In a recent New Statesman article, Grayson Perry reflected on what he termed ‘Default Man’ (“white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged”) and the power he wields within our putatively meritocratic social order. Perry makes the important point about how ‘identity’ tends to be seen as something marginal, in contrast to the individualism of Default Man:
When we talk of identity, we often think of groups such as black Muslim lesbians in wheelchairs. This is because identity only seems to become an issue when it is challenged or under threat. Our classic Default Man is rarely under existential threat; consequently, his identity remains unexamined. It ambles along blithely, never having to stand up for its rights or to defend its homeland.
When talking about identity groups, the word “community” often crops up. The working class, gay people, black people or Muslims are always represented by a “community leader”. We rarely, if ever, hear of the white middle-class community. “Communities” are defined in the eye of Default Man. Community seems to be a euphemism for the vulnerable lower orders. Community is “other”. Communities usually seem to be embattled, separate from society. “Society” is what Default Man belongs to.
I think it would be interesting to address ‘Bro’ and ‘Lad’ culture in these terms. Could we be talking about the subculture and identity of Default Man? Or rather the sons of Default Man?
Categories: Outflanking Platitudes