"Whither men?" It's a question which guides Anthony Clare's thoughtful, and provocative, new book On Men: Masculinity in Crisis
. Best known as the voice of psychiatry on radio--three volumes of the popular series of interviews, In the Psychiatrist's Chair
, have already been published--Clare is an acute observer of the dilemmas of contemporary cultural life. On Men
takes an unabashed look at the "crisis" so often supposed to threaten men and their masculinity in our new "Age of the Amazon" (to borrow his phrase). Under siege from all quarters--as breadwinners, lovers, husbands and fathers--the image of manhood that emerges from Clare's analysis is at once powerful and fragile, menacing and menaced. Clare does not shy away from the hard questions facing men as perpetrators of political and personal violence, their "capacity to inflict terrible suffering with seeming indifference and even delight" as he puts it in a discussion of the (exceptionally elusive) origins of male violence. But if the first half of the book is dominated by various forms of a generalised male malignancy--and the equally various attempts to account for it from evolutionary biology to feminism--the second half turns more directly to the problem of men in their relations to women, children and family. Clare is preoccupied by the question of men as fathers
, finding evidence of a pervasive devaluation of paternity in the rise in divorce rates and the "visiting father", for example, as well as developments in reproductive technology. His concern at that devaluation suggests the complexity of Clare's position: sympathetic with some feminist criticism of traditional formations of masculinity (instrumentalist, dominating, emotionally isolated), Clare is also keen to retrieve something of the "old man"--the father who knows how to love and protect his children, a man who is strong enough to bear intimacy, and to hear the final challenge of On Men
: "a man has got to add up to something". --Vicky Lebeau
Acclaimed new book on masculinity from Ireland's and Britain's most popular psychiatrist
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.