Elemento di Disturbo (workshop for men and trans)

by Cunt Incognita — Figa in Vicenza, Italy — she=he

Intenting a workshop on the different use of Space.

I’m keeping the description of this workshop ‘short’ and with focus on what we did, rather than what we talked about. Apologies to anyone curious about the content of the discussions. I’m writing this down for the sake of sharing a bit with the ones who want to know what happened, as well as a means to share my main idea of the workshop – creating awareness of the concept and practice of Consent, as well as awareness of the concept and practice of Transformative Justice – with a larger crowd than the ones who participated live.

The workshop for men and trans:

Three men and myself (a woman) meeting up. First I spoke some of feminist self-defense: Separatist groups of women training together and sharing experiences and skills with one another on how to deal with everyday male chauvinism.

After this I explained that I wasn’t really clear on what would happen in this workshop for men, that I only knew I would like to begin and end the workshop with a round (each person taking turns speaking) and somewhere in between speak of sexualized violence. So we started with a round saying what expectations we had and anything else that came to mind.

Then we played a few games to create a sense of closeness. The first one is with everyone standing in a circle and clock-wise (or counter-clock-wise) looking at the persons in the circle one by one, and when two persons happen to look at each other at the same time, they change places with one another, and then continue looking at the others in a circle and when there’s eye-contact they swap places again. And so on..

The next one is a game to build trust. Half of the people stand with their eyes closed and hands reached out in front of them, the other half lead the others around the space palm to palm. The ones who lead, leave the person standing after a while, and change to another person, so that it’s possible to experience many different ways of leading and following. After a while the roles are switched, and the ones that followed are now the ones that lead the others around the space.

After this we had a short exchange on how the games felt.

And then we tried walking around in the space – half of us with a sense of entitlement “I can go wherever, and move however I want” not caring for how the others are located in the room. The other half, make their space small, avoid eye-contact, and get out of the way of everybody else. After a while we swapped roles. The idea with the game was a wish to convey an inner as well as a physical reality experienced in public space by women as well as other disadvantaged groups. I’m not too sure I managed to transfer my intention to the men. I made connections not only to physical bodies getting and taking space, but as well to how much visibility different groupings have in media, and advertisement etc.

In the game that followed, half of us were greeting the others with a firm handshake, direct eye-contact, and a strong voice. The other half had a weak handshake, avoided eye-contact and spoke with a small voice. After two rounds of greeting the others we swapped roles. This time the idea was to think about the roles we have to one another on an individual level, and how we relate to that. Once again I wanted to convey the deep impact of gendered socialization on our behavior, as well as sharing an internalized reality by privileged and disadvantaged people in this society. These games didn’t really have an impact on the men since they knew one another from before. One person said that the reactions and reflections might be different in a larger group.

We had a talk about how we had experienced the games and I tried to explain my intention behind choosing to do these exercises with them: That it’s about the sense of space (mental – verbal – physical space) that we feel entitled to in relation to roles of privilege and disadvantage.

Then I asked some questions, and one of the men asked a question as well, with us choosing to place ourselves on a line between one end of the room representing a definite “Yes” and the opposite end being a clear “No”. In between could signify “Something in between” or “Both” or “I don’t know”.

The questions asked could be interpreted freely: “Do you reflect a lot on how gender affects your life?” The question asked by the man was something like this “Do you experience prejudiced treatment towards you by other genders because of them seeing you as belonging to a different gender?” Then I asked some questions in relation to community responsibility: “Would you stop someone from driving drunk?” “Would you stop someone at a party, from taking a drunk person home for sex?” “Do you see yourself as capable of sexualized violence?” This part took quite some time, and we all took turns explaining why we had chosen our particular position in the room to each question. There was a clear difference in the way I placed myself in relation to how the men placed themselves in relation to these questions. Someone was saying after, that they experienced it as being a cultural difference (I live in Finland. They live in Italy) as well as a gender difference (I am female, they are male).

After this we sat down in a circle again. I asked briefly if they see their friends as capable of sexualized violence, and after this we went on to speak about Consent.

I showed a graph looking like this:

The graph describes the gliding scale from Consent (“YES! I know what I’m doing and I absolutely agree and want to do exactly THAT thing with YOU! Yes! Yes! YES!”) to Co-operation (not saying no, but not wholeheartedly [or even half-heartedly for that matter..] agreeing/wanting to do what the other wants to do either) to Coercion (absolutely disagreeing/not wanting to do/not being able to give consent to what the other wants to).

The closer to consent you are – meaning: checking for agreement to every individual act, as well as staying tuned with how the other is responding to it – whatever it is you’re doing might start feeling nicer/less nice – so it’s not enough that the other person has said “yes”.. consent is a continuous communication and sensitivity towards the other, and the closer you are to consent, the more certain you can be of someone not having a bad experience with you.

I had a paper looking like this:

I had left the “What is consent?” column open in order to keep the focus of the discussion there for a while. One person said that consent is not possible unless you really know the person, otherwise there are too many factors speaking against the possibility of real consenting sex (for example: power-asymmetries). Another person was saying that it’s impossible to expect consent or ‘good sex’ when doing one night stands, to which I replied that consent is not only in relation to sexual contact with persons but a general approach on how to interact with others. Just as we can work on having equal relations with random strangers in the street, it should be possible to work on having enjoyable sex with random strangers in bed.

I followed the talk on consent with the conclusion that a substantial part of sexual interaction happening today is closer to co-operation and coercion than consent. And saying that we in spite of a high level of violence choose to individualize the experiences and label them as ‘personal’ matters instead of seeing it as a collective problem, and if there’s any response to violence within our communities, then it most often follows the same pattern as the Criminal Legal System: Violence is only recognized if there has been high level of coercion/resistance, and once there’s a recognition of harm done, the only response is to condemn the act and punish the person who did it. Often by exclusion or physical violence. The safety and healing of the person affected by the violence is not taken into consideration, nor is the changing/transformation of the harmful behavior – in other words: healing – of the person who caused the abuse, or a change in, and healing of, the community colluding with the violence (excusing it, denying it, allowing it to happen).

I said that the term Criminal Legal System (instead of Criminal Justice System) is coined by a group called Generation Five (the name coming from a vision of ending child sexual abuse within five generations). They question the legal system seeking and delivering justice so therefor they’ve changed the word ‘Justice’ to ‘Legal’.

Generation Five have come up with another concept as a response to the State’s inability to provide justice on individual and collective levels. They call this Transformative Justice. Their vision and practice is “based on the idea that individual justice and collective liberation are equally important, mutually supportive, and fundamentally intertwined—the achievement of one is impossible without the achievement of the other.” [from the first pages of the text called Toward Transformative Justice – A Liberatory Approach to Child Sexual Abuse and other forms of Intimate and Community Violence . A Call to Action for the Left and the Sexual and Domestic Violence Sectors .]

“For the Left to accomplish its vision of a just world, we must develop a liberatory response to intimate, interpersonal, and community violence. The daily reality of such violence prevents people and communities from imagining and participating in the creation of a more just world. Without a just world, people cannot find healing and safety. Developing a radical response by Left social movements to all forms of violence opens the opportunity to heal the trauma of past violence, reduce the level of violence we experience, and mobilize masses of people for fundamental social change.

Transformative Justice responds to the lack of —and the critical need for—a liberatory approach to violence. A liberatory approach seeks safety and accountability without relying on alienation, punishment, or State or systemic violence, including incarceration and policing.”

The goals of Transformative Justice as a response to all forms of violence are:

  • Survivor* safety, healing and agency
  • Accountability** and transformation of those who abuse
  • Community response and accountability
  • Transformation of the community and social conditions that create and perpetuate violence, ie systems of oppression, exploitation, domination and State violence.

* Survivor ~ The person immediately affected by the violence

** Accountability = Stopping immediate abuse / Making a commitment to not engage in further abuse / Offering reparations for past abuse

There was a question on how abusive behavior can be transformed and I responded that there is a short booklet, about 20 pages, describing a practical example of Transformative Justice in building collectives and supportive networks of individuals around the persons who have abusive behavior to support them in healing and change.

After this we had a closing round, saying how we had experienced the workshop, and then it was over.

.

FURTHER READING:

Generation Five (send them a message if you want the short booklet version of 20 pages – the longer version can be found as a pdf on their website)

Facebook group for people wanting to talk about the text (Toward Transformative Justice)

Everyday Male Chauvinism

Power-under: Trauma and Nonviolent Social Change

Five methods of domination (Berit Ås)

During the workshop I was asked if I had had other workshops with men only, and my answer was no, but that I had had a workshop on gender, where the group was split into men/women. The results can be read here:

Male group (d), Female group (ms), Female group (milla)

.

My personal experience of the men and trans workshop in Vicenza:

I felt nervous before the workshop, not knowing what to do with the time, or what exercises I could do to get into a deeper discussion on male violence and the role men as individuals take in maintaining patriarchal norms. After the workshop I had the feeling that I need a different – stronger more clear concept – to make a powerful impact on the participants.

I felt attracted to one of the men, which kept me focused on my internal process as a heteronormative woman in a space with men. I don’t know if this affected the workshop anything. Maybe the man was getting more speaking space than the others. Maybe I didn’t follow some discussion through the way I would have in other circumstances.

On two occasions I felt singled out by this man, once when speaking about sex and the man saying that it just ‘goes how it goes’ and that you figure out how you felt about it after, and then making a comparison saying that it would be the same as if this man would have dinner with me and then seeing how it feels afterwards. I did a clumsy “Or with that guy!” comment, instead of saying “I feel singled out as the only female person in the room, and put in the position of potential sex partner” [objectification] “I would prefer if you wouldn’t use my person as an example when we are speaking of the topic of sex”. The same man burped at a later occasion when speaking [at least two of the men were drinking beer], and then looked at me and said “Sorry”, and once again I felt singled out as the ‘female’ in the room and as someone to be ‘sensitive’ to with manners. I made a comment about it, and the man was saying that it was just that the guy knows the other men, and not knowing me, that made the difference. I still feel singled out and made “other” by the comments made.

I stayed after the workshop to have a talk with the two men who are key-holders/’patrons’ of the space, about calling the mixed workshop ‘non-sexist’. It was a long workshop, so most likely out of tiredness, we stopped translating, and one of the men ended up listening to the English conversation I had with the other man, and I’m not really sure how much of this conversation was understood. We spoke in loops, both repeating ourselves, and I experienced the talk as tiring and full of contradictions, and it is still a mystery to me how to speak of my experience of sexist structures and thinking in a ‘convincing’ way for a male person who can not recognize privileged behavior and feeling ‘attacked’ by my point of view. For me it’s not enough to recognize that we have ‘different realities’ – it is important to reach an understanding of what sexism really is. I can not agree with defining separatism as ‘sexism’ or that a simple comment on the fact that we can’t claim to know experiences we’ve never had (when speaking of the need for some women to have temporary space without male persons around, in order to be able to speak more freely, and the response from this man being that it’s ‘better’ to have those talks with men included, and a woman saying: “You can not understand, because you are a man!”) to be ‘sexism’ against men, instead of using the emotional response to this factual statement as an indicator that it’s time to check your privilege: “Why am I reacting in such a strong and negative way to someone asking to do things in their own way? What prevents me from relating to their point of view? What prevents me from letting them do what they want?”

Advertisements

Workshop on gender (female 2)

by Milla — she=he

Some years ago I did a workshop where we discussed gender in separate male/female groups. This is one of three texts written about this. This is from a myself participating in the female group.

NOTE: “In one or two of them, some words are missing because i couldn’t read them on the paper version.”

.

Disclaimer

Absolutely subjective point of view of what was going on in the women’s group during the sexism morning talk (friday 22nd of august: starting 9-ish, people continuously dropping or flowing in and out of the “thing”). Misinterpretetations, exclusions, etc. and so on, of what was said is guaranteed in this text.

This is my world expressed, nobody else’s. at least I will not pretend that I have any capability of remaining / remembering / experiencing situations in any objective way (i don’t believe in ‘neutral’, ‘objective’ or ‘perfect’.)

Introduction

After a short feeling/mood round and then having a short “personal random thoughts / feelings / relation to sexism”-round, we split into separatist men/women groups. It was suggested that we could focus on strategies for dealing with sexism, and also stated that “whatever happens happens, it’s ok to let the conversation go wherever it goes.”

2 to about 13 participants, women (about 6), men (around 7).

Summary

Great to make 8th of march political; have an international meeting; internet platform.

Dealing with sexism is always pushed away; put in the background; it is something to deal with “later”.

Experiences of women’s groups splitting because of the heavy pressure; social stigmatisation of the ones who raise this issue.
Difference between approach to this pressure:
1) dealing with it publicly as a political strategy / fight
2) stopping public activism and taking care of healing in a private sphere (a place also full of oppression and highly damaging relations)

In general, difficult to get women’s groups together because of lack of solidarity, and repression being HARD.

Some strategies:
– Spreading FEMINIST SELF DEFENSE (mental, verbal, physical – women only groups, creating solidarity bonds between women; raising consciousness of everyday oppression; personal development / liberation)
– Newly started internet SUPPORT FORUM (downside: free site with sexist advertisement), an international support forum for ALL (pro-)feminists
– Support is really important in order to maintain mental health (repression for feminists challenging the system is severe, and usually isolates / ostracizes the most militant / radical ones). INTERNET and especially SKYPE – hearing a personal warm voice of someone ideologically friendly to one’s reality and experiences – works wonders.
– It is important to include men in the struggle. this is not a “women’s issue”, that women should become equal with men; this is everybody’s problem, men need to break with privilege and violence.

MEN… how about men’s groups? how do they work?

(don’t remember the answer / what was said about this.. maybe that it’s important that they focus on breaking with privilege. otherwise it’s easy to get into only seeing own lack of power in the backstabbing patriarchal system)

Strategy: putting pressure. Getting groups to deal with/ work on/ reflect over gender by STRIKING or leaving the group. Making statements like “politics of the group is not radical when not dealing with this issue.”

&& statement:
Sexism can be dealt with with more feminine methods, no need to be macho; enough if a woman finds her own inner powers and radiates confidence and happiness.

&& response:
Wanting to express all kinds of feelings. not only happiness; plus

Men get a lot of attention in this society
Treating women feminists as specialists but not taking the personal needs of these fighters seriously: the feminist respected – the person forgotten and ignored
Men enjoy a power relation where mistakes of him are more accepted than the goof ups of her. he can usually rely on knowing that she won’t leave (therefore striking or leaving is a good strategy).

Statement:
Good way of dealing with men is to point out that gender is a LIMITATION; there’s something to gain from working on this.

Statement:
There might be an ideological difference expressed in this discussion.
Gender is a role, it’s not inherent or natural, just as whiteness and blackness are roles and power relations internalized and played out (as a white and privileged person not even being aware of how whiteness is expressed / performed.. ); see MTV music videos with rap music etc.

Taking part in a drag king workshop seeing how maleness is constructed was very liberating:
walking with feet first; or croch first; or head first (these body parts leading) and spreading out fingers;
relaxed hands and relaxed jaw (women smile a lot).
With a little awareness it’s easy to see that these roles are not neutral but performed.
CHILDREN are idols: moving and feeling more freely.

Statement:
Women have a natural inner power; from when we’re born we are different; women can give life / give birth.

Response:
We are born in different bodies;
Intersexed persons whose genitals are cut in order to fit into male or female;
Women who can’t give birth;
We are all different;
There are other factors dividing and uniting us, not biology.

Thoughts about inclusiveness.
Important for all movements.
Usually people with a certain awareness / reality feels uncomfortable being faced with the thinking and behavior we fight, especially when getting aware and sensitive to behavior and thinking that have been harming us for a long time.

How would it be possible to create a space that is safe and allowing for everyone. so that persons can express themselves freely without fear of hurting and harming the other one?

Having experienced many times that persons find my thinking absolute and expressed as the “right and only way”. Not wanting to exclude persons, become elitist, but at the same time feeling safe to express myself in whatever way I feel like, without feeling like i’m doing “a bad job”… Finding a space where everyone is comfortable and treated as fully human.

How to respond / not burn out:
Taking space / giving space for calming down. when feeling emotional or exhausted.

A LOT OF POINTS were missed out; I was taking notes. I usually don’t do that because I feel really insecure about representing what others have expressed: scared that they’ll feel like i’m running over them with my own big ego.
Also i’m not comfortable in being the one taking the initiative to talk about sexism.
BUT I do like taking the initiative to playing games and having emotional / mood rounds though; it makes me feel more real and connected to what others are experiencing.

I feel guilty about not participating in the practical life on camp yet; i’ve been too tired; I try to take it easy and accept myself the way I am.

It was nice hearing about another feminist facing the same type of isolation and repression. Theres a strong bond between fighters I feel. It’s hard fighting insanity and burnout and social despise in one’s political / personal life. There are hardly any spaces to rest: and hard to build trust with others.

It’s important to work on support systems; [home sweet home..] for the ones finding it impossible to back down, keeping up the fight.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this continuous workshop develops.

THE IDEA of writing texts in order to find out what persons were experiencing in the separate groups and putting them on a mailing list was suggested. after which a woman proposed that it was a typical thing that a woman feminist suggests something and the men just agree (or fear to disagree) [this is very roughly interpreted. but kind of the idea I got of the statement. and I agree.]

It became clear that most persons were not willing to share their experiences further than the group at the moment.

I noticed that people were focusing eye contact on me since I was facilitating. I also noticed that one man were looking at me and the other woman who had expressed living a life full of repression and slander.

And I’m scared of being perceived as dominant, and try to constantly work against that feeling.

I try to really just

be.

Workshop on gender (female 1)

by Milla — she=he

Some years ago I did a workshop where we discussed gender in separate male/female groups. This is one of three texts written about this. This is from a person participating in the female group.

NOTE: “In one or two of them, some words are missing because i couldn’t read them on the paper version.”

.

THOUGHTS….

I’m glad to have the possibility to write down these words knowing that they won’t face walls but interest. At least I hope so. At the same time, the fact that I’m glad shows the weakness of left structures: that it is not normal to have a place for discussions about sexism and hierarchies           autonomous free spaces.

Thus is is even more necessary to make this possible here – at the PGA-conference.

The first step to achieve this has been the anti-sexism workshop this morning.

At the beginning, we started to share personal feelings and experiences which was very interesting and inspiring. After that, we divided the group into two “gender groups” which discussed about personal experience with (anti-) sexism.

During       collecting the results with the whole group, the “men” turned out to have had a much more emotional and personal approach during that discussion while we discussed the topic more theoretically. At least, that’s the way I see it.

For me it’s a clear sign that those discussions should be had by men-only groups as well because they seem to make possi’ a new point of view          on to the own role possible and might help to deconstruct it.

-> What a surprise! While writing about sexism I’m writing about men! This fact also influenced the gathering of the women-only group: we talked a lot about the role of men in the struggle, nearly more than about our own structures. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to avoid this since if you want to abolish a form of opression, both parties of the opressive structure have to work on it. => Anti-sexism is not only a women’s topic!

Besides all the interesting and emotional impressions, I still can’t get rid of my impatience.

Although emotions are important, I don’t want the issue to be reduced to just talk about feelings because I have been doing this for years.

I’m really interested in establishing connections with other anti-sexist groups or individuals to support each other in our everyday struggles which we have to fight in order to fight against everything that prevents people from having a good life.

Workshop on gender (male)

by Milla — she=he

Some years ago I did a workshop where we discussed gender in separate male/female groups. This is one of three texts written about this. This is from a person participating in the male group.

NOTE: “In one or two of them, some words are missing because i couldn’t read them on the paper version.”

.

Point of view after the discussion in men-only group / What was said (through my eyes).

(No notes were taken during the discussion, so maybe i forgot some things, or i cannot develop them enough. Also it’s possible that i put more weight on points that were important to me / or points that i raised.)

We’re not used to talking in a men-only group about gender issues.

We talked about the role of opressor. We saw 2 sides that are quite different but also in some way linked together:
1. We’re opressors. We notice it in the way we talk, behave, in the way the society gives us more room, more weight. How to prevent that…?
2. We suffer from the expectations of having to fit in a certain role / picture of masculinity. It can lead to some distance taken from former friends, or from people we meet.

Indepentantly (well, to some extend) from domination attitude, some people expressed something they notice about themselves: “seduction” game/behavior that is linked to a hetero-normative construction, when communicating with women. Wanting to see a person as neutral, as just a person, and to see them less through the filter of erotism/sex/love/seduction/blah. This failure to get completely rid of this thought / attitude reinforces the self-picture of an opressor, and creates a feeling of discouragement and frustration.

On the other hand, another half of the group don’t feel this problem. That point about a too seductive sight says quite nothing to them; on the contrary, they don’t feel able to seduce/attract people. Thus it’s not something they have in mind when communicating with somebody.

A point was raised that it’s OK to let seduction games happen. The problem is:
– when you can’t avoid doing it;
– when it leads to some kind of domination attitude (“conquistador”).

Physical contact between men. There is a strong physical barrier. We have nearly no contact because:
– We don’t try to.
– When we do, we’re not sure how the other man will react. Maybe he’d like more contact too, but nothing is ever said about it, so it just doesn’t happen, unless there is initial confidence on the matter.

——————————-

My feelings about this moment of discussion (well, some of my feelings probably)

It feels strange, at first, to try to talk in a men-only group about this topic in a personal way. I realize that I’m more used to talking about it with women who are interested in these questions (sometimes also with women who are not so much into this, which is also quite interesting). When I happened to talk with/to other men about gender issues, I was very often the one who was the more aware of them, so it was mainly about introducing “basic” things; no real personal/emotional communication.

When we sat down, during a few seconds the atmosphere became very light and relaxed, it was very strange. I don’t know what it was exactly. A taboo that is so deep that it’s not expressed with silence but rather with relaxed, detached behavior. So I was afraid that the discussion would stay on the surface, that we would waste those 15 minutes showing self-insurance and avoiding saying anything personal, in a let’s-have-a-beer atmosphere. But in fact it became interesting quickly.

One person stayed behind such self-insurance. He seemed pretty much satisfied of his life on the aspect of sexism: there is no sexism in his human environment, they managed to get rid of them. (Of course, this is only the way I understood what he said, maybe I’m totally wrong.)

On one hand, such assertions pissed me off somehow, because I think gender questions are a topic in which our society is pretty much in a prehistoric age. There’s a huge lot to do, partly because it’s very deep inside us. On the other hand, his attitude can be another sign that as men, talking about these questions is very difficult and unusual, that we are “babies” when it comes to this. So maybe he was frustrated too, and would have liked to share more about personal feelings.

Elemento di Disturbo (on Separatism and Sexism)

by Cunt Incognita — Figa in Vicenza, Italy — she=he

Disturbing elements: Illusionary bubbles and undiscussed concepts.

.

When offering a workshop on feminist self-defense for women and trans at Elemento di Disturbo, the answer was first a blank “No”, and in the unstructured process of coming to an agreement between the two women and the two men discussing the issue, I offered a compromise: A workshop for women, another for men, and after a comment was made by one of the men, that a mixed workshop would be preferred, then I offered that too. All in all three workshops – diversity of strategy and freedom to choose – in order to satisfy the needs of everyone involved, and to enable the use of the space for the women, trans only workshop.

When asked why a separatist workshop would be wished for, and giving the short explanation that men and women grow into different cultures that co-exist in a constant power imbalance, and saying that women can speak more freely in the company of other women of what it’s like being at the short end of the stick in this power relation – the response by the men, was that it is better to share experiences in mixed groups in order not to create ‘exclusion’. The point I was trying to make on self-censorship and behavioral differences in mixed environments didn’t come across. A woman was saying: “You can not understand, because you are a man!” The man continued to say that the same conditions would be for any group, for instance a group of immigrants would not be welcome to keep separatist meetings in the space, since they wished for open interaction between everybody contributing to the laboratory in order to maintain a process of exchange and common growth. In other words, they seem to believe strongly that: Here And Now their ideal is made real of a future Without Walls.

I asked if a neo-Nazi would be welcome to have meetings there as long as they were open to anyone interested participating in the activity. The response to this was yes. The two ‘patrons’ of E.di.D said that they believed that anyone in interaction with them would — if not ending up with an expanded mind — eventually realize that this wasn’t the place for them. In the case of neo-Nazism versus feminism at the Lab, it seems that while neo-Nazis would after a while feel that they don’t fit in with their activity, feminists need to be told directly to go away since their activity would threaten the shared ideals of the majority of the users of E.di.D?

.

The exclusion of self-determination for individuals and groups working within the space, affects the general (mixed) interaction and atmosphere there, and sends a message for more radical (disturbing?) elements to ‘go elsewhere’ with their ideas and diversity of strategy [this was expressed openly], and is therefor the making of a place where people more comfortable with the majority opinion, and mainstream behavior in the group, or to be more precise – people who, for better or worse, fit with the opinions and behavior of the two men in charge – create the breaking mechanism for the creative expression on the far left of the far left in the same way that society at large stops creativity and self-determination in most commercial spaces for people wanting to relate to one another ‘differently’ (in an alternative way to the mainstream).

.

The contradiction of the space goes like this: Elemento di disturbo is a space set aside – Separated – from a ‘slow-growing’ ‘mainstream’ society to be a space to break down walls and generating discussion, free exchange of ideas and creative energy. At the same time there is no understanding for the diversity of issues needing separate space to burst into bloom set aside – Separated – from the ‘slow-growing’ ‘mainstream’ within the alternative space itself. Liberation does not come by labeling a space ‘non-commercial’ or ‘non-sexist’ or ‘non-racist’ or wishing for people to ‘feel free’, or even by two persons stating that they are making efforts for everyone within the space to ‘feel free’ in the way they understand the concept of freedom (or: ‘non-commercial’, ‘non-sexist’, ‘non-racist’ [which includes having tolerance and understanding for one of them making racist ‘jokes’] etc).

.

Separatism can not be equaled to segregation, which functions in an exclusionary manner to maintain power imbalance, and unequal access to resources. Separatism is not about exclusion and maintaining power, it is an opportunity for affinity, for growth, for creative flow between the ones who have less power, and less access to resources. It is an opportunity for the unspoken and unheard to be told and listened to. A space for a suppressed reality to explore and grow without heavy resistance. Separatism is not something ‘taken away’ from the mixed group. Mixed discussions should and can exist in the same space as separatist discussions, in the same way as alternative spaces and discourses can and should exist within the so called ‘mainstream’ society. Belonging to a dominant group and demanding access everywhere in the name of ‘freedom’ (or to “break down walls”) is the same as the State demanding access everywhere for the ‘safety’ and ‘good’ of the citizens, because the State knows better than the individuals what is best for them. Absolute access, absolute presence = Control = No space to express or try something different, no space to change.

.

After the decision was made to have the three workshops, a text was written and sent by myself and another woman with a short description of the different groups (women & trans, men & trans, mixed) [workshop on self-defense against male violence] so it was a surprise to later find out that the workshops had been announced by the men as “for men” “for women” and “non-sexist” (mixed). One of the men said that the description sent by us, hadn’t been received, and that the text that the man had passed on, had been written according to what had been decided at the meeting: Women, Men, Mixed and for this man it was clear that the ‘mixed’ group was interchangeable with ‘non-sexist’ [I disagree] since the other two groups represented some form of ‘sexism’ [I disagree]. The decision made at the meeting that us two women would write the text and have it passed on to the facebook group, was overridden and ignored, and the same was what happened with our right to self-determination in relation to what was going to happen at the workshops. This is the first time ever in my life that someone else has written the description of my workshops, and this without consulting me: “Does this description fit with what you envision you will be doing?” Nothing of this sort, but instead talk about me, saying that there will be one non-sexist workshop and that what I’m doing is absurd and sexist, and will surely not take place again at E.di.D..

.

I was told by one of the men that separatist activity is against the ‘group will’ (majority) of the users and contributors to Elemento di disturbo, a statement which I see as minimizing and marginalizing the effort and contribution made by users relating to a minority (alternative) opinion, when I said this I was told that the space is not about the group but about the two men caring for the rent, and that others are there as guests. And it was said that there is no space to make a lot of separate groups, that they wouldn’t want to take away space from mixed interaction by having separatist activity there (I have the understanding that they mean that even unused, empty space should be labeled ‘mixed’ = ‘non-sexist’, rather than allowing it for the use of separatist, and real, anti-sexist activity.) Saying that anything that doesn’t fit the norm set by the dominant majority is ‘alien’ and not belonging to the group, is plain and simple a politics of sameness – a struggle against Change and for Status Quo.

.

When one woman talked with the men about swapping the dates of the workshops for men and women in order to include the woman who had initially began to organize for the feminist self-defense workshop, she was told that this wasn’t possible and that this might ‘teach me’ – the person holding the workshops – to get on the path of ‘a-sexual’ (possibly meaning non-sexed, non-gendered?) communication – after a pause changed to – ‘non-sexist’ (a-sessista), meaning that separatist groups are seen as a form of perpetuating sexism by the two men. Not as groups ‘For women’, but as groups ‘Against men’? With the same type of logic I assume that they would be against homosexual relations between women since it would ‘exclude’ men? Seriously: Why is it threatening to someone that some women might want to meet without men?

Women meeting with other women is a disturbing picture?

.

I was told that the laboratory was only for mixed interaction and that other activity would be supported as long as it would be elsewhere. I was told that there is a center for battered women in the city, and that separatist activity could be done there. According to the logic of the man, a center for battered women must be a terribly backward and wall-building place, causing a lot of sexism in this society with their separatist work? So it’s clear that a liberated space where everyone says they are against sexism, no work on the issues worked on over at women’s centers are needed? Right? Let’s push that kind of activity out the door!! Sexualized violence and internalized oppressive gender roles can be dealt with somewhere else!

.

The man had been faced with the Fact that as a man – as a person categorized and socialized and constantly related to as ‘male’ – it is not possible for this person to understand the realities of someone categorized, socialized and constantly related to as ‘female’ and how a space for women can work in a beneficial way to discuss what is usually un-talked and un-told since it is met by the mainstream with: Ignorance and Denial. This man had experienced the woman saying: “You can not understand, because you are man!” as an act of ‘sexism’ against men. I tried to explain that for me it is not possible to claim that I understand a non-white existence in a society dominated by whites. And that it is a privilege to belong to a group and yet consider oneself as an individual and feel ‘targeted’ when someone is presenting you with the mere fact of “You can not know, cause you don’t have that particular experience, and right now you are showing the type of behavior that makes it difficult for me to co-exist with you”. This isn’t sexism against men, in the same way that it is not sexist of me to say that I can not possibly understand what undergoing the process of male socialization in a system based on male dominance is like. I can understand privilege (as a white person, as an adult, as an ablebodied person and so on) and I can understand disadvantage (as a woman, as someone growing up with the surname of my immigrant parent, as someone who has experienced homelessness, as someone who experienced physical abuse as a child) and I can say that through these experiences I’ve come to realizations of advantage and disadvantage. The advantages/privilege I have is something I rarely have to think about unless someone feels bothered by my ignorance and has the courage and energy to point it out. Current disadvantages, on the other hand, are a constant stressful awareness from which there are very few moments of relief and rest. The relief comes in spaces where I can share my reality without being told that “I can’t take a joke” or “Shouldn’t think so much” or that I’m “Too serious and should relax”. Or that when I’m speaking of the reality of sexism I am told that I am misinformed and that I am in fact the one being ‘sexist’ against men and not vice versa..

.

I’m not saying that separatism is a choice that everyone has to make. I am saying that it is a useful tool for persons with similar experiences to work on ways to change our existence. A way to stay sane. I’m all for privileged groups working on their/our issues in separatist groups as well (but with the possibility of transparency and accountability in relation to members of the disadvantaged groups). I see separatism as a choice, and not as something forced on anyone, or a threat against anyone, in the same way that I wouldn’t see mixed groups as forced on, or against anyone, unless it would be stated that separatism isn’t possible. I am saying that it is exclusionary and patronizing for members of dominant groups to claim that real freedom can only be reached by all making the effort together, when these same people don’t even recognize that there is a problem, or can relate to that they have problematic thinking and behavior.

.

I have after writing this piece, read the conversation that took place on facebook in relation to the announcement of the workshops, and will within a couple of weeks post my response to the comments made, on this blog. I’m hoping that my comments will act as a needle bursting the bubble of illusion of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘no walls’ that the men of E.di.D seem to live inside. I say ‘hoping’, since experience has showed me time and time again that some people don’t want to burst their bubbles or break down their own walls, and self-reflection is, for whatever reasons, unwanted.

.

Written by: A temporary contributor to the Laboratory of Elemento di Disturbo, having my contribution Minimized, Marginalized, Vilified and Distorted by Some (note: not All) other contributors of the space.


Gendered Heteropatriarchy (on Separatism and Sexism)

by Milla — she=he

This text is written a few years ago, and is largely based (directly translated) from a swedish paper written by Madelaine Elgemyr: Lesbianism as a feminist strategy.

Gender and love – Feminism – Patriarchy – Men hating women – Heterosexuality – Homosocial / Heterorelational – Sexliberalism – Women hating men – Separatism – Women’s solidarity – Solidarity with women: Power of definition / Partiality

Lend me an ear?

. .

GENDER AND LOVE ::: Gender is a role assigned to us at birth. “Is it a boy or a girl?” Female if you have a cunt, and male if you have a penis. The ones with something other or in between (intersexed) are forced into either category, sometimes with mutilation of their genitals in order to have a body fitting with the role given to them.  —-  Most oppression work in the same way. Creating two different categories, and then assigning certain traits to one group who are valued higher than the traits who are supposed to be representative of the individuals belonging to the other group. In this case “male” values higher than “female”.  —-  Male: Control, reason, culture, adult, intellectual, leader —-  Female: Sexual, emotional, nature, child, body, being lead —-  These same categories go for: white / non-white. Upper class / working class. Adult / child. Humans / other animals.  —-  Love plays an important part in maintaining these structures. It’s there as a creating force, and also has the potential of being exploited. Love is the basics in all social relations. We all breathe the same air. We wake up to the same sun. Gaze at the same moon. We all have a deep need to feel love. All relations we have to all living things are based on love – seeing; listening; caring for – and how much we give and receive of it.  —–   We are socialized into seeing certain categories as the norm (for instance: white, male) and certain as “other”, and relate to each other according to what position we have in relation to ethnicity, age, able-bodiedness etc. We make differences in how much love we give and feel according to how we are positioned in this web of discriminatory labeling. It’s an oppressive system and we as individuals maintain and recreate it daily. Out of habit. And out of fear. It’s not accepted to break the rules. We know this from early on. We have been taught well through a system of punishment and reward. “Good boy!” “Bad girl!” “Boys don’t cry!” “Girls don’t wrestle!”

.

FEMINISM and PATRIARCHY – MEN HATING WOMEN ::: Every political movement must start by identifying their oppressor and adversary and the strategies used by their opponent in order to make strategies of their own.  —-  Apart from the cruel ways of separating children into boys and girls, and breaking boys into men. Patriarchy is a system mainly oppressing women. And if women is the oppressed group there’s only one group left doing the oppressing: men. In a lot of languages the violence that women face by men is not called ‘men’s violence against women’, but usually the doer is left out and it’s called: ‘violence against women’. Which is a way of obscuring the power relations, that should by now be obvious to us all.  —-  A mainstream opinion is that men and women are equally oppressed in this system. And it’s also very common to hear that “men are more oppressed than women” because they can’t cry or something such. It’s also fairly often said that “men are oppressed by women”. Looking at it through a historical lens, very few could argue that men as a group have been facing the same prejudice and bias as women as a group.  —-  Patriarchy means the systematic power men have over women. Women and men constitute two groups that are at a constant conflict. This conflict is present in all aspects of society. Men as a group and individuals oppress women as a group and individuals, by for instance exerting an enormous amount of sexualized violence on women, most women are at some point in their lives exposed to some form of sexualized violence by a man known to them, which means that most men exert some form of oppression towards one or more women close to them (since a person can only have close relations with a limited amount of individuals.)  —-  This means that men have power over women in a hierarchy, not only that men and women have a different amount of power and are “unequal” in “the system”. Men’s power lies in every single relation between men and women, not primarily in the state or by owning the means of production. It’s important to have a perspective that sees both the structure at large and at the same time see the individuals and actors creating it – there is no male power without the men exercising it; men’s violence against women is also not an isolated phenomenon but a part of the structural violence that men as a group use against women as a group.  —-  Very often when speaking of the realities of this oppression, “exceptions” and the “good men” are mentioned, making a theoretical difference between individual / group / system. Creating a difference between men as individuals and the acts and institutions of men, does not make a lot of sense.  —-  Men as a group hate women, and express this hatred through rape, murder, sexual harassment, and other sexualized behaviors. A lot of women do not experience these behaviors as expressions of hatred, since men’s violence against women have been so culturally mystified that we have been fooled into believing these are expressions of guilt free insanity, misunderstandings, natural sex drive or even: love.  —-  Even for feminists, aware of the power relations, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the men around her are “different” an “exception to the rule”. And thereby seeing the men in her surrounding as separate from men as a social group. And most women living / associating with men do the same. This leads to most men having some woman convinced he’s an atypical man, different from the rest, even if this is mathematically impossible (a majority can not be atypical of itself). This is a situation that men benefit from and feminists and women in general are disadvantaged by.  —-  It is not only that men treat women badly, although often they do, but that it is their choice whether or not to do so. All men have power over all women: over all women as a group and specifically over a few that they are in close relation to. Each man can then choose to exercise this power through oppression, or he may choose not to, but since men are not isolated from the patriarchal society at large they have always this socially supported power and can always choose to use it, at which point it’s then up to the woman in question to stop him.  —-  Any feminism not having the strategy of constantly criticizing men as a group and individuals, and holding them accountable to the women hating acts they perform on a daily basis, recreating patriarchy. Any feminism not speaking of men and their actions being the first most reason to keeping this system going. Any feminism not doing that is not really challenging status quo.  —-  The relation between men and women is a war, a war done by men on women. A war that’s currently not meeting any resistance to speak of.  —-  Often when speaking of men as responsible for the violence and harm done to women – identifying a certain political group in a determined and general manner, in this case “men” and “women” – this is seen as “essentializing” this group. Radical feminists would not agree on using this word, since we see essentialism as some form of biological reductionism, where something is described by its nature to be unchangeable and unaffected by political means.  —-  When feminism loses its analysis of men as responsible for men’s oppression of women but instead start speaking of liberating both women and men from “patriarchy” with no visible actors, a male power without accountable men, it also loses its potential to create a radical change. —-  Radical feminism could be said to be the absolute opposite of postmodernism. Radical feminism’s strategy is for women to bond together in solidarity and organize against men as a social group.  —-  The postmodern way to fight patriarchy is to simply stop talking of “men” and “women” and by deconstructing these two categories in that way somehow get rid of the problem.  —-  As if these categories are completely detached from individuals and the social groups in the context defined by power. No group of people is seen as responsible for maintaining the social structure and no material problems are discussed. The deconstruction of men and women is supposed to be done without challenging men’s power over women in society, without stopping men as a group and individuals from harming women.  —-  Which is a very unrealistic way of getting anywhere. As if I as a white person could just stop calling myself “white” and in that way there would be no more racism. Or by not identifying as a “woman” I could then escape oppression. Not a very potent strategy.  —-  We have to go deeper than that. Look at structures and the individuals maintaining it. As in: Who’s on top and who’s on the bottom.

.

HETEROSEXUALITY ::: The turn on in heterosexuality is the differences between the (female and male) sexes, a difference based on power, a hierarchy. An erotization of power and submission. —-  Women’s heterosexuality benefit men’s power over women since women are bound emotionally, socially and economically to men and isolated from other women in heterosexual couple- and polyamorous relations.  —-  In a society where men (as a group and individuals) continuously batter, rape and murder women, and in particular women who live in intimate love relations with them. The type of love bonding women to men in this way is problematic. (Even though it’s not only love keeping the women in these relations but most often a real fear of intensified violence if they’d try to break free.)  —-  Even if not all women are exposed to violence, we are all continuously aware of its existence and affected by it. In this way all acts of violence against women are beneficial to all men and strengthen their power over all women.  —-  Heterosexual love can in many ways be compared with the kind of love that a hostage can develop for their oppressors, as a survival strategy, creating strong emotional bonds of loyalty,  great sensitivity to the needs of the oppressor through interpretation of nuances in words, tone of voice and body language, and finally love. This psychological condition is especially common when captivity is enduring for a longer time, and the hostages are kept isolated from each other and in close contact with the men who keep them hostage. Very much like the conditions women are under in the isolated family units where most of the male violence against women are practiced. Women live isolated from each other but close to husbands, boyfriends, fathers etc who have the potential of harming them (all men have power over women, regardless of whether they chose to exercise that power or not.)  —-  Victims of this type of violence react on the oppression in a string of seemingly illogical ways – they see themselves from the perspective of the batterer, see him as the victim and themselves as worthless, they put their hopes to being spared if they themselves are just loving and caring and obedient enough, and they experience this as loving the batterer. This is a pattern that can be transferred from an individual level to a societal level and explain women’s way of relating to men as a group and as individuals, given that women as a group in this society live under the constant threat of male violence (strangers and intimates) throughout our lives.  —-  Women’s love as defined above is a patriarchal strategy to keep women tied to men and support men’s power over women.

.

HOMOSOCIAL / HETERORELATIONAL ::: Heterorelational is a wider concept than heterosexuality. Heterorelations are all the emotional, economical, social and political relations that exist between men and women on men’s terms. Women living with men are not primarily heterosexual in the sense that they are attracted to men, but are rather living heterorelationally, which means that their lives and self-definition is related to relations with men – being a girlfriend, mother, attractive woman, and so on.  —-  The heterorelational ideology permeates the society to the extent that most of us don’t reflect over this, it stipulates that women only have a value in relation to men, that only those relations and situations where a man is in the picture are interesting, that relations between women are unimportant and fundamentally lacking something without men.  —-  For instance it’s not uncommon for a group of women sitting at a café or bar to be approached by a man asking if they are there “alone”. Women together are in a heterorelational way of thinking seen as incomplete without a man present.  —-  Heterorelational ideology has also defined a large part of the discussion about the relation between the (female and male) sexes, by defining feminism as striving towards equality with men, instead of women’s independent autonomy and relations with each other.  —-  In the same way as women are related to men, also men put men first in their relations. Their way of relating to each other is called homosocial. In men’s homosocial way of relating to one another women are viewed as relative beings who exist not for ourselves, but only for the servicing, maintenance and comfort of men.

.

SEXLIBERALISM ::: Sexliberals by advocating S/M and the buying of sex eroticize and practice the exact same power hierarchies that men’s power over women is based on, and also advocate a reactionary emotional essentialism by not allowing any criticism of feelings and sexuality as a political and social phenomena.  —-  If a woman is turned on by rape fantasies or sell her body to johns, feminists have no right to ask on what political grounds – the feeling can’t be questioned, regardless of the social consequences for the woman herself or for women as a group.  —-  The feminist agenda of changing and turning our emotional lives over from the patriarchal indoctrination by consciousness raising is judged as moralistic and puritan.  —-  Sadomasochist-activists advocate erotization of several power hierarchies, amongst others: man – woman, nazi – jew, white – black, and see the practices of these power hierarchies as a sexual “game”. Some sexliberals also advocate sex with children.  —-  Heterorelations function perfectly well in lesbian, gay and queer sexual relations for instance by sadomasochist practices, or that the women in other aspects, apart form the sexual, live male centered lives. Especially S/M – a sexuality based on degradation and violence, for instance licking somebody’s shoes or whipping somebody – has to a great extent been normalized in the lesbian subculture.  —-  The question why somebody is turned on by violence and submission is taboo amongst sexliberals. The general attraction to self-violence, women’s internalized self-hatred expressed by for instance cutting herself with razorblades is seen as something entirely different. But as soon as destructive behavior is eroticized and sexualized it’s immediately beyond any political criticism.  —-  Sexual feelings are learned and can be unlearned. One way of fighting women’s erotization of men’s power is by getting together and critically and with a large dose of humor analyze sexual fantasies, see the political reasons behind them and in that way make it possible to deconstruct it through feminist consciousness.

.

WOMEN HATING MEN – SEPARATISM – WOMEN’S SOLIDARITY ::: In order to break with this oppression women need to speak out about their reality. This is what feminists very often do. And in doing so, breaking the silence, breaking with the loyalty to the oppressor we’re often told that we’re hating men. Hatred as well as a love is a political strategy. And considering the socialization of women into caring, self-sacrificing, heterorelational beings, I would see the anger of women and even hatred expressed to the ones committing the crimes against us, as a healthy first step towards liberation. Women have no responsibility whatsoever to care for the wellbeing of our oppressors.  —-  Women should instead show solidarity with other women. Every woman has a limited amount of time and energy, and waisting it on the ones in power, is time and energy taken from other women, and the women’s movement.  —-  It’s important to create deep relations – political and emotional – where women put women first. A love with varying degrees of intimacy. Many women (or most) have been exposed to sexualized violence and therefore crave spaces and relations where they don’t have anything to do with sexuality and can feel safe: in which case they’d rather not have their relations with women sexualized in the same way as the relations with men already are. For others this love and solidarity for women can be extended to a sexual love.  —-  About women doing political work with other women: Racism and class oppression are issues that concern different groups of men as much as women, and it is therefore more socially accepted for women to engage in these struggles. Issues and oppressions other than sexism and lesbophobia have attached to them the seductive aura of male approval. If women choose not to work with men but instead focus entirely on women, it’s not considered to be “real politics” but instead seen as a limitation and a narrow perspective.  —-  Separatism is a fundamental liberatory strategy of an oppressed group. It’s important to understand the difference between segregation as beneficial for the dominant group (as in apartheid) and separatism initiated by the oppressed as a means of self-defense.  —-  Oppression is based on the dominant group’s or individual’s access to its victims – physically, socially, psychologically, sexually etc. Separatism – denying access to the oppressor –  is a way for the oppressed to claim autonomy.  —-  Separatism can be expressed through many different actions and ways of organizing – for instance political gatherings for women only and women’s studies courses.  —-  Consciousness raising groups, where women discuss their common experiences of oppression in a political context, and plan change and resistance is an important strategy since women’s experiences are not considered to be political but personal. It’s also a strengthening experience knowing you are not alone in your suffering.  —-  The personal is political is a feminist phrase opening up an analysis of many different areas that previously had been defined as non-political, for instance: love, house work, rape and sexual harassment. —-  Women’s separatism is not only a strategy against men but just as much a strategy by and for women.

.

SOLIDARITY WITH WOMEN: POWER OF DEFINITION / PARTIALITY ::: Power is best seen from below. In order to break with the prevailing oppressive systems we need to identify with the groups we as individuals belong to. And recognize the privilege or oppression that comes with these different categories. And when belonging to a privileged group, understanding that with this privilege (most of the time) also comes complete ignorance of having this privilege. So instead of reacting in a defensive (supremacist) manner when a person tries to point out oppressive behavior:  “Can’t you have any fun?” “That wasn’t meant to be sexist/racist/homophobic…you are too sensitive” “Let’s not overreact.” “Now you’re violating my boundaries when you jump all over me like that, just because I was a little…” Instead of going along with the system we can act differently and actively try to change these systems by using two concepts called Power of definition and Partiality.  —-  Power of definition: The affected person has the right to define what is to be considered as a violation of their boundaries. They have a right to define a situation as oppressive according to how they’ve experienced it.  —-  Partiality: The person who is regarded the affected person is the one who, considering structural power relations, is in the oppressed position and who, additionally, considers themselves an affected person. Partiality means positioning oneself with the affected person and supporting their power of definition.  —-  Revolution could be really easy. Just: Shut up and listen.

win/win dispute resolution skills (nvc and conflict) #3

by Milla — she=he

Alex Censor's thoughts on privacy and conflict resolution. Alex is a certified cnvc trainer.

I unsubscribed from two online practice groups of nonviolent communication. In one of the two (first, second) feedback letters I wrote, I quote people from these forums. I wrote an email afterwards to the persons mentioned, and one person asked me to remove her name, which I did (she is now “XYZ”), Alex Censor, the founder and owner of the two communities I decided to leave, chose to respond to my feedback/concerns and to XYZ’s request in this way:

.

Privacy Policy in the groups and Milla’s reposting (WAS: “Re: feedback to automatic response (SynCom, PonderingNVC)”)

,

XYZ,
.
I haven’t read (and probably won’t) the particular text Milla quoted from you, but certainly support your desire to at least have your name not quoted in a public blog without your consent.
I’m guessing you would have liked Milla to demonstrate consideration for your needs by asking your consent BEFORE she posted your words, rather than telling you afterwards?
.
I have tried to protect members from such unwanted re-use of their postings and words (with or without identifying names) with the following confidentiality notice that has long been in our group’s files area (see below.)
Based your email and on the recent incidents of Milla quoting text from the group without consent of the writers I will in the future have that notice automatically sent out to all new members.
And I request that if any group member discovers similar repostings taking place in the future
.
and the file —
Which reads in part —
in joining this group members are agreeing to keep what goes on this this group private within the group, and to not without permission reuse
or repost,or forward to non-group members, particularly not in public, any words posted here..
.
It does go on to read that unfortunately —
On the other hand, although this group is private, and I, and I believe others,  make efforts to hold material posted here as confidential, and I have (or  until recently at least “had”) confidence that postings here do remain confidential, for many reasons it’s impossible to guaranty confidentiality.
.
So, If there’s some sensitive information, which if released could cause you or  others damage or pain, I ask you to assess for yourself whether the risk of it  leaking out is justified by the benefits of putting that information out in the group.If this is an issue for you, one way to increase your confidentiality might be to join the group under an assumed name”

.

.
If you go to that message on the group files area you might note that it will have a date indicating it was edited today.
That’s merely because I had to go into “edit mode” to check that it is set to be sent out to every new member. It’s actually been there since about 2006. And at least
.
(I’m not cc’d Milla with my response because for various reasons it does not meet my needs to have communication with her,
and my lack of optimism about her complying with requests to remove text from her blog (based on one incident in which a member requested she remove some of his text from her blog and she refused to do so) and my suspicion that my words would likely make her even less likely to comply with your request.
Given her propensity to repost other’s private words on her blog I request that no recipient of this email forward it to her.)
.
I have deep disappointment that in my desire to honor transparency and support free exchange and cut Milla slack I didn’t balance that against my desire to protect the privacy and integrity of the group and the other members and wasn’t more proactive in protecting group privacy from Milla’s behavior; with hindsight wish I had as soon as I became aware that she was posting group text  and private member emails outside the group requested she cease and blocked her access to the group if she didn’t.
I am relieved that she has left the groups as that at least puts a stop to her doing so in the foreseeable future and saves me the hassle of suspending her access myself.
.
And I request that in the unlikely event any group member discovers similar repostings in the future by anyone that they let me know so if there’s ever a “next time” with some other member I can in the future be more quickly proactive in trying to stop it.
.
Does that answer your questions regarding clarifying the privacy issue?
.
I suggest that anyone sending email to Milla, or anyone else you have such concerns about reposting your words, consider the possibility that she could, without checking with you, post all or part of your email publically in her blog, out of context, with your name, and could refuse to remove it if you objected.
One option for some protection would be to put copyright anything
(for example   “(c) copyright XYZ, 2010, all rights reserved”) as that might inhibit them and at least the options below become more viable.
.
=============================
====================================
.
Also, for what little it is worth, it would appear to me that in posting your words in her blog, if they are words taken from our group emails, without your consent she is out of compliance with her agreement in being a user of yahoogroups, as in the terms of service there it reads in part —
at http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html
“You agree to not use the Yahoo! Services to:
upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that infringes  any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright
or other proprietary rights (“Rights”) of any party;”
— and your words are automatically words you normally hold copyright to.
There is a procedure to advise Yahoogroups of violations of their terms of service but I would not have much optimism about them actually doing something useful to you in response.
.
If Milla will not consent to what you request you would may have more luck with these sort of protective use of force methods with the hosting service that hosts Milla’s blog.
There are detailed instructions on how to get someone to remove your words from their site.
Also at http://automattic.com/dmca/ they offer a method where you can quickly inform them that her use of your words violates your copyright.
Although they apparently will quickly and automatically block the disputed content the person whose content is blocked does have the option of responding and making efforts to get it unblocked, etc.
I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, and wish you luck in getting a cooperative response from Milla.
.
Alex