Diane Abbott’s ‘masculinity crisis’ – what the papers said

24 May 2013

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.

What do you think? To contribute to and keep up with this and other debates around Government and Opposition policies on fathers and fatherhood, join the FI on Facebook and TwitterRead this paper about our work advocating for involved fatherhood since 1999.





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