Changing MENtality

Lessons from my Dissertation: Masculinity in Film

March 26, 2021 Changing MENtality Season 2 Episode 5
Changing MENtality
Lessons from my Dissertation: Masculinity in Film
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Sam speaks to fellow graduate, course mate and friend Mike about his dissertation. Together they tackle some big issues: essays, representation, masculinity and more. Mike reflects on writing his dissertation and what his research has taught him about the influence of politics and the media on our day to day mental health.

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  • NHS 111-Non-emergency line run by the NHS.
  • 999-for an emergency situation.
Sam:

Hello, hello and welcome to changing mentality. Today, I'm going to be speaking to one of my best friends Mike about his dissertation, titled working class masculinities and the impact of Thatcherism in British film. Mike and I both studied drama and screen Studies at the University of Manchester, and graduated in 2020. This conversation was recorded back in November, and just as a warning are a few swear words, please enjoy Welcome to change your mentality Mike.

Mike:

Thank you, happy to be here

Sam:

cuz you for the benefit of the listeners. Would you introduce yourself talk about what you studied at uni?

Mike:

Yeah, well,, I am, Mike. Hello, everyone. I am Michael Moulton. And I've studied drama and screen studies at University of Manchester. I did my dissertation on portrayals of working class masculinities in British film, and the impact of Thatcherism

Sam:

nice one. Thanks. So yeah, so you just said, what your dissertation was on? So how did you come to choose that topic?

Mike:

Do you know what was our dissertation, right? And I've got to write 12,000 words on something. And I love watching films, so I thought do something on film, because then it'd be more enjoyable. And I've also found the study of, like, masculinity and femininity is really interesting. While I've been at uni, there are quite a few different classes that centred around that or had like lectures based in them fields. So I was like, bring it all together, and almost kind of broaden my knowledge of British politics a bit because in history in school, I didn't do much on like, sort of modern, more contemporary British politics. So wanted to broaden my knowledge of that a bit. So focusing in on, like, Thatcherism rise of neoliberalism, etc, etc. So yeah, yeah, but it was given up ended up with that destination.

Sam:

So you were saying that you were interested in like, masculinity and femininity and stuff like that. So what's your understanding of those concepts? And how did you learn about them?

Mike:

Oh, gosh, that's a question and an essay, question. marks? Is this gonna be my understandings of masculinity and femininity?

Sam:

I just like, well, what what's your interest in?

Mike:

Yeah, no, well, one of them. One of the main interests me, I thought there was the first one to point this out. A lot of the time, I was using the word masculinity. Instead of masculinities. saying he was like, Don't narrow yourself in to saying are the scenes working class masculinity, or this is, you know, like, a masculinity, or there's so many different branches to what masculinity is. So the plural of it was something that interested me and, and how, yeah, and different and different notions of fall into that. Like, pluralities our word? I think, so. Nice word. So the notions of fall under it. So I like the idea of being a man like, you know, provider, hunter, you know, winner, protector, you know, these sort of notions of strength, that fall into masculinity. And I think part of what I was interested in, in the films that I looked at was, what happens when you take take that away from one man in different communities of men as well, because one of the films I looked at was Pride 2014 great film quality film, Pride. should watch it. Yeah, I see. Oh, well, they got in. Yeah.

Sam:

But for anyone listening, watch pride. It's a fantastic film.

Mike:

Yeah, it's sick. Anyway. Yeah. Pride. Oh, yeah. So a lot of the films that I watched centred around a heterosexual men, but then when you put in queer men, that you see in Pride, especially how in Pride the two communities sort of merge and coexist, and that ends coexist understanding, again, like seeing how the notion of masculinities can change when you take sort of the like, for example, the meaning To provide when you take that away, how that can change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Yeah, I hope that makes sense. Sort of like a form of thoughts then but yeah, that's why I was interested about it. And I really thought the film's so yeah.

Sam:

But yeah, so you spoke about Pride. What was the other film you did again?

Mike:

Did brassed off? The full bounty. And The Miners Hymn. films in title,

Sam:

right. Yeah. Okay. Gosh. Yeah. So what were the so you've got four films made? across like, what, 40 odd years? Probably.

Mike:

Yeah,

Sam:

I am. From Around the same time.

Mike:

And I, you know, I've got to remind myself now. I think there were there were two films from the 90s. Rusafa full Monty from the 90s. Yeah. And then, and that was, yeah, and Pride and the Minder's Hymn in 2010. And they were all set around the Yeah, they're all set around the same time. Yeah. Yeah, they were. Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Sam:

So what was it like the what were the portrayals of masculinity? Like, like, all those different films? And I don't know if this was an area you looked into in your diss but like, you comment on any, like, changes? Through the, like, time periods?

Mike:

Yeah. Yeah, well, actually, also, that reminds me, the Full Monty was actually set. So that was set in the 90s. Whereas the other three were set in the 80s. That correct the air, but for months, it was sort of the after effects of the impact, like the sort of, yeah, the after effects of like, taking away a lot of the industry in Sheffield, that she was doing, she was obviously she was pretty sure she was Prime Minister. By the time Full Monty was Yes, she had been Tom that was released. ca we saw like the after effects, or most of Anyway, what did I notice? In the betrayal of masculinity in the films? A lot. I mean, the main thing that I spoke about, I think, in my dissertation was, like the man's, like a man's need to be a provider. And like, the sort of portrayal of being a provider. And obviously, a lot of what Thatcher did with. Like, for example, a lot of the mining community was took away work, and like you take away work, you take away money, it's like a means to provide, take away purpose. So that was, um, that was one of the notions of masculinity that I looked into, and competitiveness as well, I think that was really important one, especially in Pride, I think there was a level of competitiveness in that with some of the men from Wales and when they came to first interact with the with the man from London, who would come in, sort of like these people that had never really met anyone like that before. You know, that was so different to them. I think that brought in a level of competitiveness, and also pride, the Miner's Hymns had a lot had a lot of sort of connotations of pride derived around it, because that was a different film that was essentially there was like, no sort of non conventional film where like, there was no dialogue, for example, it was just it was essentially just collection of images by montage. And with sound, we'd look up with a brass band by the top you know, and there was some narration on screen, but there was no like dialogue or no or conventional narrative. But there was a lot of images of like of the miners Gala, it would be like a collection of like mining families and the mining community will come together with a brass band playing and the gun lock March is out and everything was like a massive event for the mining community. And That was just a massive show of pride and pulling in this film. So you know, a few a few sort of minutes before you add sort of sequences of mining community. Like some of the riots will show you the filter. The writer shows that we like this with the show the gardener. Again, it really shows the pride that the community is managed to maintain Even though Thatcher took away a lot of the means to provide. Yeah, and I combining them images was cool. Cool. Yeah, that was sort of main notions that I

Sam:

was sorry. that stuck out to

Mike:

you the main notions that stuck out to me. Yeah.

Sam:

Right. Okay.

Mike:

So I'm gonna give it a seminar. The seminar again?

Sam:

You miss it?

Mike:

Yeah, yeah. If seminars. I also prefer Oh,

Sam:

yeah, me too a little bit, some bits, not everything. Yeah. So, um, Mike and I lived together when we were both in third year. So I did hear a lot about his dissertation while I was writing it. But Mike, what did you learn when you were doing your research and writing your dissertation?

Mike:

Obviously, learn about different masculinities learn about alot about Thatcher so take my knowledge of politics a bit. I think drawn into the present day as well, was one of the key things I was trying to do like sort of comparing and thinking about how, what Margaret Thatcher did still has an impact today. Yeah, going into the present day and looking at, like, some of the radio I did and thinking was about for like, the labour party. And like Tony Blair. I think one of the, one of the articles that I read called it called his his, like, his tenure, Thatcherism with the socialists face. Yeah, cuz, like, I'm still fairly mean, he was still sort of, on the right, what he was doing, because because of how much like that had changed politics, like, one of the things that we put out I would speak about is how Margaret Thatcher was like, was such a conviction politician. But like, she she like, she had an ideal, and she had a way that you wanted to change his country, and she has changed, she changed the country. Massively. And like the effect we talk about today, or as someone like Boris Johnson is, you know, he's a career politician that it like, he jumped on the bandwagon we break see, so only away in the garden. So he's got a, he's seen a little way. And he's become Prime Minister, is a massive career politician. But yeah, and all the time. Yes. So the impact of Thatcherism and how her conviction has meant that that sort of neoliberal rights that we live in now has gone so far and has happened for so long. And it's changed. I think a lot of it with her was sort of individualism and look after yourself, look after yourself and your self reliance. I think it's generated these that even further, it's further some of the competitiveness, I think that you have within like capitalist capitalist institutions anywhere, and capitalistic societies like ours, it's all about competition. It's all about consumerism and being in the competition. You know, and I think, are my thoughts run away with themselves? Yeah, so that's what I mean. Yeah, the prevalence of that Chairman, and how far her ideology has lived on, I think, in this this country,

Sam:

you know, it's that legacy, like day to day.

Mike:

Yeah, yeah. So like, well, but I'm on top because I read so much about it a lot of the time. Now, when I'll say like, it's like that sort of pull yourself up by your bootstraps sort of thing. You know, call yourself out, sort yourself out, you know, I mean, look to yourself, for help, don't look to the state be self reliant. Which isn't possible for everyone. Like, especially in a world that is so based on competition and profit, like profit margins, obviously, if you're, if you're sort of more privilege in society, you would it would be easier for you to have the resources to maybe do that, but if I didn't know let's say, if you're someone who, if you eat less or you can't work or something, and you're being taught to look to yourself for help and guidance or or whatever, you know, I mean, it's stuff like that and i think i think i see in today's society a lot with the Conservative Party now. You know, as giving and kind as they are, you know, like I see a lot of it. In that party and that legacy has lived on, you know, obviously no. And yeah, and I think it was it was his choice to try it. He was trying to be tackled by the opposition party. They're trying to, obviously, it was massively rejected in the last election what they were trying to do with just simply making a fairer society. It was massively rejected. Oh, he had no, the last election was the I think it's either the highest highest, like, proportion of votes. The Conservatives got since Thatcher, or it was higher than that. Yeah. When she first came in, I think it is, I think, like, it was like the last election was mad how much people were like, you know? Yeah, that's probably what I'd say in today's world. Society. Yeah.

Sam:

I mean, we talk a lot about like, this party's stance versus this party stance. But I think I think anyway, like, you see that kind of thing. All the time is that like people kind of don't. People, many, many people have this view that like, you can't really ask for help. Or if you do, it's a sign of weakness. And it goes back to what you were saying earlier about, like, the the need to being a provider is a purpose. So you feel that responsibility.

Mike:

Yeah, definitely. And like, and saying that it's not about weakness, it reminds me in the store, I think it was I think, I recorded a few lines. For my friend who was setting up a, we're doing an advert, I think so I saw some advertisement or just raising awareness or whatever, for a food bank. in Stratford upon Avon, quite an affluent area. So I was doing a voiceover for him. And it was all abodge th when, you know, money's tight, the economy's absolutely screwed, jobs have been lost. If you do need to seek help from places like a food bank, from support services, welfare services, ie, it's something that like is acceptable, it's not trying to reduce the stigma around it, especially in an area like that, because like Stratford upon Avon is very affluent area. I think when you've got an area like that people would perhaps maybe feel more shame, to have to feel like they've got to go to somewhere like a food bank to feed feed themselves in the family. But yes, I said this advert that they did, was all about trying to tackle the stigma.

Sam:

Yeah. Do you think with everything that's going on in the world, like, with the pandemic, and many people having to turn to food banks, amongst other things, that those legacies of Thatcherism and the attitudes of individualism will be changed at all? Or do you think they're too ingrained in society?

Mike:

See, I don't I don't think it's as black. And I don't think it's as black and white, perhaps. I think it's more of a sort of, I think it's more of a grey area. Because, yes, like, we live in a society but but I think they'll always be that they'll always be like a sense of community and a sense for looking out for, you know, looking out for your neighbour. And that always will be. But I still think there will always be that sort of competitiveness and like, that notion of individualism. But will it not? You may not will it sort of, will this sort of caring for each other continue? I'd like to think it would. Would, I think it would always think actually, it would change towards people that live in poverty and people that aren't, you know, at the most privileged level in society. I'd like to think it would, I hope it does. I hope people continue this kindness, especially in the not just the care of people giving to each other in the first line. Now, a lot of people would argue, people, you know, taking food or their neighbours who are elderly and couldn't leave the house and I think it really brought out a lot of the kindness in, in people. I you know, I'd like to think it will continue but I do also still think that like, the obviously the way that the way that we live in that consumerist sort of capitalist way that we live like, you know, I want them I want the biggest I want the best, I want the most money, I want the nice cars, you know, a lot of times to get that you've got to be competitive, you've got to be the one that's like, gonna, you know, put like profit first. And I think in that sense that that is that is still the individualist notion that like exists Wasn't a how how, how how, how would you combat that? And is that also such like that that need? Like, if you measure success in that sort of monetary, materialistic way? Do you do you need to change that? If that's what makes you happy?

Sam:

Hmm.

Mike:

Do you need to change that? Well, I think if that they jeopardise, like helping each other there, perhaps you do need to change that. But again, it's definitely is. If we lived in a more socialist world, maybe people will be less so like, focus on themselves, maybe like, people will start to put people on the same, like level as profit. On and that was, again, it's all blurred Your thoughts? I think that answered your question to be honest.

Sam:

Yeah, no, I mean, you've you definitely, like demonstrated that, like, it's, it's not such a simplistic question.

Mike:

That I asked Nice. Yeah. No, it's not. It's a discussion definitely to discuss at night. But even you know, even when Thatcher was sort of building this, you know, property owning democracy that was, you know, looking after yourself and your family. There's always welfare groups support groups. Yes, they're minimalised is because of certain funding restrictions, for example, but it's always there. I mean, I know is that like, even where I live now? Like the youth club that I used, when I was like, on there, like when I was 11/12, like, me n my mates all just go to like a youth club around the corner, abide by a community centre, but the funding just went to the youth clubs? I don't think youth anymore, so that minor brother couldn't go to it. Yeah. I think that, you know, funding restrictions isn't in our budget. A lot of profit, profit, profit. Yeah.

Sam:

And that's to do with, like priorities, like you say before, because there's personal priorities, like profit versus whatever else. But then there's priorities of other people who have to make decisions in their job and a youth club, for example, like, off the top of my head, I think the only kind of benefits

Mike:

Reducing crime transferrable skills that we see loads of shit at that year club we used to so much stuff like we have people come in and doing like, where people could well, community groups come in, in like t shirts, like, I don't know, a dancing or whatever, like dancing around the hallway, I remember it, and I was dancing with them. Like, it was like, some of them are just completely from culture coming in doing all this with this sports arts and crafts, like no, this stuff has so much stuff and like social skills as well. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, yeah.

Sam:

So the children, the young people even go into the youth club, like, the the benefits are endless. But I meant for the people whose decision it is to allocate funding more not than like, what what are they really going to gain from a youth club?

Mike:

But then in that sense as well. But even looking at it, right, in a social sense, yeah, you're reducing crime, you're stopping you get, you're getting like kids, right? Like young teenagers, they're coming into this place to be busy rather than doing whatever else. But also like, in terms of investing in young people, you like giving young people these skills, especially like the social skills or like confidence, you're giving them more opportunities in life, more prospects. Now, what I mean like, which then furthers their furthers employability furthers their ability, and the skills that they have. Which then if you want, you know, if you want a self reliant society, you know, I mean, if you've got people that have more the skills to themselves, give it to them. Yeah. So even in economic and social sense, it makes sense.

Sam:

Yeah, that's so true. Yeah, it's like you say like, yeah, like, even if we want that kind of self reliance, pull up, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, or whatever you Yeah, it was before like, you got a you've got to give so much to other people. Yeah, yeah.

Mike:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I

Sam:

think like that is one of the problems isn't it? Is that like, some people anyway, like, cease? Like think socialism is like a dirty word. And like, they'll end up losing all their money. You know, and there'll be like, criminals like running around on the streets or what, whatever. But in reality, it's not so black and white. It's just like, I mean, I don't know what a what a socialist society would look like because we've never lived in one. But the kind of practices already exist in a capitalist society under a conservative government.

Mike:

Yeah, exactly. I'm like even. I mean, even trying to bring things more interlocking sort of, even if it's just more towards like social, like a social sort of capitalism, if that is a thing, more like sort of centre. I don't know, like, bringing it towards that gradually, I mean, bring change because you're not going to overnight go from something like are, you know, so we like from literally the far end of the right. I mean, are we gonna jump over to the left now? Yeah, but having a gret maybe a more gradual change would help bring a fairer society? You know, we should do a TED Talk Sam. I would love to change the world. Yeah, man, you know, face shows up.

Sam:

Yeah. We used to speak a lot about politics. When we lived together, or like, I'd be making my I'll be making like a chilli con-carne on the stove. And Mike had asked me what I thought about like, capitalism, mass incarceration.

Mike:

It'd be quite a failure. But what what what you said about communism?

Sam:

Yeah.

Mike:

interesting conversations.

Sam:

We Yeah, we spoken a lot about politics. But I wanted to ask you as well, because obviously, like, one way of looking at your dissertation was that the politics is supplementary to the discussion around films. So I wanted to ask you about like, media more widely, and your perceptions of masculinity and class in media today? And if there was anything you learned about that from your dissertation?

Mike:

Hmm. That what springs to mind and this is sort of politics again is the latest like scandal where the conservatives voted down, well no the parliament voted down free school meals thing on either U- turn on it, and I think he's got ahead now. But Barbara have a lot of discussions you see a lot of stuff on Facebook and I kept seeing tweets that someone would take a picture of their food, right? And not are these cost me like 50p to make. feed your kids, you know, stuff like that. It was comments like that. And again, it's that sort of painting things as black and white light. Right. All right. Yeah, fair enough. You might achieve male right, you can make food cheaply. But a.) assuming that assuming everyone's on a level playing field. You know, I mean, like I was I was watching a interview and it had, do you remember remember fat families programme?

Sam:

I don't think I saw that

Mike:

terrible programme. But anyway it was all sorts of problems really. But anyway, the guy off that was doing an interview and doctor I think that's Dr Wallrie. Follow me on Instagram is great it's really really good you know is does lots of law weights they can run out anyway he was talking he was saying like, saying to this guy into like you're assuming that everyone in the UK has got even access to all this cheap food to all these big supermarkets when there's like places in the UK and he was he called them food deserts, he was saying like, where their local produce is coming from an overpriced corner shop. I mean, they haven't got access to a big ALDI. I mean like a walking distance there. It's Aldi Tesco Morrison's you know, I mean like like these big super stores. Yeah. So they say like you're assuming so don't ask this guy to do the food desert accessibility to food again comes down a lot a lot of times does come down to class. If you are in let's say you are in a low income household in a low income area, and you're not going to eat obviously not gonna have the same accessibility to food. As maybe these guys put this picture onto Twitter made these really cheaply and also right if you're not let's say you're a single dad or supermarket or three kids at home whatever a lot you graft in all day to maybe two or three jobs sometimes right? When when not when your time gonna come. You can't always fit the time in to go to this big supermarket before it shuts. can't always fit the timing to do this. And you're so that's that's another example of you're trying your hardest to work for a living again, and that's taking even more pressure, I suppose pressure off the state because you're, you're not you're let's say you're not claiming anything, you know, I mean, and you're trying to just work to feed your children, giving them that one school meal, that one hot meal a day when maybe you have not got the time or the resources to constantly always be cooking meals. You know, or preparing like packed lunches and that before your kids that just takes the pressure off especially and it is that like, class. Class disparity, I think that plays into it. Like, again, massively. That's Firstly, it's pretty small, I think of like today's society, like, like, different ideas around class. And then I suppose like, masculinities, where does where's that coming in it for me? That Yeah, there was another thing I've read actually, about modern day masculinities And what the term was, and that's a really good term, and I found really clever if I remembered it.

Sam:

Quick, Google.

Mike:

Let me go. Let me Google it. I think I've got it. No, I think I've actually got the book. You know, I think I've got the book. Right there. Right there. He's in the book. It's so annoying. Oh, no, wait says I know what it's like. Inclusive masculinity. Okay. Yeah, that's it. Inclusive masculinity. And I've said that word. I don't even know what I was gonna say about it. Now. I don't know what the thought was. I don't know where it was going. I don't know why I said it.

Sam:

Can you remember what it is?

Mike:

Yeah, no, III don't read them other than what I was gonna say about?

Sam:

Gosh, like, you've just spent about 10 minutes looking at a book. And you don't even know why.

Mike:

I think right. Basically, I'll make something up. I'll try and let you know. I'll get somebody in there. Nice inclusive masculinity is so so it posed a challenge to both hegemonic masculinity theory and manhood backs up blah, blah. So more and more young men have demonstrated inclusive behaviours in the past several decades. For instance, they reject homophobic sentiment, the more accepting of gay classmates and teammates. In a period of declining homo hysteria, or strong anti gay sentiments, young men also demonstrate more of a willingness to be emotionally and physically close. For example, they hug and kiss other young men. Researchers in this area of work have argued that team sports especially have come to reject orthodox forms of masculinity grounded in homophobia, aggression, and violence like that, but that that makes me think about like in in football clubs as well, like a lot of the work they'll do to try and combat homophobia in sports environments. When I was at a football game in Vancouver, soccer game sorry for the Canadians listening. It was odd, there was a moment where I think I think we all had like a different colour, the LGBTQ flag, I think, I think it was that we will have a rule and it was like a moment where everyone held it open. It was obviously all like a performance, performance show against homophobia, and it sort of inclusive masculinities I think comes into that. In today's society, because like you say, like, there isn't one obviously there still is, but there's, I think there is a growing more of an acceptance towards men who don't like fit that, like you know, hegemonic traditional masculinity and maybe they are gay, maybe they are trans maybe they are, you know, whatever, whatever the they are. More open mindedness perhaps, yeah, as the platform for people maybe grows. So like, you see more, for example, that you see trans people on the TV now. There's a lot of stories about LGBT men in films and literature. I think allowing people to understand minorities more, is helping this sort of inclusiveness to masculinity grow. And I think, obviously, it's not always there today. There's still massive, massive, massive rejection towards people that don't fit that hegemonic masculinity. But I sort of agree with what Bailey's book was saying, and how it's improving. Definitely.

Sam:

That's really interesting. And I've, after hearing you say that I'm thinking back to earlier when you were talking about the difference between, well, the importance of understanding masculinities plural, because it's because that even that pluralized version of the word is not something that said often we talk about masculinity versus femininity. And it's important, I think, for for us as men to understand ourselves that we know that like, there are different masculinities and there is inclusive masculinity, and there is toxic masculinity. And yeah, there's there's a, there's a multiplicity of types. It sounds kind of, like, inclusive masculinity is like, opposite to toxic masculinity. I guess it depends on how you define these terms. But just the other day, I was trying to explain it, toxic masculinity to my dad. And I was saying, like, it's quite a hard thing to explain, I think, but I was making a point of it have about discomfort with certain behaviours, or a compulsion to behave in a certain way. So like, an example is not feeling comfortable to order a cocktail at a bar. If you're a man, yeah, he's mad at supposed to drink beer. Yeah. And so inclusive masculinity, by contrast, I guess would be ordering whatever you like to drink. And knowing that no one is going to care.

Mike:

Yeah, exactly. And going off that as well. Another, you know, maybe book or another book. I don't know where it was. But this I remember this quote. It was about how, like, a lot of men will reject feminine traits out of fear of being seen as gay. Yeah, by other men. That fear. And it really is instilled into ya because I was in I was in town earlier. And I was gonna go to cafe nero I get a coffee. Early mask, we add that purpley pink colour even in my head, I was think oh f*** He was just so sure, but I'll just put it on. In the end. It was so stupid, because I got like a pink t shirt. Anyway. So what what is the difference? But it is something I think it's definitely ingrained in ya. And you know, it but I suppose because of the the way we live, but I do think the more comfortable you become in your masculinity or femininity, the more likely you don't care if you do do something that there might be perceived to be the opposite, the opposite, or I don't know what the word is, like the one block of femininity, feminine or masculine. You know, you know, I put it on, but it did cross me mind for a sec yeah. And I also do love a cocktail.

Sam:

Yeah, who doesn't? Yeah, and it's. So you were saying, you know, that it's a process of trying to be more comfortable in, in your masculinity or your femininity. And I think part of the way we do that is by like learning more about it and understanding it. Yeah. Because, yeah, little things that, like the mask thing, the example that you've gave, we have those all the time, day to day, like for our whole lives. And we probably don't realise that like, the reason we think that way is because we've been told by wider society all throughout our lives, that these behaviours are accepted, and these are not. And so it's important to be aware of like, whatever you're thinking and whatever behaviours you are doing or not doing, like what is making you think, or act in that way. I remember when I was a few years younger, I tried to. I like actively tried to make my voice deeper. Yeah, why? No one had ever. No one would ever, ever be like talking to you and think, oh God, they've got a really high pitched voice don't they. But I had in my head that I needed to do this and I, and it's not like I thought, like, oh god, that was I was very toxic masculinity way of thinking I just, but now like, knowing a bit more about it. And I say and I want to stress like a bit because it's so complicated, but it helps it helps us understand ourselves and, and grow closer to like being accepting of ourselves.

Mike:

Yeah, and and going off that and other sort of framework that you use to describe masculinity slightly inclusive toxicity. I remember reading again, another article, and it was it just discussed some of like the definitions, so many different forms of masculine masculinity. And hopefully, things continue to change for the better, like, in terms of, like masculinities and conversation around mental health. Because Yeah, I think I do. I do think that people that young lads, especially like they are getting becoming to be more open with each other, or just what I've seen in the way like, my friendships have grown over the years. But lads talking to each other more about how they feel, what they might be going through, which is great, but we've got to continue. Like I think there was one club, or I was either in it, or I saw on the tenant and what it was springs to mind, there was like beer mats It was, like is one of your mates missing, things like that. Like it might have been an ad on the telly. I can't remember that was one of your mates missing? and I dropped mitek and he was like I was in the woods. I was like yeah, I wanna hear you much text me for I'll you know what's going on. Like, things like that a little things like that, in environments where young men or men of any age will gather sports clubs as well, I think is another one that does need some work on it. Like, the amount of times that I have been at a football game. Well, no, I tell about I have a lot of football games, actually. That was very, that was very exaggerated. Don't really actually like football. But when I've been wanting to go and watch like my little brother play, that's another coach to say things like, you know, like stuff about like, playing like a girl. Alright, to be honest, there might have been the homophobic slur thrown out there about how they were playing. It's not. It's like, it's so it's so. So like, archaic to speak like that. Yeah. And against this idea that, you know, I thought the whole run like a girl campaign, or like play like a girl. Remember that campaigns on the telly a few years ago that was trying to get girls into sports more like this girl can and things like that, which are great, because it combats that that sort of archaic way of thinking, are you playing like a girl? So what does that mean? So I do think sports clubs, in general, need to improve that. Sort of, it's always not caveman sense. Like, you know, I mean, especially rugby, I just got like, beasts like rolling around in mud, like, you know, like, that competitive as well, like, maybe toxic traits or masculinities can thrive. Right? But more because like, you know, your sports, when you're an athlete, you're strong. You're competitive, you win. You know, I mean, you don't want to be seen as weak. But when you've got campaigns in mainstream, especially mainstream football, that is all about supporting LGBT, like battling homophobia in football, battling like sexism, misogyny, racism, things like that. It helps. It helps sports clubs at grassroots level, because like, I noticed from my little brother's football team, but a lot of them idolise footballers idolise them, love them. So like, if you see if I put what I'm running around with, like an LGBT armband or something, you know, I'm a really does a lot to improve sort of masculinities

Sam:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's that's a great point. That makes me think of like those campaigns to make all sports more inclusive for all genders. That is one avenue of feminist objectives. Because, you know, it's the idea that women and any other gender minorities can do anything that a man can do and vice versa. That's one element. And that benefits everyone. Because the more women and just people generally that are that are like, allowed and encouraged to go into sport, professionally, or as a hobby, the more inclusive the sports are, the less the men who play sports feel, like, pressured to, like behave a certain way to fulfil that hyper masculine alpha male rugby player either

Mike:

like me? How many jacket carry on?

Sam:

Yeah, no shade to rugby, of course. But you know, just like, the more if you if I say to you think of a rugby player, you probably think of like, a massive white man.

Mike:

Yeah, you know,

Sam:

and as more people kind of get into the sport, and become known for playing the sport, it changes the way that people will see themselves. Like, if they want to get into that sport or not, and like once in sport, how they think they should behave.

Mike:

Exactly my exactly, I mean, look at

Sam:

and that's why I think like, feminism benefits everyone. And that that is one example of how that works.

Mike:

Yeah, you know, yeah, not just going off that as well. I look at how diverse football teams are. Now, if you look at the Premier League now look at how how diverse it is, how many different kinds of people you've got, playing football and like you say kids, players to relate to, you know, bass relate to place to look up to any players to idolise like I'm saying and football is especially the young, like young lads, I think have such a position of responsibility to like, help, you know, bring. Think about, especially young lads will love football. A lot. Like they're looking at these people in the prem by the top teams in the prem and that I want all want to be this person. Like, you can have so much influence on the way they think and the way they feel. And you can do I think you can do you have a platform? I was his name Rashford him? him.

Sam:

Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, this is gonna make a huge difference. I mean, I'm sure there are lots of other footballers throughout history who have done remarkable work for, for charities and for vulnerable people. But like, they will he will have so many young men idolising him before and you know, and so now like, you know, campaigning for like government action and, and trying to like help out poor children is is something that's so more so much more like widely accepted and idolised, I suppose.

Mike:

Yeah, exactly. And, and even even just like bare roots, like, if you strip it back, like just the helping of someone else's helping someone else in getting anything from he's not getting we're getting good publicity. To be fair. So he's getting a bit from it. But you know, you're not you're not getting you're not doing it because you want something he's just doing it because like, what I'm guessing he's doing it because he wants to help people. And yeah, like, I mean, yeah, look at him. Look at the influence roll or David Beckham's had on masculinities. In like, like he was, there was one point, he was like, literally dictating the hairstyles for the country. And now, you know, David Beckham gets an ear piercing. And all of a sudden, it's cool to get ear piercing here. Yeah, I mean, he's literally like, nothing. Yeah, that influence when you're in that level of when you have that level of fame, you've got a massive if you've got a massive level of responsibility, and you can have a massive impact on people with great power comes great responsibility.

Sam:

Yeah, exactly. But this this is the thing about like the media and footballers and other sports personalities come into this because they exist in the media is that it just has an effect on society on like, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Or so-called you know, so like, the more diversity we see in the media, the more that will filter down A day to day attitudes on how we can look on how we can behave, you know, how we present ourselves and how we treat other people, the more diverse that is, the less pressure that is like put on us, everyone. Yeah. Because they don't, you know, because it takes away the pressure of like, I must behave in this way in order to be successful or in order to be liked. You know, I mean,

Mike:

yeah, exactly. It's all you're saying about, like, diversity and bringing more diversity into everything. You know, I'm a lot like, allowing people like, giving people the means to see like, people from a different racial background from a different class background, or like, like LGBT, you know, communities, just minorities, bringing them into more, like, in the media and like, into positions of power, and, you know, sports and things like that. And this is good, because I was gonna say, yeah, such a great comment is good, but, you know, it allows more people to relate to them. And I think also to believe in themselves as well. You say, like, but even even, like, if you've got, like, a Disney character who like looks more like you, then I don't know snow white or something, I mean, if you like, you know, or whatever, like, you know, shit, you know, you mentioned in our can do stuff. No, I can do it now, and it doesn't all have to be.

Sam:

Yeah. You mean, it's like, it's something that we can't really explain. But like, representation is so important for, you know, because we, we understand the world by like watching other people. And like hearing stories about the world. And if you don't see someone like you, who looks like you or act like you, or is like you, reflected like in the media, then it's like, what's the message there? Is it that you need to change something about yourself? You know, in order to become a footballer, for example, you know, in order to, like, Be Loved One day, do you have to be, you know, a prince charming type who saves a damsel in distress. Yeah, you know, if all the men that we saw in stories, were those types who saved damsels in distress, you know, in order to find love, then then we'd be stuck thinking that like, man's job is to save. And woman's job is to be saved.

Mike:

Exactly.

Sam:

And I think that's terribly problematic. And it puts unnecessary pressure on everyone.

Mike:

Yeah, yeah. Well, that was that was academic wasn't it

Sam:

very profound, very profound. Okay, so I just want to bring all this great discussion that we've had back to the idea of like, I think, personally, it's so important to educate yourself and broaden your knowledge on like the world and the way that works, whether that be through the politics, you know, in the history of our country, that that leads society to behave in certain ways, or whether that's educating yourself on types of different masculinities. Even Yeah, or something else. Yeah, so that would be like, if you're going to take away one thing from this, then I want you to notice, when you do something like order a beer, don't feel like you have to order a beer. But if you want to, by all means you order a beer, order two, or three

Mike:

or four, go.

Sam:

So Mike, we have really gone out there in terms of like conversation topics, starting from your dissertation, and talking about beer, well beer. But talking about all sorts of stuff. But bringing it back to your dissertation. What would be your top tip for our listeners? Who are maybe Beginning to write their dissertations or who maybe are at the start of their academic career? And just know that it's something that they're going to have to do in a couple of years time. I don't know, what do you wish you had known? Or what would you like to what would you recommend? The current students do? When the programme the dissertation Run, run? Oh, that's nice.

Mike:

They don't do that. Because when you do that, you'll be really pleased with yourself. Oh, my advice always was do little an often in it. But that's how I work best. Because I can't leave stuff that I a few days before. I've never been able to do it. I'm not going to ever be able to like I do little an often. I started early. I did not one day a week or whatever, just little bits and after. I think also, what advice would I have other than little an often, don't put too much pressure on yourself. It's not going to be what you make in your academic life isn't ever going to be perfect. You know, just, I mean, work hard. Do as hard as you can also enjoy it as much as you can as well enjoy writing, enjoy or, try to find enjoyment in anywhere and back yourself. Believe in yourself. Because that's the place to start. That'd be my advice.

Sam:

Good advice that okay. Yeah, totally. And, and what I would say, and this kind of linked is you, if you feel like you haven't done enough work on your dissertation, or whatever assignment, like, I haven't done enough work that day or that week, or whatever, if all you can do is read a couple of pages of a book, and you're not really focused. And you think it's wasted time, like, don't be hard on yourself, again, back yourself, because it all adds up. It's all knowledge that will just slowly like build a picture in your brain of a topic, or have your view on an area of research or something, and you won't, you won't be able to see the long term effects of the work that you've done. At any point, you'll never know. Even like on the other side, you won't know that. Like that one page, you read in that one book was very helpful. But you just got to have faith in yourself that you are smart. And that you can do it. Because it all it all builds up and all makes you able to do it. So yeah, again, back yourself. Yeah. Mike, thanks so much for talking to us talking to me and the listeners about your excellent research. I'm looking forward to your paper being published.

Mike:

Or is all there I'll share it on all social so everyone can buy it if they want to. There will be a fee. thought it's very interesting. Very fun to talk about. Yeah. Never shut me up. So yeah, thank you for having me.

Sam:

not at all There we are. Thank you so much, Mike for coming on the show. And thank you for listening. Just a quick note say that the political views that Mike and I shared in this episode do not necessarily reflect the views of Student minds or Comic Relief. If you enjoyed this episode, please give us a review on whatever platform you're listening to this on. And also, follow us on our socials on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The links are in the description. If you were interested in some of the stuff we were talking about, then I highly recommend looking back through the rest of the episodes have Changing MENtality for other discussions on sports inclusivity masculinity and mental health. Also in the description, you'll find links to resources and services for yourself or anyone that you know, who needs support for their mental health. Thank you very much.