An expanded version of my comment on the biassedBbC website about David Starkey's comments on Newsnight yesterday (12th August 2011)
"David Starkey did phrase his comments in a slightly inflammatory way - he focused on one type of "Black Culture", and I guess he could have said Gang culture or referred to HipHop music without saying Black. He was trying to provoke debate, I guess.
He also was saying something that we don't face up to. Young boys in this country apparently don't see someone like Richard Branson as a role model, or Stephen Hawking or Andrew Wiles. Many seem to look to this gang/drugs/fighting culture as the only way of being a man. This culture celebrates the criminal. It is negative, violent, anti-education, anti-authority, and anti-British.
At the same time the Beeb, Guardian, and others have been so exercised trying to highlight how girls and women are achieving more and more that they have inadvertently sidelined boys and their future. I think it's uncontroversial that perceptions of gender roles have changed. By all means celebrate the successes of women, but I wonder if we've lost track of what we think masculinity should be.
Being a 'man' seems to have too many negative connotations to people these days. Yet all the men haven't gone away. They feel powerless and angry. I believe that this is one (just one!) cause of the riots and looting. We have let down a generation of boys, who have turned to violence. On both the left and the right people are angrily trying to blame the other side for the cultural mess that is behind the riots.
Starkey was interrupted at every sentence he tried to say. The interviewer didn't like what he was saying and didn't give him a chance to speak. Both the other interviewees seemed to be there to give different shades of views the Guardian might find acceptable."