Newsletter no 1
Here's the first issue of the European profeminist men's
network. produced in collaboration with STAR journal (Lyons, France). This newsletter will
regularly give information about profeminist initiatives in Europe. You can receive it
and/or use it to spread some news.
Contact us through our e-mail address or ordinary
«This project is co-subsidized by the European Commission. The opinions expressed here
don't necessarily reflect those of the Commission»
City & Shelter
First members of the network
Equipe Simone Toulouse, Concep-tualisation et communication de la recherche/femmes
(France); City & Shelter, Bruxelles (Belgique); Nordic network of researchers on men
and masculinities, Christina Institute for Women's studies, Helsinki (Finlande);
Association RIME, Centre d'accueil pour hommes violents, Lyon (France); Association de
recherche " Les Traboules" Lyon/Toulouse (France); Revue STAR à Lyon (France).
Why not you ?
What is profeminism ?
For French-speaking profeminists, the term is new. It was adopted during
the GREMF feminist colloquium that took place in September 1996 in Quebec city.
Previously, the groups and intellectuals who now join profeminism used
to define themselves in various ways : some concerned themselves with antisexism, others
with masculinism, anti-patriarchy struggles
Given the growing number of men involved
in such movements, it seemed useful to use a federative term emphasizing :
- our support to feminist struggles and reflections by women within women
movements, university collectives
- our positioning as men conscious that male domination exists and requires
to be understood if we want it to recede and disappear. We want to be able to live
relations in which «gender» (the social sex, the fact to be educated as a man or as a woman) won't be a hierarchic and discriminating variable any longer.
We didn't choose to define as «feminist» men because we find it useful
and important that this term should be reserved for women who are fighting against male
oppression. Using the same term may create a confusion, and indeed men do it so
well end up eventually in that men feel legitimized to advise women
about feminism (we already have such examples).
We want to respect the autonomy of women's movement, and we think that
we won't be able to achieve any positive change by denying current social differences.
Are there various kinds of profeminism ?
Of course. Even if some themes cross the various debates stemming from
profeminism (violence against women, pornography, fatherhood, etc.), they are dealt with
and analysed differently. Like feminism, profeminism is a plural movement. We don't aim at
achieving a single thinking, which would be totalitarian. Male gender too often donned
dismal and dull uniforms for us not to become aware of and enjoy
the multiplicity of colours and points of view.
In concrete terms, only debates between different groups and trends
enable us to go further in common definitions and analyses. More over, the situation of gender relations (whether between men and women, or among men) is different from one
country, culture, to another
Women's allies and profeminists
Many men state that they are « allies » of women fighting
for equality, the sharing of household chores
Among these many actually behave thus,
in various ways : at an interpersonal level in private life, by favouring the passing of
egalitarian laws, backing support networks for women who undergo violence
Schematically, and without any pejorative connotation, these men can in fact be described
as «allies of women and feminism».
Profeminist men also belong to this group. But they want to go further :
to deconstruct male gender as a dominant, hegemonic and prevailing gender.
Male domination is structured by the opaqueness of the dominants' mores.
We want to «unveil» the ways sexism and homophobia are expressed and
cultivated among men. We reject male complicity when women are its main
The European Profeminist Men's Network informs you :
Stemming from the initiative of anti-sexist men who are aware that male
domination is an obstacle for achieving a society where both men and women live with equal
opportunities, The European Profeminist Men's Network wants to become a crossroad for men
and women to meet and exchange ideas.
We would have liked our first press release to be about encouraging new
male practices which would lead the path towards an equal society. It is nothing of the
As he was on his way to a meeting in the centre of France to establish
contacts with anti sexist activists, our colleague and friend Jean Jacques Robert (known
as Jean Jean) who works as an organiser in a magazine called Star in Lyons, was raped on
Thursday 16 October at 8 30 pm in St Germain des Fosses by three young men. This sexual
assault lasted for almost an hour.
We do not want to compare directly rapes of women and rapes of men. A
rape is a crime and anyone who has been raped feels hurt and humiliated. As many others
before him, Jean Jean thought that he was going to die, that the tortures his attackers
had inflicted on him would leave him lifeless. As the toy in the hands of men who mix up
sex, violence, pleasure and power he has emerged traumatised from it for ever.
Today we know that most women's rapists have themselves been previously
abused by some men. Yet in the South of Europe, few men dare complain about sexual abuse.
Male education is still a training experience in violence and homophobia. Our peers and
fathers teach us the risks of not complying with images of compulsory manliness. Among the
various threats that are hanging over the men who are caught in the act of sensitivity or
weakness, rapes and attacks by men are common pressures which are constantly being exerted
on all the men.
Jean Jean has got all our sympathy and we will support him by every
To refuse to leave this crime unpunished is a challenge to help stop these crimes. The silence of victims is always a passport which encourages impunity and
the perpetuation of violence.
But to talk, denounce and fight against assaults are not easy things to
do. Shame, guilt, threats, fear of dying and the wish to forget are mingled with each
other and often lead to silence.
Jean Jean, with the support of his anti-sexist friends from Lyons,
decided to denounce the crime he has been through. He needs the support of all the men and
women who want to live new relationships both between men and between men and women.
As a founding member of the European Profeminist Men's Network, the RIME
-Recherches et interventions masculines- organisation which has been running the centre
for violent men in Lyons, has decided to take civil action in the name of all the men who
will not take in oppression and alienation any longer.
For Jean Jean and for keeping spaces of freedom open to men and women,
this trial must be a collective scream to express publicly our disgust for chauvinist and
homophobic acts whoever the victims may be.