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Archive - AssoziationEn//Agora: Gender, Subjectivity, Society

Already prior to the founding of the association, some of the current members of Assoziation:E associated themselves in the form of Agora Munich, an open dialogue format in which the intolerability of the prevailing conditions was reflected upon and discussed on the basis of various scientifically founded contributions. In other words: the forerunner of Assoziation:E:n! With a corresponding archive series, we want to make some of the topics discussed in 2018 - 2020 accessible again and keep them present. We thank the authors for their agreement to continue using the texts as collective property.

To what extent is what we experience as our gender identity and perspective an expression of society? And what can we learn by questioning our intuitions - about ourselves, about society, about sexism and sexual violence?

Problem Horizon

How do gender roles come about? What do they bring? What sustains them? What is masculine/feminine? When do we perceive gender? What is attractive?

Genealogy of gender understandings

& of the discourse of naturalization

The gender discourse in the face of patriachal relations of production (locating the discourses in social reality)

All social relations are relations that have become, they were once different, are now the way they are for very specific reasons. And they can also change again. If we deal with gender as a social category - that is, not with what different diseases can occur in connection with the penis or the vagina, for example, which would be a biological-medical question, but with how society deals with what is understood as masculine or feminine or just not - then we can also look at the way things have become here, the way gender roles and categories have become.

Entire bookshelves are regularly written in social science and humanities departments on the development of what is understood as masculine or feminine or diverse. How the normality of what is understood as gender has changed is curious in many ways: think of the wigs, dresses, makeup, jewelry, and perfume as part of an ideal of masculinity for 18th century aristocrats. Or the transformation of equestrianism from a chivalrous, masculine domain to a recreational sport popular especially among young women. Or the many other examples of things that were once feminine and are now masculine.

It becomes particularly clear when examining the by no means coincidental development of discourses and narratives about the masculine, feminine, diverse, that this has almost always and in almost every respect been a conflict-ridden negotiation of role models, which can not unjustifiably be understood as the history of patriarchal oppression or, conversely, as that of the struggle for the emancipation of the "other sex". It is worth remembering here the full suffrage for women, which only slowly became fully established in the 20th century, and which was introduced all the later, the earlier there was unrestricted suffrage for men in the respective states. Or marital rape, which was not punishable in Germany until 1997 (!), for example. In Russia, domestic violence and assault in marriage became virtually unpunishable again in 2017.

We are therefore in the midst of a highly political debate, the core of which could be summarized with the author Koschka Linkerhand as follows: "The women who make up half of humanity have never owned half of the world [...]. We live in a patriarchal society, and patriarchy refers to the domination of men over women." Linkerhand also addresses the paradox that "men are no longer entitled to formal supremacy today, yet they hold the dominant positions in society." This can be understood by the fact that our Western modern, bourgeois, capitalist society is a society that has been characterized from the beginning by the citizen, the citizen who exchanges, who votes, who decides laws - and who was and is first a man.

The role of nature is particularly interesting. Nature faced man for most of his existence as the threatening other: The context in which survival was required; that which gave rise to myth, human sacrifice, and great fear for centuries. When, in the course of industrialization, nature lost more and more of its horror and became something controlled, the view changed: Nature could be used as a romantic projection surface. And as a reference when immutability is to be proclaimed in a world in which everything tends to become changeable by man - when the "that's the way it is because it always has been - because it's natural" becomes relevant.

In few discourses has the natural been, is, and will be as relevant as in those about gender. The woman who reproduces: Having children, therefore staying at home, therefore doing the housework, therefore not having to participate politically. The rising male bourgeoisie sought to distinguish itself aesthetically from the "effeminate", "feminine" aristocracy, to relegate women to their place and to prevent changes in this institution of society by referring to nature. That bourgeois society was and is at the same time the society that made nature irrelevant to an unprecedented degree - think of the technological achievements of the capitalist-industrial age - is one of the many contradictions of the discourse around gender.

Ultimately, what can be traced here is the history of male subjects needing to defend their domination based on competition, violence, coercion, and degradation of the non-feminine at every turn. A need that can best be traced on the subjective level, by means of the first-person perspective of the male subject, who feels the crisis nature of his self-constitution in many ways. An elementary component of the naturalizing discourse around sexuality is also the categorical exclusion of everything that does not want to be male or female - the insistence on this binarity.

The essence of gender in the binary

In the context of the attempted naturalization of TWO genders, children who are born intersexed, i.e. who are not born with clearly male or female primary sexual characteristics, are still being subjected to "gender reassignment measures" as early as possible in Germany. What starts as a combination of parents' wish to have a "normal" child and good medical advice often leads to lifelong physical and psychological traumatization for those affected. At the same time, for many transgender people, the feeling of being "born in the wrong body" is pathologized...

Social debate - gender as a structural problem

Based on genealogy/context of patriarchal society: how is discrimination regarding gender and sexual orientation addressed? What do the discourses look like? Where do we discover the problem within ourselves?

While for many years sexism was discussed in public primarily in the context of concrete measures, for example, with which quotas one could increase the proportion of non-male persons in top positions, now under hashtags such as #aufschrei or #metoo people are increasingly talking about personal experiences with sexism and sexualized violence. The debate is thus moving from the safe distance of expert discourse into the heart of society: to us.

We, too, need to ask ourselves questions: How much does our gender identity shape us, how and when do we see our gender? Do we perceive ourselves as part of a sexist society? Do we also treat people of different genders differently? Why do we do so?

Social debate and subjectivity - the problem within us?

Problem: Compulsion to the binary

Problem: The second gender

Problem: Crisis masculinity

Why are we not all feminists?



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