Friday, 30 November 2007


Are you interested in helping men to challenge gender oppression? Are you keen to think more about what men can do to combat sexism? or perhaps you know someone who fits this description? If so then come along to the brand new London pro-feminist men’s group. We meet every 2 weeks on Thursdays at 6:30pm (at the moment!) and our next meeting is on the 13th December at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC). The address is 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1ES and it’s on the corner of Fieldgate Street and Parfett Street.

The group has no set objectives as such yet but will hopefully be a supportive environment in which men can learn to challenge patriarchy and sexism within themselves, the group and society in general.

To find out more about the group or about our next meeting then please get in contact with us at .

Have a lovely day!

London Pro-feminist Men’s group

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Reclaim the Night Rally!

Last Saturday we had a stall in the University of London Union for the "Reclaim the Night" rally to cheer on our sisters who had marched triumphantly through London to take a stand against violence against women.

Our stall was run by the motley crew of John and Jon (pictured above) and was very well received - we got plenty of high-fives and an overflowing email list. Maybe part of that reception was due to Jon's forward thinking in bringing along a bag of chocolate, some biscuits, amusing gender-bending cartoons and colouring-in equipment. Certainly we aren't making ourselves unpopular anyhow!

We also sold over 20 white ribbons for men to make a statement against misogynistic violence, and that money is now safely in the hands of an anti-rape charity.

I certainly learnt a lot about feminism from the Fawcett Society women, met more interesting people of all genders than I normally would have in a month, and on top of all that got to hone my colouring skills, which have been dormant since Year 10 Geography lessons...

Just to update you on events:
Tomorrow (Tuesday 27th November) people are meeting at 9pm at Oxford Circus tube to protest the LSE heat of the Miss London university competition

And Thursday (29th November) at 7pm at the London Activists' Resource Centre (LARC) in Whitechapel we have our scheduled fortnightly meeting.

John A.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Second meeting minutes

15/11/07 @ LARC

Present: Daniel, David and Jon

Why use the term pro-feminist?

We discussed the idea of feminism as a movement of women to emancipate women from patriarchy and that men who support this should call themselves pro-feminist not feminist as they cannot know what it is to be an embodied socialised woman fighting against sexism. The alternative viewpoint argues that anyone who is against patriarchy (which includes people of all genders) should call themselves feminist. One person suggested that regardless of which you thought was the correct approach, calling ourselves pro-feminists has the advantage that it is less likely to antagonise existing feminists against us. None of us had a problem with the term pro-feminist and there was broad agreement with the first of these two basic ideas about using the term pro-feminist rather than feminist man or male feminist.

We agreed that the group is undoubtedly going to be in tricky territory when it comes to discussing men and gender and there’s a strong temptation to pick our way carefully through this terrain in an intellectual way. We agreed that it’s important to develop a level of trust between group members so we can talk about how we feel about these issues and say things that might be controversial or sound silly and feel safe doing so.

We talked about the idea that perhaps the group was trying to do too much too soon. We agreed that having a stall at the rally after the Reclaim the Night march was a good idea and that it might be a chance to meet other pro-feminist men. We also all agreed that the idea of men stewarding a women only march (especially RtN march) was highly dubious and perhaps went directly against the whole point of the march. In the light of this discussion at least one person is reconsidering their involvement in stewarding the march, particularly if it involves some kind of “protecting women from dangerous men”!

We mentioned the fact that a small group isn’t such a bad thing but that 3 people was probably too few. We discussed the possibility of trying to attract more men through some kind of social event, possibly a film and discussion or something. We decided to wait and see and to publicise a few basic discussion based meetings and see how many people we get coming along.

We agreed that we need to meet regularly and at the same time and place. For the time being that will be at LARC at 7pm probably every two weeks on a Thursday. So the next meeting will be at LARC on Thursday 29th November at 7pm.

We discussed the idea of coming up with a list of different interesting topics to cover that men would be keen to discuss. We also thought it might be a good idea to have one man talk about a significant moment in their life that relates to gender issues and then have everyone discuss this together. It could be text they read, a conversation, a relationship an argument anything really. We felt this would allow for an emotional as well as intellectual interaction within the group, which we all feel is important.

Next meeting

The next meeting will be a general discussion on the topic of fathers. Some of the questions we might talk about include: did you have a father? - if not, what was that like? What was your relationship with your father, what did they teach you about how to be, as a man? How did patriarchy and sexism operate in your family? What is your relationship with your father now? What did you learn from him, what would you like to teach/give him? If you are a father, in your own parenting what are the mistakes he made that you're avoiding, which ones are you repeating? What are the challenges for fathers now, and the obstacles to sharing parenting and housework equally? How can non-fathers support fathers, and mothers? We hope to have a discussion in which it will be possible to be open about feelings and personal issues but also to link them to the wider social and political context.

A rough plan was that we’d start by going round and each person would say how they got interested in gender ideas and why they came along to the group. We thought that we’d have a break after the discussion about fathers and then talk a bit about what we should do for a next meeting and what people’s ideas are for what the group should be and what it should do. We agreed that this was a discussion that we’d probably have to have over and over again, especially in the first few meetings we have together. We thought we should leave 45 minutes for this section.

First meeting of the London pro-feminist group minutes

3/11/07 @ Café in The Crypt

Present: Jim, Jon, Kat, Matt, Richard, Robin, Tony

1) Discussion

We discussed how we can’t just focus on our own guilt and responsibility for sexism and that we’ve got to do stuff to challenge and ultimately change the bigger structures in society that shape gender inequality. This means changing things like the economic system, child care provision and responsibilities, advertising and media, schooling and other processes of socialisation etc.

In some ways it’s like environmentalism. There are individual changes that we can make (like reducing waste and saving energy) and these can be multiplied across many individuals to make big changes. However, there are other things that individuals can’t really affect on their own like the conduct of governments and large corporations. We therefore need to do things that focus on the big picture as well as our own lives.

The group should ultimately try to facilitate both these things – individual changes and political activities focused on the rest of society.

One practical thing we could do is go along to the Reclaim the Night rally (this is held at the end of the women’s only march against rape and male violence) and have a visible presence, maybe a banner or some placards, that would identify us to other men.

We also discussed the way in which individual changes in our lifestyles, attitudes, actions and relationships might make a small change (but are still very important) but that through inter connections with other people those ideas can potentially spread very rapidly across a large number of people. This idea is based on a book called “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and explains how certain trend setters have the ability to make an idea catch on very quickly amongst a large number of people.

These are just a few brief notes and don’t do our conversation justice at all – really it’s just a taste for those of you who sadly missed out!

2) Information Points

Reclaim the Night march, is a women’s only march against rape and male violence and is happening on Saturday 24th November. Men are welcome at the rally at University of London Union afterwards for a rally and after party! We are also welcome to volunteer as stewards and some of us have already committed to doing this. It would be an obvious practical thing the group could do to support the women’s march and show solidarity with what they’re doing.

The White Ribbon Campaign is starting on 25th November which is the international day for the elimination of violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign UK is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. There will be events in London and throughout the whole country for the 16 days following the 25th and Jon will be meeting with the UK campaign’s organiser this week to discuss how we can be involved.

3) Action Points

It was decided that we’d look into making placards and/or a banner for the rally after the Reclaim The Night March. Richard will speak to people at his art college about helping us with this.

We need to decide what to call the group – or at least what to write on the banner/placards – any suggestions? We could just be “London pro-feminist Group” or “London Men’s pro-feminist group” or London Men Against Sexism”.

Jon will also find out if there is a meeting space available at the London Action Resource Centre for a second meeting and send out the details to everyone.