Filter, email to the Discordia development group about the development of a "filtering" section

Since the objection has been raised that the "xxyyxx" section would be the only content based section, I wanted to try to explain how I see it differently. As I said last night, though, if you don't find this convincing, then we can drop it. However, since it is important to me, I wanted to at least try to explain.

I don't see this as a content section, but rather as a specific kind of filter. It should not be a kind of modernized "women's section", where only comments specifically related to gender issues are posted. Any kind of subject matter is relevant here - politics, architecture, migration, communication, etc. - but the aim is to refocus the perspective and question the underlying assumptions about who is the intended subject, what kinds of social structures are presumed as givens in a respective context.

For example: Our current dispicable government in Austria recently passed so-called "foreigner integration measures". As I was reading through what these measures entail in the newspaper, with my background of what I know of my friends' and neighbors' (and partly my own) experiences of being a "foreigner" in Austria, it occurred to me that these measures, which include sanctions against "foreigners" who do not successfully complete mandatory (albeit as yet non-existent) German classes, pose a particular hardship for mothers of small children. Women who are not Austrian citizens, who have small children, already get stuck between conflicting regulations (since I have kept US citizenship for my children, I have found myself is some decidedly kafkaesque situations over the years), but this new situation is simply impossible. Consequently, the government is likely to find itself either in the position of executing untenable measures (e.g. splitting up families, contrary to existing family reunification objectives), or else making "exceptions" for young mothers, i.e. they would effectively no longer be legal subjects in their own right, but rather "dependents". The problem that I have with this is not that it is "unfair to (some) women", but rather that I do not want to leave this government, in particular, any scope at all for deciding who is a legal subject and who is not. The reason why I would put a (better informed and better reasoned) story like this into the xxyyxx section, is that I think this issue of government power and legal subjecthood first comes into focus by questioning unarticulated, probably even unconscious assumptions about subjects (i.e. "foreigners" are adult males, all others are "exceptions", Other, in fact).

Does this make any sense so far?

The same principle could apply to stories on architecture, for example, where the perspective changes if we question underlying presuppositions about how the framework for people living together is structured, e.g. how the norm of the nuclear family is inscribed in housing, despite the fact that this norm applies to fewer and fewer people. Even where this is not the case in more interesting examples of contemporary architectural projects, it could be interesting to question underlying assumptions about who is imagined as "using" this architecture.

Conversely, issues that may at first appear to be specifically gender issues may be questioned in the same way. Some time ago, a remark about an evident decrease in the number of women speakers/presenters at international conferences took an interesting turn, when we started asking about women's motivations for accepting or declining invitations. At the gender technologies symposium we organized in Linz last year, this turned into a broader discussion of a growing sense of dissatisfaction with conventional symposium formats, although I think that could have been even more fruitful with more input from men.

As I imagine this section - as a kind of "filter" - I think it could be useful in terms of generating links between different threads, a way of interconnecting ideas and topics that only at first seem disparate. Does that sound promising to anyone else, or is it too far-fetched?

I have been trying to think of another title for this section that might clarify the intention, but I am not sure how self-explanatory or inviting any of them might sound. "othering filter" was one that occurred to me, although that might be too vague. "queer perspectives" was another, but that might be too limiting or off-putting. Or maybe a reference to norms, such as "normal is other", or "male, female, other" ...

On the other hand, maybe this whole section should be subsumed in the "questions corner" section. What do others think?