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Home World What is a single-sex meeting?

What is a single-sex meeting?

UNEF demonstration, illustration – Bertrand GUAY / AFP

  • By offering single-sex meetings on racism and sexism, the UNEF student union has drawn the wrath of LREM and the right.
  • Numerous accusations of fascism and anti-republicanism fall.
  • But what is a single-sex reunion?

The establishment of a non-mixed support group, around sexist or racist discrimination, by the National Union of Students of France (UNEF), and the defense of their holding by the president of the student union, Mélanie Luce, n ‘ in the end no longer fuel the controversies. The Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer reacted in particular, finding in such a process “things that resemble fascism”.

But the controversy grew further when Audrey Pulvar, PS candidate for regional in Ile-de-France, estimated this Saturday “That people discriminated against for the same reasons and in the same way feel the need to meet between them to discuss it, that does not shock me deeply ”. And “if a white person happens to come to this workshop, we can ask him to be silent, to be a silent spectator.” What sow discord on the left and cause an uproar on the right. But beyond the cries of orchard, a single-sex reunion, what is it? 20 Minutes make the point.

What is the point of a single-sex meeting?

A single-sex meeting is a discussion group around a theme concerning a part of the population: racism, sexism, disability, etc. “This allows me to discuss, expose problems and think about solutions”, lists the historian of revolutions and citizenship and teacher-researcher at the University of Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée Mathilde Larrere. This in an aim “to better integrate into society afterwards”, she specifies insisting on this point: “The non-mixed support groups are not intended to exclude themselves and are only ‘part of the militant time’. The Women’s Liberation Movement (MLF), recorded as non-mixed, did not aim for a societal ideal separate from men, for example. Just as the single-sex meetings that have made the news are held within UNEF, a union open to all students.

“Moreover, it is only two meetings per year”, raises the writer and journalist Rokhaya Diallo, who therefore recalls that the UNEF includes all the students the rest of the time. “The fight against racism will be done with white people as allies, the fight against sexism will be done with men as allies, it is not a question of building a project of society without, but that does not prevent jointly having these meetings in order to be able to develop our issues between us, between “experts” in these experiences, “she explains. For Mathilde Larrere, these single-sex meetings – be they women, LGBT people or racialized people – have proven their effectiveness over the centuries, “by speaking of the problem between the people concerned, the development of ideas goes more quickly – there is no questioning, no interference – and the proposed solutions can then take root in society. “

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A completely legal practice, as recalled in Liberation François Héran, demographer and sociologist at the Collège de France: “The law prohibits recruiting members according to their origin or their religion if this criterion is not linked to the objectives. from the Association. It does not say anything about the internal organization of the working groups. “

Since when does this exist?

The phenomenon is far from new. Mathilde Larrere indicates that one finds single-sex meetings of women since at least the French Revolution, and probably well before. Non-mixed only female groups also present in other national political events, as in 1830 or in 1848 with the Commune, but also for feminist demands, for example the suffragette movement (movement for the right to vote of women) or the MLF in the 1960s and 70s. “By barely pushing logic, unions and workers’ mutuals are spaces of social unmixedity, where bosses are not admitted”, adds the historian.

For her, finding a precise start date seems an almost impossible task as the phenomenon has been present over the centuries: “In politics, we have always appealed to the non-mix to organize around a common criterion in order to to find the best possible answer, ”she sums up. And within these single-sex groups sometimes coexisted other single-sex groups: for example within the MLF, coordination groups for black women or lesbian groups.

Rokhaya Diallo explains: “Racialized people have always united among themselves to fight against racism, it did not have the same resonance as today because there was not a media and political figure like Audrey Pulvar to do so. talk, but it has always happened. “

Has this always been controversial?

The groups of single-sex women mentioned above were in turn banned shortly after their creation, with the exception of the MLF. “Even this one has caused a great deal of controversy because of its non-mixing”, supports Mathilde Larrere, adding that unions and other organizations reserved for a minority population have been slow to be socially accepted.

The same goes for Rokhaya Diallo: “While there is almost a consensus today, groups of women or LGBT people were very badly perceived a few decades ago. And I am convinced that in a few years, single-sex meetings of racialized people will no longer fuel such controversies. It just takes media habituation. “

Why so much anger against these groups? For François Héran, it is the fault of an “incantatory vision of the republican ideal”. A kind of overestimation of republican universalism where one thinks that it is enough to say oneself universalist to erase certain real discriminations – with the hiring for example. Mathilde Larrere concludes: “This is precisely the interest of single-sex groups, talking about a lived reality without some denying it. “

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