3rd Feminist General Assembly 7/18 Open Space – partial minutes

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These are notes from the break out group that wanted to re-define and define the word “Feminism” taken by Susan.


Notes from Conversation on “Feminism” from Fem GA 7-18-2012
Nick:  OWS drew on feminist processes for its own.  A man is no less of a man to allow women to be equal.
Susan:  We are talking about the word, “feminism”—words express thoughts, ideas.  Feminism is both objective, as was the need that caused it to be, as well as subjective, and it has historical origins—not just the 1960’s but the 1840’s.  Oppression of women pre-dates capitalism, and Marxist-Humanism allows me to understand feminism relation to other struggles.
Jeannie:  People need to find their space within the labels.  How have people been affected by gender?  We need a dialogue on that.
Frances:  In 1968-69 I came to women’s liberation from ordinary life (I had not been involved much in Civil Rights or anti-Vietnam War struggles)—I wanted to be a PERSON.  In Occupy Brooklyn I realized sexism was still there, and also that the women of the 1960’s had wanted to get away from the dominance of the male politicos.  I want now to work more for general liberation, but I also see that there is room for women-only space.
Robert: Women-only space turns men off, because we are privileged as white males to be able to go anywhere and do anything, and we find it horrific when we are barred.  As a child I now see that my mother and friends spent a lot of time and energy escaping men.  I want that same freedom [of white males] for everybody.
Corey: I’m here to listen and learn, and have a lot of questions.  Beyond uplifting women, where then do we go?  I’d like some examples of how women have been silenced in OWS.
Nick:  I say we are ignorant of feminism—ignorant means we don’t know enough,
not that we are stupid.  There are a lot of misunderstandings that I want to help overcome.
Melanie:  That’s why the Women’s Caucus was not open, which shocked and upset a lot of people, asking “why?”  The Fem GA is more inclusive.  I like being girly, but I also want opportunities.  Patriarchy means dominance, and it’s detrimental.  A rabbi (who may not be a real rabbi) threw a hissy fit when we tried, experimentally, a meeting where only women could speak.
Corey: {didn’t get it, sorry]
Jeannie:  There is direct hatred of women.  Sometimes a few people can hijack a movement.
Carol: That is the downside of an open movement.
Frances:  Abuse leads to sexism and racism; that’s why I favor punishing hate speech.  One of the flaws in OWS is that there are no closed meetings.
Corey:  Labels are harmful—can we get rid of all isms?
Melanie:  I don’t want to see feminism broken up into different isms, Marxism, etc.
Susan:  Some labels are harmful, but others are positive.  There are many trends within feminism; as the movement develops, new ideas and needs arise.
Robert:  Does feminism address the way power roles are conditioned?
Melanie:  OWS uses a lot of feminist principles:  we are horizontal, we use consensus, we reach to other struggles.
Carol:  I’ve been teaching for 30 years at NYU.  Young women have realized many goals of 2nd-wave feminism:  they expect to be heard, they want careers, they want to have sex equally with men.
Melanie:  Yes many ideas are mainstream.  I would like to see the word “feminism”   take on a more expanded meaning.
Robert: Culture now is different than the 1960’s.  What would feminism today need to be?


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