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Men and Women

Tim Jackins, at the East Coast North America Leaders’ Workshop, December 2013

Women’s liberation is extremely important to everything we want to do. It is a vital issue. We will not remove the grip of distresses on human minds without taking it on,1 beginning now, and sticking with it.2 We can’t let this set of distresses continue to determine our minds.

I will say a little for the men: We know this is an important issue. We often don’t know what to do about it, and not knowing what to do leaves most of us scared to do anything. Our inactivity is not because we don’t want to do useful things. It’s not because we don’t care. It’s because of what happened to us, which leaves us vulnerable in certain ways, especially in the area of people being upset with us. That can crumble a guy’s perspective. We have been hurt and socialized in all the ways you women know of, as well as in ways it’s been difficult for you to know about.

We want relationships with women that mean something. We men and women generally operate toward each other based on the images we have of each other. We’ve been denied full knowledge of who we are, how hurt we are, and the ways we have been hurt. We want to know what happened to you. We want to know the full story. It matters to us. We often don’t know how to ask. We don’t know how not to be scared about it. We don’t know how not to feel guilty that it happened to you. We have been trained to be agents of this oppression—and we have been, in spite of our best intentions. We know that, and it is a weight and a confusion on us. We don’t want it to determine anything, but it does slow everything down. We are insecure past anything you realize (laughter) and very defensive about it. (laughter)

We want full and meaningful relationships with you. We have no idea how to accomplish this, but we know we want it. And we know we have work to do. It isn’t that we don’t want relationships with each other as men. We do. And we are beginning to dare to lean against each other a little. That will help and will give us more perspective, but that’s a different battle than our fight against sexism and male domination, which is a separate and parallel struggle.

We hope women will be our allies in this struggle. We want you to be, but your work against male domination in your own minds has to come first. It has to come first even if you are still unsure of how to do it. It is important that you take on3 this battle fully and not wait for anything else, anywhere else, to happen.

Anytime you can indicate that you want us as allies is useful to us. Every man wants every one of you free from what happened to you. We see the effects, even if we don’t understand what happened.

I was listening to a song, an old barbershop quartet4 song. One line in it says, “What is the sin in sincere? What is the good in goodbye? Your apprehensions confuse me, dear, puzzle and mystify.” We will continue to try to figure this out. (laughter) But with all our hearts, we want you—and we want you for who you are, free of what happened to you. We want you to fight for that liberation without hesitation. We don’t want you to protect us. We do want you to also understand what happened to us. We will go on together more and more closely as we figure all of this out.


1 “Taking it on” means doing something about it.
2 “Sticking with it” means continuing to work on it.
3 “Take on” means undertake.
4 A barbershop quartet is an unaccompanied quartet of (usually male) voices singing sentimental songs in four-part harmony.


Last modified: 2020-07-01 08:50:08+00