Men are in crisis--yet for years I found this subject to be almost taboo. A while ago I was researching a bid for a victim/offender mediation scheme. I was struck by the overwhelming maleness of offenders, but hardly anyone wanted to talk about it. It was OK to cite other predetermining factors such as harsh parental discipline, broken homes and poverty. But not, it seemed, the most obvious one--your biological sex.
The facts speak for themselves. Over 90% of convicted acts of violence are carried out by men, around 90% of children with behavioural problems in school are male and over 80% of children with learning difficulties are boys. Most sexual abuse is committed by males, men routinely fail at close relationships, and fathers are increasingly absent from families.
And it's not a case of men getting away with behaving badly--most victims of violent crime are men, our jails are stuffed to bursting point with men, and the leading cause of death amongst young men is self-inflicted. In 1996 there were almost 6000 suicides in Britain--over 75% by males.
Despite this tragic state of affairs, there is hope because some people are actually talking about it. Crucially, some men are talking about it. In particular, Anthony Clare has recently published Masculinity in Crisis, which gives the bigger picture and is well worth reading.
We have some way to go before both men and women are liberated from their scripts. But at least we've begun to notice what's happening. As a woman I hope to work with people of all genders and sexualities to help change masculinity for the better.
Caz Ford, UK