(artwork: ‘Circle’ by Al Ballentyne)
There is a lot of talk about toxic masculinity, the ever deepening divide between progressive self examination and petulant adherence to the systemic nonsense that has held back society for generations. It’s a confusing time to be part of society if you are not engaged and embracer of change. The issue is without some kind of attempt to disseminate what it means to be then we are in danger of leaving some behind.
It is true that if we are to construct a brave, new world then there are going to be teething problems and growing pains as we redress the balance of hundreds if not thousands of years of systemic oppression. We must recognise that gender privilege is a damaging force and do our best to help constructing a new society that moves beyond historic gender narratives. It’s becoming more common to see the trend of self examination rise in men and of course the media gasbag led counter-rhetoric. However if you are striving to live a life beyond the basement level of psyche, it’s easy to tune that out. It isn’t easy to tune out the high suicide rates in men, the lack of conversation among men about inner considerations. Men are not allowed to fail and are kept in a prison of quiet shame lest they show any kind of weakness. That should be something we are working towards, together, to change.
Since #metoo there has been an opportunity for men everywhere to examine their behaviours, thoughts, motivations and so forth. However more often than not when challenged on inappropriate, unwelcome and regressive conduct we are met with a chorus of victim shaming, unbelievable hubris when listening to those who raised the concerns. If a moment for integration, reflection and healing presents itself, it is met by defiance, defensive/evasive arguments and a whole host of other descriptive terminologies I do not have the mental energy or patience to list. The point is I am fed up and so are many others, yet in being fed up I am choosing action rather than sloganism. So I would like to share with you the ‘Statement of intention’ for ‘Circle’:
It’s good to talk, it helps to listen, better to discuss and best to grow.
‘Circle’s objective is to foster a framework for discussion, consideration and progress for all who wish to strive beyond the stagnant, outmoded form of masculinity. The systemic prison of shame men live under is something that hampers the progress of society as it creates a barrier between us and ourselves.
Through discussion, socialising and reflection we will be working together to explore the inner workings of ourselves focusing on a different theme each week. ‘Circle’ will not be somewhere you are told to ‘man up’, ‘be a man’ or ‘boys don’t do that’. It will be a place you can begin to move beyond that and find ways to reframe what it means to ‘be a man’ but through the lens of 2019.
The ultimate goal of ‘Circle’ is to curate a section of the exhibition for the MX Men festival on the weekend of 28-30 June at The Ugly Duck Space. Members of the Circle are invited to join a spoken word performance based on ideas discussed in the group.
Circle will run at the Threads Studio. This run of ‘Circle’ is for Mxn only, this is due to the nature of the MX Men festival. While I am a practitioner that strives for inclusion, this project is for a specific purpose and due to the sensitive nature of the material discussed we seek to create a safe, shame-free environment of non-judgement where men can examine the nature of their relationship with masculinity.
Spaces are limited to eight attendees per Circle. Please contact directly to reserve your slot. We hope that you will be able to attend for the duration of ‘Circle’s run and participate in the MX Men festival in June! Visit the facebook event for more information.
Email: [email protected]