The Descent of Man

BlogGraysonPerryBookGrayson Perry is always worth listening to.  I loved his television series about identity and the exhibitions that have emerged.  I also enjoyed his Reith lectures so I was keen to read about his views on modern masculinity.  This book sets out his perspective on male behaviour.  The list of negative factors is high and I can see some of these traits in myself but the answers are more elusive.  The book is still enjoyable, though, even with some contradictory features:  at one point he praises National Service as a rite of passage for young men while also decrying the violence that seems to be latent in all males.  He sees gender equality as a good thing but National Service targeted only young men.

The illustrations are amusing, as you would expect and I was struck by the fact that one double page spread was more eloquent than the narrative on the pages that led up to it.

Obviously, he has a certain outsider perspective since he dresses as a young girl as part of his persona.  He does not use this as a special platform from which to view manhood, rather he is clear about the masculine traits he sees in himself.  However, as a transvestite he has developed an ability to observe men from a different angle.

The status quo for males is not healthy for men or women and this is an attempt to draw attention to it.  I read it because Grayson Perry always has something worthwhile to say.  At the end, I should have been more satisfied with clearer points for action.  After all, recognising the need to win or to dominate every situation is only recognising the problem, not solving it.



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