Features

I’m 43. Why am I still so reluctant to call myself a man?

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

Are you a man? Those of you who don’t fall into the category of ‘adult male’ will clearly answer no — but even those who do might not say yes. Do you apply the label ‘man’ to yourself? Are you happy using the phrase ‘I’m as [insert quality] as the next man’? You’re not? Me neither.

At 43 I’ve spent a quarter of a century as a man in the eyes of the law, but still the word feels too grown-up for me to use it about myself. Several friends have admitted the same thing. Winston Churchill was a man. Floyd Mayweather is a man. We, on the other hand, are… well, what? Talking to a woman in her mid-twenties recently, I referred to one of her contemporaries as ‘a great girl’. Quickly I corrected myself: ‘Sorry — I mean “woman”.’ ‘Don’t worry,’ came the reply, ‘I call myself a “girl” still. “Woman” just sounds wrong.’ The female in question is a thoroughly clued-up high-achiever, so it was reassuring to learn that feminism hasn’t yet outlawed the word ‘girl’. But the problem remains that we males don’t have an equivalent. ‘Boy’ doesn’t work. ‘Lad’ has unfortunate overtones. ‘Guy’ has never recovered from Tony Blair’s assertion that he was a pretty straight one. Where can we go?

You’re reminded of the problem whenever you do hear a man using the word about himself. ‘I’ve always been a very hard-working man,’ comes the braying prelude to a detailed account of a career and its every last triumph. Above the heads of everyone else, meanwhile, appears a communal thought bubble: ‘Tosser.’ Not for nothing has taking a job with a boring, self-satisfied establishment come to be known as ‘working for the man’.


The difficulty even extends to how you address other males. Call a group of your colleagues ‘men’ and you’ll sound like Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army — pompous, overbearing, someone to be laughed at rather than respected. A friend of mine who plays five-a-side football is aware of this, so encourages his team-mates with shouts of: ‘Come on, lads.’ Somehow the ‘l’-word loses its loaded (or Loaded) connotations when used in the plural. Only on the pitch, mind you. It wouldn’t work in an email, so Paddy begins team circulars with ‘Gents’.

Another term that works if you put an ‘s’ on the end is ‘guy’. What’s more it seems to have become unisex. ‘Hey guys’ is a greeting you’ll hear in mixed company, employed to and by both genders. The one word that really has hit the dustbin for good is ‘lady’, certainly in a sporting context: it is now most emphatically the England women’s football team. In fact sometimes the gender isn’t specified at all. A radio report will refer to ‘England’s progress in the Ashes’, and you’ll be two or three sentences in before you realise they’re talking about the women’s series rather than the men’s. Confusing, yes, but I’d much rather that than the dinosaur attitudes of the golf club, where women are still ‘ladies’. There’s plenty of patronising talk about the ‘fairer sex’, and doors are held open, but when it comes to actually being allowed on the course, women are restricted to certain times of day. It’s contempt dressed as respect.

And it’s respect that gives my friends and me our problem with the word ‘man’. To use it, we feel, would imply that we have too much respect for ourselves, that we take ourselves too seriously. When you’re six you think everyone who’s left school is a grown-up. Then you get to your twenties and still feel immature, not quite experienced enough to count as a proper adult. By 43, you know that feeling is never going to come — you’re never going to think of yourself as a man. The title belongs to other males: they know more than you, have achieved more than you, will always know and achieve more than you. By the time he was my age, Michael Portillo had been a cabinet minister for five years — yet now he’ll confess to you that he never believed he was a cabinet minister. He says it was as though there was some other cabinet somewhere which he wasn’t allowed into, the real one that took the important decisions. This from someone who at one point was seen as powerful enough to unseat the serving prime minister.

But then of course, by 43 you haven’t just had these thoughts yourself, you’ve listened to other men of your own age saying the same thing. And so it dawns on you that perhaps it’s not just you and a few friends — perhaps no one ever thinks of themselves as a man.

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Show comments
  • Rik

    Oh My God The traumas of a middle class author luvvie.Get over yourself

    • blandings

      You insensitive swine.

      • davidofkent

        Straight out of “Keeping Up Appearances” (Rose, in case you can’t remember).

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        But really . Do you think “tosser” when someone refers to themselves as a man?

        • blandings

          Well yes I suppose I do – If you feel the need to tell everyone then clearly you’re not.
          Me? I just present myself to the world as I am, without comment and in all my glory.
          Yvonne, take me as I am.

          PS: It’s 3 o’clock – I only got up for a slice of toast

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Midnight feasts are not manly.

          • blandings

            Hardly a feast.
            Surely I can be excused the odd slice of toast without being tossered?

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            I hope ‘ in all your glory’ doesn’t suggest at 3am you’re in your
            birthday suit whilst eating toast ?
            Besides the only reason its ‘ just ‘a slice of toast is because the better- half has hidden that large piece of cheddar or stilton
            at the back of the fridge- that part of the fridge men never venture.

          • blandings

            Sadly I no longer strut around in my birthday suit gazing surreptitiously at my image in the mirrors.
            (I used to)

        • Frank Marker

          Nearly as bad when I hear someone called ‘a man’s man’, which is usually a euphemism for a thug and a boor.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            What tosser or man?

  • Sean Grainger

    It’s both sexes, not genders. And Mr Spectator, why to we have to fart arse around with Disqus? Why isn’t the comment system a la The Times?

    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      They say we’ve three ‘ genders’ now. Male, Female and other, quite honestly/

      • wudyermucuss

        There’s a lot more than three you LGBTCISTRANSphobic phallocentric dinorapist.

      • Frank Marker

        They appear to think up a new one every week.

  • ViolinSonaten b minor.

    Do you also suppose your not emotionally secure enough to call yourself a man ?
    Honestly what trivial nonsense, just refer to yourself as a ‘ chap’ unless that’s
    to dated for you. ‘ Guy’ is used all the time but just reminds me of bonfire night.
    Women are referred to in a number of ways but thankfully not ‘ wench’ anymore.
    I’ll leave you to battle with this earth shattering conundrum you find yourself
    battling with.

    • blandings

      I’ve even got the record (somewhere)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaC5ZKRjLUM

    • Freddythreepwood

      Chap? Big girl’s blouse, more like.

      • ViolinSonaten b minor.

        ‘ Big girls blouse’ that’s a funny saying 😉

        • Emilia

          An excellent and still-used northern appellation.

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        Metrosexual twat.

        • Freddythreepwood

          Should I be flattered!?

    • Emilia

      My point exactly. Why can’t he and his friends be ‘chaps’? Anything’s better than ‘guys’, especially for women. Come to think of it, there are far more acceptable names for men than there are for women, so stop whining, laddie.

    • wudyermucuss

      Wench.
      Phwoooaaarrrr.

      • Guest

        Ding dong

    • Callipygian

      ‘Gal’ is somewhat analogous to ‘guy’ and I don’t care for that one, either : )

      • ViolinSonaten b minor.

        I was watching an old 40s film the other week ( like the old ones ) and
        women were described as ‘ Broads’ wasn’t sure about that. Mind
        you I don’t the old Aussie ‘ Sheila’ to describe woman and I loath
        the word ‘ bird’ that uncouth m0rons use.
        I don’t mind ‘ lass’ I think that’s quite endearing .

        • Callipygian

          Agree about the words. Colloquialisms generally don’t work for me, either, being always just this side of disrespectful.

          Ah, ‘lass’ is what Boyfriend called me, over 20 years ago, and I’m fond of that, too. Haven’t been called it since then, though. Win some, lose some!

  • blandings

    I’m 43. Why am I still so reluctant to call myself a man?

    Try dude then. Works for me.

    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      Well they say boys don’t become men until their mid 30s, maybe its taking him awhile.
      Oh ‘ dude’ I assume as in ‘ dude ranch’ maybe that’s where all the masculinity is found 😉

      • blandings

        To me “Dude” conjures up my alter – ego, The Big Lebowski.
        Oh to be him, just occasionally.

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        43 is born in 1972. The end of the UKs babyboom. The first generation to pay University fees. The ones who came of age in the ecstacy boom and property bust of the Major government. The first to embrace computers and mobular phones and social media and Friends coffee shop twee culture. Lads mags and Football’s coming home twiishness. The ones who think it clever to not marry or to give the kids cumbersome pretentious double barrelled names. They all buy a dog at age 40. They all bake ! Whingers all of them.

    • prefrontal_leuchotomy

      Bloke’s better.

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        Or chap if like to drive to picnics in the Austin Healey while wearing your calf skin motoring gloves.

        • blandings

          You sound like my kind of girl.
          Free on Saturday?

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Nights are not a good time for picnics.

          • Bonkim

            Have you travelled to Finland in mid-summer? Lovely time to have a Sauna and dip in the lake at midninght and enjoy your party.

          • blandings

            Surely you are active during daylight hours?

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Vamps tend to like the dark.

  • ardenjm

    Not a ‘man’ Mark?
    Indeed you are not a man – like vast swathes of your contemporaries in the West.

    C.S. Lewis wrote ‘The Abolition of Man’ back during the War in 1943 in which he predicted the phenomenon you exemplify so perfectly in this article – although by ‘Man’ he meant human nature of course. Still its effects on men have been particularly pernicious:
    Our subjectivism and moral relativism, he warned us, was in danger of producing a generation of ‘men without chests’. By this he meant men without character, without strength, backbone. He was quite right. Your article demonstrates it.
    Reactions to what is perceived as the emasculation of men have existed for some time, of course: We see the ridiculous aping of genuine masculinity in machismo – which is a form of domination, generally over woman, children and the weaker. Even worse is the metrosexualised physical rendering of ‘man’, pumped and honed and utterly superficial.

    So, you’re right, Mark.
    Genuine masculinity has become very rare. And men are more often than not without chests. Emotional and moral geldings. And genuine femininity has, likewise, been damaged.
    The Abolition of Man.

    • kingkevin3

      Very well put. The puerile content of this article demonstrates just how far many men in this country have been emasculated and just how how unaware they are of this very fact. Emabarrassed to call yourself man? I can only weep for this bunch of wusses.

      • ArtieHarris

        Those “wusses” are taking over the world right now.

        While macho man is playing rugby, flexing his muscles and drinking beer, those wusses are taking over the technology and the dialogue.

        • jim

          Are you gay?

        • Kennie

          Those “wusses” are not taking over the world. They are taking over the West as is demonstrated by our so-called ‘leaders’. Truth is, such people are our ‘leaders’ simply because there is a distinct lack of choice.
          Used to be called, LMF, meaning Lacking Moral Fibre. Unfortunately, it applies to a great many of Mason’s generation.. A lot of it was caused by the labour party in the 1960s scrapping education and the competitive spirit and telling everyone they are a winner. There are just umpteen grades of “winner”.

          • ArtieHarris

            There is much truth in what you say, Kennie.

            But even in India, Japan and China, where feminism and PC are minimal, there are now millions of young ‘computer’ men who are, clearly, running the show via the internet.

            These are mostly not macho-men.

            Manly muscles are gradually being replaced by machines and robots, and so they are not really needed as much as they used to be.

          • Frank Marker

            Actually manly muscles don’t mean anything anymore either. I think the expression is ‘Muscle Mary’.

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            Indeed some women are far more muscular then men, they
            also wander around wearing unstylish cropped tops to show
            off their not so girly stomach muscles and huge arms.

          • David S

            But the old manly virtues of self-discipline and taking responsibility for one’s actions are more needed than ever. As others have said, it’s Mason’s whining self-indulgence that makes him so unmanly, not his physique about which I neither know nor care.
            Btw “bloke” is a solid English word – I would never call myself a man as it sounds like self-praise, although now I qualify as an old man, which is less glamorous.

          • ArtieHarris

            “- I would never call myself a man”

            Perhaps, that is a manifestation of the problem.

            You’ve been psychologically blocked by feminists into not using the word ‘man’.

            Indeed, as you see above, men often do not like the word “gender”, proclaiming that they are anti-PC. But they are not anti-PC at all because they refuse to recognise themselves as “men”.

            IOW, they are very PC.

            “it’s Mason’s whining self-indulgence that makes him so unmanly,”

            Self-indulgence “unmanly”?

            So you think that manly men are not self-indulgent?

            As for Mason, he’s identified something that has changed over the past few decades – the unwillingness for men to call themselves “men”.

            Conversely, women are proud to call themselves “women”.

            How do you think this happened?

          • David S

            I think that men who try to act in a macho fashion are indeed self-indulgent, but that is not what I meant by manly, as I thought I explained. Manly: takes it on the chin, earns a living, brings up a family conscientiously; unmanly: whines, lazes around, walks out on the kids.
            You shouldn’t make assertions about other people’s motives without knowing anything about them, although I admit it can be fun to do.
            Being 60 I don’t feel I have been much influenced by PC; for me the connotations of “man” were more class-based – when I was growing up it seemed the province of a certain type of snob to self-describe as an Oxford man or a Cambridge man, or even a Balliol man, when the individual concerned was clearly an immature 19 year old, so I never acquired a taste for calling myself a man.
            No idea why women call themselves women- I suspect it is because they found “ladies” “girls” “chicks” or “babes” patronising.

          • ArtieHarris

            “Being 60 I don’t feel I have been much influenced by PC”

            That reminds me of the frog sitting in water that is being heated up too slowly for it to notice.

            IOW, you don’t “feel” that you have been much influenced by PC, but you almost certainly have been, would by my guess.

  • Precambrian

    “Where can we go?”

    Maybe you’d like to try ‘self-consciously neurotic kidult’ for size?

  • Giuseppe Cappa

    Whenever I read the word “gender” used out of its only correct meaning (gender is a grammatical category) I feel a compelling urge to shoot with a Beretta 9mm Parabellum.

    • wudyermucuss

      9mm?
      Pussy.
      Real men have AKs.

      • kandanada

        Not the ones on our side.

      • Frank Marker

        Hemingway would have sneered at an effete Italian pistol. A two-barrelled shotgun if you please, sir.

    • ArtieHarris

      The meaning of the word “gender” seems to have changed.

      Perhaps this is at least partly because there are, indeed, people who cannot really be identified as being one sex or another – anatomically speaking.

      • Giuseppe Cappa

        There are two sexes, and we have accurate words for those whose sexual tendencies do not match the natural ones associated with their sex. There is no need for the pol. corr. Newspeak.

    • MacGuffin

      A Lady Beretta, surely?

    • Giuseppe Cappa

      Those who commented on the Beretta M9 being a pistol for effeminates (of either sex) seem to have learned about fire weapons from movies only. The UK should reintroduce compulsory military service.

  • jim

    You’re not a man. You are a whining pussy. An embarrassment..so glad you found a nice girl to share your neuroses with. Can you imagine Robert Mitchum talking like this?. Articles like these are humiliating for anything with a penis. I could barely finish it.

    • wudyermucuss

      I agree Jim.
      I hitched up my pants,scratched my bits,shoved my little girl,lit an ol’ stobie,and swaggered on down the road,shoving a few nerds outtta the way after reading this stuff.
      Real men like us,don’t think,intellectualize or ponder at all.

      • jim

        Lol!!…I’m sure they do..but that’s not ALL they do…Women and the new standard issue betamale believe empathy and compassion trump experience. Emotion outweighs fact. They are more aspirational utopianist.
        The traditional male virtues emphasised experience. At the risk of sounding too much like John Wayne, the old school understood that action is character. A man is what he does…not what he would’vecould’veshould’ve done but only what he did. He is the sum total of his actions .What people say matters less than what they do… We are not what we say or what we think. We are what we do. and what is true of people is also true of countries and cultures…I say we are making the wrong choices but disguising these bad decisions with endless paralyzing blather designed to make us feel virtuous…Life is maybe simpler than we think.We need to link actions and consequences more plainly.

        • Excellent point. Half the people I meet these days have verbal diarrhoea; but seem incapable of actually doing very much. And have little sense that words are important; to be weighed, chosen and used with care. Regular trips to my home village in Yorkshire give some immunity; but even there some of the young are becoming motor mouths.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Good point Jon. People under about 35 seem to be just that. Motor mouths. They butt in , pontificate ( regardless of any real knowledge of a subject), show off endlessly and myopically selfishly. A triumph of images over substance and a burgeoning Americanised fake confidence that hides vast insecurities.

          • Yes. Marketing over substance. The real concern of course is that it’s not sustainable. I’m working in China at the moment and it’s quite noticeable how many of the young, educated Chinese here on the eastern seaboard get on with diligently building up career and family; while many of their western counterparts (and I should point out that my main job is in a semi-UK state organisation) seem to esteem quantity of words over quality of action.

            Among the Guardian-reading types (very many) there is the added hypocrisy of living a kind of double existence based on ‘in principle’ ideas – ie in principle they are pro-Chinese/anti-Western colonial but in fact they have no sympathy with any worldviews outside their own narrow PC dogma; in principle they love Chinese food but in fact eat in Wagga-Wagga and order pizza deliveries; in principle they are pro-the poor but in fact their lack of positive action or thought for the actual needs of others means they do nothing beyond the bare minimum to help their cleaning ladies, and their ‘phone-a-pizza’ lifestyles mean they never use the small shops and street vendors outside their condominiums … etc. etc.

        • Callipygian

          We are what we say and think AND what we do. As my song lyric goes: ‘passions are clouds in proud suspension;/ thoughts are vapour trails into the night…. Your life is what you think of / and what you wish for with all your might’.

        • ArtieHarris

          “Women and the new standard issue betamales believe empathy and compassion trump experience. Emotion outweighs fact. They are more aspirational utopianist.”

          Oh look. There you go again. Trying to portray yourself as an Alpha Male.

          That’s the third time now.

          My impression is that real alpha males do not spend their days on forums surreptitiously trying to convince everyone that they are alpha males.

          IOW, you’re definitely Beta.

          Maybe even Gamma.

          • jim

            Good to see you’ve been paying close attention…and no,most guys do not aspire to be wusses.That’s just you….I don’t claim to be Charles Bronson.All I said was we should try to be more Bronsonesque because if we listen to guys like you we’ll all end up like Oprah… ..comments are private to prevent squealers like you trawling through them looking for something to flag….Anything else I can do for you?.I’m here to help….

          • jim

            Hmmmm…all sounds a bit twinky to me.

    • davidofkent

      John Wayne, surely – “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!”. Apparently he hated riding horses and started life as ‘Marian’.

      • jim

        It was Marion..which believe it or not was a common name for boys at the time,…as was Leslie,Kendall,Avery…and many others. It seems any name which might once have suited both male and female has now been claimed exclusively by females…Not sure if that is such a bad thing..As for horses, a friend of mine is a trainer and loves horses but he swears they are a dangerous combination of physical powersize and small brain capacity. Makes sense to be wary of ’em.

      • Frank Marker

        and managed to get out of the war.

    • PM

      I didn’t finish it but got the picture after a few lines. Please don’t pay this, ahem, ” male ” for this nonsense.

      • ArtieHarris

        Oh look. Another guy trying to pose as an “alpha male”.

        OOOO, PM, you are such a He-Man.

        Not.

        • Cincinnatus

          Shut up, you poofter.

    • ArtieHarris

      Still trying to pretend that you’re an “alpha male”, eh, Jim?

      So, let me spell it out for you.

      Not all men aspire to be macho and ‘manly’.

      As for Mark Mason being neurotic, and a “whining pussy”, GFY.

      • jim

        “Not all men aspire to be macho and ‘manly’.”

        Obviously not.Some aspire to follow in the footsteps of “courageous” trannies like Bruce Jenner.

        “And tell me, why does a self-proclaimed alpha male like you hide your comments, eh?”

        To prevent small furry squeaky little betamales like yourself from trawling through them looking for something to flag. You have the whiff of a blacklister about you.

        • JamesCovey123

          “To prevent small furry squeaky little betamales like yourself from trawling through them looking for something to flag.”

          That’s the fourth time that you’ve tried – unsuccessfully – to portray yourself as an alpha male.

          • jim

            Sorry…didn’t catch any of that at all.. I don’t speak betasqueak. None of us alphas do. Just comes across as so much gibberish. Could someone translate?

          • JamesCovey123

            That’s the fifth time that you’ve tried unsuccessfully to portray yourself as an alpha male.

          • jim

            Nope….still not getting any of it..Is this some sort of tranny thing? It’s a tranny thing, right?

          • LOL. Jim, forget them, quite clearly you haven’t once tried to portray yourself as an alpha male but the fact that these two think you do – and go on repeatedly about it – speaks volumes about them, not you.

  • Observer1951

    Pathetic, grow a pair and grow up

    • davidofkent

      A pair of what, though? These days ‘moobs’ are all too frequent.

    • ArtieHarris

      Shaming language?

      Tell me, what is the equivalent shaming language to “grow a pair” for a woman?

      • MacGuffin

        I can answer that. The equivalent shaming language for a woman is ‘I’ll bet it’s filthy behind your fridge’.

  • Freddythreepwood

    Mark. Do you sit down for a pee? Yes? Then you’re not a man. Sorted.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      You’re the sort of person I left Britain to get away from.

      • Freddythreepwood

        Still. Nice of you to stay in touch.

  • Tamerlane

    The one word that really has hit the dustbin for good is ‘lady’… Not since Essex was invented.

    • Emilia

      ‘Lady’ is useful for admonishing small, disobedient girls.

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        Perhaps he is a ladyman.

  • global city

    Is it coz you prick?

  • Let’s leave articles like this to The Guardian..

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “I’m 43. Why am I still so reluctant to call myself a man?”

    Peter Pan syndrome?

    • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

      43 is 55% of your life over. It is the age at which a man disappears off the radar of nearly all women. It is 3 years from ones peak earning power and the average age of a UK father. If you are not a man by 43 you never will be.

      • ArtieHarris

        “If you are not a man by 43 you never will be.”

        And for women, what is the equivalent?

        • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

          It is harder for a woman.But womanhood should have kicked in by the early 30s.

          • ArtieHarris

            “womanhood should have kicked in by the early 30s.”

            Strange that – given that women’s best reproductive years are about a decade earlier.

            But hey, what would Biology know, eh?

  • wudyermucuss

    Male,man,masculinity has been systematically demonized,ridiculed,delegitimized by the leftist/feminist/progressive hegemony,as female,woman,empowered feminine has been deified.
    Ovaries to the lot of them.

  • redrum

    Don’t be daft – of course you’re not a man at 43.. Boys never grow up in my experience. We’re in Wales this weekend. Totally lost someone came over and said: Are you lost? Him indoors: not really. Me (female): Yes, totally. I rest my case …..

  • Mr B J Mann

    Just listening to one of those “Chinese School” reality thingies and the reaction from a couple of barely teenagers to one of the Chinese teachers’ suggestion that they should respect their parents because parents are always right:

    “Your parents are always right. No. Yeah. If they’re. No. They could be racist, they could be homophobic, they could be sexist, they could be….. misogynistic… what’s that… against women…. no but if they say… their opinion is always right.. yeah… NO!”

    They’ve been at kindergarten, nursery, pre school, infants, junior school, and are now supposedly at one of the best secondary schools in the country, and that’s all they’ve learned!

  • Callipygian

    I find it vaguely annoying that every exercise book I read, written by men (in their 40s and 50s, please note) refers to ‘guys’. This seems to be an American thing, but perhaps it’s not. I never think of men as ‘guys’. I would never romance a ‘guy’, let alone marry one. I’m not interested in what ‘guys’ like or in any peccadillo named as a ‘guy thing’.

    If you’re not a man you’re a woman, a dog, a youth, or an elderly person. I like men best on the whole (for their minds, not their bodies), but they have to be willing to own the title.

    • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

      Who reads exercise books?

      • Callipygian

        I do: I’m in physical training.

    • MacGuffin

      I think ‘guys’ is a perfectly good demotic substitute for ‘men’ and I think it’s a shame for women that they don’t have an equivalent. ‘Girls’ has become such a loaded term.

      • Callipygian

        Why do we need a substitute for ‘men’? It’s not perfectly good for the simple reason that it includes non-men: that’s why it’s used. So for instance the exercise books can talk to 16-year-olds as well as adults. The trouble is that in condescending to the minors and child-men we slight and demote the grown-ups: and men do this to themselves as well as others. I knew a man that on his 40th birthday tossed a ball in the air at the office and declared ‘I’m just a boy at heart’ and my silent reaction was: ‘well you’re not, and you shouldn’t be, either’. Boys like dogs, candies, and farts. Men ought to have moved on!

        • MacGuffin

          The key was in my use of the word ‘demotic’. There are plenty of reasons why languages develop and retain different words that refer to the same things. Are you really saying you see no explanation for the use of, say, ‘women’, ‘ladies’, ‘adult females’, ‘dames’, ‘broads’, and even ‘girls’? You’re not a lover of language, are you.

          • Callipygian

            To the contrary, I’m obsessed with language, live through language, and collect words as a hobby. But some usages annoy me.

          • MacGuffin

            You may be obsessed with it, but your inability – or unwillingness – to acknowledge the usefulness of the demotic ‘guys’ in addition to ‘men’ suggest to me you haven’t really got a feel for it.

            Edit: I didn’t mean that to sound as harsh as it did. But I do get annoyed with people who talk about ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ language, as opposed to different registers.

          • Callipygian

            Blimey. I never talked about ‘correct’. Obviously there is a place for ‘guy’. What you’re missing is the context of the discussion, which is men pretending not to really be men, not to be full grown.

            If there’s one thing the Internet makes very clear, it’s that the obvious always needs stating!

          • MacGuffin

            But in an earlier comment you said ”Why do we need a substitute for ‘men’?”!

          • Callipygian

            Right. Most of the time ‘men’ says everything we need the word to say. But people, or writers of books and articles, go out of their way not to use it because somehow ‘men’ might seem ‘too demanding’! Mine is a social commentary, not a language one as such.

    • blandings

      I’ve got an exercise book from the 70s.
      You can be a desirable hunk in 11minutes a day (no more, no less)
      They were graded exercises and the final part was only suitable for champion athletes (threw that bit away – yeah, dream on).
      The girl’s section is a period delight: deploying ready-to-hand items that very girl would have available; the mop; the broom; the uncomfortable hardback chair; the ironing board (? could be a fantasy, that bit).
      I wonder if it’s still available on Amazon.

      In my part of town a guy was something we set fire to on bonfire night.
      Honey, some of us men have only got bodies to offer – The gene pool has a shallow end, as the joke goes.

      • Callipygian

        Thanks for that thoroughly enjoyable message! The Speccie should give you your own column! :^0

  • Guest

    Grow a pair and next time somebody tell you that ‘you can’t do that’ because it might offend someone,tell them to get fucked ! So well trained and brainwashed by the powers that be.

  • New Zealanders solve this problem with the self-efacing term “bloke”

    • Same in the UK but I wouldn’t call it self-effacing, it is just another VERY common term for man/guy/geezer/whatever; I cannot understand why all the wimps here haven’t already said it! I’ve been using ‘bloke’ all my life. Same in Austrailia too. But nothing wrong with saying “I’m as [insert anything] as the next man”.

      It was also in Cab Calloway’s ‘Minnie The Moocher’ recently revived on BBC radio 2 I think: “She messed around with a bloke named smokey…”

  • Bonkim

    You are a man when you start taking responsibility for your actions – regrettably few today do.

    • ArtieHarris

      I think you’ll find that it is women who seem too bear no responsibility for their actions these days.

      After all, they are all victims of oppression, aren’t they?

      • Bonkim

        They have their human rights to be independent of man – yes.

        • ArtieHarris

          “They have their human rights to be independent of man – yes.”

          Not sure what your point is Bonkim, but the notion that women could ever be independent of men seems unlikely to be true.

          They are still totally dependent on men.

          • Bonkim

            Having a right and achieving that totally different.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Just like Thatcher was.

          • Mark

            She would have found life harder without Denis, indeed, by all accounts she did.

            The best of men and women complement each other’s abilities. The Thatchers actually demonstrate this. Denis had the ability to make the money needed to support wife and family, Margaret the ability and steel to climb the political greasy pole.

            They complemented each other rather than competed.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            I mean the Mont Pelerin society and the CoLC, not Denis.

          • JamesCovey123

            Thatcher’s house was built by men.

            In fact, men build just about everything.

            So, to repeat myself: Women are still totally dependent on men.

        • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

          In Bristol a while ago I saw a group of ladies dressed variously as Wonder woman or the characters from Moulin Rouge. It was about 5pm. They were horribly drunk to the point of vomiting. Shouting obscenities at passers by. Indiscreet with their limited sexual charms . Playing leapfrog in the road, stopping traffic and generally lavish. They carried with them a banner declaring Julie’s mad for it 40th.
          Human rights indeed. Dignity not.

          • Bonkim

            Sad but true – but eccentricity is an English trait. Unless they were causing a nuisance in which case call the Police, just have a laugh. May be these ladies need to have a bit of fun and games now and then, suppressing instincts is not good and Bristol can be an unfriendly place for some. Dignity is a perceived characteristic for the individual to consider.

          • blandings

            OK, OK
            I’ll behave.
            Can’t a dude have fun on his day off?

  • Malcolm Stevas

    Goodness, what comfy lives we lead if we have the leisure to agonise over such things.

    • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

      Foxes lead less comfy lives as you use your leisure time to kill them using an outdated invented tradition as a cover for bloodlust.

      • Malcolm Stevas

        If you didn’t hit the sauce so heavily you might pause before posting this wonderfully daft clapped-out rubbish. OTOH there comes a point when your stupidity and autistic repetitiveness are entertaining, rather than merely irritating.

  • Castro Spendlove

    If you have to ask the question at 43 then you are not a man.

    Now, ask the nice lady the directions to The Guardian’s offices.

  • ohforheavensake

    Mark? You’re a man.

    You’re welcome.

  • ArtieHarris

    Perhaps men have now spent so many ears being demonised and denigrated that they do not want to identify themselves as “men – the lowest form of being, apparently.

    For example, Steve Jones – that oily biologist much loved by the BBC – in his popular “science” book – claims that ALL men are parasites.

    ALL of them.

    That is what he has been teaching his mostly-female undergraduates in Biology for years.

    He claims that men are decadent, and that they are little more than a “sack of guts”.

    And he is being serious.

  • Mark

    Hey Mark, what’s that between your legs? Is it hairy? Is it a penis? If the answer is yes that means that like it or not you are biologically a man.

    Now, are you manly? read Kiplings “If”, it remains as good a guide as any to the subject of manliness.

    Are you protective of your wife and family, do you defend the weak against the strong?
    A read of the values of knightly chivalry should be your next port of call.

    Above all don’t be distracted by the infantilising, effete and effeminate standards of the current times.

    Men are men and will always need to be, and be needed to be.

    • JamesCovey123

      Who are you to try to define what a real man is?

      Men should be who they want to be.

      • Mark

        Who am I? well I am a man, unafraid of the rights and responsibilities that go with the label and role in society.

        My opinion is tempered by experience.

        My view of women likewise, though I am only responsible to and for those who are closest to me.

        I’m not in competition with women, nor they with me.

        Femininity and masculinity complement each other in their differences and similarities.

        “Men should be who they want to be” of course, but what if they can’t? What if “who they want to be” is antisocial, anti women, anti children, greedy and self absorbed…..or a Nietzschian “superman”?

        The life of Christ, Kiplings “If” and The song of Roland give us some guidance on manliness that have endured for centuries.

        • JamesCovey123

          Hey, don’t get all hysterical on me and start becoming all righteous.

          My point is that you don’t get to define what a ‘real’ man is, or what a ‘real’ woman is.

          I don’t have the arrogance to tell you what I expect from you in order to count you as a “man”.

          And you don’t have to be “manly” to be a bona fide “man”.

  • BaraccoBarner

    43 and clueless, gormless, self loathing and pointless.

    • JamesCovey123

      I don’t agree with you.

    • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

      I do agree with you.

  • Dogsnob

    Blokes, fellahs, chaps, ‘erberts – all work.
    But anyway, cheer up: death is looming.

  • Jethro Asquith

    I have a word for you, describes you to a tee based on this article- probaly will get censored – P r i c k

  • edithgrove

    a slow news day I’m guessing

    • AverageGuyInTheStreet

      Its not called the silly season for nothing.

  • MacGuffin

    If you are capable of writing neurotic drivel such as this, then you really have no business calling yourself a man, although ‘girly-man’ might be appropriate.

    • JamesCovey123

      Shaming language MacGuffin?
      Best you can do is hurl empty-headed insults at the author?
      You think that’s manly of you, do you?
      Trust me, it isn’t.
      It’s cowardly.

      • MacGuffin

        It’s not intended to be ‘shaming’ language (not least because the author appears to be quite shameless). It’s intended to be derisive.

        And hey, stop shaming me with words like ‘manly’ and ‘cowardly’ as I get so upset about things I read on the internets waaaaaaaaaahhhhh….!

        • JamesCovey123

          LOL!

  • JamesCovey123

    That was a great piece Mark.

    More of them please.

  • Minstrel Boy

    White men are banned from all Government jobs in that new democratic paradise, The Republic of South Africa. Many leftist feminists are eager to adopt the same policies in the UK, except where they might impede the employment of their own male offspring/partners, if they have any.
    Ms Cooper is a big fan of these ideas, along with all the other harridan sisters who infest the political left. Even that nice Mr Corbyn has been castigated as ‘just another middle-aged, white man’ wanting to control the patriarchal rudder of the ship of state. Fancy not standing aside and giving the job to one of the gaggle of not very representative girlies clamouring for the Big Job!

  • JamesCovey123

    In short, men have been so demonised over the past five decades that men dare not identify themselves as being a “man”.

    To do so nowadays is to claim that you are the lowest of the low.

    That’s why you find it difficult to see yourself as a ‘man’.

  • what’s wrong with ‘bloke’ you wufters!

  • Lucas Nicolato Pereira

    I knew I was a man soon after I became a father. How can you be a father without being an adult? You are responsible for another being, and you need to make hard decisions that may affect your child’s whole life — a boy can’t do that. If men are not willing to become grown-ups what will be of the next generation? Fortunately it seems women are not as childish as that. Better to have a mom and no dad than to have a 40-years old little brother in lieu of a father.

  • Daniel Brock

    What a beta.

  • pyewacket

    Nah, you’ve got it all wrong mate. Grow a beard or at least a goodly amount of stubble. Put on a grubby sleeveless vest and stand in front of a full length mirror. Now flex your biceps really hard while grasping a pint of ale in each hand. Next, in the deepest tone of voice you can muster (admittedly, this bit takes time to perfect if your natural tone is on the namsy pamsy side), assert yourself to them nasty feminist women. Tell ’em you’re a Bloke, a BLOKE. Bigger and betta than all the rest, simply the best. Do this several times a day until you feel confident enough to say it out loud face-to-face with a real feminist on the street. It works a treat mate, believe me.

  • Chingford Man

    Oh grow a pair.

  • Sean L

    Tosser, mate. Pathetic.

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