Working For Progress was launched with the intention of clebrating our communities and sharing their individual journeys. We are lucky to have a community of creative people, all doing interesting work and who are also interested in the bigger picture. Their health, their communities, their impact on the world. It is important for us to connect through conversations about how we craft our working life and make progress. Each episode sees us ask our communities questions about their working life, the challenges they’ve faced and the progress they’ve made.
It was funny to think back to the initial awkward fears that producing and recording a podcast brings. We are forever grateful to our pals over at Glocast for allowing us to record our trailer episode with them. Perhaps without this as a date in the diary to record we would not now be reflecting on our eleven published episodes!
We spoke at length about what stood out to us in season one and we really wanted to thank our guests for their honesty and vulnerability. Even recording a conversation with people that you know in a place that you are familiar with can bring nerves. Not to mention that using a mic can initially feel very intimidating. It has been a joy to listen to the intricacies of people’s journeys and without creating the space to reflect there’s so much we may have never known! The podcast has made both myself and Dani feel ever more connected to you all. Taking the time to interview each person has served as a valuable reminder of how important connection and conversation is.
We also spoke about what we wanted out of the podcast. I really wanted to showcase all of the possibilities your working life can bring and highlight the turning points in people’s career journeys. For myself, I am very early doors. I have spent most of my working life in hospitality. I adore the world of hospitality but always desired something more stable without losing what I value. Before Tribe, I remember having this weird sensation that I was failing or doing things wrong and that I simply wanted more out of my working life.
Coming to Tribe gave me the term value based work. It’s a privilege to work alongside so many people where value is at the heart of their working lives. At points in my own journey, value based work felt out of reach and at times it just felt like ‘a nice idea’. I wanted this podcast to highlight how many different avenues and directions life could take you. Career journeys are not always a linear path like you are told at school. For me, each episode really encapsulates this as each guest highlighted the journey and risks that they have taken themselves.
It was interesting to note how the support of communities and the right people at the right time came up alot in each person’s journey. Alongside this came trust and putting yourself in the relationship of trust to find trust. These seem to be vital ingredients in both navigating working lives and in taking risks. Here’s what Nasim Forootan said about the importance of trust:
“It’s okay to trust and to open yourself up and be vulnerable sometimes with how you are feeling and what you’re seeing. Sometimes you need to have difficult conversations to explore the nuisance of things. Have faith that things will come out right. If you go into a situation with doubt, you won’t let yourself explore the relationship that could be. Trust is a really strong value for me. Trust is embedded in everything I do. When we work in organizations or when we look at community spaces and governments, it’s one element that is constantly broken. If we had a tiny bit more trust in each other the world would be a better place”-Nasim Forootan
Trust and honesty certainly became an overarching theme, both in trusting in yourself and the people around you. This is why coworking is so incredibly important. It’s not often in life you get to choose the people around you and people are such a strong and beautiful part of Tribe. Tribe is not just a desk to work from, it is the people that you’re sitting next to, have lunch with and stop for a tea break and a chat with. Coworking perfectly encapsulates the human need and want for both community and connection.
During our chat, Dani reflected: “Think of Brene Brown’s saying, ‘It’s hard to hate people when you see them up close and know their story’, it’s true. Bear with me, I am so far from hating anyone, especially this crew. But in a similar vein, the care and love I now have for each guest has expanded. To know them a bit more, to be trusted enough that they share themselves with us (and everyone who listens) is not taken lightly. We could easily brush it off, quite normal to be on a podcast and chat about your working life. But when people share their values, why they do what they do, what brings them a sense of belonging and awe, it connects us in generative ways.”
Bob Cummins of SODAK amply said during his interview that “Emotional safety is formed with people. If you’ve got others you can take the journey with, it makes risks easier”. We hope that in listening to each of these stories you may find more confidence in navigating your own journey and not to feel scared of taking the necessary risks. Founder of Good Life School, Lorna Lythgoe spoke of this in such a beautiful way whilst reflecting on her on career journey :
“I felt like I had leapt off a cliff, I was falling and would occasionally land on a shelf. It was painful and scary and uncomfortable, which sounds like I’m saying don’t do it. In retrospect, now I know that was the growth and the career path, I started to gleefully leap off as I understood It wasn’t an abyss”- Lorna Lythgoe
Most of all, our podcast makes us feel so very grateful for the communities of Tribe Porty and Keystone. We are so lucky to meet so many incredible people through these communities. It is an honour to share your stories. We want to keep showcasing you as the brilliant, incredible and completely normal people that you are. People who are real and care deeply about others and this planet. We hope that our little podcast helps you to stay surrounded by good people, keep true to your values and to keep working for progress. (Too cringe? Nah, we love it!). You can listen to all of our episodes, including our season wrap up by clicking here. Fancy joining myself and Dani in an episode? Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, thanks for reading. You can read all of our previous blogs by clicking here. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletters by filling out the form below:
“An equitable outcome is one where every individual from every demographic has the opportunity to reach their full potential resulting in more economic opportunity for everyone.”
The simple definition of equity refers to fairness and justice. Whilst it is easy to list it as a synonym to equality, it is in fact a very different matter. Equality fights for the same for everyone, expecting that this will make people equal. However, this wrongly assumes that we all start out in the same place. Inequality affects many people, historically it has and continues to block marginalized communities.
Equality revolves around the concept of fairness, which makes things tricky as it is often assumed that being fair means that everybody should get the same thing. Equality is only fair if we all start with the same things, equality only works in a world where we are all equal to begin with. The only way to truly remove these barriers is through personalized approaches.
The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people’s ability to thrive. Equity acknowledges that people do not begin life in the same place and unfortunately, evolving circumstances make it increasingly difficult for people to achieve the same goals. Despite leaps of progress, women are still under-represented in the workplace. Even more so, inequality affects people of colour, people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged groups and those in the LGBTQ+ community. This is why equity is so important, peoples experiences are diverse and reach beyond gender.
“ 42% of young women have experienced discrimination whilst working or looking for work. Furthermore, 73% of women experience bias at work—yet less than a third of employees are able to recognize bias when they see it.”
Whether it is deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it not only harder for women to get hired, but it blocks promotion and career progression. Aside from this, it negatively impacts day to day life. Finding connection and support at work is a major challenge. Since most senior leaders are men, women are less likely to have access to mentors who can not only relate to their experiences, but promote important change.
Significant numbers of young women are in precarious financial situations, this hardship is only spurred on in the ongoing cost of living crisis. Young Women’s Trust: Annual Survey 2022 found that 44% of young women have been offered zero hour contracts in 2022, compared to 33% of young men.
“Women and underrepresented groups alone cannot solve diversity and inclusion problems. An ally is a person who stands up for others to proactively build inclusion in our workplace”
So how do we as individuals, or as employers, managers or coworkers ‘Embrace Equity’ in a system which is flawed? One vital way is to become an active ally. Active Allyship in the workplace means that we as individuals must put in the groundwork to not only examine, but confront personal and systematic bias. When we not only witness, but acknowledge bias we can then build actionable change.
Active Allyship is arguably the most important catalyst to not only build but drive inclusion in our workplaces and communities. It must become a daily practice sustained through not only action, but education. Rosanna Durruthy writes about the importance of connection in order to “explore where you can be creating opportunities, build professional bonds and act as a resource and advocate for others in your professional community”.
Ok things have improved over time, but this doesn’t mean we should settle. Nor does it mean that we should overlook barriers that disadvantage groups still face. Make the commitment to yourself to become an active ally, ensure that people’s rights are upheld and respected. It is important to create communities that revolve around compassionate accountability. Remember, your perspective will always be limited by your own circumstances and personal biases. Keep listening, sharing and growing and actively drive for inclusive culture. It is only through embracing equity that we can achieve equality.
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Creativity is unique to each individual, it encapsulates many different forms, processes and connections. Creativity and play can generate an important challenge; embracing fear and your inner critic. We lose interest in hobbies as we grow older, arguably this is as they need to hold a greater meaning than ‘just for fun’. Spending our precious time on something, anything, must produce a worthy outcome and once play is lost from our lives, it is difficult to regain.
A quick google search of the word ‘play’ will primarily show images of children playing, but it is just as important for adults to play too! The further removed we become from the idea of play, the more troubling the idea becomes. A purposeless activity becomes a concept that is impossible to grasp and often causes feelings of awkwardness. The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts a day and creative play has been shown to help focus the mind. Creative play and finding your flow can reduce anxiety, depression and stress. So why is it so alien to us?
Flow is a state of mind achieved when you are fully engrossed in an activity. When you lose all sense of self and time, that’s flow. It’s been found that repetitive creative tasks can help you find your flow, tasks such as writing, knitting and drawing are great examples of this. Once you have achieved a state of flow, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine, the feel good chemical that helps to motivate you and ultimately will encourage you to repeat your chosen form of play.
“…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
Having fun with creative play is often seen as a nice idea, but we are at a loss as to where to start. For most people, it’s been so long since they last played, they have forgotten altogether how to do it. Whilst it is a nice idea, we are no longer sure what it means to play. In the words of Maya Angelou, creativity is a bottomless pit: ‘The more you use it, the more you have’. Creative play becomes even more important as we age and as our lives get busier. When embracing play, it is important to remember that the act of play must be deemed as being more important than any form of outcome. Most of all, creative play should bring you joy, you should engage in play to immerse yourself in a moment to moment experience.
“Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival.Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.”
― Stuart Brown, Play
Often, we recognise that people benefit from free spirited play such as dancing, scribbling or writing but cannot see the point in engaging in it ourselves. Art in any form wears a veil of elitist mysticism. If you view yourself as an ‘outsider’ to the culture, it becomes even more difficult to engage with it. Instinctively, we lean into these feelings of imposter syndrome by becoming more concerned with the physical outcome than the positive internal feelings the act brings us. Creative play is not about making great art, or a great piece of writing, it’s about finding your flow and happiness.
I think sometimes we need to grow down, free ourselves from the constraints of what it means to be an adult. Let yourself indulge in silly fun and stop thinking about what is and isn’t possible. Be in the moment, open your mind, find your flow and remember, the act is more important than the outcome.
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When considering a new resolution, an idea that is often overlooked is to rekindle something that has previously bought joy. Often a resolution involves taking something away, be it a guilty pleasure or bad habit. I would argue that a good resolution should instead breathe positivity.
It is important to balance thoughts between what has already passed and what to consider next. The pressures of New Year’s Resolutions can sometimes cause unruly thoughts, leading some of us to opt-out. Why panic into setting a resolution you do not feel attached to. A successful resolution must be considered and nurtured. A new year does not have to mean a new you.
‘There is no new world that you make without the old world.’-Jane Jacobs
Perhaps we should take more time to consider the joys of the past and how we can rekindle them. During my childhood, I spent many hours in a small cramped shed full of crafting materials, paints, fabrics, a real treasure trove! Consequently, art was always my favourite subject at school. I was fortunate enough to continue this into my adolescence by attending art school. Despite being blessed with a wealth of creative space for the majority of my life, I’ve noticed it fade away. I no longer attend any form of art class, I rarely pick up a camera and the only time I bring myself to draw something is to make a birthday or christmas card. It’s a joy that I no longer make the time to nurture and explore.
‘Mankind now possesses for the first time the tools and knowledge to create whatever kind of world they want’ – Robert D. Putnam
It’s easy to throw excuses of time, space & money. To be honest the route cause for me is the distraction of life. I very recently had several rolls of film developed, an accidental archive of the past five years of my life. It was melancholic to see the physicalities of time causing a love to fade. The intervals of time widened between each photograph.
Self care is all about making time for these loves and it would be valuable for us to all set a resolution in a similar fashion. Take the time to think of practical ways you can re-embody old hobbies, crafts and joys.
Here at Tribe Porty, we strive to create a space where you can achieve these goals. Achieving your goal is unique to yourself. It can be as small as making a public declaration of what you would like to rekindle. Maybe it’s forming a circle of friends at Tribe to gather and participate in a shared activity. It could even be joining a local club or spending ten minutes a day working on some yoga poses.
ART! Art for myself, with no intention of publishing work, sharing or selling. Making art completely for myself. I’ve always loved collage and I have always naturally drawn to it, collecting and making materials and curating them together. To rekindle this love, I would like to host an Art Club at Tribe, an open space where we can come together, laugh, chat and create.
Often my New Year resolutions default to restarting that thing I used to enjoy, making time for it, re-joining the class. And often they fizzle out in the first month. What was once a habit nurtured by the circumstance of the time, now, no longer fits so neatly in the evolving balance of work, family and friends. I still yearn to reconnect with these lost loves but more care and consideration is needed to imagine how they might be supported in today’s version of my life.
In 2022 my creative practice of 14 years officially dissolved with the end of being self employed. One obvious rekindling would be to find time and space for creative play for myself. Sewing in particular. My daughter asked just the other day ‘Mummy, when will you sew again?’. My reply was when I can make space for the sewing machine and cutting table. This is a big dream and one that fits into the longer days of summer, or at least once I have cleared the post Christmas detritus.
But thinking about my environment now, there is space, so long as I say “yes, let’s do that now” rather than “perhaps tomorrow when there is more time” to the requests of my children to get out the new modeling clay or paint or pompom maker. I too can sit at the table and join in. At first it may be Fimo charms, but with repetition a habit may form, the environment will subtly shift to support those yes’s being a bit easier to say, those trousers might get made.
Jumping from this text, what do YOU want to rekindle this year? Share it with us and we will check in with you in a couple of months…Not sure where to start? Try out some of the free workbooks provided by our partners Keystone Women. Click here to download helpful materials to help you reflect, take stock, relax and plan.
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Last week I vocalized my first gripe over Christmas gift buying. It was a blustery day and I told myself after work I would venture out to the dangers of Princes Street to hunt for gifts and finally start checking people off the list. My friend’s response was not what I expected, “oh I stopped doing that years ago”…I had to ask for clarification, “yeah just one year, enough was enough and I explained to friends and family I would no longer buy Christmas gifts”. Is it possible to find a balance and not over consume during the Christmas period, does a conscious Christmas exist?
I’ve never felt quite so jealous of someone else’s relief from such a trivial conundrum. I don’t think I ever considered the fact that you could just…stop. It made me question why we do it to ourselves? Perhaps it’s like everything in life, the virus of capitalism has leached onto everything. Instead of being content with giving one thoughtful gift we are plagued by thoughts of ‘I didn’t spend enough’, ‘it should be more than one gift’, ‘what if they spent more than me’, ‘what if they think I don’t care’. None of these thoughts are very Christmassy and at the heart of it, your loved ones would never think such things of you.
“It is another of consumerism’s ironies that, although it functions like a mental trap, we often think of it as an escape.” ― J.B. MacKinnon, The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves
Personally, I don’t think I could take quite a drastic leap, and whilst I wouldn’t label my friend a Bah Humbug, I simply love Christmas too much to not gift give. However, I find myself extremely frustrated over the wasteful and excessive way we consume Christmas and we should definitely become more conscious over the Christmas period. Consumerism and the environment go hand in hand, the more we consume, the more we produce, the more we waste. It’s times of the year, like Christmas, where we should definitely be consuming differently, and not as much.
We’ve all had our fair share of Christmas presents where their only purpose was to generate, at best, a 30 second laugh. They then spend the rest of their life in a junk drawer, or collecting dust on a shelf only to end up in the bin or at a charity shop. I see gift sets from chain retailers in the same light. Ultimately, you are paying for Christmas themed packaging which again…goes in the bin!
So how do we all take steps to reduce wasteful consumption? Gag gifts can be a hoot, but can be sourced responsibly via charity shops or even ebay. No, your friend with a leaky gas pipe does not need a fart button. At all costs, avoid the boring, and frankly sexist, gifts for him or gifts for her sections. There’s a reason these types of gifts and gift sets dramatically fall in price post Christmas (it’s because no one wants them).
Without ignoring the elephant in the room, we are of course in the midst of a cost of living crisis. If unanimously we are spending less on Christmas, how can we also allow our money to have a greater impact on our local economy. Easy, spend it locally. And when I say locally I don’t mean Fort Kinnard because it’s down the road. Turn to our independent traders, local shops! Treat our friends and family to smaller gift parcels full of delights. Ultimately, these traders may not make it without our support. You may already be thinking about how these shops are too expensive, but again, perhaps we need to adjust our expectations for gifts. Quality over quantity!
Yes you may be able to get more ‘bang for your buck’ by buying gifts from chain retailers, but think of how much further your money goes when supporting a local business. Not only does your lucky receiver gain a beautiful, thoughtful gift, but you actively supported our local economy. Without sounding ungrateful, I find nothing more frustrating than receiving a gift that I know I won’t use. I’m sure we can all agree that one thoughtful gift is far more wonderful to receive than a big pile of consumer goods that are eventually forgotten about.
There is always the calling that a DIY christmas is the way to go. Undoubtedly, with energy costs on the rise, a vat of homemade chutney may no longer be the answer we’re looking for. We can definitely be a lot craftier in our quest for gifts. Perhaps we also should stop frowning upon the idea of second hand gifts…When it comes down to it, what are the real differences between a charity shop book, and a new book? Or a toy? A scarf? I’d argue that the only difference is our disdain towards giving something that has had a previous life.
In reality, imagine the cost of purchasing a variety of toys, books and games for a child and simply rejuvenating it with thoughtful and crafty wrapping? Who doesn’t love a hamper?! There’s no reason the hamper couldn’t be made up of second hand buys… You can find some more ideas for this here.
“Under capital’s growth imperative, there is no horizon – no future point at which economists and politicians say we will have enough money or enough stuff. There is no end, in the double sense of the term: no maturity and no purpose.”Jason Hickel, Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way around these conundrums. Christmas gift shopping is already hard enough without jumping through extra hoops. Society screams at us to be more eco-conscious, to save local businesses and still please our loved ones. Nevertheless, we should consider what our favorite gifts have been. How and why did they spark joy or find purpose in your life? Consider the journey the gift will go on after it has been received. By applying a few of these thoughts to our gift giving this year, we will ultimately have a more conscious christmas!
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It’s all too easy to reflect on time past as lost or wasted, the consequence of losing time only becomes apparent during moments of guilt based contemplation. Guilt causes us to value lost time to a higher level than the time we still have ahead of us. But perhaps this perpetual way of thinking is too caught up in regret and therefore we continue to waste time rather than build sustainable change to obtain our desires and goals. It’s easier to overestimate the power of the past and therefore underestimate the value of small changes and habits to daily life.
I had not considered the power of small habits until recently, this realisation came from an enormous change in the routine of my work life. I had spent the majority of my adult working life sacrificing a minimum of 40 hours a week to a physically and mentally challenging job. On top of that, I received my rota a week at a time, usually a day or two before the week started. The notion of habit and routine was impossible for me to obtain due to these constraints. The impact a lack of routine had on my physical and mental wellbeing was not unnoticed…definitely suppressed. When I think back to this lifestyle a quote from Bruce Tift rings true: “we don’t have to consciously participate in what it’s like to feel claustrophobic, imprisoned, powerless, and constrained by reality.” I felt as though I was down a rabbit hole with no idea how to get out. I needed more good days.
Personal time became a sparse luxury, when not at work I either needed to clean my flat, do laundry (AGAIN), or simply turn my body off and enter the abyss that is reality television. It wasn’t living, it wasn’t even surviving, it was simply existing. After having a sad and almost existential realisation that my work was the root cause of my unhappiness, changing my job became a necessity. Fast forward a year and two jobs later I finally found myself in a job that gave me TIME! Beautiful time! What did I do with this time?! I watched more TELLY! I mean…c’mon it was well earnt and a new series of Euphoria was calling my name. This didn’t last too long as I was well aware that this time could be better spent. Having said that, it’s just as important to know when to hibernate and recuperate.
“We often seem to dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much in the moment.” -James Clear: Atomic Habits.
The first small change that I made in an attempt to improve my wellbeing was to go to the gym. When I say I hated it, I really mean it. I hated the smell, the music, the sound and the look of the machines. Everything was monochrome and industrial. However, it became an important first step towards my ultimate goal. I wanted to become a runner. I knew I would never have the confidence to run in public without an improvement in my fitness levels. Even once I made it out of the gym and into the great outdoors, I kept running a well guarded secret. I wanted to protect my desire to run as far away as possible from the stigma of weight loss, this was not my goal and not my intention. I feared that outside opinions would push this unwanted pressure onto me and the public declaration of being a runner would skew my own vision.
Why am I running? Metaphorically form the patriarchy, in reality for myself! Overestimating the importance of a defining moment is easy, it’s even more important to value small improvements that you create daily. Success and achieving a goal does not require massive action. For me, the reason I run isn’t to run a marathon, it’s to have time to myself, to listen to music, to be outdoors and see the seasons change…
Routine aided in me identifying as a runner, now I can’t imagine not doing it and i’m certainly no longer scared to say that I do it. James Clear prompts the celbration of identity as it is a form of intrinsic motivation, “It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.” Schedule the time and show up for yourself, routine will form confidence in your actions and they will therefore become sustainable and with time, unconscious.
I felt that it was important to tell this story as it points out some fundamental things that first must happen in order to engage in positive lifestyle changes and become your ‘best self’. First, is your environment. This is both your home life and work life and acknowledging that a balance is needed. The second is motivating habitual practices in order to achieve a positive change.
“Your goal becomes your compass, not your buried treasure. The goal is your direction, not your destination. The goal is a mission that you are on, a path that you follow. Whatever comes from that path—whatever treasure you happen to find along this journey—well, that’s just fine. It is the commitment to walking the path that matters.” –James Clear: Atomic Habits.
When you identify a change you want to make in your life, or set a new goal the most important part is to make it a manageable change. If you set a goal that is too impossible to reach, it is unlikely that you will achieve it. Instead manage ambitions into smaller goals, this will enable you to change habits and generate sustainable progression. An unattainable goal will cause you to fall possibly at the first hurdle and therefore instantly lose motivation. Your habits must also align with your environment, looking back now I would not have made positive and sustainable changes in my life without changing my working life.
It’s difficult to appreciate small changes and the creation of small habits because they do not matter in the moment. We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to those who are already where we want to get to. It doesn’t matter how unsuccessful or good you are right now, the thing that matters is curating the time, environment and nurturing the habits. Once you’ve consciously made these decisions (and ofcourse stick to them), everything else falls into place.
Curating your environment will expose many practical changes that ultimately lead to good habits and rituals. For example, I’m personally guilty of leaving my phone to charge on top of my ever growing pile of unread books. It’s as easy as charging my phone in a different room, by removing the distraction of a phone (and silly animal videos), maybe…just maybe, those books will get read!
“Making a better decision is easy and natural when the cues for good habits are right in front of you […] be the designer of your world, and not merely the consumer of it.” -James Clear: Atomic Habits.
As we come into colder and darker months, it becomes even more important to consciously establish positive habits. Maybe it’s just as much about understanding the deep route of why you want to do something, or embody something? What does it bring to your life? I think without at least a curiosity to understand why, perhaps it won’t bring you the redemption you want it to. Is there a change in your lifestyle that you want to make? Ask yourself how you can create meaningful habits to build and shape your world. Write it down, break it down, enjoy the process of change and have more good days!
“[Life] is a dance, and when you are dancing, you are not intent on getting somewhere. The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance.”- Oliver Burkeman:The Antidote.
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Let’s not call that toxic masculinity. Saying “toxic masculinity” implies that masculinity is the core problem here, and suggests that a tiny bit of masculinity might also be a tiny bit poisonous. Using the word masculinity suggests that all men have a toxic core. I don’t buy that. What we’re seeing in the Sociopathic Baby-Man bestrides the world of ordinary men like a colossus. It’s more important than ever to make this distinction.-by Heather Havrilesky,
Read her full article -Don’t Call It ‘Toxic Masculinity.’ They’re Sociopathic Baby-Men
The past week or so has been interesting to experience, watch, partake and converse about. From the #Me Too ‘campaign’ (although here is a link to the original campaign which did not come from Alyssa Milano), to the media and public’s reactions to Weinstein, to the conversations around raising our sons and daughters, changing our language away from the victims and put the emphasis on the aggressor or the one abusing their power. If you haven’t been thinking and speaking about it, even just a little, maybe you should.
I have struggled with the phrases; boys will be boys and extreme male to define some ‘masculine’ behaviours. I don’t want the males I know and love to be put in the category of masculine if they have to stand next to the power-hungry, human-destroying, women-fearing, pussy-grabbing, consume-at-all costs, kind of men. Maybe the best term for them is sociopathic baby-men-I am not quite convinced but I get what she is saying. We definitely need to stop calling it masculinity. I for one want to raise a strong, empathetic, human loving son. I want him to be able to cry, love and feel deeply for all living things. I don’t want him to have to imagine an unfamiliar women is me or his sister when he is older and partying at a club to be able to not mistreat her. I want his deep respect for all humans lead his decision making. This sounds so basic but it seems not to be our current norm. Culturally we live in a world where we normalise abuse, we accept world leaders who brag of the dominance over women, we use language which puts all of the burden on the victims. (I recommend reading this, Don’t Talk to Your Sons About Sex – Talk About This Instead).
So why is it so hard to stand up to these types of people and why do people silently watch these men abuse their power? Better question, why have I let several men abuse their power over me? This is obviously complicated and highly personal but I bet the story is very, very common. The world tells us to be quiet, to not make a big deal of things, to get over it, move on. This is part of the problem. From older kids, teachers, ‘friends’, bosses, ex partners, strangers; I can actually think of endless examples of men thrusting their attempts of power over me. Some of these attempts have landed with serious actions and have been followed by life changing views of myself. This is powerful stuff. We need to reset our baseline of acceptability. All of us. This is the time to believe victims- it is not easy to come forward.
There are so many little ways the balance of power is played out in what some might consider small incidents.
I can actually give an example which happened just last week. I received a creepy, unsolicited instagram message from someone I do not really know. I met him once at a café a few years ago. The text was about a dream he had and was extremely creepy, ended with I love you and was totally out of the blue. I ignored it at first, thinking that it must have been sent by mistake. Then I remembered my friend saying she thought he was shady so shared it with her. Instantly she was angry and wanted to take action. This happens when you doubt yourself a bit. My friend doubted herself enough not to confront him at the time. She just avoided him and moved on. When someone does something a little off but does it in such a way that you question yourself. These are skilful predators. This is one reason why we must not respond to ourselves or to others with anything but support in the first instance. But we don’t. Even as I wrote this paragraph, there were doubting thoughts about what others might think. Will some folk think that there must be more to the story; that I must have done something to warrant such message. Nope. I did nothing, absolutely nothing.
My friend immediately rallied trusted troops (men actually) and instantly they all had my back. After a few ideas of how to best handle this, one friend wrote a suggested response. It was perfect. It was strong, confident, took-no-blame- perfect. This made me feel loved, protected, justified and in power.
It also made me think of all of the times when people didn’t respond this way. Feeling false guilt, shame, blame and deeply damaged is exacerbated when people don’t believe your pain or your truths. Sadly, I think the majority of people respond badly, if at all, to these types of situations. Let’s change this. Let’s not make it a female/male thing. Let’s look at all of us in the confusion as humans. How do we treat fellow humans? We should want better for ourselves and for our fellow humans. The time is way past now to make it all of our responsibility.
For me, I am making more of an effort to think of all of us as humans too. I am trying to stop saying ‘all men…’ After all, we all have different experiences and although I have been hurt more often and deeper by men in my past, I have also loved many men. I too need to see past the gender and look at the person.
Here is an excellent blog post by columnist, Courtney E. Martin, For Guys Reading #MeToo Testimonies. “A world this riddled with sexual harassment and abuse will never be healed by a hashtag, that’s for sure. Yet, this moment could be the first one that you choose to do something different, to lay the first brick in a world that is built differently, a world safe for women’s bodies and men’s feelings, a world worthy of everyone’s wholeness”.
And to the creep sending messages to women you don’t know, I am really not sure how to help you and more importantly, how to stop you from deceiving and preying on women. For a start, read the article at the top and understand the part you play in it all. Secondly, I believe this is really about fear and violence. It sadly makes up the fabric of our world and nothing less than the dismantling of our current systems, a complete discrediting of what we now consider power, will compel the sweeping change we so badly need to see.
And to my friends, you rock. I wish everyone out there had you guys behind them.