This..... 'I believe those voices need to be amplified, but I also believe they can’t be the only voices. Those of us from privileged majority groups must be vocal against hate and bigotry as well. So I’ll continue to speak, whatever the risk.' The criteria for full Medal of Honour, IMO. And Byron and his actions and words inspire me to not back down on social media when this shit needs to be challenged and called out. It is hard to be targeted and attacked for it, but staying silent to me is tacit quiet agreement. An utterly rejectable option. The more of us there are, the more we drown them out. Let's not stop, just because it is easier to. Go Byron!! Go David!! Thank you.

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Jesus. Very very scary. I fear for Byron but I'm so glad he keeps going. The world needs more people with his kind of courage

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I've long been struck by the overwhelming maleness in the far right and the neo-nazi and skinhead subcultures before them. Scared little boys ARE hurting people and it's not OK. I'm really struggling to succinctly and sensitively word this without seeming like I'm excusing this or reframing perpetrators as victims so you'll have to bear with me.

I can't help but think that we ARE seriously failing our boys and young men. Even 10 years ago that really explicit racism was largely confined to those who were seriously alienated, trauma, family disfunction and issues of poverty, in my experience it was usually all of the above. Again not excusing the appalling behaviour they go on to exhibit. It seems so much more mainstream now, even edgy or cool amongst some. And it's certainly becoming a well worn path to manhood that is appealing to a lot of boys.

I suspect that behind some of the rise of these communities is the deep need (that all humans have) for community and a sense of belonging. There is certainly a lack of such spaces for men in general and ways to express positive masculinity. Coupled with our societal messaging around appropriate maleness and derision of a lot of communication and connection as feminine and a huge general disconnect from each other as humans in the modern world I can see why these boys provide such a fertile recruitment.

Frankly, I agree with Byron that those who aren't from affected communities need to speak up too, but I'd go even further and implore men to provide leadership on this issue and in general where our boys and young men are concerned. And not in the old "harden up/pull yourself up by the bootstraps fashion". Join or make the spaces that provide community in positive ways to young men as they transition through this age. If you don't these are the people waiting with open arms.

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Firstly, I'd just like to express my deep respect for the work Byron is doing despite the risks.

It does make you wonder why misogyny, racism, and homophobia so often ride together.

As a psychotherapist, I view this as rooted in what researchers call 'precarious masculinity'. This is the cultural idea (or shared myth) that unlike womanhood, masculinity must be earned. And it's easily lost so it requires continual proof and social validation via masculine displays.

Having had the privilege of participating in men's groups for a long time, one of the things I came to realise was that many men grow up feeling inadequate as men - just like I did. Men tend to hide this since vulnerability and anxiety are themselves viewed as unmanly. So it's all masked with silence or false bravado. Paradoxically, this leaves most men feeling like it's just them who struggle with this while all other men seem to be fine when actually it's a common wound that many men share.

Ash is right that this is often rooted in a sense of being fatherless since many men grow up feeling emotionally disconnected from their fathers. That can be because they've left and are not physically present, or because they are emotionally unavailable. Their fathers don't talk about their emotional world with their children or show much affection, physical or otherwise. Often it's because those fathers feel inadequate themselves so it's an inter generational wound passed from father to son. And it's been this way for a long time in Western society. although I do agree that the particular expressions it's taking now are uglier.

I'd also like to acknowledge that fatherlessness has profound effects on daughters too, but that's an important topic for another time.

So men with a precarious and fading sense of masculinity need to keep making these masculine displays. That can be via arguably benign things like working out at the gym or partaking in traditionally masculine activities - rugby, racing, and beer or hunting and fishing.

But it can also be darker and show as repeated acts of aggression intended to push others down to shore up their hidden inner shame. Such men have a tendency to make sexist, racist and homophobic jokes. They may also engage in intimate partner violence., battering their partners and children verbally and physically.

Shame-filled men are also attracted to hate speech in which they transform their shame into rage and repeatedly verbally attack other vulnerable groups - such as women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community - to make themselves 'bigger'. Hence you see incels become anti-feminists and neo-nazis full of hate for all difference.

Disaffected young men struggling with feelings of inadequacy are vulnerable to this kind of rhetoric and are getting targeted and radicalized online. They are dawn into these virtual hate communities which often have some pretty dark figures like Marcus Follin, Stephan Molyneux, at their centre exploiting these young men for power and status. And as we all know, hateful speech can eventually turn into hateful acts with tragic consequences like the Christchurch shooter, Dylan Roof, Elliot Rodgers, and others.

We can make a difference and try to reach these lost young men before they follow this siren song of toxic grievance which can become self-fulfilling and addictive. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/12/trump-grievance-addiction-444570

As Ash notes, many young men grow up in a vacuum as to what being a good man looks like and feels like. They gets lots of don'ts but not many do's. Some don't are unhelpful like 'boys don't cry', some are well intentioned but insufficient like 'don't be creepy' or 'don't be sexist'.

How do we make a different to change this?

Fathers, uncles, brothers: show up emotionally in boy's lives and show them it's good for men to be vulnerable and tender too.

Mothers, aunties, sisters: tell the boys you know about the men in your life who you love and admire and especially what traits they have that engender that in you.

Again, Byron, ka pai for your mahi, brother. That is what positive caring masculinity looks like!

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Jan 8, 2021Liked by David Farrier

What a wonderful, insightful writeup. Thanks for sharing this.

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Dec 15, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Hi Paul, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I found this really helpful.

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Dec 13, 2020Liked by David Farrier

All of this is beyond mind-boggling, but I just have to point out the incredibly bizarre idea of the gym as a sacred space, wherein you are suddenly exempt from previous criticisms. What???

This reminds me of the guy in New Jersey who owns a gym and is insistent on defying COVID-19 orders, despite the over $1.2 million in fines accrued at this point. He recently posted footage from his gym (complete with him licking his fingers), full to the brim with white gym rats, all maskless and proud, in front of an American flag.

The ties with white masculinity/fragility and gyms as sacred spaces for the white cishet man is something I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my brain around. That’s probably for the best.

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Dec 18, 2020Liked by David Farrier

I'm not going to lie, the last paragraph made me tear up. It's exactly why those of us with societal privilege need to keep fighting and being outspoken for those that can't.

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Dec 16, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Busy week, really late reading this one but so glad I did. Very inspiring to see Byron's courage and his determination to continue as he knows the targets have it so much harder and no way out. I just wanted to add, that fat shaming is a sure mark of bullies and cowards and they invalidate their opinion the minute it comes out of their mouths. Don't carry that shit Byron. Thanks for sharing this David, terrifying but hopeful. It gives me strength to stand up against these pricks.

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Dec 14, 2020Liked by David Farrier

Wow. No wonder they are all so angry! Poor frustrated bastards! Now following Byron as well. Brave man. Thanks to you both.

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Byron wades into some true cesspits - thanks, Linda.

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