“Changing Male Conversations” is an initiative that will be designed to engage a group of young males in discussions around specific topics that are necessary if young men are going to have positive attitudes towards women which will translate into having healthy relationships.
Our current Adolescent Male Program only provides one on one counselling for young men on the issues of violence against women. This initiative seeks to deal with these issues on a more social level, particularly as new technology and social media create unlimited access to not only valuable information, but also to images and attitudes about women that are disturbing.
We plan to:
Our focus will be primarily on positive engagement, providing current and relevant information, inviting and opening up conversations and discussions, and changing the negative male culture of 'locker room talk' into something more meaningful and productive to healthy relationships.
These discussions will cover a variety of topics that have historically been viewed as 'boys being boys' and will challenge their personal sense of responsibility towards women, relationships, themselves, and their community.
The conversations that are essential include:
We look forward to keeping you updated on this exciting initiative. As information regarding the program becomes available it can be found http://www.newleafpictoucounty.ca/news.
A group of men (and one male and female counsellor) sit in a circle on the mismatched couches
and chairs in the New Leaf lounge. Each session begins with an introduction of who is new to
the circle and who may have been there many times before. Each person is greeted and
welcomed and acknowledged for their presence. Then the conversation circulates throughout
the room, and each guy has an opportunity to do a “check-in” to see what’s new, what’s
happening in their lives, what challenges are arising. And things emerge, as they generally do,
about someone’s relationship, a court appearance, an issue that arose at a job, about their
partner, spouse or children. Maybe something bothered them that day, or maybe they just miss
their kids. Sometimes the conversation circles right around the room, and sometime it settles
on one individual’s situation or circumstance. At times the facilitators or the other guys will
probe and prod to unearth the tension, or fear or sorrow that underlies the mask the guys have
worn to group that day. And as stories are unearthed, the guys will begin to talk to one another,
challenge one another with suggestions, reminders, feedback and advice. The group process is
a form that holds men to account for one another. Using the experience of the more seasoned
participants, men share their own learning and transformational journeys of having been new
and frustrated, fearful and uncertain. The process allows men to be seen and listened to by
their peers. In this way, the men have an opportunity to build a better understanding of their
actions in the world and to unlearn the violence, control, sexism, and attitudes which have
governed their behaviours and affected their relationships. It is not an easy place for men to go,
but when they do, transformation becomes possible. It is a simple and yet profound process of
listening and dialogue where important truths can be shared and men can be themselves and
share their struggles, their frailty and their humanity, and ultimately, to learn how to be better
men in this world.
Steve Law is a contributor to the New Leaf blog. He is a father, partner, Mediator with Emerge International, Novelist of Tailings of Warren Peace, Farmer at SunRoot Farm and Social Transformation Program Coordinator - Tatamagouche Centre.
New Leaf and community contributors