A Glimpse Outside of Male Domination

I was one of nineteen men who attended the Contemporary Women’s Issues Workshop.

Some time ago I heard Diane Balser say that even though women are the majority in RC, RC is still operating under male domination. At the workshop I was able to understand the truth of that. Because the workshop operated, to some degree, outside of male domination, I had a chance to observe women speaking their minds with more confidence and conviction and at greater length than in typical RC settings. I now see how the effects of male domination are operating nearly all the time, everywhere—pushing women to be quieter, less opinionated, less confrontational, less at ease; to be taking less initiative on their own behalf; and so on.

The sessions in front of the workshop illuminated the devastating distress recordings installed by the sexist society, via the institution of marriage, the sex industries, messages about body image, and so on. It is unlikely I will ever again underestimate the fight women face every minute to be themselves, and to be pleased with themselves.

This was the first time I’d seen Diane lead a workshop. I could see the influence on her leadership of Jewish traditions—speaking one’s mind, intellectual engagement, a deep sense of history (particularly the history of oppression), reaching for members of other oppressed groups, humor, doing the right thing, and the open exchange of opposing opinions.

We men did our best not to act out the patterns installed by male oppression. Instead we put our attention, as a group, on the women and the work they were doing. Notably, I felt less competition among the men than is typical in any setting, RC or not. In this situation, the competition would have taken the form of trying to prove who was the best ally to women. I sensed none of that. I sensed that we wanted, equally, the best for ourselves and the best for each other. We were kind to each other and noticed how connected we were.

Typically, I am a quiet person. At this workshop I spoke up more often, sometimes in contradiction to another man. I think I was able to do this, in part, because I was at a workshop led by Diane, who speaks from her powerful and effective mind.

Since the workshop, I’ve had numerous long conversations with my partner, a woman, about the workshop and about her past and current life within the oppression of women. I think she is showing me more of the effects of sexism and male domination, and I have more attention for it.

Jay Raymond

Frenchtown, New Jersey, USA

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

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