Thoughts on "Women Space Only" at the meeting
First of all I want to raise my objections towards doing this leaflet, then I will explain why I did it anyway.
1. Why should this leaflet be unnecessary?
This leaflet should be unnecessary, because people, esp. political aware persons, should know, that women are still oppressed in our society, and that the oppression is often manifested in education, society, religion, work, behaviours. Therefore it should be clear, that the women need to organise under themselves to become aware of the mechanisms and how to fight and to discuss the strategies against patriachism. If a group oppressed meets it should be clear, that the oppressor, or its sympathist, delegate or representative is not present at the meeting. Also, forced explanations based on objections rather than interest or other means of controlling this group should not be given in by any circumstances.
2. Why did I do the leaflet anyway?
Because it seems that people, including also political persons, are not aware that women are still oppressed in the society nowadays. They see the necessity to fight capitalism, but not the necessity of women's liberation. Or even worse: they consider the tremendous changes within the last centuries concerning women's liberation as complete. But they don't follow these thoughts concerning capitalism! One of the objections to feminism can be, that politically interested persons don't approach anti-capitalist movement via feminism, also, most of the women don't. They may enter via antifascist, anti-globalisation, pro-environment, antimilitarist, anti-imperialistic or anti-corporations movements, which are all part of the anti-capitalistic movements and are undoubtfully regarded as such. The necessity to concentrate on these issue, seems to be in the news every day, in the political newspapers, on indymedia, undercurrents, etc. Nearly no one approaches radical politics e.g. via the discussion about abortion. The oppression of women is deeply manifested in our society, in religion, in education, in work, in the families, in behaviour. And also, the definition of "feminism" seems now to have changed to be a capitalistic one as well. Women's magazine praised feminism all over, and still do so, for them, its wearing narrow designer-clothes and high-heels and being "sexy" and successful, so their advises are often in reality "contra-feminism" as enforcing clichés of women and trying to uniform them in the way, they are most useful for capitalism, classified so from a radical perspective. Also, feminism is on discussion, because it raises the discussion about ones own behaviour. But no one wants to realise, wants to discuss, wants to change him-/herself. It is not nice to tell someone, the way the mothers or the partners or the kids are treated are oppressive, or if you are a women, that you actually enforce oppressive behaviour because of the good education to do so, and that you are subservient in a way.
3. Reasons for a womens space only
Or how does the group changes, if men are present?
Research Group one report No.21: The conditions of Feminist Research, February 1976: "This feminist research focuses upon the structures, strategies, and goals of the women's movement itself, and is the most important kind of feminist research we can do. . Although such research can be theoretical as well as practical, if it is entirely theoretical it must have some applicability to feminist aims. For this research is generated by the needs of the movement, and is explicitly meant to lead to action. Much of it can not be done by people who are not genuinely part of a given group. Much of it cannot be done by men - not because women are wiser, or purer, or other such nonsense, but because in some situations (such as setting up a rape crisis centre, or studying the functioning of movement groups) men simply must be, to some irreducible degree, outsiders."
Ute Ehrhardt tells in her book about how to become a bad women, how the group members behaviours change in courses, when men are present: (Unfortunately I cannot give a summary on the whole, lets only concentrate on the language, and on the body language)
Language of subjection: The language of women and men differ, mainly in
1.missing words or statements
2. lack of stressing
1st Women often don 't say or don' t clearly say what they really mean to
2nd: statements sounds more like questions or unimportant
3rd completing technique to the lack of stressing
4. the guessing game is a verbal renunciation. Please, guess what I really want between the lines. wishes are withdrawn, expectations, demands and criticism, get taken back so that they aren't anymore recognizable at all.
1. Fuck! a swearing man isn't really taken into account, it's normal. If a woman curses, it frightens a whole group! Women hardly recognize that they do without swearing. Women seldom notice, that they don't use vulgar expressions at all. Women often fall silent because they want to avoid conflicts. Women also fall silent because they prefer to be silent instead of saying something, which might be slightly wrong. Instead of contradicting men, women sulk and pull themselves back. Only a friend gets told afterwards, what she really thinks.
Extension of the original text:
Lack of stressing:
Many women think, when they do a clear statement, they have to hold on to this opinion in future. In contrast to men, who change their opinion more often they fear to get classified as capricious and incompetent. For these reason they often use weak intonation and expressions. Often to the statements questions are added, like : isn't it? Do you believe this as well? How do you see this? With this behaviour women use communication to stabilise their relations. The main principle is not to hurt anyone, this is often more important than to clarify their own perspectives and imaginations. Often they retreat from a personal language. This submissive behaviour is early implicated in education. Girls and boys learn different patterns of language, whereas girls are hold on to proposals and questions, boys do more orders. "Do we want to do this" is a typical female expression; "I want " a boy's. The submissive patterns via language are more complex than this example. In between the lack of stressing and the withdrawals often the female method of rejection of influence is practised, that means questioning rather than demanding.
Guessing games: E.g. Erika wants to go to the cinema, but she is asking her boyfriend: Do you want to go to the pub or the Odeon? The friend should foresee her wish. She doesn't really want to hide her opinion, but this short form is expressing that she wants to go to the cinema, but if her friend prefers to do something else she will stick with him, but she would be disappointed. She is submissive to his will, without even really trying to express her own clearly.
Bodylanguage: Children before puberty don't show any differences in body language. But women show in their body language while seating clearly the posture of underprivileged men. The arms are closely pressed to the body, the legs are pressed together, the knees close together, the feet closely put together and put inwards to the body. Also the fashion supports the men in wide casual movements, trousers and jackets are cut wide and loose, so that the right leg can be put on the left knee e.g., and the shoes are flat and wide, enabling a secure standing position and walking. In contrast women's' shoes have the aim to let the feet look smaller, but this is always on cost of comfort and a safe walk. Women's clothes are narrow, disable deep breathing and allow only restricted movement. Even wide skirts don't enable running. When walking women's steps are close together, showing nearly a straight line combining the footprints of both sides, men are placing their feet wide apart, and footprints show clearly two lines. Also, while seating women prefer the edge of a couch etc, whilst men place themselves in the middle, legs wide apart and taking up a lot of space. Often women, hold their head in a position, which is lowering the head to one side and smiling insecurely, a posture of humility. Other postures are: brushing ones hair out of the face, pulling at the skirt, etc.
Anyway, there would be a lot more to add, but I can't translate the whole. Other important issues are: gender differences in education, work, family, self-restriction etc. The focus here just lies on the conference, so these are the most direct influences. But also, I have to admit, that the basis for this discussion lied in a book for women, but there are still important issues about the behaviour of men as well.
time spent on talking women withdraw also in terms of time spent on talking.
They implicate by it: I don't need much time, I am not important, I don't have to say anything important. If women talk in mixed meetings, they don't talk as much as men, and if, they talk shortly. D.Tannen examined the roles of women in the mixed meetings, coming to the conclusion: The time talking by women were in between 3 and 10 seconds, the same time by men 11 to 17 seconds. The longst talks of the women were shorter than the shortest talks of the men. The time spent on talking increases at once, if no men are present in the group.
a male view