Society hasn’t thought enough about the scars there are in the masculine psyche.I worry, too, about automation, and how we create an identity and a purpose for men in the post-industrial age.But being urged to ‘man up’, seems to have left many decisively down: suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. Strong and silent stereotypes are being replaced with more diverse and fulfilling ways of being men.In a post-feminist world, traditionally male instincts to toil, protect and provide are being thwarted left, right and centre. The Good Men Project, a website that publishes articles about “what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century”, says that it receives more than 5 million visitors a month: testimony perhaps to how many men care about how their behaviour as men impacts their lives and others’.“There are lots of different ways to be a man these days: we’re not having to conform to stereotypes as much any more,” says Samuels.It’s an underreported fact that almost twice as many men than women are victims of violence.“Society doesn’t differentiate between men and patriarchy,” says Nathan Roberts, chief executive of A Band of Brothers, a charity that helps young men who have been involved in the criminal justice system through personal development and community building, particularly rites of passage.
“To succeed, you have to become part of the group.”Men’s groups and sharing circles – where emotions can be discussed, vulnerability shown and support given – have a long heritage, but this idea is no longer confined to ‘alternative’ cultural scenes.“There’s a much greater freedom to express yourself and be who you are,” says Samuels.It’s only when you reach the upper echelons that you find the people with the real power – a few men in a system that impacts all of the women and all of the men below that.Looking at educational attainment, rates of mental health problems and incarceration rates, I think: where is it, exactly, that men have it so good?“He was evoking an old-school image of work that involves men wearing hard hats,” wrote Monica Potts in The Nation days after the election result.“Like so much else in his campaign, his promises were explicitly made to men.”In the UK too, the pro-Brexit mantra of ‘take back control’ spoke to the frustration and fear felt by some men as digital technology, automation and the gig economy – among other factors – cause uncertainty about their role in society. Patriarchy has gone hand in hand with capitalism, and the two have suppressed women, subjugated many other sections of society, and helped spark countless conflicts. While men have helped create wars in the first place, they have also largely been the ones to fight and die in them.