The workshop we facilitated at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair in April 26th, entitled “Why Men Against Patriarchy” went pretty well. There were about 30 people packed in to a room designed for maybe half that, and it was really hot, but people managed to keep their concentration. In hindsight an hour was nowhere near enough time to do the topic justice so we had to rush a bit but we still managed to be pretty productive and we have already had some great feedback.
It was great to hear all the different reasons people had come to the meeting during the go-round. Some people were members of feminist groups like the ones at the Unis and were excited to hear about a men’s group. I was surprised actually, during the go around, the group work or any other part of the workshop, no-body voiced any concerns about us having men only meetings. I know those concerns and reservations do exist, it was one of the reasons we decided to do the workshop. So I was pretty chuffed that most people were encouraging about the idea. I can understand concerns that a group of men getting together to talk about men may be perceived as not very productive, but I hope doing public workshops like this add some level or transparency to what we are going and why we are doing it.
Regardless of people perspectives on the idea of men only anti-patriarchy groups having this public meeting was important. It gave us an opportunity to feed back to the wider community about the kinds of things we discuss in our meetings, how they are structured and our plans for the group in future.
In return we were able to get feed in from a larger group of people on the kind of things we could be doing within our mens’ meetings and also our public meetings. Our plan is to have regular mixed gender meetings as well as our mens’ meetings which will allow us more scope for sharing ideas and working on issues. Some people suggested we could offer workshops to teenagers and students. I thought that was a great idea, if rather daunting. I guess the key would be for us to work out a way of running a workshop that would allow them to work out why patriarchy is crap for themselves rather than rocking up and telling them all they are sexist and we have come to set them on the path of righteousness.
Another daunting suggestion was dealing with patriarchy and misogyny within religion. Even more so, this would be one that needs a lot of consideration, and I’m concerned that maybe a bunch of atheists/agnostics are not best placed to take that one on. Still, it’s worth discussing as we shouldn’t be treating patriarchy withing religion as taboo.
Unfortunately we ran out of time to collect many suggestion for discussions and events, but we intend to have space for folks to make their suggestions at all out public events. Plus people can contact us here, via e-mail at BristolMAP[at]noflag.org.uk or find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/menagainstpatriarchy.bristoluk
We broke the large group up into smaller groups and posed them different questions on the role of men withing the wider feminist and activist movement. We also posed questions of gender roles in activism and wider society. This helped us generate idea to what is important to people on these subjects and where a group such as Men Against Patriarchy fits in and plays a role in challenging patriarchy.