Friday, September 21, 2007

Men Doing Feminist Work: Paul Kivel

Paul Kivel is one of the men who started the Oakland Men's Project, and today he still works as a violence prevention educator. Strangely, the term "feminist" seems absent from Kivel's site--and his many books don't claim the mantle. Likely this has something to do with the audience he is generally trying to reach, I suppose; likely some of the boys and men he does workshops with would shut down at the very mention of the term. Still, a cursory look at his books tells a feminist tale: He is trying to teach men to respect themselves, stop violence, stop sexism, stop racism, and create a community that nurtures us all.

I appreciate especially his words on learning how to be an ally, when the Oakland Men's Project began:
To be a true ally to women we had to hear their anger and understand its source in their feelings of hopelessness and experiences of violence. We learned how to listen, take criticism, and make changes while continuing to take risks. We were doing this work to reduce the violence. It was not just another way to wrangle women’s support, approval,or gratitude.

We also experienced anger from men as we spoke out. Some of them felt deserted,
unfairly blamed, or saw us as hypocritical. To counteract this anger we learned that it was crucial not to fault or attack other men for the lies and training they have received. By caring for and accepting them, while confronting their beliefs and attitudes, we were able to demonstrate the strong and loving alliances against injustice that are possible between men. The next sections show some of the ways that the staff at the Oakland Men’s Project have tried to model this kind of approach.


I went ahead and picked up his book: Men's Work: How to Stop the Violence that Tears Our Lives Apart. I'll let y'all know how it is.
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