[Breakingthesilence] women only spaces

fin ffin74 at yahoo.co.uk
Dim 4 Avr 11:18:11 CEST 2004

heres a rant that came out the other day when i heard
that women only and men only spaces were not to be
permitted in belgrade:

To refuse to allow space for others to be and do in
ways which they have expressed a need for is to
exercise POWER and CONTROL over them.

To refuse women a safe space in which to gatehr is
denial that we exist in a patriarchal hierarchical
system and means that women grappling with their own
disempowered psyches are forced to battle continuously
to be heard and respected in mixed social situations
or to bow down to their social conditioning and submit
to the authority of men.
Studying this it is most apparent in the non verbal
behaviour of men around women.
Many men upon entering a social space containing
mainly women will feel the need to express their
dominance within the space. This they will do by
calling attention to themselves, by making noise,
using dominant (often playfully aggresive) body
language to "take" space and disturbing the previous
balance of interaction within the space so that
everyone knows HE is not a woman and is in charge.

This makes it really hard to talk sometimes for women
who are not always conciouslly aware of these things
(although all are instinctivley aware and feel the
negative feelings inflicted upon them by these forms
of negative gendered behaviour).

In mixed social space women are often ignored, talked
over, only have what they say taken seriously if
repeated by a man and made to feel ill at ease even
being present due to many men's need to dominate space
Women are effectiveley gagged.  
Feelings (attributed to be feminine and therefore
dirty) are not disscussed, only facts (attributed to
be masculine and therefore godly). 
This must be a terribly hard status structure for men
to break also, how can they feel safe to disscus their
dirty feelings with others and fall from a state of
godhood ?

If women cannot share their stories, how can we
discover what it is that we are trying to fight within
How can we disccuss our feelings which are the
expression of much of our social conditioning ?
How can we learn to break our conditioning when
constanly subjugated by it and denied the right to
express it ? 
Or to be able to work out how to communicate our
knowledge with men when socially we are conditioned to
disregard our own thoughts and needs and always listen
to the men.
For these reasons I believe it is important to have
time and space for men and women to talk amongst
themselves and know that they will not be disturbed.

Even if official single sex spaces are not allowed at
this conference I hope that all of the men and women
who need to be and talk amongst their own sex feel
empowered enough to create these spaces for themselves

be it in a park, be it in a bus , be it on the street,
or in a cafe, to make this time for yourselves and
know you have a right to BE  and to defend YOUR SPACE.

love and rage 

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