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If only men were more like women…

“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Rex Harrison with Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady

Caitlin Moran’s much-anticipated new book, What About Men?, has the “admirable” intention of helping out lost young males, says Kathleen Stock in UnHerd. Unfortunately, reviewers seem to agree it does a pretty bad job of it. Moran believes not only that masculinity is “wholly cultural”, but that there’s only one version of it, “entirely based on her husband”. Every bloke in the world likes rock music, wears decrepit gym gear and won’t talk to his friends about fatherhood or relationships. Women, too, are apparently all just like she is – “dorky, warm, garrulous and funny” – and sit around drinking tea, having “super-deep conversations about anxiety and sorrow”.

The main issue seems to be a complete denial that there are any biological differences between girls and boys. So it follows that because women aren’t born knowing, but instead learn how to have complex emotional conversations, men can do the same if they “try hard enough”. Moran suggests boys could improve their emotional intelligence by reading books and watching films typically enjoyed by girls – she suggests Anne of Green Gables and Golden Girls – failing to mention the “massive amounts of testosterone” that mean they often prefer hobbies like “destroying aliens on screen”. And by removing any sense of difference between the sexes, there’s no mention of what is “wonderful about masculinity”: being loyal and protective and, dare I say it, “crying less”. To treat feminine traits as a “study programme” that young boys can master if they would just try harder is setting them up for failure, “and they don’t need more of that”.

📚🤦‍ The first “outright catastrophe” in Moran’s book appears on page 13, says Will Lloyd in The New Statesman, when she claims that she “couldn’t think of any book, play, TV show or movie that basically tells the story of how boy-children become men”. Hang on a minute, what? How about the Star Wars movies, which Moran herself goes on to reference “at what feel like 10-page intervals”? Or David Copperfield? Kim? Sons and Lovers, The Rachel Papers, The Catcher in the Rye? Has Moran heard of… Harry Potter? “There are seven of those.” It’s the first of many “surreal claims” that made me wonder if she “has ever met a man”.