One thing I know journaling is excellent for is considering other people’s perspectives and points of view. Something about our inner voice always guides us towards empathy and compassion if we listen carefully enough. There is simply nowhere to hide once we follow our journaling practice.
But we can still have blind spots borne out of ignorance. Our inner voice has little to say about things it hasn’t ever experienced. Sometimes we have to push ourselves a little bit further to fully understand what others experience.
This is what I did last week at Diane Torr’s Be a Man for the Day workshop.
I spent the day with six other women writers, none of whom I had met before. We shared our experiences of men and gender. We talked about far more than just cross-dressing. It was an exercise in poetry; in trying to understand male attitudes and behaviours by literally growing a beard – or at least sticking one on – and wearing the trousers, all for the sake of our writing and our understanding.
It was revelatory. And strangely taught me more about myself as a woman.
I learned how much I smile as a woman. And laugh. How much I repeat myself in a bid to be heard and acknowledged, or make the right sounds and gestures to ensure others feel comfortable.
In contrast as a ‘man’ all I had to do was own the space I was occupying in order to have an impact. No smiling. No unnecessary chit chat. Certainly no thought for anyone else’s comfort but my own. It felt dour. Aggressive at times.
By the end of the day we had a new-found compassion for men. A new appreciation about the emotional restrictions many men experience, and how hard it must be to forge friendships and meaningful relationships with each other.
The man I became is called Chris Stone. That’s him in the pic. I haven’t yet invited his voice into my journal. Feels a bit scary. But I’m sure it will be fascinating.