It’s been a lively few weeks for men’s issue on the national stage since Diane Abbott evoked a debate about the “crisis of masculinity” last month.
Here we provide a snapshot of some of the key media coverage about men and boys in recent weeks.
As the shadow minister for public health, Diane Abbott’s thoughts on men’s issues are worth following. While the media focussed on the more lurid aspects of her speech on masculinity, there was less reporting of the fact that she highlighted men’s poor health and shorter life expectancy, male suicide, male homelessness, substance abuse in men, men’s higher risk of cancer, the impact of unemployment and the recession on men and the under-performance of boys in education.
Glen Poole of Helping Men wrote about Abbott’s speech from at The Guardian and The Good Men Project and also highlighted a less well publicized speech by Labour’s policy co-ordinator, Phil Cruddas in the New Statesman.
Cruddas gave some pointers on Labour’s new thinking around family policy in particular saying that party would do more to value fathers. And dads continued to make headlines thanks to the arrival of Fathers’ Day. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith when the Conservatives were in opposition, made the biggest headlines with a report stating that 1 million children have no contact with their fathers.
They also created a new phrase --- that may or may not catch on --- for areas where children lack male role models generally, which the CSJ now calls ‘man deserts’. Later in the week, David Lammy MP unveiled his own report on fatherhood for the Labour Party policy review. Interestingly, while Lammy and the CSJ took very different tones, some of their key recommendations --- like helping the public sector engage more effectively with fathers --- were the same.
For a snapshot of some of the key fatherhood issues being discussed in the run up to Fathers’ Day, see The Observers leader: Dads aren’t duds, they deserve a better deal.
The week before Fathers’ Day is Men’s Health Week, which this year focussed on men’s mental health. This sparked a great article from Luke Sullivan at Men’s Minds Matter on some of the key mental health challenges facing men.
The surprise revelation that Stephen Fry attempted suicide last year also brought more focus to men’s mental health concerns and was covered intelligently by Ally Fogg at The Guardian.
And the power of celebrity was demonstrated in unexpected fashion when Michael Douglas claimed to have contracted HPV-related throat cancer through oral sex. This sparked renewed calls to give boys the HPV vaccine as well as girls.
All in all, we've see lots of great debates and conversations about men and boys in the past few weeks, let's hope it continues throughout 2013.