Kenja and the Self-Determinism, Independence and Equality of Women - and the Issue of Consent
By Jan Hamilton
At Kenja the overwhelming majority of executives who run the organisation are women. Women are running the centres, women are in charge of operations.
From its inception Kenja has promoted the viewpoint of equality between men and women and that women were quite as capable of running executive positions and organisations as much as men were.
When Kenja first began in the early 1980s it was not generally as widespread that women would be in charge of their own lives financially, emotionally and spiritually as it is today.
Yet from the beginning Ken in his talks and lectures constantly addressed the question of the suppression of women by men.
The topical issue of consent
This is something Ken approached from the very early days when he began to lecture.
He was very aware that women could be overwhelmed with energy by men and he would often address the area of consent in sexual relationships.
He would address this area from a subtle viewpoint of two issues - one, that there were men who could use power to “own” a woman’s body more than she could, and that women should learn to own their bodies and be independent. He would constantly communicate that if a woman did not consciously own her body, then a male could use affinity and manipulation to overwhelm a woman’s body; to direct a woman’s attention to her body and on the physical aspect of a relationship or an interchange; and finally consent to sex because of the “ownership” of her body by the man. And then she may realise at any point during this interchange, or after, that actually it was not something she truly wanted. The fundamental problem relates to a lack of self-determinism.
Kenja was ahead of the “#MeToo” movement and had been addressing the issue of consent and the power relations of the sexes since the 1980s.
Kenja was in alignment with the viewpoint of many female writers such as Germaine Greer, who believed that the first step in a woman’s freedom was the ability to have her body and own her body. In fact Greer would go so far as to say that women should be getting medical textbooks and learning about their bodies, because they had been conditioned not to understand or own their bodies.
As a consequence of this, women doing the Kenja work found themselves able to own and control their own bodies, their own space, and to say ‘no’ to advances that they didn’t want.
Communication with men
Ken would also address this issue by discussing these issues with men at the same time. It was never done with anger or bitterness.
If Ken had to be firm with a male who was out of line in this area, he would be, without hesitation.
Using humour over the years Ken would constantly attempt to alert men to their suppressive attitudes towards women, as well as educating women about these suppressive attitudes to allow them to free themselves from them.
Kenja therefore created an environment where women were free without harassment to be able to work on their own unconscious conditioning by viewpoints either religious, social or personal, that they were the inferior sex.
It also enabled men to work on corresponding destructive viewpoints where they considered that they were superior and should dominate women.
This produced not only men and women who were aware of the social nature of dominance of women, but were able to work on their own unconscious acceptance of these viewpoints, which was a hindrance to their own evolution.
Even today, working with women one will find unconscious viewpoints they have adopted which really belong to their mothers, but manifest unconsciously in that woman.
If She is to truly find freedom from social, personal and gender suppression, She has to overcome these unconscious thoughts which may produce a barrier to emotional and personal growth. It is this individual work on Self and the acceptance of a social norm where women and men are treated with respect and equality which produces truly gender equal social interaction.
No small feat
This is no small feat to have achieved over the years. For example most women doing the Kenja training are running their own businesses or working in senior positions in business or government.
Men and women in relationships or families treat each other with respect, dignity and understanding, and appreciate the individual growth necessary to evolve and reach one’s potential.
What is wonderful about this approach and this success is that it ends the gender wars between men and women.
Changing society’s values
This brings us back to the fundamental point that for a woman (or a man) to free themselves of the suppression in the environment, they must free themselves from the individual suppression wrought on them by peers, family and society generally.
This takes individual work; it is not solved by cancelling men. It is not solved by hate or revenge. One can only be truly free in an environment where one is actually free to clear oneself of one’s own deep-seated negative approaches to Self, many of which are unconscious. The increasing consciousness of everyone is the key to progress in all areas, and certainly in the complex area of gender relations.
Kenja is such an area. Over the years an environment of true equality, built not on hatred but on a respect, caring and understanding of the other’s viewpoint and needs for self-realisation has been created in Kenja.
It involves understanding of the pressures on men, and an invitation to them to handle those pressures creatively, that results in a truly free individual with beingness in one’s own existence, and similarly with women, freedom is not found by living in animosity but by accepting that one has individually, consciously or unconsciously, internalised many of these suppressive viewpoints, and one must work on oneself to free oneself from suppressive viewpoints that have impinged on our psyche and those of our parents, over centuries.