The Trouble with Men

Tiemo Talk of the Town
Brady Arts Centre

7th June 2006

Kate Smurthwaite – “Men are lazy. That’s the trouble with men.”

Definition of a Man

Jack O’Sullivan, Founder of Fathers Direct (now disbanded), in 2006 the country’s leading provider of support for Fathers, said the problem is lack of ideology. “Men don’t really have a story about their lives. I’m trying to get men’s stories told. There’s a real problem here and without an ideology we end up defining ourselves ‘as what women don’t do.’ My definition of a man is one who is free. However we’re having problems doing lots of things that are perceived as women’s roles e.g. being caring is seen as a woman’s role.”

Kate Smurthwaite

Kate Smurthwaite

On fatherhood, Kate Smurthwaite (Comedienne and Broadcaster) suggested that men seek help in this area if they need it. Women have been doing a fantastic job as mothers for 100’s of years.

Gareth Sibson

Gareth Sibson

Disagreeing with Kate, Gareth Sibson (Author, ‘Single White Failure’) said many women have a problem ceding responsibility to men in this area. Men and women aren’t supporting one another. Michael Elias (Author, ‘Men Speaking The Unspeakable’) felt they’re were many feminine men and masculine women out there. For me it’s about being able to relate to a man as a man and a woman as a human being.

Joe Sweetman (Research Psychologist) said the gender stereotype was more positive for women than men i.e. women portrayed as compassionate. Caring, nice etc..

Media and Racial Stereotypes

Host Henry Bonsu asked, “Does a black man have to show a different masculinity to a white man?

Henry Bonsu

Henry Bonsu

Joe: Disadvantaged men such as Black and Minority Ethnic men (BME’s) tend to feel they have to display different masculinity. Having worked with numerous young people as a Mentor with 100 Black Men of London. I find stereotypes very telling. It’s very obvious young people want to be popstars, not Research Psychologists! This is the power of the media, influencing young people.

Kate echoed this citing a 2006 Kanye West interview on MTV in which he liberally peppered his responses with the words “bitches and ho’s” and Time Out added to this derogatory and disrespectfulness towards women by simply printing the interview in full.

Men and The State

Jack: Black men understand the relationship between themselves and the State. White men used to feel the state was on their side. That breakdown in relationship could be said to have spawned Fathers4Justice, a single issue campaigning organisation. The problem with Fathers4Justice, the reason it ultimately failed is that they didn’t interact with the state. As men, we need to move away from being anti-sate to working with the state.

Dangers of Political Correctness

Gareth warned against the damage done by being too politically correct, saying that he felt it took away the power of the individual to decide what’s right and wrong. He’d written a book where the nasty character was disabled, but the publishers said he can’t have a character like that, making Gareth question where the notion came from that you can’t be disabled and bad.

Kate Morgan (ex-Colourful Radio Manager) commented that many men and women enter relationships unstable. However many men don’t know how to communicate a lot of the time. Michael Elias asked, “What does it mean as a man to play an active role in a relationship? Just show up. Be truthful. Men get broken by society, Government, their own family. We implode and break up. So we play small so we don’t break, don’t get hurt.”

Jack: There’s no brotherhood. The Labour Party can do brotherhood, but not fatherhood and supporting men. Politicians don’t have an explanation, a narrative. The left had this notion of the oppressed v the oppressor and supported the oppressed. Then women became the oppressed and the oppressor supported the oppressed women. It all became just to polarised. The problem is ideologies being played out in private spheres of life. Then New Labour abandoned its typical polarities. The reality is, that women will win more if men win more.

Andre Rollean: Men have a problem adapting themselves.

Raymond Rweyemamu: Another factor is that the world of work changed. We’re no longer digging, doing manual labour. It’s more about skilled work, requiring knowledge and application of intelligence as opposed to applying brute force.

21st Century Men In Crisis

U.S. Motivational Speaker and Boot Camp Instructor Coach Anthony Lyken said he’d studied men for over 30 years and “my conclusion is that the problem with men is men and religion. Suppression and oppression. Being a man is a matter of choice. To be responsible, accountable for your actions. Men are becoming invisible in the home. They’re in the pub, playing sports, in church, thereby leaving women to have all the emotional connection with their children.

The 21st Century male is in deep crisis. In denial. Confused. It’s not the government’s problem. We live in the information age. Internet, libraries, books are in abundance for us to acquire knowledge. We need to get this right or we’ll end up repeating the same mistakes. Look who is replacing the man in the house. Images of action heroes. Superman. Spiderman. Our dads were invisible so we don’t have that emotional connection.

We’re all products of dysfunctional families, whether we’re black or white, even the Queen’s affected. We need to stop talking about the problems and find the solution. To change you’ve got to be willing to be confrontational. A REAL man will stand naked in front of another man, not literally, but in the sense of being OPEN and TRUE, but we all to often choose to put up a front, protect our image.”


Coach Lyken continued, “Religion came about to oppress women. Telling women how to dress, how to live, how to be. Men now have to earn their respect. So many women don’t have their own father around, that they lost respect for their own fathers. So how much easier for them to lack respect for the men who aren’t their own fathers?

There’s a war going on to alienate men from men and men from women. We can blame all we like, but as men we need to take responsibility and stand up.”

© Tiemo Talk of The Town

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This entry was posted in Debates, Lectures and Talks, Men and Relationships, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Trouble with Men

  1. Pingback: The Trouble with Men II Do Men (have to) Know It All? | tiemotalkofthetown

  2. Pingback: In Celebration of Men | tiemotalkofthetown

  3. Pingback: The Trouble With Men III | tiemotalkofthetown

  4. Pingback: Are Men in Crisis? | tiemotalkofthetown

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