Why Men Need Men's Groups
By Mark Bradman
“What’s with you men and your Men’s Groups? Women, don’t have Women’s Groups. Why do men need Men’s Groups?” There are many different answers to this question but at the heart of the answer lies the male code that teaches boys from birth to be tough, suck it in, and don’t cry.
Being asked to do something so totally unnatural can only lead to failure. In my case, I felt I’d failed the masculinity test, something that took me over 40 years to realise as I started to re-learn how to feel.
“How are ya?”
“Great!” I wasn’t, of course… I might have just had an argument with my wife, or the kids might have been driving me nuts, or the boss was bullying me at work… Never mind, there was only one answer expected of me. Everyone around me wanted to hear how well I was doing. That’s what we men do – we talk about how well we’ve got our lives together. “I’m doing great,” I’d lie.
The Essentially Men weekend (now called Men Being Real) was transformational for me in how it helped me to re-connect with how I was really feeling. But it did little to change the above expectations of people around me. Even my partner at the time couldn’t handle me telling her how I really felt.
So how come women don’t need Women’s Groups? Well, I think that they do. In fact, it seems that many have groups to plug into wherever they go. Let me illustrate.
I was working at a large NZ Corporate when a woman in her mid 20’s started talking about her boyfriend in the open office to another woman in her late 40’s, our Team Leader. I squirmed uncontrollably as they discussed if he was ‘right’ for her if she should be settling down with him or following her dream to go on an OE, and other things I’ve thankfully long forgotten.
Ok. So perhaps they should have taken their conversation elsewhere. Or maybe I should have just joined in? The point is that women seem to be able to find someone to talk to about almost anything just about anywhere without embarrassment.
Like it or not, Male Consciousness in this country isn’t as evolved in this regard. Until it is, I’m going to need more formal settings to practise what seems to come so naturally to many women.
If you’re a man reading this, perhaps, this is the right time for you to join us on the Men Being Real workshop for a safe environment to speak more openly about what it’s really like ‘in your shoes’?
If you’re a woman reading this, perhaps you can pass this article onto a man who might welcome being in a group of ‘Men Being Real’ for such an opportunity?
Mark Bradman is a member of the Essentially Men Education Trust Network and previously worked for the Trust as the Programme and Marketing Coordinator.