Hail the prophet of masculinism

With `The Whole Man', Dr Greer has returned to one of the most important issues of our time: men

IT IS now almost 30 years since Dr Gerry Greer, then a flamboyant and fast-living hero of the counterculture, redefined late 20th-century gender roles in his ground-breaking polemic New Balls Please: Towards a New Masculinity. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the book prompted millions of words, thousands of Men's Studies courses at universities, and hundreds of international conferences, where leading male thinkers could discuss the changing role of men in society with other leading male thinkers.

Now, with the long anticipated publication of his new book The Whole Man, Greer has returned to one of the most important issues of our time: men. Yes, Gerry Greer is back - and this time he's angry.

Of course, as many of our leading male writers have pointed out over the past week, we have all come a long way since the days of New Balls Please. Sometimes, over the past three decades, it has seemed that hardly a week could go by without the publication of yet another study raising new and ever more provocative topics.

What kind of male orgasm is now politically acceptable? Why is the all- important role that men play in modern society so often taken for granted - indeed, sometimes not even mentioned at all? What should we do about the media's obsession with unacceptable male role-models, from Jack Nicholson to Liam Gallagher, who reinforce sexist stereotypes of men as randy, unreliable, slobbish and rude? Is it acceptable for a concerned, post-New-Balls man to dress sexily, in figure-hugging jeans? Does conforming to the socially approved habit of, say, removing excess hair from one's nostrils represent an acceptance of an oppressive feminine aesthetic?

Dr Gerry Greer was in the forefront of these urgent male debates. When he revealed to a shocked world that, at the age of 19, he had been sexually harassed by an older woman, many of his fellow male writers were quick to confess that they too had been traumatised by ravening, exploitative women. For the first time, it became movingly clear that, in a very real sense, all men were essentially victims.

Now and then, a woman would try to enter the debate with contributions which all right-thinking men quickly recognised as misguided, opinionated or simply irrelevant.

Encouraged by the flukish success of the American best-seller Iron Joanna, an absurd and frankly rather sinister new-age volume which encouraged women to go to the woods together and get in touch with their inner bitches, British writers like Nellie Lyndon and Davida Thomas published books expressing a female perspective on the gender debate. They were widely ridiculed by all right-thinking men as hopeless inadequates whose views were utterly irrelevant to what was essentially an all-male debate.

Not that the views of Dr Gerry Greer always found favour with what the media had come to describe as "the brotherhood". On one occasion he fell out with a fellow writer who had falsely alleged that Greer's views on parenthood had been informed by a decision to have a vasectomy at the age of 25. A discussion ensued in which Gerry described his critic as a bald-pated git with fuck-me brogues and three pairs of socks stuffed down the front of his underpants.

If, at this point, certain people had become tired of the debate, they did not include publishers or features editors. Dr Greer was paid pounds 500,000 to update his views. The Daily Telegraph excitedly serialised it for a week. Less important news topics - the world economy, the future of Europe, the rise of biotechnology, the death of the countryside - were kicked out of the broadsheet newspapers to make way for page after page in which every prominent media male was asked to react to Dr Greer's exciting new views.

Naturally, there were a few nay-sayers and sexists who argued that, after 30 years, the New Balls debate had become little more than a media circle jerk of interest only to the writers participating in it. It was said that most of the questions being discussed by this small, self-obsessed group of pundits were utterly irrelevant to the lives of men in the outside world, earning a living or bringing up a family. The subject had become dull, it was argued. While the discussion of gender relations had once been important, there really were rather more urgent matters to discuss at the end of the millennium.

It was even suggested that, in the acres of newsprint devoted to the issue, the reactions of one or two women might occasionally have been of interest. Unfortunately, none could be found who gave a toss about Dr Gerry Greer and his new, improved views on the whole man.

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick