This much I know
Dylan Jones, GQ editor, 58
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’