The ICA, (which, as you may have noticed, Londonist loves) Begins a new series of lectures and special events this Thursday on the topic of "The Future of Men." The publicity begins:
From the deterioration of the Y chromosome to declining sperm counts, from the allegedly poor performance of boys within the education system to the allegedly poor performance of men as fathers, masculinity appears to be embattled and suffering from an unprecedented lack of morale. But is the 'crisis of masculinity' real or just media-generated fantasy?
Is our feminised society systematically hostile to men and boys, or is the male of the species simply too accustomed to having things all his own way? The Future of Men takes stock of the problems faced by modern manhood, and wonders what needs to be done.
We feel we should point out that masculinity is one of those things like "the bourgeoisie" and "proper English" that is always and everywhere in crisis — masculinity's fundamental nature is intractably conflicted. And yet the blurb seems right to suggest that something unprecedented really is happening right now, and the ICA's program might just enrich the generally unsophisticated ways we have of talking about masculinity, in both popular and academic spheres.
The events kick off tomorrow, with a panel discussion on fatherhood, starring that well-known expert on all things masculine, Anne Widdecombe. Also participating will be one of those wacky Fathers 4 Justice blokes. Well, you know you'll be entertained, at least.
The hot ticket is the final event, a lecture by Slavoj Zizek on sexual harassment on September 24. Zizek is an academic superstar, a Lacanian(ish) cultural critic famous for, amoung other things, explaining differing philosophical accounts of the Subject through an analysis of toilets in different countries, an extended essay on the psychoanalytic implications of the chocolate Kinder-egg, and the book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lacan But Were Afraid to Ask Alfred Hitchcock. The précis of his talk at the ICA is... um... intriguing:
Hidden within the demand to be free from harassment, he argues, is a politically conservative fear of proximity which we should seek to explode. Zizek will conclude by arguing in favour of harassment within the limits of reason.
Between Widdecombe and Zizek, there are panel discussions on Metrosexuality (blech to that term, by the way), "Why Men Kill Themselves", and "The Trouble with Boys"; presentations by Lionel Tiger and Craig Brown... and of course, a fashion show (the future of menswear being just as fraught as the future of men, you see...)
Your ticket stub from any of these events gets you in at a reduced fare to a preview screening of the new Ray Winstone movie, Everything in which Winstone plays a man whose masculinity is crisis. Presumably.
Image borrowed from the rather disturbing oldmencrying.com