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.”
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’.)
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).
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.
– 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.”
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.
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).
Good way of dealing with men is to point out that gender is a LIMITATION; there’s something to gain from working on this.
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.
Women have a natural inner power; from when we’re born we are different; women can give life / give birth.
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
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