In Defense of Men’s Groups and Spaces — Part 3
How does one go about creating men’s groups, events, and spaces without being exclusive or discriminatory? Or is that just the nature of these types of things in the same way that forming groups of any kind creates a smaller segmentation of society?
What about transgender folks? Is being male a matter of having the right biological parts or is it psychological? On a similar note, if it’s about a mindset, does that mean that masculine oriented women are a better fit than feminine oriented men?
If we start making exceptions to whatever we consider male, does that risk opening the floodgates and turning a men’s group into something that discourages men from opening up or that changes the energy and the dynamic of the group into something it was never intended to be. Given the example from Part 1 of this posting, at what point does the bowling league become a basketball team if it starts trying to be inclusive and representative of basketball players too?
One of the former men’s groups I was part of, restricted membership to biological males. The jest was “you had to have a member to be a member.” When one member’s wife was pregnant with a boy, she poked a loophole in the “rule” claiming she actually had a “member” until such a time as he would be born. At a men’s retreat run by another group, we had a woman show up to our event not so cleverly disguised with a fake mustache. We let her stay, but she only stayed about an hour. In some instances, we specified certain events (like specific workshops, rituals, and men’s retreats) as just for the guys, but public events and social events were welcome to all. Sometimes we’d go out to eat after an event, and some of the guys would bring their girlfriends / wives. If we had parties, we’d invite men and women.
The stance we’ve taken with most of the men’s groups and events I’m currently involved in is that, we won’t turn anyone away who sincerely and respectfully feels they have something to gain from being there. At the same time, we continue to define our groups and events as men’s groups and events. This stance is the most inclusive, but how it will affect the future of these men’s spaces is yet to be seen.