The adverts for Fosters on YouTube are just one example of this limited version of male identity.
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The real problem men face today is not the rise of women

Men worry about feminism, as if a culture of women's rights is about to stamp out male identity. But really, it's men who are their own worst enemies.

Apparently, I'm not a real man. The profile of masculinity that exists today, on television and the internet, doesn't fit me whatsoever. I don't drink. I don't watch football. Most egregiously of all, I believe women are my equals. Like millions of men, I'm alienated by the male gender stereotypes that continue to exist. Popular culture tells me that, as a man, I can either be a farting, tattooed sex pest or a defeated, helpless kidult, who needs his wife to cook and clean for him lest he burn down the house. Take a look at TrueLad.com, or the commercials for cleaning products. These are the types of men that pervade today's media. Our brains are ostensibly only interested in three things: sport, drinking and fucking. If we try to do anything else, we'll need a woman to help us.

Men worry about feminism, as if a culture of women's rights is about to stamp out male identity. But really, it's men who are their own worst enemies. In response to feminism, there's been a surge in ultra-male television and writing. TrueLad is one example, so is Man v. Food, those Fosters ads on YouTube and the hugely venomous Return of Kings. This kind of media is – ostensibly - designed to reclaim a lost kind of maleness. It tells young men that it's acceptable to adhere to their basest instincts, to eat, drink and laze around, and expect subservience from women. But rather than empower or reinvigorate the male gender, this lad culture is retarding it. An entire generation of men is learning, by osmosis, that tolerance, restraint and self-improvement are all virtues that are unmanly, and that ascribing to higher behaviour than “laddishness” is to rebel against their genetics. It's leaving men looking outmoded, childish, irrelevant. If masculine emotional attitudes had matured at all since the Stone Age, then much of that progress has now gone up in smoke thanks to the male media's puerile response to new feminism. It's as if men are throwing out their cars and going back to the bicycle. The version of maleness that lad culture seeks to reclaim is resoundingly at odds with today's world.

Reclaiming men's social position by reintroducing pre-war male attitudes is a mission that fails as soon as it starts. Firstly, of course, men have nothing to reclaim. The structure of societies in both the East and West are already tipped grossly in men's favour. And if ultra-male culture is a response to feminism then, unsurprisingly, it's missed what feminism is about: an end to inequality; the formation of new ideologies that don't favour or threaten one gender over another.

But secondly, it's absurd to believe that men, by returning to primitive and misogynistic behaviours, would deserve a higher position in society, or a position in society at all. If men truly are worried that their voices are becoming distant, then it's only with advanced learning, greater understanding and informed opinions that they can expect to be listened to more closely. A perspective on social issues won't be affirmed by acting childishly, or by complaining that men aren't allowed to whistle at women in the street any more. It'll be done, basically, by thinking and talking more like feminists.

I'm distressed that young men, people I know and have grown up with, today take pride in infantile behaviour. I'm distressed that it's considered unmale to engage with politics, or to express an emotion that can't be compartmentalised as either a “man-hug” or a “bromance”. The real problem males face today is not, of course, a rise of women – it's a shrinking of men. It's the presence of lad culture, driving us mad, like the lead in the Romans' water.

Brave and vital forces for social change are finally starting to occur. By stomping our feet, pretending these things aren't happening and retreating to poxy Boyz Only clubs, not only are we slowing long-needed progress, we're writing ourselves out of history.

Edward Smith is a writer based in Liverpool. Follow him on Twitter @mostsincerelyed.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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