A Feminist Introspection On Masculinity with Oni Blecher (EP#93)

November 11, 2020 63 mins read

Oni-blecher-podcast

In this second episode of our Brovember Series Mason sits down with Renaissance Woman, Oni Blecher, for a heart centred, honest conversation around Masculinity, Feminism, and Men’s Mental Health through the lens of her ethnographic studies in the field of Masculinities.

With a background deeply embedded in Women's work, Midwifery, and Craniosacral Therapy, Blecher’s transformational journey of understanding and questioning her perspectives on Masculinity is one of empowerment for Men and Women alike.

Mason and Oni delve into:

  • Equality for all human beings regardless of Sexual Identity and Gender.
  • Lack of accessibility to health and how this is affecting the landscape of Men's Mental Health, particularly in isolated communities.
  • How Men's Mental Health is essentially the Family's Mental Health.
  • Feminism and what this loaded word means to each woman individually. 
  • Breaking down Gender Ideologies.
  • The grave statistics of Male Mental Health and domestic violence in Australia; Are we adequately addressing the root causes of this problem?
  • Male Stereotypes and how these stereotypes are being perpetuated by a lack of opportunity and space for discussion groups amongst men.
  • The importance of more women advocating for Men’s Mental Health and more Men advocating for Women's issues in order to create a healthy society for all.
  • Unifying together as a society to create a force of good, progression, and evolution for all. 

 

Who is Oni Blecher?

Oni has a diversity of roles and experience within the physiological, media/journalism, creative arts, and academic realms. Oni studied a bachelor of midwifery and has assisted many women in the antenatal, birth and postnatal periods. She is on the development team as Vice President and a Podcast host for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond Media; a media channel focused on maternity health advocacy; to Inform and Inspire people to re-think intergenerational wisdom through child birth and family education.  In the past, she has facilitated regular village postnatal support groups and other education in all-women’s spaces. 

Oni works practicing visionary craniosacral work, Arvigo Techniques of Maya abdominal Therapy, myofascial release and urogenital osteopathy. She also runs The Temple of Words; a monthly poetry gathering in Byron Bay and Sydney.

Recently completing her masters degree with a research focus of Australian masculinities and male mental health within a Creative Industries perspective, Oni is even more invested in the vision of uniting the healthy feminine and the healthy masculine through shifting social perspective. 

Resources:

Oni's Email
Oni's Instagram
Temple Of Words Instagram
Pregnancy, Birthing and Beyond Website

 

 

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Check Out The Transcript Here:

 

Mason: (00:00)

Hi everybody, and welcome Oni.

 

Oni Bletcher: (00:02)

Hi, thanks for having me.

 

Mason: (00:04)

Really great, I like the way this all fell together. Everyone, Oni's going to be facilitating our wedding as well. I guess there's a connection there, but I digress. The fact that you just thought of me to send out an email, talking about your post-grad study, your studying in your masters. I'll let you go on with it. And then you mentioned the fact that it's men's health and mental health and his transformational journey you've gone in your relation to that. And you were sharing it with a local business and you were able to invite a few people. You sent me the email, I thought, can't come. But that's what I've been craving for Brovember, is getting a woman's perspective. Because it's kind of coming to a point, either men kicking back against the woman's movement, feeling, some feeeling recently suppressed by it, some empowered by it, some throwing their support behind it, some losing their masculinity in it, some finding their masculinity in it. There's just this cocktail. But I'd just like to hear why you chose this topic and what exactly have you written?

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:19)

Hmm, Mason, I'm so happy to be here because I spent two years in the post-grad little wormhole, which is semi isolating because you're only really speaking to your mentors and other people studying. And you feel like potentially the academic realm is a little bit unrelatable to life. But in my case, I was kind of doing an ethnographic study, which means that I'm entering the field of masculinities or through my interactions with my interviewees, really trying to immerse myself in the world of men or understanding what it is to be a man.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:52)

And what took me to that study was when I was in my, I think, early to mid twenties, I started noticing my prejudices towards men. And I was curious about that because I come from a family of three sisters. I went to an all girls school. I had my father as my main male role model. And he's a great man, but I didn't have a lot of men that were integrated into my life. And I didn't have this understanding of what it was like to be a man by the empathy or more close relationships with men.

 

Mason: (02:24)

What were your prejudices?

 

Oni Bletcher: (02:25)

Well, this is interesting because I also studied midwifery and have always been interested in women's work. And I still do a lot of women's work, but I noticed that when I was going to connect with a man, or in contact with men, and I didn't know whether this was focused like media focus or, it's obviously a lot of social construction, but there were three main things I figured out. It was like fear, I was afraid of men, I was angry at men, or I wanted to have sex with them, I was sexually objectifying men. And I started wondering, the feminist movement, are, were, will be so angry at being put into a gendered box. And I started checking my own feminism because I did, and to some respect, I still do, call myself a feminist in the respect of equality for all human beings, regardless of their sexual identity and gender. But I just wanted to be careful with what I meant when I said feminism and that I understood it myself because we live in a really changing and evolving social and global society. So yeah, I started thinking about that and then I was like, "Oh, well, how do I figure out what it is like to be a man?" Sure, I'm limited by the men I'm around in this country at the moment. But I started a photo essay called Men at Peace and I was taking medium format portraits of men during meditation. So I would ask them if they would be happy for me to interview them as well, and we'd sit together and we'd go into that calm spot together. And then when I felt the drop of the meditation, I would take a few photos of their face in peace and also their hands, very relaxed, because I noticed that in our media landscape, there wasn't a lot of men's faces, peaceful men's faces. And I thought, how does that affect us in seeing men generally? So I wanted to see them myself. So I made that happen.

 

Oni Bletcher: (04:17)

And then I'd ask them three simple questions. How do you find peace? How did you come to that peace seeking practise? And what does it mean for you to be a man? And like, boom. And it was just really interesting, the broad spectrum of answers I got. One guy would be like, what does it mean to be man? I've got a dick, and I'm like, "Okay, sure. That's great." And then another man who was a psychology professor, took me through the history of man, from how we've evolved as men or as human. And that was his context of his manhood. And so my mind was just opening. And I felt in this embodied, present connection with these men that I was photographing, interviewing. I felt my own layers of judgement and social construction breakdown. And I was able to look at how my gender also influenced their behaviours.

 

Oni Bletcher: (05:07)

And I'm a perpetual learner. And I would've kept going with this, but I did see that there was a master's programme opening up at SAE. And I know that they're so creative focused and I've always wanted to do a master's, but I didn't want to get stuck in the dusty book labyrinth of just like, I don't know, reproducing other people's ideas, I wanted to create and collaborate. And so I went into their Masters of Creative Industries with this photo essay. And then from there, it's a module and project based masters. But from there, I went deeper into the research and with the framework of male mental health and Australian masculinities, because that is where I live. And I wanted to understand how perceptions of masculinity affected our male demographic, but also looking at our statistics of suicide and domestic violence.

 

Mason: (06:04)

There's a lot there. The fact that you had that lens and an anger or frustration towards men, or a fear of men, or a sexual attraction towards men, it's probably, because objectification is something that men do to women. And it's something I can definitely relate to. You know I grew up, my parents divorced when I was two. So I had a mother, a strong mother, who it was like me and her against the world. And she was a great mom and there was never too much to report, but psychologically, I can see there was an enmeshment there. And so I feel I've got somewhat of an enmeshment of an understanding of how that, what we'd call a third wave feminist, how they would see the world and form somewhat, not completely, but somewhat of their identity through kicking back against something that's in their environment, rather than forming, connecting with something that's a little bit more truer, more real internally.

 

Mason: (07:17)

And I talk about that, there's many ways that men do it, there's many ways people do it. It's an ideology. We talk about ideology a lot here on the podcast and it's a very harrowing thing, I can imagine if you're a feminist and I've had many conversations with Tani where she's bumped up against her feminism. Yeah. Realising, what's my ideological feminism, and what's my connection to that without that being an ideology or something that other people are going to judge me, if I act one way or another. So there's many brave women breaking out of that cult of feminism right now. And I feel like there's, as you said, true feminism emerging, one of the key things you said there. One of the things I see, men coming to peace with women who are feminists is when there's an equality of opportunity, but we're not projecting an equality of outcome onto people and trying to stuff men or women into what kind of outcome you need to be creating in society in order to fit this ideological agenda.

 

Mason: (08:20)

And there seems to be a lot of peace when everyone gets out of everyone else's way, lets everyone have access to what we all should have equal access to, that their not projecting where that person or that penis-having body or that vulva-having body or anything and everything in between where they need to end up, and there's a peace. But thats um a huge journey for a lot of women, I can imagine, to crack out of that. And likewise, men, crack out of that ideology. Was there a catharsis for you? Was it just, did it take all the years of you going through this process, were there years of you unshedding that? Did you have to go to therapy? How did you find yourself more in that process?

 

Oni Bletcher: (09:03)

Yeah, it's really interesting question because don't get me wrong, I still get angry at certain inequalities and I'm still evolving my own meaning of feminism. But I don't want to blindly associate myself with a term that people might represent in a way that doesn't actually advocate for equality. So I'm quite careful about how I articulate it. And the only way to articulate it is to, like you said, spend years being introspective. And I think that's a journey for every human being to understand how they're constructed.

 

Oni Bletcher: (09:35)

So on a personal level, I can't really think of main points of catharsis except that I have in my studies, because I've studied midwifery and I still do a lot of women's work. And so I am advocating for the journey of women, and that place of women's empowerment, and that women can be heard. But at the same time, I do believe that we are all being oppressed under the same system that you know, yes it was created by some men and there are men associated with that oppressive system, but it's all human beings under that system that are suffering and being oppressed, but in different ways. And so it's easy to cling on to one way and go, well, that's not fair, and not see the other ways that people are being oppressed. And I just wanted to see all the ways, I just wanted to understand everything.

 

Oni Bletcher: (10:26)

And so I really did want to sit with men, but there were a couple of points along my studies where other things would happen where I would get angry, because I'm like, well, there were certain things that would happen, like I would experience that prejudice against my gender and I'd be like, "Well, what the fuck am I doing? I should just be advocating for women." And then I'd have to check where that's coming from, and understanding and using that anger to really then again, go back to the union factor. Because I feel like in our world, there is no other way but to unify together to create a force of good and of progression and evolution.

 

Oni Bletcher: (11:13)

But I think the catharsis was more points of anger where I would feel again, my own gender as a woman being threatened or I guess, I would feel that prejudice against my own gender and question, what am I doing? But then to keep going and persevering and finding the gems again, I guess that was the catharsis, the journey.

 

Oni Bletcher: (11:38)

And another thing that I really enjoyed about it was that it was a semi-private thing. In our world, everyone's publishing and showing what they're doing every step of the way, which I think sometimes it's really important. But I didn't want to produce half baked ideas or half baked processes of myself. So I'd tell friends what I was doing and I have all these photographs that I've never shown anyone. But to me, it was really sacred that I kept that space between me and the men that I was interviewing sacred. And obviously they were happy for me to share their interviews in my academic forum. But yeah, to have that as my own thing, felt like the catharsis in itself.

 

Oni Bletcher: (12:21)

And I did have an amazing uni mentor. I'm not sure if I can say her name, but she was my mentor and she is such a amazing staunch feminist queer theorist. And to have her backing me in studies of masculinities was really important, because I trusted that she would kind of tweak my ideologies. She's the most genius woman ever, creative person. And because she is so fiercely feminist and a beautiful queer woman, understanding the nuances of queerness in our society, it was almost like we could talk about masculinities by framing it as like a, yeah... By putting queer into masculinities was really interesting too, because yeah, I don't know, it's hard not to get too geeky when I talk about it.

 

Mason: (13:12)

Go geeky, I think everyone loves it, and they'll tune out if they need to be, and their subconscious will kick in again. But no, go full geeky. We don't love just sitting on the official narrative, yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (13:24)

Well, talking about minorities, no one would say that white men are a minority. That's not what anyone would say

 

Mason: (13:34)

Depends on where you are in the world.

 

Oni Bletcher: (13:35)

Exactly. But I have a chapter in my thesis called, I guess, I don't know what it's called, masculinity is a psychological minority, because I wanted to understand how we can have these grave statistics of male mental health in this country and domestic mental and domestic violence, and then still not look at that like a crisis. So it was almost like, as a psychological minority, how are we not adequately addressing the root causes of these really damaging, damaging to men and women, boys and girls, all of society, how are we not going to that root cause now? And by not going there, how are we fucking up the world more?

 

Oni Bletcher: (14:14)

So yeah, I found that that lens really interesting too. It's so easy to be like, oh, white men kind of thing. And I do it, my friends do it, it's a thing you can do because in general, that demographic is quite protected generally speaking, politically, financially. So it's risky for me to be like, oh. But there is a psychological dismissal happening, and I really wanted to understand that, and speaking to men was really helpful to try and understand. Because then there's a whole other aspect, it's like genetically speaking, how we've evolved hormonally. And this is why I love your work because you speak about our bodies in a really interesting way.

 

Oni Bletcher: (14:56)

And I also, coming from a physiological base background, I do craniosacral work and other anatomically focused body therapies. I do know that we do have different hormonal systems and they affect our behaviours. And so maybe men shouldn't talk like women talk and gather like women gather, but there's got to be a way, and I wanted to understand that. And part of the masters, there was a creative outcome. So I created a digital forum where men could discuss or take discussion prompts home to a group of their friends, and however they wanted to eventuate that, it didn't have to be sitting in a room.

 

Oni Bletcher: (15:31)

But I just thought, there's a lot of, like you said, there's a lot of movements popping up everywhere of men getting together and having all-male spaces, which I think is so important to process what their masculinity means to them. But I know that for all of those men doing that, there are hundreds and thousands of men that would recoil at that idea of getting together and screaming in a bush or getting together and doing something, they still wouldn't feel comfortable there. And I thought, well, accessibility in health is really important. So how can we provide digital landscapes for more isolated men, whether that's mentally, or actually physically isolated, to access this discussion because yeah, a lot of men were interested in what other men had to say. And I thought, yeah, more context is a beautiful thing.

 

Mason: (16:20)

And with a wide variety of men that you're interviewing from all different walks of life, it's not projecting the Mullumbimby way onto everyone having a diversity of outlets. Because going in and screaming in a bush, there's been times in my life when I've been like, especially in my twenties, I'm like, yeah, I just wanted to go and do, I wanted to get really primal and to connect with the [inaudible 00:16:42]. And sharing and having that connection, and that was very rewarding for me.

 

Mason: (16:45)

And then there's been times when I've looked around at that and going, it doesn't need to be so cathartic, once again. It doesn't need to be this big, very obvious counter-culture, spiritual gathering of men. It can be something that if anyone in our modern culture looked upon what I was doing, it isn't too out of the box. I'm not sticking my head out too far, but it is nonetheless a subtle outlet, a la, for a lot of guys, generally not one that progresses to them being very healthy with the help. But however, that the outlet of guys going to the pub and having a conversation with each other, and then just going that little extra step, where to take away the booze, take away something buffering the uncomfortable feeling as you share, and being able to surrender a little bit by little bit every day into that uncomfortable feeling. So then, keep the emotions going, and ensure that you're venting, like an airing, all that mental energy that's coming up.

 

Mason: (17:48)

And your own anger, you brought up the anger that you had towards men. And that brought up a lot for me. As I said, I go both ways. Growing up and being on mum's side versus dad-

 

Mason: (18:03)

Growing up and kind of being on mom's side, verse dad. Dad, great guy, but guys can get to that point where psychologically, it's a little bit of an aggression that will come forth if things aren't processed. And so, I was kind of a little bit being taught, don't let that aggression... Don't become that. So all of a sudden that became kind of a bad thing. And I saw that what that was doing to my mom. So part of me was angry at my dad, therefore men, therefore myself, because I do have this potency inside of me, that will become aggression, if it's not worked on. However, the dismissal of it, and then just the not becoming of it, doesn't allow me to embrace what's there, so that I can embrace... Because it's not just anger. There's an entire element of myself, that if I don't embrace that part of myself, then I'm never going to bring my anger or that resentment or that aggression into a place, where it's not a tool to be used to my benefit, but it's under my control.

 

Mason: (19:05)

I can be... Essentially, men can be very dangerous. And to be able to embrace that part of myself and know that it's there and just then wield it in a way that's going to bring just love and beauty and growth and development to myself and my family, that's huge. But then, on the other side of things, I had this resentment towards my mother and women in general, because what made me angry was, in my perception, their nitpicking. And they're going after the character of my father and then therefore, going after the true character of myself. And I'm sitting there going, in my mindset, and this can be boiled down to what people say, "Yeah, that's toxic masculinity." But nonetheless, I think took two to tango.

 

Mason: (19:53)

And I've had to deal with kind of hating a part of myself and then doing the same and kicking back against women for telling me... For manipulating the way I was thinking. And I just wasn't sharp enough. I just wasn't sharp enough. And in relationships, I haven't been sharp enough to be able to retort to the judgement of the way that I was being. I didn't have a emotional vocabulary to explain where something was coming from. And so eventually, especially in this day and age, because you can't... I didn't feel like I had the ability to kick back too much, in the current climate. Not aggressively, just to kick back and really, really disagree. And so, in the judgement of the way that I was being. Not that I was being, the responsibility's on me. But, I felt manipulated.

 

Mason: (20:47)

So women are angry at men. Men are angry at women. I didn't like, and I kind of, I think a woman's been neurotic and then I'm an asshole. And because I think that, I didn't have the way, the vocabulary to talk. And so, all of a sudden, is you would talk... It brings me back to you saying, you felt this disappointment and this anger of men, then you realised, "How is this going to be useful?" There's an appropriate place, I think, for aggression and all of that. To be really angry against things that are utterly and devastatingly oppressive. We get angry and you go after it. But then, going forward, how is that going to bring us into any kind of unity? How is that going to be a beautiful thing in relationships? That's the thing I've seen.

 

Mason: (21:33)

And Tahnee been an amazing, she's been able to call herself out on it. And likewise, if I carry this perception of men or women, it's going to put them for me, women who are men... It's going to put a glass ceiling on just how much love and growth we're going to be able to have. We can still have the same conversations and express the resentment we're feeling or the fear we're feeling or whatever it is. But you're talking about this skill, which is ultimately whatI asked about, sorry for ranting everybody. But-

 

Oni Bletcher: (22:00)

No, yeah.

 

Mason: (22:01)

... taking away the charge and the projection to someone else, which was to men, which you could still feel is there. And somehow, even when your community is going to get upset at you, other women will get upset at you, for taking away that charge that you... And not pointing it towards men and taking it somewhere, that energy, that anger, and that charge towards a unifying element. That's a hell of a skill.

 

Oni Bletcher: (22:29)

Cool. Yeah. I don't know if I've mastered it and it is really interesting. It wasn't even about taking it away. It was embodying the charge. So I guess, what I hear when you're talking about that is that, the more we know ourselves as individuals, or we understand ourselves, the more we can advocate for ourselves, regardless of our gender. So in those moments, it's like able to see the distinction of you and the distinction of cultured or socialised you. So what part of this anger is really relevant and needed. And what part of this is because I've been set up against this demographic because of this. And we could talk about it with race or with whatever, financial class spectrums.

 

Oni Bletcher: (23:11)

But the more we are able to have this space to understand ourselves and the freedom to create emotional vocabularies or create self-respect, enough to disagree with someone. Then it becomes a freedom of, not man against woman, but me speaking to this person. And that's where I wanted to get to, the true connection between two people. And I couldn't because I had all of these, all of this noise, this noise of gender between us. And-

 

Mason: (23:43)

Is this in your relationship or just in general?

 

Oni Bletcher: (23:45)

In general, in my life. When I was connecting with a man versus when I was connected with a woman, I felt like I really had a lot of blockages to connect with a man, because I was set up or socialised in opposition to them, in a sense. And so, when I hear you speaking, that is such the entanglement of us as individuals versus us socialised in all of these compartments. And they're very true. And as I said, some of them are anatomically and hormonally effected, but a lot of them aren't. And I wanted to understand that space more. And so with the anger the last week. There was two situations in particular, where men that were close to me in my life, things happened. One was a friend and one was actually a mentor and things happened that rubbed up against me. It was showing, men that I thought were, maybe, further along in understanding kind of blind prejudice, whether it was gender or not, saying certain things that made me feel really lonely. And that they didn't understand, I guess, the way that we're gendered in our society. And so-

 

Mason: (24:52)

Why'd you feel lonely?

 

Oni Bletcher: (24:53)

Because you want to be able to connect with everyone. And then, it made me see how, you could say, the structures that, in a sense, have benefited men and have disenfranchised women are still there. And I was doing all this work to kind of understand the neutral place. And then, these certain experiences, I was like, "Fuck, we're still working in these structures that, in a sense, do disenfranchise women or don't see women. And do benefit men or..." Yeah, and so, in those experiences, instead of going down the kind of angry, throw them in the bin kind of thing, which I can do. Because I'm like, "We're on one road to evolution. And if I see that person is not helping our collective journey, then you're useless to me." And that's an old way of thinking, but-

 

Mason: (25:43)

Well, can you talk about it? I mean, why would you... That's a very... It feels very powerful when you're in that.

 

Oni Bletcher: (25:49)

It is. And that's not just with men, that's with all people in my life. And I think that's more of a personality trait, which I've had to soften because that's not a way to live or evolve.

 

Mason: (25:59)

But people choose it nonetheless, don't they?

 

Oni Bletcher: (26:01)

Yeah. And sometimes it's appropriate. But in these situations where I felt the anger against these two people that I was close to, that I trusted, that I thought saw me for me and not... And so, instead of alienating them into this realm of like, "Well, you don't understand me. You don't understand this. You don't understand how this world is constructed." That arrogance of like, "Uh." I was like, "I really used my anger and I've created a different creative relationship with that anger." Because as you were speaking about, with your own journey of understanding anger, I think that there's such a big space for healthy rage. And that's what creates, that's what evolves us. If you really get into that anger, so much incredible stuff comes out of it. So instead of taking that anger and transforming it intellectually, or I tried to do that and I was like, "It's still here."

 

Oni Bletcher: (26:53)

And it's really being in it and feeling the anger. And then, when the charge isn't there, I've absorbed, it integrated it, understood it, worked through it with myself. And this is basic, probably psychology, but coming back to these people and telling them how they affected me, and why I felt that they affected me, and what it was about that interaction that made me think of this, this and this. And how, because of what I'm studying, it made me feel really alone or something. I don't know. And from that, the conversations that were an outcome of the integrated anger, we're the mini micro-evolutions, that I think we all should be having. By talking to each other and not alienating each other to a box of like, "Well, you're a man or you're a woman, or you don't understand me, or you're just this."

 

Oni Bletcher: (27:46)

I think it's a maturation process, but to really work with your own emotions, understand, digest, and then communicate in a peaceful way of why that person affected you and what you see on a greater social landscape, that is not useful or creative. And then, to see that the positive outcomes of those conversations and the defenselessness, those people weren't defended. They were genuinely interested because I wasn't coming at them with undigested or unintegrated anger. I was coming at then with a yearning, again, to reconnect and be creative with. Yeah, it's all about, I guess, us unifying.

 

Mason: (28:27)

Hmm. The interesting thing there is, because I can get quiet. I like being counter- culture, generally. And so, once something... Which means it's why I like comedy. Because I like kicking back and being satirical, against anything where anyone gets comfortable. And that's mainly for myself because I have the potential to get ideologically driven and surround myself with people with the same ideology. And it's very interesting when you know you walk around with, different little woke communities and different people that encounter cultural communities. And they start talking about fact and just say, "In the way that the system is set up..." From what I can understand, the biggest skill and outcome you were talking about, if you're talking to these two guys, I think the biggest skill is not being able to even just drop the charge.

 

Mason: (29:16)

They've been able to genuinely listen and see... Because generally, you're getting triggered by something. A) that guy... or maybe three points. There's, that guy might just be like, "I'm trying to be..." Whoever it is, trying to be a scallywag and just wants to play devil's advocate, two; he feels that there's something wrong and he's been harshly judged by a truth that isn't truth, but doesn't have the intellect or experience or vocabulary to share why he feels like that's something unfair. Three; he does have a really good way of explaining something and the person listening gets charged because they don't like what they're hearing. And just how expertly a point, which is shattering the way their expertise... Or their truth has formulated in their ideology. That's where I find it the hardest, the fact...

 

Mason: (30:04)

It's what I find the most commendable to yourself is, in the genuine listening for what that counter point is, rather than... And having the willingness to actually evolve your worldview and the way it works. Because I think that's the biggest problem in general, but for me, it's a big one. The opposition of penis having bodies and vulva having bodies. And put it that way, and it's quite a nice, easy way for everyone to kind of wrap their heads and loins around. If there continues, at this point, to be aggression and attempting to dominate, or people feeling victimised in opposition to the other, then you lose one of the absolute... Or if you're in a same sex relationship and you feel that opposition to either the masculine or feminine kind of aspects of the other, or another sex altogether, you go into opposition. You lose one of the greatest spaces and arenas to psychologically develop yourself and to develop the way that the Chi runs through your body.

 

Mason: (31:14)

And that's with any ideology, if you're not willing to really be challenged, it's kind of why we see so much ''peacey wokeness'', is because everyone's not... They don't have, really, the willingness or have to call it, say it bluntly, the intelligence to do what you're kind of talking about. And until it becomes a societal norm, that's something that's really embraced, that people do that. We're going to continue to see this victim mentality and these projections and people going, "Well, this is the way it is. This is the way society is constructed." That's a huge thing to say. Considering there are people that have been studying it from all sides, for a long time, who can't handle all the variables in their head to say, "This is absolute truth, the way it's constructed." It's a hell of a thing.

 

Mason: (32:10)

So, I mean, this is just, I'm coming to kind of terms with it, as you're talking about it, the extent of having conviction, being on that evolutionary path. So from you going, it seems like one of your axis's was going, "Well, what's happened... Men have been the dominant..." I don't know if this is actually the way it is, but to say it bluntly, there's a dominance of mental dysfunction in the male sex. Because I don't think that's true because there's just different expressions, the way we see mental health in our society is probably-

 

Oni Bletcher: (32:43)

Yeah, definitely. And there are problems with how we measure mental health in the system, anyway.

 

Mason: (32:47)

That's probably true, yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (32:47)

But I guess, and these statistics are generally just people who kill themselves, or the man to woman domestic violence. And this is a measure that is very nuanced that maybe doesn't get explored. But I guess, I was coming from the point that it should be explored more. What do those statistics even mean? And it's interesting hearing you speak about the ideologies. And I think I really like how you speak about ideologies, because I also noticed a few years ago, of people saying, like, "We live in a gender fluid society." And I'm like, "Okay, so I must be blind or you must be blind because we don't." And that is really beautiful and idealistic. But at the moment, a lot of the systems that we work within are not fluid at all or gender fluid.

 

Oni Bletcher: (33:41)

And to say that we do live in that society, means that we can't get there because people are caught in a kind of... They're like, "Oh. Well, should we be there? And are we there? And what does this mean?" I'm like, "Well, there's a million, hundred, gazillion knots to untie before we get there." And you have to actually untie them. You can't just put unisex bathrooms here and there. And write some, maybe, intellectual articles. That do help untie the knots, but they're not actually... It comes down to people, individually. You're talking about introspecting about their gender or their individuality and understanding their demographic. And then, yeah, I don't know. I like what you said about, when people say this is how society is. Yeah, it's so complex and something-

 

Mason: (34:29)

Well, then this is the end point.

 

Oni Bletcher: (34:31)

Yeah, and-

 

Mason: (34:32)

This is where we're all going, everyone. Just so you know, we've decided this is where we're going. It's like-

 

Oni Bletcher: (34:37)

And sure, that might seem beautiful. But we've got a lot of work to do in the meantime, that can't come from our heads. And that's the embodied aspect of sitting with people and listening to them, like you said. And I noticed, just the listening aspect and how much magic that created that wasn't intellectual. It wasn't mind based, but something that I also, I think when we first started chatting, I noticed is that a lot of the people, like when you said the Mullum bubble or whatever woke society you work within, saying like, "We're all just souls and we're all just individuals and we are gender fluid." And it's like, "Yeah." That there is a ultimate truth to that. And we are, but you kind of have to be privileged to make that statement. If you're free enough and religion-less enough and politically safe enough to see yourself as a soul and as a individual.

 

Oni Bletcher: (35:28)

I can say that living here and I have all the freedom to say that, but as, I guess, a realistic global reality, yeah, people are living in a polarised and contrasted world. Gendered, definitely gendered world. So yeah, I don't know that... Also, another experience that really helped what you're talking about, breaking down that kind of arrogance of living within your own group of ideology, is I did spend a night at Moranbah, which is a mining town, a coal mining town in Queensland.

 

Oni Bletcher: (36:03)

... and it was founded upon mining. So some of the mining towns were founded upon farming, so this was a town just for mining. So there's, I think, four... I think there was four or seven. That seems like different numbers. But I think there was four huge coal mines there and I travelled there.

 

Oni Bletcher: (36:23)

I was doing a little bit of research work for the Queensland Music Festival and they have a huge large scale choir project, and every year they have a different song and they put the call out to all of these choirs around the country and then either digitally or in person, those people in the same song, and they come and sing, all the men, at the Queensland Music Festival and a part of it was also to engage rural communities and mining towns and different isolated demographics to create that conversation in their communities because it was to raise awareness around domestic violence and suicide.

 

Oni Bletcher: (37:01)

And so I only observed one choir in Brisbane every time they practised and it was mainly men over 50, and I gave them the option to chat with me after and be interviewed. And after a while, pretty much all of them instigated a conversation or an interview with me. That was great and I had a lot of people... I had some men saying, "We should do another interview. I don't think we covered everything."

 

Oni Bletcher: (37:29)

It was just this space to talk that was quite... yeah, creating a space to talk and to be listened to, which is quite simply what all of this boils down to. But my point was that what actually awoken me was being in this, you know, we live here, we're so environmentally-focused and we stopped the fracking in [Bentley 00:37:53] and all of that kind of stuff, and there's Stop Adani signs everywhere and you can kind of get tripped up in that.

 

Oni Bletcher: (38:03)

And spending a night in this mining town and just seeing that absolute contrast, there was signs everywhere about how you shouldn't physically abuse people in public. These signs were in newsagents and I spoke to a mining supervisor and he kind of validated that those signs were needed and he talked about, if people didn't turn up to work at one of his mines that chances are they had killed themselves and things like that.

 

Mason: (38:29)

[crosstalk 00:38:29].

 

Oni Bletcher: (38:29)

And just the reality of... I don't know, I could start talking about the destruction of the earth and the destruction of the people, but it's simpler than that because it is an economically-driven landscape.

 

Oni Bletcher: (38:43)

And yeah, I came home and I needed two days in bed to really digest not just, I guess, the health of that specific city, but how we can be in one country and be still so oppositional between our ideologies. That can feed into gender as well, but I came back and I was like, "Wow, I am lucky to live here, but at the same time we can put our blinkers on." And just me having a conversation with men under this master's thing, we should also be having those conversations with other oppositional forces or other political forces.

 

Oni Bletcher: (39:23)

It just showed me, because I was sitting and talking to these people in this mining town, how... Yeah, I don't even know what I need to say about that, but somehow internally it shifted everything, all parts of me. Yeah.

 

Mason: (39:42)

It seems like you would've been talking to some pretty blokey blokes.

 

Oni Bletcher: (39:45)

Yeah, and just it was the smaller observations. Like I met a woman in the supermarket there and she was pregnant with a little child, and people bring up families and generations in this place and there's like four schools and it's all based around mining, which is that's the economy of that place and that's fine. I can have my own personal opinions about that, but at the same time, I want to be objective and see how this country, if it's a body, like, what part of the body is that?

 

Oni Bletcher: (40:10)

And I spoke to this woman and, take what you will from that, but I said, "Oh, so where do you..." I was curious. "Where do you birth when you are pregnant here?" And a few times in our conversation, she mentioned being diagnosed with pregnancy. And it was something about that, and that's didn't enter my research at all, but there was small things like that that...

 

Mason: (40:37)

Was it that you see how far we've come in actually gaining unity and therefore being in somewhat of a privileged position here to be on this really getting to this level where there's like birthing rights and having these kinds of conversations, therefore we can enter into the conversation of men and women having this equality of opportunity, yet there's places where there's men's mental health issues going on, and yet something like women are still in the dialogue of being diagnosed-

 

Oni Bletcher: (41:07)

With pregnancy.

 

Mason: (41:07)

... about with pregnancy? So are you saying there's like a disparity of progression in that conversation?

 

Oni Bletcher: (41:14)

Yeah. And I don't even want to say disparity of progression because we should, in this plight to equality, we should all be progressed to the same point. And I'm not the one to say something's progressed and something's not, but at the same time it was this culture shock within our, one, seeming like you could argue that, but within our nation. And I guess I don't know if this is digressing or not because it's not, because there are certain demographics of masculinity that have certain behaviours and as you can imagine in a mining town, there is a certain demographic of masculinity.

 

Oni Bletcher: (41:56)

But yeah, I guess it is, in a sense, what you say, and then going home and saying, "Well who am I to say I'm more progressed and this group isn't?" And actually coming to the realisation that I'm not if we're all not, if that makes sense?

 

Oni Bletcher: (42:12)

It's a really hard thing to explain, but it really levelled me and humbled me. And also I was able to check my privilege more from that point, because I was like, well, we don't have the opportunity and the accessibility to look at ourselves and to understand our gender. And so, yeah, there was so many, [inaudible 00:42:30] this is part of the catharsis of understanding more, but that was a major point for me of how I look at my own neighbourhood as well, how I look at where I live and constantly keeping myself clear of that this isn't their reality.

 

Mason: (42:48)

That's interesting. No, I do get it. I mean, in terms of in the way that you're approaching men's mental health, your own feminism, all these things that are obviously values and important to you, sometimes we kind of get on our little soapbox around it.

 

Mason: (43:08)

I guess what you're talking about is levelling yourself out there completely and actually just getting down in and among the guts of everyone without so much right or wrong or judgement of the way other people [crosstalk 00:43:25].

 

Oni Bletcher: (43:24)

Oh, yeah. I would have men saying things to me that really I disagreed with on a political or personal level, but to come back to this place of being like, I'm an ethnographer, I am a researcher, and I guess that is like a practise. But to find, I guess, without sounding too Mullum, but to find love in all of that and to look at that person and not further oppose myself from them while they were saying things that I disagreed with was a major lesson for life and also, I think, a major lesson of how we are going to evolve if we can find humanity or the heart in anyone, regardless of their opinions. Because opinions change all the time, and if you see that person as their opinion, there's probably no way of finding common ground.

 

Mason: (44:18)

Most definitely.

 

Oni Bletcher: (44:18)

I think a lot of people are speaking about this right now because of the year that we've found ourselves in. So it's nice because I finished the formal study, but after that I've had a couple of experiences, experiences where I was able to present my research in a couple of different ways.

 

Oni Bletcher: (44:41)

One was really interesting. It was at an all women's festival, and it was interesting because I was speaking about masculinities or unifying the masculine and the feminine at an all women's festival, and it was on International Women's Day and I was like, "Oh, God," because it felt testy or it felt risky.

 

Mason: (45:03)

Sorry.

 

Oni Bletcher: (45:03)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (45:04)

Your use of testy there was wonderful.

 

Oni Bletcher: (45:05)

Oh, testy. There were no testes there.

 

Mason: (45:13)

Felt pretty ovary.

 

Oni Bletcher: (45:13)

Yeah, it felt a bit. And I was nervous because I wanted...

 

Mason: (45:22)

Well, can you tell us what you're presenting?

 

Oni Bletcher: (45:23)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (45:24)

You might've covered a lot of it, but in terms of development of empathy and understanding of what men are going through and the mental health disadvantages and outcomes from this opposition, I assume, if that's in the realm, can you tell us exactly what you are dropping? What truth bombs are you dropping?

 

Oni Bletcher: (45:42)

Oh, well that's really interesting because I wanted to make a disclaimer of, in this expert culture, I'm not an expert, and there are no definitive-

 

Mason: (45:50)

Thank God.

 

Oni Bletcher: (45:50)

It's like there are no definitive conclusions to mental health issues, except that we need to be able to have access to speak more about deep structures, more about emotional realities and to find also to have access and opportunity to physical and holistic health.

 

Oni Bletcher: (46:10)

So, it's nothing new. Basically, I've got no truth bombs to drop, except the truth bomb is as a researcher, and this is... I didn't do a formal autoethnography, which is like the researcher as the research, like using yourself as a research tool and actually analysing how your person, how your individual self and what you represent, triggers your field. So how as a woman I would be triggering these men and watching that.

 

Oni Bletcher: (46:37)

So I didn't do a formalised version of that, but I did notice a lot of things about how my gender affected the people I was interviewing and what could bring forth things from them that if I was a male interviewer or researcher couldn't, and that my willingness to be doing this work actually allowed them to give more, because they were so surprised that I wanted to know what it was like to be a man, because people are so used to the oppositional force.

 

Oni Bletcher: (47:01)

So I guess at this festival I was presenting, I made kind of a clip of excerpts from my interviews and I spoke about my experience and what I noticed, and then I kind of broke it up with little clips of different men's interviews to show. I guess they weren't vulnerable moments, but they were moments where, from personal experience, these men articulated parts of their lives or things that they've noticed that really humanised the statistics or what we see as like Australian masculinities.

 

Oni Bletcher: (47:39)

I didn't know how it was going to go down, but I also included an exercise where we wrote letters to the masculine, or not particularly men, but to that oppositional force, like the setup, setup oppositional, but to that polarised force of the masculine. And I think I gave a few questions of like, what do you most appreciate about the masculine and what do you most need from the masculine? Like, there were a few questions. So it was an embodied writing exercise, too, because I have a bit of background in writing and speaking.

 

Oni Bletcher: (48:13)

And then there was an all male festival that went on the weekend prior and we got them to do the same exercise. So I read the answers out from these men of like, what do you appreciate in the feminine? What do you need from the feminine? All these kind of opening prompts.

 

Oni Bletcher: (48:28)

So I got all the women to read out the men's answers, and a lot of them were really emotionally responsive, and I got so many women coming up to me saying, "Thank you so much. This really helped my own barrier against men that I haven't been able to shift." And it wasn't me, but I was the conduit for men's stories, from their experiences, their truth, because I was sitting there listening to them speaking from a true place.

 

Mason: (48:59)

And do you mind if I ask, and let me know if it's too broad a question, but just some of the collations that you got, what was it that the men were sharing that impacted you and therefore that you were able to use these particular plights or things guys were feeling to draw this out of women?

 

Oni Bletcher: (49:17)

Yeah, the key points. I asked about 10 or 11 questions in my interview, and it wasn't a huge interview, but they were based around peace, like perceptions of masculinities.

 

Mason: (49:34)

For the guys?

 

Oni Bletcher: (49:34)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (49:35)

Yeah, right.

 

Oni Bletcher: (49:36)

Perceptions of masculinities, relationships with your father. If you are a father, how do you embody your masculinity? If you would like to be a father, how do you picture yourself to be a father? And then I asked, what do you call it? Conflict resolution strategies.

 

Oni Bletcher: (49:57)

It was pretty simplified because I wanted to use polarised concepts in my interview to receive, because a lot of men would start out saying, "Well, I actually don't think about my masculinities a lot. I wouldn't even call myself a manly man." But as the interview evolved, they would almost divulge their unconscious construction of them being masculine. A lot of things would come up that they didn't realise they had this idea of themselves as men, and some were annoyed about it because they were like, "Hang on. That's not me," but that's the social voice speaking.

 

Oni Bletcher: (50:36)

But the main kind of things that I felt were really humanising were the intergenerational effects from father to son, and then how different things like war and political landscapes affected that relationship. Like lots of immigrant stories and lots of the father bringing the war home to the families and how that affected the family unit, and then stories about...

 

Oni Bletcher: (51:04)

It's interesting because you ask men about their masculinities and they'll give you stories about how they relate to women. And so I found that really interesting as well to prompt a conversation about that and different ways that men relate to women, and also different ways that men find peace and not just in the Om meditation way, and to understand all these peace-seeking opportunities for men, which a lot of the time where physical exertion and activity.

 

Oni Bletcher: (51:34)

What else was interesting? Role modelling, a lack of role modelling, and then when they did speak about positive role modelling, how they knew inside of themselves they needed these role models, but it wasn't until they were in front of them that that shifted their perspective. Like, "By the way, I need to be a man like that." And some of these men went on to study counselling, because they found role models, formal or informal, that they could look up to. You know, that kind of compass that's like, "I need that, but it's not around me so I don't even know I need it. But then when I find it, it's like, 'Oh yeah, that's the type of man I want to be.'"

 

Oni Bletcher: (52:15)

There was an interesting one with the attitudes towards sexual... Sexuality as well, I found that interesting because one man spoke about the hormonal aspects of sexuality and his noticing his wife's cycle, how that affected his sexuality and his understanding of his sexual desires and things, and I liked the physiological aspect of that.

 

Oni Bletcher: (52:42)

There was so many things, but to hear just the life stories, really, and to figure out that we all have parallels in that respect, but we're just constructed differently because of our society was like, yeah. And a lot of women that I knew and friends, like, "What do they say? What do they say?" And I was like, "I can tell you, but this is just my conversation." It's like, you can do this too. If you want. You don't have to go and do a master's, but it's the intent to listen and understand isn't unique to me. That's accessible for all of us.

 

Oni Bletcher: (53:24)

I presented again in the corporate kind of sector, like a finance and investment company, and it was all young people. Some of them were men, some of them were women and they had a monthly health talk and it was mostly for their clients, but a lot of, like, in this particular one that I presented at, it was all the staff that turned up.

 

Oni Bletcher: (53:48)

I started by talking about my studies and what I've figured out and the conclusion of that there needs to be more spaces to express and to talk freely without being judged, which seems very simple, but it started out as a presentation.

 

Oni Bletcher: (54:03)

Which seems very simple. But it started out as a presentation-

 

Mason: (54:03)

Definitely not simple.

 

Oni Bletcher: (54:04)

But yeah, but then it ended up being almost like a relationship building session within that corporate sector. And I was like, well, this is going into a conversation. Do you want me to keep doing the presentation? Or do you guys want to keep talking? And I can help that, facilitate that. And they were like, "I think it'd be good if we can talk."

 

Oni Bletcher: (54:23)

And these people that work together might concentrate on the economy or the finance or the investment part of their work. And they were like, "We never get to have these conversations." And it was like them getting to know each other. And we know how much work life balance and workplace health and safety, whether that's emotional or physical, affects our greatest society in our life. And I was seeing a microcosm of that, of these people that worked so closely together, probably socialised together, but they never had a conversation of maybe how they approach their mental health.

 

Oni Bletcher: (54:58)

And then it prompted the boss to kind of, that talk prompted the boss to put different, something different in place, periodically to actually have these more formalised talks around mental health and how they're going and things like that and so that was a really, another interesting forum to present in that maybe was unexpected. So yeah, I don't, yeah, I'm still, it's not finishing. I'd love to keep going with it because it was, yeah, it was, I'd love to, well, my next thing is to actually print the photographs and have an exhibition and invite all the men that helped me. And to acknowledge that this has prompted a greater conversation within my life and therefore, maybe in others.

 

Oni Bletcher: (55:46)

But yeah, I can say that I'm definitely changed from it. And yeah, but I mean, there is a digital platform and a website I've created and things like that, but who knows if?

 

Mason: (55:58)

[inaudible 00:01:59].

 

Mason: (55:58)

What's the website?

 

Oni Bletcher: (56:01)

Well, I haven't properly published it yet because I'm a perfectionist. And I mean, it's, I'm not going to say, because I don't, it's not finished yet. But yeah, the project's called Men at Peace. And, yeah. I'd like it to evolve. Whether or not it's what's needed or not. But yeah, the main thing is that I'm changed. And I think some of these men found sitting with me and me listening a really powerful thing. And there were a lot of tears and there was a lot of spontaneous emotion and memories, and emotion from men that I wouldn't expect would emote publicly, like in a cafe or something like that. And yeah, to me, the accumulation of that is the outcome.

 

Mason: (56:45)

Yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (56:46)

If that makes sense?

 

Mason: (56:46)

Yeah. No, absolutely it does. What, I mean, as you've said, in terms of what you're presenting, is this something ongoing?

 

Oni Bletcher: (56:54)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (56:55)

We're not looking at mental health as a symptom and then we're going to prescribe this.

 

Oni Bletcher: (57:01)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (57:02)

We're looking at perhaps how we can evolve as a society to ensure that as, basically from what I can understand, the Mullum way to say it is have someone hold space, and generally to get off, if you can get out of your head and you can drop into your body and listen to someone without projection, prejudice, anger, thinking that you are ideologically correct and you're just going to listen to this person and you're getting ready to defend yourself or you're feeling, sitting there feeling dominated by this person.

 

Mason: (57:36)

If you can train yourself to get out of that space and just truly listen and absorb what that person is saying without reacting, formulating your retort, just really listen without that judgement and with, love that is, that alone. And it's a skill.

 

Oni Bletcher: (57:55)

It's a skill. Yeah.

 

Mason: (57:56)

A huge skill.

 

Oni Bletcher: (57:56)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (57:56)

That skill that alone is going to be incredible for workplaces. I mean, guys will always cry. People say guys don't cry. It's like you create the space, they'll cry. And then they won't.

 

Oni Bletcher: (58:07)

And that's it.

 

Mason: (58:07)

[inaudible 00:58:08].

 

Mason: (58:08)

They'll be like, "Okay, good, cool. I'm done."

 

Oni Bletcher: (58:10)

Yeah. And-

 

Mason: (58:10)

They don't always have to cry.

 

Oni Bletcher: (58:11)

When people say men don't talk and men don't like to talk, I'm like, well, actually I could probably not agree with that. Yeah. And they wanted to talk. It was just that the space until that moment, maybe wasn't there. Yeah, creating the opportunity and the space and I did at the end do a, because it, yeah, I wanted to prompt more discussion groups amongst men. I don't really need to be there.

 

Oni Bletcher: (58:34)

One of the things was I got a group of men together, 10 men of all different ages, and a lot of them didn't know each other. And I put a microphone there and I left the room and they had all the discussion questions. And I said, "No one's facilitating this, so you have to consent to no one facilitating and that you have to create emotional safety for yourselves." But, yeah, listening to that was really cool because it was just what eventuated in a conversation amongst these men from so many different life stages. And that is collective mentorship, which we are, have a huge hunger for no matter what gender, identity, sexual identity.

 

Mason: (59:10)

Because it's not based on therapy or a practitioner fixing something that's wrong.

 

Oni Bletcher: (59:13)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (59:14)

It's just moving things along.

 

Oni Bletcher: (59:15)

Being [inaudible 00:59:15]. Yeah. Being with someone and learning from them, from their life, if you want to. Yeah, listening to that was great because I took myself out of the equation. And another thing, I guess the main outcome is realising that men and women were surprised that a woman was advocating for male mental health or wanted to study this. And as I said to you before, there are a lot of women that say that there should be more men advocating for women's issues. And I do believe that. I really believe that. Because yeah, a healthy society is a healthy society for all.

 

Oni Bletcher: (59:48)

But I do also believe that there are women that should be advocating for men's issues as a translation tool. And I'd like to be one of them because I know that, from what I see in our statistics and from a lot of things that I've listened to from psychological perspectives too, male mental health is family's mental health as well.

 

Mason: (01:00:08)

Absolutely.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:00:08)

And is a society's mental health, as is women's mental health. But as women we band together, maybe genetically that's our drive. We just get together, gather together. Yeah. It's just the ripple effects of that. And I still do a lot of women's work and I'm in the birth politics a lot. But yeah, I would love to be some kind of bridge in those conversations.

 

Mason: (01:00:33)

What I like about this, to bring us home is I think what got tangled up at times when there needed to be men advocating for women in that conversation, that it was, people would think that would have to be done by men. And this is, I think this is great for a time. I've definitely done it. Embracing in dominance the feminine aspect of themselves and then saying, taking on the identity, all right, "Now I'm a, needs to be women in power. I'm a male feminist."

 

Mason: (01:01:04)

And all well, and good. If that gels with you, then that's all well and good. I've never seen that being a successful thing to what you're talking about in progressively creating healthy families. You're a woman who's fucking powerful. You're sitting in your femininity and advocating for the ongoing unity between, of conversation and mental health of women and men, looking at men.

 

Mason: (01:01:29)

And likewise, I look around at all my friends here, a lot of them dads. And men, a lot of them are not, you don't look at them and go, that's a guy that embraces his femininity. Which I think is a toxic aspect of, especially of this spiritual scene is every guy in order to, he's not comfortable with his own masculinity and he's not comfortable with any woman around him who hasn't dealt with herself feeling fearful of a guy who's actually got some male potency about him and his run on testosterone. But all of them, are able to bang. [inaudible 01:02:04]. They'll drop in and have very vulnerable conversations. And then, bang, we can go into some pretty rough and tumble testosterone-driven conversation. And then, bang, we start talking about fatherhood. And far out these guys are really unassuming, you wouldn't suspect them being able to go in and really get vulnerable very fast and uncomfortable. And in ongoing, in their conversation of identifying how the things that they haven't dealt with emotionally have been projected onto their own children and family and how much commitment they have to overcome that.

 

Mason: (01:02:37)

And that's always because they have a woman there advocating for them who has done an incredible amount of work, who is in her feminine power. Therefore, has a guy really fighting for and championing for this woman to find herself and express herself. And so you see this environment for mental health emerging. Doesn't mean it's always going to be perfect. I mean, I've definitely, I can feel I've got a big can of worms myself mentally to deal with in the next few months, it's going to always go on that way. It's uncomfortable.

 

Mason: (01:03:10)

But, I guess what I'm saying is that it doesn't always look the way you think it has to. And there's something quite special in what you're talking about in, there's a progressiveness to it. We don't have to be a certain way in order to check the box and show them we're now being someone progressive in the conversation towards equality or whatever it is. But you get in there, get past your ideology as best you can. And then as you start advocating for other people and your own life starts to, it's like a circular thing. You don't just advocate for your own group or defend your own group. You start advocating for others. And from what I can hear your life and, get what it's like being inside [inaudible 01:03:54] is getting richer through doing it.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:03:56)

Yeah. It's actually the coolest thing is in the birth world, being able to start bringing in really, yeah. Men that are acknowledging fatherhood, the plight of fatherhood, and dads in the birthing arena. Actually formally being able to create relationships with men and unite our female run maternity advocacy platform with men that are doing work for men and fathers as well. So really, that's still a unification process, which is cool.

 

Mason: (01:04:27)

Absolutely. That's, I mean, it brought me to tears when they were, A, they wouldn't let men into the birthing suites in Victoria a few, a couple of months ago. Can you imagine what that would be like to not have that collaboration? That collaborational energy? I mean, and now we're taking away the use of water for women giving better. I won't even go there. That stripping of rights.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:04:52)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (01:04:52)

But you're right. I mean, that's something in, men haven't taken it by the balls either, try to inject themselves into that beautiful birthing ceremony. But having a, you know that's something that potentially the same, I think of that, some guys might've felt that's the woman's space and I'm not welcome there.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:05:14)

Yeah. And there's space for all of that as well. But when you take away the opportunity for men to be involved in those ceremonial parts of life, that's really destructive on our society. And yeah, that was a real confrontational time when men weren't allowed in the birth room during COVID. But if I can mention that this has been in indigenous communities, men being taken away from their birthing partners because they have to fly out to hospitals and their families can't afford to go with them and there's no financial support for them to go with them.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:05:45)

And so yeah, I just wanted to mention that, because the breakdown of that demographic by men being taken away from the real bonding experiences of families is destructive too. That's, I think, yeah. That's really important to note too. And I just, before we finish wanted to say that I never in my research use the term toxic masculinity and I don't believe in it. And I think it's really dangerous when people use phrases that they haven't integrated themselves, like another ideology. And there is, if we're going to use the word toxic masculinity, there is toxic femininity. But I think if we create phrases like this, our language pervades the way we are, and that creates a lot of shame and we don't need more shame in our communities and our world.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:06:33)

Yeah, I purposefully, I didn't mention toxic masculinity in my research, except when I was saying that I'm not going to mention it. Because I think, yeah, we have to be careful in our language creating our realities. And I could give lots of examples of toxic femininity, if we're going to be like that. But I don't believe we need to, we don't need to do that.

 

Mason: (01:06:55)

Well people, again, I'm like, I know we all go through our stages with these things. This isn't a judgemental thing, but if you get stuck in and decide to, it's primary school name calling, basically. And then it does go, "Well, what about toxic femininity and all those things?"

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:07:11)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (01:07:12)

"And what about the?" It, eventually, is going to show a lack of integrated. And I'm sorry, I'm going to say it, intelligence. If you have to use something that's needed for opposition, it shows at some point I have people who I go, "Hey, listen, you're starting to sound very stupid." If you have to sit in ideology and you can't move on after like a few years, maybe, and see a greater way of doing it, it's-

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:07:37)

Yeah. But at the same time, it takes the heat And the focus off the people running the show.

 

Mason: (01:07:41)

Yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:07:42)

Like, toxic masculinity, toxic femininity. What about, what creates this? And what oppressive forces or dysfunctional forces are running the show? And it just, it again, it creates infighting where really we should be looking at some dysfunctional structures that run the show so yeah.

 

Mason: (01:07:59)

You've got lots of ways that people can tune into your work, you're a very diverse woman. Your podcast. Can you show, tell people how they can find your podcast with, and doing woman's work and birth?

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:08:08)

Yeah.

 

Mason: (01:08:11)

Birth, postpartum, lots of... I've been on that podcast havent I?

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:08:12)

Yeah. You've been on the podcast.

 

Mason: (01:08:14)

That's right, I forget because we were on the radio at the same time.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:08:16)

Yeah, So with a team, I work with a team for a independent media organisation called Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond. PBB Media. And we have a podcast called Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond. And it's a free resource with really incredible academics, clinicians, but also women telling their stories about birth and different aspects of maternity health and also advocacy for maternity health choices.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:08:45)

And yeah, I really recommend tuning into our podcast or just contacting us. We do a lot of other work unifying the academic realm with the consumer or the public. And yeah, you can find me at oni.blecher@ gmail.com. I do lots of different stuff, and I run a monthly poetry night in the area as well. So yeah-

 

Mason: (01:09:07)

Craniosacral.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:09:07)

I do. That's right. I do craniosacral work as well.

 

Mason: (01:09:10)

[inaudible 01:09:10] For kiddies as well?

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:09:11)

For babies and children. Yeah, I do actually. That's the main part. I don't know why I forget some things, but yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:09:18)

Yeah. Craniosacral and abdominal massage for everyone. But yeah, I do. I'm interested in birth and post-birth, for family health, but I do babies and children, treat them too. So, yeah.

 

Mason: (01:09:31)

Awesome.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:09:32)

Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

 

Mason: (01:09:33)

No. Absolute pleasure. I'll be seeing you lots, but I'll be seeing you in two and a half weeks to facilitate the ceremony, which is really nice. We're ... Oni will be legally ordained later in the year. But we got her before she's legally ordained, because we will be eloping outside of the, what we kind of feel to be our proper ceremony. We're really honoured that you're going to be there to help bring that union in between Tahns and I, and, yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:10:00)

It's so exciting.

 

Mason: (01:10:00)

Yeah.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:10:00)

Yeah. I'm really excited.

 

Mason: (01:10:02)

Me too. You haven't even seen the space yet. You're going to flip. Thank you so much, guys. Go check Oni's work. Appreciate you, have a good one.

 

Oni Bletcher: (01:10:08)

Thanks.



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