Phyllis, I feel like everything you say, is just, so prolific. ~ NOMAS Council Member
She is a powerful and inspiring woman, advocate, mentor, teacher, member of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, Interim Executive Co-Director of VCS Rockland, and co-developer of the New York Model for Batter Programs, and most likely wears many more hats that I’m currently unaware of.
The reason I’m writing isn’t because of the hats that she wears in particular, it is the way she presents them to you.
I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to spend some time with Phyllis on three separate occasions in the past 7 months. From the conference rooms in Denver (NCDAV National Conference) to the discussion tables in D.C. (Healthy Masculinity Summit) and eventually in the comfort of our conference room here in our small Southeast Michigan office. To voice these few encounters as inspirational would be a colossal understatement and disservice. I would more aptly describe my response as a unique reverence and an indescribable respect for a recognizable and established wisdom. Her passion smolders and rumbles at the surface of her visage and her facial expressions tell a narrative of her meaningful history in the work of ending violence against women and of dismantling of patriarchal constructs.
In Denver, I strangely felt compelled to ask her for a hug, I didn’t know why, I didn’t know who she was, I just knew her energy infiltrated my own and I sensed compassion, and also a penetrating heartache. In her eyes you sense a generation of struggle and willful resistance. You just know that she has witnessed and experienced more than you can ever imagine. Then you wait expectantly and with a constrained patience for her to share it, to distribute a small portion of that wisdom, to bless you with a fragment of something, profound.
Without using the conveniences of force or demand, she compels people to stop in their tracks (particularly pro-feminist men), she inspires you to think, challenges your beliefs, and uncovers a new awareness with carefully selected and direct language. She does this with the strength of commitment, resolve and confidence. She does this with what appears as a quiet intensity and concentration.
Of course, my experience with Phyllis is limited and I don’t yet know her quirks, her downfalls or her personal and professional flaws. We all have them; however, the simple words that she spoke to me before she left Michigan spoke volumes of her intuition and her ability to inspire activism. She spoke these words to me at our most recent meeting in Michigan and was able to perfectly describe exactly what I was feeling in that moment about this movement and the movement of ending violence against women. She almost made me cry.
Kole, I don’t know you very well, so I cannot read what I see in your face. When I look at you during discussions, (because I want to know what you have to say) I can feel that there is much going on under those very still waters. And I do look forward to learning more…….You know, Kole, I can just see it in your face, when I look at you in these discussions; you’re raging under still waters. ~ Phyllis Frank
and thank you.