The Gospel of John tells the story of Jesus sitting in the temple courts when a woman was brought to him by strict followers of the law. They accused her of adultery and demanded that she be stoned in accordance with the law of the time. Jesus wrote something on the ground and then said, “You who are sinless cast the first stone.” No one threw even the smallest of pebbles. They wanted Jesus to accuse and condemn her, but instead, he broke the law for her. It’s an affirmation of her humanity.
While The Open Table KC staff was putting together the series on the Sacred Feminine, we knew some hard discussions were going to have to happen. Patriarchal masculinity was one of those topics we knew was absolutely essential to cover. John Tramel, founding organizer for Showing Up for Racial Justice Kansas City and former trainer for Men Stopping Violence led the evening’s discussion.
The conversation began with a video of a gentleman confessing to the various ways he was physically and emotionally abusive to his partner and children. The video itself was difficult to watch. Some people found it refreshing to hear this type of confession. Others found they were angry. Still, others found the confession to be full of “crap.”
After that, we discussed some behaviors that are also signs of patriarchal masculinity. One person made the comment that there is an instinct for men to distance themselves from such obviously violent behaviors. It’s easy to say, “I am not like that guy.” But when we consider things like withholding emotion as a form of manipulation, many men in the room could no longer say they were exempt from patriarchal masculinity.
John pointed out, “We all want the abuser to be the problem. The idea that if we fix the abuser all will be well. While responsible for his behavior, the abuser is not the problem. Our system is.” The rest of the conversation was spent looking at how patriarchal masculinity manifests itself in our systems, from the micro to the macro level. Take a look at the charts and resources listed below, and make sure you listen to the podcast HERE if you missed it.