[Breakingthesilence] Gender reader composite

martin dufresne martin at laurentides.net
Mar 12 Oct 04:01:29 CEST 2004

Here is the composite Pasacal suggested someone put together.

m reinsborough:

>Hello this gathering OCT22-24 is happening in Belfast and one of
>the themes
>is gender. If anyone is interested in attending you are welcome-
> it happens
>one week after the ESF in London which some people may be at
>If anyone has a copy of the gender reader part 1 which was distributed
>the european pga conference in July and would like to send us a
>copy of it
>we would be delighted. We have the gender reader part 2 but that
>is all. We
>would like to make this material available to the activists who
>from all over ireland and possibly elsewhere.
>http://www.mallusk.net/grassrootsgathering Our postal address is
>- c/o PO Box 505, Belfast, BT12 6BQ By email contact us at
>grassrootsbelfast2 at safe-mail.net Telephone: (UK) 07729785327 If
>stuck for postage money invoice us and we'll pay you back :)

As the Jajinci Gender reader was censored for racist reasons, I hope
you wish to include the material which was excluded?

Will you be in London on October 15th for the discussion on Challenging
Institutional racism?

West Essex Zapatista

as the person who made pretty much all of the editorial decisions for the
gender reader, (for the first one) can you please explain to me the nature
of this racist censorship, becuase, as almost always, I really havent got a
clue what you are on about.

Hi there,

We submitted this text, but it was banned!

= Oshun Fought for Equality =

Central to Yoruba culture are 256  stories of Ifa which arrange a mythology
for educational, spiritual and divinational reasons. This is one of those

Long ago when movement between heaven and earth was very easy, Olodumare
sent 400 male primordial spirits, and 1 female primordial spirits, Oshun
to Earth to make it suitable for human habitation. After a successful
journey to Earth, the male primordial spirits set about  the task which
they had all been appointed to do. They excluded Oshun. They never asked
for opinion in their discussions and refused her request to participate
in what they were doing.

For aw hile everything went smoothly for the male primordial spirits.
Then it dawned on Oshun that she needed to change the situation. Convinced
that she had a good point, Oshun took her complaint to Olodumare. When
she reached heaven she explained how her male colleagues had left her
out of the decision making process and that she felt that she was not
part of the group preparing Earth for habitation. When Oshun finished
her story, Olodumare gave her the special power of Ase, a universal energy
which facilitates magic.. With this Oshun could achieve whatever she

With this newly acquired power, Oshun returned to Earth. She felt secure
in herself and was determined to demand due respect from the male primordial
spirits. As usual the male primordial spirits continued to do the tasks
set by Olodumare without regard to Oshun. However they were in for a
big surprise. Suddenly everything around them went chaotic. Nothing they
did worked anymore. Nothing worked properly because Oshun was at work
with her secret insurmountable power. Oshun was busy thwarting the effiorts
of the male primordial spirits as they worked to develop the Earth. The
crops they planted failed, the roads they had previously constructed
fell apart and all their efforts to rebuild them came to nothing. Actually
everything went haywire for the male primordial spirits. Eventually they
realized that the problems they were having needed an urgent solution
and they went back to Olodumare to tell him what was happening.

They left for heaven without even telling Oshun. They did not invite
her, or even tell her about their problems. When they got to heaven,
they told Olodumare about all their problems and complained that they
had been given an impossible task. â?oWhat about the only woman amongst
you? Did you include her in your deliberations? Did you ever seek out
her opinions? Did you seek her advice? Did you treat her as an equal?�
No, the male primordial spirits replied and Olodumare told them to return
to Earth and ask Oshun for her forgiveness and then get on with their

When they got back to Earth they apologized to Oshun and asked her for
forgiveness. Then they returned to their tasks, carrying on from where
they had left off. Miraculously things started to work properly and they
praised the spirits. Surprised and happy that they were able to correct
their inadvertent mistakes they chanted in unison:

== We give our reverence to Oshun, the unseen Mother ever present at
all gatherings and meetings. We give our reverence to Oshun. ==


> We submitted this text, but it was banned!

good choice. grrrrrr queerrrrrrrr.

Dear Fabian
Please stop making mountains out of molehills and getting your knickers in a
twist and turning everything into a big crusade of oppression against you.

There was a very undefined process as to how to go about making the reader
and it was all quite last minute, and there wasnt the opportunity to have a
face to face meeting and collectively work out what was to go in. So I ended
up having to make some editorial decisions on my own. My rough rule of the
thumb to deal with this less than desirable situation was that if someone on
the list raised objections to a text that was submitted, then i wouldnt put
it in the reader.

This happened with two texts, the one you submitted, and the other one of
which being one that you had raised objections to, and that I ended up not
putting in the reader either.

I think if you are going to seriously tackle the issue of racism in the PGA
(which i think is a very valid problem to tackle) then you should be a bit
less McCarthyist about it before you start slinging around random
accusations of racsim and censorship.

cheers now


I don't think there is any need to retort with personal attacks and
intimidation to remarks critical of a process and of what is clearly
perceived as its failure on an issue of principle. This is a bit
embarrassing to write but... don't you trust our judgment?


and you dont think that when it was me who put the reader together am
accused of "beurocratic elitism bordering on
vanguardist totalitarianism" that that is a not a personal attack or

who is the "we" that you are referring to when you say "our judgement"?
chances are, probably not.


miss moon:
thanks kev i thought that was very a very calm response
and yip i agree even with the second reader we didnt make collective
decisions on content#this was left in the hands of a couple of people
so we just kinda have to flow with it a bit

thanx for all your hard wrk and patience
maybe see you in span sometime
xx moon

> and you dont think that when it was me who put the reader together am
> accused of "beurocratic elitism bordering on
> vanguardist totalitarianism" that that is a not a personal attack or
> intimdation?

no, actually, I don't. without knowing either of you, it is clear that the
writer is characterizing the production process - rightfully or not - and
deploring an outcome. It seems to me that you are the one personalizing and
obscuring the issue when the problem is clearly a process that should have
been more collective - you acknowledge that - and accountable.

> who is the "we" that you are referring to when you say "(don't you trust)
our judgment"?

list subscribers

> chances are, probably not.

ok. pity.



>There was a very undefined process as to how to go about making
>the reader

this process is very easily defined: beurocratic elitism bordering on
vanguardist totalitarianism

>if someone on the list raised objections to a text that was submitted,
>then i wouldnt put it in the reader.

we were not informed of this criteria.

>I think if you are going to seriously tackle the issue of racism
>in the PGA (which i think is a very valid problem to tackle) then you
>should be a bit less McCarthyist about it before you start slinging

this is very far from random: the only non-european text is censored:

kev, u are simply defending a rascist sexist and white supremacist working
process (u define the control over the reader by a white middle class
man as a "less than desirable situation" - for us this is not undesirable,
 but UNNACCEPTABLE). further, by relating fabian's methods to mc-carthyism
u are also suggesting that fighting against communism is akin to fighting
against rascism. nothing is further from the truth.

we tackle rascism everywhere we go: we have no choice: what we demand
is that YOU tackle the issue of rascism. but it maybe that u will not
and cannot. as for whether the pga can, we will see on friday 15th october
in london. i hope to see some of u there,

west essex zapatista

Having considered Kev's e-mail, I suddenly realised that Asim and I had
been treating him in exactly the way we ourselves object to. Some time
ago Kev raised the issue of homophobia in relation to Dancehall music
and the Inverted Coconuts set at the proposed Cultural program in Resnik.

In the event, the Resnik crew were starved of funds, had no insurance
and the whole event was shut down by the police. You might not be aware
of the bad feeling this caused. We even had a dispute with someone we
had travelled down with from London, who insisted that we should not
use the collective travel fund to go five kilometres down the road from
Jajinci to Resnik - this pennypinching meanness was after a collective
discussion where we had concluded that we would be going to whatever
venue we considered appropriate. We couldn't be bothered to argue about
the issue at the time, but it did considerable sour the atmosphere.

However we made very welcome in Resnik and participated in what turned
into more of a neoist apartment festival than a cultural programme. This
was in great contrast to the Jajinci site, where we are sad to report
some people from Eastern Europe left early because they did not have
enough money to pay for food and were called parasites.
(see www.aloofhosting.com/realpga/)

Anyway, whilst staying there we had a very usefull discussion precisely
about homophobia and Dancehall music. I am afriad it's been a bit of
a while but I shall attempt to summarise it from memory.

We find ourselves enjoying music which has reactionary lyrics, such as
Oi music and Dancehall. Usually this music is made by or for young men
who feel excluded from mainstream society, but respond by attacking other
people who are even more marginalised than themselves. In Jamaica, things
are perhaps more intense than elsewhere, in that homophobia is pandemic

We found parallels between the Caribbean and the Serbian situation. Both
have a strong Orthodox Christian culture embued with a sense of nationalist
redemption. The Orthodox (Serbian) massacres of Catholics (Croats) have
been very extensive, and most people are aware that they were a particularly
brutal part of civil war in Yugoslavia (along with other examples of
ethnic cleansing). There have been similar attacks in the Caribbean such
as the burning down of a Catholic church and murder of a nun following
a Capleton concert in St Lucia.

However we should not see Orthodox Christianity as the centre of the
problem though. Caribbean and Serbian society have also suffered from
slavery, indeed slaves were being sold in Belgrade after the British
had banned the slave trade in the British caribbean. One of the issue
raised about homosexuality in Jamaica is that rape was used a method
of breaking down the sense of self of enslaved African men as well as

When we went on the electricians road block our Serbian friends told
us when the music was playing nationalist music and when it was playing
homophobic music.

All the comrades in Resnik were aware of the problem and felt that producing
their own music as a form of propaganda through the Black Block Musical
Propaganda Machine.

I am sorry it has taken so long to report back to you on this, but I
have to admit we were a bit put off by your suggestion that it should
be a Serbian person who spoke to them about this issue. We found all
the Resnik crew very open people, most with very good English who took
these issues seriously.

We hope this clarifies the issue for you. On a personal note, I live
a few hundred yards from the London Arena, where the MOBO awards were
given a couple of years ago. Gay rights activists protested the
of homophobic dancehall artists. Both Asim and myself were subjected
to homophobic abuse at that time, and a couple of weeks later the riot
police came unto the estate where I live to quell an anti-gay disturbance.
Only one victim of the mob was hospitalised. Sometimes it happens that
activists do not properly understand the impact of their interventions
on the community in which they intrude.


Fabian and Asim:
Perhaps we are turning a corner to find a better way of working together.

The use of the PGA reader in the context of the Belfast Grassroots Gathering
later this month underlines the importance of sorting this out. Whether
this can be done in time or not is hard to assess. But my feeling is
that it should be with held until we find a way forward which everyone
agrees with. We have already been confronted with the not only the three
readers being made available at the Dissent meeting in Edinbrugh last
month, but also the first text on masculinity being put up, with out
the response.

At the London preparatory meeting Joyce warned that it might be a bad
idea to have any PGA reader, and we certainly agreed with her. This is
precisely because the terms of how such a publication would be produced.
However we accepted that one should be produced, but that texts shoudkl
appear in English, Serbian and Russian. This latter did not happen.

After coming back from Belgrade I attended the Rendez-Vous of Victory
meeting celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Haitian revolution.
There was also someone from Undercurrents who had been at Belgrade. The
discussion went on to heierarchy and DIY culture, where people stressed
the importance of accountability.

We have been posting material on the wiki set up for the conference:
see http://www.ourmayday.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?Gender_Discussion.
As can be seen from the "view other versions" most of this material was
made available well before the conference, however most of it was ignored
by Kev. This list (breakingthesilence) was e-mailed with the information
that the wiki was being developed to help take the discussion forward.
If Kev was unaware of this through some oversight, that would be good
to know.

I would also like to make it clear that we NEVER objected to "Thoughts
on Masculinity" being included, but rather said that we wanted our response
to accompany it. Our understanding of a reader is that it would present
different, perhaps conflicting viewpoints, because in a network we cannot
conclude uniformity of opinion. We had no desire to ban "Thoughts on
Masculinity", but rather use criticism to take the issues forward. I
must admit that whilst Kev's approach might be appropriate for a political
party structure, I can't help wondering why they should be useful for
a network.

We were informed by Kev that he had discussed "Thoughts on Masculinity"
with so other unnamed people who had concluded that it should not be
included for reasons quite separate from the criticisms we had made.
It does not create a trusting atmosphere when it is suggested that we
in any way colluded with the banning of that text. It would be useful
if Kev could clarify this point.

I think if we can clarify these issues, we shall be moving to developing
a better process rather than getting embroiled in personalising disputes.
(I feel that one of the negative sides is the tendency of people involved
in the PGA process to personalise things: in a discussion at a London
PGA meeting problems on the gender debate were treated as if it was a
personal difference between us and Nico, rather than finding a way in
which the issues could be highlighted rather than the personalities.)

Perhaps we can end up with an inclusive reader in which Fin can also
explain the problems she has with the Oshun text. This would better reflect
the diversity involved within the discussion rather than the inhibited
process previously used.

Fabian and Asim,
W.Essex Zapatista

too late, i already sent the gender reader to belfast.
i am not clarifying or explaining anything, as i suspect it will only lead
to further abuse and accusations. I am not willing to participate in further
discussion on this list. it makes me very stressed, its incredibly time
consuming and i think its going nowhere.

stress isn't easy but isn't the idea of a proper process to reduce stress
and time loss for all, not just for one?
there is definitely a gender issue involved here.
still, thanks for the work you put in.


Some people believe that that having made the intellectual (or ethical)
choice of "not beeing racist" (or machist)  makes them free from this
question. The gender issue shows us that it is not true. I think thait
it's not even  the beginning of the process of getting rid of the "non
manifest racism" (non manifest machism), in fact a very common form of
racism under activists and bobos (I don't aim anyone, I don't even know
if the rejection of this text is related or not with "non manifest
racism" or if the reaction is appropriate or exagerated).

The first thing to do could be to work a bit and to discuss the validity
of the objections that led to the rejection of this text, and perhaps
the procedure or eventually the culturo-centrism that led so easily to
this decision. If non-manifest racism or culturo-centrism is involved,
than we will know and everybody could get forward instead of throwing
raw or sophisticated bullshit to one another.

Could someone motivated by this discussion put together the text and the
objections in one message so we could be comfortable to think about it ?



hi folks i wonder why anyone is even bothering to read or reply to emails
on the list from pakti tv
me i give them as much of my valuable time and energy as it tazkes to
erase all thier communications from my in box
sad people like this just feed on you otherwise

Ironic that such harsh words are posted around a gender reader where a piece
is entitled "Taking The First Step: Suggestions to People Called Out for
Abusive Behaviour"... In this case, despite Kev's reaction, it is the
process and result that were criticized, but these suggestions still make a
lot of sense.

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