One of the three themes for this year’s International Men’s Day was promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity. With this in mind MensCraft has been asking the views of various people who either work with men or who’s work involves them with issues/themes around masculinity.  Our second take on the subject is from Simon Floyd.

Each week we will publish a couple more.

What are your views?  We’d like to hear the thoughts of our readers, men and women alike, to create a local conversation about the issues and challenges all kinds of men face and that society faces about all kinds of men.

Simon Floyd is creative director of The Common Lot, a local community theatre company.

In collaboration with MensCraft, Simon is currently writing a play about fatherhood.

What are the messages boys and men get from society about how a man should be?

I am not sure what is meant by society in this question really.  I think things are better generally than they were when I was younger  – it’s more normal to see a man in what may have been seen as traditionally female roles, however I think that men are still very much over-esteemed for their drive and ambition and achieving ‘worldly success’ – and not for their ability to listen, collaborate and build good will between people.

It is still normal to be surprised, over-praise men or think too well of them for simply taking a primary role in looking after the children – this shows the imbalance and illustrates a lot about what we see as normal

In your view what are the characteristics of manhood?  

Sex aside, I think ‘manhood’ and ‘masculinity’ are such loaded phrases and are not actually helpful. We should talk about manners, respect, courtesy, calmness in adversity. Not so very different from a good woman. A good man is a gentleman.

What do you think about the current conversations in society about masculinity – do you tend to think that generally its (men are) being unjustly criticised or do you tend towards the view that generally that its toxic?

I think it’s still very toxic if I am honest.  I do not see criticism of men as unjustified – I see men being arseholes every day of the week – whistling from building sites at my 18 year old daughter today for example  – i think we have actually been pretty wilfully ignoring women’s point for generations, male privilege is real – we need to step down and be prepared to listen un-defensively, and take the rap for some shit attitudes.

What affect do you think notions of masculinity that boys grow up with has on their mental health in adulthood? 

They f*** you up. Your mum and dad. My dad stop hugging me when I was about 6 – just all of a sudden i was “too big”. I knew he loved me, but it hurt.  Many men have it much worse as boys and are therefore emotionally unavailable – to themselves, to one another and to their children.  They need help to express their uncertainty, vulnerability and fears – which I think are probably getting worse – if not worse, certainly more confusing in a connected, crazy world where identity and truth seem so fluid – its harder to find the mast.