Women’s Liberation, with Men 

I cannot stop thinking or talking about this workshop!

In the opening circle, everyone got to mention someone of the opposite sex with whom he or she had had a significant relationship as a girl or a boy. This was a wonderful way to ground the workshop in our relationships with each other and to assume the reality of our inherent connection as women and men. The workshop kept in the forefront the idea of women’s liberation with men.

Working on institutionalized sexism, playing “girls’ games,” doing physical power work,1 meeting separately from and together with the men—all among such a dedicated cadre of leaders of women and men—was tremendously hopeful and alive. It was a model of taking on2 liberation in the fullest way, of working both personally and broadly on oppression and how hurts got recorded in our minds and bodies, and in relation to each other.

My “aha moment”3 was when I realized toward the end of the workshop that we women were at a mixed-gender workshop and were not preoccupied with men. I think our preoccupation with men is, literally, internalized male domination. What are all the things we get to think about without all that muck in our minds?

The work on the institutions of sexism was huge. Women led mixed-gender topic groups on reproduction, the sex industries, child-rearing, marriage, the beautification industries, and sexism and work. Beth Edmonds4 and I led a group on reproduction. The range of angles one can take on that institution is breathtaking. We worked on abortions, the church, birth control, and reproductive technologies.

Diane did several demonstrations on marriage with women of different ages, races, and class backgrounds. I felt like I was witnessing “another world” and could see more clearly how my relationship to marriage as an African-heritage woman is connected to racism, government policies, and even my age.

Diane talked about how we get trapped in oppressive institutions. For me, it is important to de-personalize these institutions that we experience so personally. Without working on them, we are vulnerable to losing perspective on our experiences of them, which can leave us discharging from a more victimized and isolated position.

Tokumbo Bodunde
Brooklyn, New York, USA

1 Physical power work is counseling on reclaiming physical power by pushing and fighting against a counselor who has been trained to awarely and safely offer physical resistance.
2 “Taking on” means undertaking.
3 “Aha moment” means moment of insight.
4 Beth Edmonds is the Regional Reference Person for Maine, USA.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00