How appropriate is it that last night’s class session was all about communication and bridging the gap when communication breaks down?
I mean I thought it was pretty serendipitous considering the communication issues my group was dealing with and the need for us to get on the same page.
So last night we did an exercise in class where you have to get with a partner, someone you do not know, and do the following:
1st: Stand face to face close together – not so close that you are breathing on each other but close enough that you are kinda in each other’s bubbles.
2nd: Close your eyes as the professor walked us through a guided meditation all about our early childhood experiences. We had to think about being an infant and being completely dependent on our caregivers to keep us alive. Then think about being a young child and how everything you are learning about who you are is from those same caregivers.
3rd: We had to open our eyes, look at our partner and take a mental snap shot of them. Then we closed our eyes for another 30 seconds before opening them and going to a sit down together.
4th: Once seated we were instructed to tell one another our perceptions of each other based on our mental snap shot.
The exercise got pretty interesting from here. We processed it as a class once we were done and I think most everyone agreed that this part was uncomfortable.
My partner and I’s perceptions of each other appeared to be accurate. She was wearing accessories that were made of natural materials and the clothing she was wearing was made of comfortable earth tone materials. My perception is that she enjoys nature and seems grounded – she said that was right on.
Her perception of me was that I too enjoy nature, I am a creative/artistic type, and that I like to read – Yep, sounds about right.
As we are talking about our personalities and the activity we are instructed to do different things like one of us stand up while the other stay sitting, then it was turn your back to each other while still talking, then the big one that freaked a lot of people out.. hold hands and keep talking.
My partner and I didn’t flinch. We just kept talking through it all. We were having a really good conversation. The hand holding was kind of intimate but even that led to a great conversation about culture and social expectations.
So after this activity we did another as a class around defense mechanisms. My favorite defense mechanism is intellectualization because it is makes me think of Todd, he definitely leans on that one from time to time. The assignment was that we were to draw a defense mechanism and bring it to class last night then the whole class was going to guess which one we drew.
This is what I came up with. It was a big hit. The professor liked it a lot, I think maybe he leans on that defense mechanism too.
There was some awesome art for somatization and sublimation as well.
At the end of class my group got together to discuss our project and the role play we have to create. I was not looking forward to this but I knew I needed to keep an open mind. I am glad I did. The two guys in my group told the rest of us how they both feel in over their heads. The older one admitted he knew nothing about feminism and that it was a lot to try to understand in a small period of time – I get that, it totally is a lot to take in– the other one seemed a little more in tune with the essence of the theory but still a bit lost.
They were really honest about their struggles and I can have compassion and understanding for that. I explained the roots of theory being in conflict and empowerment, showed them some articles I found about intersectionality, and then the professor came over and between the two of us we gave a bit of a history lesson about the different feminist movements and how they are/were sometimes at odds with each other.
Our group got some important things figured out so we know how to go forward with the project and the guys were given some room to figure things out for themselves which I think they needed. At the end of class it was just the professor, myself, my girlfriend and the younger guy. The guy was saying how cultural competency is really important to him and how he wants to get this stuff right but how it is intimidating at times because as he has been trying to learn and grow he has also gotten his head bit off by a few feminists for getting it wrong.
He was allowing himself to be pretty vulnerable as he shared and I can totally empathize with wanting to get it right but not knowing what you just don’t know. I told him that as a woman I personally appreciate his effort. I told him that he would never be able to understand what it is like from my perspective but to even want to try to understand does deserve some credit and I appreciate his efforts to be an Ally. This led to a deeper conversation facilitated by the professor which ended on a really good note.
I think this exchange needed to happen both for this guy and for me. I was totally a feminist that was ready to bite his head off for some stuff that was happening. I am glad that instead we were able to have a conversation and find common ground. My calling him out probably wouldn’t have done anything to help him grow, hopefully this conversation did. I know it did for me.