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? 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 masculinity, gender equality, and the lives of men and boys, with topics ranging from preventing violence against women, to promoting active fatherhood, to supporting men's health.

The podcast is created and hosted by Dr Stephen Burrell, Sandy Ruxton and Professor Nicole Westmarland, who are researchers from the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in the UK. 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 with us at nowandmen@gmail.com.

About your hosts

Stephen Burrell

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I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in the UK, and a Deputy Director of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA). My research is about men and masculinities - especially preventing men's violence against women, and currently, engaging men and boys in caring for the planet. I'm also a trustee for White Ribbon UK and on the steering group for Changing Relations CIC. In my spare time I'm a big fan of drinking tea and being in nature.

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.