On Teaching Men Feminism: Why I Created Changing the Culture Programs
Our foremothers left us a generation of deep texts about how we transform society so it is better for the next generation. These histories and systems of violence are so complex: how they were formed, how they are reproduced, and how we heal these systems, our communities, and ourselves.
Men will often tell me—"ahhh, that's just nuance" when I try to use my expertise to help them understand something about the complexity of all these issues facing us in how we create transformation.
But what is considered mere "nuance" shifts absolutely foundational premises to how we do this work. And that is why there is a learning curve—because it can take months of learning from me before men can recognize how my expertise (from 20 years of study/teaching) differs from their unstudied opinion. (It is really exhausting for me, and it is why I have had to study so much about psychic defense mechanisms alongside social theory!)
—HERE IS THE THING—
We have so much work to do right now to leave a planet that is sustainable for the next generation. We also have an opportunity to co-create fierce healing.
You are here on this planet right now with an immense opportunity to be part of collective efforts to heal.
We will need to study the work of women who came before us to create this future. We cannot ignore it. This work was produced at great cost by foremothers, and it is a sad state of affairs this history is systematically erased because women's voices are not listened to.
(You know the statistics on how women die of heart attacks because doctors don't listen to them when they are describing their symptoms? Or how many Black women specifically die in childbirth because doctors do not listen to their words about what they need or what is happening to their body as they ask for help? Same principle. We ignore women's voices. That is patriarchy. We ignore Black women and women of color's voices. That is white supremacy.)
The issue is systemic, including in our education system.
Our education system ignores 99% of women's contributions to history. Just like most people don't know that Mileva Marić Einstein contributed much of the math genius behind Albert's work, most people don't know women writers/intellectuals/activists/mothers/creators/sisters/spinsters/aunties have been a major force in all historical change.
We need to know how they created change. We need to understand the labor, the expertise, the spiritual and intellectual practices.
My life's work is being a conduit of that history.
And what I have learned along the path is that while many women are fiercely embracing their own healing journeys, most of the men I know do not put that kind of energy and self-reflection into their lives.
It is creating an imbalance. It means women are doing even more work and making even more sacrifices.
In my work, I have also learned that many men are really uncomfortable even accepting that there *is* a steep learning curve, and if they are going to step into this work, they need guidance from people who have been on this path a very long time.
(And they need to pay for that guidance. It reproduces patriarchy when women's labor/studied knowledge is further exploited.)
Until men will accept there is a learning labor for them—that they have a path of healing—, I believe women and nonbinary folks will be constantly doing the labor and sacrificing for men in ways that reproduce the problems of the existing systems, including how exhausting this system is to our life's energies.
I recognize my complicity in this problem. I am socialized to make men feel good, to protect their egos, to award them prizes for the smallest of efforts. And it is hard for me to say to them the truth of the matter: That they have a learning curve they need to embrace, and not fear. That healing will not be easy. That it gets harder before it gets easier.
The more we all embrace our own learning curve, the more we can support others as they step into the journey.
So that is why I am offering Changing the Culture workshops and programs.
I am continuing to develop and offer more resources for this work for men to help them through where they get stuck in simplistic analysis, shame, fear, guilt, denial, and all manner of defense mechanisms that resist deep change.
It might be the most foolish thing I have ever tried to keep putting my energy into this! I am not sure yet. I acknowledge this work and method are not conventional.
I acknowledge what I teach and offer is for people and institutions ready to embrace the learning curve and healed needed to lead cultural change.
The status quo realities are this:
Men fear and resist their own learning curves.
But that said, at institutional levels, there are openings at this moment in history to have conversations together, if only because the stakes are so high as administrators face the consequences of toxic patriarchal cultures.