This year has strongly featured getting out-of-the-blue invitations from people, usually asking me to do something that makes me feel nervous, and quickly accepting.
None more surprising and uncomfortable than being asked to participate in the Clear Lines Festival, which runs from this Thursday 30 July to Sunday. Festivals aren’t only about celebration. They can be collections of events, talks and creative offerings around a particular issue, and for this one this issue is rape and sexual abuse.
I’ve been asked to join a panel discussion entitled “Where have all the good men gone?” The festival wishes to start a conversation about how men can get involved and become part of the solution to sexual violence.
Many men might not be involved in this conversation. In fact, many men might not be involved in many types of conversation at all. Often it’s the actual human interaction (pretty necessary for a conversation) which is totally avoided, and I have noticed this in particular around men and children. Perhaps this sort of disengagement, the fear or shame that causes it and the isolation or numbness that accompanies it, has worked its way so much into normality that it is barely noticed and rarely questioned. This would explain a lot to me…
Not talking about rape would be understandable if you consider that it might be rare for men in our culture to be provided with, or even better provide themselves with, the permission and the courage and the spaces to actually talk about ANYTHING of deep meaning.
Anyway, when I get the urge to wrestle with something, I often find it useful to try and make it rhyme, so here is a spoken word offering that explores what might be behind the question: Where Have All The Men Gone?