MEN, according to politician Dianne Abbott, are in the middle of a male identity crisis.

The Labour MP believes that generally men are facing a crisis of masculinity, with consequences ranging from increasingly self-destructive behaviour to uncontrolled aggression and increasing misogyny.

Abbott, who made a speech on the subject to the think tank Demos, isn’t the first to reach this conclusion, blaming the impact of the economic downturn and rising unemployment.

Many believe this is causing men to increasingly feel as though they have lost their place in society and is leading them to take out their frustrations in increasingly self-destructive or antisocial ways, leading to rising levels of homophobia and misogyny.

All this adds up to a crisis of manhood, Abbott says. Men in jobs, anxiously waiting for news of another wave of redundancies, are working extra hours that might be better spent with their families.

Men seem to be falling behind in education too. In 2010-11, there were more female (55%) than male full-time undergraduates (45%) enrolled at university and recent statistics show a 22,000 drop in the number of men enrolling.

And the economy is more dependent than ever on women and what might be perceived as more feminine skills.

Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, claims: “It may be happening slowly and unevenly, but it’s unmistakably happening: in the long view the modern economy is becoming a place where women hold the cards.”

But psychologist Dr Mark McCormack believes that instead of heading for crisis, more young men are simply “casting off the orthodox notions of what it is to be a man” and embracing softer sides.

As a result they are putting more value on friendships and moulding themselves to the very different demands of the modern world.