This week on Here’s The Thing, Manuel DaCosta was joined by Luís Miguel de Castro, Peter George and Vince Nigro to discuss the modern side of feminism. We invite you to watch the full interview on Camões Tv, on saturday (14), at 9pm.
Since the 70’s, women have been informed and educated on the movement of feminism. The encouragement for a sexual revolution, a sense of self-governing and most important of all, the conquest of equality has provoked massive changes on our society. This group of men got together to discuss those changes and what is men’s place on society nowadays. They question what equality is and is that something truly achievable? Throughout the last several decades, women’s role have evolved, just as men’s have. With women finding their voice and reporting more and more cases of sexual harassment, men seem to grow afraid that their words or actions can be perceived in a negative way, creating a barrier and a communication issue between genders. As all men are being portrait in the same pejorative way, some consider that men are under attack. After all, what is being a man? Education plays a big role and needs to be a factor to consider. What kind of men are we creating when the schools are not providing guidance and parents are absent?
While some consider that men have become weaker, other’s think they just adapted to a more conscious and sensitive society. Regardless, the reality is that roles have changed and that is reflected on the dating scene and on all our relationships. Therefore, what can we expect in the future?
Manuel DaCosta: Today we will discuss what is men’s place in society. Personally, I feel that men have retracted into a cocoon where fear dictates a lot of things in their lives.
Vince Nigro: From my standpoint, I was trying to reflect back to my father and grandfather, just to wrap my mind in terms of how men worked 30 or 50 years ago. It was always hardworking, chivalry was always there, they were always respectful. There was always this unspoken message. Even though those were different eras, I find that men today are weak. Maybe it’s bold to say that.
MDC: What do you mean by weak?
VN: What I mean by weak is that, in the conversation that you are having today, with whatever gender, you have to be politically correct all the time, in terms of how you speak. A lot of people have made mistakes, whether you are in the media, you see that one word can destroy you. My point is that you don’t want to hurt anybody, but conversations are held back, and people are rethinking before they speak.
MDC: To me, men retracted not necessarily because they are weak but because they are very conscious of everything they say and do around women. Peter, do you think we are weak or just more careful?
Peter George: I think it’s a blend of both. Inherently, if you are perceived as weak, you are in all aspects of life, whether it’s business, finances or in personal relations. If you look over time, in society, things have evolved and changed; whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, I’m not here to opine on that. I agree with Vince in the sense that society has evolved, and people have become more conscious of what they say. That can be a good thing too! You can still be a strong, alpha male and be conscious of your environment. I don’t consider that to be a negative thing.
MDC: Luis, do you also notice the same thing speaking to your friends or partners in the gay world? It’s the same issue?
LMC: Yes! Doesn’t matter if it’s gay life or not, it’s all the same issues. People are more sensitive. I remember in the 80’s, we would go out and when we see people, we would give them compliments and that was not an issue. Today, you have to be careful with what you say because people can be very offended.
MDC: Peter, from 10 years ago to today, what are the differences you see on how women are perceived and acting?
PG: That’s a tough question, because I think it goes back to your family as well, to how you were raised. Whatever is happening in society in that point in time, will shape you in the future. Now that we are experiencing a society that is more inclusive, genders and women have evolved, so what I noticed is the difference is geographic too. If you go to a rural type setting, you probably still find those traditional type of female that you would see 30, 20 or 10 years ago. But if you go to a major metropolitan city, you see more inclusion and conscientious. Do I see a change? Yes, I do. But I think it various from demographics, specifically age and geography.
MDC: Vince, the so-called liberation of women, has it been a positive step to equality, or has it been detrimental to the ultimate goal of equality with men?
VN: I think there’s good and bad. Most men, including myself, I was brought up to respect women. I still open their door, it’s a natural thing to do. I was having this discussion the other day and she told me ‘I don’t want my door open, I can do that myself’. I wasn’t being disrespectful, I’m sure she can do it. That all chivalry stuff is out the window. I think the media sometimes brain washed them, so they feel they have to respond a certain way to make their point. When that happens, men hold back. They are afraid to ask women out to socialize, that’s why online dating has gone bigger and bigger. The revolution has changed things so much that has put fear in people that if they want to say, ‘I like the way you look’, or whatever, they don’t do it anymore.
PG: It’s a societal shift.
MDC: Luis, if we just look at the #MeToo Movement which has been a wake-up call to both men and women. How much damage has been caused in relationships due to the fear factor of an accusation of sexual abuse?
LMC: As Vince was mentioning, you can’t make comments. Me, as a gay man, I appreciate a beautiful woman. If I see a woman dressed properly, I feel like saying ‘You look so beautiful’. But since she won’t know that I’m gay, then I think how is she going to take it. I feel that nowadays, the kindness in which we were brought up, doesn’t exist. Today, people are so afraid to say something, that they don’t say it. I feel that women, sometimes, don’t feel that much appreciated. But it’s not because of men, it’s because they don’t know how the comments will be perceived.
MDC: Vince, speaking of the #MeToo Movement. I think it will continue to grow bigger. Looking back, not that this applies to you, but was there ever any thought that may have been an incident that may have happened to you, of inappropriate touch or words, that would make you afraid that someone could come back and point a finger at you?
VN: It could. Everything can be interpreted so differently in terms of what you have done in the past. Things are coming out like 17 or 18 years later and it’s all over the news. For example, the Prince Andrew thing just came out, that someone who was 17, many years ago, created a lawsuit. Could that happen? Yes. Going back, I think there was always some sort of a #MeToo Movement. A long time ago, a mentor of mine said to me, and he didn’t say it in a way that was offensive, he goes ‘when I go to an elevator, and I’m there by myself and there’s a woman waiting for the elevator, and if I have to go to the elevator alone with this woman, I will wait for the next elevator.’ He was someone who had a position of power. He thought so far out there that someone could say that he touched her inappropriately. Now, whether you are innocent or guilty, that would destroy that person’s career. That always resonated with me. So, I always had that in the back of my mind. On the #MeToo stuff, I find that it has overblown. I have three daughters and a wife; I agree with equality, but the issue becomes: is the best person getting that job? I think this #MeToo movement is great for women, but sometimes affects them in other ways.
MDC: Peter, if somebody came tomorrow and accused you, how would you defend yourself?
PG: I’m a single male, I’ve never been married, and I have dated a fair share of women in my life. The unfortunate part of your question, and has nothing to do with the accusation, but has to do with business or something like that; you would always have to stand your ground. Vice-President Mike Pence, when he was a Governor, he also never got into an elevator if it was just him and a woman. Living life as I have, you have to be prepared for that outcome.
My grandfather always taught me, always do the next right thing. And then the other thing he would always say is that there’s three sides to every story – yours, mine and the truth. Sometimes it’s tough to find the truth because people are so jaded and clouded that they chose not to listen to the other side.
MDC: Luis, if you look at media today and all the sexual assault accusations, all men are painted with the same brush. Do you always believe the accusation 100%?
LMC: No, I don’t. I have a hard time understanding if you are accused of something that happened 20 years ago. Why would it take 20 years to come out and make that accusation? Sometimes it may be fear of repercussion, because maybe beforetime if that person would come out, people may not believe her. Many times, it depends on who is the abuser. But I think that in today’s society it’s about taking advantage and money. I have been in certain situations in my life before, but I knew exactly where I was standing, I kept quiet. What right do I have after 23 years to come and accuse someone?
MDC: The modern women today are different from the one’s 10 years ago. Women are more educated than men. Today, they are looking for men with the same or higher education or men who make more money than they do. Socially, this is causing a huge impact on men. Men are being left behind.
PG: On the other side, women may say that it’s their opportunity to shine and for men to take the back seat, just like they have done for the last 60 years. If my wife made more money than me, I would be happy to be home with the kids, because I think someone needs to be there. For the teenagers today, I don’t know what their role would be because they don’t have human interaction. They aren’t learning the traits and characteristics that I’ve learned from my mom and dad.
MDC: If we were more feminized growing up, we would be more inclusive, but unfortunately most men are raised “to be men” and those are the ones that today have the most difficulty to choose a partner.
VN: When I met my wife, I would consider myself an A type aggressive person and she was a B type. She attracted me because she was different. If she was a type A, I think it would be draining and wouldn’t work.
MDC: People from 18 years old to their 20’s spend most of their lives playing videogames, not focused on education, and with access to porn they don’t care about dating. This leaves a huge gap in modern society, in the dating life. These are fundamental years for their formation as individuals. Where are the next real men coming from?
PG: It will be the type A, alpha males that will find whoever they want, whether they are type A or B or C. Being an alpha male is either innate in you or it’s a learned behaviour, if you are learning from society or from your parents you are not going to be taught. The traditional role of a male is being diminished over time.
MDC: Why are men running away from women?
VN: I think they are afraid to deal with it. The communication is not there. People are holding back. Long term we will see the negative effects on one-on-one relationships.
MDC: Do men really need a partner to be happy? How much of an emotional cost should we be willing to pay for a successful relationship?
PG: You don’t. I’m 51 years old, there has been periods where I was single and happy. The emotional cost is how much are you willing to tolerate, and some people are a sucker for punishment if you allow yourself to be emotionally abused. It comes down to self-respect and self-worth.
LMC: Not much, I’m at a point in life where I can’t take the negativity. If I’m happy about myself, I don’t need no one to make my life miserable.
MDC: We often hear women should have autonomy over their bodies. Considering that we live and procreate with them, how are we not supposed to have an opinion on anything they do? Don’t you think that’s trying to dismiss men and if so, what’s the point of being in a relationship that excludes us?
PG: That’s a loaded question. There are always two sides on everything. Using abortion as the example, it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a say. But the consequence is that if the women choose to have that baby, we are financially obligated for the next 25 years regardless. We are mandated by law, but at the same time our choice is taken away. It’s not that a male should have the ultimate veto power on what happens.
VN: If I love someone, I can feel comfortable to give my opinion for them to improve themselves or give a direction. Where I am today, I would give feedback and move forward. It’s about honest communication and not worrying about the consequences.
MDC: If you had a son or a daughter, who would you be more worried about in the future?
VN: From my standpoint, it’s my son. I have three daughters and one son, but I find that younger man growing up are having a harder time finding the right relationship, the right job and fitting into society. Not all, but I think it’s tougher.
PG: I think both. I would not want to have a child today.
LMC: I would say boys, I agree with Vince.
MDC: I think boys too.
Veja a entrevista na íntegra este sábado, dia 14 de agosto, na Camões TV, às 21h.