The age of new man is over. It’s now the age of new, new man

Lynne Mortimer's Monday Feeling

Lynne Mortimer's Monday Feeling - Credit: Archant

Sometimes, I have envied men, writes Lynne Mortimer.

Just think, no cervical smears (see below... I mean at the bottom of the page, not down there), no mammograms (see: quarter-pounder recipe), no childbearing (see out of character swearing bouts; see also pain), no debate over whether to change your name when you marry (see: Mortimer, Lynne, maiden name), no glass ceilings and no queuing for the toilet in the play intervals.

What has saved me from actually wishing I was a man, apart from being sexually attracted to them (see 70s), has been the inconvenience of: (1)shaving and (2). wearing a collar and tie.

But, and correct me if I’m wrong, it now seems men have pretty much given up on both of those things.

Beards are so in. I suspect I, with my menopausal dearth of female hormones, now shave more often than a lot of men do. And when even prospective and positively pumped-up Prime Ministers unbutton their collars and pocket their ties I think we have a sex revolution on our hands, one to rivals mini-skirts, bra-burning and giving women the vote... well, maybe not that last one. Men are beginning to break out of the confines of the clean-shaven look and the Windsor knot, the latter being a tie knot, not a wrestling move or a Kama Sutra position.

Beards, meanwhile, are everywhere. It’s getting Biblical out there. With a return to old-fashioned names we are seeing also a return to old-fashioned facial hair. And it’s not designer beards I’m seeing; I’m not talking the Henry VIII or the George V, it’s more Elijah the prophet. Long, flowing beards seem to be all the rage. Some of them are so abundant, they make the wearing of a tie irrelevant because you can’t see what’s going on underneath.

My husband has been bearded for various theatrical shows; Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof, King Arthur in Camelot, Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and, most recently The Pope, in a Galileo, a new musical. On each occasion, I have handed him a pair of scissors and a razor immediately on his return from the after-show party. I’m a bit worried I might suffer a backlash.

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Men are liberating themselves from the shackles of conformity and becoming new men for men as well as new men for women.

Today, it is alleged, men are in touch with their so-called feminine side. The one that encourages one in one hundred people of the male persuasion to enter Masterchef; the one that says it’s okay for people to see you cry. In short, feely, touchy, emotional, sensitive, knows how to use the washing machine and shops for his own underpants.

It’s rubbish of course because most of the men I have known are like this by nature and it’s not new at all. There was one chap I met in the late 70s who argued that it was wrong for women to be served in pubs but he was very much the exception. I’ll let him out of the dungeon if he recants.

So having embraced the first wave of new manhood, I’m wondering if we are now in the second phase when men (and women) say “it’s okay to be hairy” and undo a shirt’s top button because it is now well-established that men know where the vacuum cleaner kept and will change babies’ nappies. They don’t have to prove it any more It leaves them free to declare: “Look I’m a new man but I have hormones that prompt the growth of a lot of body hair and want you to see some of it in a non-threatening way.”

As for the necktie? My husband has just sorted out his ties and I shall be taking 40 to the clothing bank at the weekend - although I’m not too sure that the poor people of the world are really in need of ties.

While I am glad to see men casting off their chains, I’m also hoping it won’t go too far. I don’t want men wearing socks with sandals. It’s a danger because wearing sandals without socks will make the bearded ones look even more like extras from the set of Ben Hur and so they will put socks on to distance themselves from this and other cinema epics.

So, as I reassess my position on whether I now wish I was a man*, bearing in mind most obstacles have been removed, I also extend a cautious welcome to hairy, open-collar man.

* I don’t