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.

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