One of the things that struck me at the ICMI were the number of extremely accomplished young men who were present, both as speakers and attendees. The United Kingdom seems to make room for these extraordinary young men in a way that North America does not. Young men still in their teen years have a gravitas, sincerity and depth that I feel I rarely encounter on this side of the pond. I say “I feel”, because it’s entirely possible that I simply ignore these men when I meet them in person in my daily life – perhaps the training to see young men as children is stronger and more effective than I realize, but I suspect there is more to it than cultural obliviousness.
Josh O’Brien, whom some of you may know from his YouTube channel, has been active in the MHRM since he was just 17 years old. Now in his very early 20s, he presented at the conference, discussing how to frame the movement so that it appeals to both young men and women, and he did so with a level of confidence and conviction that was startling, at least to me. Wearing a blue suit and a pink dress shirt, which he carried off with great aplomb, Josh was poised and appeared completely at ease with his subject matter and the audience.
Daily Mail journalist and author Peter Lloyd was present, and he too is surprisingly young! He’s enormously accomplished for a young man of 30 and he’s ridiculously good-looking and stylish. Never allow the mocking of men in skinny jeans to pass your lips until you have seen Peter Lloyd in skinny jeans. I swear. It was just about too much. Allum Bokhari from Breitbart joined us for an evening and I engaged in some open ableism, accusing him to his face of offensive youthfulness. “What are you, twelve years old?” It wasn’t very gracious of me, but he, too, is physically beautiful in a way that doesn’t match his writing, at least to me. Bokhari is one of my favorite writers at Breitbart for his calm and measured approach to even very contentious subjects. He has a seriousness that belies his years (he’s 25) and his appearance. I was honestly expecting a man in his late 30s, given the tone and tenor of his writing.
And then there was Breitbart journalist Jack Hadfield. I sat beside Jack for a few of the presentations and we discussed the topics during the breaks and I was completely astonished to discover that Jack is just 19 years old. I have neighbours in that age range, and I see them as rather large children. They have jobs and drive cars and do all the sorts of things that young adults do, but for some reason, I can’t quite use the word ‘adult’ to describe them. They don’t seem like adults to me. It feels even stranger to describe teenage males as ‘men’. I want to use the word ‘boy’.
Jack Hadfield could never be described as a boy. That would be ridiculous. He is very much a man, albeit a young one. I find this very curious. Where does my prejudice come from? Thinking of Allum, Peter, Josh, Jack – I imagine them soldiers in WWI or WWII and realize that Allum and Peter would be almost elderly officers for Jack and Josh. Really, at 21, Josh could very well be one of the senior men. It’s not war that creates the impression of men being men, but something in the cultural difference between the US and North America.
What is that?
I honestly don’t know.
On our last evening, Peter and I treated Jack and Josh to dinner and a few pints, and I will openly confess that I subjected Jack to sexual harassment. I won’t speak for Peter, but I did overhear Josh jokingly tell Jack that when it came to putting out in exchange for dinner, Jack had the better deal, even though Peter is far more beautiful than I am. Neither Jack nor Josh cried, and they steadfastly refused to retreat to safe space, even though the hotel generously provided a room with coloring books and clay and bubbles. I believe this room is for the comfort of their little guests, but it would have done nicely as safe space, too. Alas, these extraordinary young men were more interested in hanging with the other adults, despite some of us behaving inappropriately.
I should mention here that Peter Lloyd had a few copies of his excellent book Stand By Your Manhood left over from the conference that he wanted to sell, so I challenged Josh and Jack to a sales contest, which I won resoundingly (I sold 12 copies, they sold 3, one of which was a sale stolen from me). Jack and Josh were both rather bitter at their defeat, and insist I only won because “I have the tits”. Sexist bastards. It was because I was able to present Peter’s fantastic book in a compelling and convincing manner.
It’s hard to imagine a bunch of feminists or SJWs having such a fun time, isn’t it? I feel rather sorry for the miserable things, and I suspect that these issues are connected. The young men from the ICMI behave like adults rather than perpetually aggrieved children, and therefore it is incredibly easy to see them as adults. But this can’t be the only factor at work. I am curious as to what my readers think: why do very young men in the UK seem very much like men, while the same young men in the US and Canada seem like older boys? What mechanism engages my prejudice against North American men? And yes, it is specifically against men. I see teenage girls as ‘young women’ quite easily, but I have to pause to think of teenage boys as ‘young men’.
Is it the accent? The fact that the men were generally dressed in ‘adult’ clothing? The fact that we were handling rather mature subject matter? What makes me treat UK men as men?
Lots of love,