The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture

The opposite of masculine rape culture is masculine nurturance culture: men* increasing their capacity to nurture, and becoming whole.

The Ghomeshi trial is back in the news, and it brings violent sexual assault back into people’s minds and daily conversations. Of course violence is wrong, even when the court system for handling it is a disaster. That part seems evident. Triggering, but evident.

But there is a bigger picture here. I am struggling to see the full shape emerging in the pencil rubbing, when only parts are visible at a time.

A meme going around says ‘Rape is about violence, not sex. If someone were to hit you with a spade, you wouldn’t call it gardening.’ And this is true. But it is just the surface of the truth. The depths say something more, something about violence.

Violence is nurturance turned backwards.

These things are connected, they must be connected. Violence and nurturance are two sides of the same coin. I struggle to understand this even as I write it.

Compassion for self and compassion for others grow together and are connected; this means that men finding and recuperating the lost parts of themselves will heal everyone. If a lot of men grow up learning not to love their true selves, learning that their own healthy attachment needs (emotional safety, nurturance, connection, love, trust) are weak and wrong – that anyone’s attachment, or emotional safety, needs are weak and wrong – this can lead to two things.

1. They may be less able to experience women as whole people with intelligible needs and feelings (for autonomy, for emotional safety, for attunement, for trust).

2. They may be less able to make sense of their own needs for connection, transmuting them instead into distorted but more socially mirrored forms.

To heal rape culture, then, men build masculine nurturance skills: nurturance and recuperation of their true selves, and nurturance of the people of all genders around them.

I am discovering a secret, slowly: the men I know who are exceptionally nurturing lovers, fathers, coworkers, close friends to their friends, who know how to make people feel safe, have almost no outlets through which to learn or share this hardwon skill with other men. They may have had a role model at home, if they are lucky, in the form of an exceptionally nurturing father, but if they do not have this model they have had to figure everything out through trial and error, alone, or by learning with women rather than men. This knowledge shapes everything: assumptions about the significance of needs, how one ought to respond to them, what closeness feels like, how to love your own soul, and what kind of nurturance is actually meant to happen in intimate space.

Meanwhile, the men I know who are kind, goodhearted people, but who are earlier on in growing into their own models for self-love and learning how to comfort and nurture others, have no men to ask. Growing entails growing pains, certainly, but the way can be smoothed when one does not have to learn everything alone.

Men do not talk to one another about nurturance skills: doing so feels too intimate, or the codes of masculinity make doing so too frightening. If they can’t ask and teach each other – if they can’t even find out which other men in their lives would welcome these conversations – then how do they learn?

Men have capacities to heal that are particularly masculine and particularly healing. They often are not fully aware of this deep gift and how helpful it can be for those close to them, whether family or close friends.

To completely transform this culture of misogyny, then, men must do more than ‘not assault.’ We must call on masculinity to become whole and nurturing of self and others, to recognize that attachment needs are healthy and normal and not ‘female,’ and thus to expect of men to heal themselves and others the same way we expect women to ‘be nurturers.’ It is time men recognize and nurture their own healing gifts.

In Ursula K. Leguin’s book Gifts, an entire culture lives by the rule of what they call ‘gifts’ – powers to do harm – possessed by certain of its members. Some families possess gifts of Unmaking, where they can turn a farmer’s field into a blackened waste or a puppy into a sack of dissolved flesh. Some possess the ability to create a wasting illness, or blindness, or the gift of calling animals to the hunt.

By the book’s end, the child at its centre has struggled, against all signs in his culture, to realize something profound and fundamental. The gift they call Unmaking is actually a gift of Making, turned backwards upon itself and rendered unthinkingly into a weapon. The gift of calling animals is turned into a way to hunt them, when it is meant to let humans understand animals and live in balance with them. The wasting disease is the backwards use of a gift of healing illness and old age. He finally asks his best friend and closest confidant: what if we are using our gifts backwards? To harm instead of to help? What if they were meant to be used the other way around?

Nothing in the boy’s culture would tell him this is so. His entire society has been built around fear of these gifts used as weapons. Yet he has seen his father use the gift of Unmaking ‘in reverse’ to gently undo a knot or mend a creaking gate. His best friend’s gift of calling animals also gives her an aversion to hunting them, an aversion she must overrule in herself to meet her culture’s expectations. These images knock on the door of his mind until he makes sense of them; he has to struggle to see the truth without a single signpost or mentor to help him find this knowledge. Nothing in his world reflects this reality back to him, and yet it is real. He at first can hardly believe it or understand it.

Something odd happens when you google ‘man comforting a woman.’ Many of the top hits, as I write this, are about women comforting men. The ‘suggested search’ terms too: ‘how to comfort a guy, how to comfort a man when he’s stressed, how to comfort a guy when he’s upset.’ Apparently lots and lots of people on planet earth are googling how to comfort men… and fewer are googling how to comfort women. Strange, isn’t it, since this culture views women as ‘the emotional ones’ and men as the strong ones. Perhaps something is a bit backwards here.

I tried to find an image that would capture the way men have actually comforted me, which for me is the most intimate image of holding me in their arms, skin on skin like a young baby, rocking or singing, letting me be at my most vulnerable, held safe. There when needed, when it matters. I could find only one image that looked remotely like the real thing.

Could it be that a lot of men have no models for how to nurture, comfort, soothe, and thus strengthen people they care about? If you happen to not have a highly nurturing model at home, where would you learn how to nurture? A top search hit is a bewildered humour piece about how utterly terrifying and confusing it is when a woman cries and about how men have no idea what to do. Could it be that the things that come naturally to many of us – hold the person, look at them with loving, accepting eyes, bring them food, hot tea, or medicine – that these are unfamiliar terrain for some, can’t even be imagined, let alone acted on consistently?

These things seem connected to me. And here is where my friend Rebekah, a drama therapist, comes in, who one day handed me the books Hold Me Tight and A General Theory of Love, and blew my mind. This is where attachment theory comes in. Bear with me, as this takes a little background knowledge – a quick summary of these books – before I can go on.

Attachment theory: cutting edge neuroscience

According to Hold Me Tight and A General Theory of Love, current advancements in neuroscience have completely transformed understandings of human relationships, from birth to death. What used to be called Freud’s ‘unconscious’ is actually located in the body, in a knowable place. Specific understandings of how the limbic brain work have replaced old ideas about love as a ‘mystery.’

Apparently about 50 percent of the population, people of all genders, have a secure attachment style: they were raised by responsive, attuned parents, who recognized their need to go out and explore as well as their need to come back and be comforted, and responded in a timely, attuned way to both. According to A General Theory of Love, this experience of attunement – having all their developmental needs met by attuned parents – literally shapes their limbic brain.

These folks as adults find closeness comfortable and enjoyable, they easily desire intimacy, and they know how to create a secure attachment bond in which autonomy naturally emerges and daily nurturance is the norm. This shapes the brain in material, physiological ways. This is how you build secure attachment: through daily attunement to the subtle cues of other people, and lavishing love and care while letting them come and go as needed. In this kind of connection, you know your home base is always there for you, so you feel comfortable going out into the world, taking risks, trying new or scary things, because you can return to safe arms when you need to.

Securely attached people know how to comfort and be there for one another when they need each other, and so they naturally know how to create healthy autonomy and healthy intimacy, which emerge in balance as they get comfortable with one another and create trust. Securely attached people are comfortable being vulnerable; they have had positive experiences of trust. There can be no joy of trust without the risk of vulnerability, letting your true self show and experiencing others catching you, mirroring you, liking you, and letting you go, when you are all there, visible, open.

Just like the first time you walk on ice or sit on a new chair, at first your muscles are clenched, waiting to see if the ground under you is secure or about to fall away. If the ice has always been solid, or you have never had a chair break under your weight, you may assume that you can relax quickly into your seat, or head out onto the ice and skate. You have no reason to think otherwise. If, however, you have had a chair break under you, you may think hard about sitting down again, and may take longer to relax into the secure base. If the chair has never been there for you at all, you may decide you simply don’t need chairs and prefer to stand. These are insecure attachment styles.

Secure, Anxious, Avoidant 

Attachment science also has learned that about 50% of the population has an insecure attachment style; this breaks down into about 23% anxious and 25% avoidant styles, which are apparently both physiologically insecure styles, but look and feel different on the surface. The avoidant style breaks down further, into anxious-avoidant and dismissive-avoidant styles. A very small percent of the population, around 3%, has a style called ‘disorganized‘ which is a mix of the other styles.

People with an anxious attachment style actively seek closeness and are afraid of losing it, and have a harder time trusting and knowing their partner will be there for them. The chair may have broken for them many times, or in a formative early relationship that was significant. Their limbic brains and entire autonomic nervous system is built differently than those with secure styles. They need extra reassurance and comfort to get secure and enjoy lots of closeness, especially with a new trust figure – though they have the same need for autonomy as anyone else, and it emerges as they become secure. They engage in ‘protest behaviour,’ i.e become upset, to try to seek closeness if they cannot receive it by asking directly. However, once they are secure and feel safe, they become exceptionally loyal and loving nurturers and feel immense gratitude and loyalty to those who give them this safety.

People with a preoccupied-avoidant style crave closeness but are afraid to show it, and will show it instead through sulking or silence, hoping their partner will guess. They can come to name their needs with a secure loving partner, but will struggle to do so.

People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style also have a need for intimacy – every mammal has this need hardwired in our limbic brains – but at a very early age they complete a transition to a belief that they are autonomous and do not feel their need for intimacy. They decide if the chair isn’t going to be there, they will just stand, thank you very much. They can come to open up and become secure as they come to recognize their distorted beliefs about intimacy, but they need lots of time, space, and compassion about how difficult this is for them.

Having thoroughly repressed their attachment needs, these folks may have learned to act ‘fine’ at a very young age in order to keep a dismissive attachment figure close, or may have learned to create constant nonverbal barriers in order to keep an unattuned, invasive or dismissive attachment figure at arm’s length. They may feel suffocated or trapped when people get too close, and will unconsciously and involuntarily use ‘deactivating strategies’ – body language and facial expressions – to tell even their most intimate people to ‘back up’ even in the most intimate moments.

In other words, the nonverbal cues that other people use with strangers on the subway to maintain distance are the daily communication that dismissive-avoidant attachers use with their closest family members, often without even understanding they are doing it, which may feel very confusing both to them and to those close to them. They may feel that no matter how hard they try, those who depend on them never get reassured. They may blame this on the other person and call them ‘needy’ without ever realizing the nonverbal distancing cues preventing secure attachment that are leading to the signs of ‘neediness’ in the other person.

Nurturance, the literature teaches us, recognizes and responds appropriately, in an alive, moving dance, to the other person’s need for intimacy and need for space, learning how to engage in nonverbal limbic communication that comforts, reassures, and breathes. In addition to talking openly and honestly, the quality of care that creates a feeling of safety happens in a moment-by-moment way through mainly nonverbal cues. The limbic brain does not use language but reads the small muscles around the eyes, the set of shoulders, the breathing, the posture, of other people.

‘Earned Secure’ attachment: where nurturance creates growth

It is possible to change your attachment style by creating an ‘earned secure’ attachment as an adult. It is possible to create an ‘earned secure’ attachment between two insecure attachers, but it takes a lot more time, effort, and compassion: both have to recognize nurturance is entirely good and expected.

Of course, nothing can replace talking things over and calibrating with people you are close to. No one should be a mind reader. But it takes more than talking to change these patterns. The avoider has to risk opening up and letting their true self show in order to give and receive nurturance, and the anxious attacher has to trust and let go more, knowing the avoider will be back. Both of these changes are difficult; limbic responses happen very, very fast, below the conscious level and often outside of language.

The easiest way to form an ‘earned secure’ attachment is by being in a relationship with a secure attacher, and learning healthy intimacy from them, in which needs are responded to as they arise. However, secure attachers usually date a few people, then pick one and settle down early. They know how to create a big warm home bond. Avoidant attachers tend to prefer anxious attachers, and anxious attachers tend to be drawn to avoidant attachers, because each reinforces the early ‘rules’ about ‘reality’ – actually just haphazard chance, what happened to be going on between them and their caregivers at the time – laid down in their limbic brains before the age of three.

Shame and guilt over which kind of attachment style you have are completely not appropriate or called for, as one’s attachment style is wired in from an age when we are much too young to choose. It is no one’s fault. However, shame and guilt can be quite convincing even when completely uneccessary, as is the nature of shame. It can be incredibly convincing to the person experiencing it even when it is completely absurd.

What does all this have to do with assault?

That summary – above – is what the books say. But like the boy in Gifts, many of us are fumbling into an even bigger picture, trying to see a pattern that is just coming clear. Our culture does not give us many signposts. I’m trying to put things together.

Fundamentally, a healthy, secure attachment style is what lets people effectively protect and care for the wellbeing of others. It allows for the skill of attunement: recognizing when someone wants to come close and when they want space, not only by asking but also by reading subtle nonverbal cues.

Attachment styles can land in any gender, of course, and people can combine in any combination.

However, when attachment styles land in particularly gendered ways, we see certain patterns emerge that are all part of the bigger pattern, and, maybe, they can be understood as part of the ‘answer’ to the question of violence.

People with secure attachment styles are better at recognizing and being comfortable with this dance of approach-and-retreat, better at supporting others while letting others do what they need to do. They know deep down they are loved and loveable, and thus are more likely to be loving and nurturing towards others, both to be there for them when needed as sources of strength and solace, and to be able to recognize and honour when someone does or does not want to be touched. Shame prevents this skill from emerging.

We misunderstand shame

Attachment science tells us that human beings need mirroring and containers in others. Whatever is in us that does not get mirrored, or held in a larger container of acceptance by others, becomes a source of shame, simply for not being accepted. And if you have shamed something in yourself – like a normal need for intimacy – so early and so completely that you don’t even notice you are doing it, you will interpret that same need as shameful when you see it in others. Shame is entirely subjective, in this sense. This is all happening in the body, below the conscious level, not in a vague ‘unconscious’ but in a recognizable region of the brain: the limbic brain, which does not have language.

Shame and guilt unhealed and unaddressed remain powerful and, like a volcano, rise up in surprising ways. For instance, shame can lead men to shut down and run or blame women or act defensive instead of offering comfort and nurturance when someone they care about needs them. It can, alternately, lead men to ignore signs that someone does not want them close.

These are two sides of the same system, and must be understood together, because in a culture that does not expect men to show up for their own emotions, women get blamed for unaddressed male shame. 

In other words, it seems possible that shame and guilt, left subterranean, interrupt attunement, and can lead to an inability or unwillingness to properly respond to the needs of others, whether for nurturance or for space. I mean the really deep, structural kind of shame, that is so old and convincing, it doesn’t even appear as anything in particular. It just appears as ‘the way the world is,’ laid down in patterns in the limbic brain. This kind of shame hides, appears as nothing in particular, until questioned with compassion and curiosity, deeply, in safe company.

Anxious attachment styles and the mystery of human relating

In a patriarchal, misogynist culture, both of these imbalances (which are common to all humans), when they appear in men, are laid in women’s laps as blame and misogyny when men do not do their own emotional healing.

I am making sense of this, bit by bit, seeing the pattern emerge. For instance: men with anxious attachment styles may feel distress when an attachment figure seeks to back up a little, or a lot, and may not develop a healthy capacity to recognize and respond appropriately to someone’s nonverbal cues communicating the need for space.

They may come closer or become upset as the other person signals their need to disengage. If a man who happens to have an anxious attachment style does not know how to understand and accept his own needs for nurturance, he may attack a woman for rejecting him. The typical ‘hello, cutie,’ on the street followed almost instantly with ‘fine, be that way, bitch’ is an example many of us will be familiar with.

They may not notice or register or in extreme cases be concerned that someone they want to touch has frozen up, is giving off signals of paralysis or distress. Thus we sometimes find men who don’t think of themselves as ‘bad men’ who nonetheless rape and assault: their partners, girlfriends, wives, or women on a first or second date. (This is how the majority of assaults happen, of course: the ‘man jumping out of the bushes’ while more spectacular is much more rare.) They may resort to seeking power-over and dominance, because normal intimacy needs, when distorted and denied, come out in distorted ways. They are caught up in their own pain and can’t name it, or find appropriate avenues for it, and given the larger social norms that centre men’s experiences, this imbalance doesn’t get addressed as an imbalance but instead gets projected out into the world. A society that actively, financially, politically, socially, privileges traits it deems ‘masculine’ – nonemotionality, strength, independence – and actively disparages traits it deems ‘feminine’ – interdependence, nurturance – has few ways for these patterns to be openly loved, addressed, and changed.

In another example, those with a preocuppied-avoidant style – who feel the need for closeness but have a hard time asking and do not expect others to be there for them – may sulk if they feel rejected, putting silent pressure on women they are with to meet their demands. Perhaps the sulking partner who turns away in anger when sexual desires aren’t met may be having a limbic attachment experience that needs to be addressed as such, in a mature way, a way that takes ownership of the experience and works to heal it rather than project it outwards onto women.

Avoidant attachment styles: holding trust

Those with a dismissive-avoidant style may simply need to develop attunement in order to hold the trust they are given. They may want women to get close to them at first, and begin to build trust, but not actually know how to maintain trust once it begins, which can create destabilizing and confusing experiences for everyone involved.

When men happen to have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style, they may simply not know how nurturance and comfort looks and feels. They may have a very difficult time recognizing and loving their own deepest selves, and not even be aware of what they have lost. Thus they may blame women for being ‘too needy’ out of not recognizing their own needs for closeness and nurturance of self and others, having learned early that closeness is suffocating and that needs are to be denied.

They may not recognize their own body’s needs for comfort and connection, which result in elevated heart rate and changes in neurochemicals just as it does for anxious attachers, but in a way the avoidant attacher does not understand or recognize as they learned early on to repress these needs completely in themselves and others. They may not know how to meet their own and other people’s needs simultaneously, a highly developed nurturance capacity.

Even if they do not act in invasive ways, their style may inadvertently interrupt the creation of deep, honest, nurturing relationships, in which women they sleep with or get close to can feel emotionally safe with them.

In striving to be good people they may make ‘rules’ (like ‘a good man doesn’t touch,’) and have a very logical approach to checking if a woman wants to be touched, but have a harder time responding to her nonverbal cues or even sometimes responding to verbal cues for comfort and reassurance, creating an odd gap feeling.

The attachment needs are still there, but they may transmute into other more recognizeable things: instead of giving and receiving nurturance they may seek sexual connections while feeling utterly bewildered about how physical love relates to intimate or consummate love. They may experience immense, paralyzing guilt and shame when someone needs them to be comforting, and lash out, freeze up, or run. They may hurt people they care about by having sex with them in a strangely cold or distant way, without even knowing why they are doing it.

If a man with an avoidant attachment style experiences internal distress when someone he cares about expresses nurturance needs (such as the need for trust, reliability, availability, closeness, responsiveness, attunement) he may blame the woman for ‘being too needy’ instead of dealing with those intensely confusing feelings of shame.

Men with avoidant attachment styles may not notice the confusing nonverbal signalling they are actively doing very early on that prevents safety from happening with women they want to nurture and support, who may become more and more imbalanced towards them in response.

Since ‘absence of nurturance’ is just an absence, it can be hard to recognize early. When early avoidant responses to requests for closeness are not noticed as such, attachment science teaches us, ‘protest behaviour’ – the distress when needs aren’t met – may get louder over time, in ways both people are contributing to and neither understand. It becomes all too easy in a patriarchal culture that values rugged individualism over interdependence to call an anxiously-attached woman ‘crazy’ without noticing the parallel avoidant responses that are contributing, that are ‘crazymaking’. In other words, it takes two to enter into the avoidant-anxious trap, but patriarchal culture normalizes an avoidant style and stigmatizes an anxious style, wherever it appears.

None of this is worthy of shame; fundamentally, all of the insecure styles are based in an unquestioned belief that people will not be there for them and that nurturance is somehow a problem rather than wholly desireable and good. Avoidant attachers ‘know’ from an early age that the ice will break, the chair will collapse, best not to try. Insecure attachment styles are not chosen, are not conscious or intentional, and it is an understatement to say they are not easy to change. They deserve understanding, compassion, and empathy.

And yet living without loving, secure attachment bonds is the loneliest experience in the human repertoire.

Community care and cultural transformation

The solution to this is not to pile on more shame and guilt. This is really tricky, because insecure attachers have limbic brains structured by shame and guilt and may hear accusations where there are none. The solution is not to shame people for feeling shame. Instead, the solution is a complete transformation of social relations to allow wholeness back into our world. Yes, models of healthy interdependence exist if we know where to find them and how to recognize them. But no one stands in a shining circle of light and no one lives in the dark abyss; it is time we finally abandon these Eurocentric, western dichotomies.

What we need is a model for slow self-love that brings the shame up into the light, and reality checks with others who accept you unconditionally, hold you accountable, and aren’t going anywhere. We need a model of justice that recognizes the lived reality of interdependence and learns to do it well, not a justice of shame that frightens us all out of looking at our shadow sides or weakest selves in a world in which most men are expected to cut off parts of themselves from the time they are quite young.

The solution, in tangible terms, is community care and a great deal of awareness of how most of us did not get our needs met at key developmental stages, which means we did not move out of those stages and must do so now. Collective healing is possible. We can heal when we can finally be our whole, unguarded selves, in human community, without shields or guards, and be liked, accepted, seen, held. This is systemic change, spiritual change, at the core levels of our culture, lived each day.

Once shame can be reduced to more manageable levels, both personally and culturally, people can become more able to openly expose their raw spots trusting they will be accepted, and can respond to the needs of others rather than freeze and become defensive, invasive, or paralyzed.

Turning the gifts around: masculine nurturance culture

The answer to all of these difficulties is to openly discuss nurturance: how it looks, how it feels, how men can learn to practice it from the men who already know how in addition to communicating through women or fumbling around for years learning by trial and error.

Simplistic answers gleaned through this fumbling do not help: for instance, some men may actually avoid nurturing or protecting women out of fear of ‘white knighting.’ But ‘white knighting’ isn’t synonymous with ‘all forms of protection.’ White knighting means acting ‘protective’ in ways that aren’t attuned. Paternalistically telling her what she needs instead of listening to what she says is white knighting. To stop white knighting, don’t stop protecting; just protect while you also listen and believe. Protect her, actively, in the ways she actually wants protecting, and not in the ways she does not. Protecting people you care about – in ways that are attuned and responsive to their actual needs – is a normal, needed, and healthy part of nurturance. Only in the wasteland of guessing and fumbling alone would this confusion even be possible.

Why is there no high-profile institute for men teaching nurturance skills to men?

Men need to do this work with other men – not alone, not instead of doing it with women, but in addition, in accountable relationship with and to women. In other words, keep learning in the ways learning is happening now – but then share that learning with one another. Our institutions need to count this work as valuable, rewardable labour: fund it, give it high prestige, give it speaking tours and jobs in teaching nurturance. Read that line a few times. It sounds so impossible, doesn’t it?

The absurdity of that line suggests it may be a long time before a nurturing masculinity is recognized and rewarded socially the same way an abstract intellectual masculinity currently is.

In the meantime, men need to do this healing work every day, behind the scenes, reaping the rewards of having women and people of all genders feel safe with them, and of growing their own self-love and love of one another.

The wonderful reward of creating safe bonds is that in these places of trust, a warm glow of meaning and purpose emerges.  An inner circle of trust and vulnerability allows movement and rest: it lets the bees come and go from the hive. It creates shelters of chosen family and beloved community from which action, challenges to racism, sexism, institutional violence, can arise, a safety net to catch each other’s bodies and souls, the foundation that allows risk.

The opposite of masculine rape culture is masculine nurturance culture. This is men’s work to do, and yet it is needed by people of all genders who have men in their lives. The rewards are waiting.

Are you a nurturing man? Do the women in your life – partner, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, parent – tell you or show you that you make them feel unusually safe and close and cared for? If so, how did you learn? How do you open up spaces for men who want these conversations to begin to have them?

Every single man I asked this of said, “both men would need to want it.” Fear of closeness, masculine codes of interaction, the lower-level lizard-brain signals that men send one another, are real and are part of the picture. But many men are struggling with these questions, locked alone in their own little boxes.

Men have to do this with other men, despite the difficulties in doing so, for three reasons. For one, men understand what it is like to be a man much better than women do, and they can teach one another while understanding what it actually feels like and having compassion for one another. Men must also do this with other men because, frankly, women cannot be responsible for healing men while they also protect themselves from male violence and neglect, which is still endemic and thus a daily part of women’s lives. Finally, one of the great distortions of the human spirit in our culture is that each man lives in solitary confinement, thinking they can and should solve problems alone, that they shouldn’t need others. Jumping the barriers that keep men from talking about emotions with other men is itself a fundamental change, one that reduces shame and confusion.

So how do you know when men around you – the friend you just met for drinks, the colleague you have collaborated with on projects for years, the hockey buddy – may actually be quietly confused and thirsty for this kind of learning?

How can you signal your availability, to let men in your life know you are doing this yourself, so that those men who want to learn about nurturance can find each other? It’s as simple as starting a men’s discussion group based on this article.

It can be as simple as sharing this piece, and asking, “does this ever come up for you?”

It can be as simple as sending someone you know this piece, and saying “I’m available.”

It can be as simple as posting this piece, and saying “I’m here.”

More by the same author:

Own, Apologize, Repair: Coming Back to Integrity

“When disorganizing relationships occur within organizations that people are structurally required to rely on for income, health care, or other forms of safety, the attachment system can be affected in underestimated ways. When the institutions that speak of themselves as protector are in fact the source of danger, the effect can be that society itself is a disorganizing, traumatic experience. When institutions structured with a monopoly on violence, such as police and prisons, are a source of danger, the effect can be disconnection from the attachment and belonging that human beings need within society.”
From: Coercive Persuasion and the Alignment of the Everyday

The book!
Turn This World Inside Out: the Emergence of Nurturance Culture

yellow book cover with orange writing that reads: Turn This World Inside Out: the Emergence of Nurturance Culture. Pale dappled green ivy grows up from the bottom of the image and in the background in reverse colour are the shoulders of two people standing side by side just visible with a brown earthy gritty colour behind them

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Additional Resources:
Hold me Tight, Sue Johnson
Wired for Love, Stan Tatkin
A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon
Attached, Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller
The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, bell hooks

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I love this Bay Area Transformative Justice pod mapping worksheet so much that big, dramatic, hyperbole feels called for. ie I wanna shout it from the rooftops and say it again and again: if you consider yourself a feminist man, or you allow others around you to let you walk around with this identity and you enjoy having that reputation, or if you find you get laid or get dates or partners because of this reputation, and if you have not yet mapped out your pod of people who you would want to call you on it when you act in abusive ways, then do this right now. like today. like right away. Because it is everything, it is wonderful:

For a world in which everyone can feel safer, including those who harm and those who cause harm. Thank you.

*men: I want to be clear here that I mean this term in a trans-inclusive way, referring to both cis and trans men, and to masculine-identified people.

Also feel free to join the Nurturance Culture and Masculinity Discussion Space online to connect with other (cis and trans) men and people of all genders doing this work.

I’m working on a speculative fiction project. Are you a literary agent? Learn more about Cipher here.


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487 thoughts on “The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture

  1. Thank you so much for the time and effort you’ve put into this piece. I’m the anxious type who has labored both personally and socially to convey what you have. You used many personal appeals which welcome a vast range of people and provide ample “tools” for communication. You have condensed, through research, difficult ideas to understand and made them accessible to many. Please continue your thoughtful work, it is appreciated.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. “Finally, one of the great distortions of the human spirit in our culture is that each man lives in solitary confinement, thinking they can and should solve problems alone, that they shouldn’t need others.”

      I don’t often share this with really anyone and perhaps because I’m feeling particularly vulnerable right now I will. I suffer from great amounts of shame and self loathing and I see myself in this article, so much so that it was difficult to read through my misty eyes. I go to trauma counseling to not be hurtful, yes, to be a better person, yes, but really, to end the self hatred that is at the source of my inability to support and really care for the women I profess to care about. Men, If you do anything today, you will read this article.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. a little ‘star’ click doesn’t do this comment anything like justice. please know that what you’re saying aloud, men have been telling me quietly for a good long while. there is no shame in it or in you, or in any of us. thank you for this bravery, it opens up space for others whether they write it here or not. much respect.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve dealt with a great deal of shame and self-loathing in my life and I appreciate your transparency. Fear is at the root of these things. It is imperative to muster-up the courage to confront that fear and walk through it. It is fear that causes us to hurt others, which in turn bears the fruit of guilt and shame. Pluck-out the root, it’s nothing more than a transient vapour anyway.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. love love love — thank you — this is the transformation under all the other words. ❤


      3. I think this is my favourite comment / reply on this whole thread. I’d love if other brave readers who are talking about this privately can take the step and name what so many struggle with in silence, as you have here.
        men reading this and finding it touches you, speak your part! do it anonymously if you like; it just helps for so many to see their own feelings named!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read the “We Need Allies, Not Gentlemen” article yet, but I think part of the point is returning to the best impulse behind some old fashioned traditions of masculinity, not to any restrictive forms. I think there have in every age been men who knew how to form secure attachments, to make people who depended on them feel safe in a way that gave them both security AND freedom, to perform the give and take of real relationship, and to do it in a way that did not make them less masculine, just as there are men who may say all the right things to qualify as a modern feminist without actually having those skills. The forms of chivalry or the gender-normative rituals of most cultures can probably help or hinder attachment, depending on how individuals live them out. When I was in college I had several male friends who took pride in being “gentlemen.” They held doors, pulled out chairs, etc. It had very little bearing on their ability to have a deep, loving, respectful relationship with a woman. When I met the man who is now my husband he was not especially good at observing the outward forms of chivalry. On one of our first dates, however, we ended with a nighttime walk through a big city park. When we walked by some men sitting under a tree in the dark my now-husband gently put his hand on my shoulder and moved so he was walking between me and the tree. He did it with no fanfare, without missing a beat in the conversation. On another early date we were standing on a pier at night. He noticed I was shivering and stood between me and the wind. There was nothing calculating about it. He wasn’t playing the part of a gentleman, he was being a gentle man. There is no script for that. It comes from being an emotionally sound person, as the article points out.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. exactly. I love these descriptions so much and they’re similar to the kinds of experiences I was remembering and trying to wrap my head around when I was writing this. Why those subtle, gentle, unassuming forms of responsive care that genuinely read another person and simply take nurturing others for granted as how we care for one another in the day to day feel so different than the showy gestures of chivalry. the difference is the nuanced empathy the tunes in well.


    2. To paraphrase her : instead of being “the white knight” paternalistically telling her what to do, men should listen, and then let her know she is safe and protected.

      Of course goes both ways, but I think chivalry can be beautiful. I consider myself strong and independent, and it’s nice to know my partner supports this but is there when I need.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You may be interested (if you are not already familiar with) the mythopoeic men’s movement in general and the ManKind Project in particular. They center around groups of men regularly meeting, being vulnerable, discussing and engaging emotions, and supporting each other in growth.

    The conversation and growth stage for most men in these groups is generally not yet at the level of your piece here, but it’s truly getting there, and in some cases we’re already there.

    You may also find the first few chapters of Sam Keen’s Fire in the Belly to be a relevant read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thank you for your note. I want to be clear, here: this piece is saying something completely different than the Iron John / mythopoeic masculinity movement. If people read them as the same, please reread. In my experience thus far with the mythopoeic and men’s movement the reflex to blame women rather than see responsibilities for nurturance and beleiving is still all too prominent. There can be no real growth without accountability, and so far those spaces do not cultivate the kind of accountability to women and ppl of all genders that is needed. Perhaps that movement is responding to these same impulses – but I’d be happy to see them *listening to women* in determining how to grow. I don’t see that happening very effectively yet, which can create strange echo chambers. If this piece speaks to men who are grappling to become whole, wonderful. I’d love to hear about men who are moving through that process and whether this contributes to a shift in their thinking. It is not compatible at this time with the mythopoeic men’s movement and I do not want to pretend it is.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. As a one who has worked with men’s groups and facilitated quite a few Wildman Gatherings around the country, I can at least speak about what went on in our gatherings and men’s groups. Accountability and personal responsibility for our own feelings and behavior was paramount. Self-awareness as to the wounds we carried from childhood and how those wounds affected ourselves and others was also very high on the list of things to work on. Getting in touch with our hurts, then expressing them in a safe, supporting environment (around other caring, non-judgmental men), came first. Then, in a nurturing, masculine environment, with some of the armoring melted away, focused on opening our hearts and how that felt. Our stated goal was always become a more conscious man who could love, nurture, and connect on a deeper level with his wife or lover, his children, and his friends.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ok: let me be specific. the men’s rights movement has received and continues to receive sustained feedback from feminists about the issues with the way the men’s rights movement engages with accountability, shame, etc. concepts like ‘misandry,’ denial of rape culture, denial of what women are telling them, are endemic. Healing has to happen in relationship, not in isolation. I’d be happy to hear what your sense has been of how these concerns which come up over and over have been addressed, because if the goal is to be more able to connect, then listening and believing is a pretty big part of that capacity.

          Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s interesting to hear that, considering the emphasis on accountability and listening in the ManKind Project. I agree with you that most men in the mythopoeic men’s movement aren’t at a level of growth where they are actively dealing with the things you’re talking about here. Am I right, though, in understanding you to be saying that your experience of the mythopoeic men’s movement isn’t even moving men in the direction of the growth you’re advocating? If so, I’d very much like to hear you elaborate on that view and say what you think the mythopoeic men’s movement could change to become compatible with what you are advocating, if you think the mythopoeic men’s movement is salvageable.


        1. honestly, lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots) of people have written about this. it’s exhausting to explain. i’d be happy to hear your thinking on where the mythopeic men’s movement can go based in bringing together the critiques that are already out there and what you’re valuing in this piece.


      3. Didn’t see your comment that starts with “Ok. Let me be specific…” when I posted my last reply. I think it is important to point out the difference between the men’s rights movement and the mythopoeic men’s movement. Most men I know in the mythopoeic men’s movement don’t even have the men’s rights movement on their radar, don’t know what misandry is and consider themselves feminists, advocating for progressive positions. The ManKind Project even changed its name from the New Warrior Network after Starhawk complained that “New Warrior” sounded too aggressive. It’s true that some men involved in the mythopoeic men’s movement are influenced by the men’s rights movement, but even those men will pick up the emphasis on personal responsibility and empowerment in the mythopoeic men’s movement and stop blaming women as a whole… if they stick around.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. how about instead of asking me to explain things that are exhausting to explain and that are already out there aplenty, you could respond to the writers on this very wall who are writing things like ‘the ‘rape culture’ concept is possibly a device of the feminist agenda’ etc. It takes *energy* and emotional effort to organize ideas and explain things. It has a physical effect on people’s bodies. If the mythopoeic movement is really wonderful and great and totally here with this accountability thing and owning and working to heal shame without projecting it onto others, and really great on the ‘listening when people ask for certain kinds of support’ and not other kinds, the best use of energy here for me would be to respond to those guys writing about misandry right here, or referencing iron john in ways you don’t agree with. that’d be welcome. asking me to explain exhausting things that others have already explained elsewhere isn’t really something i want to engage in – it saps my life.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Sounds good. I’m about to go to work, so I don’t have time to do this as I post this but I will:

      1) Google for feminist criticisms of the mythopoeic men’s movement. I’ll report back about what I’ve found.

      2) Explain why I think the mythopoeic men’s movement may work with what you’re saying.

      3) Read through the other comments and engage there – up until now I have only been paying attention to this comment thread.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 thank you, appreciated. I also posted a version of your question in a closed group I’m in to ask folks to point to resources they know quickly to save energy. but in a quick google search I see this – for instance which captures some of it. Though I’m coming from a different angle. I do beleive human beings have inherent qualities, I do experience kinds of masculinity (wherever they may appear – I see this in a genderfluid way, yet the nature-nurture divide debates are over, it is always both-and) as particularly masculine and good. I don’t think people should be caged in by preset roles, and I do see innate qualities when they are listened to emerging in layered and complex but positively gendered ways. people can have all sorts of gendered qualities and experiences even in het relationships and the more we listen and love the more the complexity emerges. so to me there is definitely a positive ‘masculinity’ and it is a good thing, but it isn’t what Robert Bly beleived it was. and the woman-hating in his work and in those movements is not ok, and it is endemic.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi again, Ok – several more people have gotten in touch to say that the ManKind project actually has distinguished itself from the Iron John/Men’s Rights movement, and that they do good work. There is definitely something here in the ways these social forces converge and diverge; would be happy to know more about it. Maybe there is a guest piece distinguishing the ManKind project from the MRAs? if that sounds of interest let me know, happy to collaborate 🙂


  3. Uh. Dang. This was a really powerful article for me to read. My mind is racing with the implications and possibilities of creating these types of structures in our society. Contrary to what you wrote…I didn’t feel like those things seemed impossible. They felt very real, very tangible.

    New life quest.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think some of violence vs. nurturing has to do with cultural and religious upbring. If you grow up in a more equality based culture you get different training than in a male based culture. If you grow up in a sexually repressive culture, that also breeds violence towards women. Etc.


    1. perhaps, and yet stories about equality sometimes mask the depths of inequality and emotional disconnection that actually happen. it can take digging into one’s own emotional world and learning how to really listen to and beleive women, in order to recognize how the idea that a culture is egalitarian can actually be used to deny and shame people who struggle to name deeply Inegalitarian realities within that culture.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this, it’s very through-provoking. I wonder though, how changeable someone’s nurturing model is. And certainly don’t know that there is any hope for change that isn’t self-driven. My Dad was clearly the biggest influence, but I also learned from uncles, grandfathers, scoutmasters, sports coaches and ministers. But, the only conscious effort I can remember ever making in this direction was when I was a senior in high school and realized how often someone I’d just met, but really immediately bonded with, would touch my arm when talking, or throw an arm around my shoulders, and how different that was from most of my other friends. As an only child, I tended to think of physical contact as family or romance only and probably had some of that whole young, male fear of appearing “gay” Because of him, I made a conscious effort to be more physically demonstrative with other guys, which in retrospect probable made some fundamental changes in making me less introverted. The rise of the American bro-hug, while somewhat ironic, is a healthy change in that direction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the bro-hug. I love hugs in general, but the empowerment of men to be able to touch other men affectionately without being criticized or shamed is great progress. The cuddling movement, which began in San Francisco in 2004, has been instrumental in giving men a safe container to explore emotions and touch without judgement. I recommend Jason O’Brien’s documentary, Cuddle: The Movie ($10, Amazon) and Cuddle I have found the opening circle exercises at Cuddle Parties to be amazingly empowering for me and for others. If you haven’t seen it already, find Brene’ Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability and her talk about Shame. Great article, Voices. Thank you!!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks so much for sharing the post! I appreciate it! btw, ‘voices in the wilderness’ is just a sort of silly blog ID. You can use Nora Samaran for the name if you share this 🙂


  6. Thank you so much for this!

    I have a combination of attachment styles and am learning how to become secure, so far at the expense of my partner, which deepens my shame and sense of unworthyness as a partner.

    I am seeking therapy at the moment to overcome my low self esteem and sense of self. I was the eldest of 5 growing up, and my parents relationship was not secure and nurturing. In that, I underwent parentalisation, and lost a sense of who I am.

    This plays out in relationships by me personalising how the other person feels about my behaviour, which triggers defensiveness and puts a halt to creating a nurturing safe space for my partner.

    I would love to find a group of men that are willing to be vulnerable about their experiences and mentor me through to becoming a leader and roll model for future generations.

    I am grateful to you for writing a compassionate yet direct article that diagnoses and recommends a solution to what I feel is a core problem to our species evolution and enjoyment of life.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi there, I’m an avoidant attachment style female, (though I hesitate to use female as I don’t think of myself as female, but not male either, so…?). To be honest, I don’t want to actually learn it from anyone, male or female, I’d rather just teach myself, but I think that’s the shame talking. Maybe there’s a book I could read first?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. some folks have found reading Hold Me Tight or Attached as a first resource useful. I was curious about what’s actually going on inside my brain so I liked A General Theory of Love a lot. There are other resources too.


    2. gotcha: well I was given Hold Me Tight first, and it was easy to read and yet had a depth that was moving. it builds towards the final chapters on how beautiful a secure bond can feel, which was life-changing for me. 🙂 maybe that is a good first read? I hear sue Johnson has a new book out as well though haven’t read it yet (I’m reading slowly these days).


    3. Don’t try to fix yourself if you don’t experience yourself as broken. The best thing I ever did for myself is reject all the cultural memes that told me to seek out relationships, and work on them/myself ad nauseam in the hopes that they’d some day become satisfying/pleasant/worth the time and effort. Like you, I’m a female bodied avoidant attachment style person of uncertain gender identification. I’m also rather introverted, and well onto the Asperger/autistic spectrum.

      My experience in my 20s was that people would push relationships of all kinds onto me. (The worst were the romantic kind.) They’d glom onto me, and if I didn’t resist hard enough, we’d be connected – whereupon they’d eventually become unhappy about my lack of enthusiasm for (and effort within) the relationship. And except for one or two who were obvious (ab)users, the world would agree that the whole thing was all my fault – doing one or two (fun) things with someone at their suggestion apparantly created expectations which I should then be obliged to fulfil.

      Don’t do this to yourself. Seeing yourself as broken and in need of fixing has all kinds of negative repurcussions. I wound up with a diagnosis of clinical depression. Eventually, with the help of drugs and therapy, I decided that my future relationships would be on my own terms, with people who were capable of relating in ways which I found congenial. And if that means I don’t share a bedroom with the woman most people consider my “partner”, and don’t have a large circle of “friends”, well that’s none of anyone else’s business. We’re happy with the lifestyle we’ve developed.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Oh my gosh, same — I realized by reading this that I am avoidant-attachment, probably dissmissive type (and also “female” but really nonbinary in my case), and that my ex-now-best-friend had an anxious-attachment style. No wonder we were magnetically attracted to each other…but also *so bad* for each other as it turned out. Thank you for asking about books, because I’m gonna go read those too! And I would love to talk with you, if you’d like, because I haven’t come across too many people with a similar life experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So I tried to go into this with an open mind, however, I immediately had a problem after reading just the first sentence where you state “the opposite of masculine rape culture is…”. Maybe I’m misreading this, and please correct me if my interpretation is wrong, but it seems that you imply that rape culture is strictly in the realm of the masculine. I disagree. Rape culture is perpetuated through feminity just as much as masculinity.


  9. Thank you for a very thought provoking article. Because of it, I realize now that I am in the dismissive -avoidant camp. I wish I knew this as a younger adult so I could have mended my ways, but better late than never! I – and those close to me – will certainly find value in me addressing this aspect of myself. While I have never raped or attacked a woman – nor have ever come close to doing so – I can see how insecurity creates distance between me and those that I care about.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have a feeling this is going to sound funny, but you just described biblical christianity as I understand it. This sounds very much like the kind of thing my church is aiming for, what Christ-like manhood looks like.


    1. dunno. sometimes things sound the same until you get into the details…. have found that to be true in the past. but thank you for your comment, curious how it unfolds as folks explore 🙂


    2. It’s not crazy. It IS exactly what Jesus taught. Loving and nurturing others. So many people truly do not know what the bible actually says, it’s sad. Even so called Christians don’t get it.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I think this is something a lot of churches strive for, but in practice, it often plays out more like it does in culture. This is quite sad, because churches often do make space for small groups, accountability and mentoring relationships, men’s retreats, and conferences on fatherhood and marriage where I think men would be open to these kinds of discussions. But a lot of moderate evangelical theology (especially in complementarian churches) is loaded with patriarchal and masculine tropes and stereotypes – not to mention a hefty dose of guilt and shame – that prevent this kind of honest nurturing from really taking place. It can coat the culture of violence and shame in theological language that makes it sound holy. If your church embraces genuine nurturing, the agency and equality of women, and vulnerability and accountability in its leaders, then kudos 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Great article! I know so many men (and people in general – I love how you describe issues with attachment styles) that I wish had the patience and interest to read this.

    (Sorry, I realized that I was signed in on a blog that I haven’t done anything with :/)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I tried to read this rather lengthy article but there’s a huge problem I just couldn’t get past.

    Your thesis seems to be that 1. there exists a “rape culture” in which there is a distinctly male sexual violence problem; 2. men don’t learn healthy attachment and nurturing; 3. these are related. Part 2 might well be true, but part 1 is not. It’s one of those things that is repeated so often and so many people accept it becomes impossible to challenge. I didn’t question it much until I saw the actual data. This is a damaging myth, and you should not perpetuate it. It erases male victimization and it encourages viewing men apprehensively (British Airways anyone?).

    For US statistics, we have the CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. If you check the 2010 summary report, you may note 2 things. First, they use a definition of rape which does not include men “being made to penetrate” (page 17). Second, if you look at victimization rates within the 12 months before the survey, rape or attempted rape of women happened at the exact same rate that men were “made to penetrate”: 1.1% or 1.27 million US victims (pages 18-19).

    Click to access nisvs_report2010-a.pdf


    1. I know right?
      Also in this article basically implicates that women should never be seen as even partially responsible for unhealthy or dangerous male personalities; like wtf? What about your sons?
      Not saying that women have to be blamed for everything, but they most certainly play a much more important role than modern “feminism” wants us to believe.
      Actually, modern feminism is misogynistic: It denies women accountability and responsibility in this world based on the whacky premise that compared to top level politics it somehow doesn’t matter how we bring up our children.


      1. A few people have been telling me that the attachment theory part of this is still worth reading and the “rape culture” stuff is a minor part not necessary to understanding that, despite the headline and intro.

        It’s unfortunate that people like our author here don’t realize they’re shooting themselves in the foot. How many potential readers are silently lost? Credit is due for allowing critical comments to remain, but a failure to engage a large group of people is a problem in the larger social justice movement.

        Unrelatedly, it seems I can’t subscribe only to this comment thread.


  13. I just thought you might like to know that your site is EXTREMELY e-reader-unfriendly. I like to send longer articles such as this to my Kindle, and there are various tools for doing such things (, Tinderizer, etc), and none of the tools work with your site. I’m not sure why that is, but if it were my site, I’d want to know, hence the comment.

    I did finally mange, through a convoluted process, to get the article onto my Kindle. I haven’t yet read it but I’m looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Excellent article, i believe regarless of gender, our attachment styles can drive adult behaviour. Well written and easy to understand the concept. No hesitation in sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The men I know who have problems expressing their feelings in a healthy way are men who have had suffocating mothers who shamed them as children, and whom they spend their lives trying to get close to and get free from, through surrogates like wives and girlfriends.

    This article adopts a condescending attitude towards them that partakes of the generalised misandry of our culture stemming from feminism’s dominant presence in our education systems. It projects a ‘rape culture’ where none exists. In the places where a rape culture might be said to exist, feminism, which has always been dominated by women who translate their personal experiences of brutal men into theories about the pathological nature of all masculinity, bears some responsibility for its creation: misogyny is often a reaction to the sneering attitude that is the default mode of feminist critique. Liberalism more broadly is also a contributory factor to the existence of misogynistic cultures, which tend to be a reaction to the contemporary plight of young men, deprived of traditional structures in which to grow up, often uprooted and moved to cities where they do poorly paid work, have no access to women, yet are surrounded by sexually provocative imagery used to sell goods to affluent consumers. Or maybe they’re working class young men in the military, being trained to kill others like themselves in the name of middle class voters, male and female, in countries far from the scene of the killing.

    This is not a justification for rape, but a realistic estimation of the probability of its occurrence if you put human beings in these kinds of brutalising situations. The answer is not to shame men further, either by the passive aggressive means used in this faux-compassionate article or in the latter day versions of the “all men are rapists” ideology that can be seen in compulsory sexual consent classes at universities, for example. The answer is to do something about the income inequality for which women bear as much responsibility as men. That would require real sacrifices on the part of the middle class liberals who tend to be the most susceptible to buying the arguments of this piece, and who think posting memes on facebook and writing wordpress blogs are meaningful forms of activism.

    I’ve seen feminists in my workplaces going to great lengths to manipulate reality to reflect their need to see male iniquity everywhere. In their political manifestos they’ll deny that they’re misandrist, but they mean that they’re willing to tolerate men who capitulate unquestioningly to their belief that all of human history is a story about ‘the oppression of women’. The bogus 1 in 4 sexual assault statistics that have been manufactured by feminists in the past 25 years are the most well-known example of this kind of manipulation. I urge anyone who doubts this to spend some time listening to Christina Hoff Sommers’ ‘factual feminist’ podcasts, or to read her books, which show how feminist research is used to tell people what to think, not to report on facts. In fact, none of the research quoted in this article says what the author thinks it says. For example research on the limbic system doesn’t invalidate a Freudian view of love’s mystery, and in any case both of them are little more than stories based on interpretations of complex situations, stories that are adopted for strategic reasons by exponents of different ideologies.

    In short I’d counsel anybody reading this article to take everything it says with a large grain of salt, and to reflect carefully on whether you or the men you know fit these stereotypes. If you do, or they do, ask yourself whether masculine ways of dealing with emotional issues are necessarily pathological, or as pathological as is implied. Do they have their own wisdom? If they are pathological, are the causes of that due to events in recent history or are they inherent in all of what gets called ‘patriarchy’ since the dawn of civilisation? Ask yourself what are the fundamental assumptions being made by different parties in these gender wars? Is there an assumption that men and women are in every respect equal? If so is that assumption held unequivocally or only when it doesn’t suit them to imply the superiority of women? If it’s unequivocal is it a valid assumption? Men and women seem to have very different abilities and liabilities that can account for the roles they’ve traditionally adopted. Is the politically subordinate role of women in hierarchical societies necessarily misogynist? Depends on your values, it seems to me. If the political world is the only world there is, perhaps it is misogynist, but if you have a different cosmology maybe not. There are complex conversations to be had about these issues that are being foreclosed by the dominant assumption that men are messed up and that listening to feminists is the solution to their problems. Feminists don’t speak for all women. This is a partisan ideology held by a very powerful and vocal minority. Disagreeing with them is not misogynistic. So don’t drink the koolaid.


  16. To address a related issue that goes unnoticed in American culture, according to Robert Bly’s Iron John, American men are the way they are due to poor male initiation (which you started to touch on in your article). This began during the industrial revolution when our fathers went to work in factories full time. Men have then been raised solely by their mothers, with little to no proper initiation to manhood ergo, the tons of convoluted ideas circulating about what it is to be a man.


  17. The men I know who have problems expressing their feelings in a healthy way are men who have had suffocating mothers who shamed them as children, and whom they spend their lives trying to get close to and get free from, through surrogates like wives and girlfriends.

    This article adopts a condescending attitude towards them that partakes of the generalised misandry of our culture stemming from feminism’s dominant presence in our education systems. It projects a ‘rape culture’ where none exists. In the places where a rape culture might be said to exist, feminism, which has always been dominated by women who translate their personal experiences of brutal men into theories about the pathological nature of all masculinity, bears some responsibility for its creation: misogyny is often a reaction to the sneering attitude that is the default mode of feminist critique. Liberalism more broadly is also a contributory factor to the existence of misogynistic cultures, which tend to be a reaction to the contemporary plight of young men, deprived of traditional structures in which to grow up, often uprooted and mo ved to cities where they do poorly paid work, have no access to women, yet are surrounded by sexually provocative imagery used to sell goods to affluent consumers. Or maybe they’re working class young men in the military, being trained to kill others like themselves in the name of middle class voters, male and female, in countries far from the scene of the killing.

    This is not a justification for rape, but a realistic estimation of the probability of its occurrence if you put human beings in these kinds of brutalising situations. The answer is not to shame men further, either by the passive aggressive means used in this faux-compassionate article or in the latter day versions of the “all men are rapists” ideology that can be seen in compulsory sexual consent classes at universities, for example. The answer is to do something about the income inequality for which women bear as much responsibility as men. That would require real sacrifices on the part of the middle class liberals who tend to be the most susceptible to buying the arguments of this piece, and who think posting memes on facebook and writing wordpress blogs are meaningful forms of activism.

    I’ve seen feminists in my workplaces going to great lengths to manipulate reality to reflect their need to see male iniquity everywhere. In their political manifestos they’ll deny that they’re misandrist, but they mean that they’re willing to tolerate men who capitulate unquestioningly to their belief that all of human history is a story about ‘the oppression of women’. The bogus 1 in 4 sexual assault statistics that have been manufactured by feminists in the past 25 years are the most well-known example of this kind of manipulation. I urge anyone who doubts this to spend some time listening to Christina Hoff Sommers’ ‘factual feminist’ podcasts, or to read her books, which show how feminist research is used to tell people what to think, not to report on facts. In fact, none of the research quoted in this article says what the author thinks it says. For example research on the limbic system doesn’t invalidate a Freudian view of love’s mystery, and in any case both of them are little more than stories based on interpretations of complex situations, stories that are adopted for strategic reasons by exponents of different ideologies.

    In short I’d counsel anybody reading this article to take everything it says with a large grain of salt, and to reflect carefully on whether you or the men you know fit these stereotypes. If you do, or they do, ask yourself whether masculine ways of dealing with emotional issues are necessarily pathological, or as pathological as is implied. Do they have their own wisdom? If they are pathological, are the causes of that due to events in recent history or are they inherent in all of what gets called ‘patriarchy’ since the dawn of civilisation? Ask yourself what are the fundamental assumptions being made by different parties in these gender wars? Is there an assumption that men and women are in every respect equal? If so is that assumption held unequivocally or only when it doesn’t suit them to imply the superiority of women? If it’s unequivocal is it a valid assumption? Men and women seem to have very different abilities and liabilities that can account for the roles they’ve traditionally adopted. Is the politically subordinate role of women in hierarchical societies necessarily misogynist? Depends on your values, it seems to me. If the political world is the only world there is, perhaps it is misogynist, but if you have a different cosmology maybe not. There are complex conversations to be had about these issues that are being foreclosed by the dominant assumption that men are messed up and that listening to feminists is the solution to their problems. Feminists don’t speak for all women. This is a partisan ideology held by a very powerful and vocal minority. Disagreeing with them is not misogynistic. So don’t drink the koolaid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You see how it is JK? I don’t think so. yours hardly constitutes a serious criticism. You arrive at the conversation with alot of baggage a resentment that doesnt even make it under the surface and a bias as big as your conspiracy theory. Please do more earnest listening.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This is a lovely piece about attachment theory. When I first read about these theories I had many aha! moments…

    Now, a few years on, I have been reminded of the importance of understanding that this theory arose out of a specific (patriarchal, neoliberal, white, middle-class) cultural context. Not only is not not appropraite for all cultural contexts, but it maintains and reproduces the culture out of which it developed.

    If this helps you understand yourself, perhaps it is useful. But let it not become a code that requires your compliance to specific codes and belief systems. In particular, it does not speak to the important role of interdependence, and a complex social support system. This theory and much of the language in this article falls into a series of false dichotomies on which must western philosophy is built. These dichotomies are, ultimately, limiting. I think it may be time for a recolonizing perspective on violence, nurturance and the practice of love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks, yes, i’m thinking about a lot of this, as well. the piece felt like it arose in a specific context, the context i know intimately (which means it has erasures built in as i’m white, cis and straight, settler… so much erasure). It seems while I’m learning that it is best to speak from what i know, and be receptive and open to what people who read know in return – that’s the best i’ve figured out for now, but it isn’t really adequate. i’m straddling different ways of understanding, coming out of actually an immigrant-extended-family and working class context personally, but then also having heard, listened, and read over years what I might be missing as a white straight cis writer from an immigrant settler background. I hesitated with this piece to engage those questions openly because I have a lot to learn about how to do it well. it’s so much easier to speak from personal experience, and invite responses hoping people will speak from their own experience as well, which feels to me like the most respectful way i know how to engage at this moment in time. It doesn’t feel like enough, though, because it creates erasure. I’m more hesitatant about how to engage with some of the things you’re describing while knowing how to be respectful and in relationship/how to do it in an accountable way and not misrepresent, appropriate, speak for. Especially when it’s done in writing on screen rather than in person. i’m dedicated right now to learning listening and figuring this out and welcome the feedback as I think you’re completely right. So i deeply appreciate the feedback and please know i’m wanting to hear this. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hello Phaedra, thought about your comment a lot since you posted. i’m curious if perhaps you migth be interested in wrting a guest post, or collaborating in some way?


  19. Very good article.

    This kind of article you almost think it’s too long to go through in the beginning but you end up wishing it was twice as long when you finished it.

    I totally agree that everyone would benefit if men talked more about feelings between themselves and taught/helped each other.
    From that affirmation of yours I assume that women do it more than men do. To what extent? Are women more aware of the different “attachment styles” and openly discuss their differences and implications? Or more likely, are they discussing it without being aware of these styles but talking about their own experience and try to compare each other?
    So is the wish that cismen should discuss more with other cismen how they feel attached to ciswomen and try to analyze how it influences their relationship?

    Keep the good work up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I belong to a womens’ meetup group, and we meet weekly. We discuss exactly this kind of thing in our relationships, as well as other things. We don’t specifically use attachment theory terminology, but because we are very interested in the dynamics of our relationships and we consult with each other in this open, non-judgemental forum to analyze our challenges and our “wins,” we become pretty adept at recognizing patterns and leading each other to effective solutions. Emotional intelligence can be a strong area for men as well, if they choose to make it so. I sure hope they do.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I asked my husband (who makes me feel safe and nurtured) where he learned his skills.

    He says:
    From his father he learned, in particular, to be calm, and that keeping perspective and being calm are more important than fixing everything.

    From friends in boy scouts and from being a scout leader he learned some aspects of empathy and being attuned to others.

    From a close college friend he learned warmth, and in particular sharing in other people’s joys.

    He said it was a slow and effort filled process to learn that sometimes one has a choice between “being right or being happy”.

    He says I “force fed” him certain aspects of expressing comfort, and especially the skill of listening to someone vent without needing to offer solutions.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. sharing in people’s joys, i think, is a real click for me. i learned this with my longest partner (we were together on and off for seven years and remain close/chosen family today). that when people say ‘i’m so happy for you’ when something good happens to you, that means that you are separate. he said it could feel lonely, and it can. when you help each other do something big, really pitching in and doing it together even if it is officially the responsibility of only one of you, and it goes well, and then you get to say ‘we did it together! i’m so happy!’ which is a victory for you both. This is true between friends, colleagues, partners, siblings, anyone who is connected. if we make each other’s projects our projects then there is no ‘happy for you’ – there is ‘we did it.’ it’s a completely different feeling. thank you so much for your words 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  21. I had a father who was nurturing growing up, so I can see where the article comes from in regards to having a male role model that teaches you how to be a nurturer.

    But I’ll be honest, I came to a conclusion about the origins of rape culture and what creates it from a very different angle. I had intended to write about the subject myself at some point but chronic fatigue has made any consistent writing endeavor difficult.

    My observation has been that there’s a general culture of misogyny in the US, and a strong undercurrent of anger toward women in general. The internet exacerbates this horribly, but it wasn’t the catalyst.

    There are a number of factors, but I feel two of the biggest and often most subconscious are these:

    1. “The hero always gets the girl in the end”

    No matter what movie, TV show, etc. we’re talking about that’s aimed toward a male audience, you can bet that there will be an attractive female “love” interest who will succumb to the man’s charms by the end of it. It’s basically a foregone conclusion. How many times have we seen a show about a young man out to (insert motive here), joined by his plucky (insert comic relief here), and an attractive young woman who is at first at odds with the hero, then of course decides she loves him?

    Young men grow up with this notion that they (the hero in their own story) will “get the girl” as if it was something that is OWED to them. It’s rare we find stories where the hero and the attractive female decide to just be friends by the conclusion of the arc.

    Going from growing up on that kind of fantasy to the jarring reality that your affections won’t always be returned is one of the many potential beginnings on the road to misogyny.

    2. “I need you to need me”

    Men are judged by other men on their ability to attract women. We laugh at “loser loners”, calling other men “forever alone” (which has its own meme). We call them virgins, neckbeards, basement dwellers, etc.

    And to make matters even worse, men are perfectly happy exploiting women in order to exploit other men. This has been going on since the dawn of the first pimp, but it continues today in how heavily we use sex in advertising.

    Young men grow up in a world SATURATED with unrealistically attractive women (typically photoshopped and airbrushed) in advertising. The message is simple: buy this product, get this girl, and when buying the product doesn’t work, who does the young man get angry with? Not the male executive who is using this photoshopped woman to prey upon the young man’s insecurity, no. The young man gets angry at WOMEN, and he begins feeling as though he is being judged by them, as though he’s never good enough because no amount of buying products seems to work.

    How do I KNOW that this is a problem? They’re have been polls that asked convicted rapists why they did it, and a majority of them (70% in one poll I found years ago) said they did it because “They didn’t want the sex to have to be GOOD”.

    These men felt so thoroughly judged by women that they would rather take sex by force than be subject to that judgement. These women, in the mind of the rapist, held power over them, and to rape them felt to them like taking back that power.

    In conclusion, I’ve come to believe that rape culture is a creation of false expectations, both as men build up expectations based upon fantasy, are made (by other men) to place their self worth on their ability to attract women, and exposed to a sex-crazed advertising world designed that way by other men, all of which results in a false sense of having sex dangled over them but always out of their reach. Insecurity instilled largely to sell stuff to them, with no regard for what else it may do to the male mind.

    What I’d tell any man willing to listen (especially young men) is to remember that you don’t need to be desired by women to have value (not even a little). Any feeling you may have that women have power over you is PURELY in your head. They don’t, and the people who want you to THINK that they do are other men trying to whittle down your self-esteem so they can sell their crap to you.

    In the end, “women” on the whole did nothing to you: they’re not judging you, they’re not trying to make you feel bad about yourself, and they certainly have no power over you.

    If you’re going to be angry at anyone, be angry at the men who are trying to exploit your loneliness for their own personal gain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. May I object three things?

      1. Rape has been there long before the Internet or the movie theaters. We could argue if the rape culture had mutated but I don’t have the capacity and I don’t think it did.

      2. Do videogames/movies/book shape the society or is it the other way around? Isn’t the artist’s creativity somehow limited to what he knows? We have a society were men tend to take what they want without thinking too much about the other’s feeling, so that’s not too surprising to reproduce that in movies.
      Every time we discuss how videogames or movies bring violence to our sociery we’re wasting precious time to hunt the real reasons.

      3. I don’t think rapists more than anyone would know what subconcious reasons drove them to do what they did. It’s easy to try to find easy explanations to save your soul. Many blame it on, for example, porn. Watch the last interview of Ted Bundy on youtube, who raped and killed more than 30 women and heavily puts the blame on porn. And it’s so easy to do so when you are in his situation (sentenced to death). But of course he may not belong to the “usual” rape scheme.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 1. I didn’t go into the history of rape and its roots in evolution because that will be a given, though something that may hopefully yet be evolved out of.

        2. This is nature vs. nurture, and it’s something that anyone can fall into, really. People weave fantasy and those who read it/hear it wind up believing it on some level. I’ve met people who read too many romance novels and have developed unrealistic expectations of potential romantic interests as a result. It made dating very difficult because no one could ever live up to “romance novel” characters.

        Do people want life to be easier, especially in the romantic aspect? Of course, but as the article points out, it takes time, effort, and work to create a solid relationship. The problem with fantastical stories (whether they pander to women or men) is that they establish a false sense of reality (anime tends to be terrible in this regard as well) and a false sense of how romantic interaction works.

        This generates frustration for everyone, of course, but men feeling rejected are obviously more dangerous in that regard.

        3. I agree that they would make an excuse, but “I didn’t want it to have to be good” isn’t much of an excuse as it does nothing to excuse their actions. Furthermore, even though they may not understand the underlying reasoning, we can see it fairly clearly.

        They feel judged, even if they don’t realize it (we’re not talking about men who are capable of introspection, here). The women they wanted to accept them didn’t, and rather than accept that judgement and the ego bruising, they chose to “take back” the power they believed these women held over them.

        But even long before these men became rapists, they had to start on a path that brought them there, a path of misogyny, objectifying women, and being subconsciously bombarded with suggestions about measuring your status as a man on your ability to attract women.

        I’ve counseled young men on this subject and many of them hadn’t even considered the fact that they don’t actually need a woman, nor that we live in a society that made them believe that this was the case in order to make money off of them.

        Mind you, I am ABSOLUTELY NOT absolving rapists of what they’ve done, but no man is born a rapist. As the article points out, men can learn to nurture and in doing so it steers them away from this path.

        The article also discusses how difficult it is for men to talk about this kind of thing. Even as a nurturing man, I have no clue how to broach the subject with other men. But what I CAN do is point out that much of their anger and frustration aimed at women is, in actuality, not being generated by women themselves but by other men who are trying to make money off of them.

        It’s not a full explanation of how nurturing culture is the opposite of rape culture, but it directs the anger and frustration AWAY from women and in doing so steers them off the path to misogyny.


    2. The thing that stands out for me is the goddamn engagement ring radio ads. The idea that she won’t love you if you don’t get her the right ring? Shitcan that shit. Please, guys. If she loves you, she will accept a Ringpop. A woman in love, just like a man in love, loves the person, not the trappings. Don’t ever forget that. I turn the radio OFF when that shit comes on.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yeah, every time I see an ad from Axe Body spray about “Girl-Approved Hair” I want to scream.

        I’m a voice actor and I will absolutely NOT read ads for anything aimed at instilling sexual insecurity in the listener (male or female). I’ve turned down reads for “male enhancement” products and “seduce and destroy” books.

        Just don’t want to be part of the problem…

        Liked by 1 person

  22. This is very insightful and important. I believe that I have made a transition over the past few years from one of the dysfunctional styles of nurturing described to a healthy one through HAI Workshops (, and a marriage relationship that supported the change with trust and commitment. Fascinating to read the descriptions here that fit so well with my experiences. Interesting to note that HAI is not a men’s group, but still took me down that path; you seem to imply that men’s groups are the primary way to achieve this change.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. hi, thanks so much for your comment. I’ve tried to clarify: I am definitely not saying men’s groups are the *main* way this can happen. Seeing a psychologist, building loving relationships with people of all genders, reading resources, all those approaches help – and are already being used, as you have said. I hope they continue to grow and become more and more available. What I’m actually saying is that I wish these supports were consistently shared between men who are also doing this with each other. in other words, I’m not proposing that men do this only with other men, but that all the ways being used now get supplemented by men healing and teaching each other what they are learning through all these other tools. It would be a lot easier for everybody else if guys who have made a lot of progress could share that! so each man working on it could learn and heal more quickly with less stumbling and less harm happening to women and other-gendered folks in the process.
      Thank you for letting me know how this was coming across; it’s helpful to be able to clarify. hope this makes more sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. So what would your suggestion be to a woman who’s been in an abusive relationship? I feel the article is missing how that trauma would be addressed. The article seems to be indicating it’s possible for a man to transform, but even if he does where does that leave his partner who’s had to suffer in the mean time. I do like the idea of male lead nurturing, but I’d like more explanation of your views on the relationship dynamic and the woman’s healing as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yes, this question came up for me as well while writing. I think for me (and thinking with the people I’ve been learning this with) a goal of this piece was to help clear my head of the distortions and disfigurement in self-trust that are a common part of coming through abuse/neglect whether from partner or parent or the many microagressions that are part of the daily fabric of a mysoginist culture, so pervasive they come to be hard to see because it is hard to imagine what life would be like without them. We get told that our perceptions are not to be trusted, and we get told this so frequently and so early and so repeatedly, often by people we trust or ought to trust, and the message is so pervasive, that it takes tremendous change and recurring reminders to actually know that we see what we see, we experience what we experience. As one guy with a lof of integrity said to me a while back, ‘even good men can be afraid of women trusting themselves.’ so if there is something here that relates to women leaving or healing after abusive relationships whether with parents or partners, it is to trust your perceptions. This is longer and deeper than I think anyone can imagine in a culture that at times distorts our best qualities and feeds them back to us as weaknesses. does that address the question? I am learning to see my strengths and power for what they are, and to love my whole self, and this is a lot of what this piece is inviting others to do.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. I think this is ‘preaching to the choir’ and means little to men caught in experiences of violence. For me it does not speak to the violence in men, it just speaks to men who already feel a sense of nurturing and are driven by it, maybe dont even know what violence feels like, only fear it. I do not hear this resonating in me one bit. sorry. For me it is symbolic of the error males are making in trying to address this issue. and about the issue itself, the ‘rape culture’ concept is possibly a device of the feminist agenda. As a man who has done a lot of work on understanding the nature of men and the issues between the sexes, I have questions about all this approach as being valid, lots of questions. Deers and Wolves dont meet in the same places.


      1. Deer and Wolves, didn’t you know? wonder what sort of offspring this produces. Wolfdeer. Deerwolves. Weer. Dolfs.


  25. Thank you for your honesty in approaching this complex topic in such in a personal way. Many here have shared their connection with it. Maybe there is a solution that you can help develop with this approach in mind. An app, for example, called Hey! VINA has recently been developed for women to help meet a new friends and build support networks.

    Whether you intended to or not, the title of your piece initially lashed out on my feed abrasively but, by the time I finished it, I appreciated it sincerely. “Rape Culture” has this catchy ring to it — as if it begs definition, and so it divides people; Nurturance Culture, by contrast, does not — it’s awkward, too long, doesn’t stick and you fumble with the syllables. It seems to reflect the process of learning to see many sides to a situation. It’s not easy to find that language.

    I came from a supportive family, and I have never in my life seen my father have an argument. One of the things that he mentioned to me as a girl is that saying repeatedly saying “sorry” to someone else after a misunderstanding, when it’s you that feels the shame, won’t erase your shame — that responsibility is yours. Then he would reassure that everything would be alright.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. THANK YOU! This was literally the most insightful and helpful thing I have ever stumbled across on the internet. A recent miscommunication had my boyfriend and I struggling to understand what had happened. This article was a wonderful springboard for discussing and working on separate and combined healing in our relationship. Kudos!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. The fellowship you’re envisioning where men heal other men exists in some chapters of the 12 step recovery program. I am a sex addict and the 12 steps has healed me and others in the way you’re envisioning Some of the major gifts to my life include: male role models that open share their feelings and cry openly without shame, the tools to identify shame/fear/resentment in the moment and reverse the automatic processes and unconscious decision-makers programmed into my mind through experiences of childhood abuse/neglect, a healthy secure relationship where I’m held accountable but not judged or shamed and I can develop earned secure attachment.

    I’ve had a shame based core and, until I found my peers in the 12 step program, shame has been a silent decision maker in every part of my life- my career, my relationships, my self-evaluation. As I’ve gained distance from my old patterns, I can see now how I was blaming people for triggering my shame just like you mentioned. Unfortunately, my shame was easily triggered and so I’ve spent the majority of my dating career confused and scared by the normal dance of a connection. I’ve interpreted a need for space as rejection and paired myself up with other shame-based people to add to the confusion.

    I’ve kept a journal of my experience from the day I decided to schedule my first appointment with a CSAT therapist to today which is my 11th month of sobriety. You might find it enlightening to see a first person view of what it’s like for a man to actually make the changes you’re describing-

    Liked by 2 people

  28. This article gets at some very important points and does a nice job using attachment theory to help explain some the difficulties people have in relationships. I have taught attachment theory in college communication classes for over a decade and the students get a great deal out of understanding these theories and using them to deal with the relational fears.

    There is one organziation that does an amazing job teaching masculine nurturance to men within a circle of transformation and healing: The ManKind Project. They are a non-profit organization that puts on weekend retreats for men all over the country since the mid-80s. The retreats are called New Warrior Training Weekends. I have participated and now volunteer to staff these retreats and there is nothing more effective for healing men’s emotional wounds and opening their hearts that I have ever seen.


    1. thank you; a few people have mentioned this to me and I have seen this project on social media as well. haven’t looked into it yet but I will.


    1. holy crow, perfect timing and thank you. so much here. I’ve just come from a class I’m sitting in on with a colleague that is on black women’s organizing and have been stewing on how much the piece erases. fear of doing it wrong or needing to hear more to know how to act in accountable ways – which can only really happen in relationship as you’ve beautiful illustrated – led me to decide to cut out mention of transformative justice because I don’t have a full understanding of its history and context coming out of black women’s organizing. some of what you’ve described here resonates deeply deeply in doing antiracism work and how it has to be accountable and ongoing and rooted in genuine love and long relationships – and knowing what you know and accepting what you don’t in a way that is receptive and teachable but doesn’t get in the way. or does more than not get in the way lol. thank you so much for this piece and look forward to more.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Hi there! I just want to say that your post has given me a HUGE amount to think about. I’ve already been thinking a lot about attachment theory (I’m a parent, and an adoptive parent besides, and attachment comes up a lot with people who have been adopted) but never ever considered connecting it with feminism and the difficulties with modern masculinity. I think your post is just so insightful, and so practical.

    I have also been thinking since I read this that “nurturance” or nurturing is the opposite of violence, and maybe a good way to think about “nonviolence” as well — because it’s more positive, and not negatively defined.

    Your comments about the Ursula LeGuin book amazed me, and I can’t wait to read that book now. I am thinking over and over that the seeming violence and urgent dominance of masculinity might just be a gift, but a gift that is used backwards. This to me seems a much more promising approach than simply thinking “masculinity is wrong” or that it’s got to be somehow tamed.

    Anyway, thank you. You’ve given me a lot of food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. would be nice to do short video interviews with exceptionally nurturing men and their families / intimates / close friends talking about what safety and nurturance feels like – capture some of the body language of different kinds of connections

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Wow, this is pernicious. You create a false dualism – either you are part of the “masculine rape culture” or you are part of the “masculine nurturance culture”. If you cited even a few statistics to define a “masculine rape culture” versus a “masculine nurturance culture” and then analysed how they differed, I’d be inclined to listen to these recommendations.

    As it is, this entire article is a generalized “if men were simply more nurturing” lament that has been probably going on since cave men were out hunting and cave women were making meals, bitching about how their men “don’t understand us”. Except, back then, they didn’t call their men “rapists”.


  31. Hi Nora,

    thanks for writing the article -I have been reading it for the last three days and I guess I will need some more days. I am not an English native speaker and need to get translations for lots of words to really get it.
    I feel it is really worth the effort.

    I am quite sure that I will take notes the next time I read the article (I plan to read it twice or three times – maybe together with my development partner – a girl I try to create a nourishing connection with – as I learned form your article).

    I want to ask you if I am permitted to translate your article – maybe as a whole, maybe only as a summery.

    What would you feel to be a reasonable acknowledgment when I publish the translation?
    I would suggest mentioning your name and linking to this article. I will definitely let you know where I publish it and will give you permission to republish it.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sebastian and thank you, this message is very moving. I would be pleased at the idea of a translation, and yes, as long as you link back to the original here and attribute it that is all I need. Can I ask what language you are looking to translate it into? I’m fluent in French so would love to see the translation before it goes up if it happens to be that.


        1. ok! if you don’t mind, just clearly say it’s a translation of this, have the name at the top and the link somewhere clear? really appreciate the offer, very exciting! thank you 🙂 I’d love to see it when it’s out, I will link to it.


    2. Hello Sebastian, I hope you’re well! Have since had requests to translate into Spanish and Portuguese as well! So if you are still interested in a German translation, yours would be in good company 🙂 Get in touch at if you would like to 🙂


  32. Thank you so much for sharing. I just shared this piece right now on Facebook, and also linked some of my closest guy friends on there, with a brief thank you for their support. I hope they also learned from this article.

    Thank you for allowing me to see into myself just a bit deeper.

    Take Care

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Carlos! so many men are speaking up and so many people in general are saying this resonates for them – it means more than you know to hear it 🙂


  33. Hi I was a mixed type but through years healing and connection I am only struggling with the anxiety side of things now. It’s very difficult to admit there’s a problem. I suppose that’s the shame holding me back.

    I have learned that saying ‘Thanks’ instead of ‘Sorry’ soothes that anxiousness and washes most of the shame or guilt in needing help/connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you for this piece, it really clarified for me how to talk about the kinds of things I’m working out myself right now.

    And thank you for including trans people. I consider myself nonbinary, but people I don’t know well/the legal system considers me a trans man, so from the perspective – one way to understand this stuff is “be or talk to a trans man”.

    Not all of us are any good at this of course, just as many women are not. But likely when we were being raised as if we were female children, our parents and teachers took the time to try and teach us about this sort of thing – at least about kindness and compassion and listening skills and relationships. So I think cis men could do a lot worse than opening to the trans community here. You meet a lot of thoughtful, kind people there who’ve been through a lot and are very understanding and open minded.

    I’m going to save this and share it places, because it’s encouraging to hear someone talk about a more general social uptake of this kind of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. actually now that I think if it I had a request to collaborate on something about this for a possible guest post by a trans guy on one of the first days, maybe you’d be into collaborating on that? let me know and I could put you in touch.


    2. Hello again S.N.S. ok: the friend who originally got in touch to talk about a guest piece / collaboration from a trans perspective is interested in doing this! would you like to write a guest piece together? It would need to move fairly quickly to get it out while this piece is still rolling (still getting 40 000 visitors a day, a good time for another piece on how trans readers are responding/thinking about this stuff from various perspectives, inc perspectives from trans men and nonbinary folks as well). If you’d like to collaborate pls email me at and we can set up a chat tomorrow.


  35. so, to sum up the mail this post has been receiving: guys write ‘this is the inside of my head’ ‘this made me cry it is so real.’ everybody else writes ‘this is why I felt crazy in my last relationship.’ #tippingthescales #thenewnormal #nurturanceculture

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fabulous article, beautifully put. My husband and I are of the group avoidance attacher attracting anxious attacher. All that you say is so true on both sides. I have often wondered in all my years of growing and learning, that something must be wrong with me, am I such a slow learner?It has been very hard. It has taken me many years to love and understand myself. I did not know where to look for role models, books were very helpful and I had a few woman brave enough to look deeper, that I could share my experience with. Not so for my husband. It is only now in my early 60’s that I am starting to feel a sense of inner peace and understanding of what really was going on, and am able to understand the difficulties my husband had with understanding me! and me him. We are doing well. Thank you for this article.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Thanks for this article, speaking as a severely lonely trans guy with lots of attachment problems and trouble forming relationships with most men and women. A lot of my insecurity and anger spawns from the idea that wanting any emotional intimacy is proof that I’m ‘really’ a woman after all, so it helps to know that cis men do experience that too.

    (Just a comment regarding your ending note on trans-inclusion: the problem with the phrase ‘men and trans men’ is that it says trans men aren’t men and thus ends up being less rather than more inclusive, whereas the phrase ‘cis men and trans men’ wouldn’t have that issue, or ‘men (both cis and trans)’. Or just ‘men’, where your later uses of the phrase ‘all genders’ already indicates you’re likely someone who includes trans men when speaking of men.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. To expand, I think you’re sensing something: That there are masculine-identified people who don’t identify as men, and those people are also trans (though they might also not be, such as some butch cis women), and you’d like to include them since masculinity belongs to everyone who feels that it is part of them, not just to men.

        You COULD say masculine-of-center people: that’s a term I see around but it personally rubs me the wrong way. I’m a nonbinary trans person, female-assigned-at-birth, but while I’m transmasculine I would consider myself on the agender, feminine, and ambiguous sides of “center” moreso than the masculine side (should such a center actually exist). I think saying “men” and noting as you do that this also applies to other people is adequate, especially because you’re thinking about men when you write it. Us other people may have to make other edits in our heads to make the article apply so it seems appropriate. Although femme/not-particularly-gendered men might find the stereotyping of men as masculine to be annoying. We as a world are all working out the language as we go along, starting from the linguistic tools provided by a culture that has spent hundreds if not thousands of years trying to force everyone into a patriarchal cis gender binary. IMO it’s definitely up to you how far you want to go down the road of deconstruction, inclusion, and linguistic experimentation vs. sticking with familiar language. It’s political and there are different schools of thought.


        1. yeah – I looked at it in the morning and though the use is definitely reductive in this piece it sort of served a purpose…. I’m addressing a specific type of masculinity. in the last two blogs I’d written ‘not all men feel the need to be ‘masculine’ which is true not only of folks who expetience their gender in more complex ways but also of cismen who don’t feel the need to be masculine – internally, though the social pressure is obviously very real. and yet the people I’m addressing here are those who live in the narrower part of the box, or who walk in the world within masculinity and/or are predominantly living as masculine. I think there is a way more nuanced piece that I would love if somebody would write about how masculine scripts or themes or even parts of the self play out for nonbinary folks and I think what I’m learning/seeing of trans articulations is actually really applicable to cis het folks too. ie I agree with ppl who’ve said none of us are actually all that binary, if we’re listening to ourselves rather than social scripts. it is liberating. somebody with more knowledge than me would have to write it tho – I wire what I know from the inside.


  37. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I am a dismissive type, and I have struggled with those “confusing for everyone involved” situations my entire life. I believe this is due to an extremely religious upbringing, forcing myself to suppress my sexual wants and needs, for not only abstinence, but because my kind fervently believes that we are waiting for “the one” to show up.

    My “the one” finally showed up, at 27 years old, and I don’t know a damn thing about how to be comforting or comforted. I can be close to my friends just fine, but when the sparks start to fly, I go brain dead, either making a gesture to kill the mood, or saying the absolute wrong thing. Needless to say, after an extremely awkward year of flirting, and hanging out ,”the one” got away, which was the most heartbreaking experience I have ever had in my life. Spent near a month holed up in my apartment, because I found the one, and wasn’t ready for her.

    This is where I am turning around. I realized that this is something I can change, and that if I go through a repeat experience, I now have no one else to blame but myself. I am learning to be more honest and open about my feelings, with the women in my life, but what you have shone me, is that I only saw half the picture.

    I need to also be honest to myself about what I want out of these relationships. I need to reprogram myself to stop send out these automatic, non verbal, and instant awkward signals when people try to be close, or let me in. Instead of waiting for the one, I will be the one who can love, and allow beautiful people into my life. I have a lot of growing to do, and it could take a lot of time, because like you said, this is extremely difficult for me. You have given me a true path to follow though, and I will actively seek out men and women who I can learn from, to be able to nurture effectively.

    Thank you, so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish you all the very best in your pursuit for wholeness and fulfillment. I can tell you’re a very genuine person, and truly willing to enter the uncomfortable and unknown physically and emotionally to open those new doors, pathways & hunan interactions

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Hello everyone! I’d like to invite you to read and share this exciting invitation and reply directly to Anna if you would like to take her up on it:

    FEB. 17

    Hello everyone,
    I’m a writing a feature article about redefining masculinity, and I am looking to interview some people (ideally who live in B.C. or Canada at the very least) who can relate to the following experiences:

    -I am looking to interview men who are on a journey of redefining what it means for them to be a man.

    -I’m looking to hear stories from men who’ve recognized problems in their own behaviours, and taken time to think and act to change those behaviours.

    -I’m looking to hear from men how they’ve responded to Roosh V’s failed attempt at a world-wide meet-up day.

    -I’m looking to hear from men who cried or had epiphanies when they read Nora Samaran’s piece “The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture”

    I am on a DEADLINE so please, if you’d like to share your experience, please get in touch ASAP, and provide a brief explainer about how your story fits into my call out.

    Thank you


  39. One of the breakthrough ideas I experienced in reading this was an insight into the unfolding relationship between MRA groups and feminists. There is a category of statements and ideas being developed recently which recognize the necessity to shift blame and responsibility over incidences of rape from the victims to the perpetrators. This is mis-construed in many places as “all men are potential rapists”. Men need to take responsibility but they need to know first what that means, in the context of human lives. To remedy this, what’s needed is THIS dialogue on Nurturance/violence. The message has to be brought to men in a safe and supportive way or it cannot hope to make the safe space in which real transformation is possible. Does that connect with your reading?

    Another thing I really liked about this article was the affirmation that no one should feel guilt about their attachment style because it is established at a very early age. This is so kind and compassionate of a recognition to have, if only we generally could see ourselves with such a generosity.

    I really enjoyed this nugget ” it takes two to enter into the avoidant-anxious trap, but patriarchal culture normalizes an avoidant style and stigmatizes an anxious style, wherever it appears” For me this concisely illustrates an element of male-privilege, which in its subtlety/normalization is rarely recognized and THANKS.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that line, too – it’s the best insight I think that clicked as this was coming together.
      rereading your comment in the morning, yes I think I see what you mean. Someone ought to do that work with MRA’s, just not me lol.
      My audience is not at all MRAs; they can do with it what they wish. I’m a lot more focussed on bridging and expanding the capacities and understanding on the left, personally. engaging the MRA thing just drags attention away from where the best work can happen. it’s not my focus, but if others (esp dudes) want to engage them, power to you, that would be good work to do.


  40. I love it when women tell men how to be men.

    ‘Violence is nurturance turned backwards.’ This is totally unsupported. Stating things does not make them facts.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. so, this kind of article (everybody read and share it)
    is a lot more interesting to me, actually, than engaging with any angry white dudes.
    the original piece above doesn’t engage with the ways talking about gender in ‘universal’ ways (ie white feminism) erases black women’s organizing, history, expertise, experiences, knowledge. I’m thinking a lot about this. My best way to engage respectfully is to write from inside what I know and be open to what comes back when people write from inside what they know. I’m super, super excited when stuff like this happens.


  42. YES – when men Or women shut down and shut others out – cannot respond to and nurture others, they often hurt themselves or other people. We ALL need to understand that we are bonding animals – designed to live out our lives close to and supported by others.
    Sue Johnson, author of Love Sense and HMT


  43. I have a new book to read.

    I mostly have a secure attachment type but I think my parents may have ended up with anxious/avoidance attachment types and then married, and have had a strained marriage for the last 10-15 years.


  44. Thank you! Recently read a Jed Diamond book ” Bringing the Warrior home” excellent book. Diamond states that men must help heal men, he feels strongly about this, I believed him but did not fully understand why. You have done a fabulous job explaining this. Just what I needed, my next step. Thank you so much for your clear insight. Thank you! Peace


  45. Nora, Thank you for this wonderful post. I just skimmed it and look forward to giving it a good read. I believe that evolution theory informs this critical discussion. The Y chromosome orchestrates 2 strategies for the transmission of genetic material. Strategy one is for men to form collations with other men to control resources to have greater access to wombs. Strategy 2 is to nurture offspring to increase the probability that offspring will reproduce. Strategy 1 leads to tribes, gangs, nation states and corporations. It is the source of war and unsustainable economic practices. Strategy 2 leads to compassionate loving nurturant attachment to partners and offspring. Rape culture does not enough to inhibit Strategy 1 and not enough to facilitate Strategy 2. Socialization of boys to inhibit the firing of Strategy 1 neuro-nets and to facilitate the growth of Stragey 2 neuro-nets impacts war, economic justice and the sustainability of the habitability of Earth. Nora, your post speaks to the most important social problem on the planet. Again thank you.


  46. As an Emotionally Focused Therapist, a student of Susan Johnson, Leslie Greenberg, Attachment Theory, a couple’s and men’s therapist, a co-facilatator of “Hold Me Tight,” EFT couples workshops, a member of the Mankind Project and most importantly a father of two sons raised under the nurturance of secure attachment, I send you a big hug!!!! Thank you, Thank you!!! “Heal Men, Heal Society!””” PS, My 24 yr old (elder son) sent me & his brother your article!!


  47. As an Emotionally Focused Therapist, a student of Susan Johnson, Les Greenberg and Attachment Theory, a couples and men’s therapist, a co-facilatator of “Hold Me Tight” couples workshops, a member of the Mankind Project and perhaps most importantly the father of two sons, I helped to raise under the guidance of secure attachment I send you a big hug!! Thank you, Thank You! PS, My 24 year old son sent me and his younger brother your article.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. I want to respond to a commenter who said something about how the “rape culture” term might be turning off men who actually need to hear the message about attachment styles and nurturance.

    As a man who emphatically is opposed to rape and wants no part of any culture around it, I’ll admit that I have some discomfort with the concept of “rape culture.” It implies a level of acculturation and societal acceptance of rape that I’m not fully convinced of. But I am willing to learn more and to admit that I may be overlooking something (many somethings) that would be more obvious to, say, women. In other words, I’m here to learn, and to do that, to put aside my discomfort and my presuppositions.

    HOWEVER I think some men may not be ready to make that step, even though they mean well and want to become more nurturing and more understanding. To acknowledge that there is such a thing as rape culture is to admit, on a certain level, that it may have already gotten inside you. And that’s pretty horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Assuming you’re addressing me (why not reply directly?), I didn’t say rape doesn’t happen and I didn’t say I know subjectively what women experience. I took specific issue with the widespread characterization of sexual violence as a male on female problem.

      I gave a specific citation, including page numbers, from a recent, large scale government study, not some MRA opinion piece. And even though the CDC data indicates that men are raped 100% as often as women if you read it carefully, you need only look at the fact they don’t call it rape when it’s a man for proof that male victims have less of a voice.

      You could argue methodological flaws. You could argue we can’t directly compare the numbers because of the inconsistent definitions. You could locate other studies that contradict the NISVS. But nobody has directly addressed the one piece of factual evidence anyone has brought to the table.

      Instead, you resort to emotional blackmail by suggesting resistance to your specific notion of rape culture is a form of internalized rape culture, and subtly implying that people who disagree with you are not “willing to learn more”, nevermind if they gave citations. Your comment illustrates my point about failure to engage.

      The NISVS results are hard to accept. To acknowledge that this study may be accurately shedding some light on male victims of sexual violence is to admit that peddling these narratives may be an extreme disservice to those victims. And that’s pretty horrifying.


    2. it’s not horrifying unless you’re trapped in your own shame, it is just reality. none of us live outside culture and the fabric of this culture is fundamentally mysoginist and white supremacist. we are all inside it. the choice is do we start to see how it works and do something about it, or go about unconsciously. whether it is ‘horrifying’ has no bearing on whether it is real and the whole point of this piece is that the fear that something has ‘gotten inside you’ is an *internal script* that makes people unwilling to be responsive.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. and thank you for demonstrating how it can be 🙂
      “But I am willing to learn more and to admit that I may be overlooking something (many somethings) that would be more obvious to, say, women. In other words, I’m here to learn, and to do that, to put aside my discomfort and my presuppositions”

      Liked by 1 person

  49. Thank you SO much for this! Much of it describes my 39 years of stubbornly struggling marriage – with BOTH of us suffering the avoidant behaviors described, while blindly seeking the unnamed bliss of something else!

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Great article with such a strong narrative. Nora you obviously have a great deal of nurturous and articulate aware men in your life. So much of this is true.

    I am so tied of the rape culture discussion (for its shallowness) and to some degree am pushed away from even entering into the discussion. Endless memes of extremes – examples suggesting men are more repulsed by womans periods than they are of rape etc. etc. – which potentially does have some shallow truth to it in a superficial male conversational humour (not including the reality of rape of course).

    Personally I am constantly trying to redefine or understand my masculinity and have talked at times with male friends on the extreme lack of male role models or elders that exist. So many aspects of the above article resonate – what to write on….

    The issue is so complex and is thousands of years in the making with various contributions from the religious babbling of genesis (talking about what ribs and turning ribs into women?), from the potential specialisation or division of family labour roles due to gender – MAN the hunter! WOMAN the gatherer, the nurturer! MAN the fighter, the destroyer – WOMAN the…. well stay with the kids and old people back at the village and make a hot bowl or soup.

    We are feeling the cultural inertia of a bloody and brutal history of conquest and survival both from each other and the wrath of surviving disease, famine and the beasts and all that liveth and creepeth.

    We are damaged! We really are lucky and privileged to be having this discussion at all.

    However the epidemic proportion of RAPE CULTURE (I hate that phrase) currently, I cant help but feel has been worsened by the over sexualised and commercialised objectification of woman in the mass media.

    For nurturous men growing up exposed to pornography from an early age – saturated with hyper sexualised woman in the media on billboards, everywhere, along with a whole range of norms and values in day to day male interaction re-enforcing further objectification and some confused understanding of woman – and coming out whole – or – indeed nurturous, without trial and error and failure… is certainly a task.

    Men have lost so much – and without the extremity of physical or other gender related violence – just as much as woman in this situation. Having a whole heap of patriarchal sexist cultural shit poured into the mind of the young man creates such a barrier to finding intimacy, understanding her needs, wants and feeling her energy. Major Task 101.

    The value of sex and love reduced to still motion or films of commercial fantasies pushing further into a throbbing shock and awe of human perverse imagination – stereotyping- genrefying – without any real guidance or allowance for the nurturous mutual exploration and curiosity or sexuality – is a travesty of great proportions for the minds of both men and woman alike. This tears at the fabric of our society – which rests upon the interdependence of men, woman, families, communities and our global culture being nurturous. If we are torn from each other we have no strength to stand with each other.

    Woman are now also responsible of role playing these fantasies or replicating this culture along with men – positive feed back loop!! danger, danger – problems!! Now the confused male is like hang on but your acting like this – and I’m supposed to be like what? – and ummm hang on what are we doing – u want what, i need what, i don’t know…. Im not sure… but I saw it in a movie.

    And you know sometimes its hard not to feel like the nice nurturous guy does really finish last. Because as a sensitive guy – it totally blows my mind how many intelligent woman go for the ultra masculine tough guy shit. Yeah I’m jealous for sure.. but then its like welllllll… what should I be doing here, lament…. ultra masculine does pay off – right? problem.

    I think the big problem I have with the term Rape Culture is that more men I believe are interested in Nurturance than rape. Unfortunately the greenies and hippies in the 70’s were so far to the left in their narrative that it created a stigma – likewise with many feminists. There is such a swathe of behaviour, social interaction, and thinking that men do – that is not adequately touched upon with the word rape. That can be discussed without ostracizing them from the discussion.

    Still problems for sure – not letting men off the hook here at all – men need to get it together – like we all need to get it together.

    I mean in the ecology of change perhaps it doesn’t really matter what its called or how the discussion unfolds – its creating waves right – and its making headlines and unpalatable memes – AND most importantly its prompting discussion on nurturance.

    So in the scheme of things we are on the right track 🙂

    Nice one Voices in the Wilderness – Nurturance – Dig 🙂

    Scattered banter I know,

    Nurturous regards,
    evolving male, 33, patriarchally damaged, redefining masculinity.


  51. Interesting, the conclusions in this are quite different from what I’ve felt helped me through my troubles with having some sort of insecure attachment style – I seemed to connect with various bits and pieces of the non-secure attachment styles in the article.

    I’m not so sure the men with men approach is the solution though – maybe in some aspects it could be. I think a big part of the problem is disconnect between women and men.

    What I think would strengthen empathy in men who have trouble with it in regards to women would be safe spaces where men can interact and connect with women in an open and honest environment.

    Maybe I see it that way because that is what I sought out after having experienced a lot of deception and avoidance in my early dating life, and I was at a loss as to why I struggled so much at connecting with women, especially when my primary focus was on trying to foster a relationship. I also grew up without much in the way of female friendship, which certainly didn’t help.

    The way I see it, men and women need ways to improve their communication with each other in order to help overcome many gender-related issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, it is not intended to say men should talk to men *instead* of women. just that the nurturance skills men are largely learning either alone or with women and other-gendered folks shouls *also* get taught between men, in a way that is accountable to everyone else.


      1. The focus of the writing does seem to be on men talking with men. I think men talking with men about understanding women is a big part of the problem of gender-related issues. It’s like when Christians talk with Christians about understanding atheists. If you truly want better understanding between different groups, the focus should be on improving connections between those groups.


  52. Thank you! Great article. I think the root of a lot of turmoil is the fact that nurturance is a “feminine” trait. Feminine traits are generally deemed less valid, and shameful for men to have… I have a very secure relationship with my boyfriend, but I’m insecure in relationships with friends and some family.


  53. Love the article and I think the framework/model on different kinds of needs and the expression of it is a great start. I think this idea is very important. What seems to be happening is a lot of blaming and shaming on (cis white) men. But men are not given a way out, a way to resolution, without having to completely discard their feelings. A logical response to a cat in a corner is to hiss and scratch their way out. But you have given men a guide to help make things better. Thanks!

    I do struggle with the dogmatic tone. ‘Violence as backwards nurture’ and ‘hardwired needs for intimacy in all mammals’ doesn’t sound valid to me, but is presented as fact. I get that this is an exploration for you too though. Keep going <3.


    1. those parts – ‘hardwired in all mammals’ are research based and straight out of the neuroscience literature. if they feel dogmatic that might be something going on in you not in the article… thanks for reading 🙂


  54. Thank you for this article!!!

    I broke up with a partner a couple of months ago. Based on the quiz, I’m convinced that he’s an avoidant attachment style whereas I tested at a secure attachment style. The article states that this type of relationship can work well; the secure partner helps the avoidant partner overcome their relationship patterns to learn healthy ones. Based on my past relationship, I know this to not necessarily be true – my relationship was extremely unhealthy for me. I was more and more anxious within my relationship because I was spending so much time trying to help my partner learn new patterns whereas my needs were rarely being met. It was a vicious cycle of him threatening our relationship or dismissing me or making me jealous to fulfill his needs. When I finally ended our relationship he was taken by surprise – he had finally become secure within our relationship, whereas I was completely drained from it.

    I’m recounting this story firstly because I wish I had known about the different styles of attachment – I know I would have been able to handle things within it differently or perhaps I would have determined to leave it sooner and secondly, because I think it would be important to note within your article that simply because you have a secure attachment style, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily try or are capable of teaching someone with other styles of attachment how to form new relationship patterns and that it can even be detrimental to your own [mental] health.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Hi, I think there are organizations out there where men are teaching men these skills. The Mankind Project leads volunteer ran workshops and free weekly integration groups, is worldwide, and been around for 30+ years. I’ve heard from my boss, male coworkers, brother, and partner that’s it’s greatly supported their growth and development, especially in areas of being authentic, vulnerable, and working with shame and connection. I’m female, so not associated with the organization as all, yet wanted to share that there are institutions working on this.


  56. My Husband was brought up by his father. He has little idea of traditional gender roles. I grew up in a very traditional household but thought i was a true feminist until I experienced life with him. The day i asked him to help me with my car was the day he brought me a set of brake pads!
    When I tell him he is a true feminist he laughs and says no, he likes being a gentleman. “I like opening doors for you” he says.
    Since meeting him,after a violent marriage, him I have gone back to school, obtained three degrees, and started a political career….I’d say he opened a lot of doors for me.
    I wonder if his father having to be a nurturer made the difference?


  57. You might be interested in this thing I saw:

    “Members of the World Vision supported Men Care Group learn about how gender inequality impacts relationships and about gender-based violence. They are encouraged to take an active part alongside their wives, mothers and sisters in caring for the home. The group progressively supports its members to become empathetic and caregiving.”

    The link:

    I first saw it over at Freethoughtblogs:


  58. nurturance culture to men? F you! How about nurturance culture to humans??!!! I was bullied by my ex in our relationship and everytime I would stand up against her to stop her in her mad raids on me, she would come up with crazy stuff and say that I’m beating her and invent other untrue stuff like that..But the real danger was the society. Because she was a small blonde girl and I’m a casual looking guy (and being a guy you know what I’m talking about=everyone is against you when you’re a man-everyone is making this to be a black and white issue..”men are like this and women are like that” grey areas or swapped roles..everyone seems to be clear about the “fact” that men are the aggressors and women are the one taking the burden of a oppressed=that’s laughable sesspecially because that we live in the times of the rise of violent brute and abusive women) – people would rather believe her then me! And she knew this and exploited this in her mind games against me every time to keep me obeying her orders!!! This world is messed up..your idiotic way of labelling people by sex,skin and age is irrelevant in this DNA – wake up and correct your statements!! You are making it worse for people like me!!!


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