Hearn, Jeff (1999) A crisis in masculinity, or new agendas for men? In: New agendas for women. Palgrave Macmillan, London, UK, pp. 148-168. ISBN 9780333745588

Recent years have seen the naming of men as men. Men have become the subject of growing political, academic and policy debates; in some respects this is not new; there have been previous periods of debate on men, and then, in a different sense, much of politics, research and policy has always been about men, often overwhelmingly so. What is new, however, is that these debates are now more explicit, more gendered, more varied and sometimes more critical. At their base is the assumption that men, like women, are not ‘just naturally like this’ or ‘just bound to be that way’, but rather are the result of historical, political, economic, social and cultural forces.

One social change that is now in place is that men and masculinities can at least be talked about as problematic. We can now ask such questions as: What is a man? How do men maintain power? Is there a crisis of masculinity? Or is there a crisis of men in a more fundamental way? Do we know what the future of men looks like or should be? What policy and practice implications follow both in relation to men and boys, and for men and boys? Importantly, there has also been a process of internal critique and auto-critique (Hearn, 1994) within these discussions. For example, the idea of crisis may well be overstating what is happening (Brittan, 1989), not least because for many men life may continue very much the same as before.

So what form do these changes take? In what ways do these changes mean significant and substantial change in relations between men, women and children? And what are their policy implications for government, policy-making and polity? Indeed just as there are new agendas for women, are there new agendas for men?