I have sons.
I have brought them up to talk about emotions.
I have brought them up knowing it is OK to cry.
Or rarely do.
Social conditioning is so powerful, who was I to think I would change the face of masculinity and how much was I doomed to pit my feminist aspirations against evolution and biology?
I do know that suicide rate amongst young men are higher than any other sector of the population. This worries me. So maybe this is why I wanted to talk to Pete. Pete was one of the lads, a year older than me in school, who I kind of was in awe of. He as the captain of the football team, he was cool, fit and had kudos for all of that. He seemed to be the epitome of cool when his best mate went out with my mate and I faded into the background of fifteen year old spots and insecurity.
So when I saw on his Linkedin profile that he was not only some kind of finanical whizz, but also a wedding celebrant, I couldn’t quite connect the two images.
So we talked and it was a turbulent tale of booze, football, banter, bullying, birds. Then as well, along side all this, vulnerability, hard work, an autistic son, divorce, remarriage and a new life in a new world. Pete’s been a ref, a fire-fighter, he’s worked in the City and is now he’s training to be a celebrant and a counsellor.
We are both in our fifties and I wonder whether my boys will face so much of the masculinity policing that Pete had done to him and internalised himself. My PhD investigated hegenomic masculinity and the way it shapes not only boys and men, but the women who relate to them.
Increasingly I am seeing footnotes on emails where people are stating the pronouns they use to identify themselves. I have a couple of people on my email contacts who self-identify as ‘they/ them’ rather than ‘he/she, him/her’. I wonder how this will impact upon how young people construct their identities now.
Join us in conversation here in my podcast about masculinity and sensitivity, alcohol, climate change and what leaving a legacy means. (Ps…there are adult language and themes used in this conversation!).
Pete’s celebrancy work is here: https://centraltablelandscelebrant.com/
If you want to know more about me, my writing, coaching and training go to www.julieleoni.com
(Image: Pete in the middle with his son on the left, in Australia, after everyone said he would never get on a plane)