One of the ways International Mens Day was celebrated, on Tuesday 19 November 2013, was by holding a Men and Fathers' Strategic Roundtable at Parliament House, Canberra. During the lunchbreak Carolyn Managh from M&C Saatchi released The Modern [Aussie] Man Whitepaper to Australia. The White Paper was the result of eight months of one-on-one interviews with 140 men Australia-wide, aged primarily between 27 to 55 years. The report is 68 pages long but let me give you a few highlights.
The whitepaper points out that:
Australian men may exhibit overtly laid-back and gregarious natures, but they have feelings too! Men feel they have become the sacrificial lamb for the sins of every man throughout time, so have developed gender issue laryngitis that stops them sharing thoughts, concerns and issues (around either gender) for fear of being labelled sexist.
Humour is the social glue of Australian men. Their style of humour is similar to modern-day stand-up comedy; with men taking (uninterrupted) turns to tell comedic yarns, often with high levels of exaggeration or embellishment. Sharing humorous stories are like doing a mini-performance; it gets perfected over time for better effect.
I was shocked with the raw honesty of the men,"said author Carolyn Managh, Senior Strategist at M & C Saatchi Australia.
Australian men have a great, strong character.
When asked about the most romantic moment, most men talked about their marriage proposal which is the biggest surprise and delight they could imagine.
They love telling the story and not many women would know that.
The quote from the Modern [Aussie] Man whitepaper's report on the 'Nurturing Knight' or the fathers of Australia rang a deep chord with me because of my work for Dads4Kids.
Being a Knight in Shining Armour for his children is the ambition that supersedes all others for Australian fathers. Like many ambitions, desire is often different to the reality, but the emotional intent to engage, protect and nurture is stronger than anything Modern [Aussie] Man has ever felt in his life, It is a compelling motivation to be 'the best man he can be.
Australian fathers feel torn between work and fatherhood commitments, but will ultimately put children first if they have to choose. Their mantra is 'If you're going to fail at building something, fail at building the next iPad or a brick wall. Don't fail at building great children or building the best opportunities for them to succeed in life.
As someone who has been active in the men's movement for 30 years, I have yet to see a more accurate description of Aussie men. Although it has its limitations it is essentially a self description or "Aussie men in their own words". The report is too kind for that reason because it deals with our aspirations as men, and not necessarily our actions. What it shows is that Aussie men are deeply committed to their families and endeavour to practise that commitment as the best they can.
Herein lies the challenge. We are now living in the fallout from a fatherless generation. How can you be a father to your children or stay married to a woman if you have never seen it modelled for you in real time? Is it any wonder we as men struggle so much?
Reports on the release were featured in the Financial Review and in NineMSN in a relatively positive way. One feminist writer wrote a great article in the Women's Agenda in anticipation of the white paper release but radical feminist writers in, the Sydney Morning Herald, theDaily Life and the Chifley blog site tore into the Modern [Aussie] Man whitepaper making mince meat of Australian men in the process. The misrepresentations and attacks on the whitepaper findings prove that the concept 'all men are bastards' is still alive and well in some sections of Australia's media.
What has really surprised me is the vigour of the attack on The Modern Aussie Man from some of our Feminist friends in the academic and media world. You see every time they attack this white paper they are actually attacking modern Aussie men and the heartfelt aspirations of the average Aussie man. One of those aspirations as shown by the white paper is gender equality. How quaint?
It seems that equality is only skin deep for those who express their hate for manhood so voraciously. Their hypocrisy can be seen by all, as famous Australian feminist Germaine Greer was wont to say, "Testosterone is a poison."
Many of the commentators attacked the white paper because it has been done by a marketing company but marketing companies like M&C Saatchi only get paid for being right. Academic studies and government studies can get it wrong endlessly, as they have done when it comes to men for 40 years, but marketing companies have to get their research right or heads will roll.
Normally marketing companies keep their research to themselves for pecuniary reasons but in this case they have decided to share their research with the world to help address some of the challenges that men face and give men both an ear and a voice in the modern world. M&C Saatchi deserves credit for this.
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