Tuesday 7 July 2009

Men's Forum

At today's instalment of Gender is Happening (with its German language site), two men from an informal group called Men's Forum (an inadequate rendering of the German name Forum Männer) animated a workshop recalling the history of the German men's movement, which emerged in the 1970's as a reaction to femiminist groups radically opposing co-operation with men.
The movement was never very big, touching mainly left-wing heterosexual West Germans with high levels of formal education, but it continues in annual "men's meetings". And it has drawn upon a rich body of publications, mainly from the 1970's and 1980's, which explore sources of nefarious attributes of "masculinity" (violence...) and seek new, more acceptable forms of masculinity (e.g. Robert Bly, Norbert Ney, Pilgrim). In the 1980's, German publishing house Rororo issued a series entirely devoted to the concept of masculinity, with the motto: "Sexually and socially speaking, the man is an idiot."

This type of self-flagellation has ceased, I believe, and it has served its purpose. Unfortunately, the facilitators did not discuss the anti-feminist "backlash" that descended upon Europe in the 1990's, nor the newer, stimulating concept of queerness, which seemed familiar and dear to most workshop participants.

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