own minds.

My longtime personal policy has been to upvote only, never downvote. If I have something negative to say, I’d rather just say it. If I don’t want to say it, then I’ll keep my mouth shut. But I don’t think it’s healthy to play Roman emperor at the colosseum.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

Or what black people get wrong about being black – written by a white man.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Thumbs up.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago

A quick thought experiment. Would a white man get away with writing an article entitled: What women get wrong about femininity?
If not, then you don’t need to read this article. You can tell the social mess we are in just from this difference.
Someone said that if you want to see who has power in society, observe who you are not allowed to criticise.

Last edited 3 years ago by Vikram Sharma
David Adams
David Adams
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

So this all takes place in private? It must do, because it’s rightly not permitted in the public sphere, whether in respectable written journalism, broadcast media, and certainly academia.

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Why specifically ‘white’ men?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Because it’s socially acceptable, and therefore safe, for bigots to target this group. People need to release their inner fascist somehow.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

Because the author of the comment is a racist and a sexist.

robboschester
robboschester
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Do you read the newspapers? Perhaps not. This comment is typical of the current tropes which have women as being completely dominated by men and in need of removing the supposed shackles. That may once have been the case, but has not been so for a long time. Utter tripe.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Your comment is a puzzle.
Do you mean what you say ?
Are you living under threatening circumstances ?
Or are you just repeating stuff you’ve read ?
“White men don’t have to write articles”, well some do actually in order to make enough money to pay for a home and food to eat.
“they get to tell women . .etc”, well not me I can tell you and not any of the women I know. Who are these mysterious downtrodden women of yours ? Have you been watching the box set of The Handmaid’s Tale and got yourself all worked up over a fantasy ?
I’d get outside in the fresh air as much as you can and try and remain in the real world.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Quite the racist post, dripping with misandry.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Thumbs up.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago

because someone’s going to have to pick up around here.

That’s just it, though. No, someone does not have to pick up around here. At least, not as often as women think. Men who live alone occasionally clean, yes, because eventually they reach a point where the mess is making them miserable. But by the time they get to that point, they have long since passed the point where a woman would have thrown up her hands, forgotten all about gender equality and started tidying up.
You end up doing the work, because you want it done more than we want it done. Deal with it.
If it makes you feel any better, there are situations where the shoe is on the other foot. I expect men will always do most of the work of courting, for instance, because while men and women both want sex, men want it more. And a lot of men complain endlessly about the unfairness of that too, but, well, what can you do? It’s how things are.

David Stanley
David Stanley
3 years ago

I couldn’t agree more. Every relationship I’ve been in I’ve heard the woman complain that if she didn’t do x, y or z it wouldn’t get done. My response has invariably been ‘yes, because I couldn’t care less about it. I’m not forcing you to do it, you’re choosing to do it’.
They then moan and whine that they’ve had to do everything as if they’re living under some Draconian dictatorship. It’s like me saying to my wife ‘I have to play video games and watch football because if I don’t do it it won’t get done’. Then I go online and say that men are forced into playing video games and watching football because women refuse to do their fair share!!!!!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

You might want to sleep with one eye open from now on 🙂

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Thumbs up.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

No, men don’t want sex more than women do, because evolution won’t let them. Any woman who didn’t like sex would be out- bred by any woman who liked sex more, for obvious reasons. The desire for sex must be as strong in women as men.

But women are more choosy about their partners, because in a state of nature, the woman who can attract the best mate improves the chances that her offspring will survive.

So the difference between the sexes has less to do with the strength of their desires, and more to do with the kind of mating strategies that work best for them. Women have to control their desires more, and many people mistakenly attribute this to lack of desire. Feminists, of course, claim that It’s “The patriarchy” that does it.

As if restraining female sexual desire was a huge male plot to….Do what Exactly?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Unlikely to be just a difference of strategy. Being more choosy requires you to decide ‘no’ more often, and wait for a better time or a better man. Peak desire may be the same, but average desire would not be.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good point. And then women have more opportunity to decide if a relationship will become sexual. The average women could have any number of partners, the average man, certainly fewer simply because many fewer women will choose an average man.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Also a woman always know that their offspring are their own. it is estimated that up to 105 – 15% of men are unknowingly bring up children that are not their own.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

Spot on – and of course everybody knows this really. And there is an opportunity cost. If women really do spend as much time on housework as feminists claim they do, that’s a shockingly awful waste of time.
Just to add – most of the “emotional labour” women are supposed to expend is expended on other women. Just ask anybody who works in a female dominated workplace. Telling your male partner what a bad day you’ve had with those b++ches at work is not emotional labour!

Adam Wolstenholme
Adam Wolstenholme
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

If women really do spend as much time on housework as feminists claim they do, that’s a shockingly awful waste of time.
Yes. Men have lower standards for tidiness in the home. I think both sexes would be happier if we acknowledged that. I suspect a lot of men wouldn’t mind if women did a bit less housework. Better off slobbing on the sofa together rather than having a woman resentfully hoovering up around you and blaming the patriarchy.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

I live in a all male household and I can vouch for that

J. Hale
J. Hale
3 years ago

An anthropology professor once commented that modern humans are descended from men who liked to fight and women who loved babies. The men who liked to fight killed off the men who didn’t, and the women who didn’t love their babies saw their genes for maternal apathy die along with their children. A couple centuries of the industrial revolution and a few decades of feminism are not enough to change these genetic tendencies.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  J. Hale

Seems to me the men who liked to fight mostly killed other men who liked to fight.

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

If I were a man who liked to fight, I would try to find men who didn’t want to fight, and fight them. I wouldn’t go near men who liked to fight; that would be scary.

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Hartley

It’s an evolutionary miracle that you’re here at all.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Wilson

No, it is civilizational.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Wilson

Thumbs up.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Wilson

Then again, if someone fought regardless of the odds, they’d be killed off sooner than someone who fought only if they had thought about whether they could win or not. So evolution would favour people who were willing to fight, but thought about it, rather than ones that mindlessly fought for the hell of it.
Not that things would seem that way most Saturday nights where I grew up.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

A pint and a fight, a Great British night! (credit to Viz magazine of many years ago for that line)

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Over here it would be a “John the Wayne” night (credit to John MacDonald). Thumbs up.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Hartley

I’m not a man who likes to fight, but I am a man who likes to argue. I think it’s a fair proxy. So I seek out people who like to argue. It’s not usually the case that I say “I like to argue” and they say “I also like to argue, let’s argue”. No, I can tell them by the fact that they are always getting into arguments. They aren’t always honest with themselves about their love of arguing. In fact they usually aren’t. They explain it typically in terms of “I am right, and I am doing a great service by battling anyone who is wrong. You’re all welcome!” But the truth is they like to argue, and aren’t being honest with themselves. This causes difficulties in keeping their arguing in perspective.

Sometimes I find myself arguing with someone who genuinely doesn’t like to argue. By the time I discover this it’s too late, and feelings have been hurt. But I don’t like arguing with those people, and try to avoid it as much as possible. But it’s not that common a mistake, as they don’t often go around picking arguments, and thus fly below my radar.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Do you prefer the five minute or ten minute argument, Charles?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

That was never five minutes.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

No you’re not.

Last edited 3 years ago by Mike Boosh
James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Hartley

I like to fight.
But I never fight fair.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Thumbs up.

Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

That way they became dominant. When it came to the courtship and sex bit, those men who avoided combat simply didn’t get access to females. Darwin wrote a book about the principle.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

You are thinking bar room brawls perhaps?
But the power and money is not made in bar room brawls.
Women like power and money.

T B
T B
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Actually, most women don’t need power and money from men. We have our own.

Last edited 3 years ago by T B
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  T B

Some women do, some do not. But there do seem to be a number of successful women who can’t find a mate because they don’t want to settle for someone who makes less.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Mass migrations and slaughter have taken place through out human history. Genghis Khan may have killed 40M. The rise of Shaka Zulu in the early 1800s was due to mass tribal migration and slaughter.
The unpleasant truth is that much of human history is based upon flight and fighting.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

men continue to hold more power, earn more money and do less unpaid domestic labour than women

They also are more likely to die younger, go to prison, be homeless and do the vast majority of low-paid physical labour.
There is a spectrum and men occupy each end of it in greater numbers than women.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Don’t forget WAR
”The Father of all things “

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Soon to become the Mother of all things.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thumbs up.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Men tend to start the wars as well.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Well…with many men going full trans, perhaps the stats will even out a little…

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Men don’t spend more money. Most money is spent by women.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Well, if mrs. Ditum were not so biased, she would have cared to notice a remarkable statement from one of her fellow feminists – Camille Paglia: “There is no female Hitler, for the very same reason that there is no female Einstein”.
It has always been about priorities. And character.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

This is a bit misleading. Men tend to die younger because they take more risks that women do not take. This is why men pay more for car insurance, they’re more likely to die in car accidents. You’ll rarely see women riding motorcycles well over the speed limit or drag racing. They also drink and smoke at higher rates,
And men go to prison more because they commit more crimes. I don’t necessarily agree that men tend to do the vast majority of low paid labor. Teaching, for example, is a heavily female profession, and at the lower levels is also heavily female.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Men also have shorter lifespans because they do the dangerous and dirty work that keeps women and children fed, as the pandemic has shown.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Teaching is a well paid job at all levels

Nikita Kubanovs
Nikita Kubanovs
3 years ago

I normally have nothing but praise for the things written on Unherd but this along with the book she is talking about is pure and utter garbage. The book comes from a man who condemns masculinity wholesale?? I wonder if there are any women out there who are taken seriously if they condemn femininity? And then this article written by someone who understands men about as much as I understand quantum physics. You’ve got a case of the blind leading the blind here.
Masculinity and femininity are both neither good nor bad, they simply are. Our challenge is what we do about our nature in a modern world, which to me is a key reason why Peterson is so popular, whether he is correct, I’m not sure, but atleast he actually provides some answers.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Thumbs up.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Buzz word after buzz word all the throw away words that mean nothing any more.
How would you know what it is to be a man?
All my adult like it’s been about female empowerment and feminism and suddenly men are saying what about us?
The world you live in may be men putting down and getting one over on women but they may be your class but as a working class man at the bottom of the heap there are many women above me and so what? Someone has to be in charge.
Being discriminated against? you don’t know the half of it because you are one of the right people, female, and we are just men

Alys Williams
Alys Williams
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Well said my man. Time for men to stand up against women and for feminists to back off from denigrating men at every turn.. We’d be buggered without you building stuff, mending cars, fixing boilers and all those useful sorts of things. Dunno when I last saw a woman standing at the side of the road in freezing rain laying pipes or fixing burst water mains. Men do the heavy lifting in life – literally while women too often stand on the sidlines snipinp.
Well said my man. Time for men to stand up against women and for feminists to back off from denigrating men at every turn.. We’d be buggered without you building stuff, mending cars, fixing boilers and all those useful sorts of things. Dunno when I last saw a woman standing at the side of the road in freezing rain laying pipes or fixing burst water mains. Men do the heavy lifting in life – literally – while women too often stand on the sidlines sniping.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alys Williams
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Thumbs up.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

They actually just “red-flagged” me for posting too quickly! Do these proctors have any idea how badly they’ve done with these truly awful changes?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago

Why don’t all these people who obsess about gender difference (and all the other identity groups) just get over it. Write about something useful and less divisive instead.
Most people moved on years ago, time to catch up.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Indeed… one of the best adverts I ever saw on a bus.

Some people are gay. Get over it.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

Reminded me of the excellent Atheist bus slogan …
There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” 

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The “probably” part should give one pause…eh?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

Thumbs up.-red flagged again-actually ordered to slow down!

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Thumbs up.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago

I don’t even know what you want anymore Sarah. Do you want “more power, earn more money and do less unpaid domestic labour”, but by changing what is necessary to obtain those things, rather than by changing yourself to get them? I think that one has to do what one has to do to get such things.
I am a man. I think it’s great. If you want to compete with me, compete with me in the open. If you don’t, then don’t. I’m a scientist. I’m a really good one, so I’m associated with multiple high prestige institutions. That’s mostly because I was born with high ability and drive to succeed. I had to work very hard to succeed though, because everyone else successful in my field was born with high ability and drive. If you want to compete with me, you’ll need to work really really hard, and not have much time for anything else. If your kids are taking up your time you’ll have less time for work, because I don’t have any kids. Kids are a luxury my very difficult life has not afforded me. You won’t have much time to discuss things, you’ll need to be working. I work for a government lab and for politcal reasons women are given priority for promotion at the moment, although funnily enough it doesnt seem to have affected my own career trajectory. If my boss wants a result i obtain it for him and that appears to work very well.
I’m also a victim of serious physical violence inflicted by a woman. Frankly I think that was great too compared to what preceded it, which was a lot of hidden, deniable psychological violence and nonsense. That was much, much worse. That has really wasted my time. The physical violence was undeniable so I was able to escape from that situation. It still hasn’t been reported to the police. They even attended the scene but she smarmed her way out of it while I was injured and in too much distress to defend myself. She did it because she was jealous and controlling. So I really don’t have a lot of time for hearing about how tough women have it. I’m sympathetic to feminism in a general way, and I do find that at least some femnist women are more honest and less prone to being manipulative.
But I’m just not buying any of this anymore. Talk talk talk. If you want to work, then work, make the sacrifices and we’ll compete on the results. I’ve got women colleagues who do just that. And indeed they successfully compete, some of them preform better than me. But they don’t talk so much. They are busy doing what they must to get what they want. If that is a sort of professional “masculinity” then so be it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Colin Colquhoun
Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

Yes. It’s interesting that the world needs to change to allow women in where they are deemed downtrodden, but when men’s problems are (unusually) identified it is they who need the change. Heaven knows feminists can’t possibly need to change. It’s quite astonishing that an article beginning with all of the significant issues affecting men quickly turns into how that impacts women.

Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones
3 years ago

Honestly, a lot of them have no idea what they want and/or they want a bunch of things that contradict each other and change from moment to moment.
At my office we had two women slightly younger than me (25/30), one of whom is smart, the other dumb as a bag of rocks. The latter in particular would frequently talk about how everything in the world was harassment including but not limited to being catcalled in the street.
When summer came we all decided to walk down the road and have lunch. It was the first day they’d decided to wear shorts (informal office because tech company). On the way, a jeep with three young attractive college guys drove past and the guys waved and whistled at them. Both of them laughed and waved back and then danced round in giddy delight because they’d been noticed.
I am so glad I’m gay.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
3 years ago

Am I unique in being a male and not feeling as if I’m in crisis ? Actually being male is great. I’m not going to apologise for it. A lot of traditional Male things are fun, like pubs and sport and not having to to get all emotional over trivial things.

Frankly I’m bored with women telling me where I’m getting it wrong and then spend all their time complaining that they don’t have a life like a mans, or even better trying to ape it.

Men do bad things and that’s wrong, but I’m not going to be judged by their failings. Why should I be?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Thumbs up.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago

“Despite all that gender angst, men continue to hold more power, earn more money and do less unpaid domestic labour than women — who, it follows, hold less power, earn less money and do more than their share of the unpaid domestic labour”. Not your generation Sarah, where women earn more than men, attain higher levels of education and benefit from hugely funded initiatives to promote them in traditionally male STEM subjects.
Men of older generations are expected, by women, to provide for them yet employment opportunities to do so are insufficient, hence high rates of suicide amongst middle aged men. Meanwhile, younger generations of men and boys receive no virtually no funding or research into raising educational standards and male teachers in traditionally female younger years education are diminishing in number with no effort made to address the problem.
Analysing cultural issues has little value. By avoiding tangible structural realities you may get paid for what you write but you’re not going to improve anything.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jonathan Ellman
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Thumbs up.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

No offense, but what they get wrong is listening to women on the matter. Then, having been burned by a vision of ideal perfect-world masculinity as defined by what women think they want on a conscious level they turn in the complete opposite direction. And then they become monsters.

We need to define it for ourselves, and you need to trust us to do that. Just as you need to define femininity for yourselves, and we need to trust you to do that. Because neither of us comes of age knowing all there is to know about what we like and respond to. Each gender knows secrets about the other that we cannot know ourselves.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Very insightful comment.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Robinson is interested in how gender stereotypes make men unhappy. He is less curious about what they do to women.
Has there been a shortage of books exploring the feminine condition? How nice of the author to femme-splain to the man how, in writing about other men, he did it wrong. There is a joke in there somewhere, though it’s not likely Sarah was trying to make one.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thumbs up.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

‘ … the success of Jordan Peterson shows that there’s an even bigger one for hearing that maleness has been cruelly traduced. Peterson tells men that their problems lie, not with masculinity itself, but with a society that fails to value masculinity properly.’

I have watched quite a lot of Peterson on the internet in various forums such as teaching, interviews, public debates.

From what I have seen, his message is absolutely not that men should mope around feeling that society is undervaluing them, but rather that they should take responsibility for themselves and make a valuable contribution to the world. Then, and only then, should they expect respect and success in life.

Peterson’s message – especially for young men, who make up the majority of his audiences – is that it is a failure to take responsibility for one’s actions that renders existence meaningless. Sitting around feeling sad that society isn’t nice enough to you is no part of what he says.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

I think you are right – but there is also an element of “look, will you just get off these poor guys backs and let them get on with their lives”.

stensworld
stensworld
3 years ago

Does the author realise that after all that, she ends the piece giving exactly the same advice as Jordan Peterson. First tidy your room. ?

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  stensworld

Brilliantly well spotted

Tobias Olds
Tobias Olds
3 years ago
Reply to  stensworld

I suspect she intentionally put that line in as an ironic jab at what she perceives as the authors self-pitying, self-victimising mindset.

John James
John James
3 years ago

It’s disappointing th Junat whenever men start to try to discuss masculinity, there will be women telling them to shut up as they’re doing it wrong. Quite often accompanied by statements along the line of “Most CEOs are men so you’re doing just fine”. Even if you’re that quiet, lonely single bloke in his 50s in your firm’s accounts department, that keeps to himself and no one knows much about. There’s usually more than one.

I don’t think we can argue that our formal, institutional and structured spaces are dominated by men. Or that too often public spaces are made scary by men. But our social and family spaces are dominated by women – they should take half a step back to allow men to work out what masculinity means in that context.

Last edited 3 years ago by John James
David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  John James

I was with you until you mentioned the accounts department!

Stewart Slater
Stewart Slater
3 years ago

“Don’t feel sorry for men, feel sorry for women instead”. What about we just stop wanting people to feel sorry for us, and got on with things?

Last edited 3 years ago by Stewart Slater
stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Stewart Slater

Thumbs up.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Stewart Slater

It’ll never catch on.

Nancy Corby
Nancy Corby
3 years ago

Once again Sarah Ditum reveals that she has not read Jordan Peterson, with the possible exception of a glance at a couple of quotes (and those probably taken entirely out of context, as is usually the case when observers make passing comments about the man without taking the time to se what he has ACTUALLY said). Sarah would do herself an enormous favour – SERIOUSLY, Sarah – if she took a sabbatical from journalism and read (properly!) a couple of Jordan Peterson’s academic papers. Better still, that sabbatical could be profitably spent watching a hundred hours or so of the many mesmerisingly articulate videos that Jordan Peterson has had online for the benefit of his students for decades, now. She really, really, really needs to learn more about the man upon whom she passes these ridiculously incorrect comments.

Last edited 3 years ago by Nancy Corby
Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 years ago

Ha ha.

Guardian-level bollocks.

There isn’t some uniform culture of ‘masculinity’ imposed on all men. The stand-out feature of the current culture is how fragmentary it is. Many men are probably just looking for some sense of direction in an anomic, atomized world..
& underlying biological impulses don’t change, despite being manifest culturally in various forms. We wear kilts traditionally in Scotland, but that doesn’t mean that we’re ”’ challenging gEnDER RooOles””

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
3 years ago

Why, as a man at least, it’s much better to remain single in the modern world. I do all my housework when I feel it needs to be done. This might be later than a woman mjight feel it needs to be done, but it gets done, and I would rather by 1000 times suffer the odd misplaced sock on the floor than a lifetime of ‘negotiating’ housework, or second-guessing when someone else thought it must be done. And with dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and the like, it’s really not that much work anyway.
Soooo much wrong with the pre-suppositions in the article that are so widely held by so many women, until we run out of cheap energy, or go to war, it’s hard to see deeply respectful relations between men and women returning. This is not altogether something to be demoralised about, it’s a function of the technological liberation from the hardship that would have made the virtues you list as masculine abundantly clear. I suspect there were many men of yore out building stone walls in the freezing pissing rain, Chopping firewood with blunt axes, with bad backs and trench foot, that would have gladly swapped their other half that was of necessity keeping the fire burning and looking after the house he had neither the time or energy to manage, for the modern conveniences that have replaced my requirement for a woman to run my home.
The logical end to feminism appears to me to be separation of the sexes and my experience tells me men are much better at living independently – if they have never gone through a divorce – than women. But good luck to you.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Prior
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

feminism has rendered itself into being a cauldron of confusion. There remains the man-hating wing but now, there is the trans movement and the existential threat to womanhood that it poses.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I sort of agree with you. The only hope perhaps is that feminism goes so far that there is an eventual masculine backlash. Perhaps there will come a time when men are considered to be so low that the all-women government will attempt to disenfranchise them – war will begin.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Chris, I don’t think it will be any dramatic showdown. The backlash triggered by feminism has been on for quite a while already, in the form of this unprecedented distancing/disconnection that I suspect will cost humanity quite a lot.
Rather than achieving the intended power gains, the feminist movement has been creating an aversion for contact with flesh&blood women that is quite risky. Too much reliance is being placed on sexual interest to ultimately drive men back towards women, regardless of how badly the feminist behaviour puts men off.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thumbs up.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thumbs up.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I actually don’t think it is two things. They don’t hate trans women for being trans. They hate them for being men. As the rhetoric of most TERFs makes clear.
they just didn’t realise that if a man puts on a frock, you’re not allowed to hate him any more.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
3 years ago

Newsflash to the author: most men are different from most women in many ways, including a desire to take charge in dangerous situations (see “manliness” by the aptly named political philosopher Harvey Mansfield at Harvard) – Mansfield notes that Margaret Thatcher had this quality in spades.
Men also like to play and work rough (again, on average compared to women) and the most crucial task of any society is to instruct little boys in the habits of virtue and gentlemanliness. In a world of little boys being raised without fathers to model and insist on fairness (“fight fair! Don’t go near the eyes”), we have chaos in many inner cities (my hometown of Chicago eg) in which little boys join gangs to learn the “virtues” of manliness.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Pearse
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

It is about self control. Fairbairn and Sykes taught the brutal hand to hand combat. Fairbairn had up to 600 fights with the Triads in Shanghai and his body was covered in wounds.Men and women used the skills in combat. Those who were selected and trained had the emotional maturity and responsibility to know when to use it. Since 1940 hundreds of thousands of men and women have undergone the hand to hand combat training developed by Fairbairn and Sykes; what percentage have misused it ?
William E. Fairbairn – Wikipedia
A former Commando explains some of the skills he was taught. Sergeant Stan Scott 3 Army Commando
Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife – YouTube
Who is more masculine, the preening body builder or Sergeant Stan Scott, the Commando who landed on D- Day?
Ultimately it is about free will, how we spend our life and the choices we make.
One can be a Commando and clean the bathroom.

Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
3 years ago

Watch any TV program about nature. This is a type of animal, this is where it lives eats feeds its young. This is the courtship ritual. Birds court through display,the peackcks feathers etc. Mammals court through combat, in short the rut The alpha male gets all the females and the rest go hang.

Humans are biologically still animals.

If we want to understand the male female balance we need to understand our behaviour as animals. That’s not to say it is desirable or to be lauded or indeed that we should simply accept it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Hawk
James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hawk

Try this experiment. Strong aggressive guy comes up to a group of women in dirty old clothes and a battered old car. A weedy well dressed guy comes up to a group of women driving a new Bentley.
Question. Which guy will have the pick of the women to have children with?

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

Before or after he’s duffed up the weedy old guy and taken his Bentley?

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

The research shows that the woman will marry the guy with the Bently and have an affair with the other guy.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

You are considering what atheists who write about masculinity get wrong in trying to understand masculinity, not what is wrong with masculinity, which is God’s invention, or evolution’s if you insist. All that is required is love, all that is to blame for any fault, in any human being is the lack of it.

Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
3 years ago

Society needs men just as it needs women and it needs ‘real men’ just as it needs ‘real women.’ By ‘real men,’ I mean those who will pick up a gun and risk their lives to defend the home, city or country. Those who will work hard, dirty and dangerous jobs to provide for their families and do so without complaint. I found it ironic that this article on masculinity was written by a woman and highlights a book written by a man who clearly has no personal understanding of the relationships between a man and a woman. I am not critical of his life. I don’t care and it’s none of my business but he is not exactly an expert in the field just like I am no authority on gay relationships. Men and masculinity have been under constant attack for years but the attackers ignore the fact that the world could not survive long without them.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

A lot of this discussion is about the fashion of the day. It is like taking thousands of years of history, analysing it and trying to change it – because of the fashion of the moment.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thumbs up.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
3 years ago

I don’t know any woman of my acquaintance who has committed suicide but I do know of five men over the years. How many women killed themselves in the 1950s at a time when women were bored and had been pushed back into the home? Things can be difficult for today’s man: male only organisation are pretty much defunct thanks to feminism so they are no longer free to express themselves in a way that women would disapprove of. Yet women only organisations ARE allowed, probably because men have more sense than to join them so men let this inequality, so-called, pass by. Everywhere men go, there are women and this after many years of being brought up by their mothers, who are the most powerful people in the world just by being mothers. So many feminists forget this. Over 4000 men a year killing themselves is too high a number.

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

I have absolutely no expertise or experience in the field, but from outside it does seem that the rise in suicides seems strongly correlated to the rise in telling men to be less masculine, get in touch with their feelings and stop being stoic about stuff. It’s almost as if the treatment is feeding the disease. Not necessarily causal of course, mustn’t fall into that trap, but interesting.

Jim le Messurier
Jim le Messurier
3 years ago

‘People have been talking about a “crisis of masculinity” since at least the 1980s, which means that masculinity has been doing its nut for roughly as long as I’ve been alive’.
People like you have been talking about it, yes, usually in the context of ‘toxic masculinity’ for as long as you’ve been alive. I agree. But it’s only the likes of feminists who’ve been ‘doing their nut’ about it.
Men, on the contrary, have not been talking about ‘toxic femininity’ really at all. And rightly so, inmho, as any talk of either gender being ‘toxic’, is a poison to human relations. But still feminism keeps banging on that broken drum, way after all of the barriers for them have come down.
It’s time to give it a rest, as it’s doing nothing good for anyone, especially women, and certainly those who live in the West. But you don’t really seem to bother to much about your sisters who live under truly oppressive regimes, do you?

Last edited 3 years ago by Jim le Messurier
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

But you don’t really seem to bother to much about your sisters who live under truly oppressive regimes, do you?
That is the benefit of marinating in first-world problems.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I “upticked” you-perhaps we should all post when we uptick, to make up for this omission in this sorry new system.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

I’ve started now to reply thumbs up whenever I uptick.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thumbs up.

Adam Wolstenholme
Adam Wolstenholme
3 years ago

Excellent point about the sisters under oppressive regimes. There was an illuminating moment on Triggernometery recently: A female campaigner against FGM (of African heritage) said something like ‘but of course we don’t consider female sexual pleasure, only male sexual pleasure’ and the male presenters laughed and said, ‘It’s not like that in our house’.
Instead of attacking a (largely illusory) patriarchy in the West, feminist campaigners could do more good by extending their efforts across the world. Unless feminism has really become a sort of trade union for middle-class women.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

Speaking of domestic violence, I wonder where Miss Ditums weighs in on abortion?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

She will not consider the 205,000 babies aborted by women every year to be any form of violence. Probably she will argue that it’s done at men’s behest anyway, so it’s their fault, even though no man can require any woman to have an abortion.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes! Moreover, not only can no man require a woman abort his child, but men have zero say so in the matter of a woman’s decision to abort his child(ren).

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago

Yes, women are the real victims, why isn’t this book about women? Just what I expected from Ditum.

Steve Johns
Steve Johns
3 years ago

I come for Douglas Murray, I end up with this nonsense. I won’t be lectured to by a movement that can’t even correctly define the word “woman” and “man”. A movement that lies about the “gender pay gap”, lies about domestic violence under its feminist ideology (e.g., the Duluth Model), lies to women about some mythical “patriarchy” that keeps them down, and a movement that actively pathologises men.
No wonder whoever the author is writing about didn’t read feminist “philosophy”. Why would a man read such blatant misandrist rubbish?
This entire article is indicative of feminists: Men can discuss masculinity but only under feminist ideology.
Most women aren’t feminists. This article is a window to understand why. Any normal person would run a mile from an anti-intellectual movement that is downright hostile toward 1/2 the population.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Thanks for femsplaining how men get masculinity wrong Sarah. But you seem to have gotten a few things wrong yourself.

Women do earn less money than men. But the research shows, time after time, that men work more hours of paid employment. Turns out there is no pay gap, just a work gap (Google the Harvard Earning Gap study for confirmation.)

That of course leaves women with a better work/life balance, a choice that women have because men are working those extra hours, allowing wives to choose- and many of them choose to spend time at home, so of course they end up doing more housework.

But women like Sarah like to have it both ways- complaining about your earnings based on the incorrect idea that you’re paid less, and complaining about doing extra housework, even though it’s because you’re the one with the time to do it.

As far as a “crisis in masculinity” is concerned, that seems to be a feminist fantasy. You cite rising male suicides, but female suicides, depression and anxiety are rising faster than male rates. Turns out the younger generation is emotionally vulnerable, both men and women. But any man using that fact as grounds for telling women they misunderstand how to be feminine would be set upon by the woke mob.

Sorry Sarah, but feminist drivel like this is just becoming too tedious to take seriously.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Jones
Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis
3 years ago

“Most reviewers of Webb’s book were female, and here I am, female also, writing about Robinson’s. Women, it seems, feel compelled to understand men — to do the emotional picking-up.”
Perhaps. Or, perhaps women are far more attracted to Robinson’s vision of masculinity as cause-of-ills than men are. Which would make sense, would it not?
It’s interesting that when men are attracted to Jordan Peterson, you apparently assume their motives are self-interested (i.e. that they enjoy hearing how their masculinity has been ‘cruelly traduced’.) But when women are attracted to Robinson, it can be explained solely by their open hearts and kindness.
You claim to want men to ‘introspect’, but you clearly believe that you already know what the ‘correct’ outcome of that introspection should be. So men are lying to themselves if they come to any conclusion about masculinity other than the one you’ve already determined (which appears to involve a reckoning with their apparently inherent role as oppressors.)
Is it possible that attitudes and ideas like this are also a factor in the ‘crisis of masculinity’, and it’s not exclusively the product of ‘male supremacy’?…

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby McInnis

How come no women bought my book about how terrible women are? It was FOR them! I was TRYING to complain about them TO them! What was so unappealing about that?

Ah, forget it, this is all taking me away from my followup book about black people…

Mike Miller
Mike Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

That made me laugh !

David Shaw
David Shaw
3 years ago

I agree with Chris Stevenson’s comment. Men, that is normal traditional men not emasculated men that the feminists crave so they can dominate, wouldn’t really care for an opinion written by a woman let alone a feminist. We would rather listen to Jordan Peterson!

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  David Shaw

Perhaps I’m not a normal man – but I’m quite happy to listen to women who talk sense.
But this is a record that’s been stuck since before Sarah was born.

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

Sorry, but at times this article verges on the ‘anti men’ agenda and it displays some thinking that says only feminist women should be allowed to define what masculinity is. Unfortunately it also persists with a ‘men against women’ line of thinking.
Try setting out a vision of life that isn’t based around what men do wrong ( from your point of view) and produce one that recognises the faults of both women and men and provides a way forward that both sexes and people of all persuasions can sign up to .
p.s I’ve no idea whether or not I am a ‘feminist’ in the authors eyes but I clean the bathroom and kitchen and do my own laundry and do all the house maintenance. We pay all bills etc according to our respective incomes. I assume that makes me just wonderful yet here I am criticising a feminist article. How could that be ?

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

More to the point – are you still criticised by your partner?

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

That means rejecting passive constructions like “woman killed”, which suggest some inevitable and impersonal force at play, and instead use formulations such as “man kills woman”,

I’m not sure I’ve really seen a clear instance of a woman being killed by a man where anybody tried to hide the fact.
Be that as it may – yes it is “a man” or more rarely “several men” not “men in general” or “masculinity” that does the deed. Nobody denies that there are men who kill women (or other men for that matter) – we just don’t like being made collectively responsible for acts we didn’t commit.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Thumbs up.

Steve Hall
Steve Hall
3 years ago

next week on Unherd; what feminists get wrong about feminism…. can’t wait… cult studs, man, it’s so enlightening….

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
3 years ago

This article focuses on disordered masculinity that affects only a proportion of the population of some ‘developed’ countries. However, there is a spectrum of toxicity across cultures and classes. From a child in the second half of the 20th century up to today I was conscious of the way masculinity in middle and upper classes was understated compared to ‘working’ classes. In societies loosely or accurately described as ‘tribal’ the toxicity seems to be built into the culture. Another author links it to terrorism which arises mostly in men who see their sectarian identity threatened. Anthropologists have suggested this stems from the shift from more egalitarian hunting and gathering to dependence on agriculture where holding and defending territory and property becomes crucial. As a society or class becomes more ‘gentlemanly’ through a system of mutual trust, whether consensual or legal, the need for aggressive masculinity is reduced. I can only agree with the reference to the ‘cost of dominance’, or of failure to achieve the expectation of dominance. I know several single-parent families where a mother having obtained children with a man is more than content to manage without him. The men affected are visibly diminished compared to others who have navigated successful marriages. This can be seen just as an expression of biological reality combined with the availability of resources that were in the past, and still are in much of the world, denied to single women. One can take a moral position that equality should be the default, but the actual state of things is bound to be circumstantial. Tension will persist as long as there is dissonance between how individuals see their roles and how their society as the whole works with minimum friction, which is likely to be exacerbated by rapid change, itself driven ultimately by exploitation of natural resources.

Last edited 3 years ago by Nicholas Taylor
David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

From a child in the second half of the 20th century up to today I was conscious of the way masculinity in middle and upper classes was understated compared to ‘working’ classes.

On this you are certainly right. Having grown up working class, I’m still a bit amazed at what p***y cats most middle class men are. I almost feel sorry for them. They are on the receiving end of so much vitriol.
I think there’s a National element to it as well. Scots look on (southern) english men as not quite manly.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago

“Women, it seems, feel compelled to understand men — to do the emotional picking-up.”
But the ‘understanding’ is an ideological feminist interpretation arrogantly laid over the male (read ‘masculine’) experience. Almost but not quite a type of femsplaining. As such ‘understanding’ becomes a portrait of the female experience of male behaviour from a monist, univariate perspective of a feminist ideology that has its own take on masculinity. This then, quickly becomes a series of comments about female experience and does not seek to understand the male experience from men themselves. Just rely on a male author’s take from one book.
And the so-called “crisis of masculinity” heralded in the 1st paragraph is immediately reframed by switching to men’s impact in terms of the negative consequences of women. If ever there were a confirmatory data point needed for the hypothesis of Gamma Bias, that is it.

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago

If you deduct the number of men who commit suicide,are incarcerated,are homeless etc it still leaves an overwhelming majority of men who presumably are comfortable with their “masculinity”.The naval gazing debated in this article is not something I easily recognise either in myself or any of the men who I encounter.I suspect that there is an initial premise (male characteristics are bad)and we are looking for the evidence to support the assertion.

Last edited 3 years ago by croftyass
David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

This item seems to come from a feminist world that perhaps feels a little lost . What with the never ending so called discussions about gender, identity etc etc, whiteness and other stuff , the feminist agenda must be feeling that they have to work harder to get centre stage. The authors answer seems only to be to attack men and, just like Trump, create provocative arguments in the hope of gaining attention

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago

masculinity takes its toll on men”
so indeed they are topping themselves, which is their own fault for being men (or just “masculine” to be fair) according to you. Right? That’s your claim, and it drips from almost every sentence whether it’s explicit or tacit.
Also according to you, masculinity takes its toll on women, causing if not all, then most of their problems. Right? That’s the claim here. Do correct me if I’m wrong.
But now: Given this dire predicament, you won’t let all these poor men become women! That’s why you’re writing here on “unherd”. You have somewhat transgressed doctrine by being a “TERF”.
But look, how on earth else are they to become decent human beings? You won’t permit them to be women, even though they really do want to, and they are prepared to surgically alter themselves in ways other men would do pretty much anything to avoid!
That appears the long and the short of it. It seems very unfair of you. I think if they want to become women you really should let them if you are to be consistent, because they appear to have taken your message very deeply into their hearts.
I sound sarcastic, but I’m really not. This is where we are now in this discussion about men and women. I won’t deny it’s compelling and fun to chat about, but maybe we should just stop at this point and take a breath. It’s getting serious and finding its way into all sorts of policy and law and into the minds of our youth, who are finding things really hard. It’s confusing enough to be young anyway, without all this.
Your position is essentially that it’s morally wrong to be a man.
Look: I like being a man, I’m totally fine with it. I like taking calculated but sizable risks, as long as the risks are mine to take. I like taking charge of things and competing with people. I like listening to Snoop Dogg. I did spontaneously call myself “Anne” when I signed up a couple of weeks ago. I was partly wondering if all the commenting men would be sexist to me. They aren’t at all, it’s exactly the same. People are more deferential actually, although that might simply be down to right wingers being more polite.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

In the end we’re all here, and places like here, because we’ve been rejected for dissenting with the mob. We’re in the same boat because we’ve been kicked off the island. That is our commonality. And as a result this place, and places like it, foster diverse points of view. That’s a goid thing. That’s what the island is has lost. So we will gather and grow, and yes, argue and disagree. And when our numbers are large enough because they’ve sent too many people off on the boat, we will take back the island.

So hang together, our differences are our strength, and in spite of them, welcome to the fight

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Rense
Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

Honestly that seems a bit grandiose; also I think the views of the “mob” are very diverse, as are the range of views within individual people. I don’t think the mob is the problem so much as a moderately sized minority of mostly young people who have undue influence on our institutions. Many others follow along to have an easy life. Including me if it relates to keeping my job. I like the site, but it’s just center right site for the most part. Which I think is fine, I hold some center right views as well as some center left views.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

Hypothesis: the sex pay gap, the sex boardroom gap and the sex imprisonment gap are all a result of the same thing. Testosterone.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Note: I did not insert those “*” symbols. This ghastly new comments software did.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Thanks! and thumbs up.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Wow, I never knew there was so much inequality among saxophonists!

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
3 years ago

There is a constant negotiation of the social contract between couples. This dynamic and living arrangement is fertile ground for the busy bodies, the we know bests and wannabe rule makers that surround us. They continually complain about stereotyping, objectification and arbitrary generalisations being applied to themselves then promptly and with no sense irony do the same thing to others. In principle there are bad men in this world just as there are bad women. Unfortunatley, men are generally stronger than women and a set of socialised rules and norms have been developed over many centuries to try and manage this disparity. I believe these rules were previously passed down through society from father to son but this chain has been undermined in recent years. We are now seeing a slow collapse in behavior and a resurgence in the application of a “might is right” or take what you want society.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

The comments seem to be way too harsh on Sarah. This is a book review, isn’t it? She writes: “We’re halfway through the book before he mentions the problem of male violence against women.” Wouldn’t that strike most people, male or female, as a bit of a problem with a book on masculinity? She notes that Robinson makes only cursory mention of feminist writers. I don’t read Simone de Beauvoir myself, although I read French without difficulty, but surely it’s fair to be skeptical about someone writing a book on masculinity who seems to be indifferent towards or ignorant of feminist literature.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

I think Sarah’s issue is that Robinson sets out to critique masculinity, but is insufficiently close to (her version of) feminism in doing so. She’s trying to enforce a kind of hegemony (sorry) in which masculinity can only be understood in feminist terms.
I think he also upsets her by making trans people into heroes by being entirely flexible about gender. Which he appears to think is some kind of ideal.

Clare Haven
Clare Haven
3 years ago

I don’t understand this idea about ‘unpaid domestic labour’. Are we saying that adults should be paid to do their own laundry and washing-up, and if so, by whom exactly?
Will the new masculinity that Sarah prescribes mean men will be paid to clean their own bathrooms, or is renumeration only for the women of the household who perform such functions?

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Clare Haven

The answer must be to raise taxes to pay the “wages” of the women who do the domestic work. But that would mean that working women too would pay more in order to subsidize those who stay home- a clear barrier to women choosing to leave the home to seek employment.

No doubt if such a plan were implemented, feminists would roundly decry it as a patriarchal attempt to keep women in the home.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Clare Haven

And would it mean we don’t have to give women any other money?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

What money are you giving women?

Paul Whiting
Paul Whiting
3 years ago

I was initially dismayed to find a Guardian article had somehow slipped passed the editors at UnHerd. But on further reflection, this kind of article is what makes UnHerd great: one gets exposed to a whole range of points of view.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

A female writer telling men how to be better men.
Next week we’ll have a male writer describing what it’s like to give birth.