Out from Icon Books today is Jack Urwin’s smart, funny and friendly book on masculinity, MAN UP. You can read an extract from the book about the events which prompted Jack to write about masculinity in The Telegraph.
Urwin’s article in VICE in 2014 – A Stiff Upper Lip is Killing British Men – went viral on publication and was praised by Irvine Welsh as ‘fabulous’, and by feminist journalist and author Laurie Penny as 'the brilliant, personal, not-actually-sexist writing by millennials about masculinity and politics that the world has been waiting for'.
MAN UP explores why masculinity – for all of its positive achievements – is currently in crisis, and what it means to be a man now. There’s no doubt about that crisis, either: suicide is currently the main cause of death among men between the ages of 18-49 in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Inspired in part by his own father’s premature death when Jack was nine, and his subsequent struggles with depression in his teens and early twenties - to which his inability to communicate emotionally was a major contributing factor - MAN UP expands on Urwin’s personal experiences, and delves further into the historical causes of toxic male behaviour in both biological and sociological contexts.
In the book, Jack traces crises of masculinity from our grandfathers’ inability to verbalise the horrors of war and the decline of the working class in the latter part of the 20th century, to the mob mentality displayed on the football terraces, and the disturbing rise of mental health problems among men today. He also looks at the wider impact wrought by reinforcement of such rigid definitions of masculinity, harming not only heterosexual men but also the women and LGBT people around them.
MAN UP is the start of an essential conversation for men, exploring why we have perpetuated various myths of masculinity – and how we can challenge it, and change it.
The book will launch tomorrow in an event at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. Jack will be at Cheltenham Science Festival on the 8th and 9th June discussing The Myth of Masculinity and Bringing Up Boys. Jack was interviewed in the Evening Standard about What It Means to be a Man in 2016, and also wrote five tips for men for AskMen. He was featured discussing masculinity on BBC Woman’s Hour and his book has already featured in several pieces in The Telegraph.
Jack Urwin was born in Loughborough in 1992 and moved to London at 18 to study journalism, a degree which would do its best to turn him off becoming a journalist. He spent several years working as a music publicist on campaigns for a variety of major and independent labels, leading to Enrique Iglesias labelling him — quite unfairly, he feels — a ‘drill sergeant'.
Jack contributes to a number of music publications, humour sites and magazines including McSweeney's and VICE. His work has covered a range of issues such as politics, mental health and gender and has drawn praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh. He's spoken at UCL and been interviewed on US radio by Judith Regan, although unlike OJ Simpson didn't confess to any murders in the process.