Men’s shed gender bender riles Berry blokes

SHOULD Berry Men’s Shed be called a men’s shed if it has female members?

MAN UP: Peter Spillane from Berry questions why women are members of the town’s men’s shed.

MAN UP: Peter Spillane from Berry questions why women are members of the town’s men’s shed.

Peter Spillane of Berry thinks women should not be members of men’s sheds.

He says he is not a male chauvinist and has great respect for women but believes there are too few places where men can work through their troubles.

“The idea of men’s sheds was they would be a place for men to feel comfortable about sharing problems and talking about issues they were dealing with,” he said.

“Women are decades ahead of men in sharing their feelings and talking through their problems.

“Many men bottle up their feelings.”

Mr Spillane said he had spoken to men and women who agreed the men’s sheds should be left for men.

He and others he had spoken to would prefer the men’s shed to dedicate one day for women to attend.

“I won’t become a member while women are there, and I know other men won’t either.”

Berry resident Harry Harrop also refused to join Berry Men’s Shed.

“I would have joined if the men’s shed was a men’s shed but it’s not,” he said.

“The idea was for men to go there and discuss health and other issues. Those things aren’t going to be discussed in front of women.”

Mr Harrop said he would also prefer women to have a specific day to be at the shed.

“Women have their own things like women-only gyms and the CWA.

“I know other men with strong opinions about it and they’re not members.” Berry Men’s Shed secretary Richard Wiseman said it was the shed’s connection to the church that meant women were invited as members.

“When the Berry Men’s Shed started in 2005 the shed was on property owned by Berry Uniting Church,” he said.

“Since then we’ve always been under the auspices of the church. 

“As part of their fellowship the men’s shed should be open to all people.

“Men’s sheds were seen as an opportunity to help men who had gone into retirement who found it difficulty settling down after their working life.

“The men’s shed was seen as a golden opportunity to maintain an interest for them a couple of days a week.

“That’s contrary to what we’ve got but that’s what we have.”

Mr Wiseman said the shed’s membership had grown each year and was up to 85 members. 

“We can only handle about 20 to 25 per day anyway because of the physical size of the building.”

He recommended any men who had a problem with women being members could attend another men’s shed in the region.

Occupational therapist Dr Alison Wicks has been a member of the Berry Men’s Shed since 2006.

She said when she joined there were about three women members and since then the numbers had only grown to about six members.

“I joined because I was working part-time and needed a recreational outlet. 

“I didn’t want to prune roses or learn cake decorating. I was keen to make something.

“And as a professional I wanted to support the men’s shed movement.

“Most of the time we were talking about wood, politics and occasionally problems. 

“The time taken talking about personal issues is woven through the day.

“I hope it keeps going as it is, it’s a great service and does a lot for the community,” Dr Wicks said.

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