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30 years ago: Why I need a men’s group
I think of an issue: the state of the world, for example. I expect myself, and I am expected, as a man, to analyse rationally and objectively, to present solid arguments, to take decisive steps, and above all not to get emotional. Actually I’m totally ignorant and confused and feel like crying about the mess the world is in. I can’t admit that I don’t know; I can’t cry because I’m a man.
Because I’m a man, I cannot admit when I’m sad, hurt or humiliated. I cannot be joyful, or give love and affection. I cannot open myself up to my wife and children. I cannot relate to other men except with false bravado or by being competitive. I cannot relate to women expect by trying to impress, screw or patronise them. I cannot relate to children because I cannot sink down to their childish level – I must be respected. I cannot relate to the world around me because it’s in my way: I have to take it on and beat it. I must protect myself with an image: strong, tough, takes no bullshit....
I want to come to terms with my aggression. An economic and social system based on aggression, and an aggressive attitude towards the earth’s resources, has got us into this mess. As the earth’s resources are limited, it is clear, I think, that we will have to change our aggressive attitude it we are to survive...
Until about two weeks ago I would not have dreamed of forming a men’s group. I really believed that I don’t [sic] have any real problems, which shows how strong my guard is, how much I repress myself.
My wife told me many times that I live in my head and I don’t open myself up to her. For a long time it didn’t sink in or I didn’t want to do anything about it: it didn’t get past my guard. I humoured her or patronised her: being a bit over-emotional dear. There’s nothing wrong, really.
Then suddenly it all became very clear to me. I need a men’s group to break the tyranny of my head, and to discover where my heart is. Or maybe I don’t. We’ll see. It starts next weekend.
Selected by Albert Beale, author of Against All War: fifty years of Peace News 1936–1986, from an article in the 17 February 1984 issue of Peace News.