A Great Workshop

The Women’s and Men’s Workshop [see previous article] was a great workshop. It was an honor to be there. It was an honor to get to listen to Diane’s mind—to her thinking about sexism; male domination; male preference; the intersection of sexism and racism, genocide, and classism; the sex industries; and more.

I was proud to witness a female leader who has done so much personal work and has committed herself to lead women both inside and outside of RC. That is no small feat, and I could feel it every second of the workshop. What Diane (and all of us females) pulled off [successfully accomplished] was hard work.

I noticed how tricky sexism is—how much we have to think, tackle it, and get in there with [struggle alongside] one another to be able to hold it out for each other to notice and work on. My pull is to space out [become distracted] and walk away. Diane could not space out or walk away.

Sexism is exhausting and blinding, and we all looked at it for four days. I feel like I ran a marathon.

I was in awe that the men actually wanted to do the work and thought it would benefit their lives. I know it will. It was a huge contradiction [to distress] to see that they were there to look at all of it.

I was most struck by the topic of “male preference”—how much men are preferred all over the world. Males make more money than females. Typical men’s work is paid more and is more esteemed. Male children are preferred, because they bring more status and profit. Men’s distresses are preferred, because they support sexism and classism. And legally men have more rights than women.

I really cannot comprehend the extent to which this has affected me. I need lots and lots of discharge on it. It is huge. I realized that so much of what I do is vying for men’s protection. After all, on average men have more money, hold more seats in office, have more political and social power. I shave my legs; I wear tight-fitting clothing (these are mild things I do). I do so much to win men’s approval in the hope of being protected. It’s urgent and desperate.

I am a white and Lakota Indian mixed-heritage female. Watching my mother be brutalized by genocide as a Native female left lasting impressions on my mind. Her way out was to marry a white man. She did whatever she needed to do to keep that white man, whom she eventually lost. He ended up marrying a white, blond female—the opposite of my mother. This broke her heart, and it broke my heart.

While my mom was brutalized by sexism and genocide, she also held on to her mind in a huge way that I don’t think many people know about or understand. I say this so that she doesn’t seem like a victim—because she is not.

There were a lot of white people at this workshop. It was overwhelming for me and gave me an opportunity to look at what it had been like, as a Native female with a Native mom, to be raised female in an all-white middle- and working-class neighborhood in the Midwest United States and what my mom and I had had to do to fit in and stay alive. Much of what we’d had to do was be really pleasing, caretaking, gentle, witty, and kind—and then go home and do [take] a lot of drugs to fight off our rage about having to “fit in” to white culture versus white people “fitting in” to Native culture.

Diane talked about leading as a female who is also Jewish and how she can’t work on early distress without working on that intersection. I get to notice, appreciate, and discharge about having a female Jewish International Liberation Reference Person for Women, so I can continue to be welcoming of all females and respect the work Diane has done. This is where my mind is at after the workshop.

Kate Insolia

Urbana, Illinois, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

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