Sunday, 24 February 2019

Brexit: and the 'crisis of masculinity'

The 'loss of masculinity' is hardly a new obsession: 

The return of the Great British ‘manly man’

March 27, 2017 

Contemporary television is replete with gruesome tests of survival, fitness, and the ability to face peril with historical (and very manly) stoicism. These series chart our obsession with what modern man, in particular, has lost.

Of course, this is hardly a unique concern. The late-Victorian and early Edwardian era saw the development of “muscular Christianity”, an imperial ideology that suggested young men could be strengthened both morally and physically by robust engagement with team sports and a public school ethos. Following the crisis in recruitment for the Boer War, and widespread concern about degeneracy and physical health, muscular Christianity offered an antidote to the nation’s decline. Just as the Edwardians were concerned about the shift from the farm to the office, contemporary media is once more fixated on the perceived decline of muscular masculinity.


The return of the Great British 'manly man' | The Conversation 

And so to the obsession of our time - and how it impacts on the image of the masculine: 

Leave-voting men, Brexit and the 'crisis of masculinity'

Julie MacLeavy
LSE Brexit (24 Oct 2018)
Download (99kB)

Brexit may have been driven by those 'left behind' by globalisation, automation, the evolution of manufacturing, and the increased inequality of both income and wealth. Some have suggested that this feeling of being 'left behind' is exacerbated for working-class white men, in declining industrial and disadvantaged areas in particular. 

Julie MacLeavy (University of Bristol) draws on research with Leave voters in Sunderland to argue that in this constituency many men do see their opportunities for economic advancement and achievement fading away, and identified that as a key motivation for voting Leave. But rather than constituting a self-evident ‘crisis of masculinity’, the roles played by gender conceptions in the Brexit vote point to a much broader and more complex series of questions.

Leave-voting men, Brexit and the 'crisis of masculinity' | LSE BREXIT

John Harris has also been out and about: 

England’s rebel spirit is rising – and it wants a no-deal Brexit

In the face of political stasis, the seductive myth of Britain standing alone against its oppressors is taking hold

John Harris
Mon 21 Jan 2019 06.00 GMT

The gender aspect of Brexit is still too overlooked. Of the people gathered in that Wetherspoons, 90% were men. In a recent YouGov poll, support for no deal was put at 22%, but whereas 28% of men were no-dealers, among women the figure was a paltry 16%. 

There is something at play here similar to the belligerent masculinity channelled by Donald Trump: a yearning for all-or-nothing politics, enemies and endless confrontation, and an aggressive nostalgia. Some of the latter is shamelessly misogynistic, part of a macho bigotry that harks back to hierarchies of privilege that linger on, and blurs into racism. But there is also an element that ought to attract empathy: a yearning for a world in which men were steelworkers, coalminers and welders, and a desperate quest for something – anything – that might allow their successors to do the same.


England’s rebel spirit is rising – and it wants a no-deal Brexit | John Harris | Opinion | The Guardian

Is Brexit a men's thing?
Brexit is lost in toxic masculinity. No wonder women are turning against it | Catherine Bennett | Opinion | The Guardian

Here's a very interesting take from The Book of Man website: 


Why Brexit is Bad for Men

Brexit is dominated by men, talked about in manly terms, and its regulations favour men. And of course we mean the wrong kind of men. Political commentator James Millar unveils the toxicity of Brexit.

Consider the men of Brexit: Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, David Davis and Michael Gove. A cheater, a drinker, a fibber and a weirdo.

These were the characters who dominated the Brexit debate in 2016 and have continued to do so in the two years since.

There is not a role model among them.

No wonder researchers are increasingly pondering what Brexit means for masculinity.

The Brexit referendum was won and lost by men. Three quarters of TV coverage featured men, nearly all press coverage focused on men too.

The folk who got most exposure were Johnson, Farage, Davis and Gove plus the then Prime Minister David Cameron. The last of these was a bit more new man, his tender affection for disabled son Ivan was refreshing and ultimately distressing. The media preferred it when he left his daughter in a pub. He lost the referendum.

As to the others…. Boris is a well-known philanderer. Farage is pictured with a pint more often than with his family (in fact if you Google search ‘Nigel Farage family’ you’ll get photos of him with Ukip colleagues. Or holding a pint. Which is a bit sad really). David Davis was in the SAS but hopefully he would’ve coped better under interrogation than he does at his regular sessions in front of parliament’s Brexit committee where he couldn’t get his story straight about whether government analyses actually existed or not leading to accusations of lying. Gove is not known to have cheated on wife Sarah Vine (though apparently she doesn’t trust him alone in a room with a pretty lady) but he betrayed his friend Boris when the Tory party leadership was up for grabs.

They represent a narrow masculinity that prizes ruthlessness, promiscuity, boozing and fighting.


What Brexit Means for Men: A Toxic Situation | The Book of Man

Writing last November, Dia Chakravarty reminds us that it is of course more nuanced:
Brexit isn’t about race or gender, it’s about ideology - Telegraph

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