Young Canadian Quakers on war & recruitment
The second workshop I attended was one on Queer resistance. This workshop had the potential of being really meaningful as queer resistance has a rich history of challenging the dominant structures which aim to suppress minorities and maintain class divisions. It was facilitated by Cattis Laska and Hanns Molander, two active members of queer resistance in Sweden and Ofog, who have pushed and participated in creative and successful actions against military recruitment. This was a grand example of how establishing a good understanding of terms and ideology is crucial to progressing dialogue in a meaningful way. We opened the workshop by splitting into groups to come up with a list of how militarism is present in our lives and how that reflected a heteronormative, sexist pathology within our society. Our group was small and probably didn’t need to be divided further and it was inaccessible for a number of the participants, who had little-to-no knowledge of queer theory. So, as we were split into groups, a lot of time was wasted on issues that were off topic as the language needed for a meaningful conversation on queer resistance was missing.
My hope is that these participants left that workshop with a better understanding of the different ways our society reflects patriarchal, heteronormative standards of behaviour. The short list compiled included: heavily armed police force (or police in general), recruitment campaigns (glorifying masculinity), national sporting events and ceremonies (especially those in relation to Monarchs), parades and war monuments, and a rigid educational structure. We then tried to come up with some actions that could be taken in order to combat these aspects of our society but as time was quite limited we didn’t produce anything specific which we could tackle right away. Instead, we thought up general practices which we can be conscious of as we live our lives; we can question forms of masculinity which seem standard, encourage male-identities to take on traditionally feminine roles like care-giving or domestic chores, and promote gender-neutral environments which nurture active participation from all its members.
Just before this workshop, Laska gave a talk to the whole of the WRI conference which outlined some of the actions she had been involved with in Sweden. As army recruiters aimed to capture more of the queer inhabitants for their ranks at Stockholm Pride with a banner claiming “Openness – part of our reality”, Laska staged a die-in (a bunch of queers laid down around the recruiters) with their own banner stating “Your Reality Kills”. As the military contingent marched with Pride, the queers marched with them with speech bubbles in hand saying: “My job kills”, “I’m just as good at killing as heterosexual soldiers”, and “Here I walk to defend my human rights, while my job is about violating other people’s human rights”. Actions like these help to expose the reality of what military brings to a population. It is important to be present and vigilant wherever the military may be in order to put forth the truth behind their armaments and uniforms.
Though this workshop wasn’t as fulfilling for me as it could have been, it did provide a number of insights and uncovered areas of dialogue/misunderstanding which need to be addressed in future conversations. Because of this I hope to develop a concise way of getting workshop participants up-to-speed on key concepts in order to reach more advanced discussion quicker.