Call Yourself a Man? from Confusing Gender Classifications to Sexuality, the Modern Bloke Is Having a Crisis -- Nick Curtissets the Ultimate Test of New Masculinity

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 27, 2016 | Go to article overview

Call Yourself a Man? from Confusing Gender Classifications to Sexuality, the Modern Bloke Is Having a Crisis -- Nick Curtissets the Ultimate Test of New Masculinity


Byline: Nick Curtis

HITHER masculinity? WOr should that be: wither, masculinity! This is a difficult time to be a man. Which, I admit, may quite rightly provoke 51 per cent of the population to point out that it's been a difficult time to be a woman for at least 6,000 years. But still. Pity us poor confused blokes. On the one hand we are fed remorselessly on outdated and redundant images of masculinity. Grayson Perry recently pointed out that the survivalist skills promoted by Bear Grylls on his TV show The Island were less useful than being able to find a rentable flat or decent school in London. To this, I'd add that the macho torque-wrangling of Top Gear and the pugnacious, relentless deal-making of bankers, City traders, and Sir Philip Green are irrelevant to 99.9% of chaps.

On the other, after years of sensitivity training, we've been confronted with a whole new raft of classifications of gender and sexuality -- non-binary, intersex, nutrois, cis -- that demand a considered and thoughtful response. Again, I realise the bafflement of the average heterosexual, cisgendered male is as nothing compared to the difficulty experienced by Maria Munir, who "came out" as non-binary to Barack Obama this week. But give us a little leeway.

Some men out there are still struggling to work out if they are new men or new lads, metrosexuals or lumbersexuals, and whether they should have a dad bod or an inguinal crease. And it's even more fraught, nuanced and complicated for men in London than it is for those in, say, Newcastle.

So for confused blokes, and the exasperated others who have to co-exist with them, here's our guide to being a modern man.

1. Your role model for modern manhood is: a) Barack Obama, an affectionate husband and father to two daughters, who exudes grace under pressure whether dealing with a screaming toddler, a dancing granny, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump or North Korea.

b) Idris Elba's John Luther, a haunted, driven, romantically toxic individual who could pull a bulky villain through the small, triangular front window of a Morris Minor if he wished, while shouting: "Remember your birth? Cause we're gonna re-enact it NOW!" c) Alex Reid, a man who stays in touch with his feminine side by wearing women's underwear, but is also a well-tasty cage fighter and shagged that Katie Price, didn't he? 2. Which skill is most important to a modern man? a) Ability to restore to life a smartphone dropped in a bowl of ramen.

b) Ability to rewire a plug. c) Ability to castrate a sheep with your teeth.

3. How many buttons should a man undo on his shirt? a) One or two, like David Cameron on holiday.

b) Two or three, like David Hasselhoff on a promise.

c) Four or more, like Rita Ora on a trip to the shops for milk.

4. A friend tells you that he or she is "transitioning". Your response is to: a) Offer unconditional support, while acknowledging that you may not fully understand the challenges he/she faces.

b) Offer to bring over your jump leads to see if that helps.

B Ask if you can film it and put it on your social media feeds.

5. Where is it acceptable to approach someone who fits the gender/ sexuality profile with which you identify, with a view to, you know, getting off with them? a) On your phone via Tinder, Grindr, Bender, Brenda, Pronger, Donger or Pander (actually, not Pander: that's my hook-up app to encourage pandas to breed, and it's still in development).

b) At a bar, club, gig, food market -- anywhere public's fair game, really. …

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