Thursday, 9 April 2009

Minutes of meeting: 30-03-2009

Attending: Dan, Dave, Jon, Filip & Björn

At the start of the meeting we discussed the new Facebook group Björn had created and together we had a look at the group's description. We discussed the text and made a few amendments to the description. We then opened the group to the whole of Facebook.

We started our discussions at about 12:20 and talked about various issues concerning masculinity. One of these was the fact that there seems to be a need in many men to be the “alpha male” and to compete with other men. We mainly talked about this in the context of anarchists, where it seems that male's (and females to some extent) compete on who is being the most radical / extreme or violent. A main focus of the discussion regarded the difficulty of ridding oneself of “masculinity” and that even as pro-feminist men one finds oneself competing in macho behaviors like these at times. This despite often feeling different from “those men”. When one realized though, how hard it is to escape one's own and society's masculinity, this results in a feeling of disappointment and / or annoyance with oneself.

Related to that, we talked about the G20 summit and the coming protests this week and how the potential for violence is scaring off people who might otherwise consider going. We discussed how this potential for violence is the backbone of a power struggle between the police and radical protesters. The police wants to deter as many people as possible from attending the protests, making use of their power and the potential violence. This might result in only the “hard core” of protesters going, which results in a very masculine struggle, consisting of violence and power.

We further discussed to what extent men are scared of other men in similar ways as women and how this at times prevents men from challenging sexist and misogynist behavior in other men. An example was a group of men with beer cans shouting something at a woman at a tube stop. The potential for violence and the strength of the group is scary to men as well and deters them from taking any action.

A reason we proposed for this was that when a man shows very masculine behavior (making sexist jokes in a pub or a sexist comment in the street) a challenge to this man will probably entice a more radical masculine response so that the male in question can retain their masculinity. This then might result in more verbal, or possibly physical abuse.In relation to this we talked about the question whether there were such things as “good” or “bad” moments when one can challenge strangers or people one knows and how difficult it can be when one feels one is fighting a fight against misogyny alone.

Our conclusion to this discussion was, that in a public place, a response to unacceptable behavior would probably not make an immediate change but would at least be exemplary to others who felt similar about the unacceptable behavior that occurred. It was also agreed that challenging the sexist behaviour of people we don't know is probably less likely to be effective than challenging the people we do know, and who are more likely to take our opinions on board.

Another point that was made later on was how important it is to do things collectively. This discussion led us to talk about the future of the group and we had the following ideas for the next few months:

- making more links with feminist groups and getting involved in more feminist events
- group reading of feminist / pro-feminist literature
- organizing crèches for feminist events in London
- doing more workshops and having a completed workshop “on file” that can be done by various members of the group
- keep the focus on the personal experience of “life as a man” in a patriarchal culture
- working more on accountability towards one another and challenging each other within the group with regards to own sexist/misogynist attitudes
- making a zine / e-zine


  1. In discussing how pro-feminist men could react when sexist men "show very masculine behavior(making sexist jokes in a pub or a sexist comment in the street" and say that "a challenge to this man will probably entice a more radical masculine response and that this then might result in more verbal, or possibly physical abuse" - can be used as an excuse not to use the many more subtle ways of expressing disapproval.

    Obviously the situation has to be carefully judged, but there are ways of challenging abuse, and making it obvious that you do not approve of such behaviour - including engaging with others present to show that you do not share the sexist attitudes.

    If it is just ignored sexist men (and women)are tempted to assume that their sexism represent all men and makes women feel angry that men who are not sexist just do not care or have the bottle to side with them. It also encourages men to distance themselves from the problem and sexism becomes further entrenched.

    It is the same with other such abusive behaviours e.g. racist and homophobic, only when abusers are challenged, publicly, will it become unacceptable.


  2. I came across you guys via Twitter. My cousin used to do radical anti-sexist childcare for women's events in the 1980s! Hurray that this activism still exists! (Pity it still needs to exist, but there we go.)

    I hereby invite you (and everyone)to the 250th anniversary celebrations of Mary Wollstonecraft's birth. She had pretty radical ideas about bringing up children, such as, would you believe, educating girls.

    If you can't come to these events, invent your own celebrations! Spread the word!