www.europrofem.org  EuroPRO-Fem / Réseau Européen d'Hommes Proféministes
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Newsletter no 1
January 1998

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 mail.

«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).

New members
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 victims.

Press release

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 sort.

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 possible means.

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.