I was in a workshop recently and one of the participants spouted, “Men have no problem speaking up and being heard.” It made my blood boil.
It’s another example of how we are building myths about men in our cultural landscape. Our language and assumptions are creating images of men that are negative and often untrue.
Having worked as an Executive Coach to some very senior men in the public service, in legal firms, in industry associations and in the university sector I know that men feel nervous about speaking up. They worry about changing jobs and how this might affect their family. They worry that they will disappoint their spouse if they lose pay or status. They worry about being good dads. They worry about being good husbands and the future of their marriage. They worry about trying to find a sliver of time for themselves without feeling guilty.
We don’t hear about these good and sensitive men.
The stories we tell about violent men keep good men hidden from view.
We are saturated with stories about men performing violent acts against women and children. We tweet and retweet outrageous sexist commentary by prominent men. We point out inequalities and sexist prejudice with disgust.
And yet there are many men who are decent, honourable and gentle. Their stories go untold.
While we need to work to stamp out sexist violent behaviour, we need also to showcase an alternative.
At the Menslink Big Night Out fundraiser, I heard event organiser Peter Munday talk about his experience of hiring a young troubled guy, who was at the time trying to get off ice and other hard drugs. He invited the young man into his home and his place of work. It was a rough ride for both and yet the young man went on to thrive. Peter Munday has a big heart and a strong commitment to the community. Peter’s branch of Lennock Volkswagen also donated a Volkswagen Amarok as an auction item. It raised over $50,000 for Menslink on the night.
Peter Munday is a model for Fierce Gentle Men: fierce in heart, gentle in manner, a true Gentle Man. This is the model of male leadership we need to highlight, celebrate and advocate.
The more we Man-Bash, the less space we have for showing what is possible for dignified male leadership and where it exists already.
This is why I support Menslink and am donating all proceeds through our event, the Edge of Leadership to them. Menslink is working hard to show young men how they can grow into Fierce Gentle Men. This is work we need to care about for the future of a healthy, happy community.
As we point out injustices, let’s also show where men are doing well, where they are true equal partners, where they show up as good and decent human beings. Let’s celebrate Fierce Gentle Men.
I’d love you to nominate Fierce Gentle Men you know, and why they are good decent models of male leadership.