This is one of those points of contention surrounding Emerging Women. I'm not talking about men in general, but how we here at Emerging Women interact with them.
Let me explain.
I have received a few emails (and had a few conversations) with people who say that Emerging Women is really hurting the cause of women because we separate ourselves out from the main conversation. By gathering/blogging as just women we are saying that we are different than men and are content to have our own side conversation. We won't ever fit in the larger Emerging/Christian conversation or bring equality to it if we separate ourselves out like this. And to show the dangers of that, I've heard from one hurt woman whose pastor used the existence of EW as an excuse to only offer theological/pastoral training to the men at his church.
Then there are the women who have never ever been given the opportunity to interact theologically in a mixed gender setting. They are afraid and uneasy bringing up their questions with men. So until they found this group, those questions were just left unasked and unexplored. They found freedom within a group of women to express those doubts, push those boundaries, and be themselves.
I've had women tell me that they won't attend an EW gathering because it segregates the men from the women. They want to have all voices represented equally. We would be offended if the men held theological events that only men could attend, so its wrong to just allow women to attend. I've told them that any man who is interested in attending and learning from women is welcomed.
Then there are those who attended events and saw the one or two men present and were offended. They didn't like the presence of men there, it ruined the dynamic, they didn't feel safe. Or they were offended by the one or two male workshop leaders at the East Coast and Midwest Gatherings (our "token" male speakers as we jokingly referred to them). They argued that women have been undervalued for so long, its a slap in the face to have to bring in a male presenter at a women's event.
As you can tell, it's a touchy subject. I have my thoughts on the issue, but I would love to hear from others. What is your preference? What do you think is necessary and/or helpful? (and it would be great to hear from the men as well)