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Pornography, and Men’s Internalized Oppression

I’ve been working in my sessions to be able to feel fear—after years of conditioning to hide and obscure it. Launching into a posting on pornography truly makes my body tremble.

I started leading RC men’s support groups more than thirty years ago, before it was accepted in RC that men are oppressed as men. I led those early groups with a sense of isolation in a Community that was largely female as well as some vague sense that I might be able to be an ally to my beloved female Co-Counselors against the “sexism of other men.” Many years later, I have a different perspective.

I have come to deeply love the men that I work with and to have a huge amount of compassion for myself as a man and for all men who have had to make life choices in an environment dominated by male oppression. Addictions to sexist sexual fantasies and sexist pornography are clearly a part of the spectrum of “sexist” patterns. However, I choose to work on them from a perspective thoroughly grounded in men’s liberation. These addictions, I have concluded, are in fact also a part of the internalized oppression of men. Along with contributing to sexism, they have a damaging impact on the individual lives of the men who practice them.

If we work on them solely from the perspective of the ocean of sexism, we can quickly and easily get lost. If we work on them from the perspective of men being freed from the internalized content of their own oppression, we stand* a much better chance of succeeding.

In general, what we know in working with people on their own oppression is that blame, ridicule, and shame are all tools of the oppression. We know that empowerment, possibility, and compassion are the instruments of liberation.

Michael Hartman
Albany, California, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of men 


* “Stand” means have.


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00