The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry


Grayson Perry has been thinking about masculinity – what it is, how it operates, why little boys are thought to be made of slugs and snails – since he was a boy. Now, in this funny and necessary book, he turns round to look at men with a clear eye and ask, what sort of men would make the world a better place, for everyone?

What would happen if we rethought the old, macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different idea of what makes a man? Apart from giving up the coronary-inducing stress of always being ‘right’ and the vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships – and that’s happiness, right?

Grayson Perry admits he’s not immune from the stereotypes himself – as the psychoanalysts say, ‘if you spot it, you’ve got it’ – and his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (20 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241236274


As a female, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is amazing to read, from the aspect of a man who has embraced his inner female, how men perceive what a ‘real’ man is. I was brought up doing the same things as the guys in my family and decided to raise my daughter, somewhat, ‘gender neutral’ as a result. I have never forced her to believe that playing with boys toys is wrong and she is encouraged to wear boys clothing if she likes it. I am by no means talking Brangelina raising Shiloh here but we have allowed her to discover who she is herself as a result of not having feminist views inflicted upon her. She has chosen to wear dresses, she is happiest in them, and she prefers to use her full name rather than Alex which is what we have always called her. I want to point out that the name Alex was not given to her as it is used for both genders but because she was born with a cleft lip and pallet and could not say her full name as a result. She is not a girly girl, like me, but neither is she a tomboy. After reading this book I am glad that we haven given her the ability to discover who she is, yes I get that this is a book about men but as I read it I realised that I wasn’t doing wrong, although as a Christian I should be telling her “You are a girl, girls do this…”. I didn’t go against my religious beliefs, per se, but I felt that given I had worked with the male members of my family doing woodworking, shooting, fishing and other ‘manly’ things then why not let my girl do the same?!

I do recommend this book for both men and women. It is very insightful, I believe, for both genders. I have advised my manly husband to read it so that he can see that not all men have to fit into the roles set for them by society. I am not asking him to start dancing about in a frock but more so he can see that you can have emotions, talk about them and the world won’t implode as a result!

I received this book from Netgalley for review purposes.

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