‘Can Glastonbury help me shed my toxic masculinity?’

The funniest, most un-self-aware takes filed from this year’s festival.



You can tell how thoroughly bourgeois and un-edgy Glastonbury Festival is by the love-bombing it gets from the media and political set each year. The BBC give it the multi-channel treatment befitting an international sporting event. Broadsheet columnists file breathless copy from the Healing Field about the 200,000-strong festival’s spirit of rebellion. MPs show up in droves. The booze, drugs and atmosphere creates a spectacular failure of self-awareness that never fails to entertain.

This year was no exception. The Observer’s Miranda Sawyer hit full-on rhapsodic joy: ‘If you’re there, you are Glastonbury. In the words of now: it you.’ She declared the £250-a-ticket festival a ‘mirror of society’, in that it popularises such grassroots movements as ‘health and safety culture’ and ‘green activism’. (So representative is Glastonbury that in 2016, when the EU referendum result was declared midway through the festival, Damon Albarn led the public mourning, declaring from the Pyramid Stage that ‘democracy has failed us’.)

Stormzy’s scorching Friday-night set – with which he became the first black British solo artist to headline this still thoroughly caucasian event – also sent some commentators a bit giddy, particularly when the south London rapper led the crowd in chanting ‘fuck the government, fuck Boris’. ‘I am witnessing history in the making’, gushed leading Corbynista George Aylett. Because, as we know, pop stars disparaging Tory politicians has never once happened at Glastonbury.

Green politics was also high on the Glasto agenda. David Attenborough was Kylie Minogue’s warm-up act, Extinction Rebellion made an appearance, and plastic bottles were banned from sale. One commentator pondered if this was the ‘the greenest Glastonbury yet’. But, as it turned out, it was also one of the hottest: there were hour-long queues for drinking water and showers were switched off to avoid a shortage. Amid all the cloying attempts to highlight plastic waste and global warming, 70 people were treated for heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses.

But the prize for best Glasto take easily goes to Andrew Gilchrist, also of the Observer, for a piece titled ‘Can Glastonbury help me shed my toxic masculinity – and become a better man?’. It’s about a workshop he attended where he was addressed by, among others, that bloke from Rizzle Kicks. Gilchrist, nodding to his ‘(possible) tendency to mansplain’, was hoping to come out of it a better feminist ally.

But not everyone was as excited by this prospect. ‘As the panel moves on to talking about the dangers of preaching only to the converted’, writes Gilchrist, ‘two young men stagger in and ask: “What’s this?”… “Positive masculinity workshop”, I say and pat the vacant space on the sofa beside me. “Shite”, says one of them and they head back out.’ Perhaps there’s hope for Glastonbury yet.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Hana Jinks

3rd July 2019 at 6:02 am

Heatstroke? In pommieland? Did it get over15°

Hana Jinks

3rd July 2019 at 6:03 am


John Reic

2nd July 2019 at 9:30 am

I recall in the 80’s Miranda Sawyer saying how as a fan she wanted to know everything she could about the pet shop boys to influence her political views

It was so obvious the pet shop boys were sending themselves up pretending to be politically correct- camp characters if themselves portraying a image the NME wanted them to be to further their career financially

They weren’t the only ones Manic street preachers Paul Weller Jesus and Mary chain

I felt so embarrassed for her

Christopher Tyson

1st July 2019 at 8:16 pm

I remember when my sister developed an attachment to feminism and identity back in the 80’s, I likened being on the receiving end of this to being manoeuvred in to a corner and being endlessly beaten over the head. Masculinity has certainly taken a battering over the last few years. We’re all supposed to be glorying in the women’s world cup, I mean 22 grown women chasing a ball around a filed (no castration pun intended). Seriously football is a great game and it’s great that women enjoy playing and watching it, but I’m talking about opportunities for male bonding. anything that men want to do together is now regarded as suspect ‘why aren’t there any women here?’. One exception is sex, men having sex with other men is widely regarded as a very positive thing indeed. Society has become terrified of men and maleness. There was a documentary on TV a few weeks back about some of my favourite music, in retrospect this music has acquired the genre name ‘yacht’ music (I didn’t see the bit where this was explained). Some of us might remember it as AOR or soft rock. I wasn’t convinced by the categorisation, Hall and Oaks, Michael McDonald, The Eagles, Steely Dan, don’t really fit into one genre and the unique and brilliant Steely Dan really deserve a documentary of their own. I’m digressing a bit, but my point was that suddenly someone noticed that all of these groups were made up of men, the whole scene, producers, session guys, pretty much all men. And suddenly people were thirty years after the event explaining and justifying and apologising for the absence of women in this brilliant music. And as usual the big elephant in the room is ignored, the answer to the question is inconvenient. It was a boy’s thing, boys started bands to meet girls, impress girls get girlfriend, get lots of girlfriends, I think it was the guy from Franz Ferdinand, or someone else, who said something about making music to ‘make girls dance’. Men have to be active to attract women and defeat rivals; women don’t have to do this, looking pretty will be enough. The saying goes ‘faint heart never won fair maiden’. I suspect that hardnosed, assertive, borderline sociopathic and truly sociopathic men will continue to do what they do and ‘get the girl’, perhaps it will be the cowering sensitive types who will cower a little bit more. The male feminist is highly dubious, a man who is already successful, can give his male rivals a kicking and ingratiate himself with women at the same time. Theresa May became PM because the men in her party hated each other more than they hated her. The infamous Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafy surrounded himself with female body guards, some may regard that as progressive, I take a more sceptical view.

D. C. Morrow

1st July 2019 at 6:59 pm

Can it heal your abysmally stupid self-loathing?

James Knight

1st July 2019 at 6:43 pm

There’s only one thing more corporate, more mainstream and more establishment than Glasto. That is a PRIDE march.

Jane 70

1st July 2019 at 4:23 pm

And the dear old irritating Guardian has reached new heights of pretentious right-on euphoria with its Glasto coverage.
Owen Jones has done a walk- about video to explore , amongst other things, how trans activists cut through at a rave ……?
It seems that Glasto is now firmly on the Woke to do list: see, be seen and wear something expensively edgy.

Philip Humphrey

1st July 2019 at 4:13 pm

“Toxic masculinity”. The idea that the masculinity is “toxic” tells you all you need to know about contemporary feminists and feminism. Imagine the reaction if a man claimed that femininity was toxic.

Jonnie Henly

1st July 2019 at 3:30 pm

You missed the best one involving the Daily Mail making up their own story about someone walking round with a pro Brexit t shirt. As usual, the story backfired in the Mail and their attempt to create a narrative was ruined.

Jerry Owen

1st July 2019 at 6:44 pm

Little Jonnie
And your point being ?

Jonnie Henly

1st July 2019 at 11:38 pm

My point being they missed the best story.

It’s not complex, do keep up.

Jerry Owen

1st July 2019 at 2:37 pm

I wonder how Liam Gallagher was received with his recent verbal attacks on Mayor Khan !

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.