Opinion: ‘How men got left behind’

Why do advertisers portray men as idiots?
Why do advertisers portray men as idiots?

This is a headline on the front cover of the New Statesman from earlier this month, and I object to it for a number of reasons.

First of all, it implies we are in for yet another instalment in a long line of magazine articles traducing masculinity.

This has become a media default position with easy denigration at it’s most obvious in advertising. It is one of the reasons that I can no longer bear to watch anything on commercial television. When was the last time that you saw a man portrayed in an advert as anything other than an incompetent idiot in a shop, a dolt in the home or an embarrassment on the school run?

The second objection is the implication that men are diminished by women advancing into positions of power and status. Fortunately, progress here has been achieved by evolutionary means, although there was a time in the seventies when things could have turned ugly: remember SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men)?

The sub-heading for the New Statesman article is, “The quiet crisis of masculinity”. I think we can thank women for the ‘quiet’ part.

It is understood that we still have some way to go on pay equality, but more women are beginning to achieve positions that their talents deserve. Wouldn’t it be more positive to have an article with a title like, “How women achieved their potential”?

The article is earnest and worthy in the extreme (well, it is the New Statesman), but the body of the text itself does not reflect the tone of the headline. In fact, the author, Owen Jones, makes the point that men are coping rather well with the current climate of change. No lesser a person than Gary Lineker is wheeled out to detail how even footballers and other sportsmen are adapting to a fairer, more balanced, society.

The same article suggests “... being sporty and athletic ... getting into fights ... these can all be seen as ‘manly’”. Surely, this is a diminishing view?

Perhaps the Russian MP, Mr Lebedev, who commended the Russian ‘Ultras’ for their violence at Euro ’16, does not see it this way, but for the majority in Britain, this caricature of masculinity is being retired to unsavoury history.