Grayson Perry has slammed adventurer Bear Grylls as “a hangover” of outdated masculinity. He adds of Bear and similar outward-bound types: “You know all that stuff about the dignity of working with your hands – well, it’s not really necessary any more.”
The Turner Prize-winning artist, who spends much of his time dressed as his trademark alter ego Claire, is hosting a new TV series, 'All Man', that explores where masculinity and its bolder cousin machismo are going, and he tells Radio Times this week:
“He celebrates a masculinity that is useless. Try going into an estate agent in Finsbury Park and come out with an affordable flat. I want to see Bear Grylls looking for a decent state school for his child!”
In his new show, Grayson will be putting forward his thesis that our idea of masculinity may be outdated, that values such as stoicism and defiance are damaging to modern society, that while these were fitting attributes for life in the caves, now men would do better to cry, run away from creepy crawlies and show their vulnerability.
Grayson says: “Men might be good at taking the risk of stabbing someone or driving a car very fast, but when it comes to opening up, men are useless… masculinity is a decorative feature that is essentially counter-productive.”
One of the episodes in his new series focuses on crime, and Grayson controversially says it is gender behind many crime waves, rather than poverty. Why, he asks, is it the boys on one estate who take up illegal pursuits, when the girls do not? In the show, he reports asking the boys on the estate about this and being dumbfounded by their lack of introspection or self-awareness.
“I got the impression,” he says, “that when I asked them to talk about masculinity, it was like asking a fish to talk about water. Self-examination was alien to them. Gender was a women’s issue."
'All Man' will air on Channel 4 next month.