Boy Stroke Girl: a play without a heart or a brain

boy stroke girl playThere are no two ways about it. Ian Dixon Peter’s Boy Stroke Girl is a terrible play.

The story follows a hip young guy called Peter who starts to fall in love with someone called Blue without knowing Blue’s sex or gender. I should have known this was going to be awful. The premise is bad enough: gimmicky at best, and requiring mockery at worst. (The writer chose the second option.)

There are three main problems with this play, so I’m just going to focus on those.

Continue reading

In trying to be a man, I missed out on so many friendships

When kids are growing up, they see the difference between boys and girls, men and women. In films and video games, men do the most things—the fighting, the wise-cracking, the hunting, the problem solving. Women generally earn less money, don’t have as many important jobs, and do much of the housework and caring for the kids. So girls and boys pick up the fact that there’s a feeling, usually unspoken, that men have more power than women.

This means that being a girl is worse than being a boy—that’s how kids see it. For a boy, being seen to be a girl is really scary because it means he’d be giving up the chance to be on the more powerful side. I know that some boys support Grimsby Town, but generally why would any little boy want to be on the crap side in life?

Boys really want to have power, so until they can get some real power through having a job or having money, they court it in games. Boys play with guns and magic, worship superheroes, and pretend to do jobs that come with power, like builders or footballers. When I was a boy, I wasn’t too interested in these things. I don’t know why (please analyse me in the comments), but I wasn’t that keen on pretending. I preferred just to read. I just wanted ideas and the chance to peek into other people’s lives—so books were my closest friends. Continue reading

Being A Man at the Southbank Centre—full programme now live

This year’s Being A Man festival is going ahead 27-29 November. And it looks like a stonker. I’m chairing a panel debate on male characters in film, TV and video games. It’s called Mad Men, X Men and Grand Theft Auto, and it’s on the Saturday at 1230.

I’ll blog about plans in more detail soon—and I have loads of other half-imagined blog posts to write too (sorry I’ve been absent)—but in the meantime here’s the full Being A Man programme 2015.

Here’s what I’ve said about the festival previously.

Advertising: Volvo, Pot Noodle and the surprises of masculinity

“The fourth blade shaves you closer still. The fifth blade does your VAT return.”

This Mitchell & Webb sketch still cracks me up. It’s a parody of those adverts for razors that are marketed at men. With each new model, the manufacturers invent superlatives for their advertising, whether to do with extra blades or just how smooth your face will be when you seek the reward of a woman’s touch. Then there’s the bigger story to do with razor advertising of course: men’s razors are tough and named after weapons, while women’s are curvy and pink.

Continue reading

Zayn Malik: does a crush only move in one direction?

Zayn MalikI know he’s the mysterious one, and maybe that’s the point. I don’t know much more about him. But I know I love him. It’s a ridiculous teenage crush, of course. I could never get a boy like Zayn. For so many reasons. But I can’t help loving him.

When he announced he was leaving One Direction I was over the moon. I don’t listen to their music—I can’t even name a song—so the reason I was happy was because the spotlight shifted to Zayn. The other hapless morons in his band were pushed into the shadows while the world speculated on the mysterious one’s reasons. Was he going solo? Was he choosing to settle down? Had he fallen out with the other lads? Who knew? Six months on, do we have any answers at all?

Continue reading

How a KFC advert ruined my coming out

Families and fried chicken. What more do you need?

I’m almost everything my mum and dad wanted me to be. I came so close, and yet I’m so far. I don’t own a car or a home, I not socially conservative like they are—and recently I told them I’m gay.

Uh oh. Well, they had it coming. And they probably knew they had it coming. I haven’t ever had a partner and have basically played the role of an asexual person. So they must have suspected something…

Continue reading

What I’ve learnt since Being a Man at Southbank Centre

A lot has changed for me in the last eighteen months. I’ve had to take control of my nose hair and I’ve had way more sex than before. These things may or may not be connected to each other or to the Southbank Centre’s inaugural Being a Man festival, 31 January to 2 February 2014. On Saturday I’m going to a planning session at the Southbank for the next festival, due for November. I blogged about earlier ideas here. In the meantime I thought I’d recap a few things that are not to do with nose hair but ARE to do with blokes and have happened to me since the last Being a Man. Continue reading