A Gender Dialogue: Men and Women* in Conversation

 

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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 women or men.  Women and other gender minorities are talking about this regularly with each other. But most men are wary of speaking, 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” 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.”

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;
  • that patriarchy can be hard on men and women alike as well as anyone who doesn't identify with either of those categories;
  • that, even if not explicitly defined as such by their own constitutions and laws, most contemporary societies today are patriarchal.

Our intimate and facilitated conversation will focus on how patriarchy has affected you personally.  In what ways has it shaped you, limited you, provided you freedom, or distorted the human being you really are and your possibilities for intimate connections with others?

There will be no pointing fingers in this dialogue and no expected outcomes – just an opportunity to authentically connect and expand our awareness and understanding of ourselves and each other.

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 really captures how gender has impacted you?

  • What is masculine about you? Feminine about you? What are the gifts of your masculine? Your feminine? What’s the baggage?

  • How does race intersect with gender for you?

  • 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?

  • 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 Coleman who will bring both her deep experience in dialogue and facilitation and also a humble and curious soul who is interested in this exploration and going higher together.

* For those who don't identify as either a man or a woman, using these words can feel excluding.  We welcome everyone in our dialogues, no matter where they fall on the spectrum but are keeping this language as we do not want to move too quickly beyond the need for men and women to talk to each other, especially in the #metoo era.

Read testimonials from recent participants here. . .