Diane Abbott’s ‘masculinity crisis’ – what the papers said
Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott gave a controversial speech to think tank Demos, outlining that Britain is suffering from a ‘crisis of masculinity’, as a result of which young men have become unclear of their social role; do worse at school; suffer depression and anxiety; and adopt ‘hypermasculine’ behaviours. She called for a strengthened role for fathers in family life, with father-friendly parenting classes, meaningful parental leave for men and more conversations between fathers and sons about manhood.
The responses were many and various. Here are a few highlights:
- Tony Parsons said men have never had it so good, in GQ.
- Amol Rajan said taking lectures on masculinity from Diane Abbott was like taking lectures from Bin Laden on tall buildings, in The Independent.
- Laurie Penny stressed that men find themselves unhelpfully pigeonholed into seeing their only useful role as breadwinning, in The Guardian.
- Ally Fogg called on Abbott to stop contributing to the problem by stereotyping men, in a blog on Freethoughtblogs.
- Glen Poole, host of the National Conference for Men and Boys, suggested Abbott’s negativity was part of the problem, rather than the solution, in The Guardian.
- Matt Hill argued that the answer is feminism, in The Independent.
Some days later, and perhaps most controversially, Jack O’Sullivan – one of the founders of Fathers Direct (predecessor to the Fatherhood Institute) – argued that feminism has reinforced, rather than challenged matriarchy – and men clam up as a result, in The Guardian. The 1,000+ comments received in response to his article give some indication of the likely longevity of this debate, and passions it can engender.
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Tags: Fatherhood policy, For fathers, masculinities