The 2020 Men's Day breakfast was a great success raising over $2800 for scholarships for Salesian schools in Samoa. The breakfast featured an important address from our special guest, Mr Matthew Stolp, old scholar Class of 1989, as well as participation by our leaders and parents.
The International Men's Day breakfast was held in the Savio Centre at Dominic College on Tuesday 10 November, and over 150 guests, including many students, parents and old scholars, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, entertainment from the College's taiko drums group, a fine performance from Year 10 student Dione Oloroso, prayers and introductions from our leaders and parents.
Our special guest speaker, Mr Matthew Stolp, Year 10 Class of 1989, current Head of Arts at GYC, actor, performer and entertainer, spoke honestly about men, gender and identity.
"It’s easy to be cynical of a special day for men when we already hold most of the power and privilege in the world, " Matthew said. "But I did decide to talk today because I thought one good thing about International Men’s Day is that it’s an opportunity for us to look at ourselves as men and consider how we can become better."
Matthew was at Dominic from 1979 through to Year 12 in 1991 and his five siblings also went through Dominic.
"I’d say my time at Dominic was pretty good all things considered. we had opportunities that gave us a sense of pride and success and I had some teachers that made me feel worthwhile. I made some good friends, a few of which I’m still friends with today. I learned some important lessons at Dominic, like the value of compassion and the power of Art in my own life. But perhaps like you, there were definitely times at school that I also felt nervous and confused, where I felt overlooked or like I didn’t belong. There were things, that I needed to learn, that were neglected and some lessons I learnt that were ill-informed or simply not right."
"No-one thought there was a need to discuss how to be a man. You just picked it up from the men around you and on the telly. My education about manhood was probably not too different from what you’re being taught today. We all know how to describe the stereotypical man: strong, brave, competitive, insensitive, leaders in business, government, crime, violence and war."
Matthew described events as he was growing up where masculine stereotypes were pushed and anything else rejected and belittled. This careless response hurt him.
"Dominic was a small town Catholic high school and Hobart was a remote part of the world in the 1980s, and it was a frightening and isolating place for a creative, sensitive, gay teenage boy who wasn’t that good at sport... People like me at that time were ridiculed, ostracised and even beaten up. My family were unable to be open to who I was, my friends would have rejected me. My school didn’t acknowledge different kinds of boys. The church degraded us and made us feel shameful and even the law in Tasmania persecuted us until 1997."
Matthew suggested that the world - the community, home, school and church - all failed him. But they also failed the boys who persecuted or ignored him.
"We are finally starting to see that our traditional understanding of manhood has in many ways done more harm in the world than good and there is a need to look critically at ourselves and take action to change" he said.
"Men don’t need to be scared that changing ideas about masculinity means we will lose our identity; it means we will improve our identity. It takes true courage for a group to relax its identity to include others and we must accept that real men can also be weak, nervous, shy, skinny, large, short, gay, transgender, spiritual, creative, intelligent, feminine, gentle, slow, anxious, differently abled, autistic and any of the kinds of men which have previously been rejected from the pack, including, in Australia, men of a different race, religion or colour." He concluded: "If you are any of these things, boys, it’s not just ok. It’s great – it’s what makes you unique and valuable to the world."
You can see more photos from the breakfast at our web gallery: Men's Day 2020.