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What does it mean to be a man?

If you ask one million men that question, more likely than not you will get one million different answers. Nothing wrong with that.

When I was a young bod, which does seem like a million years ago, I had no clear idea at all about what it meant to be a man. I grew up without any positive male role models in my life – so when I woke up each morning I never thought that well, here am I as a man waking up to the promise of a new day, I always thought that here I am as a human being, who happens to be a male, waking up to the promise of a new day.

Back then, the societal projection of what a man was supposed to be smacked of total irrelevance to me. The ‘Marlbro’ man, man as stoic unemotional protector, man as provider, man as strong and resolute, man as natural leader, man as a ‘go for it’ being, man as head of family – all of that concocted dross struck me as an advertising or marketing exercise gone horribly wrong.

Horribly wrong in the sense that a campaign of that sort belonged more to the Victorian era rather than the late 1970s. When I looked around me, back then, there appeared to be quite a few independent men Kombi-ing about who did not buy into such shallow societal views of what it meant to be a man. Apart from noticing that fact I confess to not having given the issue much further thought.

But as the years churned by I suppose, in the back of the brain somewhere, such issues bounce around and seek some sort of resolution.

So here we are in 2020. What does it mean to be a man?

Not being an academic type who wishes to publish a treatise on the matter, and not being an argy-bargy I want you all to agree with me and I have to be right and your opinion is wrong type, I’ve arrived at an answer that simply suits me.

In my opinion to be a man in this era means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being. To my way of thinking everything else flows from that base.

Well and good, that’s my opinion.

But what do you think? What do you think being a man means?

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49 comments

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  1. Joseph Carli

    Good one, Keith…alright…I’ll be the mug..here’s my twopence worth..
    ” In my opinion to be a man in this era means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being. To my way of thinking everything else flows from that base.”
    Of course, there really cannot be a contrary opinion to those measures as a person…But throw into the mix a heady dose of testosterone, some peer/social pressure demands and for the hetero’s, that curvacious beauty of womanhood and the mood and “j-curve” changes.
    I confess that as a young man, I have been in a fight over another male “cutting in on my space” when courting…It cannot be helped in some circumstances…you just cannot walk away without leaving your favoured courted person vulnerable and yourself looking feeble and weak…and those two things are the worst things that a single man can be accused of in the estimation of women..at least those women I have met….perhaps things have changed now..I am long out of “the game”.
    But a man must have respect for himself and his capability to be independent in both work and play. He must have skills that have a practical use that help him maintain that independence and the upkeep of his home and family..and always remember you young blokes…: “Faint heart never won fair lady”.

  2. Kate Ahearne

    Lovely, Keith. Thank you.

    However, you say that, ‘In my opinion to be a man in this era means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being. To my way of thinking everything else flows from that base.’

    But isn’t there a difference between a person who identifies as a man, and a person who identifies as a woman? What about a woman or a man who identifies as LGBTI? Surely your definition applies to all of us.

    We ARE different, though – the men, the women, the Ls, the Gs, the Bs, the Ts and the Is, as well as those who’ve fallen between the cracks of this list of possibilities. A woman is different from a man; a gay man is different from a heterosexual man, and so on.

    So what I would actually like to see from you and from others who identify as men is this: ‘What does it mean to be a man?’ As distinct from, ‘What does it mean to be a human being?’

  3. Keith Davis

    Kate and Joseph … thank you for being the first cabs off the rank. You both gave me things to think about.

  4. Joseph Carli

    Ah! Sir Lancelot…now THERE was a man…

    Brave Sir Lancelot.

    There was a young Lady of Shallot,
    Thought Sir Lancelot quite hot!
    His ;”Tirra Lirra” down by the river,
    Raised her body to such a fever,
    That beside his war-horse and bridle gemmy,
    She thought he as “hot to trot” as any!

  5. Kaye Lee

    For me, I don’t think gender is what defines us. It is part of who we are as individuals but it shouldn’t mean the same thing to everyone. It should not come with expectations.

    “a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being” is a great start for all of us. Trust is important too.

    Be the best person you can be, knowing we all make mistakes at times.

    And never stop learning

  6. Joseph Carli

    Kaye Lee…I believe Keith was asking us what it means to be a man, NOT necessarily rule #7 “Code of Life” of the Rosicrucians… : https://www.rosicrucian.org/rosicrucian-code-of-life .. 🙂

    (I’m almost a Rosicrucian, y’know….I was once almost a Buddhist..but I gave them away…too much chanting and fasting…and those endless veggies!!??….at least the “Rosies’ ” don’t seem to ask you to do anything!)

  7. Kate Ahearne

    Kaye,

    You say that you don’t think gender is what defines us, and you’re right in the sense that gender is not what defines us as human beings, But Keith is not asking what it means to be a human being. He’s asking what it means to be a man – a human being who identifies as a man (as distinct from what it means to be a woman, or any other gender variation on the spectrum). The question, as I understand it, is, ‘What does it mean to be an adult male?’ And although Keith hasn’t said so, he seems to be thinking of heterosexual men.

    One way to come at it might be to ask a similar question, such as, ‘What does it mean to be a bull?’ Or, ‘What does it mean to be a ram?’ Or a gander?

    Anyhow, if we think in terms of ‘a family tree’, we can have little bit of fun. It goes something like this. (We’re following the ‘a’ trail.)

    Life
    a. Animal (b. Vegetable)
    Type of animal a. Human Being (b. otters, lions, giraffes etc.)
    Gender of human Being, a. Male (b. female etc., etc.)
    Maturity of male human being, a.Grown-up, (b. child etc. )

    My family tree is pretty sloppy. I haven’t bothered with refinements like ‘mammals’ and ‘insects’ and ‘birds’ and so on. But looking at it this way, we can see that ‘a man’ needs further definition than simply ‘a human being’.
    So while gender does not define us entirely, it is a vital part of our definition. Those people who have had to struggle with their gender identity can tell us all about how gender is a hugely important aspect of our definition as human beings.

    I am not one of those who has had to struggle in that way, and I’m very thankful for it. Life has been so much easier for me on this account than it has for so many others. However, if I ask myself what it means to be a woman, the answer, ‘human being’ just isn’t cutting the mustard..

  8. Stephengb

    What it means to be a man – surely the Same as what it means to be a woman

    My parents taught me:
    Walk tall and straight
    Always try to do the best you can.
    Be truthfully even if it hurts.
    Stand up for yourself.
    Help those in need
    Two wrongs do not make a right

    In the RAF I was taught:
    If you make a mistake, own up to it.
    Owning up can save a life.
    Standing up to be counted can be career limiting, but STAND anyway.
    An Officers Commission turns good people into arsholes.
    When we face a real danger we are all fearfull.

    Later living taught me:
    We are own worse enemy
    No man is an island.
    People tell lies.
    None of us are perfect.
    All of us are fragile.
    Education is the single most important gift.
    You cannot live in fear.

    Isn’t it the same for all of us – is it what we do with these lessons that make us ‘men’ or ‘women’

  9. Joseph Carli

    Kate…: ” Life
    a. Animal (b. Vegetable)
    Type of animal a. Human Being (b. otters, lions, giraffes etc.)
    Gender of human Being, a. Male (b. female etc., etc.)
    Maturity of male human being, a.Grown-up, (b. child etc. )” ……D’ y’reckon y’ could be overthinking it a tad here?

    My Irish Colleen.

    Irish Colleen, Irish Colleen,
    You should be wearing the green;
    There’s no one like you, dear,
    I know at first sight here
    That you were my Irish Colleen.

    Dearie, O dearie, my dearie,
    You look as sweet as a fairie;
    Your eyes have the gleam
    O the sun’s gentle beam
    On the Emerald Isle, Irish Colleen.

    I’m in love with you, Irish Colleen,
    With your dark hair and blue eyes. I ween
    That I’m safe in your tether;
    And we’ll wear green together
    If you’ll only say “yes,” dear Colleen.

    Alan L. Hart.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Kate,

    I realise what Keith was asking. As I tried to explain, I don’t think it means anything different to be a man than it does to be whatever gender someone identifies as.

    I don’t expect a man to be a protector and provider any more than I do a woman to be a vessel and vassal.

    I most certainly do not think that gender confers leadershio skills – those are individual traits that are not gender related.

    I do not accept that testosterone forces men to behave like stags in the rutting season or that oestrogen turns women into simpering does, grateful for the gaze of some strutting buck.

    I don’t see any difference between a straight man or a gay man. I don’t see any different expectations for boys and girls. I don’t feel someone’s gender is relevant.

    So I get back to where I began.

    I agree with stephen.

  11. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Joseph, but better to overthink than to underthink, don’t y’reckon? But most important is logicalthink, which like Baby Bear’s porridge, is neither under nor over, but just right.

    Actually, while I was having a bit of fun, which I did admit to, the serious side of my ‘family tree’ is an exercise in clear and logical thinking, based on the excellent logic that has been developed over centuries so that we can classify and understand the nature – both the commonality and the differences – of all living things.

    And that serious side of the exercise does bring us inexorably to the point where we have no choice but to acknowledge that whatever it means to be a man is not the same thing as what it means to be a human being. Just to drive the point home, I am a human being, but I am decidedly not a man! (Although, I do have masculine aspects as do we all.)

    There are other logical systems we could use. I’m a big fan of set theory. Just imagine a big circle called ‘human beings’. Inside are two smaller circles called ‘identifies as male’ and ‘identifies as female’. If your little circles are different colours you can easily see that the three circles are not the same circle, although the big one does contain the smaller ones.

    You can have fun seeing what happens when, for instance, you overlap your circles, as I would be inclined to do, because that would illustrate my point that as a woman, I do have masculine aspects, and that as a man, you do have feminine aspects.

    (And if, say, you wanted to illustrate the concept, ‘Hitler’, you might have a big circle called ‘human beings’, and a smaller circle called ‘Hitler’, which intersects the larger circle, and is only partly contained within it.)

  12. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think Keith was talking about what physical bits different genders have or about how they may (or may not) choose to mate.

    I thought we were discussing the expectations that society has for men (or that men have for themselves maybe).

    I have long argued that the women’s liberation movement also liberated men from these defined roles and expectations.

    We are a team.

  13. Kate Ahearne

    Kaye, I agree with a lot of what you say. I certainly don’t think that females are simperers, and so on. Having been the principal provider for my own children, I don’t hold with the provider stereotype,either. But I do know that there are very important ways in which I am not the same as a man. And no amount of telling me that there is no significant difference will convince me that I AM the same as a man. That would be to deny me my actual identity in a profound way. Equal, certainly, but Different. Similar in many ways, different in many ways.

  14. Egalitarian

    Singer/musician Joe Jackson ask himself this poignant question many years ago and in fact he released the song “Real Men” almost 40 years ago.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ydOAVpVZ00

  15. leefe

    I think it means the same as what it means to be a woman, or whatever gender you identify with/as: ” . . .being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being.”

  16. Kaye Lee

    We feel differently Kate. That is ok. In fact, it is the whole point of what I am saying.

    I am not trying to say you are the same as anyone – male or female – just that the expectations of all of us should be, as Keith so succinctly put it, to aim to be a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being.

    My actual identity is in no way predicated on being a woman. In fact, I would rather the entire world, beyond my husband and children, considered me genderless. I wouldn’t feel robbed, I would feel relieved.

    I am not saying others must feel this way too and I dare say life’s experiences have contributed to me feeling this way.

    You and I are both women and feel very differently. Why should men be expected to all feel the same about anything or to comply to someone else’s idea of what it means to be a man.

  17. Brozza

    What is a (real) Man?
    Simple really.
    Live by the maxim – ‘Do as you would be done by’, regardless (of gender, ethnicity ………….. ), or try to live as close to these ideals as possible. Though not particularly easy at times when you have the need to speak up/rant against the moral ineptitude of those in power.

  18. Kate Ahearne

    Kaye, I don’t expect men to feel the same about anything. I haven’t actually said or implied a lot of what you seem to think I have said or implied. My bad, as they say in the U S of A. I must have expressed myself particularly badly.

    I do find this an extraordinary statement: ‘ In fact, I would rather the entire world, beyond my husband and children, considered me genderless. I wouldn’t feel robbed, I would feel relieved.’ Why, then, do you not want your husband and children to view you as genderless? What is it that you bring to the family as a woman that you don’t bring to the wider world?

    Do we need more women doctors, politicians, professors, engineers, scientists etc. because women are deprived? Or because the community at large is being deprived by having so few women in traditionally male-dominated spheres? Or is it a bit of both?

    For example, what a difference might be made in the Catholic Church, if women were allowed to be priests? And if priests were allowed to marry? Surely women would have much to contribute as women, not just as people?

  19. Joseph Carli

    I find it sad that there appears to be so many who do not celebrate the gender divide….As I said, I am many years removed from the trysts of those inflamed young male relationships with women, but I still remember those times that were such a delight to just hold their hand or kiss their cheek and breathe in the scent of their hair…and as an older, more “experienced” man, the better part of sexual encounter was not just the act, but rather the intimacy of the relationship around the copulation…the impatient wait to see them again..the sparkle of the eyes, the thrilling inflection of voice and the close companionship…and yes…the teasing….so delightful in women.
    I celebrate the gender difference and rejoice the pause and decency of conducting a relationship…now THAT is something this old bloke still practices AND enjoys!

  20. Kaye Lee

    “I haven’t actually said or implied a lot of what you seem to think I have said or implied.”

    I haven’t spoken at all about your comments Kate. I have tried to explain how I feel, not how you feel.

    I have sex with my husband and I gave birth to my children and breast fed them. In those things, my gender is relevant. That’s about it as far as the woman bit goes.

    We don’t need more women in roles because they are women. We need more women in roles because half of the really smart people are women and we are losing that opportunity.

    The Catholic Church needs much more than just women if it is to regain any sort of respect, credibility or relevance. The nuns must have been aware of what was going on, perhaps complicit, perhaps powerless. I fear women priests would retain handmaiden status until they have significant representation on the Cardinals Council. And that ain’t happening ever.

    I have strayed from Keith’s topic and taken up enough space.

  21. Phil

    Joseph Carli.

    Joseph you never struck me excuse the pun, as someone who would engage in fisti cuffs to satisfy your own carnal lusts. You know of course, blokes like us are dinosaurs. I must confess Joseph, I have only ever given another man a bunch of fives for talking, when he should have been listening. My son tells me, It’s a new world dad and you don’t fit. You know my daughter who is a professional and not hard to look at as it happens, was asked in that Australian vernacular for a root and pinched on the arse outside a shopping centre, she kicked the offending miscreant in the ‘ Jatz Crackers ‘ I thought ‘ That’s my girl ‘ If I would have been there he would have needed an orthodontist. Defending your families honour is so ‘ Working Class ‘ . But that’s what being a man is about. As well as all the other virtues mentioned.

  22. Joseph Carli

    Phil….Now, back in the early seventies, it was as easy to get in a “punch-up” as it was to slip on a sock….and there was no greater achievement nor more easily facillated in those times than to get in a fight over the gentler sex…be it because of insult or “incursion into territory”, a man just had to do what a man had to do…….not proud of it mind!..not necessarily proud of it..no….more a sense of cultural duty of the times…..
    And yes…we are dinosaurs now…”not suitable for terrain” I believe is the modern terminology.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Ah yes, the 70s.

    One minor example of a kazillion memories of the 70s when (some) men were…….bastards.

    My then boyfriend, now husband, was working at a pub in Lidcombe where the Wests Magpies drank.

    When I went to pick him up, I couldn’t enter the public bar to let him know I was there. I had to hope the somewhat inebriated guy near the door would relay the message.

    I walked into the Lounge Bar to wait and, as I walked past, one of the footballers grabbed me and swung me around onto his lap.

    ” Get your hands off me.”

    “Settle down sweetheart, I’m John Donnelly.”

    “I don’t give a fuck who you are. Get your hands off me.”

    He released me to the jeers of his boofhead mates.

    That was easier than having a punch up.

  24. Phil

    Joseph Carli.

    Having met my wife when she was fourteen and being happily married for 48 yrs I have never had to defend my territory, as you say. When I was playing in bands years ago a man did ask my wife for sex and after telling him to please go away as men do, because we are anything if not polite, he repeated his request. I had to show him the error of his ways. I did ask him though before I gave him some manly love, if he was feeling lucky or just sick of living. I am a man of honour even if a little coarse . When you consider that our government went to war on a pack of lies and millions of innocent people were murdered in their beds by men who did not see their good deeds from 30000 feet, well, a couple of men having a box on over his families honour puts things in perspective. Of course those same men who prosecuted that war and the term men in this context I use the term men loosely, I suspect they would call men like you and me the uneducated criminal class. Those same men who ordered the incineration of Iraq would be considered the pillars of society. What a strange world we have turned into.

  25. Joseph Carli

    It’s all too horrible…we are just no longer “suitable to terrain” vehicles driven recklessly until we breakdown on the vast desert of deluded day-dreams and await the shifted sands of social interpretation to bury us completely.

    And it’s no use us turning to our lifetime backers of our own generation..; our partners and wives..or female friends..THEY have heard all of our best lines and now snort and sneer and mock our suave / comedic impotence…and like the disgraced “Professor Rath” in “The Blue Angel”, our adored “Lola Lola” s drive us to becoming clowns and madmen…We are doomed.

    Of course, the “new men” that will inevitably arise to suit this feminine dominated terrain will have none of the clownish speak and stumbling tongues of us older blokes when confronted with the chaste beauty of the “New Woman”….and I do not mock with that title…for surely it is so..: a new woman drawn from all the mistakes and servitude of those older generation of ladies…we have seen it implied and written…”time to correct the mistakes of those days, of past generations”…we read..and it will be done…so help me God!

    But back to these “new men” who are to service the needs of these new women…Will their temperament be softened and tamed by this new understanding of “the female within”?…Will they stand to one side whilst the women in their lives organise their habits and desires?…I have grave doubts they will know how and I expect there will be vast deserts of empty loneliness for both genders.

  26. Kaye Lee

    Emotional claptrap.

    Acknowledging that women are people rather than just fuckable or non-fuckable objects should not undermine anyone at all.

    I am not a “New woman” and I don’t need anyone to “service my needs”. I don’t want to organise anyone else’s habits or desires.

    I just want lechers to leave me alone and to be judged on my actions rather than my tits.

    Is it too much to ask?

    I don’t want people to be lonely. I want people to be friends where gender isn’t an issue.

  27. Kronomex

    Joseph, you really spout utter bullshit sometimes and your latest diatribe at 5.40pm is a beauty. Sounds like you had a bit too much to drink when you wrote it. Will you regret what you said? Probably not.

  28. Phil

    ” It’s all too horrible…we are just no longer “suitable to terrain” vehicles driven recklessly until we breakdown on the vast desert of deluded day-dreams and await the shifted sands of social interpretation to bury us completely.”

    Ah women what strange cattle they be.

    For mine this poet had it nutted out.

    Writers and poets try to understand the truth about women. But until this day they have never understood her heart because , looking through the veil of desire, they see nothing but the shape of her body. Or they look through a magnifying glass of spite and find nothing in her but weakness and submission.

    KAHLIL GIBRAN.

  29. Kate Ahearne

    Kaye,

    You said, ‘I haven’t spoken at all about your comments Kate.’ But you have. You have addressed me quite directly on more than one occasion, as you will see if you look back through this thread.

    Keith has asked in his title, ‘What does it mean to be a man?’ He comes to this conclusion: ‘In my opinion to be a man in this era means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being. To my way of thinking everything else flows from that base.’ He then asks his readers for their thoughts.

    I believe that there are a lot of men who don’t know, and would like to know what it means to be ‘a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being’ AS A MAN, just as there are many women who would like to know what it means to be ‘a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being’ AS A WOMAN. People like these want and need to understand what it means to be men and women, both inside and outside their family relationships, And there are a lot of them.

    Not sure what to make of your story about John Donnelly and his boofhead mates. It;s not always enough to say, ‘I don’t give a fuck who you are. Get your hands off me.’ There are plenty of women who could tell you that it’s not always as easy as that. (Although some of them are dead.)

    So, yes, by all means, let’s keep excavating this question of what it means to be a man. It matters. If men who really want to ask the question keep digging, it will help all of us.

  30. Kaye Lee

    I just had a convo with my 28 year old son about what we have been discussing.

    He said “don’t argue with them mum, you won’t change their view of their glory days. And don’t worry. young people don’t feel that way. Things have changed. You girls did a good job in the 70s”

    He, like his father, is what most would describe as a manly man.

    To those of us who know and love them, they are “loving, compassionate, and respectful human beings.”

  31. Kaye Lee

    Kate,

    We are all entitled to join the discussion. I am sorry if you felt I was trying to stop you from doing that rather than expressing my own thoughts.

    I don’t think any of us can tell others what it means to be them.

    And please don’t think my trivial anecdote was meant to in any way trivialise what too many women and children, and some men, face in the domestic violence epidemic that exists in Australia still. When a woman is killed every week by a past or present partner, when parents beat their own children to death, when 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, we have real problems that must be fixed.

  32. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Kaye, I didn’t think or feel you were trying to shut me out of the conversation. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say or even suggest that.

  33. Keith Davis

    Thank you to everyone who commented. I read comments and I think about them, all of them. The primary question for me is ‘What does it mean to be a human being?’ Purposefully I confronted societal views of maledom. We live in a society where many people focus on, and obsess interminably about gender division. I don’t see the point of that. Whether you be a male or female, straight or gay, or sitting anywhere else on the spectrum of normal possibility – surely being a decent human being means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being. To my way of thinking everything else flows from that base.

  34. Joseph Carli

    Oh well, Kaye Lee…if for some, to be “wholesome and pure” is a search for the divine…for some of us others, we must be satisfied with living our lives in the shadow of the divine.

  35. Phil

    Joseph Carli

    Oh well, Kaye Lee…if for some, to be “wholesome and pure” is a search for the divine…for some of us others, we must be satisfied with living our lives in the shadow of the divine..

    I brought my kids up to be respectful of everyone, that doesn’t mean rolling over for some bully. This conversation has got SFA to do with being a man, it’s about being a normal adjusted human being. Man or Women. If I come home and heaven forbid I find my wife murdered or one of my kids, the fucker that done it, had better get out of Dodge. Because I’ll kill the fucker that done it and wouldn’t even run away. My dads sister came around to our home back in the sixties with a badly damaged eye, given to her by her husband. My dad went around there and gave him a flogging he never forgot. No cops, no social workers, no lying down on a psychiatrist couch telling him how his daddy wouldn’t play ball with him as a kid. . Domestic violence problem solved. My dad however needed a stitch in one of his knuckles. I am from the old world and feel sorry for the people growing up in this one. Hey Joe seen how many millennial’s want me and you to commit suicide for the economy? They can stick their new world where the sun don’t shine.

    I love the world I came from the new one is got a lot to answer for.

  36. Kaye Lee

    Keith,

    I just feel that no-one should be asked to bear burdens or responsibilities alone. When we fall down, we get back up again but that often takes a helping hand. Support at the right time makes a difference.

    We are all products of our life experiences to a degree. As I’ve said before, we learn from all experiences, good and bad.

    I thought of you when I reread my previous comment.

    “Over 16,000 individuals have contacted the Royal Commission and by the time we conclude our work we expect to have heard more than 8,000 personal stories in private sessions. Over 1,000 survivors have provided a written account of their experience, which has been read and responded to by a Commissioner. For victims and survivors, telling their stories has required great courage and determination. We have also heard from parents, spouses and siblings about the abuse of their relatives, many of whom have died, sometimes by suicide.

    We now know that countless thousands of children have been sexually abused in many institutions in Australia. In many institutions, multiple abusers have sexually abused children. We must accept that institutional child sexual abuse has been occurring for generations. ‘

    I wonder what it takes to be the sort of man that rapes children in his care and then leads others in prayer.

    I admire the courage and strength of men who chose to relive a nightmare to try to put an end to this horror.

    Men come in all shapes and sizes.

    Power to those who put love, compassion and respect first.

  37. Kaye Lee

    Phil,

    Wouldn’t it be great if no-one hit anyone in the first place.

  38. Kate Ahearne

    Keith,

    Gender division or gender difference? Gender understanding would be good.

    The fact is, that there are far too many men for whom your message of ‘being a decent human being means being a loving, compassionate, and respectful human being’ is simply not going far enough. Nor is it answering your own question – What does it mean to be a man?

    Quite frankly, I think you’ve copped out there. You asked about what it means to be a man, and came up with something that applies as well to women – who don’t rape very often at all; don’t often murder, don’t often bash up their husbands. Their IS a difference, What is it?

    We have all seen the figures about domestic violence, to take just one example. Men. women, and everyone else on the spectrum are represented in the figures relating to physical violence. but the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men who identify as men. We need to understand why, and we’re not going to get there with any ‘one human size fits all’.

    ‘One human size’ takes us some of the way, but it doesn’t help the men who are perpetrating these crimes to understand what it is about their own masculinity that is so poisonous. Nor does it help any of the rest of us to understand.

  39. Phil

    Phil,

    Wouldn’t it be great if no-one hit anyone in the first place.

    Of course but that is Utopia. I was raised with only right and wrong and those parameters have served me well.

    Btw I abhor violence I have never donged anyone with out being on the receiving end first. Unfortunately, it is the world we live in. When and not if the drug addled people start knocking on my door for my prescription drugs or what’s left of my money, I am not going to invite them in to taste my wife’ s best sultana cake in the land and coffee. Me, I’m live and let live and obey the rules of society. I have three kids all done well, never had a reason for the cops at my door That’s all.

  40. Kaye Lee

    Keith asked “What does it mean to be a man?”

    I think many of us have answered with what does it mean to be me.

    Interesting conversation starter Keith.

  41. Michael Taylor

    It’s a question I can’t answer, Keith. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t.

    I like to think that as a thinking man – or indeed, as a thinking person – I have been evolving with each passing year. If I gave you an answer, say, 20 years ago, it would have been obsolete within a year. Or a month. Or even a day.

    I evolve because of the people who come into my life. I learn off each one of them. We all learn off each other. Each interaction in our life – even the fleeting ones – gives us something to learn from. Or to grow from. To make us a better person.

    So many people end up bitter. I like to think that I’ve been made better.

  42. wam

    to be a man of my single time was to wear a blue or white singlet and seek a place for a deposit. . Then in searching, the discovery of the power of women, The realisation that a man without a pair in partnership isn’t a man at all.

  43. Keith Davis

    Jeepers … in a good way … by the time I think through all the interesting comments my self-isolation period will be over!

    Kaye Lee – yes, the world I grew up in was pretty empty of love and compassion. As I see it the perpetrators were sick angry men who committed their crimes with impunity and at the same time had the gall to preach the love of god to their congregations. In my latest Post on MOMAW – The March Of Men And Women … as best I could I detailed some of the hurdles Survivors are likely to experience when they stand up and confront their abusers. You are right about the help thing … I’m no island and my initial experience in confronting the Catholic Church would have been immeasurably harder without the support of my friends. Also … being given the opportunity to tell my story on AIMN was invaluable to me – it allowed me to open up and gather sufficient courage to start legal proceedings.

    Kate Ahearne – “Gender understanding would be good” – that resonates. On March 28 I organised an Event to highlight the issue of toxic masculinity and to stand in opposition to the level of domestic violence directed at women and children in Australia by men (MOMAW) – I’m not saying that our efforts on that day changed the world but for many of us on the day, including me, it was a start.

  44. Keith Davis

    At the start of the article I proposed that if you ask a million men (I could have said human beings) what does it mean to be a man you would end up with a million different answers. The wonderful commentary thread that followed on from that goes a fair way to proving the proposition.

    I come from the point of view that we are human beings first, and following on from that is the gender that we may happen to be. My thinking does not resonate with everyone and nor should it. It resonates with me. I don’t push my thinking as the ‘right’ one size fits all way of being. It is simply my ‘right’ way of being at this particular moment in time.

    On issues such as gender understanding, or violence perpetrated by either men or women, there are quite obviously seminal experiential reasons that formulated my general way of thinking.

    For eight years (yes, for eight years) as a child I was subjected to unremitting abuse from both men (priests and orphanage old boys) and women (the nuns). That included sexual assualt, physical beatings, and years of living under the mental stress of the all too real fear of the imminence of violence about to be delivered.

    One could be forgiven for thinking that I would have come out of all that hating men and women equally – after all, I had personally experienced what either gender can be capable of when gifted with un-oversighted power over young vulnerable lives. Yet, I don’t wobble along hating either men or women.

    My views on violence, domestic or otherwise, don’t come from an academic or keyboard warrior space (I’m not suggesting that your views do either – I have no idea what you may have experienced over the course of your life). My views come from having lived for eight years as a recipient at the extreme end of the childhood sexual abuse spectrum. I’m not really an expert in anything, but I come pretty close when it comes to having an understanding of what it feels like to be a target of violence. Nobody needs to tell me what being raped feels like, nobody needs to tell me what being beaten feels like, nobody needs to tell me what being continually mentally tortured feels like.

    I have come out of all that thinking that some human beings are compassionate gentle souls, and some human beings are the exact opposite of that.

    I have also come out of it questioning why is it that when power is placed in the hands of some human beings their automatic default is to mis-use it.

    It is not at all difficult for me to hold a view about violence at both the human-based and gender-based levels.

    Looking at things on the gender level (underneath our commonality as human beings) the facts regarding violence are long in. Men perpetrate far more violence than women do. Men perpetrate far more violence against women than women do against men. I’ve experienced violence from both genders but it has not skewed my thinking on this matter – men perpetrate far more violence against women than women do against men.

    There are ‘entitled’ men out there who become very aggressive when such facts are floated past their eyeballs.

    When you look at violence on the human level, on the level where all of us as men and women combined sit as human beings, all forms of violence are wrong.

    It is why I think that better things flow when we have love, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness as our starting point.

  45. Kaye Lee

    I was talking to my son about forgiveness last night and how important it is for your own well-being. Though, in your situation, I think I would find it impossible. Some things cannot and should not be forgiven

    We also must forgive ourselves when we make mistakes as we all inevitably do.

    You amaze me Keith. You endured a horror that breaks my heart but, somehow, you have found a way to love and care for others even though you were so terribly abandoned when you most needed help. You have beaten the bastards by, not only survivng, but growing into such a poignant voice for good.

    You should be proud of the man you have become.

  46. Keith Davis

    Kaye Lee & Michael Taylor. The article I wrote above has now receded into the background. Given the COVID-19 situation AIMN has now been deluged with wonderful articles, in truth I can hardly keep up with them.

    But I would like both of you to know this.

    Over the last five years I have written about many things. Serious things, quirky things, left field things. You both respond when I write about serious things.

    Neither of you responded when I wrote about ‘Eating Tomatoes in Portugal.’ You are both so tight minded I would love to have seen what you would have done with that one.

    But re the serious things I write about. Your responses have given me courage. Your support has given me courage. The love and heart in your brains has given me courage. I cannot tell you what that has meant to me. Love Keith

  47. Michael Taylor

    Keith, now I feel bad for not commenting on all posts. And so I should! It is something I would like to do – and should do – and I must search harder in future to find the time and effort to do so.

  48. Keith Davis

    Michael … you are deserving of a thank you. So … from me … thank you!

  49. Michael Taylor

    You’re a good man, Keith. Up there with the best of them.

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