Men’s Gender Awareness Workshop

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The primary purpose of these workshops is to raise men's awareness that living within the rigidly controlled gender boxes society has created for men limits and diminishes their lives and also promotes violence as a legitimate means to resolve conflict or as an outlet for suppressed feelings. Men then are able to see that they have as much to gain by ending sexism and promoting gender equality as women, and they become willing allies in this struggle.

Impact: "No formal follow-up evaluations have been conducted, but on-site informal evaluations have been almost universally positive. As an example, I include those from a recent workshop in a prison. The effect the workshop had on the participants is best demonstrated by reading the evaluation forms they filled out at the end. Below are quotes from some of them which are accurate in terms of content but include some grammatical corrections so that they can be easily understood. Question 1 asked participants to List the most important things you learned at the workshop; question 2 asked What changes do you expect to make in your life as a result of attending? 1) I learned how degrading of women society really is. It is sad to realize what is being done to the female in society and how normal it is to the average man to abuse women. 2) I hope to be more sensitive with gender issues. I hope to become more open with my feelings and be less dominant and controlling. 1) Sexism is alive and well and it must change starting with me. 2) How I treat females and also helping other males see what I have learned in this class. 1) That I've been programmed from a young age to think, act and re-act a certain way to situations simply because I'm a man. 2) I will try not to view women just as sex objects; try to see them as equals, as intelligent human beings capable of achieving many of the same things that I'm capable of. 1) That my attitude toward women was very negative and wrong. 2) To change my attitudes and views about women; to gain control of myself, be more sensitive and get rid of my macho attitude."

Feedback: "Perhaps the best expression from all the South African workshops of what men had to gain by rejecting many of the rules in the real man box was offered at a workshop in the Northern Cape, South Africa’s largest but least densely populated Province, by an atypical participant. Thus unlike the majority of participants, this man was in his 60’s, dressed formally in a tweed sports jacket and string tie, and was sent not by an organization but by his Tribal Council in a rural area. At the beginning of the workshop, he clearly did not what to expect and in the hopes and fears exercise he expressed a concern that the workshop would undermine his religion and African culture. Nevertheless, he participated fully and during a check-in after the exercises looking at the price men pay for the privileges of sexism, he commented: 'Today I see I do not have to do everything, make all the decisions in the family. I feel relieved, a free man.' In effect he had reversed the whole paradigm of what men fear in terms of the liberation of women, fear of loss of their own power. Instead he realized that he benefited from giving up his exclusive right to make decisions."

  • Facilitator of experiential workshops should have training experience.
  • Costs for implementation can be kept quite low. Location and housing facilities are the only possible significant expenses and users can find many creative ways to minimize these.

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