In the last issue of the Spectator Lara Prendergast asked: ‘Why are modern men obsessed with self-improvement?’ The sub-heading read: ‘Young men are being encouraged to curb their appetites – and “detox” their masculinity.’
You know the type of men she is talking about; they wear cashmere jumpers, drink smoothies and get pedicures. Sometimes they cry at movies, Lord help us.
Prendergast asks: ‘So why are these young men turning into narcissists? What’s with the almost religious zeal? It can’t be a coincidence that the rise in lean, ethical dieting has come during the era of the #MeToo movement. Men are being led to believe that their masculinity is a problem. Their rapacious pursuit of pleasure has damaged the world around them, they are told — and it’s up to them to curb their appetites. Women have had enough.’
This is true enough. Prendergast is close, very close, but doesn’t quite get it. Men these days are not narcissists; men these days have been feminised. Not all of them, but most of them.
The feminisation of men starts early when boys are constantly told not to play rough with other boys and mothers ban play guns in case it teaches them to be violent. (My son likes to sleep with his Nerf guns beside his bed – ‘in case an enemy comes during the night’.)
As these boys grow older competition is still frowned upon. They have ridiculously sedentary lives studying things they find very dull, and their only release is masses of online smut which I have no doubt destroys the soul as well as the sex drive.
On they go to university where they are subjected to humiliating consent classes (I doubt any of them bother chatting any girls up in the era of #MeToo and the campus kangaroo court system) and finally they might land that coveted desk job. Christ, what a life.
Prendergast again: ‘Young men are drinking less alcohol, smoking less and, oddly, having less sex, perhaps because sex involves focusing on someone else.’ No, I doubt if that is why they are having less sex; they are having less sex because of the porn and the campus kangaroo courts. In addition to this long-term relationships are on the way out, I’m told.
Young men have been feminised, not civilised. The two are not the same thing. Indeed, all that masculine drive, all that testosterone, can’t stay hidden for long. It will eventually come out, either in its ‘toxic’ state of mindless aggression, or in the civilised state: the drive to win, the drive to succeed and to protect.
In truth what is important about masculinity is not the body of the man, but the character. Do we raise men to protect the weak? Would today’s generation put their country before self? Do they have courage in the face of evil?
I couldn’t really blame the men if most of them said: ‘You must be joking! You raised me to believe I was toxic, and now you ask me to put my country first? Thanks, but no thanks, and yes I will get into that lifeboat while you’re asking. Out of my damn way!’
The killer, though, is how things have been pushed this far by a very small minority of shouty feminists. I’m pretty sure most women still yearn for masculine men.
Women have already stated they still want men to earn more than them while at the same time decrying the gender pay gap; they read novels like Fifty Shades of Grey in their droves, the book where the millionaire stalks a college girl.
Women flock to Twilight featuring the brooding vampire who essentially hunts down Bella and then protects her from other evil vampires. Yes, raw, animal, masculine seduction is what women seek, yet all around them the men are drinking soy lattes.
This is why the women go home to watch Vikings and Game of Thrones: programmes where the men hunt animals, skin them, wear them and then have their way with the slave girl. If it wasn’t for Netflix the women would probably go demented.
I’m just about old enough to remember these masculine men when they were living and breathing and didn’t just exist in works of fiction and on TV screens. They had rapacious eyes and they took the lead. These men are not to be confused with sleaze-bags or frat boys. No, they didn’t need any of that bravado because they were just men. Men. No further definition was needed and they didn’t apologise for it.
Goodness, thinking about it all makes my head spin. What a wretched time to be in your 20s. Tinder on your phone but Fifty Shades of Grey under your pillow. As Trump would say: SAD!