During the month of November 2018 we had exchanged a very powerful week in Alicante towards our guests from Naples and Budapest. That week had been an intense, deep and transforming experience for all of who had participated. We are aware of the difficulty of analysing how gender and the inequalities that derive from it cross our lives and often decide for us involuntarily.
This path in which we have set out our aims pretends to sow more questions than answers, is based on sensations rather than certainties and is based on studies and journeys that others before us undertook. It is nothing more than an invitation to question, to personal review, to investigate ourselves as individuals in order to be able to relate better to others. It is a hand stretched out to get down together from the castles we inhabit to look at reality from other levels, to become aware of the privileges we hold and to empathize with oppressed people. After all, we do social circus and for that, honesty, humility and the continuous commitment with the transformation of the local are essential pillars of our practice as pedagogical referents of our students.
That week the tour was as follows:
- Day 1: stop to think about the macro, what is the social imaginary regarding gender. To realize that, although we try to break with it, all of us are capable of easily recognizing the gender stereotypes that weigh heavily in our societies.
- 2nd day: to put body to the gender, to stop thinking and to feel in the micro, to be conscious that the body is political. How gender socialization has been printed on my body more or less unconsciously. To check myself to know how in consonance my ideals and values are with my expression and my body.
- 3rd day: to apply this in my pedagogical practice, to put on the violet glasses in my day to day as a reference for the students. Apply this in my practice as an activist since I am part of an organization and what weight gender has in my relationships with other adults.
Now let’s see how it was day by day:
5th November 2018
Self-evaluation test: the aim of this test was to use a thermometer to find out where we stand with feminism and the gender perspective: what concepts do I know, whether or not I am aware of the extent of chauvinist violence, whether I have female referents in the circus art world, and so on.
Here you can find the test in English and Spanish.
In English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdB-xRRsP2Sw1G_oABlcYiEqUMQJk7Obwn7s8tLz2831iSUcA/viewform
In Spanish: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSertfyRZrr30AFhQQKGqROXhC6kUdmWoKZvvhmEteq51S375g/viewform
Basic concepts arising from the test:
– Sex-gender system: the sexual differences between women and men are the physical and physiological differences, i.e. based on purely biological characteristics. And these have not changed throughout the history of Humanity, nor do they change from one geographical place to another. Some examples are: having ovaries or testicles, having or not having a beard, different hormonal systems, etc. The gender differences between women and men are the cultural, social and value differences and, in general, the different roles attributed to each other. And these differences have changed throughout the history of Humanity and change from one culture to another such as, for example, being able to wear certain clothes, be able to study certain disciplines, have certain hobbies, and so on. The theory of the sex-gender system considers that gender is not synonymous with sex. When we talk about sex, we refer to biology, to the physical differences between bodies, those that come from nature. Although we tend to think that “there are two sexes”, the truth is that the spectrum of the sexual pattern is broad, as well as that of gender. When we speak of gender, we refer to the norms and behaviors assigned to men and women according to their sex. Therefore, feminine and masculine are not natural or biological facts, but cultural, ideological, political, economic, social and religious.
– Gender stereotypes and roles: Gender stereotypes refer to a series of imposed, simplified, but strongly assumed, ideas about the characteristics, attitudes and aptitudes of women and men. Although they may sometimes seem innocuous to us, gender stereotypes mark the existence of women and men, conditioning their tastes, their expectations, their occupations and jobs (there are still feminized and masculinized professions), their salaries and, in general, their way of life. Gender stereotypes are transmitted and reinforced through the process of socialization: in the family, at school, with friends, in the media and through language. Socialization is a process of acquiring behaviors, values, beliefs, norms and motives, specific to the cultural, social, religious, etc. context to which the individual belongs.
Through the socialisation process, boys and girls learn gender-specific behaviours, which are differentiated in all societies, and so we incorporate into our behavioural repertoire the so-called “gender roles”, which would be patterns of behaviour that are appropriate and desirable for children or as their own, appropriate and desirable for girls. We live, therefore, in a society where one learns to be and feel like a woman and where one learns to be and feel like a man.
– Gender identities and sexual orientation: a person’s gender identity is the gender with which that person identifies; sexual orientation tells us about the sexual desire or attraction we feel towards other people. But…don’t get entangled! This video explains it much better than I do 😉
– Patriarchy: patriarchy is a system of social organization that establishes clear and hierarchical differences between the social roles of men and women. It is a system of power that is based on the idea of the authority of the collective of men over that of women. Patriarchy can be defined as a system of sex-political social relations reflected in different public and private institutions and in the interclass and intragender solidarity established by men who, as a social group and individually and collectively, also oppress women individually and collectively and appropriate their productive and reproductive strength, their bodies and their products, whether by peaceful means or through the use of violence.
– Androcentrism: Androcentrism is not only a vision of the world centered on the masculine point of view; it is a vision that places man at the center of all things and is considered the best, the only possible and the universal. Androcentrism implies that, since the male gaze gives value and recognition, what is good for men is good for humanity. Things will be important, good or bad, in relation to the partial gaze of men. It is a form of sexist discrimination against women.
This vision of the world makes women and their achievements invisible, because it values more the fields from which they have previously been excluded and because it relegates their protagonism to the private sphere, which is where social value has been given to the actions and practices carried out by women.
Androcentrism is both a condition for building men’s power over women and, to the extent that it feeds on that inequality, it is also its consequence. The androcentric view of the world justifies men occupying a public and economic space that is granted power and prestige, while the private space traditionally occupied by women has not had this recognition. This position of power reproduces and feeds the mechanisms that make it possible for inequality to be maintained, undervalues the work done by women and their influence on social life, and generates strong resistance to change towards equality. Thus, the androcentric vision has conditioned education, science, economics, health, politics…, situating the protagonism of women and men at different levels and constructing symbolic referents, identities and different subjectivities in men and women based on their biological sex.
– Chauvinistic violence: types of violence (visible, not visible): it is the violence that is exercised from the figure and from the viewpoint of the dominator, in this case, the male-male. Through this gaze we construct what is desirable in terms of behaviour and, therefore, the inadequacy of those behaviours that are not ascribed to this definition. Women and all men who depart from the norm of being a “man who dominates women” are exposed.
Chauvinistic violence is violence against women for being so. Their aim is to dominate and control women’s behaviour, life, sexuality and bodies in order to guarantee a socio-political organisation that excludes them, in a generic way, from the spaces of power and decision-making. This violence is an expression of inequality and, in turn, is the instrument that guarantees its continuity. It is armed through three spheres: symbolic violence, which generates prejudices and ideas; structural violence, with all the institutions that guarantee discrimination; and material violence, in all its concrete expressions of direct violence. The most common types of macho violence are:
Physical violence: includes any act of force against a woman’s body, with the result or risk of producing physical injury or damage, exercised by anyone who is or has been her spouse or is or has been linked to her by an analogous relationship of affectivity, even without cohabitation. Likewise, acts of physical violence against women shall be considered to be those perpetrated by men in their family environment or in their social and/or work environment. Harassment, rape, penetration of objects, unwanted touching and contact, genital mutilation, pushing, pulling hair, slapping, hitting, kicking, burning, biting, strangulation, stabbing, torture, murder, etc.
Psychological violence: includes any conduct, verbal or non-verbal, that produces in the woman devaluation or suffering, through threats, humiliation or humiliation, demand for obedience or submission, coercion, insults, isolation, guilt or limitations of their scope of freedom, exercised by anyone who is or has been linked to her by analogous relationship of affectivity, even without coexistence. Likewise, acts of psychological violence against women shall be considered to be those perpetrated by men in their family environment or in their social and/or work environment. Jokes, jokes, comments, threats, isolation, contempt, intimidation and insults in public, inequality in the distribution of common resources, refusal to allow women to leave home alone, etc.
Economic violence: includes the intentional, and not legally justified, deprivation of resources for the physical or psychological well-being of the woman and her children or discrimination in the provision of shared resources within the couple. It does not allow it to control the resources of the family economy, limits money, gives insufficient amounts for the maintenance of the family, the guilt of not knowing how to manage the money well, prevents it from working so that it does not have economic independence, etc…
Sexual violence and sexual abuse: this includes any act of a sexual nature forced by the aggressor or not consented to by the woman, including the imposition, by force or intimidation, of non-consensual sexual relations, and sexual abuse, whether or not the aggressor has a conjugal, partner, affective or kinship relationship with the victim. Harassment, rape, penetration of objects, unwanted touching and contact, genital mutilation, prevents you from exercising your sexuality freely, etc.
Symbolic violence: it is the non-physical expression of violence, but essential for mental organization and, by extension, for social organization, through which the collective imaginary is “ordered” to understand, justify, legitimize and guarantee the dominant social order. To this end, it uses all means, cultural productions and institutions of all kinds, including religious ones, thanks to which it “naturalizes” inequality. It generates habits, norms, moral codes and dichotomous and “unique” representations of appropriate gender behaviour, where the masculine remains the characteristic/valorable/dominant and the feminine, the specific/undervalued/vulnerable, endowing sexist discrimination with a halo of naturalness.
– Non-sexist communication (inclusive language): women are under-represented in the media. According to the latest Global Media Monitoring 2010, conducted in 108 countries, although women made up 52% of the world’s population that year, they accounted for just 24% of the people who made the news. At the same time, only 16% of the information focused specifically on them. This deficit in representation is also qualitative, since women appear above all encased in the traditional gender roles of wives, victims-sufferers and fatal femmes. The media thus disseminate a biased image of them, which limits their ability to participate in and influence the social and political sphere and hinders their full development. This image also deprives girls of imagining and constructing themselves beyond these roles. Special mention should be made of macho violence, which is treated in the media in a sensationalist way and as if it were a personal problem, instead of taking it to the public arena and recognizing its origin in the domination relations of an unjust social system. Compared to traditional communication there is non-sexist communication, which aims to transcend gender roles and stereotypes and make women visible as protagonists in all sections and not only in those considered ‘soft’: society, culture-show and people-world. It is committed to publicizing its contributions to society, its struggles and its demands and thus representing them in all their dimensions and in a way that is more in keeping with the current reality, a changing reality that is far from that of decades ago, a time in which the hegemonic media seem to remain anchored. In the same way, non-sexist communication seeks to break with gender roles and stereotypes historically reserved for men. It represents them, for example, as caregivers and questions their superiority or domination, violent or risky behaviors. In the same vein, inclusive language is one that pays attention to avoiding an androcentric use of languages and allows girls and women to be represented in languages where there is no neutral gender, using diverse formulas to make the presence of women visible in all spheres of life.
– Gender mainstreaming is considered as a strategy for achieving equality between women and men. It places us in a mental horizon of contemplating public policies and development and how and in what way they have or have not considered the interests of women. Mainstreaming has been translated, understood and implemented in many different ways. Among the best known are the mainstreaming of the gender perspective, the mainstreaming of gender, the incorporation of the gender approach or the institutionalization of the gender approach. However, most of the translations do not include the main idea of the term in English. Literally, mainstreaming refers to putting gender issues into the mainstream of all policies (main: main, stream: current), which has a much more complete and revolutionary meaning than the idea of mainstreaming. Mainstreaming should therefore involve “a profound transformation of organisations at all levels, a transformation that means recognising that gender does not only concern programmes, policies and gender balance in staff, but also in organisational culture”. According to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations: “Gender mainstreaming is the process of assessing the implications for men and women of any planned action, including legislative, policy or programme, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy to make the experiences and needs or interests of men and women an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, social and economic spheres so that men and women benefit equally and inequality disappears. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.
– Mansplaining: The concept of mansplaining comprises a heterogeneous mix of behaviours that have in common the contempt of the speaker towards the listener for the sole fact that the listener is a woman and therefore has a lower comprehension capacity than a man. This concept also includes situations in which a man monopolizes conversation for the sole purpose of bragging and pretending to be more educated than the woman who listens. Rebecca Solnit’s original essay (Men Explain Things to Me) extrapolated the concept to the consequences that mansplaining produces: as a result, the opinions expressed by a woman (whether from the general public or professionals or experts in some area) are systematically undervalued or need a man’s backing to be validated. This fact is a symptom of widespread behaviour that “discourages women from speaking out or being heard when they dare to do so; this behaviour condemns young women to silence as they conclude (as is the case with street bullying) that this is not their world. It accustoms us to feminine questioning and limitation while at the same time fomenting the excess of unjustified masculine confidence”. Mansplaining differs from many other forms of condescension in that it is gender-specific and based on sexist assumptions that men are usually more cultured or more intelligent than women. Mansplaining is considered a paternalistic act that deepens gender divisions. The concept has been generalized to include racial discrimination and other political biases, such as whitesplaining or rightsplaining.
– Pandemic: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global spread of a new disease is called a pandemic. For example, a pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears and spreads throughout the world because almost no one has defenses against it. Currently, the existence of pandemics can be detected by analysing the incidences in a certain area over a period of time. It is advisable to assess the data weekly or even daily in cases of rapid spread and, above all, work on prevention.
At least one out of every three women has suffered physical or sexual violence at some point in her life, mainly by her partner. This makes it a global pandemic, according to the United Nations, which reminds us that violence causes more deaths than tuberculosis, malaria and all types of cancer put together. News: https://news.un.org/es/audio/2016/11/1418021
7th November TANIA’S DYNAMIC:
Here we have a short explanation of how the dynamics were going on.
A) Accompaniment and gender perspective: review ourselves in order to be able to accompany.
Dynamics 1: Theatricalising masculinity and femininity.
-Key ideas: It is important to contribute to the prevention of gender-based violence by promoting individual and collective awareness and encouraging reflection on people’s ability to establish satisfactory and egalitarian relationships. Discrimination is internalised in the construction of identities, with the internalisation of roles and stereotypes, in a differentiated way between boys and girls. Violence is present in the languages and movements associated with masculinity, as well as in the occupation of space that derives from it. Internal drives and vital needs also have a bodily translation. Masculinity and femininity are a series of cultural codes; they are languages that can be learned independently of the body with which we were born. Just as languages can be learned by practicing and repeating them, the body movements and techniques associated with feminidity and masculinity (the fact that girls feel cross-legged and boys feel spread out, for example) can also be learned and unlearned. The fear and feelings of insecurity that many girls may experience and incorporate are also the result of how the gaze on them is constructed and the violence they receive. It is important to highlight how the fact of assuming rigidly constructed identities influences people’s vital development and health, their difficulties and limitations.
-Promote analyses that question traditional models of masculinity and femininity.
-Experiment with the different cultural codes with which we construct gender.
-Recognize “fear” as a feeling induced by the context in which we live.
-Experience the dynamics of a wide range of emotions and feelings and value their usefulness for our lives.
The group is divided into 2 subgroups: men and women separately. Each group is given a card with two situations from which they have to choose one to represent.
The situations are:
– Situation A) for men: a female wardrobe before or after a circus class.
– Situation A) for women: a male costume before or after a circus class.
– Situation B) for men: a pack of mothers after seeing the final course sample of their daughters.
– Situation B) for women: a group of fathers after seeing the final course sample of their children.
Both groups are given a few minutes to prepare a representation of the situation of X minutes maximum. The situations of each group are represented. After each performance, the group that has performed sits down in front of the group that has become the audience and comments: how they have felt (artists and audience), in what they recognise/identify themselves and in what they do not (artists and audience).
Dynamics 2: The violence that women and men go through.
Key ideas: According to Michael Kaufman, the individual acts of violence that men go through occur within what has been described as the “men’s violence trio”: men’s violence against women, men’s violence against other men, and the internalization of violence; that is, a man’s violence against himself. In fact, male-dominated societies are based not only on a hierarchy of men over women, but of some men over other men. Violence or the threat of violence between men is a mechanism used since childhood to establish this hierarchical order. One result of this is that men “internalize” violence, or perhaps the demands of patriarchal society stimulate biological instincts that would otherwise be relatively dormant or benign. The consequence is not only that boys and men learn to selectively use violence, but also to transform a range of emotions into anger, which occasionally turns into violence directed at themselves, as happens for example with substance abuse and self-destructive behaviours.
-To analyze together the models of violence that men and women go through.
-To share situations of violence in which we have been immersed or immersed.
-To look for alternatives to get out of the cycles of violence.
The group is divided into 2 subgroups: this time mixing men and women in the same group. Each group is given a card from which they have to choose a type of violence to represent. How they represent that violence is up to each group.
Violence to be chosen by each group:
– For group 1: violence from man to woman / violence from man to man / violence from man to himself.
– For group 2: violence from woman to man / violence from woman to woman / violence from woman to herself.
Both groups are given 10 minutes to prepare the representation of the violence they have chosen and 5 minutes to represent it.
After each performance, the performing group sits in front of the audience group and comments: how they felt (artists and audience), what they recognize/identify themselves in and what they did not (artists and audience), why they chose that violence and not another (artists), what was easy about it and what was difficult about it (artists), and about the others (artists).
8th November 2018 NURIA, ELENA and IRENE explain Donyet Ardit’s pedagogical proposal.
B) Reaching the gender perspective.
1) Explanation of each organization’s process regarding feminism/gender perspective/equality.
We invited the schools from Budapest and Naples to briefly explain their process here.
2) The importance of being referents: in this section the main objective was to reflect together on two aspects: us as circus trainers and us as activists within a social circus organisation.
Activity 1: analysing our pedagogical practice > making silhouettes on continuous paper of the ideal trainer with respect to the gender perspective/equal practices as trainer. These are the questions that we expressed in a consensual way, remember that it generated interesting debates that are complex to be collected here but surely you carry them printed on your bodies.
Some of the main ideas as a result of the experience were:
Self-knowledge. Not to be dogmatic. To offer a safe space to feel and express ourselves freely. To be sensitive. To be aware that we are people. Try to be part of the group. Give them a voice. Be consistent.
Activity 2: analysing our associative practice > after reading the text Parts of me that scare me (in English: www.coloursofresistance.org/536/going-to-places-that-scare-me-personal-reflections-on-challenging-male-supremacy/)
Brainstorming: in the resources page we left a few interesting links on gender perspective in the socio-educational and circus fields. You can contribute ideas and links to share knowledge!
Salute, feminism and circus!