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Slow Love: Is modern masculinity in crisis?

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The Slow Love podcast series is examining modern masculinities, intimacy and mental health this month, and talking to a series of Australian actors, comedians and authors.

They’re asking questions like, what does ‘being a man’ mean in 2020? What impact do toxic masculinities have on mental health? And how does it all affect the way that men are intimate with others, particularly during a pandemic?

Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and author of 12 Rules About Life, became a short-term lifestyle guru for men and boys who felt displaced by a world where white male privilege is under attack.

But surely there are more nuanced voices out there to fill what many media and academics are calling a masculinity discussion void?

Slow Love, a podcast series about modern intimacies, is devoting a month of episodes to cis and trans male voices, and are looking to reconfigure the conversation around contemporary masculinity and dig deep into what it means to be a man in 2020.

Acclaimed Australian actor, Damian Walshe-Howling’s (2067, Janet King, Underbelly) podcast was released earlier on this week. Walshe-Howling talks about his own vulnerabilities growing up in a world where he didn’t identify as the stereotypical hyper-masculine ‘bloke.’

Slow Love podcast guest Damian Walshe-Howling.

He tackles the anxiety of his twenties, which debilitated him despite his rising acting career, as well as personal battles with finding intimacy.

“There were times in my life where I felt really despondent because I didn’t have a relationship… I was coveting it so much, desiring it so much … then one day it came to me, live the life that you’re having, not the one that you want.”

Slow Love host, Lisa Portolan (PhD researcher and author) explains that she “really wanted to provide space for a discussion on contemporary masculinities because my research indicates that the narrative around the ‘Aussie Bloke’ remains so prevalent.”

“Many of the men I’ve interviewed indicate they want to present themselves as the ‘Aussie Bloke’ in the dating app domain. That can be so limiting and othering—the only way we can allow for more nuanced expressions of masculinity is by talking about them openly.”

Walshe-Howling discusses how tough it has been during COVID-19 and lockdown. However, he indicates that he has gathered a better understanding of himself, and found plenty of solace in nature during 2020.

“I have been on my own, in terms of not being in an intimate relationship or dating during this time…in some ways that’s been really powerful…it’s like the intimacy that I’ve discovered with nature and with myself, in terms of just being in that solitude space and sitting quietly or walking in the bush….and the intimacy of being in the ocean. I can’t even begin to explain how that fills people up.”

Slow Love podcast guest Martin Heppel.

In coming episodes, Slow Love will be talking to Martin Heppell, former AFL player, and current partner and facilitator of The Resilience Project.

The Resilience Project shares the themes of kindness, empathy, gratitude and connection with school students, corporates, sports teams and beyond.

In his episode, Heppell discusses masculinity, shame and the battle with authenticity and identity, presenting a series of tips on how men can access a greater level of vulnerability.

Thomas Mayor, Indigenous man and Uluru Statement Advocate will also share his journey, and finally, Rob Tolan and Marek Matejcek—a freshly married couple—will discuss their five-year relationship, how they found love, and most importantly, how they kept it.

Slow Love podcast guest Thomas Mayor.

“This is a really important discussion for us to be having at the end of such a tough year. We seek to celebrate and share stories of diverse and contemporary masculinities,” said co-creator and Director Ruth Borgobello.

Slow Love podcast guests Rob and Marek.

Slow Love is a podcast series produced in conjunction with Contento in Melbourne, you can listen to the ‘contemporary masculinities’ series via: slowlove.net and on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify under ‘Slow Love’.

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