Book rating: ****
Book review: Inside Man – Pioneering Stories about Men and Boys
Editors: Dan Bell and Glen Poole
Publisher: Matador Books . £12. Click the book cover below to purchase the book.
What is the truth about what goes on inside a man’s head? There’s a thing. I know many may be reading this thinking that’s easy – all men think about is women, sex, food and football. Well you’d not be far wrong, the remaining 5% of time men are thinking about everything from their role, place and status in society, fatherhood, rights (or lack of) as a father should things go wrong in their relationship, health, body image, education, children, loneliness, depression, suicide, equal rights, gender inequality (where men are the disadvantaged gender) and many other topics.
Joking aside, I think you’ll gather from the non exhaustive list above that life is more complicated for men than thinking about/seeking a few of life’s more pleasurable experiences. Thus anyone seeking a simple list of things going on in men’s minds will be disappointed. If you thought men are merely simple creatures whereas women are complex people you are way of the mark, for men can and do experience just as complex a range of concerns, emotions and feelings as women. Whilst I do not deny that in the main there is a more basic simplicity to what keeps the average man happy compared to the average woman, I think if a man’s basic need for food, shelter, water … plus women, Sky Sports, drink and ahem, more food, are satisfied, a man will generally be a contented creature, but there is often a lot going on under the surface that can upset this contentment.
Inside Man – Pioneering Stories about Men and Boys, edited by Dan Bell and Glen Poole, is a collection of writings from a wide range of expert male voices focusing on many of the aforementioned real and serious concerns many men experience.
Most of the chapters are no more than four pages which makes for a short and snappy read. Nonetheless for all that brevity a lot of ground is covered which makes for an insightful and educational read. For example you discover in one case that despite a father being passionately against his new born son being circumcised, he had a battle on his hands to stop his partner and wider family from making this happen. You’ll have to read the book to find out the outcome of that drama.
There was talk from another man about how being so driven and work focused led to feelings of “being a lone wolf at 30, isolated at 40, lonely at 50.” This serves as a warning to those men who focus on success at the expense of building, maintaining and nurturing friendships and relationships. It’s well known that 78% of suicides of those aged under 40 are committed by men. Around About 12 men a day call it a day. It’s a serious issue that the men and women of this country need to understand and address.
As well as this, essentially the book provides a glimpse into various areas of male concern and a stepping stone to doing further reading and research on any given topic.
There are many more memorable chapters including those from Guardian Journalist Ally Fogg discussing the under-reported, often barely believed, yet horrific stories of domestic violence against men; Daily Telegraph Journalist Martin Daubney discussing the gross generalisation and hatred (largely by the metropolitan, liberal, elite media) of white working class football fans as hooligans; James Withy (Recovery Letters) talking about how men can recover from the edge of suicide; Phil Mitchell (no, not that one, another one – Project Co-ordinator Blast) talking about how society turns a blind eye to male victims of sexual abuse.
InsideMan is a collection of serious, yet concise stories about men’s lives’ that is by turns educational, insightful, emotional, sad, serious, funny, heart warming and thought provoking. By shining a spotlight on often unspoken issues the book has provided a springboard for more conversations, talks, debates and above all a call to action. Once you start reading the book, it is hard to put down; and that’s saying something, from me who usually can start and leave a book for months, before returning to it again! The fact that I managed to finish it in just 6 days is testimony to just how absorbing a read it is.
For many years the fight for women’s equality has taken centre stage and I would say has been mostly extremely successful – witness the higher academic achievement of girls and women compared to boys and men at all levels of education from primary school to university and the higher earnings of women in their 20’s and 30’s compared to their male peer group. In the push for equality for women, men and boys equality has fallen by the wayside. In reality, equality should always have been defined as equal rights for *both* girls and boys, women and men. That has clearly not been the case in so many areas of life, hence the reason for this important book and the campaign to get men’s and boy’s equality on the political agenda. The continued failure to do this and the failure to address these issues does not benefit wider society, girls or women, boys or men, in the present or future years ahead.
The book and the men’s movement underpinning it will prove vital in the battle to create a more equal society where all genders can have their voice heard and enjoy the benefits of equal rights.
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Inside Man – Purchase for £12 via the book cover image above or here
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