Oh, the torture of being a man . . .: Are men really as bad as some women make them out to be? David Cohen asks seven of his gender what aspects of their maleness they most dislike. I loathe our violence

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The Independent Online

32, is host of Channel 4's 'Men Talk' and a presenter of '01'. He lives with his girlfriend and their 7-month-old baby.

THE THING I find most loathsome about men and myself is our violent traits. I grew up amid the gang violence of a Catholic, working-class, coal- mining community in East Fife and violence to me was as natural a form of articulation as speaking French is to some people. When I was about 13 some guy threatened me and I took a hammer out of my pocket and hit him in the face. I did it with alarming ease and with a certain euphoria. I don't think I've ever read anything that captures the joy people derive from the violent act.

Towards my 18th birthday, I was writing very melancholic poetry and suddenly I found myself being able to reveal the sensitive side of my nature. The key to opening up was communicating with women, which I could do in a way I had never experienced with men.

Some say I'm a reconstructed male but what does reconstructed mean? I've tried to camouflage myself, become a chameleon. The problems of my background are deep in there. They haven't gone away. I may realise how revolting I was in my teenage years, but I'm not reconstructed. I'm just someone aware of his flaws, though there are clearly some too difficult to face up to. Like there are times when I could just open up and say 'man, I feel miserable', but I don't - I carry on until I over- ride those feelings without examining them. There are things worth untangling in there but I don't do it. I have seen other people attempt to untangle their mess and not come out of it very well.

The real dilemma is that the things I hate about being a guy also give me pleasure. I say I don't like being in the company of guys, but I often love it. It's interesting and funny and banal and although I'm not left with much, I enjoyed it. I enjoy looking at women as objects of desire but I also see it as a loathsome quality. I hate it, but then again, I kinda enjoy it. Then I hate myself for enjoying it. It's a terrible conflict.

The thing that I do like about me is the desire to change. It's just how to go about changing that I've never really mastered.

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