The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

The Descent of Man

Grayson Perry

The Descent of Man is a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender.

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What does it mean to be male in the 21st Century? Award-winning artist Grayson Perry explores what masculinity is: from sex to power, from fashion to career prospects, and what it could become—with illustrations throughout.

In this witty and necessary new book, artist Grayson Perry trains his keen eye on the world of men to ask, what sort of man would make the world a better place? What would happen if we rethought the macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different ideal? In the current atmosphere of bullying, intolerance and misogyny, demonstrated in the recent Trump versus Clinton presidential campaign, The Descent of Man is a timely and essential addition to current conversations around gender. 

Apart from gaining vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships—and that’s happiness, right? Grayson Perry admits he’s not immune from the stereotypes himself—yet his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness, and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, updating masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups.

Advance Galley Reviews

I rather enjoyed this book. It would be a good pair up with Naomi Kline's "The Beauty Myth". I liked how Perry ponders the question of how the stereotypical male behaviour was started and how to come up with new mindset on what is masculinity. Men's groups should get copies of this book and ponder over it together. Also it would make a good read for young people trying to find their place in the world. And mostly, pink used to be the most masculine colour and blue the most feminine colour before many ad agencies made the switch we know today.

Men. It's difficult to easily summarize what it means to be a man as there are many, often conflicting, ideas that come to mind in describing what a man is and how he should behave. Grayson Perry's The Descent of Man self-reflectively looks at masculinity. A rather quick text of the current state of affairs of how men are perceived by themselves and by others, it does not mount an attack or turn whiny but instead approaches the concept of masculinity with an aim toward highlighting the role that society inevitably plays in forming an "acceptable" version of masculinity and how that can modify attitudes and behaviors relating to equality. While there was research presented on the subject of various gendered topics, much of what was presented seemed more personal or anecdotal in nature, which helped to contextualize the points being made into more of a "here's how this manifests and plays a role in your life," but failed to progress a dialogue on the issues regarding masculinity that were initially raised. This was an enjoyable read but didn't present much new material to foster more meaningful discussions to progress thoughts and actions on the subject; rather it offered readers a rehashing of things they likely already knew. Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.


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