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What It Means to be a Man in the 21st Century

What It Means to be a Man in the 21st Century – Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture


Date and time
22 Mar 2017 (6:15pm - 8:30pm)

The Parkside Building

City Centre Campus, Cardigan Street, B4 7BD, Birmingham

Map and Directions


Free to attend

Booking Information

Book your place online

city talks 22 march

Join us on Wednesday 22 March in the Parkside Lecture Theatre as our panel of experts consider what it means to be 'masculine’ in the 21st century, and how everything from gay pornography to Hollywood blockbusters, and Tinder to ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, are fuelling its diversity, as well as its ambiguity.

From bodybuilding to ‘lad’ culture, and from the metrosexual to the lumbersexual, the masculinities of popular culture have never seemed so dynamic and generative. As a result, this City Talk will debate how men both negotiate and struggle with their identities in the modern world.

Hosted in partnership with SHOUT Festival of Queer Arts and Culture. 

Joining our panel of experts:

Event Chair: Jose Arroyo

Principal Teaching Fellow, Department of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick.

José Arroyo is co-founder of the Cultural Workers Against Obscenity Laws Committee that reported to and was quoted by the Fraser Commission report on Pornography and Prostitution in Canada. He currently teaches film studies at the University of Warwick, hosts a film appreciation evening at Birmingham LGBT, and writes a blog on cinema.

John Mercer

Professor of Gender and Sexuality, BCU                  John Mercer is Professor of Gender and Sexuality at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. His research interests focus on the social and cultural construction of masculinities in the 21st century. He is the author of ‘Pornography: Representations of Masculinity and Sexuality’ (IB Tauris, 2017) – which will also be launched on the night and available to buy – ‘Rock Hudson’ (BFI, 2015) and (with Martin Shingler) ‘Melodrama: Genre Style Sensibility’. John is co-editor of the ‘Journal of Gender Studies’, one of the editorial founders of ‘Porn Studies’ and editorial board member of ‘Sexualities’ and ‘Celebrity Studies’. 

mark simpson1
Mark Simpson

Author and journalist

Known as the ‘skinhead Oscar Wilde’, writer Mark Simpson is the ‘father’ of the metrosexual and spawner of the spornosexual. International trend-spotting website Science of the Time described him as 'the world's most perceptive writer about masculinity' and GQ included him in their 'Top ten Things That Changed Men's Lives' list, above Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigmund Freud – and even Biotherm Homme. He is the author of several books, including ‘Male Impersonators’ ‘Sex Terror’ and ‘Metrosexy’, and has written for various magazines and newspapers around the world from The Guardian to Attitude.

Clarissa Smith

Professor of Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland Clarissa Smith is Professor of Sexual Cultures at the University of Sunderland. She is a founding co-editor of the Routledge journal ‘Porn Studies.’ Clarissa’s research is focused on representations of sex and sexuality, their production and consumption. Publications include numerous articles and chapters exploring the specificities of pornographic imagery, forms of stardom, production and regulation. She is also particularly interested in consumption of pornography and how different audiences engage with – and make sense of – sexual representations. 

*The talk will start promptly at 6.30pm. We ask that guests arrive for 6.15pm to ensure that the talk starts on time. Unfortunately as these tickets are complimentary we cannot guarantee a seat in the lecture theatre. As it is a free event, people often request more tickets than they need and for this reason we issue more tickets than there are seats available.

We recommend that you arrive early to avoid disappointment as entry to the lecture theatre is on a first come, first served basis.

Forthcoming events in CityTalks

Forthcoming dates will be announced soon.