Why is a woman doing this? | Modern Masculinity

Over the past 12 weeks Guardian journalist Iman Amrani has been speaking to men around the country about masculinity and the issues affecting them. From Jordan Peterson and purpose in life, to young people and role models, the series has explored a range of questions. As we begin to round up series one of Modern Masculinity, Iman answers some of the questions and comments about the series that viewers have responded it.
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This may be the last episode in this
series on modern masculinity
or it might not be.
We’ve gone from the first episode
where I looked at Jordan Peterson
and why he’s popular.
You can either choose your damn limitation
or you can let it take you unaware when you’re 30.
There I met Neil who I followed into the second episode,
at his barbershop in Leeds.
The third episode I did was with six
quite well-known men.
The fourth episode was
with Football Beyond Borders, a charity
which uses football as a form of outreach.
And the last episode we did was in
Brighton with some of the men from a Band of Brothers.
To start my son on football,
I took him to a Brighton game,
bought him all the Brighton gear
and he cheered on Huddersfield.
I loved it, I really enjoyed the conversations I’ve had,
I’ve met some amazing people
and your comments ended up being really, really
important in terms of how we built the next episodes.
So thank you very much for
engaging with this series and putting forward your ideas
and just being so nice mostly.
But yeah, I know there’s so much more that could be
covered, definitely, so – I know.
I would very much like to come back
to this subject.
I’m going through the comments here,
looking at some of the points and I want to answer
some of the recurring themes that come up.
This question has come up a lot.
Modern masculinity brought to you by …
some woman.
Get a guy to do a modern femininity series.
The thing is, it was my idea
because I was really, really interested in this
and I think that perhaps
these people agree with me
that identity politics in many ways
feels like it’s gone a little bit too far.
I don’t really want to sit
and talk about my experience as a woman,
I don’t want to write about
having a vagina or, you know,
my race, or my ethnicity
or background all the time.
As a journalist, I feel like I can feed
my own curiosity, listen to other people
and try and like communicate some
of that forwards to a wider audience.
That’s what I see my role as being.
I’m not trying to push ideas
on to people, I’ve really tried to let
people say what it is they think and
have the room to express themselves.
So, these questions about: ‘Imagine if they
did a series on women and femininity
and it was presented by a man’ … well, if the man
came and did it with respect and listening
and didn’t try and jump down everyone’s throats
and did it in exactly the same kind of way,
I would think that would be a
great thing and actually kind of pushes us forward
and makes us have to step out of our own bubble
which I think is the only way that we can move forward
Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills Balmont and causes a red card for him.
A couple of people have made this observation:
‘See how her accent changed
depending on her audience?’
This was all this person has said.
Do an inevitable montage of me speaking
in all these funny accents.
I meet a lot of men who as soon
as they’re around any other men,
they start speaking completely differently.
You just said Brexit is kind of lies still.
This crisis in masculinity.
I never do any gardening, ever.
But that isn’t what I want to focus on today.
If I’m totally honest,
doing these videos working for the Guardian,
and sometimes you know you feel
like you’re supposed to speak in a certain way,
and you’re supposed to be professional …
When I get a conversation with people,
I just feel like there’s a gap if I’m trying to be
too kind of like, professional or whatever,
and it just, it puts barriers up.
So I find that the way I spoke to people
was how I naturally wanted to speak to people
and how I do speak anyway.
But yeah, I can see how that would throw people.
You won’t find anybody who’s
average in all respects, it just doesn’t exist.
And it’s called that jaggedness principle.
‘Iman, why are you misrepresenting men all the time
by going to these fringe marginalising niches
and claiming it’s about male masculinity?’
‘Again, you’re going to fringe groups
and trying to imply generalisation to the public.’
‘Good attempt though, keep going.’
That’s really lovely, isn’t it?
The point people made about the men
I’ve spoken to not being representative
and I just feel like, there’s no average man.
There is no Joe Bloggs, that doesn’t exist.
You can’t get everybody into a series like this,
what I said I was going to try and do
was get some different voices
that we don’t usually hear from.
People need to communicate more like,
judge me because I’m wearing a hood …
People don’t like what they don’t understand.
But people aren’t looking to try and
understand the things that they don’t like.
Broadly speaking, I’ve achieved
that kind of aim I went out with,
we’ve got young men, teenagers
who we speak on behalf of
when we’re really concerned about, you know,
mental health, knife crime and everything
we never really get them to speak for themselves.
I’ve spoken with Jordan Peterson fans
without kind of jumping down their throat
and being like, what he says is really damaging here,
like I’ve sat down I’ve gone like,
let me just hear what you think.
He’s absolutely challenging …
particularly Guardian readers,
I should think a lot of what they think and say.
He expresses his ideas without any worry
about whether he’s PC or not.
And that’s refreshing.
So for those who feel like, they personally
haven’t been represented in this series,
I do apologise but I do
hope that there are threads that come
throughout this, you know, the things
people have said about the relationships with their dads,
or things that … you know,
because everyone’s got a dad.
The things that people have said about,
you know, role models growing up
and societal expectation …
You know, I just hope that these threads
resonate with you regardless of where you’re from
and also regardless of if you’re a man or a woman,
you know, that’s what this is supposed to be doing,
is building bridges every which way.
Someone say, ‘give this like
a bloody award or something,
absolutely brilliant journalism!’
Yes, Hassan … we are not related, yes Hassan.
Oh my goodness, it’s just so nice.
Just what’s on my screen now,
there’s someone saying, ‘great journalism’,
‘so glad that’s being talked about’,
‘same attitude changed my life’,
‘awesome journalist’, ‘what a incredible series’
‘respect to Iman Amrani for reminding
me what real journalism looks like’ …
So there’s been a lot of discussion about
what real journalism looks like
and I think quite a few traditional
journalists would be laughing at this series
being called real journalism.
Some journalists would think that I have
kind of been too soft,
and that I should have pushed back,
and I should be presenting the alternative arguments, every point in the interest of balance.
So, there’s lots of questions about
what real journalism is.
It seems to me that if I’m going to go out and try to have these conversations with members of the public,
they’re not people with profiles, they’re not
famous, like it would be weird for me
to challenge them in a way that you
might with a politician or somebody
who’s got like a status or authority and
they have responsibilities to answer to.
I’m just trying to talk to guys about
their experiences.
If I push back really hard, if I start trying to,
you know, present the balanced view and
put the opposite of what they’re saying
up against them,
it’s just going to shut down the conversation really
and that’s why I thought like
what’s really, really important in this
to just be allowing
them that space to express themselves.
… or fella.
You were going to say, be a better man,
weren’t you?
That was one question,
which I asked in the beginning of the series, which was,
is masculinity in crisis?
Because this is the language
we often hear around masculinity.
‘The MeToo movement against sexual harrasment.’
‘Gilette’s latest ad campaign is a war on men
and masculinity and mankind as we know, it’s my view.’
‘The hashtag MeToo movement
claimed two new victims
common sense and male dignity.’
‘Men. Is masculinity in crisis?’
That’s a really big question.
And I didn’t ever think we
would get an answer to that necessarily.
What this series has taught me is that
everything can feel like it’s in a crisis
when the conversation is so polemic and
it’s just kind of two completely opposing ends
of a spectrum
which don’t kind of represent loads of
the people who are in the middle,
kind of going, actually, you know,
now I feel like this might be a crisis
because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be saying
and that feels the same when it
comes to politics when it comes to like,
you know the state of affairs today,
women, young people, everything feels like it’s a crisis
because the debate is just so extreme.
‘Tofu eating, male feminist virtue
signalling, beta orbiter, soy boys.’
I’ve had conversations that have challenged my ideas,
I’ve had conversations that have put me on a path
made me think, ‘yeah’, you know, the idea of community we need to properly engage with that.
Intergenerational relationships
like the idea of purpose and meaning.
But it’s opening up, going
and speaking to people, having a discussion
in a way that allows people
to express themselves and not feel
attacked all the time and it’s two-way,
you know, it works both ways
and those are such simple, simple things
which I feel like they get thrown out the window
because of the way we engage on social
media, because of these like increasingly
separated and fractured groups that we have.
So just want to say, whether or not there
is a crisis of masculinity.
There’s so much positivity,
there is so many amazing people out there,
there are people that we do not
hear from and they have a lot to say
and I think that it’s
from there that we’re going to come up
with solutions to the individual
questions in this kind of broad area of masculinity
and whether or not it’s in crisis.
So, there you go, that’s my findings.
Make sure you like, comment and subscribe,
so you can stay up to date
with all of the stuff we’re working on here
and yeah, just let us know what
you thought about the series.
See you later.

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