In the 1970s one of dad’s many blind spots was his choice of family car. As the Archaeologist pointed out to me recently we owned three of the worst ever British made cars in a period of five years. One journey, some 250 miles, stands out. We were in the two litre Austin Maestro with a leaky radiator. Dad filled the radiator with water, we set off and when steam appeared we stopped while mum went to find more water. Repeat. Never once did anyone expect Dad to go and ask for the water. We just all knew he couldn’t. A loss of face? An admission of poor judgement? A proof of his vulnerability? All and more.
He believed in the three three Ps of manhood: protect, provide and procreate. That’s not original by the way. These three come from a tweet by Grayson Perry’s wife that he revealed during his recent stand up show on Male Identity and Masculinity but they seemed to sum up men of a certain time and generation. If you don’t know Grayson, he’s worth checking out, here.
His point is that men, especially white men of middle years, lack a role. Jobs once done by strong men are done by machines. Jobs done by brains are now more likely to be done by machines or women. We men still make the wars and commit the crimes but with less success and more approbation.
So whither men? Or wither men? Is our day done? Soon enough science will create artificial sperm and, poof, one of the Ps will go.
But instead of feeling sorry I think we should embrace the new softer expectations. I like a good cry, specially Love Actually at Christmas. I talk about my emotions so much I soon realise my male friends are asleep.
And this isn’t a new state. I realised soon after our son was born that the Textiliste, now working part time, lost status in the eyes of many. They still asked about her job in insurance even if its attraction to her was dwindling and, unless a parent or, especially a mum themselves, they glazed over at the rest of her life. Me, the commercial lawyer, I was the BSD, the Big Dog, the one who had the interesting stories to tell.
But I also realised that she had it harder and tougher than me. Sure I was a lawyer and occasionally a man manager, bill collector, confidente and business strategist but she was all that and doctor nurse surgeon podiatrist project manager quartermaster chef contractor plumber electrician negotiator educator… and that was just before midday on a Monday. And I left work. I had a break. Well until the advent of the sodding Blackberry. Never have I loathed fruit as much as I did then. She didn’t. 24/7. Even on holidays. Housewife is up there with POTUS and PA to Kim Jong-Un as the toughest jobs on the planet.
So Grayson, on stage the other day, gave we modern metrosexual metropolitan elite men a manifesto. I don’t remember them all but they included
- the right to be wrong
- the right to be weak
- the right to be vulnerable
- the right to ask
- the right not to know
All true and something we males need to embrace.
Though actually his best advice came as an aside aimed at me and my subset, specifically the post 50 male, which was
- never pass the opportunity to use a toilet
- never trust a fart; and
- never waste an erection.
Good man Grayson. Even if I thought his dress was a tad on the short side.