Updated: Jul 11
In my efforts to creating awareness around The Forgotten Father, in the mainstream media, there is little interest. (Side note that women who work with mothers have been very keen to educate the mothers they work with around The Forgotten Father).
I have contacted various media outlets locally and nationally about The Forgotten Father. Not one replied. It was a well written press release. I have a background in journalism. I’m sure it isn’t the press release itself. My belief is because it’s that men’s issues and men’s mental health possibly isn’t seen as newsworthy or important enough. Why? Because men have privilege. Especially if they are white, cis-gendered and heterosexual. This privilege I believe to be absolutely true so I want to make that very clear. They are often those in positions of power, make up most of the board in top multi-nationals, lead our governments, etc. White, cis-gendered heterosexual male privilege exists.
And this is exactly why we need to be talking about them.
Last night I went to watch Russel Brand and was sat next to a journalist and we were chatting. She was talking about a political leader in the UK and the frequent and obvious lies he tells. My first point in that conversation was that he’s human and we all tell lies. Even the ‘best’ of us. And in the West we have some idea that we expect our leaders in some way to be superhuman and have higher morals and standards than what we hold ourselves to - I won’t go into that here, maybe I’ll save it for another article. While talking about this political leader I talked about the fact that I knew he went to boarding school and the trauma that can cause a child being kept away from a caregiver. I also said that if we looked at this leader’s past, no doubt, due to his less than moral behaviour and his attitudes to the masses (especially the poor), he will have experienced trauma at some point and his coping mechanism created from those events is why his behaviour is less than acceptable. She went on to tell me that yes, this leader used to see his father physically abuse his own mother.
So let’s take a look at this child who witnesses his father being abusive. To avoid the abuse himself, what survival technique would this child likely have needed to create to ensure that he survived in such a hostile environment? Keeping the abuser happy in anyway he could to protect himself? Lying to ensure that he didn’t get in trouble and face the consequences further down the line and receive a beating himself? Who did he have to talk to about this? Likely no-one. Most likely he kept it all in, not wanting to reach out for support as to do so could put him in danger and anyway, would anyone believe him? And if they did believe him, there was no guarantee they would help.
So what has this child learnt? That to stay safe means being with the loudest, boldest and most powerful people. That to stay safe he must lie so that he can protect himself from any unwanted confrontation. To stay safe one must not talk about what is happening in your private life and especially what is happening for you internally around your emotions. This ‘weakness’ could be extremely damaging.
The thing we have to remember is that our childhoods shape our reactions. They shape how we perceive the world. These behaviours are automatic. A coping mechanism to keep us safe. They become a default pattern. One that is automatic that we aren’t even aware of. So as this child grows up, the patterns continue. They continue to behave in a way that the nervous system has associated with safety.
Does this excuse behaviour? Absolutely not. But I think what we need to understand is where our behaviours and patterns come from so that we can then choose to behave differently. When we behave differently we aren’t passing on our dangerous patterns of behaviour down to our children. This is applicable for everyone. Not just men.
So let’s take a look. Cis-gendered heterosexual men are likely to have children. And if they have children, what are the implications? If a parent (father, mother, non-binary, etc) has their own struggles with their own behaviour patterns which are not healthy, if they struggle to regulate their nervous system, if they are wounded and behave from that wounded place, what is going to happen? Inevitably they pass on that wounding down to the next generation. The next generation includes men. And so the cycle continues.
So we have two components here;
white cis-gendered heterosexual men with the most power in decision making in the corporate and political world
Cis-gendered heterosexual men bringing up our next generation
How these men are supported, worked through their past given space to heal, be witnessed, allowed to speak about how they feel without any ‘whataboutery’, if we give these men this space then maybe we can make a real difference to how our society operates. Their experience and how they feel is absolutely valid. All of it. I am not asking you to agree with them, or change your behaviour, simple acknowledgement that what they experience is true for them and create a container to allow them to speak from their heart. I talk about how important it is to just listen and witness here. And when listening to someone, being aware of what is coming up for us is important, I talk about ‘observing the ego’ here.
Men who are healing are compassionate, are empathic, are vulnerable and they can make a huge difference to society.
The women I educate around men, how men feel and why men's behaviour can feel ‘challenging’, and the men themselves who I work with, resonate so much with this idea of how important it is that men are also offered the space to be seen to be witnessed to be allowed to talk about how they feel and expect nothing from that except love and compassion for choosing to be vulnerable and share. I see that on an intimate and sexual level when men and women are better able to communicate more openly with each other their relationship and sex life improves.
What we will find is that when men are working through their own healing process, especially the powerful white, cis-gendered heterosexual men, we will find that they will advocate for women’s rights, they will be supportive of people’s expression of sexuality, they will know how to show compassion to those less fortunate. This becomes automatic. When you are no longer projecting all your ‘stuff’ outwards to everyone around you, you automatically are able to extend compassion outwards. But until we start listening, all we are doing is pushing and shaming men and this leads to separation. It leads to resentment. It leads to bitterness. And with those emotions we see men who are defensive and project their low vibration emotions out to those around them with contempt and anger.
So as a woman, who in the past I’ve had my own journey with men, (in my teens I was a staunch anti-men feminist) I say we can all take the journey together. I talk about my journey in understanding others here. I say we can all learn to listen. We can all learn to witness. We can all learn to hold space while our men come home to themselves. While our men are given space to heal.
That healing... it will ripple out.
I see it.
I know it.
I feel it in my bones.
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.