In the early 90s, there was a best-selling book called “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”. The premise was that the two sexes inhabited different planets – a tougher, more aggressive male planet and a softer female one.
In the last week in Glen Innes, men and women have, in effect, been exploring the idea – in separate meetings.
The Men@Glen gathering in the Showground was a meeting of 350 Christian men who came from as far afield as the Gold Coast and down to Sydney.
Faith was their primary motive – praising God with much robust singing.
But it was also about men talking to men about secular issues, according to the forum’s organiser, Scott Wright.
He said that the definition of what makes a man had changed: “If you spoke to my dad, a man’s role was clearly defined, but over time, in our attempt to become a more understanding society, a lot of blokes have become confused”.
So these Christian men talked about their faith but also about difficult worldly matters – pornography has arisen in previous gatherings. They talked about how good Christians might make their way in a shifting social environment.
For Scott Wright, the concerns of feminists in the more fashionable cities seemed like “First World issues” and not so close to farmers who might be working very hard to make a living.
The second meeting was the gathering (virtually exclusively female – there were a handful of men there, no more) in the library on International Women’s Day, the day before the gathering of men a mile away.
There were two very good speakers – Winsome Herde, an engineer with the council, and Navanka Fletcher, a manager with the council – achievers in traditional male areas.
If you spoke to my dad, a man’s role was clearly defined, but over time, in our attempt to become a more understanding society, a lot of blokes have become confused.Scott Wright.
But there were also women there who testified very quietly afterwards about how they had asserted their independence from men who had oppressed them – and their quiet words were perhaps the most powerful.