‘Sexism isn’t the problem: anyone can talk when they want to,” declared one man. “It’s just that some of us have had more experience and can talk more easily in groups.”
“We all support women’s liberation,” chimed in another man.
Around the room, reactions spanned a wide range: resentment, distraction, passive interest, eagerness and anxiousness.
At last week’s meeting, one woman confronted the men with her frustration at their domination of the group. A couple of people had supported her, but most seemed unaware or remained passive. Defensive anger had surfaced in several of the men, despite their best intentions.
The woman who spoke out last week is absent tonight. The group has been dwindling in size since shortly after its founding last year. Many excited newcomers have attended one or two meetings and never returned. Others stuck it out for months before fading away. The group of some 30 members has shrunk to half of that; of the original 15 women, five remain.
A hypothetical situation – but a real problem, and all too familiar to those of us who have participated in progressive organizations.
And this quote is from the first version of ‘Overcoming masculine Oppression in Mixed Groups’ by Bill Moyer, Bruce Kokopeli, Alan Tuttle, and George Lakey. Published in… 1977. Oh, how very very far we have come. Not.