A Recent Discussion About Gender Politics

December 12, 2008

A few months ago, a bit of conversation about gender politics was ignited by Douglas of 97-Shiki (who was touring these parts just this past Nov) on the LIONCITYDIY.COM forum (link to thread here):

Douglas said:

For the fest, are you going to try to have women doing the non-performing stuff too, like running the sound, making the arrangements, setting up, etc? One of the nice things at the recent Chicago CLIT fest was that women ran all the PA/sound equipment, which is a rarer sight than just women in bands. There was even a workshop about how to run/setup a PA for small shows. Just curious.

trashkore said:

Good point, about time somebody pointed that out already. Some years back i was involved in a little “collective” in Singapore that did DE-GENDER-ALIZE which was basically gender-equality events and gigs. Some stuff went well, there was healthy input by males and females. Some things didn’t go as well and (the idea of DE-GENDER-ALIZE) crumbled after sometime because some of the girls talked a hell of a lot and did nothing.

Their main initiator/coordinator was male. and when he decided not to do anything anymore, the idea went flat, [which was] a little sad.

Ever since then, any event worthy of mention would be LadyFest.

It’s nice to have a girl-centred event.

It’s even nicer to have a girl-centered, girl-initiated and girl-arranged event.

tengkorak Miang Keladi said:

When you realise that your mind and thinking is free from your physical limitations, you will be free as a sexless being. It is impossible and the biggest mistake when the mind think and function based on male and female matters. There is more than about girls and boys things around us. If you look around yourself (especially nature like plant, fish and all) there is no male and female actually; they are both the same.

That very idea that you are a boy or a girl is a condition. That’s what you should be free from.

Douglas said:

Well, yes, except the point isn’t to favor women over men, but promote confidence and self-empowerment for women. When girls and young women see nothing but men in performer/authority/technical/etc roles, then they perceive that as being told that only men can do those things, and women can’t. The point of these women/girl focused fests is to demonstrate that doesn’t have to be the case, and to encourage both genders to see men or women in these roles as normal.

trashkore said:

On a related note, I cannot do a lot of technical set ups to save my life, and I’m sure there are girls who can. I’m more of use in other things.

It would be nice to see girls do sound set-up in some gig in the near future.

There’s also always debatable arguments where males can do some things better than females and some where females are better than males but I will leave that for another thread for another time.

tengkorak Miang Keladi said:
Hi shiki, I agree with you 125%. I think we came from same thinking just that we say it differently.

Shaiful that’s what some (or most typical guys) man say about 2000 years ago. But you know, who pressure you to carry all the heavy things?

trashkore said:
I meant technical set ups, not lifting of equipment. It is a stereotype to say that technical set-up is guys’ work, and while that is generally true around the world, I learnt that I have some female friends who do that set up too.

That to me is great to know because then it breaks certain impressions of gender roles, it shows girls can contribute to such gigs beyond just performing and organizing.

My thinking with you and shiki on this is very similar.

Douglas said:
I would even say that assuming that men are better at moving equipment around than women is also discriminatory. Anytime people are told they can or can’t do something based on gender, it’s wrong. I know plenty of strong women and weak men who are capable of different acts requiring physical strength. And I have no doubt that there are plenty of women perfectly capable of setting up speakers and amplifiers. It all has to do with what the _person_ is capable of: their gender shouldn’t set the expectation.

So, brains or brawn, some men and some women can do these things, and everyone who wants to should be encouraged to try.

[ I edited this shortly after posting it, as I read your reply incorrectly trashkore! – sorry -) ]

Cher said:
At this point in time I cannot be sure if there will be women doing technical set-up for this fest, not to mention that there is a serious lack of women actively (operative word) involved in DIY hardcore-punk here, although of late I’d say that there has been a hopeful increment (although from hearsay it seems like there were a whole lot more something like 5-10 years ago?). Perhaps in time to come this number will grow! )

I shall speak for myself here. Admittedly I don’t know much about set-ups and all that jazz, and that includes equipment (d’oh!), and for a while I almost felt ashamed about it really until I realized that I had nothing to prove, and I didn’t have to be able to do the stuff that is seen solely in the realm of a man’s ‘expertise’, so to subvert the entire idea for the sake of it seemed like reinforcing the gender binary, you know? Of course, I am not resistant to learning new things, and enjoy nerdy things like that, except that I haven’t really had a chance to learn as yet, instead focusing on concentrating on what I do best, and they don’t necessarily have to fall into the realm of ‘male’ or ‘female’.

I don’t know if people are getting what I’m saying (pardon my incoherence, it’s 3 fucking AM!), but I agree with what tengkorak was saying earlier about “being free as a sexless being” though.

tengkorak Miang Keladi said:
Hi Cher. Yes there is beauty in ” being sexless”. Isn the past many amongst my friends misunderstood me as gay. I also have a friend who is almost 80% sexless being and he/she have different set of problems. It means suppression of desire which means that he/she don’t need sex and this is actually related or connected with very old practices in Taoism, Buddhism (etc) or the books that he/she reads. As you know there are many monks who cut their penises to be a monk and not only monks but something else. But this is not what I mean when I say sexless being. Sorry that I have to explain a bit because I have been dealing with this and have been trying to improve it for so many years and I think it is still a long way for me. And sorry again that this may sound “preachy”.

I think there is “wholeness” in/of the term “sexless” which is not entirely talking about sex but “the way of seeing”. How do we see things? There are many good writers who talk about this but I dont want to namedrop here. The essence of this topic “the way of seeing” is basically questioning/looking at what have been conditioned in your mind since childhood and that’s one of the first things you need to be free from. It’s not so easy because this culture of conditioning is a little bit more tha n 2 million years if I’m not exaggerating here. Most of the great buildings in the world are not made by men or women but slaves. As you know slaves have no sex in the “master’s” eye. You can also say that slaves are equal to animals and their livelihood is not “very important”.

I have a daugther who is about 9 years old now. The problem for many years is that I always forget that she is a girl until both of us go to the toilet naked and play with water (everyday). If it rains I have a raincoat for her and we go out and play also. I just want her to play with anything that will interest her. I am thinking that if there is anything I can teach her or show her which she sees we can “play” with, not so much fight with. For about 4 years my (ex) wife has been telling me that “she is a girl!”. I think I already understand that she is a girl when I saw her struggling to come out from the womb. I don’t want to keep on telling her that she is a girl. How to be a girl? How to be a boy? I can’t understand both of it. I just want to know how deep is the fear inside her and for me that’s the most important thing. To be free from fear and basically we can do anything. If the speakers are 50kg I think we can use a trolley or some shit machine to carry them. Did the ants or bee make their house with their tongue and wings? No nails, glue, screw drivers, hammers, etc. Did you notice how ants carry something very heavy considering their physical conditions?

I can’t go on here explaining but my point here is that when you think as a sexless human being; when you see ants you don’t think of the words ants or if you see green the words do not register or if you see a boy it does not mean he can carry a gun or big speakers. Basically you are free from terminology and conditioning. If you are free from terminology nothing can bring you down and that’s also when you are fearless and in fact peaceful.

My daugther always asks me, “Can I do that or this?”. It means that at home, school, etc, she is told to do things the way girls do things. And it is only when she’s with me she can do whatever she wants to do. It’s ok just do it, and I want to say it’s not about freedom but the way you see or saw things.

A man or woman is not all the time a man or woman. It’s the same with ants and whales and trees; it is depending on your way of seeing and not the way you think you understand it. A sexless being does not judge but attempts to understand and experience each individual as a being. Human being, man or boy they are not the most important existence. Not until you can see them the way they are.

Jee Lin said:
I agree. So nowadays I’ve taken a very different approach to a scenario such as this, and I can imagine that it happens at Ah Kong every night.

A boy, or man, passes by and shakes everyone’s hand but deliberately avoiding the girls.

Instead of lamenting that it is a macho-shit thing and feeling annoyed, I want to understand that mind which operates behind that gesture. I ask, “Why don’t you shake my hand?”

I think that is a first start for girls or boys to confront and respect each other, without embarassment and with a curious mind.

trashkore said:
Nice you brought up the shaking hands bit between males and females. I’ve always shaken both guys’ and girls’ hands because I see everyone as equal. From what I’ve learnt through the years from guys who dont shake girls’ hands (not just from the punk scene):

– some are due to religious reasons (mainly Islam)

– some are still always in wonderment if the girl would feel “intruded” if he shook her hand (they may be accused of trying to be “cheekopeh” — I’ve seen at least 2 guys go through that, crazy)

– some guys are just very shy around girls, nothing sexist but just something about their upbringing or personality

– some guys are also intimidated by girls and would need to “warm up” before any physical contact (even if it’s just a handshake)

Similarly it’s great to see girls who barely know one another hug as a goodbye gesture, however some are hesistant hugging guys. Similar reasons as to the points above.

As for equipment moving, I used to work in an events tech support company a few years back. My arms aren’t very strong so I used to be ridiculed for not being manly enough as I would struggle to lift speakers, amps and so forth. If there was ever an example of male-to-male sexism that was it. Ironically I don’t find it too difficult carrying things these days. The good bit about carrying amps and speakers with fellow punx is none of them is going to make macho comments and all of us have fun working together. If anything there would be someone encouraging or supporting, instead of mocking.

We have decided to share this with readers of the blog as it raises some questions about gender politics in the scene (and beyond). What does it mean for you to be a male or a female? Do you subscribe to any notions of gender? Do you deliberately subvert gender? Are “gender” and “sex” mutually exclusive or no?

Tell us your thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: