By Kelly-Marie Baker
Edited by Roni Edwards
Disclaimer: We, of course, recognise that gender is non-binary. This article is referring to men and people who identify as men.
Every person has their own emotional traits and complex life experiences, this article has used research based on the generalisation and trends in men’s psychological behaviour.
Us and Men. Oh, how far we have come. After millennia of female struggle, we are finally arriving at a place where the importance of equality is recognised.. We can do all the jobs, earn the money, raise the family, even procreate without a physical man in our lives. The age of empowerment is here. And as empowerment is being achieved, we have an opportunity to use this empowerment to walk alongside those who need it.
Our men are struggling. The statistics are screaming at us to do something. But what? How do we support and empower the men we have fought so deeply to be on par with? Why should we add this as another job for us to do ?
How do we keep in balance the fierce feminist activist within us with the challenge of also being a supportive equal that can sympathise with male emotions?
The Men in Our Lives Well, to begin with, think about the men we choose to connect with in our lives, the fathers, husbands, brothers, friends, uncles, cousins, grandfathers. Those individual humans and their individual traits are special to us and they won’t always be the ones contributing to the discrimination women face. Some of them may have even fought by our side.
Our Beautiful Differences It is clear, in many areas of life, that men and women approach things differently. Gender can be fluid and as much as we are equal in society, there are still psychological traits that are gender specific. A basic example is the consensus that women are predominantly ultra-thinkers. Their brains are a mesh of connections and wires that think about multiple thoughts and complete multiple tasks at any given time. Men have more of a sectional approach to thinking. They are task orientated and solving problems create feel-good hormones.
John Gray explains that when women sit down, the blood flow to their brain increases and they think even more, whereas when men sit the blood flow decreases and they can “zone out” more efficiently. I’m sure many of us can recall a time where we’ve been calling the man’s name, whilst he is staring at the TV, with very little to no response! Turns out he isn’t ignoring you, he’s just seriously good at “zoning out”.
Instead of being baffled by our differences, I decided to do some research and became fascinated by the wonderful differences (and similarities) we possess. Knowing the reasons behind our difference and quirks leads to better understanding of each other and allows us to be considerate and adaptable. We want our relationships with the men in our lives to be rich and fulfilling so put the work in and begin to build some awareness about their model of the world.
Create Opportunities for Openness and Be ReadyThink of the person you are most likely to open up with. It is normally someone you can completely be yourself when you are around them. The men in your life must feel accepted by you for who they are. It creates a safe space for them to be able to share. Most crucially though, you must be prepared to allow him to speak, withhold judgement and defensive reactions.
“They would rather see me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall off”
Have women become the ‘emotional patriarchy’? In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown highlights that many men feel that when they do open up the women in their life “can’t handle it”. It’s often easier to withhold their emotions to preserve the relationship and their ego. But the emotions and feelings that aren’t being shared need to be released. If they are locked up inside, they will eventually break free in less constructive ways.
Brene Brown uses the term “pissed off or shut down” to describe a response pattern she noticed in her research. She describes; if a man’s feelings are met with resistance, critique, or lack of understanding then they are likely to withdraw and turn their emotions into either rage or shut down completely.
What we can do is create opportunities for a man to speak his mind and pay attention to our own emotional reactions. To accommodate and encourage his openness we can be calm, understanding, supportive and loving. When a man opens up to you, remember they are his feelings, and the focus should remain on him.
Using our Empowerment An empowered woman takes responsibility of her life, she lives by her values and trusts her intuition. She is courageous and empowers others to be empowered. Not because of what she will get from empowering others. But because after she has rested deeply in her empowerment, she recognises that empowerment without action is a vacuum.
The last part of that definition is perhaps the most crucial here. Supporting, honouring and encouraging other humans to feel empowered is a quality every empowered woman can possess. What does an empowered woman who continues to call out gender based injustice but can also gently walk alongside that man who needs to heal look like ? Men deserve respect and compassion.
So, how can we empower men?
I have a vast array of different male figures in my world and they all have their own ways of dealing with problems and challenges. Making sure I listen and offer support allows me to notice when something isn’t quite right with any of them.
My approach with my male friends or family members is quite different to the females in my life. I tend to joke more and talk less. When we meet, we will mostly be doing something like walking, playing sports or cards rather than sitting down for an actual chat. I find this makes conversations more relaxed and if there’s something on their mind it will normally come out. If not, and I suspect there’s something the matter, I will make special effort to build rapport before just asking out right.
“Recognising and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.” — Bill Richardson.
We love the men in our lives so let’s keep a caring eye on them.
Kelly Marie Baker
Edited by Roni Edwards
"My love for my city, Portsmouth, runs deep. I am likely to politely walk you to the door with a list of alternative options if you live here and have nothing positive at all to say about the city. I am also Zambian born and grateful for the depth and colour the moulding of these two cultures has given me (like my inability to project a quietly poised, feminine, and cultured amused smile as opposed to my full blown hysterically-pitched belly laugh...I am working on it). The company name Pamodzi, meaning together, is a celebration of the two cultures meeting.."
Lockdown brought its own unique, never likely to be repeated challenges. I lost count of the times I sat in front of an online video meeting knowing full well that although the top half of me looked professional(ish) and in keeping with the meeting, I was definitely wearing my other half's boxer shorts/pajama trousers. So I am still a little bit bemused that I managed to string together enough coherent sentences to warrant a chapter in the book 'Being a Badass B***h in Business & Life'. whose proceeds will go to the SmartWorks charity . Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need
It was an absolute privilege to be asked to contribute a chapter to a collaborative project led by the wonderful Personal Brand expert Annelies James.
Roni Edwards, Pamodzi Creatives Director
Ken Robinson. News of his death floored me. He was a constant muse to my schools dance work, and I modelled my practice based on a lot of his thoughts on creativity in the education system. And at the cusp of a Creative Transitions project that we are about to launch. I can't help but wonder, who will bridge the creativity in education gap ? Who will empower those wonderful creative, passionate teachers out there drowning in the bureaucratic system they have inherited from stringent government policies ?Thank you, Sir Ken for the inspiration you will continue to be.
Post by Roni Edwards
Lead Author : Kelly Marie Baker
Kelly-Marie is a tree loving, free spirited mum of two. Based in Southsea, she leads her family on a Home Education journey, learning from life and the world around them. Over the years her creative soul has been fed with the likes of poetry, dance, choreography and, more recently, writing. Her writing is predominantly focused on personal growth and development with a special interest in using the platform to challenge social norms and provoke deep thought. Kelly believes that The Arts are an immensely important tool to communicate complex and delicate issues and is proud to be collaborating with Pamodzi Creatives. Kelly’s favourites are nature, travel, personal development and coffee…all the coffee!