A Men’s Liberation Workshop for New Co-Counselors

Some time ago we scheduled our annual Regional Men’s Liberation Workshop for early this June. As it got closer, I realized that several fundamentals classes would be finishing at about that time.

Often RC classes do not continue in the summer. People have noticed that without regular RC activities, we sometimes lose new people before the next classes begin. This can be especially true of men, since they have more difficulty with isolation. For this and other reasons, I thought it would be good to organize the workshop so that men from the fundamentals classes could get together.

Often men in a class or workshop of mostly women feel inadequate as Co-Counselors, because of their difficulties with discharge. I wanted the men to have a picture of what RC looked like with people with their particular sets of patterns and strengths.

I also thought it would be good to get experienced and new men together—to address more directly their common problems within RC and in the rest of their lives. I wanted to give the new men the most full picture of the men’s Community and RC that I could.

Our Regional Men’s Liberation Workshop was to begin on Friday and end in the mid-afternoon on Sunday. The teachers of the new men thought it would be difficult for them to commit to a weekend workshop—due to their being fathers of small children and because their relationship to RC was not yet a full commitment. So we altered the schedule to incorporate a one-day Introduction to Men’s Liberation Workshop, beginning at 10:00 AM on Saturday and ending at 5:00 PM.

The annual workshop takes place at my house. It is good for us men to have the workshop there. We are close to each other of necessity—we can’t be in the room without touching someone. Also, we love cooking our own food and doing all of the cleaning and other domestic chores. (Work is a good way for men to be close. It is much safer than trying to make awkward conversation.) We sleep close together. Unlike in much of the rest of the world, in many U.S. cultures living this physically close is unusual—which illustrates and explains the origins of some of our oppressor patterns. Living so closely together is a good contradiction to those patterns. It also keeps the workshop at a low cost.

The new men had been to an RC class, so they knew what a class and a session were, but I wanted them to see the full range of ways RC is used. We had a tightly packed schedule, with introductions; a class; a break for volleyball; support groups; lunch; a class; topic groups; another short class on men and women and sexism and male domination; and farewells.

We invented “Human Net Volleyball,” because I have only a small open space outside my house and no real net. Men holding hands were the “net.” When we rotated positions, men from each team rotated into and out of the “net,” facing the same direction as their team. The “net” often found a way to play in the game in creative ways, using heads, hands, legs, and feet, so there was lots of laughter. There were no rules other than trying to keep the ball in the air as much as possible.

We used a very light child’s inflatable ball, so that even when people hit it hard it couldn’t hurt anyone, break windows, or destroy gardens. It also made it impossible for the game to be very competitive in the usual sense. It accommodated the men with disabilities and allowed all the men to show the full range of their athletic abilities without taking up more space than anyone else.

The volleyball game, and the rest of the workshop, provided a solid picture of what the world will look like without the oppression of men, and showed how we can get there. It was very hopeful, as was mentioned by everyone in the farewells.

I encourage men everywhere to experiment with organizational forms that will accommodate the needs of men new to the Community, so that we can hold on to more and more of them.

Dan Nickerson
Freeport, Maine, USA

Last modified: 2014-10-18 00:43:48+00