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Can We Talk by Toby Butler

Men in the United Kingdom face many difficulties, but also many opportunities. Gone are the days where men are pigeon holed into acting a certain way, due to the diversity of belief and culture on our shores. For example, it has become more socially acceptable for Dads to be stay at home parents, particularly within the predominantly white middle class, gone are the days where single stereotypes fully dominate, for example you can be a poet and a huge football fan, and long gone are the days that a majority of men open up willingly to matters of the heart, if this were ever true.
What does exist clearly are big repeated messages, such as to be masculine is to have control and power in whatever context. I was made redundant recently, and it was hard for many reasons, but the primary one was that another person had control over what happened to me. I was helpless however good I was at the job. I had no power, no control, and that challenged my own perception of masculinity. I want to provide for my family. I want to say I am successful down the pub. I want to feel like I have power in a situation. These feelings are not bad in themselves, but learning to channel and nurture them well is essential. I know my temper well enough that I must speak how I feel or the steam train comes quick. Often that steam train will be directed at those who love me mosI have many different types of male friends. Some atheists, some fire-breathing Christians, some agnostics, some lower-middle class, some very wealthy and some very middle class. Whatever label one assigns to a friend, there have always been three defining factors when considering someone a close friend or not. Openness, vulnerability and honesty. I struggle to act out these factors sometimes, and I have certainly spent swathes of my existence hidden. For example, I have always struggled with the temptations of porn, with gossip and with not believing in myself. This is a side I am very good at shoving down the sofa, even though it manifests in different ways, such as running away from a challenge, lustful thoughts and speaking ill of others. I wrote the song called ‘Can We Talk’  for the Dwell Project, which is a phenomenal charity preventing domestic violence against women. (Watch this video to hear it.) 

 

 

As much as my instinct would be to give every woman a good-hearted terminator security guard, I sense that peace and transparency always wins, in every occasion, even if it comes with short-term costs. Our judicial system is set up in this way. If a murderer pleads guilty, then the charges are less. If the murderer shows signs of remorse, this is also taken into consideration. I write and ‘spit’ poetry intending to connect to the heart of an individual, and usually in the process get changed myself, as I want to be an example of a transparent heart. Here is a lyric from the single:

We know its pride when men don’t talk 

We tell the world we feel cheese when we‘re just chalk 

Inner voice speaks to us plus we trust thoughts 

Suicide rates through the roof chimney falls off

Men must talk.
When we speak out how we feel, it breaks an inner chain of cold steel silence. The darkness wants us hidden, whereas freedom calls for us to speak out! Silence always loses; a voice always triumphs, even in the shadows. Talking to each other gives a window for us to redeem ourselves through our honesty. Here are a few more lyrics from the track:

Company will define you 

Intimacy/ into me see/ come on shine through

You once desired truth/but now you hire suits

Pouring gasoline on your dreams like they fire proof

The company we keep can easily define us, and there is no worse company than only ourselves. Men are made to be connected to reality, we are designed from our core outwards to be alive to others and we were created for much more than staring at screens and smacking other beings. There is such healing in telling others what is going on in our hearts. Truth will set you free. My wife knows me better than anyone, and she knows my struggles left, right and centre, but the incredible thing is, when she sees me prevail over my inner pain she can see the work of victorious light shining through me. This in turn gives her permission to do the same, and vice versa. Final piece of lyric:

The saddest thing for me is watching all your art go 

Part you, part fake, part half fast show

But I ain’t laughing at your silence as we pass bro

It’s good for men to talk so we can both pen our chart growth

It deeply saddens me that domestic violence is so prevalent in our society. I intend to never abuse or physically hurt my wife, but I know that one of the key ways this will never happen is if I allow male friends into my life. Legends are made from vulnerable men. This doesn’t mean we have to cry and cuddle, but it means I must not lie, and I must be open to what is going on in myself and share vulnerably. Fear is silencing, whereas truth is deafening. It’s time to speak to someone, as they may need to speak to someone too. Play your part in preventing domestic violence, by killing it in yourself. In an age of endless cyber connection, lets make sure our hearts are eternally connected to another, and the fruit will not be Apple’s growth, but Adam’s nourishment and flourishing.
Bless you all
Toby
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The BBQ & the Casserole – Chef Tim Hirst Guest Blog

I wasn’t dreading going home for dinner, but I wasn’t exactly relishing the prospect either. Going to the parents’ for dinner is usually comfort food heaven: proper old school roasts with all the trimmings, or a hearty casserole that hugs you from the inside; & always seconds or even thirds of pudding. But today Dad was cooking!

Tim & the lobster

Mum had broken her arm & so Dad had been drafted into the kitchen. I’m not sure whether he received a guided tour, a health & safety induction, or even a map to the kitchen; but it was certainly unfamiliar territory for my old man. Occasionally, Dad would have to cook for my brothers & I when we were kids & we knew that meant only one thing: baked beans on potato waffles, maybe with some bacon if he was really pushing the boat out. The thought that my dad went nearly sixty years without ever properly cooking somewhat horrifies me. Of course, he was a product of his time. Today’s modern man would never get away with such surreptitious shirking from the stove would he?
It’s certainly true that in the age of celebrity chefs & ubiquitous TV cooking competitions it’s far more normal to see a man in the kitchen. Most fellas can happily knock together a spag bol or chicken fajitas when required. Yet, I’d argue that there’s still a distinct gender division in daily household cooking. This disparity can be represented by two cooking vessels: the barbecue & the casserole.
Men love to barbecue. Every June or July, as soon as the sun promises to keep long evenings warm a very midsummer madness descends & men who have barely buttered a slice of toast all winter are lost within a fug of smoke around the barbecue. Suddenly, cooking becomes a macho, carnivorous activity to be done with a beer in hand. Whilst the sun shines, cooking is a man’s job. What is it about cooking outside over a naked flame that entices man out of his culinary apathy? Is it a primeval instinct, some genetic hardwiring to hunt, make fire & provide; or is it collusion with a long-enduring narrative of power? Man cooks when he wants, when it suits him, when there’s prestige in it. Even as Jamie’s disciples move from the barbecue into the kitchen, climbing the culinary ladder to experiment with beef rending & pad Thai; men still tend to cook to show off. We do the glamour cooking, the Friday night dinner party or the Sunday morning pancakes.
But when it comes to 6pm on a Wednesday evening, in most households, it’s still the woman who knows what’s in the fridge, who throws down her handbag, kicks off her shoes & wanders across to the stove. And sometimes, if the man is lucky, she might pull down the well-worn stoneware casserole & put on a stew. The casserole is slow & unglamorous. There are no flambés. There’s no need for gadgets. The casserole is hearty, nourishing & economical. It will often produce enough for tomorrow as well & it even tastes better the next day. It represents feminine cooking in that it’s no-nonsense, practical & everyday. Whilst our Jamie Oliver inspired men may break out into the kitchen on a Friday night to play Masterchef, it’s largely down to the women to reliably put dinner on the table day in & day out. Despite our pretences to domestic equality, it is often women who do the shopping, plan the meals & run the home.
Research suggests that 8 out of 10 married women do more household chores than their spouse & 70% of all housework done in the homes of cohabiting couples is done by women.
Ironically, the word we have for wisely using what you have & managing the household economy well is husbandry. Wives make better husbands. So what does all this matter anyway? Shouldn’t we be celebrating man’s greater involvement in the kitchen, even if it is limited to weekend glamour cooking? Yes, but it’s not enough. In previous generations women would often stay at home with the arrival of children. It was a logical division of labour for the woman to cook at home whilst the man was out working in paid employment. But now that both men & women often work, why should it still be the woman who comes home to the responsibility of putting dinner on the table? This doesn’t seem fair, and too often it can lead to the preparation of mid-week dinners becoming a laborious chore to be endured or avoided via microwave dinners & take-aways.
If the responsibility for preparing meals was shared, perhaps we would have more time to cook nutritious meals properly & share them around the dinner table. Perhaps us men could take pride in a quick mid-week veg curry that’s tasty, cheap & gives others time to relax after a hard day at work too. The barbecue’s fun, but the casserole is indispensable. Reassuringly, it’s never too late to start. That fateful night at my parents’ house; despite nearly sixty years of kitchen avoidance, my Dad, under the careful tutelage of my Mum, made a dinner that was comforting, nostalgia-inducing & delicious. He brought a casserole to the table. Newsflash! I’ve just spoken to my Dad on the phone. This evening he is cooking, from a step-by-step recipe kit, pork & apple sausages on polenta with a blue cheese sauce. Wow, if only I lived close enough to pop over!

10 Days to Go until Chef Tim Hirst kindly hosts a Dwell Dinner at Fusion Sheffield where we will screen our #NametheAbuse videos.

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5 Stereotypes of Men from 2014?

1. Qi Guy

Stereotype Qi
Qi Guy is devoted to pure logic & he’s rooted deep in Western culture. 500 years ago the philosophy of Descartes crowned Reason king. The Gutenberg Printing Press was invented & Martin Luther ‘The Married Monk’ began the Protestant Reformation on the basis that through Reason all men could read the scriptures for themselves. Rationality was institutionalised in civil society as an individually masculine trait in opposition to emotion which came to be seen as inherently feminine. Over time this had a negative impact on men’s mental health – perhaps one reason why today suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

2. Call of Duty Dude

Stereotype CoD
Call of Duty Dude is marked by an addiction to the ideas of danger, espionage & physique. This dude’s not new – he’s been around for a while. 200 years ago John Le Marchant set up the world’s first military academy at Sandhurst in Britain. George Washington set up West Point in the US & Napoleon followed suit.  These were the first national armies set up to train ‘gentlemen cadets’. Masculinity based on chivalry, honour & violence became institutionalised through the world’s professional militaries.

3. Downton Gent

Stereotype Downton
In the First World War most British officers were recruited from the Gentry – a class of hereditary landowners who controlled British politics up until 1924 when for the first time the son of a farmer & housemaid became Prime Minister. The Gentry institutionalised a masculinity which gave men the prerogative to have secret sexual affairs with lower class women whilst consigning their wives to unfaithful marriages to keep family honour & avoid scandal. Downton traces the story of the rise of Women’s Rights. Yet in 2014 the UK (23%) & US (18%) had fewer female MPs holding seats than in Afghanistan (28%).

4. Forbes Fellow

Forbes Fellow is driven by innovation, trade & people-management.  The era of Empire-building fuelled by the Industrial Revolution saw men become explorers, colonisers & sea-traders. The industrialists institutionalised men in charge of the work houses & factories. Over time these small industrial economies grew into global business economies mostly managed by men. In 2014 just 15% FTSE 250 company board members were women.

5. Relational Men

Stereotype Relational
Where do some blokes get the idea that we’re entitled to rational control, physical or political power, sexual or economic control over women? You don’t need to look back far into history to see where this ideology comes from. You don’t need to look hard today to see domestic violence against women is a global epidemic suffered by 1 in 3 women.
But there’s a growing tide of men committed to unlearning the lies we’ve been sold by history about being a man. There’s a growing tide of men who’re open to vulnerability. There’s a growing tide of men who put the adventure of healthy relationships above work, above honour, above power. Will you join us?

Keep your eyes peeled for our 2015 Campaign…

 
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Today is World Voice Day: How are you using yours?

Do we know the power we hold in our voices? 

Many women speak out, use their voices powerfully for the causes they believe in. They speak of injustice done by those in authority and by those in power. Like Malala Yousafzai (who was shot by the Taliban for speaking about girls education)  those who speak out often do so at risk of their own lives, their own safety, their own peace of mind, sometimes sacrificing themselves, sometimes sacrificing relationships with family, for the sake of the cause.Going to a talk recently at the Women of the world festival entitled “Refusing to be silenced” made me more determined to speak about the injustice of domestic violence & its destruction of lives. It made me want to stand with the women I heard there, women like Reem Rashad & Mariam Suleiman, who speak so bravely about violence and injustice against women in Syria & Darfur. And it made me more determined to look to Jesus and ask the question what would he say to the church about violence against women in our homes? When I read about Jesus in the gospels I wonder why are we Christ followers not leading the stand, the protests, the marches against gender injustice? Why are we not speaking out, louder & stronger?
It’s certainly not that Jesus is silent on this subject! We just need to read the Magnificat, the beautiful words that say how much God believed in A YOUNG GIRL! We just need to look again at the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus’ concern for his mother when he was dying on the cross, the women at the tomb after the resurrection & we learn Jesus’ views of women & his faith in them.
How can we stay silent on gender injustice if we are the followers of Jesus? How can we ignore the injustices done against women & girls in our country, in our communities, in our work places & homes & stay silent! Women imprisoned because they came to the UK for refuge, women discriminated against in leadership at work & church, girls sexually harassed in schools, women abused & even killed in there homes!
How can we stay silent!
Do we know the power we hold in our voices!
We can make such a difference, lets begin to speak out! Shout out! Pray out!
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Best Man’s Speech

www.dwelldomesticviolence.com
Dr Watson’s return to London is peppered with nightmares & flashbacks.  He’s back from combat in Afghanistan a lost & lonely soul.  Lost & lonely, that is, until he meets the world’s only consulting detective – Sherlock Holmes!
Sherlock Holmes’ obsessive devotion to scientific deduction works to his personal detriment – he has no friends! No friends, until Dr John Watson becomes a 221B Baker Street flatmate.
And so beneath the surface of the detective story begins the story of the greatest friendship ever.  But because it’s a male friendship it’s simply never talked about – unless there’s a best man’s speech to give. And in last week’s BBC episode ‘The Sign of Three’ Sherlock became exactly that – best man at Watson’s wedding.  Sherlock delivers one of the most entertainingly awkward & tenderly touching speeches, “I will solve your murder but it takes John Watson to save your life. Trust me on that I should know he’s saved mine so many times & in so many ways”
Last week I too had the honour of being asked to be best man at my friend’s wedding.  What can I learn from Sherlock & Watson?  Both characters need friendship to temper the humdrum predictability of everyday life seen through the lens of uncompromising applications of logic & an addiction to adventure.  But their friendship goes far beyond the functionality of sharing a common mission.  The secret to Sherlock & Watson’s friendship, I believe, is honesty. Because a friendship without honesty is no friendship at all.
Marriage changes things. It’s true from a fictional standpoint & for real friendships.  But for blokes I believe a healthy marriage hinges on honest male friendship.  Why? Because more women were killed through male domestic violence in the UK in 2013 than British troops were killed in Afghanistan over the last 3 years!  We lose more lives through violence in the home than through war.
Surely a sense of entitlement to power & control over women is at war with the heart of man.
Most blokes don’t commit domestic violence against women, but most men do have an influence on the culture of masculinity that allows other men to become abusive husbands, boyfriends, or exes.  By making our friendships with other men more honest we can change this culture.
Tonight’s final episode of Sherlock centres on the terrifying villain Charles Augustus Magnussen – the master blackmailer. How will Sherlock & Watson’s friendship fare? The power of blackmail lays in unrevealed secrets. Real friendships scratch beneath the surface of the false self –that Facebook version of ourselves we’re all tempted to project.  The Enemy will try to blackmail us into silence because – to varying degrees – we’re all complicit in this culture of control that’s allowed other men to abuse women.
If your mate’s using tactics to control his wife, girlfriend, or ex are you prepared to challenge him?  If you notice signs of abuse of power & control over women in your own behaviour are you prepared to get help?  It’s time to break the silence on domestic violence through male friendships.  The only shame is in staying silent.
3 things every Christian & Muslim Man can Do:
  1. Follow Dwell on Facebook & Twitter OR book a Dwell speaker for your faith group
  2. Sign the White Ribbon or First Man Standing pledge 
  3. Set time aside to pray & assess your own attitude towards women in your life
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5 Myths about Christian & Muslim Men

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5 Myths about Christian and Muslim Men:
“Men who go to Church don’t commit domestic violence!”  A recent Christianity Magazine survey revealed over ½ respondents – mostly women & regular church goers - had suffered domestic abuse.  Up to 10% evangelical Christians in UK experienced physical abuse in 2012. Read more
“It’s culture that causes Muslim men to abuse women!”  Ideas of honour & shame are often used to justify violence, but so-called ‘honour’ does not cause or excuse domestic violence.  There’s no honour in violence against women.  Domestic violence is a choice made by the perpetrator alone. Read more
“Men suffer domestic violence the same as women!”  A vast majority of perpetrators of violence are men & the nature of violence used by men is more severe than that used by women against men. Read more
“If men get involved in women’s campaigns, women’s voices will get pushed to the edges!”  There are very few examples of this happening.   A greater danger is a lack of men’s involvement in ending violence against women altogether. Read more
“Christian & Muslim men’s abuse of women is rooted in Christianity & Islam!”  Religion & scripture have often been used to justify men’s power & control over women.  But today more than ever Christian & Muslim men believe it’s our God-given mission – our dawah – to help end violence against wives, mums, daughters & sisters. Read more on Imams Against Domestic Abuse & Restored Alliance.
3 things every Christian & Muslim Man can Do:
  1. Follow Dwell on Facebook & Twitter OR book a Dwell speaker for your faith group
  2. Sign the White Ribbon or First Man Standing pledge 
  3. Set time aside to pray & assess your attitude towards women in your life
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Who’s Saving Whose Face?

Sep 27 2013
By: Eddie
Categories: Mohammad Jawad & Danny Silk
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“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one” – Will McAvoy. The Newsroom.

The Newsroom TV series follows reporter Will McAvoy who’s obsessed with his fan base.  To him his ratings are everything.  He tells people the news they want to hear & he’s popular because he doesn’t bother anyone. In other words, he’s stopped telling true news.
Enter Will’s ex-girlfriend British journalist MacKenzie McHale returning fresh from the fields of Pakistan, Afghanistan & Iraq.  She’s been to way too many funerals for a woman her age & she believes journalists owe people the truth. Will’s courage to tell true news regardless of ratings is reignited.  Together they form a powerful partnership. They set out to see the death of gossip & reclaim journalism’s honour.
This is true news: Today more than 1/3 women worldwide suffer physical or sexual violenceA vast majority of this violence is committed by husbands, boyfriends, & male ex-partners. Most men are silent about these facts.
The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one. 
Most men aren’t satisfied being popular because we didn’t bother anyone!  I believe most men have the courage to go against the flow of silence about violence.  We need to start kicking up some bother.  To save the honour in being men because committing violence against women is shameful.  I believe men can break this silence because of men like Mohammed Jawad & Danny Silk.
The model Katie Piper was attacked with acid on the streets of London in 2008.  The plastic surgeon who reconstructed her face was Dr Mohammad Jawad.  Katie Piper said, “Mr Jawad seemed like an angel to me. Two men had destroyed my face, & now this one was going to try to rebuild it.” But Katie also changed Dr Jawad’s life forever.  He learnt how prevalent acid attacks against women are & it broke his heart.  He set out to Karachi in Pakistan, the city of his birth, to use his surgical skills to re-construct survivors’ faces.  “In a way I’m saving my own face,” he says, “it’s a very shameful thing as a society to be living with acid attacks & not be doing anything about it.”

dr jawad quote

Check out the work of Dr Jawad with charity Islamic Help here http://goo.gl/5c3ANp
One December night an 8 year old Danny crept out of his bedroom, down the hall & into the kitchen to be confronted with a paralyzing scene.  Doug, his mum’s boyfriend, had his hands wrapped around mummy’s throat.  Her feet lifted inches from the ground.  Doug turned & spotted Danny in the kitchen doorway & dropped Danny’s mum to the floor.  Scared for his life, Danny ran back to his room, waiting for Doug to burst in.  “That was the night I first tasted terror,” he says.  This was the first in a series of abusive relationships Danny’s mum had with men throughout Danny’s childhood.  Today, Pastor Danny Silk’s passion to see full equality between men & women is rooted in his own story.  See Danny Silk’s story here http://goo.gl/vM6nfU
As Dr Mohammed Jawad & Pastor Danny Silk honour women, they also save masculinity from crisis.  They go against the flow of men’s silence on violence against women.  Many men, like Dr Jawad, meet women in our professional lives who’ve survived violence.  Many men, like Danny & like me, know women in our own families who’ve suffered abuse – our mums, our sisters, or our wives who’ve suffered in past relationships. I’m proud to follow men like Dr Jawad & Danny Silk & join them in kicking up some bother by rebuilding what it means to be a real man. In a way we’re saving our own face. Will you join us by breaking the silence?

 

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Blokes, add your voice on Facebook & Twitter.
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Two Butterflies and the world

Aug 09 2013
By: Roxy
Categories: Mukhtar Mai & Katie Piper
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A butterfly has to spend time in the glow of sunlight to survive through a day.

On Saturday a beautiful butterfly flew into the bathroom through the open window and when I tried to shew it out again it wouldn’t go. It continued to fly around the house moving from room to room and we tried to move it outside with no success. It slowly died which upset me because a butterfly is not meant to be kept indoors, captured and trapped. A butterfly is meant to be free and live in the sunlight.
Some women are like beautiful butterflies needing to be released. Free of the control and power of men. Two such women are Mukhtar Mai and Katie Piper. They have flown free out of situations that could easily have entrapped them for life. Both have immense courage to fight and continue to live even when life is painful and others want to put shame on them. But not only to live themselves but to help others live. They live a world apart but have the same courage and conviction that life shouldn’t be this way and determination to change the worlds they live in.

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Mukhtar Mai was raped by a group of men in her village where men decide on the punishment for shame. Shame that didn’t belong to Mukhtar in the first place but because she is a woman was put on her. More awful than that they tried to take her dignity and honour from her in the most humiliating way. She decided that even after rape she would free herself with the help of others, she would empower herself and she would empower other women to be given choices so they could no longer be controlled. She built a school so she and others could learn to read and write and so girls in Pakistan could be empowered to fight the system that tries to keep them trapped. http://www.mukhtarmai.org/
Katie Piper was assaulted by her boyfriend and then he sent someone else to attack her with acid. His aim to destroy a beautiful young lady and her life. She has fought back with love for others who have been affected by disfigurement and acid attacks. She has set up a foundation to raise awareness and change attitudes to disfigurement which has given hope to many. http://www.katiepiperfoundation.org.uk/
Both Mukhtar and Katie were encouraged by their families and men in their lives who believed they could survive and make a difference. Mukhtar Mai was supported by her father who believed in her fight for justice and Katie Piper was helped by the surgeon who has worked to restore her face. Their faith in God, their belief in another way, their hope and their healing has driven them both forward to help others.
Both these women inspire me to work for change in attitudes towards women in our society. Their stories are among the many that remind me that I can’t sit back and allow domestic violence to continue. They inspire me to continue to believe that it’s possible to change attitudes and therefore prevent domestic violence.

A butterfly has to spend time in the glow of sunlight to survive through a day.

We at The Dwell Project believe men and women need to work together to prevent these and other forms of domestic violence from happening. We believe we can all influence change by treating each other with love and encouraging each other to be the people we are created to be.
We believe we can influence change by saying no to domestic violence, by supporting men who stand against domestic violence, by seeing women in our own lives as equally valuable. Join us in standing against domestic violence!!!
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