How can we… foster positive masculinity?

I sit down with Mac Scotty McGregor to talk about his work with Positive Masculinity.

Mac is a transgender activist, author, speaker, and educator who lives in Seattle, USA.  He provides gender and LGBTQ+ diversity training for corporations, colleges, and groups all over the world. He’s the co-founder of Positive Masculinity, a project for heart led masculine folks who want to create a transformative path for masculinity in our world, and he’s also the author of Positive Masculinity Now.

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TRANSCRIPT: Please not transcript was created by AI and has not been edited. It may contain errors or mistranslations of the actual interview.  

Mac Scotty Macgregor – Positive Masculinity Now

[00:00:00] Mac Scotty Macgregor: So women were starting to speak up and, and talk about how the patriarchy and toxic masculinity had harmed them and held them back and been an obstacle, but men, weren’t a part of this conversation. You know, the, the masculine voice was not a part of this. Except some men that were saying, oh, you’re just trying to say, you know, all men are bad.

[00:00:25] The men that were fighting, you’re trying to take our manhood away. That was the only voice that I heard coming from the masculine side.


[00:00:31] Laura Hartley: I’m Laura Hartley and welcome to the Public Love Project. This podcast is all about re-imagining and remaking the world, creating the conditions for social healing and collective thriving. Each week, we dive into topics around resilience, social change, birthing, and more just, and regenerative world and how we can use our head heart and hands in action. Before i introduce today’s guest and topic though i have one request head on over to apple podcasts or spotify wherever you’re listening and hit subscribe rate and review it helps us work to reach new listeners

[00:01:09] Today’s guest is Mac Scotty McGregor. Mac is a transgender activist, author, speaker, and educator that lives in Seattle. And he provides gender and LGBTQ+ diversity training for corporations, colleges, and groups all over the world. He’s the co-founder of positive masculinity. Uh, project for heart led masculine folks who want to create a transformative path for masculinity in our world.

[00:01:33] He’s also the author of positive masculinity now. And we’re excited to have you on the show so welcome Mac

[00:01:39] Mac Scotty Macgregor: thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:01:41] Laura Hartley: I have so enjoyed our conversations before this and the other week. And so I’m really excited to talk with you today. And obviously I’ve been looking through your work, reading your book.

[00:01:51] There’s a lot of things that I want to ask you about, but I wanna start first with this idea of gender and masculinity. There are so many constructs and so many stories that we’re told about it, the conditioning from a young age, and I’m curious to hear from you, what were the first experiences and stories that you were told about gender and masculinity when you were young?

[00:02:14] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Hmm. Well, I grew up in a pretty conservative area and in kind of the, the Bible belt in the south of the United States and you know, went to a Southern Baptist school and everything. And so it was very, it was very binary, gender based. It was very, there were very clear distinctions in expectations like around what men did and what women did and how you dressed and how you acted and everything, I mean, even the activities you were allowed to do or supposed to do or not supposed to do, you know?

[00:02:47] So it was it was very separated. And, and so that was very clear to me. No, I didn’t fit into that very easily myself. I’m a transgender man. So I was born female and I started changing my name playing with other kids to a masculine name at four years old. So I had no exposure at all to the LGBTQ plus community.

[00:03:10] And yet I knew that the name I was given the very feminine name did not fit me, but there was not even the word transgender [00:03:20] then, so I had no language to explain it or describe what I was feeling. Right. I just knew that the name didn’t fit and started changing my name to a masculine name and my grandfather and I, my mom had me at 16.

[00:03:35] So my grandparents helped raise me in my younger years. And so my grandfather and I had a show that we watched together all the time and our show was gun smoke. It was an old Western. You know, some of you can still see it on Nick at night. I think they have replays. And I told everybody that my name was Matt Dylan, who was the sheriff in that show who I thought was this really good guy.

[00:03:59] You know, he wore the white cowboy hat. He was the good guy in town, and I wore a little, literally wore a little Sheriff’s badge and six shooters and cowboy boots. My grandparents actually thought it was really cute when kids would come knock on the door and ask to play with Matt Dylan

[00:04:15] So that was my first experience. And you know, one of the interesting things is being born. My sex at birth being born female it’s kind of cute when a kid is little, if they’re born female and they’re a tomboy, you can get away with that. Whereas, you know, if your sex at birth is male that doesn’t work on the opposite side of that.

[00:04:36] Right? If a someone born male, wants to play a girl or a princess that’s not acceptable. Right. But then of course, when you get to the age of puberty in conservative areas like that, you’re supposed to snap to, and, and put on your dress and go to church and

[00:04:55] I did what I had to do to get through that. And I started martial arts at six, so that helped cuz that gave me this outlet, this place to be more who I was, more masculine and I could be more physical. And the uniform is a uniform, right. It’s pants , you know, and so by the time I was 17, I was on the US karate team.

[00:05:19] I won the US fighting title. So I did very well, and that put me on a different journey as far as my experience with gender. Because that was a really rare. Of course only the top 100 athletes in any sport get an opportunity to be asked to be on a team on a country’s team, for a sport.

[00:05:39] And so I knew how rare that opportunity was. And I had worked many years for it, very hard, and I happened to have really good genetics as an athlete. So I, my body held up to that kind of hardcore training and competition really well for a long. So the last time I competed, I was 39 years old and I was in the world championships on the US karate team.

[00:06:06] And I had some 18 year olds on the team calling me the grandparent of the team, cuz I was the oldest one on the team, male or female at the time. Right. And I won two medals in that world championships. And I looked at my clock and said, this is probably a really good time to retire. well, I retire on top, you know, as the grandparent

[00:06:27] and see the us, they wouldn’t have allowed me to compete had I started medical transition earlier. Cuz they weren’t sure what to do with transgender athletes and especially in a contact sport like I was in and they’re still trying to [00:06:40] figure that out.

[00:06:40] Right. It’s it’s complex, especially when you’re talking a contact sport, but I was still allowed to coach and referee, which I’ve done. I’ve coached 59 national champions, but a lot of the lessons even I talk about in this book, Are from my many, many years of martial arts. So this is, you know, my 51st year as a martial artist.

[00:07:03] And there’s so many lessons in the martial arts about grounding and about, being centered and, and about inclusivity and about seeing the bigger picture of things. So I think, a lot of the things I bring into this are actually from and balance and about balance in life.

[00:07:23] You know, come from that, all that training I’ve had in the martial arts.

[00:07:27] Laura Hartley: You know, and this is an interesting topic here because your work now is all about positive masculinity. Yes. I’m curious again about your experiences in, when you were looking at masculinity, kind of, as to how does this apply to me, where do I fit into this?

[00:07:43] And also, we’re seeing a lot of toxic masculinity is a really common term that we see. What was this like when you were looking at it kind of from a different perspective and then into actually, how do we make this into something that’s a little bit healthier and better for us and better for the world?

[00:07:59] Mac Scotty Macgregor: you know, I’ve had such an interesting ride of this because as, as what the world viewed for a long time as a female athlete, I definitely put up with a lot of sexism, and so I’ve experienced that. And then when I was ready to start my medical transition, I went through a period of time of questioning.

[00:08:17] Do I really want to be a part of this group of people who’ve caused a lot of damage and hurt a lot of people. and that’s when I actually heard my grandfather, who was a great role model to me in a lot of ways. He wasn’t perfect by any means he was very traditional, but my Papa was also , came from a poor farming family and owned his own business.

[00:08:37] And, , he could tell a story like nobody’s business. He was a very social person. He was an extrovert. And so I learned a lot from him, but I heard his voice in the back of my head when I was questioning this, cuz he always taught me that the best way to create positive change is from within a group.

[00:08:56] So he taught me don’t stand on the outside and point the finger at a group and complain, get in there and be a part of making positive change. And he became a city Councilman. He ran for local office. He did all kinds of things in the community to better the community. And, he taught me that I think very valuable, viewpoint and skill.

[00:09:19] And so I heard his voice when I was questioning and then it came to me, it was like, yeah, what we need is more good masculine people to step up and speak up and get involved. And so, and there are. Of course, there are a lot of good masculine people and men in the world, it’s just that right now, they’re not the loudest voice, unfortunately.

[00:09:41] Laura Hartley: So what is positive masculinity? How would you define it?

[00:09:44] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Ah, well, I think I’m gonna take it right from the back of my book. It’s a heart led guide toward growth and conscious emotional intelligent and inclusive masculinity. So when I say inclusive [00:10:00] masculinity, one of the things to me about toxic and traditional masculinity is it’s been very exclusive.

[00:10:07] So it’s even been exclusive to some cisgendered men. And when I make cisgendered, I mean, people who are born with their mind and their, body matching in, how they feel they are, how they feel their gender. It’s congruent. So traditional and toxic masculinity excluded men that were more tender.

[00:10:28] Maybe more artsy, right? They weren’t the physical prowes kind of, you know, tough guy. So all those kind of guys were excluded in that and have been for a long time. So even cisgender men have been excluded and sometimes. This has also been a good old boys club in a way that excluded some men of color.

[00:10:52] Right. And anybody who was a little different, and of course it’s also excluded the LGBTQ plus community. So men that were bisexual or gay or trans men, or any, anybody on that spectrum at all, any, any of the letters of the queer alphabet were excluded as well. Cuz it was very heteronormative.

[00:11:11] Right. So excluded a lot of people. . And so when I talk about inclusive, I mean, not only including all the forms of masculinity that I call masculinities, cuz there’s not just one way to be masculine, but it’s also inclusive of women and people on the gender spectrum all the way across. Why should we think there’s has to be a competition?

[00:11:36] I don’t. I mean, the one thing the binary does is it pits one against the other, any binary system does this so in, in other words, in that system, in order to define manhood and masculinity, I need to say I’m opposite of something and that’s femininity in women, And that’s how the binary does the rich, the poor, right?

[00:11:58] The black, the white, it’s all, you have to have the other to define yourself .

[00:12:03] Laura Hartley: And the thing that I find really interesting in what you’re saying here is that, our traditional definition of masculinity really plays into these systems that a lot of us are trying to change around patriarchy around capitalism, around white supremacy that, that binary and that rigidity is the same construct there.

[00:12:22] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Right? Totally. Yeah. You got that, right? Yeah. It, it, it limits us all. And one of the things when I started the group, so I’ve been running this men’s group, positive masculinity discussion group for going on three and a half years. And when I started this group, the #metoo movement had been going for a while.

[00:12:42] Right. So women were starting to speak up and, and talk about how the patriarchy and toxic masculinity had harmed them and held them back and been an obstacle. , but men, weren’t a part of this conversation. You know, the, the masculine voice was not a part of this. Except some men that were saying, oh, you’re just trying to say, you know, all men are bad.

[00:13:08] The men that were, you know, fighting, you’re trying to take our manhood away. That kind of, that was the only voice that I heard coming from the masculine side. Why do you think

[00:13:17] Laura Hartley: that is?

[00:13:18] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Well, because I think [00:13:20] men have been taught that I have to hold up this man mask, which means I have to, you know, be all these things.

[00:13:27] I’ve been told what it means to be a man. Like I have to be in control all the time. I have to have all the answers. I have to be strong all the time. All these things. I can never show weakness. I have to have all the answers all the time, which none of us do. I mean, that’s ridiculous.

[00:13:44] But that’s the man mask. That’s the thing we’re taught, you know, in order to be a man, if you do any of these things that are considered feminine, then it shows weakness. Which again, goes to why men don’t talk about their feelings and show any emotion, why they’re stoic and rigid. And you know, it’s this, it goes back to all of that.

[00:14:05] So that’s why, and what I wanted to do was invite men and masculine people into this conversation and say, Hey, first of all, we need to talk about how the patriarchy and toxic masculinities also hurt.

[00:14:17] Laura Hartley: It reminds me of that bell hooks, quote, you know, the first act of violence that the patriarchy demands of males is not violence towards women.

[00:14:24] It is to engage in, in psychic self mutilation like that. Yes. That killing off of the emotional parts of

[00:14:30] Mac Scotty Macgregor: themselves. That’s right. That’s right. And, and that’s why the, the suicide rate is so high among middle aged men, I believe, is because, and why do we see all, almost all the violent crime, right.

[00:14:41] Is men because they stuff that emotion down so much, it’s gonna come out in some way. And sometimes it comes out in self harm, whether it be substance abuse or suicide, or, and sometimes it, of course comes out in, in, violence, domestic violence. And sometimes, , it ends up these people going out and doing mass shootings, unfortunately, and harming, you know, innocent people.

[00:15:08] You know, because they just don’t know what to do with all this, because men have not been given the emotional tools . To deal with. Cause they’ve just been told to shut it.

[00:15:16] Laura Hartley: Mm. And you know, this for me, the expression of our emotions through anger and violence is, you know, to say it’s not just men only, but it is a very kind of masculine feature.

[00:15:28] And it’s kind of the definition of what I think we use the term toxic masculinity. But I also, right. I think I remember reading that you said the term toxic masculinity was kind of a dangerous term to use. Was that right?

[00:15:42] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Well, here’s what I challenge people to do. I think there’s a difference between toxic and traditional masculinity.

[00:15:49] And I think we need to save the word toxic for the things that are really toxic. You know, like that extreme violence is toxic. Rape culture is toxic, right? There’s no doubt about that, but there’s also some of this. That is what I would call traditional masculinity. It’s not healthy, but it’s not toxic. So to.

[00:16:11] It may be toxic to the individual, but not toxic to everyone out there. For instance, if you have more traditional belief systems, right. You know, like some people even, I would go as far as say, as some people that believe marriage is, is strictly between one man and one woman. So they don’t believe in, you know, any other type of union.

[00:16:34] Right. Well, if that’s their personal belief and they keep that to [00:16:40] themselves and that’s the way they run their own life, that’s one thing. But the minute they try to push their beliefs, this is where I think the line crosses of something becoming traditional to toxic is the minute I try to force that on other people or bully other people due to my belief or my way of thinking.

[00:16:59] And that’s, I think, I think we have to, you know, I just think sometimes the word toxic is thrown around really easily. And it makes men feel like people think that just all men are toxic, you know, or the masculine is toxic in and of itself. And that’s where I just think we have to be careful.

[00:17:16] Laura Hartley: Yeah. And I like that distinction that you’re making that it’s not masculinity itself.

[00:17:20] It is these aspects of masculinity that involve the violence that involve the, the force and the pushing of harm. Mm-hmm onto others. Yes. You know, I love a lot of your work because it is about breaking free of social conditioning, you know, and I think a lot of what, you know, my school is about as well, is this idea of culture detox.

[00:17:40] How do we break free of systems? And when I was reading your book the other week, there was a quote that stood out to me that. You know, I’d love to hear a little bit more from you about, about these intersecting systems, because you said that capitalism also supports this patriarchal idea to the point where systems have been set up to applaud the survival of the fittest, no longer caring who they hurt or how devastating the hurt may be.

[00:18:04] You know, where does capitalism play into this? Like

[00:18:08] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Well, it’s the hoarding of resources, right? It’s it’s the guy who has the most toys win. , you know, we, we make a joke about it. Like it’s toys, like it’s a kid hoarding the toys, but when it gets to the point where it’s adults hoarding all this wealth, when we have people starving on the, you know, on the other side of the road that is toxic and the, and that the guy with all the toys doesn’t care, the guy that’s hoarded up all the wealth doesn’t care, because all he cares about is getting more and more and more.

[00:18:41] and I think unfortunately capitalism, unchecked or out of balance has turned into something that has become very toxic. And it, I think it’s definitely at that point in the United States you know, and in other places too, in the world, but it’s, it’s become the point where we just cheer on the guy he can get, he can also get away with awful behavior because he has all these resources.

[00:19:06] Right. Whereas another person would never get away with that. Same behavior, you know? So that, again, it just, it just, the, it, the toxicity just is like a ball rolling, downhill, getting bigger and bigger, like the more, the more wealthy gains. And then, you know, he also thinks he’s beyond the law. Right.

[00:19:26] Which some of them are, some of them are , you

[00:19:29] Laura Hartley: know, I think capitalism was born out of patriarchy. I often say, yes, capitalism’s only 500 years old, or so it’s not been around as long as these patriarchal structures, but they kind of prop each other up.

[00:19:42] Mac Scotty Macgregor: They sure do prop each other up. Yeah. And, and it’s also, there’s nothing about being collaborative in this uh, Way of thinking right in this belief system around capitalism, it’s more, I will step on whoever I have to, to get what I want to be the guy at the top of the hill.

[00:19:59] And I [00:20:00] don’t care who it hurts, right. Or how many it hurts or how many are without I don’t care. And, and of course the men that have been in power all these years, they then create systems that support their power. like tax breaks for the rich, right? like they end up paying less taxes than the middle class.

[00:20:24] How is that? Because they create the systems

[00:20:27] Laura Hartley: this kind of leads into another quote of yours that I loved, which was, you know, that it’s important to understand that what we associated with male and female is all connected with what we’ve been taught, that there are social constructs for the purpose of keeping us all in our proper lane.

[00:20:41] You know, what is our proper lane? Like, where is, where is this taking us? What, what is it supporting these ideas that we have?

[00:20:49] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Oh, well it supports those, those old white guys that have the money staying in charge. Honestly. I mean those old, straight white guys, it, it really does. It supports that. You know, I often bring this up when someone says to a little kid to a little boy, Hey man.

[00:21:06] up, or toughen up.. What are they, what are they actually saying to you? You know?

[00:21:12] Laura Hartley: Just be like that person just, just hold it all in

[00:21:16] Mac Scotty Macgregor: that’s right. Yeah. And, and show that you, you know, act like you’ve got it all together, even if you don’t. I remember hearing the thing, fake it till you make it, you know, just put on the face, right.

[00:21:27] Put on the mask act like you’ve got it all all together. When someone says to a little girl act like a lady, what are they saying to her? You’re not staying in your lane. You’re not doing what we tell you you’re supposed to do to act like a little, you know, sweet girl that has manners and doesn’t speak up for herself enough.

[00:21:45] Right. Don’t be too assertive. That’s not acting like a lady, right?

[00:21:50] Laura Hartley: Yeah. It’s funny, I’ve been creating some work around perfectionism and you know, this, this imposter syndrome that especially so many women struggle with and, you know, bringing this back to this idea that actually culturally, as women, that we are, we were supposed and conditioned for thousands of years to stay obedient, to stay quiet, to, you know, to look dainty and clean.

[00:22:11] And then of course, We’re loud or we’re messy, or we make mistakes that it feels like this massive shame, because we’ve never been conditioned to believe that that’s acceptable.

[00:22:22] Mac Scotty Macgregor: That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. And I love that there are so many women out there breaking this cycle. Now. I love it. I mean, my wife is one of ’em she’s in, in school getting her doctor degree right now and transpersonal psychology.

[00:22:36] And I love, you know, here we’re visiting our grandchildren right now. And. Young granddaughters are getting to see their grandmother go back and get her doctorate degree right now, which I think is, is so powerful, right. For them to see those examples. Right. And she’s a strong woman and I love that more women are speaking up and not apologizing for who they are and that’s, and, and men need to support.

[00:23:00] ’em one of the things I loved I went to a women’s March yesterday here in the United States for women’s reproductive. Right. and there were a lot of men there marching and supporting women. And that was really good to see.

[00:23:15] Laura Hartley: Yeah. You know, and, you know, looking at this idea, right. So we know that the [00:23:20] binary kind of falls into this idea of supremacy culture.

[00:23:22] We know that it props up these systems. We know that, you know, gender comes with these constructs that keep us in a certain lane, what are the tools that actually create this though. How do we police these systems? Ways that maybe we don’t realize that we’re holding this system up and these ideas in place

[00:23:42] Mac Scotty Macgregor: well, here’s the interesting thing is even with toxic and traditional masculinity, a lot of women even perpetuate these messages because they’ve been socialized the same way.

[00:23:54] Right. And I, I tell this story about my stepson. He, when I teach this stuff, he’s, he’s a, he’s a college, you know, age kid now, but he was 13 and going to get prep for braces and he had to get a tooth pulled and he was really nervous about. And he’s a tall kid for his age. And so we go to this pediatric dentist, his mom was working, so I took him and he’s like the, the dental assistant gets us in the room and he’s giving the chair, the death grip, cuz he’s very nervous.

[00:24:26] And she looks at him and says, because he is a tall kid, right. For his age, she looks at him and says, you need to toughen up. You’re a big boy. So she had been socialized the same way right now. What I did was I stepped up and said, excuse me, ma’am his mom and I don’t raise him like that. We raise him where he can express his fears and talk about his feelings.

[00:24:46] She was just like, oh my goodness. You know, I’msorry and hopefully that made her really go back and think through some things, but we’ve all been socialized around this whole idea. He’s 13 years old, but because he’s tall, he’s supposed to be, not feel afraid of getting a tooth pulled. I mean, I know adults that’d be afraid of getting a tooth pulled.

[00:25:07] Right. I’m probably one of them. Yeah, me too. Yeah. Nobody likes the dentist, right. but you know, that was her socialization. And I hope that what I said to her made her go back and think through it, you know? So we’re always policing each other. It’s not just men, men police each other all the time, because if a guy shows tenderness or emotion at all, a lot of other guys will jump on him right away.

[00:25:35] You know, what are you doing? Being a wuss. You know, you’re, you’re being a sissy. You know, that stuff starts very young. But also I think we need to be honest and look at it that women also perpetuate it because women have been socialized the same way. You know, I’ve heard a lot of women tell their little boys not to cry.

[00:25:52] and their sister is allowed to cry right next to him and the boys don’t understand this when they’re little. That doesn’t make any sense. Right?

[00:26:00] Laura Hartley: it’s this containing of our emotions, right? So like this, this idea that, you know, we use shame or guilt or right. This, you know, obedience to say, you shouldn’t feel this, you know?

[00:26:10] Right. Make it something

[00:26:11] Mac Scotty Macgregor: else. Yeah. And then we have to go back and try, you know, the work I’m doing is to peel back these layers of shame, and reexamine our socialisation. And say, Hey, you know, we were created to be emotional beings, all of us. And so is this really healthy for us? Is this serving us well?

[00:26:30] What happens? You know, men, they get into relationships as they become adults. And. A lot of men get told you’re not emotionally available to me in their relationships. Well, why is that? [00:26:40] Well, the whole world’s been telling me to shove my emotions down and not talk about anything, you know, my whole life.

[00:26:46] And now I get into a relationship and somebody wants me to be emotionally available. They don’t even know where supposed to be intimate

[00:26:52] Laura Hartley: immediately.

[00:26:53] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yeah, that’s right. They don’t have any idea where to start, you know, and then they end up empty. They feel very empty. You. So, I mean, that’s in, and that’s in romantic intimate relationships, much less friendships.

[00:27:06] Men have such a hard time, you know, developing healthy friendships where they can actually talk about something other than work and sports, you know that I know men that have been lifelong friends and I’m talking known each other since elementary school and feel uncomfortable giving their lifelong friend a hug.

[00:27:29] or comforting them. If they have someone in their immediate family pass away, they don’t know how to, they don’t know how to be there for their friend. You know, it’s so sad. It really is sad. You know, that there’s this big disconnect because they can’t be in touch with their own emotions. Of course. How can you be there for a friend that’s going through something like that.

[00:27:49] If you can’t be in touch with your own emotions. So.

[00:27:54] Laura Hartley: What does unraveling that shame look like? You know, because as you said, we’re so conditioned to it and, and that’s, you know, it’s men, it’s women, all of us are conditioned, I think, to kind of use shame and even within change making and activism circles, you know, there’s a big thing around shame culture and how we gonna shame this other person into change, right.

[00:28:13] And interchange. Right. And I’m a big believer that shame actually doesn’t really lead anywhere. Positive shame generally only leads to toxicity. So like where do we start to peel that back?

[00:28:24] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yeah, I think we have to all go back and examine reexamine, the messaging and modeling we had. And this is not an easy process.

[00:28:32] I mean, because you, you really have to go back through layers of, and you know, I think you and I had talked about this before. The unlearning there’s so much more unlearning to do than learning. Oh my. I mean, literally, you know, it’s like Shrek peeling, I’m, you know, I’m made of layers, right. Peeling back the layers and, and you know, it, I think one of the obstacles is some people think if I peel back these layers and go back and look at my modeling and, and messaging and socialization, am I saying that the people who taught me this are.

[00:29:08] I think that’s an obstacle, right? Because people don’t wanna look at their parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and coaches and teachers, and think they were bad people. And one of the things I let people know is I don’t think that they were, most of them were not bad people with bad intentions.

[00:29:24] Nobody was having these conversations with them. They were just passing along with the way they had been taught and socialized. Right. Nobody was, unfortunately they didn’t get the, the chance to have these convers. And they were harmed by their socialization too, and limited by yeah. You know,

[00:29:42] Laura Hartley: you know, I can relate to that.

[00:29:45] Yeah. That fear that sometimes, you know, when I was looking at things in my past, you know, I love my family. My family’s amazing. It’s helped shape me into who I am, but also then looking at maybe some of those unhelpful beliefs and ideas and constructs that were passed down that [00:30:00] don’t actually serve me was right.

[00:30:02] It felt guilty a little. , you know? Yeah. Like, is it a betrayal to them to like be free of this

[00:30:08] Mac Scotty Macgregor: right. Or, you know, to your faith or your, you know, a lot of people have those community ties too, that they feel it’s a betrayal too, you know, but I mean, healthy faith traditions, even they want us to grow and thrive.

[00:30:23] Right. Mm. So I mean, you know, I always think of that, you know, if, if, if we’re really supposed to grow and thrive, we want to do things in the healthiest way and hopefully for goodness sakes, hopefully we evolve and get better each generation. That’s the hope, right? yeah. It’s not just to stay exactly the same.

[00:30:44] Hopefully we learn some things that we can do better and, and teach our kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews to do better as they come up, you know? And and that’s, that’s the thing of this work now. It’s not easy to find people that are willing to do this deep dive because this is deep interpersonal.

[00:31:01] yeah. You know, I had one person tell me you’re looking for unicorns. because it’s not easy to find. As you know, you’re doing some of this work too. It’s not easy to find people that just wanna jump right in and really deeply examine all of this. Right.

[00:31:18] Laura Hartley: Yeah. And so a lot of this, you know, cuz it’s funny when we’re talking about culture, we’re talking about systems yet we’re coming back to work.

[00:31:26] We do as individuals, right? We’re coming back to work. We do inside ourselves.

[00:31:30] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yeah. Well, you know, I took a, I took a I had the privilege of taking a seminar several years ago as a college professor. I got to sit with the Dai Lama for four days and he taught us. How to have world peace through each of us working on our own individual inner piece.

[00:31:52] It was amazing, but he said, we cannot just look out there and talk about world peace without working on our own inner peace. And so that is exactly what I’m doing. We can’t change the view. Of these limiting ideas and beliefs out there in the world until we look within and do that introspective work.

[00:32:16] Right?

[00:32:17] Laura Hartley: Yeah. You know, system change has its inside job as well because ultimately like, you know, we’ve created these right. Humans created them, humans perpetuate them. That’s right. So we need to kind of, as humans start to like look within and what am I holding up?

[00:32:33] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yes. And then you start to have conversations about it with people in your life and that’s how it starts to trickle out.

[00:32:39] Right? Ah,

[00:32:41] Laura Hartley: yeah. So you create spaces, right? You create groups that men can come along to you and start to explore this idea. Yeah.

[00:32:48] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yeah. So here’s a beautiful thing. So about three and a half years, I’ve been running this men’s group where we can create a safe container. We make agreements at the beginning that.

[00:32:59] Nobody will share anybody else’s story or, you know, what they share without their permission outside the group. It’s consent based, you know, to share anybody else’s story. And we also make an agreement that will be supportive of one another’s growth within the group. So we’re there for a unified, you know, [00:33:20] reason to help each other learn and grow as we go along and.

[00:33:26] even if somebody says something, you know, because as you’re peeling back, these layers, sometimes things come out, right. Even if someone says something like really off color, you know, about their thoughts or beliefs, we, we do an, a keto technique. I would say we redirect gently. You know, to . I like I, keto is the way of harmony.

[00:33:49] It literally means the way of harmony. So you take the energy in, you blend with it and you gently redirect it. And so, instead of just telling, you know, someone, if they say something like really off color, like why should we support women and women’s rights, you know, like that kind of a thing. We don’t just come, you know, down on them, you know, like a lot of guys would in the regular traditional toxic world.

[00:34:12] And say, you know, you’re an idiot, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you see this? You know, like , you know, we say, have you thought of this perspective? How about look at it from this angle over here? And are there women in your life that you love, right. Are there women you care about? Well, you know, do you, why would you want hold them back?

[00:34:32] You know? And if you’re secure in who you are, well, then why would you feel the need to put anyone else? Right. .

[00:34:40] Laura Hartley: What I like about this is it’s not just changing the beliefs. It’s not just like, you know, okay, now we’re gonna support women or now we’re not gonna do this. It’s actually kind of changing the framework in which you’re approaching it to begin with, like the very foundations.

[00:34:54] Mac Scotty Macgregor: One of the things we really encourage is curiosity. I think curiosity is the key to everything. And, and I, and I say that because. even like when I’m examining my own thoughts and feelings around something, like when you mentioned rigidity earlier, you know, I talked a lot in the book about rigidity and that it’s nothing to celebrate.

[00:35:13] For one thing as an athlete, you know, I can tell you that rigidity is something that will cause injury in you as an athlete. It’s agility and flexibility that helps keep you from getting injured, not rigidity. Right? So anytime I feel like that we’re rigid in anything, like somebody says something and I feel my body tense up.

[00:35:38] I’m sure we’ve all had that happen because it brings up some reaction in you. I think curiosity is the way to approach that. This is what I teach the guys in the group. This is how I coach them. Get curious about why am I feeling my jaw tight? Why am I feeling tense when somebody talks about this?

[00:35:59] You know, get curious, start asking yourself questions. What is that bringing up in me? Where is that coming from? You know, what is that triggering in me? That’s bringing up that reaction. And I think that curiosity is the key to us. You know, not learning about ourselves. Like the first thing is learning about ourselves and it, and it’s, you know, this is a, I think a deeper dive for the masculine because we’ve been taught to ignore feelings.

[00:36:24] Yeah. And so we’re, I’m asking them to get curious and dive into why this brings this up. And if you feel sad, dive into what is it that’s bringing that up and right. You know, and this helps us work through this in a healthy way. [00:36:40]

[00:36:40] Laura Hartley: You know, and again, like bringing this back, you know, I, I completely see what you’re saying, but I also, I see it in our work lives as well.

[00:36:47] You know, even for those of us, you know, who aren’t men or identify as men, then, you know, we go into the office and this is a professional space. You’re not supposed to have emotions here. This is your working life. And this idea that there is a disconnect in parts of our lives, from what we’re actually feeling.

[00:37:02] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Right. And that’s it doesn’t work. It does it really doesn’t work. I mean, the best, the workplaces where people thrive are the workplaces where you can bring your whole self to work. You know, they’re the workplaces where if you are, for instance, you know what you’re dealing with with, at home, if you’re taking care of a sick elderly parent, they’re the workplaces that you can actually talk about that.

[00:37:29] And people say, how can we support. At work, you know, you can’t ignore that kind of thing at work. And how many people are dealing with heavy things like that in their family, they may have a sick child or a sick, you know, family member they’re caring for, or, or people going through their own like cancer illness or something.

[00:37:49] And they feel like they can’t talk about these. These are life altering things, or going through a divorce or a separation, you know, all of those things affect every part of us. So if we can’t bring our whole selves to work, we’re not going to also, we’re not gonna be able to do our best work. We’re not gonna be able to thrive.

[00:38:08] Laura Hartley: And we can’t then bring our whole selves suddenly at home either when we’ve just like been disconnected from ourselves for eight or nine hours somewhere else. . So I’m really curious. If we’re looking at this, like we have this individual lens of unlearning of, trying to get curious about what we’re feeling of trying to let go of shame. From a cultural or from a community or change maker lens,

[00:38:29] what can we be doing to kind of change these structure?

[00:38:33] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Some that takes a little work. Right. And that takes us being willing, not only like to do our own introspective work, but to go out and challenge places that we gather, like workplaces and, faith communities and any group that we’re in, and challenge them to open up and have these conversations.

[00:38:54] I. people are tired of being silent. And if one thing I think is the silver lining from the pandemic is people realizing that they’re not willing to spend their life, for instance, working at a places where they can’t bring their whole selves to work right. Or that aren’t supportive of who they are ?

[00:39:12] And I think, you know, people have taken more seriously, like the what’s important to them. They reevaluate it? And so if a place doesn’t do that, they don’t want to be there anymore. And I think , it’s a bit of a revolution that’s happening. People, , waking up and realizing, Hey, my family and my own health and mental health and wellbeing is important.

[00:39:33] It’s important enough for me to speak up. Right. yeah. And maybe change where I work or change where I spend my time or who I spend my time with. Right. It makes you even choose your friends differently.

[00:39:46] Laura Hartley: absolutely. And the question I wanna leave you with today, and, you know, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation is, what is your vision of masculinity or, or masculinities, cuz you know, I love the, the plurality there in a [00:40:00] more just and regenerative and loving world.

[00:40:03] What’s your best vision for the future of how we start to view masculinity?

[00:40:08] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Well, good men need to be a louder voice. Good men have to speak up and stand up and, and embrace masculinities and embrace women and embrace people that are non-binary and talk about it. Not just stay off to yourself.

[00:40:27] I think we have to start speaking up and standing up. There are a lot of good men out there, and I also think we have to challenge each other as men to do your work. to do our work. I mean, one of the things I challenge the guys to do in our group is, Hey, if you hear, you know, somebody make an off color comment, a racist comment, a comment about against women, don’t just stand there.

[00:40:53] Don’t think you’re still the good guy, because you just stood there, say something and there’s ways to say it and not like start a fight. Mm-hmm , you know, and I actually teach that skill there’s ways to say it. One of the things I suggest to people is call the, is wait till you’re alone with the guy who said it, because one of the things that’ll start a physical confrontation with guys is if you make them lose face in front of a whole group, right?

[00:41:19] So there’s ways to do it in a healthy way where maybe you’ll actually get through and he’ll open and listen to you because if you, you scream in his face or shutting down in front of others, he’s not gonna be open to really hear what you say. He’s gonna get defensive. So I think the good men need to speak up.

[00:41:37] I think that’s the big thing. And I also think, I think women need to make it clear to guys I’m tired of being your only emotional like crutch. , I think you need to get out there and get some healthy friendships and go get in a men’s group. You know, I will tell you a lot of the guys in our group, the women in their lives.

[00:41:55] Told ’em about our group. ,

[00:41:58] Laura Hartley: they’ve been sent there by women.

[00:42:00] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yes. Yes. And that’s okay. You know, whatever, whatever gets in there and to start doing this work, and then they’re much healthier and happier. One of my favorite stories from our group and the, and the three and a half years have been running the group and we do it virtually so people can join from anywhere.

[00:42:17] My hope for the future is that we end up with these groups all over. And one of the beauties for, from the book being out is that I’ve had men contact me from all over the world now saying I wanna learn. And so I, how to run a group like this here. And so I’m gonna be doing a facilitator training for, for folks to be able to have groups, but one of the best stories that, that from that’s come from our group is a, a father and an adult son that had been coming to our group together.

[00:42:48] And prior to being a part of our. They were not very close. The dad’s a very kinda masculine man’s man, a hunter Fisher work on cars, kind of guy, you know, and the son’s more tender, more artists based, you know, , they’re very different. Right. And so they didn’t talk about much of anything.

[00:43:08] They had very surface conversations and they started coming to our group together. The dad started actually coming. and the son then started coming. And I will tell you that the [00:43:20] son wrote a beautiful blog that we’re getting ready to release on our website about the fact that this group has transformed their relationship, that now they feel comfortable hugging each other.

[00:43:33] They didn’t even feel comfortable hugging each other before father and son. And now they talk about real things. They can actually talk to each other when something’s going on in their lives. And they feel comfortable like actually calling each other or, you know, sitting down and having a conversation about real stuff.

[00:43:50] And that’s just so beautiful to me. And that makes me feel like all the work is worth it. Right. Because that’s what it’s all about. Right. It’s about, I think we will, the violence we’ll stop. I think we can literally transform the world if the masculine could open. and, and just have healthy relationships and have a health healthy relationship with their own emotions as well.

[00:44:14] Right.

[00:44:16] Laura Hartley: I like this idea, this open up, and I think as, as we do that, and as we learn to work with what’s inside of us and what we’re actually experiencing, that is where a change comes. That’s where real transformation starts to.

[00:44:30] Mac Scotty Macgregor: Yes so much. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

[00:44:34] I have loved this conversation. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Everybody listen, Mac has a wonderful book called positive masculinity now. There is a link to that, a link to all of his details in the show notes. So you can find all of that below anybody who wants to check us out. We have an online school for change makers at publiclove.enterprises, and you can follow me on Instagram at @laura.h.hartley otherwise, we’ll see you again in the next episode.

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