A Man Takes Leadership on Women’s Liberation

I was one of the male delegates participating in the No Limits for Women project in New York (New York, USA) last March.1 It was great to be there as a male ally and to work with a group of our strong RC women leaders. At the end of the project, Diane Balser2 encouraged each of us to report back to our local RC Communities, so in May I led a one-day workshop on the project for the Netherlands and Fryslan.

Two of my close female Co-Counselors and I figured out how to organise the report-back workshop and what to do there. Twenty-three people—eighteen women and five men—came. (There had been a waiting list, much to my surprise.) I started by sharing some thoughts on ending sexism and male domination, based on what I had learned during the No Limits project, as a men’s leader, and at the 2013 RC Contemporary Women’s Issues Workshop in England. They included how women’s oppression is being acted out all the time, 24/7,3 but that it is especially hard to see for the oppressor—in my case, as a white owning-class heterosexual man.

It was a big contradiction4 for me to talk about ending sexism and male domination to a group of mostly women. I was able to show my fear and embarrassment and was greatly supported by my two female Co-Counselors. I did demonstrations with two young adult women on how sexism and male domination had affected their lives.

After lunch we watched some of the video of the No Limits workshop “Ending Sexual Violence Against Women with Men as Allies.” Everyone also got a copy of the transcript of the video, prepared especially for our workshop. It helped all of us for whom English is not our first language to better understand what was said.

Next we split into separate groups of women and men for sessions. When we came back together, I talked about how we did the No Limits project. Sharing this wide-world project with the workshop inspired us all to think about how we can work on ending sexism and male domination in our daily lives.

I showed the materials the No Limits delegates had handed out and gave a PowerPoint presentation I’d made with photos of the project, Twitter messages sent by the delegates, the No Limits name tag and business card, and the conference programme. Everyone bought a reprint of No Limits: The Liberation of Women, the pamphlet that the No Limits delegation had handed out at the conference.

Before closing we took turns thinking about what we as RCers, individually and as a group, can do to help end sexism and male domination.

At the workshop I learned again that it is possible to talk in public as a man about ending sexism and male domination. As a panel member at the No Limits workshop “Men Ending Sexism and Male Domination,” I had already practiced speaking in public about how sexism and male domination have affected my life. This topic is hard for men to be frank and honest about. Talking publicly about something so embarrassing was one of my most important learning points.

We, women and men, can work together to end sexism and male domination. For me this has become a realistic perspective. I’ve also learned that “what is good for women is also good for men.”

Goof Buijs

Broek in Waterland, the Netherlands

(Present Time 182, January 2016)

1 In March 2015, No Limits for Women (a project of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities) sent a delegation of Co-Counselors to the non-governmental-organization Women’s Forum held in conjunction with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Beijing+20, in New York, New York, USA.
2 Diane Balser is the International Liberation Reference Person for Women and was the leader of the No Limits delegation.
3 24/7 means twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
4 Contradiction to distress

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