BrothersSons started nearly 10 years ago when the guys who were driving the girls to Girls Group started teasing them about being "feminazis." It was obvious that the girls meeting by themselves was in some ways curious and in other ways threatening to the guys. Knowing the girls wanted to have a place to share themselves safely and constructively with their brothers, we asked the guys if they would like to participate in a GenderTalks Circle, where we would come together to talk about our relationships to and with each other. During the first day-long GenderTalks the guys were so blown away by the energy, experience, truth and feeling in the room that they asked if the adult men in the group if they would start a separate Guys Group for them. That group went on for 2 years.
Since then, it's been a struggle to interest teen guys in Guy's Circles. We've discovered that every time we do a GenderTalks, the guys ask for one. But we still have not figured out the best way to keep a group going. At least in our community.
Some people say that teen guys just won't do this kind of work. We feel this sells them short. So, we continue to encourage men to offer them. Eventually, it won't seem so odd for young men to take off the "tough guise" and be real with each other, sit in sacred circles with their brothers, and talk about the male box they're told they have to fit into.
Marion Woodman defines the "mature masculine" as a man who has healed the wounds of the patriarchy in himself. What does that mean? Jackson Katz says that it isn't enough for men to do the psychological work and heal those wounds, they need to also stand up, speak out, and take social action to change culture.
On Bainbridge Island, this year, 2006, we're trying again - We've had a GenderTalks, which went great. Eight guys came, participated and loved it - then asked the men present to start a Guys Group. For more information or to learn how you can bring this work to your community, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our interview with Jackson Katz..
IMPORTANT RESOURCES for work with teen guys and men
The White Ribbon Campaign
Men working to end men's violence against women. They have a kit with great exercises you can do with Guys. Contact email@example.com for more info or click here: Real Men
Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP
Gender violence, bullying, and school violence prevention education and training, developed by Jackson Katz
10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence
10 Cosas Que Los Hombres Pueden Hacer para terminar con la violencia de los hombres contra las mujeres.
"As a parent, I feel we have done our best to educate our son and prepare him for his upcoming departure for college. There was one hole in his education, however, that was previously not filled. Guys Group has provided a forum for him to learn to open up with other young men and share his feelings in a safe place and to learn how to truly communicate and build relationships with others. This was the unfinished business of his education. We now feel he is prepared to leave home and start his adult life with all the tools he needs." - From a recent email