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My Working-Class Men’s Support Group

I start nearly every working day with a group of working-class men. My mornings are sweeter and my days run better because of it. This is how it came about:

I run a rape crisis centre, together with a great team of women, which means that my working life is based on women, being with women, and working for the liberation of women, and I love this. It would be easy, in a physical sense, to eliminate all men not related to me from my life.

I was raised poor and working class, and as a child I had close relationships with my dad and granddad. They were both exceptionally thoughtful about letting me know that I deserved to live in any way I wanted as a female and supporting me to do that. I spent many days helping on building sites, basking in the warmth and humour of the men my dad worked with, and learning some useful skills.

When I worked with Gypsies and Travellers on securing their rights, I spent time with some men in the toughest of circumstances. Their zest for life would break through at any opportunity and was life enhancing for me.

I have always had to face sexism and male domination in order to have relationships with men, so when I started work at the rape crisis centre, fifteen years ago, it was a relief to hide out among women. However, I also began to miss having working-class men in my life, so I decided to put that right.

I did it by going to a café every morning before work. I had been in a few times to get a drink to take away and had noticed the window cleaners, builders, upholsterers, and carpenters. I liked the familiar look of them, so I decided to drink my drink in the café every working morning. I would get there as soon as it opened and sit in a corner where I could see everyone coming in. Nearly all the regulars were working-class men. I would say hello to absolutely everyone who came in during the half hour I sat there. I persisted with this, and let the men know that I noticed when they were not there.

I grew to love these men. I’d go to where they were sitting, alone or in small groups, and chat. I’d find out about their holidays, their hobbies, their working lives, and their families. Then I’d go back to my seat. Gradually they started noticing each other, saying hi, and joking with each other and with me. Then, one by one, they started coming to sit in my corner.

I now have a lovely half-hour-or-so morning “support group” of valiant, humorous, sharp, warm-hearted working-class men. They care for each other and for me, support each other and me, rejoice and commiserate with each other, and talk about the issues that impact their lives. Then we all go to work, or home from night work, with straighter backs and lighter hearts.

I have gained so much, and so have they, from what we have slowly established together, simply because I decided to have them in my life. It was such a simple and fun thing to do.

Christine Diamandopoulos

Olney, England


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00