Many older men, especially those who are socially isolated, face significant challenges – from physical ill-health, to loneliness, to marginalisation and poverty. These struggles can be compounded by the ‘hard shell’ of masculinity, learnt young and persisting through the life-course, which can leave some older men feeling a loss of a sense of purpose and potency, and prevent them from opening up about their vulnerabilities or the need for connection and support. Yet growing older can also provide opportunities for reflection, taking life in new directions, and leaving behind restrictive gendered expectations.
In this episode of Now and Men, we have a moving conversation with Sé Franklin about the work he does with older men in Ireland on these issues – as well as the profound impact of doing ‘inner work’ guided by feminist principles. We consider some of the significant social change which has been taking place in Ireland – from divorce reform, to marriage equality, and abortion rights – and what it tells us about gender in Irish society today. The episode ends with Sé reading out a piece he has written on being an older man.
Sé Franklin has been ‘sitting with men in circles’ since 1997. He has worked with the Men's Development Network and other community-based organisations for many years. He has been part of the MenEngage Europe Network since its inception. He is a husband, father and grand-father, and lives in rural County Wexford in the South-East of the Republic of Ireland.
In this episode we cover the following topics:
The group work Sé does with older men in Ireland
The role of masculinity in this work and in older men’s lives
The positive effects engaging with older men can have
Having a men’s health strategy in Ireland
The personal impacts that doing this work has
How poetry can be used in engaging with men
The value of doing inner work
Stopping men’s violence against women in Ireland after the killing of Ashling Murphy
The implications of ongoing social change in Ireland around divorce law reform, same-sex marriage and abortion
Sé’s reading of his piece, ‘An Old Man’s Masculinities’