1 Man Debate – Is masculinity still relevant?

(Photo by Heidi Valkenburg)

Most of my day is spent writing jokes for other people. So when it comes to writing my own festival show, I lunge at a topic I care about.

I’m currently going through, what I describe, as a quarter-life crisis. This idea needs a little context first.

As our society shifts from a patriarchal culture to a more gender balanced one, there is less pressure for boys to take on traditional responsibilities. Fewer males are getting married young. Many aren’t seeking full-time work but instead are studying or partying longer. There is boyhood, but no longer a clear rite of passage to manhood. So many of us are stuck in ‘guyhood’.

Guyhood is where you haven’t taken on a role where others depend on you. This can mean many guys stay in lower paid jobs and don’t commit to relationships because they can continue being man-children with less consequence.

Males are too diverse in this society for the broad category of ‘men’ to be useful. The hangover from old male stereotypes often don’t fit with young developing men today. From interviews I’ve read and conducted myself, I’ve found that many men can’t pinpoint what makes them masculine. This can manifest in different ways. Some guys just act like dickheads into their 20s and sometimes early 30s because they reject society’s expectations. This includes binge drinking culture, excessive video gaming and unhealthy sex lives. A graver issue is that suicide is the leading cause of death for men age 15-44. Most suicides are men so there is a lot we need to explore if want to address what can often be a neglected problem.

The issues are multifaceted and at times go under the radar. So where do I come in?

I’ve never just been ‘one of the guys’ and I still feel uncomfortable in most ‘boys club’ situations. So my boyhood is long gone, I don’t belong to a guyhood culture and I’m struggling to identify what makes me a man. My new fringe show, 1 Man Debate, is a way of processing masculinity and whether it’s even relevant. I tend to deal with the world by converting it into comedy. So this will be entertaining, rest assured.

The debut season will be during Melbourne Fringe Festival, at Rue Bebelons in the city. You can expect jokes, stories and a great debate about what it means to be a man today. Tickets are on sale now.


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