Episode 15

Published on:

26th May 2022

Sé Franklin - Older Men, Masculinities in Ireland, and ‘Inner Work’

Many older men, especially those who are socially isolated, face significant challenges – from physical ill-health, to loneliness, to marginalisation and poverty. These struggles can be compounded by the ‘hard shell’ of masculinity, learnt young and persisting through the life-course, which can leave some older men feeling a loss of a sense of purpose and potency, and prevent them from opening up about their vulnerabilities or the need for connection and support. Yet growing older can also provide opportunities for reflection, taking life in new directions, and leaving behind restrictive gendered expectations. 

In this episode of Now and Men, we have a moving conversation with Sé Franklin about the work he does with older men in Ireland on these issues – as well as the profound impact of doing ‘inner work’ guided by feminist principles. We consider some of the significant social change which has been taking place in Ireland – from divorce reform, to marriage equality, and abortion rights – and what it tells us about gender in Irish society today. The episode ends with Sé reading out a piece he has written on being an older man.

Sé Franklin has been ‘sitting with men in circles’ since 1997. He has worked with the Men's Development Network and other community-based organisations for many years. He has been part of the MenEngage Europe Network since its inception. He is a husband, father and grand-father, and lives in rural County Wexford in the South-East of the Republic of Ireland.

In this episode we cover the following topics:

  • The group work Sé does with older men in Ireland
  • The role of masculinity in this work and in older men’s lives
  • The positive effects engaging with older men can have
  • Having a men’s health strategy in Ireland
  • The personal impacts that doing this work has
  • How poetry can be used in engaging with men
  • The value of doing inner work
  • Stopping men’s violence against women in Ireland after the killing of Ashling Murphy
  • The implications of ongoing social change in Ireland around divorce law reform, same-sex marriage and abortion
  • Sé’s reading of his piece, ‘An Old Man’s Masculinities’



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About the Podcast

Now and Men
Current conversations about men's lives
What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? How can we engage in productive conversations about gender equality? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about a wide-range of topics connected to masculinity and the lives of men and boys, such as preventing gender-based violence, promoting active fatherhood, and supporting men's health.

The podcast is hosted by two social science researchers, based on the opposite sides of the world: Sandy Ruxton from Durham University's Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (UK) and Dr Stephen Burrell from the University of Melbourne (Australia). If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss, get in touch at nowandmen@gmail.com. And if you like what we do, please share us with your friends, and leave a review on Apple podcasts!

About your hosts

Stephen Burrell

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I am a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where I moved to at the beginning of 2024. My research is about men, masculinities and violence. I am particularly interested in the prevention of men's violence against women, building gender equality, addressing environmental harm, and promoting an ethic of care among men and boys. In my spare time I'm a big fan of drinking tea, being in nature, eating vegan ice cream, and listening to heavy metal music. I'm also a trustee for White Ribbon UK.

Sandy Ruxton

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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University (UK). Independent researcher, expert on men and masculinities. Previous policy work on human rights, children and families, poverty and social exclusion, and asylum and migration. Programme experience with boys and young men in schools, community, and prisons. Steering Committee member, MenEngage Europe. Volunteer for OX4 Food Crew. Chess-player, bike-rider, tree-hugger. Great grandfather edited Boy's Own Paper, but was sacked.