“Men Are Talking”
“Men Are Talking” is a simple, inexpensive public program you might use as a kick-off to inaugurating a new program of male-friendly services. It was staged by a very small volunteer organization in May 16, 1991 in Baltimore — with very favorable feedback.
The basic idea of “Men Are Talking” is that one of the reasons many men do not do such a good job of talking is that many women do not do such a good job of listening. “Men Are Talking” creates a “safe space” in which men can express what is truly on their minds and women can simply listen even if they completely disagree with what is being said. At the first and only “Men Are Talking,” the topic was “How do American men feel about American women in 1991?”
Give each man who wants to speak on the topic — one at a time — a set number of minutes at the front of the room. After each man speaks, ask a woman to volunteer to come to the front of the room to say what she heard the man say — only what she heard him say. After she finishes, the man whose comments she has endeavored to restate will then privately write a number from 1 to 10 to rate how well he thinks he was heard. At the end of the evening compile the ratings and announce the average score. The higher the average, the better the men talked and the better the women listened. At the first and only “Men Are Talking,” the average rating from the men who spoke was 8.2 out of 10.
The full attendee evaluations follow.
The original program materials — which you can use freely as patterns for your own — are at the bottom of this page. In the alternative, Working Well With Men can customize the program materials (“Mr. Manners’ Principles of Etiquette” and “Hors d’oeuvres for Thought”) with your agency’s logo and your event’s topic, time, date and place and email them to you as printable PDFs for $25. If that would help, please get in touch.
On all numerical scales 1 is the poorest rating; 10 is the best.
M or F preceding comments signify sex of person commenting.
Asked of the men who spoke: How well did the woman who spoke after you restate what you had said?
- average response: 8.20
Overall, how satisfied were you with this evening’s event?
- average response: 7.85
- average response from men: 8.06
- average response from women: 7.80
What did you like most?
F: the most personal stories and the re-iteration by women that wasn’t judgmental
F: feelings being shared openly
M: some interesting things said
M: open dialogue
M: listening to the men speakers and realizing how much we had in common
M: format. unique.
F: hearing the different topics about how men feel about women
F: men were focused. little hostility; I thought there would be more. I was moved and encouraged by men sharing hopes and fears.
F: the men who spoke were quite eloquent and did not indulge in hostile behavior (which at times may have been appropriate!)
F: many conversations
F: I feel the men really said things that were on their minds
F: hearing the stories
F: listening to men be willing to be vulnerable
M: men got a chance to deal with themselves. I think that it is very important that women are encouraged to come
F: I liked hearing men’s honest thoughts and feelings, whether “good” or “bad” about women
F: that both men and women were talking and both were listening
M: the exchange of ideas
F: most of all I liked the men talking about how they felt about the women of today. Their emotions and expression were great.
F: the diversity of people present
F: structured format
M: the format was good; the people were good
What did you dislike most?
M: should have started the speakers earlier
F: people who didn’t stick to topic; women who advised and instructed instead of merely reflecting
F: one of the men’s hurt about his mom and not being able to release his pain; he has a natural frown on his face from so much hurt
M: I didn’t strongly dislike anything, but not enough interaction with each other
F: having to get to a mike, too intimidating for us shy folks; the overgeneralized nature of the topic
F: not much
M: I would have liked to have seen a large crowd
F: that some people were passing judgements
M: I disliked the fact that this was only the first meeting; men should have had something like this long ago
F: I felt a lot of anger and hurt and problems that may need to be presented in another arena
F: the “preachy” sort of stories (“shoulds”) and replies and that $5 was charged, especially since it wasn’t mentioned in the Chronicle article; it’s rather a lot to me
F: not enough African-American male attendance
M: some fairly dead time
How helpful were the “Hors d’oeuvres for Thought”?
- average response: 7.93
- average response from men: 8.25
- average response from women: 7.86
How helpful were “Mr. Manners’ Principles of Etiquette”?
- average response: 7.60
- average response from men: 7.57
- average response from women: 7.65
Was it helpful to you that we established the principle that no one should argue or criticize and that just listening would not signify acceptance of what was being said?
- average response: 8.34
- average response from men: 8.69
- average response from women: 8.14
What would you have changed about this event?
F: perhaps more “calls” from the moderator about the judgmental/preachy talks by men and women
F: I would give some time to allowing the audience to answer/respond spontaneously; more interactions between the sexes
F: more people and more time (so people get comfortable enough to eventually open up)
M: more exercises to get people to open up may have been more helpful
M: Mr. Manners’ Principles of Etiquette may have prevented some interesting interchanges; larger turnout might have helped
F: not a thing
F: seating arrangements
F: more participation, more current topic concerning male and female relationships
M: the seating was distancing; a semicircle would be better
F: I would have arranged the room in a more intimate setting (circle? casual?)
F: nothing much; arrange chairs in circle so we’re not looking at one another’s backs
M: I would have allowed the women to speak
What was most interesting or noteworthy about this event?
F: the sharing and conversation between men and women
F: the whole concept; great that the mayor showed up
F: men talking! also the naked honesty and pain being expressed
F: learning how men feel
M: 50/50 black/white mix
F: my own personal reactions, not shared
M: women seemed to enjoy it as much as men
F: the number of men who shared
F: the various responses of the men; their obvious need to share their feelings/thoughts; the problem as I see it is the lack of communication between the sexes; if this forum is to help, we need to promote the exchange
F: how hurt and angry some men are and some of the underlying reasons
F: how verbal, how emotive many men can be (and how good the retelling and elaborations by women were)
F: it gave me an opportunity to hear a man’s point of view on women and express his feelings
M: meeting and hearing different people