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Blokes, booze and banter

Behind the mask ..what's going on for men?

I have sons.

I have brought them up to talk about emotions.

They don’t.

I have brought them up knowing it is OK to cry.

They don’t.

Or rarely do.

Social conditioning is so powerful, who was I to think I would change the face of masculinity and how much was I doomed to pit my feminist aspirations against evolution and biology?

I do know that suicide rate amongst young men are higher than any other sector of the population.  This worries me.  So maybe this is why I wanted to talk to Pete.  Pete was one of the lads, a year older than me in school, who I kind of was in awe of.  He as the captain of the football team, he was cool, fit and had kudos for all of that.  He seemed to be the epitome of cool when his best mate went out with my mate and I faded into the background of fifteen year old spots and insecurity.

So when I saw on his Linkedin profile that he was not only some kind of finanical whizz, but also a wedding celebrant, I couldn’t quite connect the two images.

So we talked and it was a turbulent tale of booze, football, banter, bullying, birds.  Then as well, along side all this, vulnerability, hard work, an autistic son, divorce, remarriage and a new life in a new world.  Pete’s been a ref, a fire-fighter, he’s worked in the City and is now he’s training to be a celebrant and a counsellor.

We are both in our fifties and I wonder whether my boys will face so much of the masculinity policing that Pete had done to him and internalised himself.  My PhD investigated hegenomic masculinity and the way it shapes not only boys and men, but the women who relate to them.

Increasingly I am seeing footnotes on emails where people are stating the pronouns they use to identify themselves.  I have a couple of people on my email contacts who self-identify as ‘they/ them’ rather than ‘he/she, him/her’.  I wonder how this will impact upon how young people construct their identities now.

Join us in conversation here in my podcast about masculinity and sensitivity, alcohol, climate change and what leaving a legacy means. (Ps…there are adult language and themes used in this conversation!).

Pete’s celebrancy work is here:

His wife’s book based on his son: and her website (where she shares the story of how Pete was shut out of Australia during the first lockdown:

If you want to know more about me, my writing, coaching and training go to

(Image: Pete in the middle with his son on the left, in Australia, after everyone said he would never get on a plane)

Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni

Coach, author, podcaster, facilitator, Yoga and psychology teacher, learner

I have over 30 years of experience and qualification in various therapeutic and meditation/mindfulness based approaches. I work with change. Some changes we chose, others happen to us.  Sometimes we know we want to change but don't know how. Sometimes we don't want to change but external events or people are forcing us to change. The menopause, children leaving home, the end of a relationship or job, becoming a parent, coming out, bereavement are just some of the personal changes I support people with. I also work with people who want to make changes to their life and wider world in response to social issues such as Covid, the climate crisis and racial, sexual and gender inequalities. Times are changing whether we want them to or not and we need to be nimble, agile, curious and open in order to part of the new story emerging. Work with me to get clear on what matters to you, what makes your heart sing and what kind of future you want for yourself and those you love. It is possible to live differently, get in touch to explore how.

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