Saturday, 19 May
This workshop aligns personal experience with the performative. It is based on an exchange between two organisers about the “ambivalence” of masculinities.
What is this ambivalence?
Social relations are over‐determined by an unequal division between men and women. For many years now, feminist struggles have fought against patriarchy and in defence of the idea that biology does not equal destiny. Because of this, important strides towards social justice and equality have been achieved.
However, these struggles included a reliance on (strategic) essentialism of the Feminine, set off against a patriarchal order identified in the power position of men full stop.
This caused feelings of exclusion of, for example, FTM trans people, nonheterosexual masculine genders and butch lesbians. What could someone who loves and desires masculinity (regardless of sexuality or sex) possibly have to say to someone who finds the masculine inherently oppressive?
At the outset of this workshop, we experienced such a dispute. While one person felt all images of masculinity are problematic, another emphasized how hard it had been for him to pursue his attraction towards masculine men, for having been raised by a rad fem activist.
Through discussion, we discovered the power of narrative and self‐disclosure. The spoken and written exchange of experiences opened up not only a space of mutual understanding, but also a method of negotiating masculinities and difference beyond the binary of essence/anti‐essence.
We know gender is performative. We know gendered violence cannot be exclusively attributed to the male, heterosexual body. However, empirical reality demonstrates time and again that violence is the privilege of those socially identified as men.
We acknowledge this, but want to reflect upon it through the performative. This gesture not only indicates the inherently constructed nature of gender, it tries to find ways in which one can relate to masculinity without repeating the double bind of essentialist absolutes or anti‐essentialist relativism.
In similar fashion, the often‐wrought relation between feminist and queer activism ‐ regarding masculinities, power and violence ‐ will not be maintained in their binary form. The intent of this workshop is to neither deny the gap between feminist and queer activism nor to contribute to the endurance of their mutual exclusion.
The performative method, presented in the form of poetry, choreography, personal narrative, video presentation or lecture all depart from different positions on masculinities. In this way, we remain free to critique masculinities while at the same time embody them, bringing power relations to the surface and desires to the fore.
Organisers: Birkan Tas, Karina Sarkissova, Gianluca Turricchia, Thijs Witty and Sofia