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The problem with the world? 'Men!' Grayson Perry discusses The Things That Matter

Men have become "surplus to requirements in many ways" with skills "not necessary in the modern world any more", the artist Grayson Perry has said in a St Paul's Cathedral interview.

Speaking to the Cathedral's Chancellor, Canon Mark Oakley as part of a video interview series, The Things That Matter, the Turner Prize-winning artist covered topics including the importance of art and religion.

And when asked about the biggest threat to humans today, he said, simply: "Men".


You can also listen to the interview

He added: I think the biggest problem in the world could just be boiled down to one and that's men - it's masculinity I think is the big issue.

"We [men] have become surplus to requirements in many ways - many of our evolved skills and traits are not necessary in the modern world any more. We don't need hunters any more. We don't need the aggression, the testosterone, the competitiveness, the status seeking. All these things are counteractive.

"You think of the big problems in the world - war, economic instability - often you can boil these down to men fighting, racing with each other, competing with each other to be the top dog in order to get the biggest harem.

"Women can be as corrupt and venal as men, of course they can, but I think the collective female experience would be very beneficial if it had more effect on society."

On his own religion, the artist who is also known for his transvestite alter-ego, Claire, said: "I'm probably sliding towards agnostic these days, because I'm more tolerant and I find the stridency of a lot of atheism kind of...a bit blokeish."

"I'm much more interested in the process [of religion] - going to church and singing and coming together is actually more important than what you're singing about and what the story is about."

And on what really mattered to him, he said: "The thing that really matters is our relationships. It's about our connections. I think we're primed genetically to connect - the most basic thing - and having our friends and family around us, and allowing them to influence us...and us to impact them...and to be heard, and to be aware of how we're seen in the world - they are the important things."

Grayson Perry: Who Are You, is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until 15 March.



The Things That Matter

It has been said that there is a ‘wisdom deficit’ in our society and a real search by people to find words that are trustworthy, authentic and energising.

In this series of short interviews, The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley asks respected people what they believe are the things that really matter in this life, the insights they have gained that they want to hand on to others - especially the young.

Canon Oakley says: "The poet TS Eliot famously asked ‘where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, and where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’ In a culture shaped by adverts, PR-speak and the desire for quick clarity on everything, there is in many of us a real thirst for a deep and authentic wisdom that comes from distilled human experience. ‘Where can we place our trust?’ is an urgent question of our times. I hope this series might offer some insights from respected people and help lead us towards an answer."