Men's Liberation at the University

I was recently asked to give a presentation on men's oppression at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, USA, for a group of postgraduate students in a class entitled "Race, Class, and Gender in Education." The students included elementary school assistant principals, school and university staff, and education students. They were all women, and the instructor was an older black man.

Three of the students had been assigned to do a presentation on gender and had invited me to address the men's perspective. Before I spoke, they presented a disturbing series of slides and video clips on body image, advertising, and gender inequity in schools and the work place. After two hours of this, the group looked pretty stunned. They took a break, and then it was my turn to speak. I had brought along a good friend, Bruce, who also does RC.

I told them that we would present our information from the perspective of Re-evaluation Counseling and that our material came from the The Human Male: A Men's Liberation Draft Policy. I explained that humans operate in two distinct modes: intelligent and not-so-intelligent (based on distress patterns from old hurts) and that it was from the not-so-intelligent place that we had created institutions that systematically oppress men and perpetuate unintelligent behaviors. I defined oppression as we see it in RC, emphasizing the economic factor, then read the list of the nine institutions that oppress men.

I had the women get into groups of three and answer the question, "Where have you seen men in your life struggle?" Bruce, the professor, and I got together and took turns sharing stories of how we had seen men struggle. After about ten minutes of vigorous talking in the three-ways, the group reconvened and people shared some of what they had talked about. Then I went into more detail about how each institution oppresses men, frequently referring to the previous presentation.

When people's eyes began looking glazed, I stopped and asked for some input, explaining how in RC we encourage people to share how they feel. I received a wonderful flood of anger from several women about how men are in charge of those institutions, along with some indignant questions. The professor brought up the topic of racism. A woman of color added her opinions, and the discussion became quite heated. The professor asked how RC had affected me personally, and I explained that I was deeply displeased by the examples of sexualized advertising in the first presentation and that RC had opened up my ability to see that such things don't make sense.

People asked for solutions and wanted to know what the world would look like if people actually listened to each other. I suggested that the class system would collapse and we would see cooperation among people. If we got the opportunity to be "resensitized," it would be more difficult for us to allow women to be paid less than men or to permit ridiculous advertising that objectifies women.

The professor asked lots of questions and took notes during my presentation. He was thrilled that two white middle-class adult men could come into his classroom and share this information. He said he felt that the presentation had affected him more than anyone else in the room and told the group we had "knocked the ball out of the park."*

Selwyn Polit
Austin, Texas, USA


* "Knocked the ball out of the park" means been very impressive.

 


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07