Thursday, 16 April 2009

Pornography and Masculinity article by Robert Jensen

We're going to be reading this article (found at the following adderss by Robert Jensen about Pornography and Masculinity and discussing it at our meeting in a month's time so feel free to add to that discussion by coming along or commenting after this post or dropping us an email sometime.

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

Engaging Men Conference

The global "Engaging Men" conference was held at the end of March in Rio de Janeiro.
The 5 stated goals of the conference are

1) To increase involvement of men and boys in the promotion of gender equality and the reduction of violence against women by scaling up existing work;
2) To build skills and capacity of NGOs committed to working with men and boys for gender equality;
3) To promote dialogue between existing NGO efforts, policy makers and private sector;
4) To highlight existing policies and best practices that can be reproduced to promote greater gender equality through the involvement of men and boys;
5) To build, strengthen, and expand a growing international network of programs, activists and policy makers dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality.

Find out more at

And check out this blog by the Canadian White Ribbon Campaign on the conference:

It's fantastic and really encouraging to see so many men's groups around the world working for gender equality.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Men Running Child Care

Some of us in the Profeminist Men's group work with children in various capacities already and we all share the conviction that profeminist men doing child care is a great idea. It’s one way we can support mothers and other carers (usually also women) and to facilitate feminist organising by giving parents and carers some free time to attend workshops, planning meetings etc. It also shows that men can provide loving child care and that raising kids isn’t “women’s work”. It's also something that men's groups in the 70s and 80s used to do to support the Women's Liberation movement and childcare at political events continues to be under provided today. Those of us that do work with kids also love it, and have really enjoyed doing childcare in a political context.

For example, one member of the group recently helped run a kidspace on Raven’s Ait (an island in the Thames near Surbiton) during the G20 protests. A few of us ran the crèche/playroom thing at the Gender, Race and Class conference at SOAS in February and a couple of us also ran a smaller crèche during a feminist planning meeting back in the summer. We’re planning to continue this work in various forms (Feminism in London Conference next year for one) and aim to work closely with the CRAP! Collective (Child Rearing Against Patriarchy) to develop further links with parents and carers who want to make sure that they and their kids are not excluded from political events.

Below is a report about the recent kidspace on the island, written by one of the organisers.

The kidspace and childcare cooperative was organised by the CRAP! Collective (Child Rearers Against Petriarchy), London Pro-feminist Mens Group, the Global Mutiny Network and the community of Ravens Ait island.
Raven's Ait is a squatted island on the River Thames near Surbiton, South London. This artificially made island, which is actually still common land, is steeped in political history, although more recently has been used for weddings and corporate events. The present occupants are creating an amazing peaceful space for community, an eco-conference centre, permaculture gardens and workshops on sustainability and environmental issues.
Raven's Ait was the perfect place for the kidspace. We had a large indoor playroom with views of the river and passing boats, and a stunning grass lawn for the kids to run around on on and climb trees. We had loads of fun playing games and doing forest-school inspired crafts, such as: making dreamcatchers/ spiders webs, nature crowns, tipis, parachute games, football, twister, a mini rock concert, lots of drawing and painting, Spanish singing, picnics and even played croquet on the lawn, dahling! Being at Raven's Ait also gave the children a chance to experience communal living and working, in a safe space, away from the noise of the city and the police brutality during the G20 protests.
Many actions and demos can easily be made more welcoming for children and their carers to participate in, and we would encourage this. However in respect to this weeks G20 protests, we made the decision that it was too unpredictable and heavy for our children to attend, and looking back on it we feel we made the right decision organising the kidspace away from the action.
Mainstream society is not very welcoming to parents, carers and children, and personally I feel that often activism isnt either. Capitalism places no value, monetary or otherwise, on the work parents do, and patriarchy designates it as women's work. As activists we need to challenging these notions. We need to ensure that as much value is placed on the role of childcare, as is placed on all other aspects of organising actions, demos, meetings, workshops, etc. We also need to be challenging the sexist notion that women should be looking after the children, by ensuring that more men are given childcare roles. Paid childcare is very expensive, and most of us cant afford to pay for it to go to meetings or do actions, so if childare isnt provided, or children aren't welcome at meetings etc than we just cant go. Even if childcare cant be arranged, than we should at least think about enabling children attend with their parents/ carers.
This is an appeal for all those organising in the UK at the moment to ensure that your organising facilitates parents, carers and children attending and getting involved.
Dont leave your friends behind!
To get involved:,,,

To listen to our radio interview on dissident island from the kidspace, visit and listen to G20 part 1, we're about 30 minutes into the show.