The call left me warm, emotional and rushed as I felt pressed to get necessary things done for the Men's Work discussion event. My partners on the call made sure they shared their appreciations of me after I gave brief (rushed and incomplete, though heartfelt) impressions of our gathering of men the previous weekend. I was grateful for my short call attendance and broken open emotionally as I really needed personal support in that moment. Deeply grateful.
But I actually got there early and set up the space impeccably with directional signs, warm lighting and ample varied seating options, all my materials set up including some recently scored swag from The Network La Red, an organization supporting assault survivors in the LGBTQ community and beyond. I set up this series of Open Discussions to invite people into communal engagement around issues and experiences with patriarchy, misogynoir/misogyny, rape culture and related issues. No confirmation or RSVP required.
The first attendee came in. He had emailed me previously to confirm the event and had met me at another feminist-oriented discussion series I help organize. We greeted and settled into principled conversation amidst discussion of the projected time of the event and other things. It was about 6:55pm and the discussion was scheduled for 7pm. He asked if he got the time wring. I assured him he hadn't.
For the next hour and a half we shared experiences and critique of the system of patriarchy and the culture we lived inside of, international cultural differences, media portrayals, personal feelings, ideas about the struggle against patriarchy in general and specific, the nature, positive and negative, of social media on that struggle, how social media relates to on the ground behavior amongst a number of other key things that seemed so profound and important.
It was exactly the kind of sharing and discussion I intend into these spaces. We shared how important it was to have people talk and relate and learn in person as the space where real advancements occur. He shared his cynicism along with my pragmatic idealism with regard to the effectiveness of online engagement. And the dynamics of in-person sharing from our minds and hearts were clear, powerfully, to both of us. I shared my desire that that discussion we created could have been shared with ten or fifteen other people, the diverse gathering of liberators I fantasize about all so often for this world.
I was so grateful, am so grateful for his generosity, humanity, intelligence, conviction and time spent, shared with me for all the above reasons, what feel like very good reasons. I project and intend for the spaces I create to be full of authentic, caring, justice and compassion-motivated humanity, many of these spaces populated by men willing to go there, too, regardless of numbers, though I also intend greater numbers within these spaces.
There are issues of language, communication, timing, energy that I seek to become wiser, more "skillful" in. I seek to be better in my invitations to people who are like me and who aren't, in whatever way that expresses itself. I seek to guide people to the power of communal sharing and commitment to change to a world healed by loving, principled intent and hard work.
And I wish many others to be a part of conversations like I was gifted with tonight.