All the real men died in World War 2 — and the idea of masculinity perished with them

“I was thinking it – but I didn’t want to say it.”

How often does this thought enter your head, after you hear someone speak the words you were afraid to?

Imagine if no-one said what they were thinking?

We would miss so many opportunities to learn from each other.

That is why Ideapod values the practice of conversation. It helps us learn from each other.

Our salon on #masculinity brought together 7 amazing men from different backgrounds.

I admit, I was nervous about moderating an all-men discussion on masculinity.

As a feminist, I was concerned I’d have to defend the movement against allegations that, in the end, were never raised.

Indeed, on face value, some of the speakers reacted strongly against the provocative proposition that:

“All the real men died in World War 2 – and the idea of masculinity perished with them”.

Australian Firefighter Amoss McKinley, admitted that he didn’t agree with the statement on face value.

Leith Thomas, senior public affairs adviser, added that culture is a genuine force in our society and anything we can do to shift stereotypes is important – and a good place to start is by not tagging and badging traits like “leadership” or “purposeful” as masculine or feminine.

CEO of batyr, a for-purpose organisation that aims to smash the stigma around mental health, Sam Refshauge, reiterated that this is a complex topic. Part of the complexity is that we use long-held terms and ideals without reconsidering them for a modern context. We need to be more progressive around the traits we encourage in young men. Sam reiterated the importance of using language mindfully especially when talking about mental health and suicide.

MJ Fitzpatrick drew a distinction between the push for social equally and the masculine and feminine energy. Instead of striving to make everyone the same– MJ believes it is better to shift our understanding of what it means to be masculine and feminine; and realise there is power and beauty in both.

As the conversation unfolded, we noticed a gentler tone seep into discussion which ultimately culminated in a beautiful, heartbreaking story of despair and recovery by James Anderson, and a candid and vulnerable insight into the personal struggles of Steve Taitoko.

What did I learn from this discussion?

Justin Brown put it well when he said:

“When society goes through such rapid change we realise the limitations of language.”

As women become empowered to pursue careers traditionally dominated by men – and as men venture outside the narrow cultural box they have been squashed into – we need to be patient with one another.

We are each finding our feet. Knocking one another down as we are learning takes us all backwards.

We need to move past outdated ideals of masculinity and femininity and into shared ideals of humanity, whilst respecting a human’s right to be an individual.

The next observation is as old as humanity itself and it bears repeating again because it still remains so relevant:

Many of us feel an overwhelming disconnect between who society tells us we should be, versus with who we are at our core.

In the face of external pressures, let’s be kind to one another and spare the time to listen to each other’s views, unconventional though they may appear, at first.

You can watch the full salon here or via the video below.

Feel free to contribute to the discussion on using the hash tag #masculinity.

YouTube video
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Kat Dunn

I like to connect Ideas & people. I talk about discomfort & inspiring failures. I'm trying to sleep more and shift to a growth mindset. Former lawbot, pilot & leader in finance. Founder of F-OFF: Fear of Failure Forum & working with Ideapod to help companies leverage our collective intelligence & achieve breakthrough thinking.

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