Simple really, for most men, just ask them to attend a men’s group, or a Retreat or a Men’s Gathering!
The comebacks range from “I don’t need that stuff.”, “Bunch of sissy blokes is not my scene.” “Is it for Gay men?” “Nah, can’t be bothered sitting around with a bunch of blokes.” “I can’t afford the time.” “Yeah maybe next time.” “Send me the details; I’ll take a look at it.” “Is it a religious group?”
Responses are all usually evasive and never really based on further enquiry as to the benefits of attending. Over the past 35+ years I’ve forgotten so many responses from men, much of which can be associated with body language and facial expression. “This window is closed” can usually be best described as a glazing over of the eyes, accompanied by a looking away or down and shifting posture. While I’m no expert at body language, my invisible antenna generally gives me an indication as to whether I can broach the subject without scaring or challenging the man and ending what could have been a different discussion.
For some time now I’ve started to seriously question, not only my own crusader motives, but to question whether attendance at any form of men’s group, Gathering or Retreat, no matter what claims of benefits are made by those offering them, will actually serve as some universal panacea for the deficits of masculinity. What I do know is that for most men who are brave enough to say yes to such an unknown experience come out the other side with renewed enthusiasm to stay on that sometimes painful journey of self-discovery.
Being in the company of supportive, perceptive, non-judgemental, friendly, confidential and gracious men is a profound experience for first timers and that familiarity and encouragement remains permanent the longer a man stays doing his men’s work.
While there are no reliable statistics to support research into why men don’t actively pursue joining or forming their own men’s groups, the description of a “men’s group” is gradually finding general community acceptance, a Google search will fill your screen.
The simplicity of a bunch of men meeting together to create a safe and confidential space where they can share their stories about what it is to be a man has to be a no brainer……… We men are so socially conditioned, so used to being competitive and cautious around other men, let’s just drop that and do this important work without being judged, criticised, put down, derided, scorned, shamed and all the other ways in which we men can lessen each- others strength and potency. What is so scary about that?