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Exploring Gender Justice: From #MeToo to #WeToo

Posted on June 10, 2019, by Beth Blissman CoL

From left, William Keepin and the Rev. Cynthia Bricks, co-founders of Gender Equity and Reconciliation International, lead a discussion. (Photo by Beth Blissman)

At the recent U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (March 2019), Loretto at the UN co-sponsored a parallel event entitled “Breakthrough in Transforming Patriarchy: The Promise of Gender Equity and Reconciliation.” We co-sponsored this event with an organization that I had encountered at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto called Gender Equity Reconciliation International (GERI).

I was impressed with the organization’s work of more than two decades (in over 10 countries) to bring together women and men committed to ending thousands of years of oppression and cultural conditioning. At the parallel event in March, Phil Vivirito, GERI trainer, and Chaya Pamula, GERI board member, presented the GERI methodology in an engaging and active session attended by 19 women and men.

There is currently an urgent need for profound transformation in gender relations among men, women and gender non-conforming persons in our society and around the globe.

One participant observed, “I was surprised and amazed at the power of simply being witnessed,” following the short experiential taste of the GERI process. Another woman shared her realization of the gender-based lack of safety she had felt throughout her life and her re-energized vision for a safe and gender-healed world. 

Even before the event in March, I sensed that GERI’s work might provide us with insight into new tools for undermining patriarchy through healing and reconciliation. So, we co-sponsored an invitational gathering entitled “MeToo to WeToo: Reconciling Relations Between Women and Men,” which was designed specifically to facilitate skillful forms of mutual healing, respect and creative collaboration and partnership across the gender divisions in society.

Confronting challenge presented by #MeToo movement

Working with GERI, the U.N. Committee for Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns and the Forum 21 Institute, our gathering on May 7-9 brought together 12 men, 10 women and seven facilitators, all willing to jointly confront the challenge presented by the #MeToo movement. We shared our gender stories, discovered ways for women and men to reconcile gender relations and envisioned possibilities to collaborate in seeking a world where the Divine feminine and masculine are valued equally. 

As the #MeToo movement continues to unmask the long-hidden exploitation and harassment of half of humanity, it’s clear that neither women nor men can resolve this crisis on their own. There is currently an urgent need for profound transformation in gender relations among men, women and gender non-conforming persons in our society and around the globe.

I deeply appreciated the GERI approach because it’s not about one-sided solutions, or women versus men, but rather justice versus injustice. For example, it made my heart sing to meet and journey with leaders from the Mankind Project (MKP, see https://mankindproject.org/), who are dedicating their lives to educating and supporting other men to build higher emotional intelligence and begin healing from past trauma limiting their lives. After three days of exercises, rituals and deep sharing, all participants seemed lighter, happier, connected and feeling a little bit more hopeful and whole.

How might this assist us as the Loretto Community? If we are serious about supporting “outreach and inclusion of young persons who help to carry forward the charism and mission of Loretto” and “to enhance the lives of all members through relationship-building, deep sharing and development in body, mind and spirit” (adapted from Goals 2 & 5, 2018 Loretto Assembly), then partnering more deeply with GERI can help us meet these goals.

We live in a unique moment in our cultural evolution, and it is prime time for men and women to be working together, co-creating new pathways of relational integrity between the sexes.

Beth Blissman CoL

Beth Blissman CoL

Beth, a Loretto Co-member, is the Community’s UN NGO representative.
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