Gender is a complicated, wonderful and often charged topic -- especially these days. The #MeToo era has brought into the light a steady stream of stories of sexual exploitation by powerful men over mostly women and some men. Women and other gender minorities converse about this regularly with each other. Many good-hearted men, on the other hand, report being wary of speaking and saying the wrong thing. And men and women are not talking together about the social conditioning that got us all to this potentially transformational turning point for gender relations and the world.
Whatever your individual circumstances, it is most likely that we have each been raised under a social system known as “patriarchy”. This word is polarizing for some but, because it names the current reality, it is important. Patriarchy is defined by Wikipedia as “one where males hold primary power in most social, family, religious and economic roles and retain control over the majority of money, property and resources.” Most contemporary societies on earth today are patriarchal even if not explicitly defined as such by their own constitutions and laws.
It’s important to understand that:
for 99% of human life on the planet, anthropologists tell us that women and men have lived in partnership, and that patriarchy is more of a “modern” invention, designed for production, not intimate connection or a relational life;
that patriarchy can be hard on men and women alike.
The dialogue process typically will begin with a meal together, an opportunity to break bread with some warm-up questions to get to know each other. We will then move into smaller, circulating rounds with different questions and different people, ending with one large circle for a final facilitated conversation. The discussion topics will vary with the group but may include:
How have you personally been affected by gender? Is there a story or event in your life that captures its impact on you?
What is masculine about you? Feminine about you? What are the gifts of your masculine? Your feminine? What’s the baggage?
Describe a time that you were angry at someone and there was a gender component to your anger. What was the need you had that was frustrated? In what ways did you feel not seen?
How does race intersect with gender for you?
What’s the gender future you wish to see – for yourself, for your kids if you have them, for everyone?
The dialogue will be facilitated by Susan who will bring both her deep facilitation experience and a humble and curious soul who is interested in this exploration and “up-leveling” it together.