So finally here are my reading notes about the beautiful book written by Grayson Perry. Thank you again for all your comments and shares of his video. Here is more to nourish your thoughts and conversation about the subject.
The Descent Of A Man was written after numerous other thought, performances, installations about masculinity, but also, after a year of “touring” classic and “glorious” masculinity strongholds (bank, boxing clubs… jails)
I use quotes on quotes because naturally Grayson’s demonstration will be to highlight that whatever the socio-professional environment is, masculinity strongholds are places where no feelings, emotions, relationship… happiness exists. In other words the first victims of classic masculinity are men themselves. I think that this point is important because Grayson’s goal is less to lash out or condemn but rather to contribute to a better world, happier, fairer. And if men don’t understand that it’s in their own interest to change, they won’t do it. If they don’t understand that their rate of suicide is 5 times higher than women, that they finish in prisons 10 times more etc. If they don’t see the danger of their own culture, they won’t change it. It’s another point of view with respect to the classic feminism practice by women (give us equality goddamn it!), which certainly holds it’s ground but doesn’t touch as many men as it should, I shall say.
I LOVE THIS!
Here’s a few chapters that excited me :
> the Default Man
Right now we talk a lot about this class of white men… It’s worth a shot to view it thru Grayson’s lens. Politics, business, but also artistic, movies, etc. The man by default is at the helm of our entire society. They all dress the same from the bank teller to Obama (well, there is subtle differences, but go to New Guinea and there you will see some real differences)… they are the invisible landscape of our society. Because he drives it from all angles, the default man is the foundation of our society.
> The White Working Middle Class is actually a Community
By being at the foundation as well as the helm of our society, he doesn’t realize that 1/he is actually a minority, 2/that the entire society is made for the success of one of his own kind.
Therefore a banker who happens to be successful will say that it’s because he worked harder and was smarter, without realizing that it’s the whole structure set up by the community that allowed him to perform in such a way.
> … an “othering” culture
Since the default man is not aware of anything, he thinks that society standards are “objective” even though he is the one who enforced them. He doesn’t see that he is the pure product of a culture and performance (in both ways, scenic and goal oriented).
therefore he thinks that people who aren’t aligned with those said objectives are “below.” Yes, for example, they will say that women are hysterical, although it’s him who is incapable of managing his own emotions (and that’s why the world he created has completely eradicated them).
The default man is necessarily at the center of it all, will spend his time “othering” (push off center) those who aren’t or do not manage things like him (the large majority of people).
I loved this concept of “othering”… and I find that it applies to many relational problems.
> We are all Unconsciously Integrating the Default Man Codes
We talked about it with my post about the man, we love to see our fighting daughters (like boys), we aren’t ready at all to see our boys wear dresses (like girls). Sam Roddick, the creator of Coco de Mer talks a lot about women misogyny.
Sometimes, we tell ourselves we are feminist but we aren’t really that much… what would happen to the planet if we were educating our kids without gender?
> The Huge Issue with Classic Masculinity is of Course Violence
It’s true, why not address this issue at the national or trans-national? The victims of the masculinity culture are humongous, from a human, social and financial point of view. I like that a man asks himself why doesn’t the government do anything? (bah because it is governed by default man… indeed).
> The Answer Would Be to get out of this Emotional Illiteracy
There again is another genius concept for a terrible reality. We teach boys very early not to cry, not to be weak. And it’s the best way for them to actually become weak. Jerry often tells me that there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded boy in a grown man’s body.
We hammer it down again. Learn that vulnerability to boy is the key to their personal development, as an individual, as a member of society. LETS GO!!!!
> Some Tenderness
I will talk about Jerry and his work very soon, because he has been managing a men’s group for about 20 years. So when Grayson asked him what was the key value that linked the men from all his different groups, Jerry said without hesitation: tenderness. And without being a man, I told myself, yes indeed masculine tenderness, this form of fraternity, yes it’s talking to me.
So I hope that it’s also talking to you. This book is available in English only and I hope that my non-English friendly readers will have enough food for thought with this post. For the others I highly recommend reading this and sharing conversations with your entourage whether they are men, women or children!
Have a beautiful day.