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The Descent of Man (2016)

por Grayson Perry

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16910122,764 (3.84)14
"What does it mean to be male in the 21st Century? Award-winning artist Grayson Perry explores what masculinity is: from sex to power, from fashion to career prospects, and what it could become--with illustrations throughout. In this witty and necessary new book, artist Grayson Perry trains his keen eye on the world of men to ask, what sort of man would make the world a better place? What would happen if we rethought the macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different ideal?Inthe current atmosphere of bullying, intolerance and misogyny, demonstrated in the recent Trump versus Clinton presidential campaign,The Descent of Manis a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender. Apart from gaining vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships--and that's happiness, right? Grayson Perry admits he's not immune from the stereotypes himself--yet his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness, and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, updating masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups"--"In this witty and necessary new book, artist Grayson Perry trains his keen eye on the world of men to ask, what sort of man would make the world a better place? What would happen if we rethought the macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different ideal? In the current atmosphere of bullying, intolerance and misogyny, demonstrated in the recent Trump versus Clinton presidential campaign, The Descent of Man is a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender. Apart from gaining vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships--and that's happiness, right? Grayson Perry admits he's not immune from the stereotypes himself--yet his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness, and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, updating masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups"--… (mais)
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Very easy to read and although Perry's not saying anything particularly new, it's doesn't reduce the importance of the message surrounding the nature of masculinity - particularly in an ever increasingly automated age and future. Particularly interesting to read after watching his recent documentaries on the same subjects which he touched upon in detail surprisingly little here.

As short as it is, it still feels a little overstretched near the close and I'm not sure I agree with all his conclusions, but this is more of a discussion surrounding the issues than a guidebook for fixing all ills. Feels very weak as well when touching upon women and femininity, not the purpose of the book granted. Interesting read though and a useful primer for hopefully a more mainstream audience on these ideas. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
I'm a big Grayson Perry fan, his pots, tapestries, and other art, as well as his great documentaries, but I was mildly disappointed in this volume, which didn't tell me anything about masculinity I didn't know. I think its main problem was that it was a book based on his series, rather than the other way around.

It was one of the books discussed at last night's book group (2 males in attendance, relatively silent, unusual). What one of the men did ask though, was who was the book written for, and posited that Perry had written it more for female readers. Perry, as a cross-dresser, admits to being more comfortable with women, Steve thought that we were more his audience. It has some legs, but I don't think it is exclusively so.

Although he doesn't give many suggestions how to achieve it, he believes that there needs to be a redefinition of masculinity, as he suggests most men are flailing around, hanging on to outdated versions of what the male of the species should be in a world that no longer supports those ideas, and with male suicides in the majority in men between 19-46 years old, the change needs to be sooner rather than later. ( )
  Caroline_McElwee | Feb 1, 2020 |
This book presents Grayson Perry's perspective on what it means to be a man -- and what it should mean -- in today's world. It contains some insights, but was generally much lighter than I was expecting...it's more of an essay that an exploration of how society is valuing men and how men are coping with new, broader expectations than those placed on them in the past. An interesting intro to the topic, but I was looking for something more analytical. ( )
  LynnB | Nov 29, 2018 |
One of the fundamental problems that I can see with gender relations is all to do with nomenclature. The separation of character attributes into 'masculine' and 'feminine' is reductive to the point of stress and tension, and makes it hard for men to address aspects of their character that might fall into the 'wrong' category. If only somebody had had the foresight to name these categories 'Type A' and 'Type Z', so that there would be a whole alphabet of possible combinations of character types....

In 'The Descent of Man', Grayson Perry looks at what it means to be a man in the twenty-first century, as well as what it should mean. The term 'toxic masculinity' is one that has become almost cliched, but here Mr Perry wisely dismantles the various arguments for any kind of return to 'traditional' male values. To survive in the modern world, we men must transcend the limits we place on ourselves and on each other, and work more to build the skills that the new world demands. Furthermore, we must not see that making room for people of different backgrounds and origins is necessarily to our detriment - with increased diversity in every field of life comes diversity of outcomes and possibilities for us all. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Sep 26, 2018 |
This is a short enjoyable look at masculinity and gender and includes some great illustrations. It's very accessible and will probably reach a wider audience than some other feminist texts, so on those grounds is a good introduction to these themes. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Aug 8, 2018 |
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"What does it mean to be male in the 21st Century? Award-winning artist Grayson Perry explores what masculinity is: from sex to power, from fashion to career prospects, and what it could become--with illustrations throughout. In this witty and necessary new book, artist Grayson Perry trains his keen eye on the world of men to ask, what sort of man would make the world a better place? What would happen if we rethought the macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different ideal?Inthe current atmosphere of bullying, intolerance and misogyny, demonstrated in the recent Trump versus Clinton presidential campaign,The Descent of Manis a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender. Apart from gaining vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships--and that's happiness, right? Grayson Perry admits he's not immune from the stereotypes himself--yet his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness, and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, updating masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups"--"In this witty and necessary new book, artist Grayson Perry trains his keen eye on the world of men to ask, what sort of man would make the world a better place? What would happen if we rethought the macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different ideal? In the current atmosphere of bullying, intolerance and misogyny, demonstrated in the recent Trump versus Clinton presidential campaign, The Descent of Man is a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender. Apart from gaining vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships--and that's happiness, right? Grayson Perry admits he's not immune from the stereotypes himself--yet his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness, and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, updating masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups"--

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