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Gentleman's Auxiliary brainstorming post

I'd like to propose this as a brainstorming post for the Gentleman's Aux. I'm not intending to run anything, but I'd like engage in any talking / community organizing / figuring things out.

First off, I think a separate community might be a good thing. Cross posting here, but I really do think that there's a benefit in men talking to men about gender issues, how they affect us, what privileges we might be taking for granted, and what we might to to change things towards a more equitable, less sexist society.

I don't want the aux to be an "Iron John" sort of thing, and I also don't want it to be a self-criticism circle. I'd like to see a focus to be on what's going wrong WRT interaction between men and women, both in ourselves and in society, but also to be on how fixing what's wrong makes us better people. I don't want a focus on how men might have been hurt by women in the past, but I do acknowledge that it happens, and deserves a safe space for healing. It's just not what I think the aux should be. YMMV.

Ultimately, my goal is to not be the sort of people that women feel that they need back up around, or, if we do

I'm planning on starting a regular a group meeting in the NYC area just to talk about things.

What are other people's thoughts here? What would help/not help? Is anyone else doing anything active with the auxiliary?

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
sinboy
Apr. 29th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)

Re: A separate community for men talking to men about gender issues, I can see value in that, for the reasons I just stated. That'd require some male equivalent of jacquez to take the initiative and get it going, of course.


Mostly, I don't want to jump on anyone's toes if they've already established one, but if no one has, I'll go ahead and do it soon.


I agree with this. Unfortunately, the nature of privilege means that members of a privileged group are more likely to listen to and give credit to other members of the group, than they are to members of a non-privileged group. It sucks, but it is definitely helpful to have allies who can spread the word and whatnot.


There will be a lot of "listen to what the feminists are saying and actually THINK about it" threads. At least in any group I'm involved in running. But one thins I don't want is for it to devolve into "spot the anti-feminist and beat him up, thus saving the day and getting cookies in reward." Because that's not actually helpful. The goal (well, one of them) is to create long term allies, not allies who'll wander off if they read one or another angry feminist who makes them feel uncomfortable.

And I'm one of those guys who needs to be reminded of it. I need to stop picking fights. It ain't helping. *sigh* Being lectured by a lecturing feminist I can deal with. Restraining myself from lecturing other guys? Not so easy.
xenacryst
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:55 am (UTC)
Hmm. So I'm trying to figure out where I am with this, particularly the separate community. I'm a man who tends to like mixed-gender or majority female groups better, and I find I have trouble relating in many men-only groups. Which isn't to say that the separate community doesn't have its good points -- I think it does for exactly the reasons that have been mentioned. But, personally, I think I'd feel more comfortable and open in this community with a mixed-gender discussion.

Also, and this part is key -- in this group we're the auxiliary, and while we might be heard more clearly by other men, we're doing it as part of this project, so I think there's good reason for us to keep up here as well as any other community we might create. I guess what I'm trying to avoid is a community that breaks off to talk "amongst the guys" and then wanders off into the bush somewhere. We need to tie it back to this project, continually and regularly.
theotherbaldwin
Apr. 29th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah.
Agreed.
sinboy
Apr. 29th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm a man who tends to like mixed-gender or majority female groups better, and I find I have trouble relating in many men-only groups.

Yeah. me too. But I think it might be useful in this context to have some men-only discussion space. Not for all of it to be men only, but for some of it to be that way.

hich isn't to say that the separate community doesn't have its good points -- I think it does for exactly the reasons that have been mentioned. But, personally, I think I'd feel more comfortable and open in this community with a mixed-gender discussion.

My intent was for some of the discussion to be mixed, and some men-only. The intent isn't to "wander off into the bush somewhere" but to talk to each other as men who're concerned about, among other things "not being that guy" and other pro feminists issues. If it works out that having men only discussion space is a hindrance to that work, I'll drop it. But I'm interested in where it will go, and have thoughts that it might lead to a differnt sort of positive change we might not otherwise get.

Actually the men's only space was suggested to me by women who're part of the backup project.
anansi133
Apr. 29th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
I like this idea a lot. It suggests to me that the auxiliary might not need a very high fence around its "men's space".

It might turn out that 'men's space' need only be designated by a message header.(or some other handy filter that lets the uninterested ignore it.) Women who want to comment would be free to abuse that privilege until it became a problem.
sinboy
Apr. 29th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
Not at all. I'm contemplating some discussions being read-only to all, and write only to men, somehow. And yeah, there's the chance that women could come in and comment if I felt like leaving it open to all. An honor system could be interesting.

I'm hoping to keep it separate from the backup project if only to cut down on men talking about men over here.
anansi133
Apr. 29th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
Safe Space
I agree that part of the work to be done includes talking to ourselves in safe space. It doesn't take much imagination to see that women need safe space to hear themselves think, and that might (at minimum) include the limitation of no men around.

For men who care about this stuff to want something similar, feels only natural, but there's some different baggage going on here. The reason that women need space away from the men in the first place, is that men already 'enjoy' a kind of conversational privilege in normal public space.

It might be useful to get into semantics here: the male gender is what enjoys that privilege, not really male biology. If you're queer or SNAGgy, your voice can be successfully squished out in the open space.

The problem I've run into in mens group space before, is that the traditional male gender rides in on the coat-tales of all the biological males who attend, myself included. When this gets voiced, there's not always attention to challenge it. Rather, it tends to devolve into a therapy session.

That's not a deal-killer, it seems like a feature pretending to be a bug.

Any group I've been in where vulnerability was valued, has also been at risk of devolution to therapy.

I would recommend that the first order of business for such a group be, to map out the places you *don't* want to go and why. Then when someone notices these trends reasserting themselves, you'll have something to point to, a little more solid than, "this makes me uncomfortable".
sinboy
Apr. 29th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Safe Space
I'm going to get into "don't be that guy, queer guy" as well, especially as it relates to what a queer guy's assumptions about women , personal space, and appropriate behavior are.

Queer, trans, SNAG types may well be overrepresented, actually.
jacquez
Apr. 30th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
I think I'd like to link this post in the FAQ, actually, unless there are objections? Or perhaps if the men's community gets started, I can link that, instead.
sinboy
Apr. 30th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)
Sure. I'm also starting the men's community soon. No one else seems to have done it so far.
jacquez
Apr. 30th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
brain/link dump
So, here are some links I've been looking at lately, on the G.Aux front:

http://synecdochic.livejournal.com/214607.html

http://timjr.livejournal.com/306882.html (somewhat less relevant?)

coniraya's legit concerns about race in this matter: http://coffeeandink.livejournal.com/811198.html?thread=10007742#t10007742 and 8mph_ansible's horrifyingly accurate assessment here of what would likely happen if a man of color participated in the open source boob grab: http://delux-vivens.livejournal.com/801997.html?thread=3596493#t3596493

http://jimhines.livejournal.com/364144.html (which to some extent covers the territory my husband calls "why the hell do I get so much credit just for acting with basic human decency?")

http://legionseagle.livejournal.com/40500.html has a very good point here about auxiliaries and why, in this particular case, it's important for the men to be an auxiliary -- I've been trying to noodle around with possible FAQ wording, trying to convey legionseagle's point without using rape, because I kind of feel like rape would be derailing in a FAQ context. Women are often suspicious of men doing any kind of rescuing (even in an explicitly feminist context) because it doesn't mean the man in question won't turn around and expect sexual favors for his troubles. (There's a reason that in that rescue scene in Dogma, Bethany tries to get away from Jay & Silent Bob as quickly as possible, and only ends up spending time with them because the voice of God tells her to.)

http://emrinalexander.livejournal.com/979458.html

http://padredon.livejournal.com/14719.html

and there's probably more, buried in the hella huge link collection here:
http://www.journalfen.net/community/unfunnybusiness/9338.html

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