Challenge toxicity and be more yourself
The toxic effects of the patriarchy on women are well known. I grew up dripping with internalised misogyny and self-loathing. But what about the effect on my brothers?
Since I posted about developing this course- a class using improv, discussion & reflection to help men dismantle some of the invisible effects of the patriarchy – a number of men in my life have said to me: ‘ah that’s great, but the men who really need the course won’t sign up.’
Who are the men that really need the course? I ask. ‘You know, the sexist ones, the arseholes.’
This makes me curious.
Everyone who is alive right now has been raised in a patriarchy, unless you’re in one of those matriarchal tribes. This means we’ve all absorbed via media, culture, societal pressure, the belief that men and women need to act and behave in a certain ways in order to be ‘proper’ or fit in.
I developed the course ‘Being a Difficult Woman’ to help women, like myself, who want to speak up & challenge oppression, but struggle because of how we’ve been socialised.
I want to do this for men too. Patriarchy sucks for everyone. It means that boys grow up thinking it’s wrong to be emotional and in touch with themselves. As a result, they are massively cut off from a huge part of the human experience. It imposes certain forms of masculinity and rewards toxic behaviour. This can make it hard for men to be themselves.
Barack Obama speaks about the pressure of ‘masculinity’ and how society made him feel like there was a ‘right way and a wrong way to be a man’. As he got older, he says, ‘Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.’
So where do we begin? Once we’ve recognised this big ol’ power structure and the ways in which we’ve been socialised, how can we get out?
Recognition is the first step, then it’s about stepping up and doing the work.
In this course we’ll use improv exercises, discussion and reflection in a non-judgemental way to explore some of the limiting beliefs that have been instilled in us by the patriarchy. We’ll learn about, and practice, challenging language or behaviour which is contributing to oppression.
This is not a course for toxic men. This is for men who are curious about how the patriarchy has influenced them and who want to find out more in a creative & collaborative environment. Men who want to practice challenging toxic behaviour and show up for themselves and for members of oppressed groups.
As Jackson Katz, the researcher writes:
‘We need men to speak out. We need to raise the bar a little higher.’ – Jackson Katz
Imogen Palmer is running an online taster session of ‘Dismantling the Patriarchy’ on Tuesday 1st December. Find out more about the 8-week online course, starting 7th Jan, here.