The Men Alive Show featuring Lion Goodman
A Recovering Narcissist
The Men Alive Show featuring Lion Goodman
The Men Alive Show featuring Lion Goodman
A Recovering Narcissist
The awakening man is a warrior of the heart, he moves from love and compassion, he is noble and responsible. Jeff will talk about how you can bring forward the healthy masculine of old while being comfortable in your vulnerability.
Do you know what love is? Do you know who you are? Can you honestly say that you know how to love yourself. This concept probably means nothing to you, it is outside your realm of experience. It is as if someone came up to you and asked you how to get to Mars, you would have no idea how to answer.
Recently I wrote about my masculinity I am Proud Of My Masculinity. A female commenter said—Graham I loved every word of this. Thank you, thank you! Your masculinity is beautiful. I hope more men come to recongnize how they can create the terms of their masculinity that aligns with their personal values. The same inner sense you feel about your masculinity is the same inner sense I feel about my femininity.
It is the middle of winter in Spain and it is cold. Living in a typically Spanish house I live without central heating. There is a single wood burning stove in the centre of the house that heats the whole house. It is my job to keep the fire burning and well maintained. Part of this job is to clean the front glass when needed.
A few years ago, when I was clearing away my physical clutter so I could travel, I put many thgings into electronic form. I scanned photos, collected electronic books and put my music into iTunes. I put any random information into Evernote—anything to get rid of the paper. “I might need them”, I thought, “You never know.”
II find myself drawn into being in charge or leading. In any group situation I find that I see what we need to do to make a group vision work and that I work to create this. In committees I find myself chairing them to create a common vision.
I see that this is about my mind and the skills I have developed over my life. I also see it as an expression of myself as a man. I have the ability to focus and see the way ahead—the vision—as well as what needs doing to get there—the detail. It is a part of what I see as my masculinity that I am proud of.
I should clarify what I mean by masculinity. The details vary for each man, dependent on his personality, family and the culture he grew up in. The common thread, in my mind, is a set of characteristics or attitudes that allow men to feel masculine.
As a male I have a desire to feel masculine. It is this inner sense that is part of my identity. It comes from my knowledge and understanding of myself as a male. I decide what is right but I need to feel the fullness of it. That, for me, is masculinity; feeling like a man.
I know that I need to be comfortable with myself and not feel shame about the past, not shrink from the present nor be fearful of the future. As a man I need to allow myself to be a man.
Domination, abuse and suppression of women by men has existed throughout history. Men still dominate women by physical, psychological and emotional means in today’s enlightened world.
Our personal view of the world and our role in it influences our view of this domination. Men both deny it and accept it. Most men see its existence but deny any personal involvement in it. They approach it from their own needs as men and leave women to resolve their own relationship to it.
To embody masculinity I find I need to understand this from a perspective other than my own. I need to respond to it in a way that helps women overcome the centuries of pain and humiliation.
Where I have a personal responsibility for abuse I accept that I need to acknowledge it and deal with it at a personal level. Many men feel that at a personal level they aren’t responsible, and they aren’t. They also feel it is false to take on the guilt of others and that a simple apology does not change the situation.
There are men who take on all the guilt and shame and prostrate themselves before women. It is alright for them to deal with their own personal views in this way, but adopting this stance creates a divide among men. It turns this into a problem about men and responsibility.
If we seek masculinity, as men, we must take responsibility. If we seek common ground to support our growth we must see that it is in this common ground that the responsibility lies. No matter how we express our own masculinity, it is by working together with other men that we strengthen it. In this joint process we create a common male energy that has often been the source of the domination.
We can help women move beyond their fear and anger and understand us as men—and we can help women to find their power and face us as equals. To do this we don’t need to feel guilt or pain for all the abuse women have taken in history, but as men we need to respect women. It is in this joint respecting of each other that union and polarity between us can grow and flourish.
If men cannot take on this responsibility we must reject any sense of universal masculinity. We cannot accept that there are connections between us at a higher, or spiritual, level. We can only exist as individuals without any connection to others. I don’t find that this is what men think about themselves.
What worries me in the general debate on masculinity is that so many people see gender as a battleground.
It is like the stagnation of the First World War. The soldiers filled the trenches, they faced each other and died for forgotten principles. There was, and still is, no point to this type of battleground. No one wins.
Society socializes men and women to conform to gender stereotypes that suit the dominant group. This happens in all societies and is a characteristic of human behavior. The inequality created by this socialization causes many of the issues of tension between men and women.
People can be more concerned with how others perceive them than with being authentic. The media and people’s expectations create arbitrary norms for masculinity and femininity. Individuals feel they have to conform to these norms or isolate themselves as ‘different’.
The problems stem from people seeing these socialized models as reality and not as models.
I see equality as equality of rights and responsibilities. People are equal no matter their age, sex, color, religion. But there are areas in which none of us are equal. Our skills and abilities differ in many areas, our knowledge, our understanding are different. We all have different characteristics, emotions, physical qualities. This does not make any group better than any other, it should not make any group dominant.
We are equal in our differences. We should celebrate and enjoy the differences between men and women. We can define a world of union and polarity between men and women through the balance between us, a world of power and strength for both.
If we develop our own masculinity based on our core masculine characteristics we can move forward as men. We can do this by measuring our response to cultural conditioning not acting on dominant cultural norms. We do this by creating our own personal masculinity.
Men can take back control from the dominant cultural influences and develop what they see as masculinity. This will counter the media driven masculine stereotypes and move on from old school masculinity. The new masculinity can embrace differences.
There is a challenge for men to take up. It is to re-align their masculinity so it becomes relevant today. It is not about becoming feminine, it is not about developing a feminine side. It is about developing compassion along with strength, courage and certainty.
What does all this mean for men, what does it mean for the future?
Men have been the dominant group in society in most cultures. We have run things, organized life and dictated how we should all be. Men have created the cultural norms that now so distort society. We have hung on to outdated beliefs and complained when they haven’t worked. We have dominated and abused women and complained when they fight back. It seems to me that we have wanted it all and stamped our collective foot when it hasn’t worked.
The world needs men now more than ever. Children, particularly sons, need them. Women need them. Society needs them. They need to stand alongside women to create a new more caring society, they need to take their place and feel proud of it.
There is a lack of men who are sure in themselves and who radiate certainty to those around them. There is a ack of men who see masculinity as an enduring quality. There is a lack of men who see masculinity as good.
There is a lack of men who are willing to step out there and give themselves for the good of others. Men, your time is now, seize it, grab the future of masculinity.
I find that I am happy in my personal definition of masculinity. I enjoy my strength, whether it is physical, mental or emotional. I enjoy leading and see that it is role I am meant to embody. This involves me creating a vision for myself and other people. I do that with enthusiasm. I do not seek to suppress my sense of masculinity in case I upset people, I live my life as a man to the full. I live it without domination but with my innate power.
I am a man and I am proud of it.
I am part of a Men’s Group we call ‘The Men’s Virtual Gathering’. We meet every second friday using Google Hangout. Ten of us meet from around the world, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Canada and the US.
I find that we are able to make deep connections online, and that we are able to create great connections. There are people who worry about what happens to friendships if we are no longer able to travel. I think there is a great future in online connections that work well.
In the video I talk about issues around this subject.
When I was 16 years old, in 1964, a British TV show featuring pop music started. ‘Top of the Pops’ was an iconic show from the BBC. It came from an old church in Manchester that had been turned into a TV studio. I used to pass it by bus on my way to and from school. I can remember seeing the queues of girls hoping to get in and see their favorite ‘pop stars’. It was like nothing that had been presented before and the first presenter was a man destined to become famous—perhaps infamous would be better—and an icon of my generation.
He went on to host the continually popular TV show ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ where he fulfilled the dreams of children, mainly, and wound his way into the imagination of a generation of children and their parents. In Britain the phrase ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ became a by-word for getting your dreams fulfilled.
He was famous for spending his spare time as a hospital porter, looking after children and adults in need. He raised an estimated £40 Million for charity and was knighted by the Queen in 1990. He was a quite extraordinary man.
This week Jeremy Hunt, the British Health Secretary, spoke to the House of Commons about the revelations contained in a report, published on behalf of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), about that man, Jimmy Savile. He said,
“I know this House, indeed the whole country, will share a deep sense of revulsion at what they reveal – a litany of disturbing accounts of rape and sexual abuse committed by Savile on vulnerable children and adults over a period of decades.
“At the time, the victims who spoke up were not believed and it is important today that we all publicly recognize the truth of what they have said.
“But it is a profoundly uncomfortable truth.
“As a nation at that time we held Savile in our affection as a somewhat eccentric national treasure with a strong commitment to charitable causes. Today’s reports show that in reality he was a sickening and prolific sexual abuser who repeatedly exploited the trust of a nation for his own vile purposes.”
He went on,
“Mr Speaker, today’s reports will shake this House and our country to the core.
“Savile was a callous, opportunistic, wicked predator who abused and raped individuals, many of them patients and young people, who expected and had a right to expect to be safe. His actions span five decades – from the 1960s to 2010.
“The family favourite loved by millions courted popularity and used it to perpetrate and cover up his own evil acts.”
The issue I want to address is how we should we look at this situation and what lessons we can draw.
I have recently been involved in a discussion here on GMP about the concept of ‘rape culture’. I disagreed with the idea that this culture is prevalent. I said in a comment,
“I find the concept of ‘Rape Culture’ offensive. To me it is offensive because it lumps men together as being offenders, something that is simply not true. Individual men are offenders but not men in general.”
In looking at the Savile case I have had cause to re-think what I feel and what I see. Let me explain why.
‘Rape culture’ is a concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and one in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. It is a term that was originally coined by the feminist movement but has now moved into common usage. It is believed that the culture starts with a lack of respect by one individual to another, and moves through dominance and control in intimate relationships and in business to people not taking sexual violence or rape seriously. This is seen as a big issue in the US where there are many examples of society appearing to condone such behaviour. The concept takes in everything from ‘micro aggressions’ to the behaviour of a sexual predator.
I have never seen such a prevalent attitude here in Britain, but the fact that Savile was allowed to get away with his behavior for many years in the BBC and the NHS, major British institutions, would appear to suggest that such a culture exists in those institutions and therefore at the highest level in British society. It also suggests that such a culture exists at all levels of society because of the extent to which Savile’s crimes were not reported by ordinary people mainly because they were not believed.
Men are often accused of being controlled by their sexuality. We, reputedly, think about sex all the time and it is only with great difficulty that we are able to control ourselves. In the case of Savile it would seem that he was totally unable to control his sexuality, or perhaps he just chose not to, because he could. It is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with men and their urge for sex, in many ways that is a good thing. The only aspect that is wrong is when that urge results in non-consensual sex. Men, or women, do not need to ‘control’ themselves they just need to accept that consent is a pre-requisite for any sexual act. For Savile there was no sense in which he sought consent, he just assumed that because people were in awe of him they were fair game.
Ben Belenus, in a article on Savile in The Good Men Project in 2012, ‘Jim’ll Fux It‘, said,
“If we all celebrated and talked openly about our sexuality, maybe there would be fewer prisoners, men would respect women and we would all respect the earth.”
We do need to be more open about sex and not let our sexuality control us, we need to acknowledge our sexual desires and, at the same time, accept that our desires do not give us the right to prey on other people to fulfill them.
It is possible to see this situation as just about our ridiculous adoration of celebrities, whether they are movie or TV stars, sportsmen and women or just people ‘in the news’. We give these people control over our lives, we give them our power. Savile was allowed to get away with it because people thought he did so much good for children and the needy. It is power and privilege that allow some people to get away with rape and other sexual offenses. This has nothing to do with being a man and everything to do with the exerting of power and control.
We see this not just with celebrities, but with priests, with coaches and with teachers. It is the celebrities that get the attention, but the predator is often in a trusted position within the community if only because they organize that to get access to their prey, their victims—ordinary men, women and children.
I was involved in a lighting project in a Catholic Church in Ireland. As a part of the refurbishment work within the church, the Vestry, where the choir boys and men changed for services, was being divided to ensure the boys were separated. Glass doors were being put in the confessionals so that whatever happened inside could be seen by anyone. The idea that boys are at risk has, at last, gone deep into the Catholic Church.
Nick Triggle, health correspondent of BBC News said today in an analysis of the report on Savile,
“He enjoyed unsupervised access, particularly at two sites, Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, and was able to use his fame to intimidate junior staff. What is more, senior management were too unquestioning.”
Savile was an example of a rampant sexual predator using his fame and influence to pressure people into letting him have free and open access. There are a lot of people who have a great deal of soul searching to do. There are still a lot of questions to be answered but the reaction over the past few years of revelations has been universal. Except that, interestingly, the news is off the front page the next day. We may be horrified but we don’t want to hear too much about it.
What lessons are there for all of us? We need to be aware of what people are doing with their fame and celebrity. Sexual predators exist everywhere and they will use any means to get what they want. They may be evil criminals who will not be stopped, but they achieve their ends by our consent, which is often expressed as a lack of objection, a lack of reporting or, more importantly, a refusal to believe people when they do report it.
We need to understand whether there is a difference between people, often men, with twisted minds who think it is alright to abuse, dominate, threaten and rape at will, and a culture of disrespect in society. The problem, for me, with the word ‘rape’ in ‘rape culture’ is that it tends to focus the blame for a culture of disrespect on sex and people’s, often men’s, sexuality. But rape is a problem of control, not sex, and control is, necessarily, linked to general disrespect and dominance, to a general lack of consent even in mild issues of dominance. We need to decide if there is a continuum of disrespect, micro-aggressions, sexual advances, sexual violence, rape and predatory sexual behavior. They are all issues to be talked about and dealt with and until people at large become schooled in the concepts of inclusion, respect, understanding and consent we need to careful of making light of any of it.
The use of the word ‘rape’ in ‘rape culture’ is offensive, but I am beginning to think it is necessary to shock people into understanding what is happening. I never saw this as being a big problem because I have always respected what other other people want or do not want. I have never forced a woman to do what she did not want to do, no matter how much that frustrated me. So I saw respect and consent as normal. Yet even I have to understand the extent to which this approach is alien to many people and to large parts of society. That shocks me, and, perhaps, the lesson of the Savile affair, for me, is that I need to be shocked to accept what is happening, at an institutional level, and, worse, at an ordinary level in society.
I will finish with the final words of Jeremy Hunt in speaking to the House of Commons,
“But today, above all, we should remember the victims of Savile.
“They were brave. They have been vindicated. Savile was a coward. He has been disgraced.
“The system failed to prevent him from abusing. It failed to act when people spoke up. We must not allow this to happen again.”
Anger is a part of all our lives whether it comes from inside or whether we experience it from other people. Anger is a recurring theme in relations between men and women both on a personal and cultural level. The recent shooting in the US has generated countless pages both about the shooter’s anger and the anger of those reacting to him and what he did. Much of that anger has been directed at a perceived battle between men and women, some of it has been about the pressure of men’s entitlement and the effect this has on women.