In response to Kathy Gyngell: Masculinity isn’t toxic – it’s admirable, Groan wrote:
Thank you for this. It is a feature of current debate that the positive
contributions of ‘masculinity’ are completely taken for granted. It seems to be a feature of feminism to be essentially about consumption rather than being concerned with how anything is actually produced. For instance I read a columnist in the Times advocate that women boycott Mr Green’s shops, oblivious to the
fact that the vast majority of those working in those stores are women too. Though his lifestyle may be curtailed by a fall in business, jobs will most assuredly be lost in the tough ‘high street’.
So it is no surprise that the oh so tedious qualities of ‘western’ men,
that have been instrumental in delivering to my and subsequent generations an existence of unprecedented comfort and possibilities, are taken for granted and the odd bad result of the willingness to take risks, show singlemindedness, sacrifice self, ‘get it done’ and take on the elements are used to trash all males. As you say, it is in a way sad that men appear to have to demonstrate their ‘worth’ by sacrificing their lives or at least their bodies and health.
I’m pleased you mention the some of the many jobs and ‘trades’ that men routinely beaver away at to support themselves, and their families. In all the ‘gender pay gap’ hoopla it is still the case that millions of fathers take on extra hours at the time of their first child (in my case an extra job) to enable the mother to ease off their paid work. Yet still this is framed as oppressive and more egregiously a sign of uninterest in their child/ren should some future dispute about ‘contact’ come up. In ways large and small it really is the case that men still inhabit a rougher tougher less protected world than women, from sorting the ‘gritting’ to taking risks in high finance. All too often one sees women in the media effectively say ‘women should get themselves out there in all the myriad different jobs’ but mean ‘Not me, I’m happy working on my laptop in Costa’. For women crowd into a narrow range of mainly comfortable, family friendly, secure jobs precisely to avoid all the uncertainty, risk, innovation, long hours, dirt, that men regard as what may be necessary to ‘take care of business’.
And of course no one considers that more men ‘fall’, morally, literally, suicidally, financially because more men try to ‘fly’. Even feminists note that ‘gender gap’ males are far far more entrepreneurial and inventive, and have a whole theoretical strand on this inconvenient ‘gap’.