This much I know

Dy­lan Jones, GQ ed­i­tor, 58

The Observer Magazine - - NEWS -

Dy­lan Jones

Thirty years ago, GQ launched as a yup­pie bi­ble, a mag­a­zine that cel­e­brated a very par­tic­u­lar type of fi­nan­cial suc­cess and am­bi­tion, but we are a world away from 1988, when louche be­hav­iour was the norm. We sur­vived the long tail of the 90s “new lad” cul­ture, ar­riv­ing in a place where women are more prom­i­nent and pow­er­ful.

I have a vague mem­ory of be­ing taken to see A Hard Day’s Night in the West End by my mother. A mat­inée I think. When­ever I’m asked about my favourite film I al­ways say The God­fa­ther II or White Christ­mas, but ac­tu­ally it’s prob­a­bly this, the first film I ever saw.

Do­ing the Hoff­man Process last year [a res­i­den­tial self-im­prove­ment course] was a fas­ci­nat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that I would rec­om­mend to any­one go­ing through a pe­riod of un­cer­tainty. One of the things it brought up, and some­thing I had buried for over 40 years, and in fact had com­pletely for­got­ten about, was be­ing locked un­der the stairs for hours af­ter be­ing re­peat­edly beaten by my fa­ther. Which is a lot dif­fer­ent from be­ing taken to see a Bea­tles film by my mother.

Since the #MeToo and Time’s Up move­ments, women are find­ing a voice to ex­press them­selves and cham­pion equal­ity across all walks of life. But where has this left the men of the world? Right­minded men ev­ery­where are think­ing: “Am I re­ally that bad?” We’re feel­ing sorry for our­selves, not be­cause we feel as though we’ve done any­thing wrong, but be­cause a me­dia-driven kan­ga­roo court has deemed us all guilty as charged.

My big­gest fear as a par­ent [Jones has two daugh­ters] was the thought that one day I might not be able to pro­tect them, and that out­side forces would con­spire against them. Did I do a good job? I ac­tu­ally think I did. They’re still in one piece.

Sui­cide is still the largest killer of men un­der 30, while de­pres­sion has be­come recog­nised as a le­git­i­mate ill­ness rather than an em­bar­rass­ment. The in­ter­net has en­cour­aged more de­bate about men­tal-health is­sues in men, while we have be­come far less wor­ried about dis­cussing de­pres­sion in pub­lic. As men, our un­der­stand­ing of se­ri­ous men­tal in­sta­bil­ity has also been le­git­imised by the way in which post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der in the armed forces is now not just ac­cepted, but ex­pected.

Peo­ple will al­ways want glam­our, al­ways want movie stars. But what ev­ery­one re­ally wants these days is hon­esty, trans­parency and some­thing they can be­lieve in.

Though in 2008 I “came out” as a Tory, to­day I wouldn’t de­scribe my­self as a Con­ser­va­tive. Right now, the party lead­ing our coun­try feels like a throw­back to the 1990s, and the thought of Ja­cob Rees-Mogg be­ing taken se­ri­ously by the elec­torate is fright­en­ing. I have lit­tle faith in Theresa May’s abil­ity to turn things around, but I have even less faith in the al­ter­na­tives. Jeremy Cor­byn’s at­ti­tude to­wards an­ti­semitism is baf­fling, and his re­fusal to do any­thing about the can­cer in his party is, even from a strictly po­lit­i­cal point of view, in­sult­ing.

If you don’t em­brace get­ting older, you’re not only a fool, you’re also the kind of per­son who prob­a­bly be­lieves in the tooth fairy.

There has been such a back­lash against mas­culin­ity in the last year, but I hon­estly be­lieve that we – both men and women – will come out of this pe­riod bet­ter than we went into it. Some men might not like the way it makes us feel, but in truth we know that a gen­uine re­cal­i­bra­tion of the sexes is needed. ■

Dy­lan Jones is the ed­i­tor-in-chief of GQ, chair­man of the Hay Foun­da­tion Trust and menswear chair­man of the British Fash­ion Coun­cil

‘I was beaten and locked un­der the stairs by my fa­ther. I buried that for over 40 years, for­got all about it’

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