There is a lot of talk these days about creating safe spaces. Mostly for minority groups who feel victimised. A lot of this discussion is dribble, but at times there is a case for such a cause.
Some minority groups do need a place where they can feel safe and be able to express their emotions and feelings, and be affirmed in the process.
Interestingly the largest minority group currently on the planet is the male of the species. In Australia, for every 100 females, there are 99.36 males. Men are in the minority.
It is hard to believe that men need a safe place, but it is truer today than ever before in history. The men’s suicide epidemic tells the story well.
Why is this the case? Men and manhood are mocked more than ever before. Modern sitcoms perfect the art of man-bashing, and movies are full of villainous males, while within the confines of the Family Law Court system, generally speaking, a man is guilty unless he can prove his innocence.
Even big corporations are denigrating the male of the species, as can be seen from the furor around the Gillette ads earlier in the year. Gillette is starting to pay for it now, but the damage has been done and is still being done.
It is true that some very evil men have brought great calamity and murder into the world. Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot in the last century collectively killed 149 million people between them. No women have been found guilty of such a level of mass murder and evil. Having said that, does this mean that all men are guilty and evil to the core?
Where was this ideological vitriol for the male of the species born, and how did it spread?
To understand where the phrase, “All men are bastards” came from, we turn to our tertiary institutions, the halls of academic power. This derogation of manhood, epitomized in the phrase, “All men are bastards,” began in the sixties and spread through our political, welfare, legal, media, educational and business spheres of influence. The current phrase is “toxic masculinity.” Today, to question this divine dogma risks social exclusion and reputational martyrdom.
You might find this hard to believe, but check out the following quotes from feminist academics from the last fifty years. Almost all of them are highly-respected professors, educators and authors. Many are household names. These are the academics who have been educating our educators for the last five decades.
Some of these quotes make the “All men are Bastards” mantra look pretty tame. It is hard to believe that such people could be believed but they have been. Trust me!
- “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act.” — Professor Robin Morgan.
- “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin, writer & lecturer.
- “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” — Assistant Professor Marilyn French.
- “Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum-security prison, except for the imminent threat of release.” — Professor Germaine Greer.
- “The nuclear family must be destroyed… Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.” — Professor Linda Gordon.
- “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be… a drastic reduction of the population of males.” — Professor Mary Daly.
- “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.” — Professor Sally Miller Gearhart.
So, what is the answer? Firstly, we must heed the words of Martin Luther King. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Jesus was right to say we must “love our enemies and pray for those who spitefully use us.” Only love from above can heal the wounds that we, both men and women, inflict on each other.
Secondly, we need to provide safe spaces for our men and boys, where they can be affirmed in their manhood and experience a positive male rite of passage. They must know that just as women are leaders in society, so are men.
Camille Anna Paglia, who is herself a strong feminist, was right to say:
“When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honour their commitments. And without strong men as models… women will never attain a centred and profound sense of themselves as women.”
Men must be taught to reject the darkness perpetrated by other men and women. Men must also draw a line in the sand for the sake of the next generation. Men must be taught that masculinity is not in and of itself evil. To be a true man is noble and good, just as true womanhood is the same.
That’s what the Men’s Leadership Summit last weekend at The Tops Conference Centre was all about. The Summit was not just a line in the sand, but the beginning of a transformational journey. Transformation happens when you gather 125 men together in one place with a passion to grow and excel in their manliness.
True transformation begins when men share a mutual perception that the highest form of leadership was displayed by the Man who washed His followers’ feet and said,
“Whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all.”
Brilliant input on true manhood from Dr Allan Meyer, founder of Care Force Life Keys and author of Valiant Man, was combined with profound insight from former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, and then deep generational wisdom from author Brian Molitor, one of the world’s greatest experts on Rites of Passage.
Fantastic food was mixed with activities like the adrenalin-pumping giant swing and archery, laughter, singing, brutal honesty, deep spiritual moments, heartfelt sharing and inspirational small bands of brothers.
The saying from the world’s bestselling book, “As iron sharpens iron so does the face of a man’s friend”, came to life in living technicolor.
The Men’s Leadership Summit is a communal rite of passage for modern men without the drums, fire and the scars, but no less effective. When men collectively encourage their fellow men to push past their failures and follow in the footsteps of the greatest Man who ever lived, the results are beyond belief.
I have talked to two wives who have said their men were transformed by their attendance and participation at the Summit. It would not surprise me to find that this is the case dozens of times over. Men don’t always realise they have changed, but women do!
The challenge, as always, is for the transformational journey to continue, but it is certainly a great way to start.
I asked each of the three keynote speakers to give us a five-minute burst of wisdom at the end. All were outstanding, but what Dr Allan Meyer said got under my skin.
He talked about his wife as his beloved ewe lamb, and he showed us a picture of her when she was 6 years old that he continually has on his desk. Allan shared how he had not been the best husband to his wife over the last 50 years, but he was determined to change that in the remaining decades of his life.
He travels a lot as a prolific author and speaker, but now every day that he is home he makes his wife breakfast in bed every morning. I could almost hear the collective gasp!
This morning my wife received a cup of tea in bed. It took me five days, but hey, I got there! I like to think I could rise to Allan’s example of true servant leadership, but I am afraid I stand in the shadows of greatness and the shadows are more comfortable.
Another great man said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Some of these speakers are a hard act to follow!
I dare not say imitate me, but I do know Someone who is worthy of imitation. In the meantime, save the date for the Men’s Leadership Summit 7-9 August 2020. Opportunities for safe spaces where men can sharpen other men are few and far between.
Yours for More Great Men,
PS: On Thursday 22 August the new movie ‘Overcomer’ from the Kendrick Brothers, producers of War Room, Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants, opened in Australian cinemas. I have seen it and am going out of my way to recommend it. It is a magnificent movie, particularly relevant to you as a father.
Watch the trailer here. Go to this website to find a cinema near you. Don’t wait for the following week to see Overcomer as it might not be in the cinemas. With independent movies, everything depends on the first few days.
[Photo by Matheus Ferrero