‘Can you cook, can you sow, make flowers grow
Can you understand my pain?’
— Bob Dylan
Sometime in the late ’80s, people in Britain and the US started talking about the ‘New Man’. The women (mostly) talking were nominally ‘liberated’, and the man they were talking about was ‘new’—he was a more acceptable model of the male than had previously trampled across the planet. This new man was some or all of the following: he believed in absolute equality of the sexes; not only was he not threatened by powerful and assertive women, he craved their company; he was respectful, sensitive and caring; sexually, he was capable of digitally or orally pleasuring his partner, before even thinking of his own phallocentric rewards; domestically, he could cook a decent meal and, again, was willing to do it regularly; he was house-trained and not averse to washing dishes and clothes and generally keeping the joint homestead clean; politically, he was au fait with the ‘herstory’ of women’s struggles and able to factor in the need to rebalance against the age-old record of male oppression, from macrodynamics to daily exchanges; he was this new man, not only not in the least bit misogynist but also, clearly, not homophobic—in fact, he teetered on the verge of being the stereotypical cool, gay guy except he preferred women as lovers and partners.