Setting the masculine free

It's flowering men!I've been getting into some interesting conversations with men just recently. Probably a phase I’m going through. About how they feel about expressing who they are; whether they’re able to be themselves with other men… and in society… and whether they feel able to express their affection for other men (rather than doing that rather odd ‘slap-my-back-and-I’ll-slap-yours' thing that you see over here in the UK …)One such conversation took place at a friend’s birthday lunch on Sunday.  The man in question, a Latin male who’d left his native Venezuela and set up a business in the UK, was telling me how sad he had felt when he discovered that sharing authentic affection and emotion with other men wasn't the done thing over here. We both felt tears welling up in our eyes as he spoke this. He said that being of Latin descent made it easier in this respect than it was for many British men, though - and it gave him great sorrow (for UK males) to witness this.Earlier that week, expressing to a female friend that I would sometimes love to find a meal waiting for me when I returned home after running a workshop, or giving a talk, my friend (as you may guess, from an older generation) said, "What you need is a wife!" Hmmm… that's not the way I would have put it!  And later that same day, a young lad in a supermarket (can’t have been more than 15), quite out of the blue (I hadn’t even mentioned my earlier conversation) offered to be my ‘house husband’, as he said he was uninspired by the roles that he was being invited to play – and ‘loved cooking and cleaning’. Hmmm… what a proposal!These conversations – and more - reminded me of the speech ‘Harry Potter girl’ and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson gave at UN Headquarters last month on the HeForShe campaign that she is promoting. In case you haven’t seen it, it asks men for their support (what a good idea!) in 'ending gender inequality' and paving the way for a new era of equal pay and equal opportunities for women. But of course, as Emma eloquently put it: "Men don’t have the benefits of equality either". "I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s," she said and "young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help, for fear it would make them look ‘less macho’" (mentioning that the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49 in the UK is actually suicide).And she said that when men feel free of these gender stereotypes, then things will change for women 'as a natural consequence’: "If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, then women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, then women won’t have to be controlled."Emma said she wanted men to 'take up this mantle', "so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice - but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too – to reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves."Hear Hear. So, Emma’s advocating the HeForShe campaign and she’s got an army of support gathering behind her. I, meanwhile, hereby declare the start of the Free Men Campaign… Every man should have the right to wear flowers freely… in his beard, in his hair, or wherever he wants…Remember, you saw it here first (tee hee). You can see Emma Watson's UN address here. I'd be interested to hear your views on the subject... 

GeneralTonya