Author’s Pro-Tipp: Here’s your soundtrack to read this blog post.
So far I have met few people who claim to be close-minded. Most of us - especially people reading this blog post - would label themselves as somewhat change-embracing, curious and prejudice-free. So did I. I signed up for the Gender Lab because I got the impression that this format is trying to go beyond the work that is done currently in the field of gender topics and aims to find different approaches to implement societal transformation. The stakes were high. My expectations as well. I consider myself as a gender-savvy human being, eager to take on with patriarchy and those who uphold it. I was ready to work out strategies and concepts to reassemble to dust stirred up by activism.
What happened in the Gender Lab didn’t quite fit what I pictured for it. Instead of taking on the evil patriarchy somewhere there outside, we were asked to go into ourselves and take an inner journey. Personally, I haven’t had any contact with the community orbiting around Impact Hub, eurforia, collaboratio helvetica or any other of these organizations before the Gender Lab, therefore I wasn’t familiar with, nor prepared for the kind of methods or vocabulary that seemed to be naturally applied by many of the participants. I was ready to work like a fool, but I wasn’t opened to the idea of sharing in a group what’s on my mind and heart. I was ready to figure out solutions for the problems out there, but I wasn’t ready to deal with my own weaknesses. I was ready to fight everything but myself.
My personal inner journey during the gender lab led me to the fairly simple conclusion that we all are resistant to certain topics - no matter how open-minded we label ourselves. And that direct confrontation of these resistances doesn’t soften them. The question I face ever since is: how do we soften human resistance in a period of transformation? And to be more specific: how do we soften human resistance around gender stereotypes?
During the Lab, I got to know a whole bouquet of dedicated people. With Marisa König Beatty, Anne Murray, RajMilan Ganesan and David Saltiel, I not only found dear friends, but also humans with whom together we’re trying to find answers to the question mentioned above. Together we shaped the assumption, that humour and personal storytelling can be tools to soften human resistance towards harmful gender stereotypes. Based on this assumption we started a Playful Rebellion. As a collective, we offer simple, creative and humorous toolkits to help awaken a broader public to the pervasiveness and limitations of traditional gender normative stereotypes. We utilize humor and playfulness to soften resistance, and open hearts and minds to change. Our first tangible outcome will be a collective of artisanal Children’s Books. Check out our website and sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop!
The Playful Rebellion project reflects one of my very personal learnings of the Gender Lab: My very own resistance - towards people, methods or topics - is the foundation of society's resistance. Experiencing my own resistance helped me understand the process of transformation a bit better and brought me an inch closer to the question I still carry with me: how do we soften resistance around gender stereotypes?
Carmen is a communications and campaign consultant by day at Zurich based agency Feinheit AG. By night, she’s the bass player and singer of her rock band Dead Milly. She’s the former spokesperson of the feminist activist group aktivistin.ch, was a participant of the first cycle of the collaboratio helvetica Gender Lab and since summer 2018 Co-Founding Rebel of Playful Rebellion.