Sunday Herald Sun

What’s a man now? Still we ask

- PETER GLEESON PETER GLEESON IS A SUNDAY HERALD SUN COLUMNIST AND PRESENTS THE FRONT PAGE ON SKY NEWS, MONDAY TO THURSDAY, 11PM peter.gleeson@news.com.au

BRITISH musician Joe Jackson is one of those classic 1980s songwriter­s who fused soul with punk, new wave with jive, referred to by critics as “power pop’’.

One of his best and most haunting songs is Real Men. When it was released in 1982, Jackson told Billboard magazine the song was about the “age-old battle of the sexes’’.

“I think the average male has had his masculinit­y and supremacy threatened to the point where he’s not sure what it is he’s supposed to do. Intelligen­t, forward-thinking in the sexual arena is being done by women. It’s all about the way stereotype­s have reversed, turned upside down and become meaningles­s.’’

Sound familiar? Maybe that explains these lyrics: “Man makes a gun, man goes to war. Man can kill and man can drink. And man can take a whore. Kill all the blacks, kill all the reds. And if there’s war between the sexes, then there’ll be no people left.’’

Make no mistake, there’s a global revolution going on and women are at the forefront. In Australia, the polling damage being inflicted upon the Prime Minister is real and it’s being led by young females intent on righting what they see as entrenched wrong.

Scott Morrison’s stocks with women — particular­ly those under 40 — have plummeted and the Labor Party, which is just as bad on its treatment of women, is using the war among the sexes to undermine his leadership.

Workplace behaviour is being scrutinise­d. Employers are concerned at their liability with new laws set to be passed in federal parliament. The prank is dead. The 1970s ribald humour is gone.

But here’s the scary thing. A significan­t majority of men treat women with great respect and generosity of spirit. The narrative being promulgate­d by some that all men are misogynist pigs is not true.

We must be very careful as a society not to over-egg this issue or to set some men up for an innocent fall. Some women are not as enamoured with the feminist movement as others, fearful their sons or grandsons might be unfairly targeted.

This issue is being referred to by senior lawyers as the “new morality’’. Jackson cottoned on to the so-called “new morality’’ nearly four decades ago. He mused that the price to pay was the emasculati­on of masculinit­y. Or as some say, toxic masculinit­y.

Call me old-fashioned, but isn’t it easier to make love, not war?

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