THE EVIL THAT MEN DO
One of the male members of a Positive Psychology Whatsapp group of which I am a member, posted an article entitled ‘Why are so many single women trying love coaching?’ This was undoubtedly meant to be thought-provoking as the group members are predominantly woman and involved in coaching. The first few responses were “interesting” and “very interesting” and then, faster than the acronyms for gender identity change, so did the mood. It started with “Wow this Robert Burale (the coach) sounds awful. No expertise just mansplaining” ...This was followed by “yup”, “toxic”, “Urgh”. One person said, “I got halfway through this article before the bile started rising in my throat...” another concurred “experienced bile rush watching this”, “barf” and so on. The male member responsible for the post took cover and apologised for posting it is the first place.
If you aren’t familiar with the term Mansplaining I’m about to explain it and if you are a woman in the know of such things try and not take offence. Mansplaining is a derogatory term which encapsulates the sexist, condescending tendency men can exhibit in classrooms, at work, and in casual conversation to assume that they know more about a topic than a woman, no matter what it is or what her credentials are. It seems that it is ok for woman to use the term freely because it was quoted quite a few times by group members.
When the flood of penned vitriol containing harsh words like bile came pouring forth, I was intrigued because this group is one of the least judgemental cohorts I know. A central pillar supporting our work as coaches is unconditional, positive regard which basically means accepting others no matter what they say or do and placing no conditions on this acceptance. Although this translates as acceptance mostly for the people we coach, its essence tends to spill over to how we operate in other areas and what we believe etc. I couldn’t help feeling that all historic, cumulative hurt, rejection and disappointment caused by men were being channelled to this coach who seemed more like an interesting fellow than devil incarnate.
I watched the BBC video and wasn’t in the least bit offended. The purpose of coaching is to improve people’s lot in life, make things better, realise potential - make them happier is a phrase we use a lot. This is what Robert Burale, self-styled Love Coach, seems to be doing. As one satisfied customer said at the end of his programme "The most important takeaway from that course was just be happy. Make yourself happy. Love yourself. Before you give love out there, give it to yourself fully!” This didn’t seem to align to the thinking of one influential member of the group who wrote “He prays on vulnerable people and tells then what he thinks they need to hear” and another who said, “Why is he advising woman on how to have a successful relationship and not men?”
Is what he recommends or supports such as abstinence before marriage or taking an abusive partner back ideas that I agree with? No, in fact to me a lot of what he says sounds quite old fashioned but then I am not a single Kenyan woman trying to find love and therefore not his target audience. There is a lot of telling in his style (splaining) which is not a true coaching style as the coachee is supposed to find their own solutions but regardless there is a following for his message and, no doubt Robert Burale is making a fortune. And my group is not happy about it.
There is something about Dr Burale which triggered these emotional response from many woman in my group. Incidents when they were badly treated by men or when they fell ‘victim’ to mansplaining or when men of the cloth judged them were eagerly shared and added to the mounting negative tally against the not-so-good Doctor. I wanted to put my own thoughts forward but hesitated, intuitively knowing that this wouldn’t go down well with the politically correct brigade and that, just as Burale was labelled a mansplainer and misogynist, I would be too.
What is wrong with a woman seeking out the expertise and advice of a man when they are trying to find answers to love and who better than from the likes of Dr Burale who was once addicted to porn, failed in a marriage etc., I mean, come on, he’s every guy, right? And as they say, there’s none so pure as the reformed!
This trepidation to speak my mind is the cost of political correctness these days. Why am I not expected to have an opinion about women’s issues even if they are concerned with finding love? I have daughters and sisters and what happens in their world concerns me because they are often human issues not only women’s issues. Surely everybody is entitled to have an opinion on anything at all even Dr Burale - although whether it’s wise to voice that opinion at all times may be another matter.
Can you imagine the reaction that I would have got had I took to the group and accused them of womansplaining or being misandrists? It would be like throwing a grenade into a room for in the quest for equality and the ‘me too’ movement it just wouldn’t be tolerated. It sometimes feels that the pendulum has swung too far the other way and has become a ‘war on men’ movement and attitude that really is not helpful for the cause. Perhaps because of the years of inequality we are teaching women that it is ok to say whatever they want about men and take the gloves off and that’s counterproductive as its equality they are after, not war. One of the few guys in the group posted rather light-heartedly (I think) “Hi I’m willing to do love coaching. I’m single” - laughing emoji. His comment wasn’t even acknowledged but I sensed eyerolls and eyebrow lifting or am I just imagining it and being sexist?
Rhetorical question - I already know the answer to that!