Saturday 21 April 2018

Transvestite TV presenter says men should not be fixated on sex

Artist Grayson Perry says being macho is great fun, but in the modern world, it's useless

Artist Grayson Perry
Artist Grayson Perry

Jasoer Rees

Grayson Perry, the potter, transvestite and now TV presenter, is considering one of the crises of modern-day masculinity.

"Middle-class women all go, 'Oh yeah, there's no men like there used to be.' And I say, 'Would you really like men to be like they used to be?' And they go, 'Well, in the bedroom!'"

"They want a he-man in the bedroom but the rest of the time they want someone who picks the kids up and cleans the cat litter out."

He proposes that men aspire to a new model - more vulnerable and less fixated on sex. "Men have got to deprioritise sex a bit," he says.

The Turner Prize-winning artist, whose new Channel 4 series, Grayson Perry: All Man, grapples with contemporary manhood, was in the news last week for his remarks about Bear Grylls, the survivalist.

"He celebrates a masculinity that is useless," he told Radio Times. Cue a small tsunami of news stories about the male identity crisis.

"It was just this offhand joke about the idea of survival in the modern world," says Perry.

Indeed, Perry, who is married with a daughter, has been partial to outdoor pursuits himself.

"I like doing macho things. I've ridden motorbikes all my adult life. It's a performance, and I'm good at it, so occasionally I'll go out and act manly." He's a keen mountain biker: "That's probably when I'm at my most macho."

But the accoutrements of machismo, he argues, are redundant today. "Masculinity has become a cosmeticised leisure activity," he says. "Most men don't need muscles but they all go to the gym to get them. They're just as cosmetic as false boobs."

He says the Bear Grylls macho model is actually detrimental to men's happiness and health. "That's why men commit suicide, because they're stoic. It's always about manning up and keeping things in. If they don't live up to that ideal vision they think they're a failure, but actually they're a nice bloke who's muddling through. And that's fine."

He's at pains to point out that his transvestism does not change his essential nature. "I'm quite masculine. I've got no special vision into being feminine just because I put dresses on."

Grayson Perry: All Man begins on Thursday at 10pm on Channel 4


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