CodePINK: Providing a strong voice for womyn!
I recently attended such a cp meeting where the decision has been made to invite men to participate in their meetings. “George” reported, at this meeting, in great length on the details of that decision.
I was dismayed, not so much to see George at the meeting, for there are men who on occasion have come to many cp meetings I’ve attended.
I was dismayed to hear him, when introducing himself, to go on and on in great detail (although he was not there) about the process the womyn of this chapter went through to make that decision. He could not help but condescend at best when putting into his words the intent of the womyn whose voices expressed a commitment to have meetings womyn-only.
Not one womyn, including myself, stepped forward to correct or stop him yet everyone seemed uncomfortable if not singled out & attacked. I missed the opportunity to stop his recital, and just check in with everyone to see if this was really okay with the womyn present.
It felt like George was staking out his territory, gloating to establish his legitimacy – especially when I found out the decision to invite men was made almost a year ago, and not yesterday, yet he still felt the need to revisit and rehash it.
Later in the meeting, when George began to narrate in detail the torture of a womon from a movie, I was again horrified. I thought his recital was in the very least inappropriate, if not abusive. I don’t know how long these womyn would have allowed him to batter us with these details had I not stopped him but I felt one such detail was one too many.
It is not that I think George is a bad man or that George does not have good ideas. That is NOT the issue. We have listened carefully and wholly supported men’s ideas for centuries.
The point is, it is our turn now. And the CodePINK that I experience is about giving voice to womyn; about providing the space and support for womyn to express ourselves, to be heard, to have our ideas & strategies highly valued.
And even more importantly, CodePINK provides the opportunity for womyn to LEAD.
Men who are able to follow womyn’s lead should certainly be welcome to those actions that are appropriate. I believe it is extremely difficult for most of us – because of all our training & men’s training, and not because men are somehow bad – to amplify womyn’s voices and leadership when men are included in the planning and strategizing sessions.
Again, it is not at all because men are bad or wrong or have terrible ideas. It is about womyn and how we tend to allow men to speak first, the extreme value we put on their words, their ideas, often to the minimizing or exclusion of our own.
And it is about our own self-esteem and confidence and the value we put on ours and each others ideas and words.
Most men feel so comfortable jumping in and talking. And often taking over. And most womyn need practice valuing our ideas, speaking up or lack confidence to ask men to be silent and ‘allow’ the space for womyn to speak.
But why spend meeting time having to deal with this anyway, especially when we have so much vital work to do?
We are also trained to give men’s words & ideas more weight, more seriousness than our own. And men are trained to give their own words & ideas much more weight than womyn’s.
This chapter that I attended the other nite, may decide to continue to invite men into their strategizing and organizing meetings. If they do, I hope they will seriously consider asking men to be silent until every womyn has had a chance to speak, process & decide upon what we’ve said; and asking men to listen carefully, to provide what we deem support, and to be willing to follow the lead of womyn.
I think the best CodePINK policy is to neither exclude nor invite men to our meetings: instead we should simply make it clear that CP is about giving voice to womyn and at those actions where it is appropriate, we welcome men who are willing and able to follow the leadership of CP womyn.
And we will not have to spend another minute on this subject within CodePINK, but will have all our energy & time freed up to focus on ending war.
One more disturbing about George: his email is “my g spot”.