www.europrofem.org  EuroPRO-Fem / Réseau Européen d'Hommes Proféministes
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Newsletter no 2/3
June 1998

 "I would like men to start questioning themselves rather than only questioning others - distant bastards - otherwise the reasoning of the strong (individuals, peoples, races) will remain, if not the best, then at least the one which takes precedence. "

Adam Thalamy
Taken from " ave caesar " Michelle Perrein, Ed. Grasset


European Research Group
The Catalogue of horrors
Setting up a group of profeminist men
from the "Revue-Type"...



We’re off... The European network of profeminist men has started, bringing together men (and women) from many different countries(1). Warm messages of support are coming in so quickly that we are having problems replying to everyone.

Already the network is rallying :

different generations of men :

  • those from the first men’s groups from the years 75-80 (extracts of whose writing can be found in this issue) and our younger colleagues who are appalled by the sexism and homophobia they come across today.

  • Men from different social movements :

  • those who have fought for the rights of guys and lesbians and those who have long considered these struggles to be outside antisexism and profeminism. Moreover, we hope that there will be further discussions on sexual identity in the coming academic year of 1998.

  • Men with different angles :

  • along side our (frequently young) libertarian(2) friends for whom the end of male domination, the protests against wars in favour of peace and the end of virilism can be achieved by the suppression of trade relation, some men uphold feminist struggles for equality in politics and more conventional political parties, while others have directed their struggle against sexism and have trouble in taking part in men’s games which lead to internal conflict..

  • men from different backgrounds :

  • alongside academics and activists, trade unionists, men already in groups, men in isolation have also joined us....Let us also note the birth of a group of profeminist researchers at the heart of our group (see below) and the hope of other men to organise themselves in male talk groups in order to learn how to exchange ideas.

In short, the European profeminist male network is pluralist, multicoloured, reflecting our lives and also the relations we wish to establish between ourselves and women.

What we really need to do now is to function as a network: to open up dialogues in order to exchange our conceptions of the world, of profeminism, of course, but also of pornography, of commercial sex, of non-oppressive homo-, bi- and heterosexuals, of peace..... We need you for this, your support and ideas. The network will exist only if it is taken over by profeminist men themselves.

And the debate continues :

In Europe we are starting to see different analyses of profeminism ; ranging from those who think that the only aim is to help feminist women, that to tackle the way men live is to feel sorry for them and who are afraid that this stance will lead to symmetrical conditions for men and women, to those who (like myself) think that the deconstruction of gender can be achieved by the deconstruction of the masculine from the inside in such a way as to enumerate and describe the forms that male alienation takes, an alienation which determines the domination of women.

But let us not deceive ourselves. If, today, men who want equality with women, who support feminist processes are growing in number, other movements are also appearing. And in some countries there are brown clouds on the horizon : anti abortion commandos (3), divorced fathers, an extreme right which is both sexist and homophobic..... These men are at war with feminism and with men and women who are not like themselves. They are macho, flaunt male characteristics and are proud to do so ; these movements receive financial support from men who do not want to lose their privileges , men who have been formed in patriarchal certainty. One of the network’s tasks is to exchange information on these male forms of antifeminism.

We suggest that the network should bring together as many progressive men as possible who wish to work together with us to support equality between men and women.

To this end we intend to hold a European Colloquium in the year 2000 so that all groups and persons concerned can get together to debate and construct the profeminist and egalitarian Europe which we so much desire.

In January 99, during the Simone de Beauvoir Colloquium (see below) we will coordinate the preparatory stages.

Let us know if you wish to join us.
Let other people know about it, send this bulletin to you friends.
Show that men too support the struggle against sexism and homophobia.

Daniel Welzer-Lang

(1) A minority. Remember that our network was first of all created to bring together profeminist men, but of course it is open to open to women who wish to join.

(2) The discussions which have arisen during the many meetings of these movements make us think that the " old " libertarians seem to be more reserved in their analyses of feminists and profeminists.

(3) Or even commandos who destroy the reception centres set up by women who are struggling for the right to own their own bodies - as happened in Lyon(France) recently at the French Movement for Family Planning : we assure our friends of our total support.


Setting up of a European Research Group
at the heart of the network

Men, university educated or not, academics or not, we are working in different countries on masculinity, the social relations between the sexes, gender, masculine sexuality, homophobia, antisexism etc.

We intend to set up an international group of profeminist researchers.

The objectives of such a group are simple :

  • To avoid the isolation of researchers in this field and to promote joint projects

  • -To enable the establishment of scientific and epistemological debates which are the only ones capable of helping us to make progress in theoretical conceptualisation and methodological discussion

  • - To make available information on the publications and colloquiums which deal wholly or partly with questions concerning the deconstruction of the masculine as the dominant, hegemonic and prevalent gender

  • - To confirm our scientific and political solidarity with feminist women, gays and lesbians by fighting particularly against the emergence of homophobic and/or antifeminist theses among men.

The collective is open to all men who are trying, one way or another, to study, to accompany and to help men by an analysis complementary to feminist theses, to men who wish to fight against male domination of women and male alienation which leads to this domination, to researchers active in the field of social relations between the sexes. We also welcome women who are working in the same spirit.

Contact: Daniel Welzer-Lang       Email: dwl@univ-tlse2.fr




The political economy of the patriarchy
Christine Delphy
Edition Syllepse

"The major enemy" is also the title of the article by Christine Delphy published in 1970, the first year of the Female Liberation Movement which marks the start of a revolution in female thinking. Delphy introduces the completely new idea of a patriarchy defined as a hierarchical and inegalitarian social structure by dint of its failure to deal with the subordination of women in idealistic terms, whether on a biological, naturalistic or essentialist basis, or based on ideology or discourse. The fact that this feminism is materialist means that it is social, material practices which account for the patriarchal domination of women.

Translated into English, Italian, Spanish, German, Greek, and also Turkish and Japanese, the essays in this collection are now available in their entirety to the French public .



David Jackson
Daniel Welzer-Lang

Why is violence nearly always a male preserve? Why is male identity inevitably virile? Why does it express itself through violence, denigration, competition? What can men do who wish to make a stand against the nor-male identity? Everyone can recall the horror aroused by the murder of a toddler in Great Britain by 2 10 and eleven year-olds. Basing his analysis on the fact that the killers were boys, David Jackson calls into question the social construction of male gender. As far as Daniel Welzer-Lang is concerned, he reveals the myths which strip men of their responsibility and legitimise rape and sexual violence. The collection of essays asks how we men can question sexist domination. For equality. (excerpt from jacket)



Lyon (France). Centre for the French Family Planning Movement (MFPF) ransacked

Communication :

During the night of the 11 to the 12 May 1998 the family planning centre MFPF was ransacked by a fascist group who wished to force them to cease all activities ( trashing of computers, photocopiers, faxes, telephones, medical records etc. ....) This could also be considered a symbolic attack on the practices and principles developed by the association since they destroyed systematically all means of communication or information, means of prevention (condoms, pills, information posters) and were particularly vicious in the case of documentation, destroying books and brochures.

This attack was not the first of its kind : it followed several attacks which have been carried out since 1990 by those who oppose abortion and contraception : it represents a real setback in women’s rights and follows on from numerous attacks in recent months in the Lyon area on associations which are fighting for the respect of human rights and against exclusion and intolerance. This is all in a climate of increasing hate and intolerance which is further reinforced by the alliance of the traditional right with the National Front on a regional level.

Any support (financial, petitions ....)
MFPF, 2 rue Lakanal 69100 Villeurbanne (France). Tel : 04 78895061 Fax : 72 43 92 12

Extracts from the aims of the MFPF :

  • The MFPF is a movement for popular education. It is fighting for the right to ongoing education.

  • It is fighting to create conditions where sexuality can be experienced without repression or dependence, regardless of the differences, individual responsibilities or freedoms of the person concerned.

  • The MFPF is aimed at fighting social inequality and oppression and actively tries to change mentality and behaviour. It is attempting to develop consciousness-raising conditions on an individual and collective basis in order to ensure equality of rights and opportunities.

  • The MFPF supports abortion and contraception.

  • The MFPF is fighting against the specific oppression of women, all discrimination and violence, particularly sexual, to which women are most frequently subject : in this respect the MFPF is a feminist movement.



The next issue of STAR will appear in summer 98. STAR is an antipatriarchal, anticapitalist fanzine which is centred on more or less radical struggles, the arguments and the anger of gays, lesbians, women, men, kids, the outraged, anarchists and all those who reach for the stars.

In " I am not a number 4" you will find articles on prostitution, on radical gays in Germany, on the violent sexual abuse of children, on Afghanistan, tracts and articles by feminist lesbians, radicals, articles by transvestites, letters, addresses, contacts, ideas, humour, doubts, certainties and contradictions.

A big hug. Gigi l 'Amoroso.
STAR C/O MAB, 37 rue Burdeau 69001 (Lyon France)


"Violence - Masculinity - Peace"
Four Conferences - A New Vision


(30 pages – 1998)
This is just a summary. full text


The year 1997 may prove a uniquely epoch-making year. A new vision is opening up, a new viewpoint to the old and common yet extremely sensitive issue: violence against women. Consequently, new ways of changing the situation can be developed: instead of merely helping the victims, the perpetrators of violence can also be helped to be liberated, to recover, to abandon their violent behaviour.

The year 1997 saw four significant conferences at different levels - national, regional, interregional and global - dealing with violence as a men’s problem and a characteristic of the masculine culture, and developing ways of transforming the culture of violence into a culture of peace with equality between men and women.

Violence against women is an ancient, universal problem occurring in every culture and social group. At one extremity, there are public rapes and acts of violence in wars often carried out on a massive scale, and at the other violence related to the most private, most intimate life in families, within the walls of the home. For centuries, this has been efficiently silenced. Women have not been allowed to tell outsiders about things taking place behind the front door; rapes in armed conflicts have not been visible in statistics or history books. Even public laws have not been allowed to step over the threshold of the home.

Until now, the issue has been discussed as if it were a women’s issue and problem, and the topic has mainly been how women as victims of violence can be helped and supported. Now the perspective has turned; it is seen that this is the worst problem of the men’s world. The questions now being asked are: Why do men abuse?; Why are men violent? Can they be helped to rid themselves of violence? What is essential is that now men themselves are talking about the issue and accepting collective responsibility for it. As soon as men do not abuse, women will no longer continue to be victims.

In 1997 these issues were discussed thoroughly and extensively at national level in Stockholm: "Is violence Masculine? - Conference on men and violence" organised by the Swedish Government in January; at regional level in Strasbourg: "Promoting Equality: A Common Issue for Men and Women" by the Council of Europe in June; at interregional level in Washington D.C. "Domestic Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, Costs, Programs and Policies" by Inter-American Development Bank in October; and at global level in the Oslo Expert Group Meeting on "Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture of Peace" by UNESCO in September.

Rapport by Hilkka Pietilä,
Jussaarenkuja 5 N 134, 00840
Helsinki, Finlande
Téléphone/Fax 09-698 12 88;


The network supports the White Ribbon Campaign

We are part of the " White Ribbon " Campaign which is fighting to stop male violence against women.

In North America this campaign has taken on many different forms : support for women’s refuges and centres for violent men, actions aimed at stopping male complicity in sexist " jokes ", White Ribbon Week which starts at the end of November and reaches its climax on the 6th December, the anniversary of the slaughter which cost the lives of 14 women in Montreal in 1989...

"  The changes we hope for will not take place unless we accept that it is our personal responsibility to ensure these changes. In other words, as men who are concerned with what happens to the women in our lives, we have the responsibility to make an active contribution so that women may live in a country where fear and violence no longer regn supreme. "

We are appealing for European forms of support for this campaign. Further information on the website.



As soon as one group within a social system dominates another, the dominant group justifies itself by invoking the natural order, not of domination , but of difference. One has only to recall what free men said of slaves in Ancient Greece, South African whites of blacks, the Nazis of Jews......

In male/female relations the same process can be seen. Men dominate women and thus explain male superiority. If conjugal violence exists throughout countries and cultures, it is paralleled by another transcultural constant, the domination of women by men. It is quite clearly an abuse to say on this basis that since they are dominant in all areas, men are stronger or more intelligent than women. Let us beware of generalisations that disregard historic evolution. In other words, nature can accept anything. At the beginning of the century the question arose as to whether women had a soul, and only 40 years ago as to whether they were capable of voting.... The rapid evolution of male/female relation is historic. Today’s battle against the remaining traces of such barbarism illustrated in domestic violence is its logical conclusion.

To assert that violence is natural is to confuse aggression with violence, both offensive and defensive. The fact that self defence in order to survive whatever one’s gender (male or female) may well be necessary is self evident. But the violence which we are discussing here , domestic violence, is not this. Domestic violence is to believe that one has the right to exert violence in order to impose one’s wishes and desires. Even if the phenomenon is interactive and played out by both parties, " symmetrical " or " equal " violence is rare.

Domestic violence represents, most of the time, the individualised form assumed by the collective domination of women by men or children by adults in each household.

Let us not forget that physical violence (whether actually carried out or simply threatened) cannot be equated with other forms of violence, in the sense that it incites fear (fear of being hurt, mutilated or even killed) which precludes any possibility of dialogue, equality of relations.

Finally let us not forget that no man is a complete stranger to violence. There is no question here of pointing the finger at certain " monsters " but of reflecting together on how to evolve......



The following list of upsetting incidents is taken from extracts of interviews with men and women in 1990 carried out by the Lyon research team from the centre for violent men.

Physical violence.

Smack, hit, grab, kick, punch, slap, hit with a weapon (knife, piece of glass, stick), utensil ( saucepan, broom, towel) or object ( stones, books), strangle, shoot with a handgun, a rifle, stab, pull hair, burn, throw boiling water or oil , or acid. Pinch, spit, throw out of the window, imprison (in a cupboard or cellar) ; prevent someone physically from escaping or running away, make violent gestures to intimidate the other ; spank, make the other put their hand on a live electric wire, electrocute ; hit the head against a rock, tear clothes, hold the head under water ; bite, suffocate, bite off the end of a finger, break an arm, ribs, the nose, kill.

Psychological violence

Insult, make annoying comments, unfounded criticisms or continual criticism of the thoughts or actions of the other. Be the one who is always " right ", the one who knows how to make the other feel inferior, decides their behaviour, their reading, their friends : refuse to express emotions and force the other to reveal their anxieties, fears, sorrows ; attempt to treat the other as insane, mentally ill, paranoid ; threaten violence, intimidate, threaten reprisals, rape (by friends) ; threaten death. Use blackmail, put the other under pressure by using the affection or the custody of the children, threaten to take them away. The permanent destruction or denial of the other, the creation of a relational hell. The threat of suicide as emotional blackmail. Threaten to leave, to deport the wife (sending her back to her " country "). Force the other to carry out degrading actions : make her eat cigarettes, lick the floor). Check up on the other all the time, where they go and who with. Make the other feel sorry for you and give in. Continually make fun of the differences in social upbringing (the relation to doing odd jobs, the car) and deny the domestic work carried out by his companion. Insult and devalue the female gender by passing general comments which end in all women being called " sluts " or " whores ".

Verbal violence

Slogans which stress the togetherness of the family, the authoritarian and brusque tone when asking for something, the demand for the other to obey immediately. Pressurise the other by showing impatience. Continually interrupt the other and upbraid them for speaking or reproach them for their silence and make them talk. Continually change the conversation, wish to focus the conversation on his own interests, not listen to the other, not answer the other.

Punctuate all phrases with insults or derogatory comments about women : whore, slut, bitch.

Sexual or sexed violence :
Rape, hit or burn the genitals, force the other to enact pornographic scenes, prostitute themselves against their wishes

Violence against children :
Corporal punishment, slaps, smacks, electrocutions, bullying (with food), rape or undesired fondling..

Violence against animals or objects./
Economic violence.
Controlling of time....


I promise, darling, I won’t ever do it again......


Simone de Beauvoir

The European Network of profeminist men is taking part in the initiative launched by New Feminist Questions and calls for all concerned men to attend the session " The contribution of Simone de Beauvoir to present-day analyses of men and the masculine " which will take place during the Colloquium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the second sex in Paris on the 21, 22, and 23 of January 1999.
(more information is available on our website)

Let us know your proposals by sending a summary of 1,500 words to DWL/Equipe Simone.



On the work of Simone de Beauvoir
talks, workshops, films and exhibitions

Organised by
NEW FEMINIST QUESTIONS   in conjunction with
Contact : Cinquantenaire du deuxième sexe c/o N.Q.F.
IRESCO-CNRS, 59-61, rue Pouchet
75849 Paris Cedex 17 - France


Setting up a group of profeminist men

We are often asked " How do we set up a group of men ? " There is no magical formula for forming a group, talking of oneself, of one’s life, of starting to try and experience different relations with other men......but in our experience, the following advice can be given :

At least three people are necessary to form a group. A lot of boys would like to but do not dare, others hesitate .....indefinitely. The best thing to do is to talk to people around, to friends, friends of friends and ... to make the first move.

Once the date has been fixed for the first meeting, the telephone has been taken off the hook ( so as not to be distracted), the children have been taken care of etc. then you can start...

Some ground rules :

-always talk about yourself, use the first person singular

-everyone must be able to speak or to remain silent. The groups are not new gulags... Learn to listen to others, including their silences. And silences are not embarrassing...

  • Do not talk about other people : men and above all women who are absent. The group is not a place where men should talk about themselves again by means of a discourse on women. This does not preclude the possibility of being able to talk about one’s difficulties with him or her.

  • All present guarantee confidentiality in order to promote talk

  • People are not there to pass judgement on men. The group is not a political office.. Each individual reproduces in his own way relations of domination of women, rivalry and war between men. No-one is perfect (fortunately)..

  • Avoid grandiose, collective projects at the start. Men have become too accustomed to answering question by " action ". Take time to enjoy time spent together and repeat these experiences.

  • The group is not a magic spot. Take your time, exchange texts, articles..

  • Get in touch with similar groups, exchange your experiences, discussions... ( the network of profeminist men can help you here)

  • Be ready to accept pleasurable moments, but also be ready to accept criticism from others and treat it as a resource for enriching and changing your relations with men and women.

Should we eat and drink together ?

There are no rules. Everyone does as they want. But the aim of the group is not to create a union of sorrowful men... Some eat, others don’t !

How often ?

Some groups meet once a month, others twice or more. What is important is to understand that the masculine cannot be deconstructed in two or three sessions. Try not to pretend to know it all after the first few encounters.

What topics should be raised ?

Very often groups decide to start with the personal experiences of their members and select one topic per session : paternity, sexuality, relation with men, relations with women, pleasures, the army, homophobia, violence, struggles (wars) between men and ourselves, how to help feminist women ?

It is also important not to start from nothing. The group can circulate articles and texts. Not to serve as a bible but to become familiar with the thoughts of other men.

Let us know what happens...




In France, as from 1974, men interested in the feminist requests set up groups around the topic "we are against compulsory virility"

The objectives are multiple :

  • To question male domination, machism by analysing the process of the social construction of men.

  • To give up the traditional masculine schemes : the incommunicability of men between them, impersonal and theoretical speech, omnipresent competition, prohibition of sensibility ...

Among these diverse - often ephemeral - attempts, two groups had a "visible" action :

ARDECOM (Association for Research and Development of Masculine Contraception). Men undertake a personal and collective research on masculine contraception and paternity, experiment different masculine contraceptions.

The magazine "TYPES-Paroles d'hommes" published 6 issues on different topics between 1981 and 1984.

The whole series of the TYPES' issues are available on request on the CD Rom (free of charge) which we have just published.

We present you here a preview of several abstracts of the number 1 of "TYPES" : The first editorial and a testimony on men groups.

We are looking for other old or uptodate texts, brochures, books, etc... for another CD to be published..

Contact us ...


Eh! Dites! Ho!

Editorial of the revue TYPES N°1 - January 81

MEN TALKING. A REVIEW FOR TALKING ABOUT OURSELVES IN THE FIRST PERSON. Or the second, either singular or plural. A wide range of sometimes remarkable writing which underlines multiple identities but which tries to find a common ground. Without being arrogant, machiavellian or naive. We would like to open a window on our lives, our lives as " guys " in order to enable us to express our daily lives, our hopes, our weariness, our loves and our fears, our uncertainty, our desires, our pleasures. To explain the discovery of our shortcomings, our apprenticeship of isolation in the face of the images reflected back at us by the obligatory institutions - school and army - and the others - films, advertising, girly reviews, pornography and violence. To tell of our explorations together with or against the models which we are supposed to emulate, the symbols with which we are invested. To affirm our right to be wrong, to laugh, without claiming to posses the only truth which matters or to represent " new men "as has so often been dinned into us.. Neither archetypes nor antitypes. Our lives are our ideas and histories. Innovation, it is true is the oldest thing in the world. Isolated voices have arisen already to recount their lives. Voices, pamphlets and writing stand out as landmarks - on their edges, literature and the media. It is a case of making them multiple, of orchestrating them, of making them resound. And of trying to express ourselves other than by means of tired jargon : the discourse of pseudo truth, militant discourse, the discourse of oppression ; the multiple powers of this discourse. It is not - totally - a utopia. These histories, initiatives, these practices and these ideas have been changed by groups : " groups of men " who are more numerous than is either believed or known. It is this experience which Types would like - without any claim to exclusivity -to make public, to enrich. Like them, this review would like to open up a breach, a possible social space at the service of those men who question dominant models and their own weight. In wishing to be open to other voices, this review would like to give rise to other spaces and other words : just as they are, it is the end product of different , sometimes opposing viewpoints ; there are those who believe that they will only emerge by saying " I" and those who suspect any attempt at authenticity. There are those who hope - and those who fear - that speaking of oneself is only a stage, possibly indispensable , towards a formulation of a more systematic reflection on masculinity and of a more self-aware practice. Like the groups of " men " the review will maybe be accused of wishing to help men to reconquer - or reinforce - their disputed power. As far as we are concerned we do not believe that our pens or typewriters alone will strengthen a primacy to which , in any case, we do not lay claim. Without pretending to escape either its snares or attractions, we more frequently seek to frustrate it for fear that its scaffolding and machinery will construct a prison for us in the guise of a palace. This review will perhaps be accused of constituting a mere incidental in social life, without a militant perspective and without any organised proselytising. The questions we ask ourselves are sometimes left answered : that is beyond dispute : we are not a " liberated male avant-garde ". We only wish to lift the yoke which we have imposed and which has been imposed on us, keeping us away from any potential change. Like them, this review would perhaps not exist without the questioning of feminists or homosexuals. But, like them, this review will be created both with men for whom the most immediate task is to reflect on these questions and with men who claim rather a more autonomous reflection - not hostile- on things which concern us, our inadequacies and our strengths. Types. Yes. We are launching a review. In principle a quarterly. Its theme is paternity. Later : pleasure, the body, couples, feminism - or other topics, not directly related to the groups of " men ", plans and current events. Types is not owned by those who started it up. Its distribution and production will be up to its readers. We are asking for their contributions in order that a possible space may become a real space and one that will endure.


Finaly   What do you change ?
Abstract of the magazine TYPES No1

(...) The group to which I go has its own life which is identical to no other. The way in which I tell about it is my own way and thus different from Bernard, Rémy, Gilbert, Pierre, Gérard, Christian, Yves, Eric, FranHois, Bertrand, Alain, Blaise, who gave me so much. Therefore, what comes hereafter is neither a catechism, nor instructions for use, a model, infused (or diffused) theory. I only tell about my experience without any other claim than to try to interest you.

I entered into a group on the basis of a theoretical approach : to try starting from the general reflection on social reports introduced by the women's movement (essentially in my militant life) to communicate with other men. A little collective identity research (are there other men who "function" like me in agreement with the feminist ideas?); a little militantism (there exists some, there should be much more, it should be organised); a little voluntarism (I am socially and individually questioned; I question myself, you question yourself... : let's meet and perhaps create a movement to change and criticise the social roles of .... men!). These were the components of my motivation : actually rather abstract, putting again my life, the life of other men in the presuppositions of men, of "our" militant analyses.

Truth was a bit stranger than fiction and I enjoyed the euphoria of the neophytes. Of course, there was first the mistrust regarding me, the ex-political professional whose words often expressed the will to exert power and in the extreme to manipulate. But, my words (we were four, then five, then six) were met. Intimacy arose and broke the icy peremptory tone of my speech, my role, the intense "I" or "We, men", projected on the others without wanting to hear their response. I learned to doubt about my certitudes, to relativize them in my contact with other men. There, in this group, the latent desire to talk in order to show that "I knew", that "I had an answer to everything or nearly everything..." did not work. This was not because I had met people who knew more than I (forcing me to listen out of admiration for a knowledge superior to mine), I was not there to be listened to but to listen and to try to understand. This discovery may seem banal. However, it was not easy to experience. To be attentive, to not enter into competition - permanent competition with other men - I did not worry about much in the past within the militant structures.

The intimacy created by the capacity to talk of oneself, gives also rise to new sensibilities outside the codes of masculine standards! To be able to cry and to laugh loud, to be able to kiss without this being a convention replacing the handshake, to be able to accept a critical remark without considering it immediately as the will of another to destroy you; to be able to discern a difference by which your are aggressed and to tolerate that it exists and that it can even teach you something; to be able to laugh about one's own contradictions (derision); to be able to worry about the everyday life of each member of the group. Shortly, each one experienced according to his history (since everyone did not make the same discoveries as I did, having not interiorised like me the same effects of this or that standard, of what is "masculine" or what is not) the consequences of this a priori which brought us together : "No to compulsory virility".

We are not understood

All this appears, of course, to be very subjective, uncertain and summarized. It does not describe the critical moments, the difficult debates about our jealousy, crises of anguish, the "finally, what does this bring me?", the difficult returns from meetings with other men or other women who joked or were sceptical about the interest of men groups. There were also the culpabilisation attempts of some : "It's a fashion!", "You imitate the feminists in order to better seduce them!". There was also the feeling that I did not change much, that in any case, it went quicker in my head than in my body and in my social relations. This feeling was summarized by one friend as "If the men groups will only enable four or five men to kiss each time they see themselves at a meeting and are not able to do it one day with office colleagues they like, they will become a new ghetto!".

The question which I am often asked stumbles over this : "Finally, what do you change? What are your concrete objectives? What you say is sympathetic but it does look like a sympathetic group of pals". I answered that my sympathetic pals did not provide me with the same conscience of masculine alienation, of my behaviour and of their refusal- and yet I really had good pals : sports clubs, working relations, militantism, various groups (dance, parties, etc.). Is it then because the men of this group are no phallocrates (or are the "new men" as in the headlines of the "Le Monde Dimanche")? No, because I stay as every man, an agent taking more or less advantage of phallocracy as dominant social system (more easy access to work, to sociality, guarantee of being less directly sexually aggressed in the street, etc.). However, I do not want to be an active agent. To achieve this, supposes a reflection on oneself and with the others, which is much more than only proclaiming oneself profeminist or to help in the household or to claim oneself aggressed by the virility of the others. There are many things I have to get out of my head ! And this, I started to do in men groups. Not with good pals ...


Another question asked about the men group : "Is it not simply chattering?" ("The men conspiracy" were the headlines of "Le Monde" newspaper, which altogether is more "valorising" since a "conspiracy" would implicate an objective, a strategy and even arms ... being understood that we are a new kind of warriors in a new crusade). Is it not group therapy? The somewhat dangerous introspection turning around the case of each individual?

I think that these are real and pertinent objections or interrogations. I think that actually without a minimum of collective approach, of topics, of common progress, a conscience group could become a mothering structure of "depressed" men and only serve this purpose. This is a risk. In the group which I attended we have all felt that we took this risk. But, in no case there is despise in this appreciation. "To be depressed" does not automatically mean that one has to lie down on the couch of a psychoanalyst.

The men group sees the rise of anguish resulting from the questioning of ourselves and our relationship to everyday life and the refusal of the usual roles. It is normal to assume it, to exchange tenderness, to think about it together with those who live it more strongly, more especially as this distress shows the difficulties of progress, the obstacles resulting from our history and social reality which are often mixed up. Thus, discussion topics such as jealousy, competition between men regarding women or jobs, the way of listening to others, the way of dressing, practising this or that sport, the education of our children, the relationship to the body do not only constitute opportunities to tell our personal history, they implicate another look on masculine standards, on the phrases which one has said and heard a million times since childhood : "men must face this or that, men do not this or that, men know this or that ....". The problem of the group remains however to avoid that three or four members of the group turn around their doubts and discoveries. The confrontation should be larger. This is in my opinion one of the objectives of our magazine "Types/Paroles d'hommes". Writing is often a means of taking power, but also a will to communicate more largely, to clarify things. Contacts are also developing between different groups. Opportunities for parties, other types of exchanges than those of the words.

Jean-Yves Sparfel


CD-Rom 99 -  Proféminist Men n°2-1999

The CD-Rom of July 1999 which presents the results of the inquiries conducted on this topic during the first phase of the European project should enable as many people as possible to get informed on the various tendencies in this field in Europe and in the rest of the world.

Thanks to a browser and a research motor it is easy to find a first selection of texts (articles, bulletins, books, bibliography, web sites) likely to show the interest of the approach of the dimension of the gender from the viewpoint of men and to justify in this way the formalisation of a network of profeminist men at European level in relation with groups of men from other countries. However, the basic objective remains to contribute to a radical change of mentality in the relationship between men and women with a view to creating a more just, a more emancipated, a more equal and a more democratic society working for peace and non-violence.

The CD-Rom is intended to be both the memory of the "historic" texts, which give evidence of the first questions asked by men about the problem of the masculine, and the "grey material" existing on the subject, especially not yet published information. Recent publications discovered on the Net are available for everybody with a view to sharing knowledge. This also includes more general information on the dimension of the gender and the policies conducted in the field of equal chances and decision-making by international institutions. This whole field of knowledge concentrated on the same media support should in principle encourage the existing groups of men or those which are being set up as well as university circles to undertake new research work and actions on the subject.

A 1000 copies will be produced of the present CD-Rom which also includes data of the previous CD-Rom on the topic "City, Citizenship and Gender". They will be disseminated free of charge to the known men groups, feminist associations, major universities and international institutions.

The most diverse documents (books, research, bulletins, seminar minutes, theses, good practice, commented bibliography, interviews, videos) can continue to be sent to either the University of Toulouse or City & Shelter in Brussels.

The CD-Rom can be obtained at City & Shelter (in Brussels)

Contact - Correspondence

European Profeminist Men's Network
C/O Les traboules.  12, rue Agathoise F - 31000 Toulouse, France
Tel: +33-5-61 63 88 48  Fax: +33-5-61 63 88 51 

Coordination: Daniel Welzer-Lang  Maître de Conférence
Equipe Simone  Université Le Mirail
F-31058 Toulouse Cedex, France
Tel: +33-5-61 50 43 94   Fax: +33-5-61 50 37 08

Partner: City & Shelter     Roland Mayerl
40 rue d’Espagne B-1060  Brussels, Belgique
Tel/Fax: +32-2-534 77 35 

Founding members of the network
Equipe Simone Toulouse, Conceptualisation et communication de la recherche/femmes (France); City & Shelter, Brussels (Belgium); Nordic network of researchers on men and masculinities, Christina Institute for Women's studies, Helsinki (Finland); Association RIME, Centre d'accueil pour hommes violents, Lyon (France); Association de recherche "Les Traboules" Lyon/Toulouse (France); Revue STAR B Lyon (France).

New members : see site and CD-Rom.

Why not you ?

Project co-financed by the European Commission."The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Commission"
Medium-term Community action programme on equal chances for women and men (1996-2000) Succeed together Equal chances