Posted by: ginalazenby | May 10, 2013

what does it take to be a man .. or a woman?

The BBC news reporter asked if the new manager of Manchester United was going to be “man enough for the job?”.

I wondered what that could mean, being “man enough” … I have heard that expression before, not for a while … I have even heard that asked about women in senior corporate positions …. maybe in a movie perhaps. And I wonder, in this day and age what does it mean to be man enough … what does it even mean to be a man? It’s an interesting thought for men too .. what does it mean for them when they hear it?

Nobody ever asks if we are “woman enough” do they?  I have been watching a BBC TV programme on iPlayer called The Bankers and some of the banking CEOs in there come over as extreme and pitiful examples of manhood …. aggressive, greedy bullies … and yet they held some of the most powerful influential positions in society, even being knighted for their “contribution”.

I am asking this question because in my work I am deeply involved in the conversation of what it takes to be a woman today, a woman who wants to be a good mother or grandmother, a valued member of her community, someone her friends can rely on, a loving, caring person, a supportive and cherished partner, do a good job at work, be happy, be well, live without stress … pretty normal really…… but maybe above all, live a life of meaning and richness, feel like we are here making a difference in whatever we do. And these are some of the things we talk about when we gather together as women.

P1100561 - Version 2

This is our last Northern Women’s Gathering in the Healthy Home, Skipton in March

Insights from the last Women’s Gathering…
At the last Women’s Gathering which I hosted in the north of England back in March we had a wonderful group of women come together from all walks of life (business owner, seminar leader, author, activist, physical therapist, teacher, trainer, nurse, consultant, retired …) and from all over the north (Chester, Newcastle, Driffield, Manchester, Skipton!).
P1100562After supper I asked the circle of women to discuss what they would ask of our country leader (currently ours is David Cameron but this question is not about personalities, it is about having access to the highest level of decision-making) if they had the opportunity to do so. The women spent quite some time in animated discussion groups and then came back to share what they felt was important to talk about with our country’s leadership to drive much-needed change in our society.

Here are some of the highlights that came forth from our conversations:

  • first and foremost compassion is completely missing from the political system and is the is key to everything
  • the political system we have is seriously faulty, outdated, unrepresentative, antiquated, corrupt and undemocratic .. it is beyond fixing so a new one is needed
  • a new system needed that would be more egalitarian, much more cooperative than we have today…. Iceland is an example of new ways of bringing a more democratic process to society where the Icelandic people have stepped forward to create a “People’s Parliament” [one criteria for people stepping forward to serve is that they have NEVER been in parliament before (!)]
  • the way we educate our children needs to change; let’s stop trying to fit them into boxes, let’s be more creative and design something inspired by Steiner or Montessori; we need an education process that produces well-rounded human beings who can have a positive impact on society …. we are really feeling radical and like to start the whole system from scratch!
  • does the prime minister feel that women make a valuable contribution to society, and if he does believe that, does he believe that women could play a more valuable role in parliament ?
  • stop spending money on war and weapons; invest some of that money in the women of this country …. many are still stuck, held back and disempowered and need support groups like the circle we formed tonight. It is much harder for women to send their men to war when they are sending their own sons and grandsons  .. Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, says women feel this connection differently to men and so they would have less wars.
  • is the prime minister capable of really listening to us instead of just hearing what he wants to hear?  we women do not feel represented and heard. can we talk about the solutions instead of focussing on the problems. As women, we notice how resourceful and collaborative we are when all get in the kitchen and prepare a meal together (like we did for that evening gathering), no egos to watch out for just all of us happily and companionably making the meal happen even though we have not all worked together before
  • and we are clear as and when women rise the top positions that we want to do things differently and bring our feminine energy with us and not end up as a clone of a man doing things in a masculine way.

An invitation to join our next lively and nourishing conversation
These are just some of the thoughts and insights that came out of our creative dialogue. I’d love to invite you to be part of our next conversation ….  We might not be there in significant numbers at the top of government sitting alongside the many Eton and Oxford-educated millionaires that form our Cabinet, and we might not be chairing the major financial institutions that have taken our country to the brink but everyday we are “running the country” from our households, kitchens, desks, enterprises … working at a grassroots micro level making life work for ourselves, for our families and for our children. That has to count for something. We do have a voice and we need to start using it by firstly talking with each other about the kind of world we want and think creatively about what we are going to make it happen.

Please do join me at our next Women’s Gathering in the Healthy Home, Skipton, Saturday May 18th or in London on the evening of Thursday May 23rd. A warm welcome awaits, as well as tasty food and great friendship from the lovely women who always find their way to these gatherings.

Saturday May 18th 11am, read about & BOOK: Northern event in Skipton

Thursday May 23rd 6pm, read about &  BOOK: London event

And I would be interested to hear your thoughts about what it takes to be “man enough” or “woman enough”.


  1. This is a fabulous post, Gina, and well done you for bringing up these important issues. I’d love to join you sometime at one of your gatherings, and I’m working on re-organising my life so that I can do so. I love reading your blogs and following you on your travels. Keep up the good work, these issues need to be addressed.xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: