We continued with our workshops on day three, successfully engaging members of the Argenteuil community with related queer themes. It is a very unique time to be in France, as the issues around gay marriage top the news every day, and so these have certainly taken center stage. From what I’ve seen, people seem informed and engaged, and opinions are nuanced and diverse. We had the opportunity to meet two young female architects in the morning, we discussed the concern around female surrogacy being central to the “manif pour tous” argument. The role of women is much more traditional in France than in the US, it seems, revealed in policies such as an age cap of 37 for assistance with reproductive technology for any couple, as well as both adoption and reproductive technology being reserved for married (hetero) women only….until now. I’m not sure if we even discuss “the role of women” anymore in the US, but rather the rights of the female body as it relates to specific issues such as abortion. A new study reports that women now make up 40% of the breadwinners in US households, a statistic that I have wondered about for a long time. Reproductive choices for women are intrinsically tied to these larger choices of ‘career’ or simply employment/survival in today’s economy.
Christopher began stage two of his narrative workshop, presenting two legal LGBT issues–adoption and visa status–within personal scenarios. Two groups collaborated to design the characters within these scenarios, and both developed unique insights and depth within the narratives at hand. There was some confusion within the process, as it is really important when working with groups to make clear both the scope of expectation as well as the core narrative conflict. Both elements here were not as clear as they could have been, which is a great lesson to take moving forward. Christopher will be continuing the final stage of the workshop tomorrow.
Elaine presented her game “Media-tion”, which asks up to 8 players to position their reaction to an image along a dual matrix presenting two pairs of dichotomous terms. For our session today, Elaine chose “masculine/feminine” and “peaceful/violent”. We brought in two images from the “Manif Pour Tous” march to analyze and Elaine left the last round to let the community choose their own image to discuss. Both teams were very engaged throughout the game, and the format of the game allows for everyone to present their own rationale for their position, which affords opportunity for clarification and communication. There were several instances of agreement and disagreement, yet both teams followed with respectful discussion. In short, it is a very effective game for being able to “read” and share many perspectives around a given image or idea, and can be easily adapted for many purposes. Elaine donated the two boards to the community centered, and they received this with much enthusiasm.
After our second community interaction, we met to discuss our collaborative engagement thus far, plan the final day with this community, as well as other ‘queer probes’ that the students had designed within the city of Paris. A few issues that came up in the discussion were needing to accommodate time for translations, the compression of time that comes with these intensive workshops, and some cultural expectations in these types of exchanges. It has been really exciting to feel how engaged this community has been with us in such a short time, and presents exciting new possibilities for ongoing collaboration within the future Parsons Paris.