Recently someone asked about men attending the Cakes classes. Here is Shirley’s recommendation, based on the years of experience with the original curriculum since it was published in 1986.
Regarding the teaching of Cakes to both men and women, it has been done successfully many times. In one congregation, many years ago, the women took the course; then their husbands and significant others wanted to take it, so two women taught it to a class of men; then they ran another class for both men and women! I have taught it mostly to all women classes, but a few times men have asked to participate. What I say to them is that if there is more than one man who wants to participate, fine. But not if there is only one man. When we break into small groups for discussion of some very personal issues, the men need to have a group of their own and the women need groups without men. I try to consult with women leaders ahead of time to find out how they feel about having men in the group and often they prefer to limit it to women.
The main thing I would say is that if there are men in the class, it will be a very different class from what it would be if there were only women. It will be valuable in other ways, but women will not be as free in their discussions with men in the class. This is a course that is not just about history and archeology; it is also about women’s issues in a patriarchal society. Men have some issues with the society too, but they are different from those of women.
If I could bold or underline the next to last sentence above, I would. In fact if I were re-writing, I would put that sentence first: This is a course that is not just about history and archeology; it is also about women’s issues in a patriarchal society. I’d like men to understand those issues, but I think generally we women need to be clear about them first.
– Rev. Shirley Ranck