Celebrating Human Rights on this 17th of May

Since 1990 and the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses of the World Health Organization (WHO), May 17 has been a date to remember and reaffirm the human rights of LGBTI people and to fight against discrimination based on gender, be it homophobia, transphobia, biphobia… On this day, international and national institutions dedicated themselves to informing and communicating on the current situation regarding the respect of human rights for LGBTI people, such as the Council of Europe, which offers a state of the art on what has been done and what remains to be addressed. In France, several schools shared today the informative website of the Ministry of Education and Youth, highlighting the importance of continuing to raise young people’s awareness of gender issues and discrimination. This day is also a time to discuss how to create a more inclusive and respectful environment in school and beyond, as human rights are a concern for all of us and should be protected.

What are we doing right now? And why we need you!

Hello to our new coming readers 🙂 

Being part of an EU project means we need to go through different steps.

You are welcome to send us some ideas, commentaries or anything useful on our research, especially if you are from any of these countries(Italy, Spain, Latvia, Finland, Slovenia, Poland, Cyprus, Germany, France, Ireland)and run into any kind of information, advertising, or language issues implicating gender representations in any way. 

Our current task is: to produce a report on Institutional & Social Actors existing strategies and remediation recommendations. And in order to do this,  to do an inventory of social / institutional / organizational / government / educational actions to counter extremist narratives with a focus on gender (as such we focus on gender discrimination) in the last 10 years (2012-2022). This inventory is due to April 2024.

Its aim is to collect and analyze the strategies of social actors through institutional / organizational / government / educational documents focusing on gender discrimination as defined by the EU. All countries are concerned, but we have a predefined focus on France, Italy, Spain, Latvia and Finland.

This inventory is based on the question :
What measures have European countries taken, at a national and/or international level, to tackle gender discrimination in the last ten years (2012-2022) ?

 

The aim is to have an overview of the situation in each country regarding our topic. In this regard, we are looking for National strategic plans; commissions that would have been created; ONG/Organization/Association actions; communications (national / in the media / booklets / posters in the streets for example…); educational actions (Rectorate directives, pedagogical plans, workshops, mediation and prevention actions, guidelines…) and so on that would have been implemented in these last ten years (2012 -2022).

Following this report, the second step is to send surveys to educational partners to test the effectiveness of these actions and to propose remediation recommendations. This is the second subtask. As the name suggests, the purpose is to evaluate the effectiveness and performativity of resistance strategies through surveys in educational institutions (still with a focus on France, Italy, Spain and Latvia). Examples of Research Questions could be :

RQ : How have the educational institutions implemented these directives to tackle gender discrimination ? Are these measures effective ? What are the strategies that could be adopted to strengthen gender equality and to counter gender discrimination?

Accordingly, we are looking for educational partners who could answer our surveys. The analysis of these surveys would lead to first remediation recommendations

Meet our team : Louise Burté – PhD Student

Dear readers,  

A warm welcome to our research notebook. I am pleased to share with you our actions and reflections that we are carrying out for WP5 of the ARENAS project. To provide some context as to who and how, let me briefly introduce myself. 

I have always been interested in issues of injustice and violence, but above all in finding ways out of unfair and/or conflictual situations through communication and mediation. Part of this involves understanding such phenomena less from an individual perspective (personal beliefs, opinions and state of mind) than from a collective level (legal frameworks, socio-political environment, historical context, cultural characteristics, systemic climate that favors unfair treatment and hostility…). In other words, how inequalities and violence are conditioned by the past and present environments of individuals. 

My previous research projects have focused on detecting and understanding forms of cyberviolence that are non-explicit, hidden, and embedded in a specific context with an interdisciplinary approach, using theoretical and methodological tools from linguistics and sociology. As such, I explore concepts such as cyberviolence, online incivility, hate speech (either explicit or hidden (Baider & Constantinou, 2019)), microaggressions (Sue et al., 2007), and so on. During my explorations of online platforms, I also encountered communities that could be considered extremist. Among others, the manosphere (incel, MGTOW…) (Ging, 2019) attracts my curiosity, as I want to understand the mechanisms and thought processes that underpin these manifestations of hatred, not only towards others but also towards oneself, rooted in a singular conception of gender and world order. In brief : why and how is gender created as a central problematic, simultaneously rejected and protected, and instrumentalized in a rhetorical and supposedly logical argumentation that would legitimize extreme discourse and ideology? And what are the strategies to overcome this and to achieve more peaceful interactions?  

As a firm believer that positive changes are possible and that we could make this world a better place with a deeper insight and expansion of knowledge, I dedicated myself to finding solutions through research by pursuing a PhD. Joining the WP5 of the ARENAS project was the opportunity to carry out this project. As such, my thesis focuses on mediation and remediation strategies to counter extremist gender narratives, more specifically in the field of education, with a comparative approach between European countries. Part of my work involves defining and understanding (extremist) gender narratives, evaluating existing strategies to counter gender discrimination, conducting surveys to identify brakes and levers to counter extremist narratives in education, and the preparation of fieldwork with young audiences. Peace and equality are therefore central elements I’d like to explore in my research. I would like to invite audiences to return to core positive human values such as empathy, solidarity, respect and acceptance. This implies not only finding adequate mediation strategies and effective counter-narratives, but also taking into account the intertwined influence of symbols, archetypes, contextual and cultural specificities that lie beneath gender narratives. 

Until next time, I’d like to thank you for your interest and wish you an insightful exploration of our blog. 

Louise Burté 

References :  

  • Baider, F., & Constantinou, M. (2019). Discours de haine dissimulée, discours alternatifs et contre-discours. Définition, pratiques et propositions. Semen. Revue de sémio-linguistique des textes et discours, (47).  
  • Ging, D. (2019). Alphas, betas, and incels: Theorizing the masculinities of the manosphere. Men and masculinities, 22(4), 638-657. 
  • Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: implications for clinical practice. American psychologist, 62(4), 271.  

Seeking gender equality through language : European Parliament’s Guideline for a Gender-Neutral language

As a core aspect of our sociality, language is the way we make sense of the world through words. The question of representation is therefore crucial: How do we represent our experience? What words do we choose to faithfully present and represent our environment? What are the implications of these choices? These reflections also concern gender and its richness. In 2008, the European Parliament undertook to seek gender equality through language by adopting a guideline on gender-neutral language in the institution. Ten years later, the European Parliament reaffirmed its commitment by publishing a second version of this guideline. As the first of its kind, at least by an international institution, this guideline offers practical strategies for implementing a language that is neutral and thus more inclusive and equal. The generic use of the masculine gender, the names of professions and functions, and the use of titles are among the issues addressed in this guide.

 

Louise Burté ~ 11.12.2023

Boys Boys Boys : journeys through masculinities and gender stereotypes

In 2021, ARTE France, Melting Productions and Take Five released a series of short videos, Boys Boys Boys, featuring testimonials from men who have been confronted with the weight of masculine models and stereotypes and how they have freed themselves from them. Friendship, gender identities, sexuality, parenting, romantic relationships, self-acceptance, vulnerability, and respect are among the topics addressed in these videos. In addition to being touching and enlightening, these videos allow us to reflect not only on the impact of sometimes well-identified gender narratives from a male perspective, but also on how they affect all of our environments and social relationships, be they professional, familial, romantic, or friendly. They revealed current reflections on what it means to be a man, what masculinity could be, and above all, that these models are far from rigid, even if they are traditionally presented as such.

Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA6guGg9nTk

These videos are freely available (unfortunately only for now) in French and German both on Youtube and ARTE.tv . Because these testimonies can be valuable to everyone, here are brief descriptions of their contents:

Arthur: Friendship and masculinities
Arthur recalls some of his childhood memories and how he felt fulfilled growing up as part of a group of male friends, growing up surrounded by people with whom he could share all the experiences unique to that period of life, until his closest friend exhibited toxic behavior and abused several of his female friends. Arthur initially tried to help him let go of these patterns, start therapy, and adopt a new attitude, but he painfully realized that his friend wasn’t sustaining his efforts, and that his whole group seemed to be gradually forgetting his past mistakes. He decided to leave. This experience led him to reflect on his own behavior and whether he needed to work on himself since he grew up with them.

Tristan : Becoming a dad
Tristan shares his journey through fatherhood and especially how to be a father and a partner. He compares the birth of his first child, when they were in France, and the birth of his second, this time in Norway. While in France, the parental leave for the father was only 11 days, which led Tristan to invest more in being a supportive partner than a father, the quasi-equal parental leave provided in Norway allows him to discover a different aspect of parenthood and to feel more engaged in family life. He admits to feeling grateful to his partner for pushing him to take the same amount of parental leave and decided to share his experience on a blog. Unfortunately, he faced strong reactions that attacked both his identity as a man and as a father. He concludes that courage is taking two months of parental leave and not succumbing to social prejudices.

Florian : Exploring non-traditional sexuality
Florian talks about his journey to find a fulfilling sexuality, how he learned to let go of the stereotypes surrounding it and to follow his desire.

Werner : Learning to be vulnerable (again)
Werner shares how he gradually suppressed his emotions as he began a family life, accepting the status of “head of the family” and breadwinner. Because of the traditional view of the family, he forbids himself from expressing any kind of vulnerability, believing that his role is to be “strong”. After the divorce, Werner begins a journey to learn to be vulnerable again and to express his emotions. He then forgives himself for not respecting himself during those years. For him, “opening the heart is the greatest work of the masculine, it’s welcoming the feminine and giving it wholeness and equality with the mind and the gut”.

Dean : Being accepted and respected as a trans man
Dean recounts a traumatic experience when someone asked him to “prove his manhood”. This moment not only left him feeling humiliated and insecure, but also had a profound impact on his sense of identity, self-acceptance, and relationship with his own body. In the end, Dean announces that his intimacy will remain protected and that he is determined to stop responding to such intrusive requests.

Matti : Finding his identity as a gay man outside and inside his community
Matti tells of his first romantic experiences with other men, how they helped him to feel free and explore his sexuality, until his romantic partner began to question and criticize the way he behaved, the way he dressed, the way he expressed himself as a gay man. Feeling limited, Matti “escaped” from this rigid view of homosexuality and felt determined to continue expressing himself freely, far from some of the stereotypes that still circulate in his community.

Faruk : The weight of racism and gender stereotypes
Faruk recalls how his search for love and romantic interests pushed him to adopt the stereotype of the “Turkish man,” thinking it would make him more attractive. Over time, Faruk felt more and more pressure to “perform” this identity and lost touch with himself. Eventually, this led him to feel overwhelmed and lost. What this experience has taught him is not only to accept himself as he is, but also to acknowledge his experience as a victim of racism.

Erwan : Seeking respectful and consensual birth control
Erwan addresses the still underexplored issue of male birth control methods and his struggles to find a solution that would be both safe and respectful to both partners.

Arthur: Drag and the Richness of Identity
Arthur explains how he gradually explored the richness of his identity through drag, the sense of freedom the experience gave him, and how he learned to navigate the gender spectrum. He concludes that he has no need to define himself, and that he simply has to accept being himself, no matter what form of expression he might use.

Gaëtan : Being a man and a feminist
Gaëtan raised the question: “What does it mean to be a man and a feminist?”. His research led him to reflect on his behavior towards women. His desire to delve into these issues led him to organize meetings with other men to discuss and debate masculinity, stereotypes, sexuality and how to acquire gender awareness on a daily basis.

                                                             Louise Burté

Hello world!

This research notebook is initiated as part of the European H2022 ARENAS project (Analysis of and Responses to Extremist Narratives – https://arenasproject.eu/resources/) and, more particularly, of Work Package 5 led by Béatrice Fracchiolla (University of Lorraine, CNRS MSH Lorraine – UR 3476 CREM) on mediation and remediation, in particular with regard to gender discrimination. Our interest is in the educational dimension : how do the different European countries go about it, each in their own way and depending on their cultures, history, etc.? to promote equality between human beings, without discriminating against them because of their sex or gender, and to educate their citizens from their earliest childhood to adulthood? what are the difficulties, the obstacles, the pitfalls? and how and in what ways are language and representations at the heart of this question?

In this research notebook, we wish to share our thoughts on this subject, our findings, corpus, and also interact with the readership, on these questions in order to ultimately succeed in developing innovative educational tools to promote gender equality and gender inclusion in all European societies and at all levels. The project, which started on 05/01/2023, will continue until 04/30/2027.

The ARENAS project looks at extremist narratives that affect political and social life in Europe. It examines the nature of these narratives and seeks to understand the discourses they impact, particularly about science, gender and the nation. By understanding how these narratives work, ARENAS will empower people to resist them. To foster a spirit of people living together in harmony across Europe, policy recommendations will be made as to how to prevent such narratives from taking hold in the future.

In the Arenas’project, WP5 is on mediation and remediation. As such one of the main task is more especially the analysis of language strategies of social and institutional actors in face of extremist narratives regarding gender issues. The Aim of WP5 is to be able to raise awareness, creating prevention and (re) mediation measures and tools for education on otherness and tolerance with social actors and in fine propose recommendations to policy makers and civil society to counter the extremist narratives.

Increased polarisation triggered by social protest movements, the Covid-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine have challenged European democracies and fostered extremist narratives, with strong and numerous consequences for citizens, politics, and the democracy.
Dominant contemporary public and political narratives argue that democracies are more fragile and more vulnerable than in the past, and that trust in political (and other public) institutions and in representative democracy as a system is declining.
European citizens are facing the “post-truth” world, characterised by conspiracy theories, overwhelming disinformation, fake news and increasing numbers of extremist narratives, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and post-pandemic.

ARENAS is funded under Cluster 2 of Horizon Europe, Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society.  
This cluster aims to strengthen European democratic values, including the rule of law and fundamental rights, safeguarding our cultural heritage, and promoting socio-economic transformations that contribute to inclusion and growth.
This programme, which is handled by the European Research Executive Agency (REA), funds research and innovation projects for social, economic, technological and cultural transformations towards healthier democracies, where cultural values are protected.