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Reviewing the Dismal Side of Men's Lives

I attended the April workshop led by Diane Balser in Tokyo, Japan, on liberation for women and men.

I learned a great deal about what men's oppression is. For a long time I have been struggling, even in the RC Community, to feel completely proud about being male. I think this is partly because there is still a pattern in the Community of blaming men. Our Community has been having a hard time recruiting and keeping male Co-Counselors, and I am beginning to understand that what we are lacking is an understanding of male oppression. Diane explained very clearly the difference between sexism and men's oppression, which was eye-opening for many people.

I would like to share a few things I valued from the workshop.

First of all, there were more men at the workshop than at any previous workshop in Tokyo. We were about 130 participants, and of these over twenty were men. It was the first time for us to have so many men, from young men to the middle-aged business men. We had our own support groups to work on men's oppression. It was good to see us trying to stay close all the time. There was a lot of laughter and sweating among us.

There was an impressive demonstration on men and pornography. Diane said that addiction to pornography is very common in the developed countries and that most men have this addiction. By watching the demonstration, I understood why I could not help being addicted to pornography for a long time. I learned that we as men were brought up without really feeling connected and close to other people, and with a tremendous pressure to become 'a man.' If I dared to show my feelings, all kinds of distressed remarks, such as 'mother complex,' 'homosexual,' and 'sissy,' were thrown at me.

The demonstration was also on working on addiction to masturbation. I remembered that I had a time when I had to masturbate every day. Diane asked the client, 'When do you want to masturbate?' I would have answered that I did when I felt lonely, desperate, or despairing for the future. The worst time was when I was studying for getting in the university, being in that harsh competition. I wanted human connection, closeness, warmth, and relaxed relationships so badly. I wanted to feel that I was okay even if I failed to pass the exam. I wanted to feel that I was worthwhile, that my life was precious.

In my teenage years I was totally involved with virtual reality: 'New Age' stuff, playing computers, and reading comic books. I was suffering from the severe competition at school where I had to take tests and exams every day and was not able to have sincere talks with any of my friends. I felt completely despairing about everything. Masturbation seemed like a way for me to stay connected with reality through my body. It was my last attempt to keep myself human in this hard, competitive, inhuman society. It is this competition and this system which keep pushing men to be addicted to pornography and masturbation. The contradiction to our male distress patterns is to lead a human life, to stay close to our loved ones, to have relaxed relationships, and to enjoy our everyday lives. These are fundamental to our liberation.

Another impressive demonstration was on violence. A man asked why he should be called a violent man when he was 'just shouting at my wife and throwing cups and dishes in the house.' He had a father who had always beat up his wife and sons. Diane asked him to talk about his childhood, and he discharged about how scared he was as a small boy. Then she asked him to apologize to his wife. Then she asked him to decide that he would never again shout or throw things at his wife and would work on his early hurts in his sessions. The demonstration was moving, and I could see clearly how this man had been oppressed as a little boy. I Co-Counsel with him regularly and heard from him that he has not been violent since.

I was impressed by the fact that men can be free from violence. I am a survivor of violence. I was victimized by violence many times when I was a child and in my teenage years and always felt that I was powerless against violence, that I could not stop it. Watching this man work on his distress and decide to stop being violent was a wonderful contradiction.

I was in a support group for men whose wives are RCers. It was good to be able to share a common feeling of not being adequate because we haven't been able to show emotions as much as our female partners do. We men have been stopped from discharging since we were very small. I remember feeling that sessions were a waste of time, that it was no use to have sessions with my partner, and I used to hate having sessions with her.

In the support group I realized again how important it is to use RC for my own re-emergence first rather than rushing to explain or to talk things over.

I realized afterwards how much my partner, Yuho Asaka, has been supporting my liberation as a man. I appreciate her and other female friends for being great allies for me.

Brothers! Let's stay connected and reclaim our humanness together!

Hidetake (Abno) Ishimaru
Tokyo, Japan
Translated by Shiom Morita

Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00