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What does it mean to be a ‘good man’? With so much talk about toxic masculinity, there is, perhaps. a pre-supposition that there is no good masculinity.

This lecture by Dr Nina Power, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University, is based on her forthcoming book, What do Men Want? It is part of the IF Project‘s 2019 lecture series, Thinking Between the Lines: truth, lies and fiction in an age of populism.

Nina Power points to the resentment men feel towards women (and women’s resentment of men). Nowhere is that resentment more apparent than in the male only groups that are springing up such as Fathers for Justice, INCEL men, and Men Going their Own Way (mgtow), whose website says.

Happiness is a man who protects and cares for his family, goes forth and conquers, gives of himself for a greater cause, and ensures his legacy – because that’s what he was made to do………But today’s men are … told to “man up” and tough it out through turbulent waters while being called misogynists for expecting sustenance. They’re shamed into putting down roots in infertile hypergamous soil that offers no support, then are financially ruined and separated from their children when they cannot weather the storm.

It is this that Nina Power, as a feminist, is seeking to understand. Pointing to the popularity of Jordan Peterson – his sell-out book 12 Rules for Life, the fact that he recently filled the O2 Arena in London – she suggests that men are searching for a role. Peterson, says Nina Power, is a patriarchal figure. Patriarchs in the bible like Abraham are protectors, they take responsibility. Feminsts talk about ‘the patriarchy’but where are the patriarchs now? she asks

This lecture roams over the post Me Too fear of touch, male suicide, trans men ,pick-up artists, sex on campus, men who live without contact with women, and time and again, men’s uncertainly about their role.

But we live in a hetero-social society, men and women work together, live together, play together. Nina Power suggests that we need to talk more, understand each other more, and have more fun together.

Photo: “Making Men” by Damien Schumann is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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