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Today I Felt the Shame of Being a Man

Graham experiences what it is like to be woman who is not listened to and suppressed. He looks at what men can do to fill this gender gap. Today I felt the pain of being a woman… Today I felt the shame of being a man…

Graham experiences what it is like to be woman who is not listened to and suppressed. He looks at what men can do to fill this gender gap. Today I felt the pain of being a woman… Today I felt the shame of being a man…

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Surrendering To Masculine Energy

Why do you need to surrender to masculine energy? There’s no denying it; the masculine energy is intense. In fact, masculine energy is sometimes scary, from a woman’s perspective. Of course, I won’t neglect to acknowledge that many modern women won’t relate to this notion. Some may not think masculine energy can be intense or even scary at times.

Why do you need to surrender to masculine energy? There’s no denying it; the masculine energy is intense. In fact, masculine energy is sometimes scary, from a woman’s perspective. Of course, I won’t neglect to acknowledge that many modern women won’t relate to this notion. Some may not think masculine energy can be intense or even scary at times.

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Jimmy Savile, Rape Culture and the Lessons for Us All

Graham Phoenix finds the term ‘rape culture’ offensive, but in hearing the British Health Secretary, this week, reporting to the British Parliament on the Savile Affair, he questions whether his being offended is valid any more.

When I was 16 years old, in 1964, a British TV show featuring pop music started. ‘Top of the Pops’ was an iconic show from the BBC. It came from an old church in Manchester that had been turned into a TV studio. I used to pass it by bus on my way to and from school. I can remember seeing the queues of girls hoping to get in and see their favorite ‘pop stars’. It was like nothing that had been presented before and the first presenter was a man destined to become famous—perhaps infamous would be better—and an icon of my generation.

He went on to host the continually popular TV show ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ where he fulfilled the dreams of children, mainly, and wound his way into the imagination of a generation of children and their parents. In Britain the phrase ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ became a by-word for getting your dreams fulfilled.

He was famous for spending his spare time as a hospital porter, looking after children and adults in need. He raised an estimated £40 Million for charity and was knighted by the Queen in 1990. He was a quite extraordinary man.

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This week Jeremy Hunt, the British Health Secretary, spoke to the House of Commons about the revelations contained in a report, published on behalf of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), about that man, Jimmy Savile. He said,

“I know this House, indeed the whole country, will share a deep sense of revulsion at what they reveal – a litany of disturbing accounts of rape and sexual abuse committed by Savile on vulnerable children and adults over a period of decades.

“At the time, the victims who spoke up were not believed and it is important today that we all publicly recognize the truth of what they have said.

“But it is a profoundly uncomfortable truth.

“As a nation at that time we held Savile in our affection as a somewhat eccentric national treasure with a strong commitment to charitable causes. Today’s reports show that in reality he was a sickening and prolific sexual abuser who repeatedly exploited the trust of a nation for his own vile purposes.”

He went on,

“Mr Speaker, today’s reports will shake this House and our country to the core.

“Savile was a callous, opportunistic, wicked predator who abused and raped individuals, many of them patients and young people, who expected and had a right to expect to be safe. His actions span five decades – from the 1960s to 2010.

“The family favourite loved by millions courted popularity and used it to perpetrate and cover up his own evil acts.”

The issue I want to address is how we should we look at this situation and what lessons we can draw.

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I have recently been involved in a discussion here on GMP about the concept of ‘rape culture’. I disagreed with the idea that this culture is prevalent. I said in a comment,

“I find the concept of ‘Rape Culture’ offensive. To me it is offensive because it lumps men together as being offenders, something that is simply not true. Individual men are offenders but not men in general.”

In looking at the Savile case I have had cause to re-think what I feel and what I see. Let me explain why.

‘Rape culture’ is a concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and one in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. It is a term that was originally coined by the feminist movement but has now moved into common usage. It is believed that the culture starts with a lack of respect by one individual to another, and moves through dominance and control in intimate relationships and in business to people not taking sexual violence or rape seriously. This is seen as a big issue in the US where there are many examples of society appearing to condone such behaviour. The concept takes in everything from ‘micro aggressions’ to the behaviour of a sexual predator.

I have never seen such a prevalent attitude here in Britain, but the fact that Savile was allowed to get away with his behavior for many years in the BBC and the NHS, major British institutions, would appear to suggest that such a culture exists in those institutions and therefore at the highest level in British society. It also suggests that such a culture exists at all levels of society because of the extent to which Savile’s crimes were not reported by ordinary people mainly because they were not believed.

Men are often accused of being controlled by their sexuality. We, reputedly, think about sex all the time and it is only with great difficulty that we are able to control ourselves. In the case of Savile it would seem that he was totally unable to control his sexuality, or perhaps he just chose not to, because he could. It is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with men and their urge for sex, in many ways that is a good thing. The only aspect that is wrong is when that urge results in non-consensual sex. Men, or women, do not need to ‘control’ themselves they just need to accept that consent is a pre-requisite for any sexual act. For Savile there was no sense in which he sought consent, he just assumed that because people were in awe of him they were fair game.

Ben Belenus, in a article on Savile in The Good Men Project in 2012, ‘Jim’ll Fux It‘, said,

“If we all celebrated and talked openly about our sexuality, maybe there would be fewer prisoners, men would respect women and we would all respect the earth.”

We do need to be more open about sex and not let our sexuality control us, we need to acknowledge our sexual desires and, at the same time, accept that our desires do not give us the right to prey on other people to fulfill them.

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It is possible to see this situation as just about our ridiculous adoration of celebrities, whether they are movie or TV stars, sportsmen and women or just people ‘in the news’. We give these people control over our lives, we give them our power. Savile was allowed to get away with it because people thought he did so much good for children and the needy. It is power and privilege that allow some people to get away with rape and other sexual offenses. This has nothing to do with being a man and everything to do with the exerting of power and control.

We see this not just with celebrities, but with priests, with coaches and with teachers. It is the celebrities that get the attention, but the predator is often in a trusted position within the community if only because they organize that to get access to their prey, their victims—ordinary men, women and children.

I was involved in a lighting project in a Catholic Church in Ireland. As a part of the refurbishment work within the church, the Vestry, where the choir boys and men changed for services, was being divided to ensure the boys were separated. Glass doors were being put in the confessionals so that whatever happened inside could be seen by anyone. The idea that boys are at risk has, at last, gone deep into the Catholic Church.

Nick Triggle, health correspondent of BBC News said today in an analysis of the report on Savile,

“He enjoyed unsupervised access, particularly at two sites, Leeds General Infirmary and Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, and was able to use his fame to intimidate junior staff. What is more, senior management were too unquestioning.”

Savile was an example of a rampant sexual predator using his fame and influence to pressure people into letting him have free and open access. There are a lot of people who have a great deal of soul searching to do. There are still a lot of questions to be answered but the reaction over the past few years of revelations has been universal. Except that, interestingly, the news is off the front page the next day. We may be horrified but we don’t want to hear too much about it.

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What lessons are there for all of us? We need to be aware of what people are doing with their fame and celebrity. Sexual predators exist everywhere and they will use any means to get what they want. They may be evil criminals who will not be stopped, but they achieve their ends by our consent, which is often expressed as a lack of objection, a lack of reporting or, more importantly, a refusal to believe people when they do report it.

We need to understand whether there is a difference between people, often men, with twisted minds who think it is alright to abuse, dominate, threaten and rape at will, and a culture of disrespect in society. The problem, for me, with the word ‘rape’ in ‘rape culture’ is that it tends to focus the blame for a culture of disrespect on sex and people’s, often men’s, sexuality. But rape is a problem of control, not sex, and control is, necessarily, linked to general disrespect and dominance, to a general lack of consent even in mild issues of dominance. We need to decide if there is a continuum of disrespect, micro-aggressions, sexual advances, sexual violence, rape and predatory sexual behavior. They are all issues to be talked about and dealt with and until people at large become schooled in the concepts of inclusion, respect, understanding and consent we need to careful of making light of any of it.

The use of the word ‘rape’ in ‘rape culture’ is offensive, but I am beginning to think it is necessary to shock people into understanding what is happening. I never saw this as being a big problem because I have always respected what other other people want or do not want. I have never forced a woman to do what she did not want to do, no matter how much that frustrated me. So I saw respect and consent as normal. Yet even I have to understand the extent to which this approach is alien to many people and to large parts of society. That shocks me, and, perhaps, the lesson of the Savile affair, for me, is that I need to be shocked to accept what is happening, at an institutional level, and, worse, at an ordinary level in society.

I will finish with the final words of Jeremy Hunt in speaking to the House of Commons,

“But today, above all, we should remember the victims of Savile.

“They were brave. They have been vindicated. Savile was a coward. He has been disgraced.

“The system failed to prevent him from abusing. It failed to act when people spoke up. We must not allow this to happen again.”

  • Do you fully understand the implications of a Rape Culture?
  • Do you understand your role in this?
  • What are you doing to change this?

Read the following articles to open up your perspective…


Other articles by Graham Reid Phoenix:

It Is About Control Not Sex – Henry Rollins Speaks Out
Is A Woman A Feminist, A Goddess Or A Dependent

Other relevant articles:

A Gentleman’s Guide to Rape Culture
What Is Rape Culture?

How Men and Women React to Tragedy and Moral Responsibility

With the tragic shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, we should all look at how we react and take moral responsibility for what happened. If we did this we would find that we could create a new future by adapting to change. The question is what that change should be.

moral responsibility

Yesterday as I came out of ‘El Arbol’ supermarket in Mojacar I saw a large, well-dressed, man shouting at an old, badly-dressed beggar. The man was kicking and hitting the beggar. The beggar looked frightened and kept trying to get out of the way. The attacker was shouting that his wife was in tears because the beggar had been rude to her.

After trying to stop the attack, my first reaction was to wonder what might have happened had this been in the US not Spain. Would guns have been involved? Would there have death rather than bruised egos?

I thought about the different way the man and his wife had reacted to what happened. I remembered an exchange on Facebook I had had the previous day in relation to the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut.

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Understanding Women – The Key To Amazing Relationships

When I was young I had no clue what made women tick, I had no idea about understanding women. They were a foreign country to me with a language I didn’t understand.

understanding women

I was shy and awkward around women. I just didn’t know what to do.

It wasn’t until I stepped into my power as a man that things started to really make sense to me. It wasn’t until I looked at myself that I realised I understood the language all along.

When you are learning how to attract a woman or trying to find a relationship, the skill of understanding women will be essential.

I am not talking about the times you are horny and just want to have sex. What I am talking about is when you really start to understand the complex nature of women. Read more

Is A Woman A Feminist, A Goddess Or A Dependent

There is a famous quotation from an unknown author, “Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.”

goddess

While this is a great joke, there is a lot of truth there—at least as far as women are concerned! Men are reputed to not be emotional beings, the greater truth is that they hide their emotions from women.

Because of this blank wall women make up how they think men work. They generally get it wrong, not because they’re stupid but because they genuinely don’t understand. Men, unfortunately, do nothing to help women understand, and so the confusion goes on.

The joke reveals the two major attitudes that women have to men, the two major sources of their knowledge and lack of understanding. Read more

Can Women Do What Men Do?

Graham Phoenix counters the ‘equality’ of Gloria Steinem.

On Friday over at Good Feed,  we heard Gloria Steinem say, “We know that women can do what men can do, but we don’t know that men can do what women can do.”

They are extraordinary assertions that cry out to be challenged—not just the statements but also the assumptions behind them.

I have never heard of Gloria Steinem and am not aware of the work she has done. I am British, and in the UK we tend not to be as brash or confrontational in our passions. We see things more as shades of grey. Sadly, the Colbert interview with Steinem had no shades of grey.

The issue is equality. This is the hottest political issue in America. It fires people up and sets them against others, others they want to be equal to. It was the British philosopher Bertrand Russell who said:

In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.

I see equality as a different beast altogether. Where Steinem sees equality as people doing the same things, I see equality as people having the freedom to do what others do.

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“Equality is not in regarding different things similarly, equality is in regarding different things differently.” —Tom Robbins

This does not mean that men should do men’s work and women should do women’s work. It means that we should do the work or live the life that is most in tune with our character. 

It’s about celebrating our differences while opening ourselves up to freedom of possibility for all. While in Britain we have made great strides, there is still a long way to go. We work on issues of race, gender, sexuality, education, poverty, and age from the perspective of opening up channels of opportunity. In sexuality, we abolished our ridiculous law making buggery illegal and have created same-sex marriages. Recently, it has been deemed illegal to ban guests from a hotel because they are homosexual, even if they owner has a strong religious belief against homosexuality.

What is important to understand, however, is that we don’t require everyone to be gay or experience gay sex. Most of us are not gay and that is OK, as long as we give gays the freedom to practice their beliefs in the way we practice ours.

Steinem wants women to be men and men to be women. In her world, we each need to do what the other does. It’s fine if we want to but she requires that we have to.

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“Before God we are all equally wise—and equally foolish.” —Albert Einstein

I have worked with gay Christians in the past, helping them to come to terms with their Christianity and their sexuality, so that they can live both without confusion or guilt. I am at one with what they believe. Homosexuals believe that they were born gay and their orientation remains no matter what socialization they put themselves through, never mind what society puts them through. This understanding is even more pertinent with transsexuals who believe they were born trapped in a body of the wrong physical sex.

When people own up to and live their sexuality, they live what they were born to. It is the same with men and women. We were all born to a degree of masculinity or femininity, and when we live our lives fully, we live in that masculinity or femininity.

Masculine and feminine are different, with differing qualities, characteristics, and skills.

This does not mean that men should do men’s work and women should do women’s work. It means that we should do the work or live the life that is most in tune with our character. There are many women who desire and are able to do work that is normally associated with masculine characteristics, work that requires the focus and power of masculinity. Equality is when anyone is able to do this work, when anyone is able to recognize these qualities within themselves and live accordingly.

Equally there are many men who desire and are able to do work that is normally associated with feminine qualities, work that requires love, care, and compassion. Equality is not requiring all men to do this or all fathers to nurse their children, even if the world might be a better place of they did.

The world exists and prospers through the tension and excitement of polarity. The interplay between masculine and feminine is one of the key drivers of society. To flatten this out with a distortion of the concept of equality is to damage society in a dangerous way. America is a society that is in danger of losing its way. There is pressure for women to become men and, most worryingly, there is pressure for men to become women.

Men are losing their way because they are confused and afraid. They are afraid to stand up and be men and they are afraid not to. They are afraid of the reaction of women such as Steinem, and they find it difficult to do anything other than ignore them or, as Colbert did, mock them. What we did not get in the interview was any coherent argument from Colbert. As a man he didn’t know how to counter a woman showing such strength.

Masculine and Feminine – The Future

Over the last few posts I have touched on some vital aspects of what it is to be a man and the essence of the contrast between masculine and feminine.

There is a challenge that men to take up. It’s to re-align their masculinity so it becomes relevant today. It’s not about becoming feminine, it’s not about developing a feminine side, it’s about developing compassion along with strength, courage and certainty.

Masculine and Feminine – Male Domination

I have entered the Lion’s Den of masculinity and suggested that it is time we found a way to respect women.

“We can help women move beyond their fear and anger and understand us as men, we can help women to find their power and face us as equals. We don’t need to feel guilt, pain or sorrow for all the abuse women have taken in history, but as men we need to respect women. It is in this joint respecting of each other that union and polarity between us can grow and flourish.” Read more

Masculine Characteristics – A New Approach

The way for us to move forward as men is to develop our own norms based on our core masculine characteristics and our response to cultural conditioning not based on the dominant cultural norms; that is create our own personal masculinity.

What is this masculinity? What are the core masculine qualities? How can we create it? As men we are brought up more by our mothers than our fathers and at a certain point in our childhood we are faced with moving away from the feminine perspective to develop our own approach to the world, our masculinity.

This move away from the feminine was achieved in tribal societies through initiation and ceremony. In modern society we have lost this blunting our access to our masculine characteristics and making the shift more problematic and painful. The lack of involvement of fathers in this process makes the situation worse.

The result is increasing conflict between men and women because men either fail to make the transition or they over-compensate and dominate women. Read more

Gender Stereotyping – Why?

What is really worrying in the general debate on masculinity and femininity is that people see gender identity as a battle ground.

It is similar to the stagnation of the First World War and its trenches filled with soldiers facing each other and dying for a forgotten principle. There is no point to it and no-one wins.

We face this stagnation in everyday life, The Battle of the Sexes. What are men and women, why all the strife between them? Read more