The REAL Reason Why Men Are Behaving Badly; FEMINISM IS BEING BLAMED FOR DESTROYING MODERN MAN BUT A MALE WRITER ARGUES THAT HIS SEX HAS NEVER HAD IT SO EASY

Daily Mail (London), August 26, 1998 | Go to article overview

The REAL Reason Why Men Are Behaving Badly; FEMINISM IS BEING BLAMED FOR DESTROYING MODERN MAN BUT A MALE WRITER ARGUES THAT HIS SEX HAS NEVER HAD IT SO EASY


Byline: LEO MCKINSTRY

THE Nineties, we are told, have become the age of anxiety for men.

Losing out to women in the workplace, confused about their role in an increasingly 'feminised' society, and marginalised as fathers, modern males see themselves as creatures to be pitied.

A recently published international survey of the attitudes of men in 46 countries highlights this crisis in masculine self-esteem. The report gives 'a depressing snapshot of men failing hopelessly to come to terms with the late 20th century'.

This is reflected in the words of a Canadian in the survey: 'We have a lot of guys wandering around wondering just what the heck they are supposed to be and how they're supposed to act.' Even some women support this analysis.

At a weekend lecture in Edinburgh, the writer Fay Weldon expressed her sympathy with the plight of Nineties man.

Claiming that Britain had become a 'matriarchal society' where traditional masculine virtues are despised, she argued that feminism had 'caused men furiously to run in the wrong direction, lost to all responsibility and decent feeling'.

At every turn, it seems that men are whingeing about their lot. Girls are significantly outperforming boys at school. At universities, there is a preponderance of female students.

With the decline of heavy industry, working-class men are having greater difficulty than women in finding jobs in employment growth areas such as communications, retailing and leisure.

Access

Men say they are disadvantaged by the legal system, whether it be struggling for access to children in the divorce court or contesting a claim of sex discrimination at an industrial tribunal. From sitcoms to soap operas, men see themselves trivialised and derided.

As a member of the supposedly oppressed sex, I am growing heartily sick of this barrage of masculine complaints. The truth is that, for all the dinner party chatter and academic theorising about the 'crisis of masculinity', we are still living in a man's world.

Despite the changes in Britain in the past 30 years, since the advent of the women's liberation movement, power and influence still lies overwhelmingly in the hands of men. And, in many respects, these social changes, far from oppressing men, have made our lives easier.

Take Fay Weldon's thesis about 'the matriarchal society'.

This is simply nonsense.

Though we have, thankfully, moved towards a degree of equality, men still run almost all of our government, our institutions and major companies.

Every one of the great political offices of state is held by a man. Even after the massive influx of women into Parliament at the last election, only one in five MPs is female. From the BBC (John Birt) to the TUC (John Monks), from the CBI (Adair Turner) to the NHS (Sir Alan Langlands), men are in charge.

The progress of women into the boardroom has been much trumpeted recently, with figures such as Anita Roddick of the Body Shop portrayed as the harbingers of a female-led business revolution.

But, like so much PR spin, this has little basis in reality.

Only 3.3 pc of company directors are women. The same is true of other professions. For example, only 7 pc of High Court judges are women.

Inequalities are still rife in the workplace.

Although much attention has been given to men losing out to women in the workplace, women continue to make up the vast majority of low-paid workers.

The average gross weekly wage for a woman is [pounds sterling]185, compared with [pounds sterling]374 for a man. And in retirement, women are far more likely to live in poverty than men.

Threat

Both inside and outside work, life remains so much easier for men. We can walk down the street or use public transport late at night with little sense of fear. We rarely feel intimidated driving on the motorway or walking alone into a pub. …

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