I have read with some amused interest the special edition of the « Pavé dans la mare », published by the Liège Barricade team in Spring 2010, devoted to the Women On Barricade (WOB).

First, I was proud of myself: I am no macho. All quotations from such authors do sound grossly exaggerated to my ears, a caricature even. I have come to eschew programmatic feminism as well, as it seems far too excessive to me. And I am no womanizer either.

Over the years, I have come to think that it is not natural for a man to be a feminist: because feminism, an influential majority, is an exaggeration as much as its counterpart. Equality should be meant both ways. Sociological pressures do still exist: they prevent women to be equal to men in far too many circumstances. I am not sure men are not submitted to destructive social pressures as well, because they are men or human beings, in most parts of society.

I can't help formulating a hypothesis, after careful observations of my former professional environment: the increase of women colleagues as teachers in education (more particularly tertiary education where I have led most of my professional life) may have had an influence on young men's education. It should be measured by mixed teams of sociologists: mixed, in order to avoid certain common biases. This increase hasn't promoted more real vocations among women students and their female/feminine/womanly model may have disturbed real men students' vocations. The consequences would be sociologically interesting to study. It is particularly true in teacher-training colleges. A majority of women students do take up teaching careers, with appalling numbers leaving education after a few years.

The increase of women in other professions has inevitably had other influences and consequences, which, as a citizen, I am not able to apprehend. I will restrict my considerations to education.

In education, the process of equality in salaries has been reached for a long time, and the heads are increasingly women, in both secondary (a majority?) and tertiary education (an influential minority). I am not convinced women heads have developed more evolved (democratic) behaviours than their male counterparts.

Reproduction is also at work here. Male behaviours may have discoloured on women of power who reproduce them, be it as a photographic negative, as some form of revenge.

My main point could be: how do women and men teachers educate boys and girls? Which models prevail in their practice? Is it so astonishing that, at the end of secondary education, the number of school-goers decreases in a similar way as the number of churchgoers... The inadequacy of the sermons heard?

Belgium is unfortunately well-known for its poor level of certification for its adolescents at the end of secondary education. Are these two facts influencing each other or are they independent?

The degree of involvement in professional life should also be studied; a list of correct indicators of involvement should be established first.

Mixed education may also have had mixed consequences and probably not the most favourable ones to boys.

My general conclusion to this letter could be: excesses should be avoided on both sides (men and women) and more sociologising is badly needed to test many untested hypotheses, as far as I know (and I probably will know little when I die).

If you wish to read their magazine, download it here. It's in French and called "Progressistes de tous pays, qui lave vos chaussettes ?" (If you want to know my answer to that question : "me!, my machines and I!")


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