[Pga_europe_process] [Pga_europe... PGA web/ Gender Working Group problems

paki.tv at cyber-rights.net paki.tv at cyber-rights.net
Thu Jun 3 19:02:06 CEST 2004

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there are some serious problems with the Gender Working Group

the mailing list, having broken down in the end of May now has continued
but Nicolu or whoever is administrating the list has lost all of the
comments made in the meantime (ie since the discussion subject THIS IS

some of the comments are of course also there on the wiki site.

for clarity, i will now re-send some of these lost mails to the lists,
 so that this discussion is not supressed.

What follows is an email sent to gendertrouble on 30th April. It has
still not been answered and all comments are still very welcome.

From:   paki.tv at cyber-rights.net
 To:   breakingthesilence at gendertrouble.org, bosa.j at yubc.net

Subject:   Gender Questionnaires:

Date:   Fri, 30 Apr 2004 10:50:20 -0700

I do not think this difference can be attributed to a misunderstanding.

There is a proposal that women should be banned from certain meetings.

It has been presented in a devious fashion.

The purpose of the gender questionaire has not been explained, and creeps
up to the idea of men-only groups in the manner of market surveys which

are actually selling techniques.

"We consider that the gender organisation of our society doesn't find

its origin in natural differences of behaviour between men and women

but should be analysed as social, economical and cultural constructions

that create social status hierarchies and are not fixed."

I would contest this. Men and women differ through procreation, in that

only women become preganant and bear children.

Not to recognise this is to undermine certain key women's struggles over
the control of their bodies. Thus access to abortion has been a central
women's issue and the placing in her hands the decision about whether
to terminate a pregnancy or to have a child is very important.

Men are different in this respect. To concede any parallel right to men

over the consequences of their inseminating a women is to create an abstract
"equality" whereby the woman's decision about her own body is in some
way balanced by a man's right to expect insemination to lead to preocreation.

Likewise, the proposal for women-only groups at such conferences as the

PGA Belgrade conference is to be welcomed in recognition of the pervasive
nature of patriarchal relations which even antagomnistic social movements
cannot overcome.

However to add a proposal for men-only groups is to create another false
abstract "equality" - as if the exclusion of men from certain spaces
and discussions is the same as the exclusion of women.

To use the expression "non-mixed" and to suggest that there is a homogenity
amongst men, is likewise false as demonstrated by the issue of race and
the sexist persecution of non-european men by european men.

How should non-european men respond to this overture to be collude in

this proposal? The history of Black struggles in the USA has been marred
by what Michele Wallace calls Black Macho, whereby struggles against
racism have been undermined by sexist attidudes amongst Black men who
seek to be seen as "men" by white men and the limitation of Black struggles
to the attainment by Black men of all the powers and privileges enjoyed
by White men.

Of course, in reality no such overture is being made. The proposal for

non-mixed groups suggests:

"One of the basic reasons for men’s groups to work sometimes so efficiently
is that a discussion is always easier when you share a common experience
with people around, and can sometimes be uncomfortable when you have
to speak of something that doesn't necessarily give you the role of the
good guy in front of people who could feel oppressed in that situation."

So really black men are not welcome.

The history of feminism has been tied up with the history of opposition

to racism and slavery. In the USA independent womens groups grew out

of the anti-slavery movement. These groups took radical stances quite

opposed to some of the racist ideas which were very present in the White
male anti-slavery groups - who often wanted to deport free African-Americans
and who rejected slavery because it limited the oiptions for free white

Men-only groups are as problematic as white-only groups, and indeed the

history of fascism and nazism has been as much of male-supremacism as

white supremacism.

We have no reason to believe that the participants in the PGA Belgrade

conference would consent to the banning of non-white/non-europeans from

discussions of racism, or the banning of Jews from discussions of anti-


So why is it so hard to see why we will not consent to men-only groups.

West Essex Zapatista
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