What would a society run by womxn look (and feel) like? Name of the person who called the session: Kate Webster @kateweb Who attended the session: Julie Osman, Anne Langford, Penny Babakhami, Ada Mukhina, Kelli Des Jarlays, Claire Stone, Beth Watson. We opened by talking about the term “womxn” for people who identify as women or non-binary, which in Germany is “women*”, and one participant mentioned having been in an all-female team, which (even in theatre) is hard to find. When we talked about features we thought a womxn-led society might have, these included: Fewer young men dying through suicide, due not to being oppressed by patriarchy Being more community-based and less focussed on family as the core unit Potentially subverting capitalism, by not using inheritance through the male line and being more likely to think in terms of communal property (lesbian communities in San Francisco in the 1960s, who lived together and raised each others’ children). Among the Khasi people of north-east India, family property is inherited by the youngest daughter, who acts as head of the family: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09gvcjz Psychological effect if youngest children, rather than the eldest, inherits property Politics would be less adversarial; circle of seats rather than benches facing each other, physically opposing, and the way that adversarial model can be off-putting to women, foregrounding conflict. S. statistics about women avoiding political talk because it’s seen to lead to conflict at home/in the family Perhaps using an Open Space model; self-organising, people drawn to topics they care about Shorter queues for women’s toilets! “What would cities be like if designed by womxn?”Less linear, more matrix-based, reflecting that not all journeys (particularly by women) are home-work, work-home. Feminist woman Mayor in Barcelona who’s been working on this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-50269778/what-would-a-city-designed-by-women-be-like Emphasis on easier navigation, safety “not having to worry about whether you can walk down that alley” “A society-wide decline in anger, guilt and shame” The idea that women are taught to internalise rage, men are taught to express it ‘Rage becomes her: the power of women’s anger’ by Soraya Chemaly: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Rage-Becomes-Her/Soraya-Chemaly/9781501189562 The ability for men to express a full range of emotions (not just anger), while women could express their anger Children would be more present in the world and in all spaces. “Burden of care” would be spread more evenly; absence of fathers being seen to “babysit” their own children. Goes back to adversarial politics; you couldn’t and wouldn’t have an adversarial row with children in the room/while a speaker’s breastfeeding Space for women to take up space; gendered roles within couples and how women may experience/perceive pressure to spend their time caring and/or let their career take a lesser role than their partner’s Better periods! Cross-generational female spaces, “natural mentorship” that can show the path at different times in your life Different relationship with your body More female-centred medicine drugs aren’t tested on women, even when they’re for women. closing the gender data gap: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/4/17/18308466/invisible-women-pain-gender-data-gap-caroline-criado-perez Coding, AI, algorithms all designed by men; the original “computers” were all women and coding was originally a female-dominated role. Jineology: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/theory-and-practice-of-kurdish-women-s-movement-interview-in-diyarbakir/ Kurdish eco-feminist philosophy, designed to be sustainable; every meeting has to be chaired by a man and a woman. We covered a range of other related points, including: Illustrator Aminder Shaliwal has created a series of comics in which men have ceased to exist. Are women more observant than men? Or is it about them being socialised to “read the room” and respond to other people’s moods, or being alert for potential danger? Most progressive governments in the world at the moment are led by women in minority coalitions (eg Finland) and Jacinta Arden’s reaction to the terrorist attacks in New Zealand has been described as “re-writing the script” on how a leader should/can respond to this kind of incident, perhaps modelling a different kind of leadership. Were ancient societies matriarchal? Range of things that might mean; pre-DNA test, easier to say with confidence who a child’s mother was than it’s father. Some of the world’s oldest art is cave paintings, which include hand prints; this has always been described as being made by men, despite presence of smaller handprints likely to belong to women: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131008-women-handprints-oldest-neolithic-cave-art/ Article by Brit Marling: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/sunday/brit-marling-women-movies.html in which she talks about her experience of the workplace and being advised by her female mentor to make a phone call every week where the office could hear her yell and swear, even if there was no-one on the other end. Angela Saini, ‘Inferior: how science got women wrong’: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/06/inferior-how-science-got-women-wrong-angela-saini-review-and-the-new-research-thats-rewriting-story Neil Gaiman, ‘Mushroom Hunters’, suggests the first scientists were foragers (women): https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/04/26/the-mushroom-hunters-neil-gaiman/ One participant works for Clean Break, an all-woman organisation with a legal exemption from employing men. She talked about how that differed from other workplaces in trms of: A sense of being able to bring your whole self Lower barriers to sharing vulnerability Emotional labour more evenly distributed Trauma-informed practice; how you actively care and provide a safe space. Clean Break has a joint leadership model with co-Artistic Directors and an Executive Director “two heads are always better than one” Ability to bounce ideas off someone else, build off each other’s strengths when co-producing Use of space and making that feel communal Has also experienced all-woman organisations that aren’t explicitly feminist/don’t have the same ethos and those don’t feel the same. Typical organisation is more hierarchical and a different approach to what “good” looks like. Producer is traditionally a male-configured role Roles/professions that are coded as male, even though done by other gender(s) “an assertion of power in the space” Conflict resolution and a commitment to how you approach that; Code of Conduct in place for the organisation (Clean Break) and its Board; “saying it’s all-female doesn’t mean it’s conflict-free” Eliminating alpha male politics/power games, working towards a shared goal Idea that if you can take away the idea of point scoring, one person needing to “win”, then you have two objectives and a shared goal of working out which is most important Question about trans inclusion in an all-woman organisation; on a practical level yes (currently have a trans woman receptionist), less sure how that’s formally embedded in policies. General principle that men aren’t barred from the organisation’s space, they’re invited as guests within the boundaries of that space. Experience of working in female collaborative theatre groups and the expectation that women would behave in a more collaborative way. What is the role of expectations of gender? Are people behaving according to their own temperament, rather than their gender/others’ expectations of their gender?