Fem GA planning mtg minutes 4/3/12

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Possible Locations list (please add):


Organization list for outreach (please add):



1.    Brief introductions

Melanie G – WOW

Kara – visual artist from Brooklyn, had friends who came to WOW mtg Sunday

Alix – feminist activist since 1968, with Take Back the Future – feminist & anti-war activism

Abbi – NOW NYC chapter, teaches at Hunter college

Kathleen – WOW

Malu – feminist writer from Mexico, interested in making connections with feminists in Mexico and exposing the exploitation of women by the fashion industry

Dior – wants to know more about feminist organizing, get involved

CT Butler – involved in Occupy from beginning, consensus process

Ren – with FIOPA consensus collective with CT – have been touring Occupys doing workshops on value-based consensus – passed around clipboard to sign up to be in touch about consensus workshops

Melissa – from Feminist Resistance

Jed – Freedom Socialist Party – socialist/feminist political organization, thinks Fem GA is a really important

Betty – w/ Radical Women

Gabriel – involved w/ Occupy, came to find out what’s going on and see if there’s anything he can help with

Lisa – w/ OWS, never thought of self as feminist, launching business called Dominatrix Charm School about finding the dominance within

Amelia – w/ WOW

Julieta – granddaughter of Natividad, granddaughter of Cruz, from Bolivia, feminist from the Indian community, has much respect for Occupy and the women

Mel G (faciliatator) – wants to offer choice to discuss agenda items as group or have it as a separate breakout group – straw poll decides that we should discuss as a group then go into breakout groups

Mel G gave background on a GA – often decision-making bodies, returning more now to it being about talking about issues we believe in and what we want to do

Mel G lets us know that Julieta’s org has been doing Feminist GAs for 11 years in Bolivia – Julieta stumbled upon the Sunday WOW meeting accidentally, very serendipitous that she found us – was meant to be!

2. Group Discussion – what do we want on the agenda of the Feminist GA?

Alix – Want to discuss and act on the crisis around reproduction right now – need to defend contraception & abortion, women in some states are being charged w/murder

Betty – would be good to have people say what feminism means to them, and how do you build a feminist movement that is militant and can fight back to stop these attacks

Lisa – wants to have a conversation about what can affect a large audience of people – just focusing on reproductive rights might alienate people. Would love to bring people in who don’t necessarily think of themselves as feminists

Abbi – strategic coalition building – Cynthia Enloe’s concept of the bottom rungs – you have to take the perspective of people from the bottom rungs instead of privileged people at the top – share commitment to voicing the needs of the powerless, gives people a commonality – can we brainstorm around that to promote unity & diversity and help people identify as feminists who don’t already?

Malu – connecting this all is important – fashion is a good example, people know about fashion but don’t know about the workers that create things. Was at movement building meeting, they want to provide medical attention to people outside of the healthcare industry.  We should work with them, could start talking to doctors and gynos to make connections to create our own health clinics, we could publicize that

Jed – Abbi’s point is very important – orienting to the bottom rung/most oppressed is crucial. It’s a feminist issue because women are an oppressed majority across queer & color lines – want to raise awareness about that as an educational concept. Want to talk about how women’s voices are squashed within occupy and how we deal with that. Mentions that Occupiers helped a woman leader in Harlem get heat in her building – she was already a leader in her community – need to recognize that such people exist and work with them in a non-patronizing way

Mel G – this movement is about changing the word from a competitive, patriarchal paradigm to a cooperative paradigm where we share power. Feels incredible sense of injustice that overpowers her. Mentions women in Afghanistan who are being arrested for leaving their husbands.  Need to lift up indigenous women.  What if we created a justice system to stop abuses against women? Could we get a giant coalition to join this initiative or start one that puts worldwide attention on such things?

Lisa – need to find a space where it is relatable to all women – if we just concentrate of oppression of women in other countries it’s easy for people to not pay attention.  Need to focus on crimes against women – abusive relationships, etc

Kara – gets nervous when you start using the word “they” instead of “we” or “I”. Should pay attention to intersectionality and be careful not to interfere w/ autonomy of women overseas. GA should have discussion on what is feminism plus some local issues that people can dig in on.  Is part of the goal of the GA to have an action plan? What would that be and how would that live in the agenda?

Julieta – for us in Bolivia, our revolution came out from the question – who are we? Are we just one specific thing?  In the patriarchal society, they want to make us believe that women are just one subject among all subjects  – economy, workers, etc. We say no, we are not just one subject, we are a part of everything. We have a graffiti that says we are half of everything, and we are a part of every activity in this society. We are also doubly discriminated because we are women, and that’s why we are feminists.

Betty – very important to think about the image we’re using when we talk about the oppressed. If we talk about the most oppressed we need to talk about the power and leadership in the most oppressed.  Women of color were the people keeping the solidarity movement going, though it was difficult to get them talking about the word feminism.  We need to recognize the power of the most oppressed in fighting back.  We should be talking about local issues like reproductive rights – clinic in the Bronx has been called the abortion capital of the world- her group does clinic defense there on Saturdays

Alix – want to point out that since Occupy is about 99% and 1% – the solid majority of the people in poverty are women, and the elderly, who always get forgotten, are mostly women and suffer hugely from everything in terms of welfare, healthcare, homelessness

Dior – Women of color are really passionate about women’s rights and feminism but don’t want to use the term.  Feminism has a really negative connotation for women of color – has always been considered a white women’s struggle – need to redefine feminism to be inclusive.

Mel G – sounds like what feminism means to us is an important topic for us. Perhaps don’t call it a feminist GA?  (downtwinkles – we decided to stick with the name Feminist GA). Sound like a lot of ppl want to focus on local issues.  Should apply bottom of the rung concept to our midst in NY.  Also need to focus on the point that women are half of everything.

Alix – problem with the words “bottom rung” – doesn’t include the resistance and struggle

Mel G – this is something that the media messaging team can work on

3. Breakout groups –outreach/media/messaging, agenda building (we decided not to have a logistics breakout group)


Platforms we need to use:

·                  – Social media: Facebook page that we can post events to, Twitter – what hashtag do we want to use? (do we want to be on linkedin?)

·                  – Outreach to existing organizations from around the city – actually go to meetings

·                  – Design a poster that we could use in an email blast + wheat paste – both analog and digital – not just in Manhattan – flyering in outer boroughs


·                  – Shouldn’t just talk about what platforms we use to spread the word but also about how we talk about this (usually leftist thinking is linear w/ charismatic leaders as opposed to open + collective) Reflect upon the forms of communication – e.g. how to deal with gender and non-authoritarian language

·                  -Want this to be about making women visible

·                  -Encourage reflection among the public

·                  -Message should be welcoming and inviting – let’s create something together

·                  -How to incorporate the agenda into the message (can there be a space for independent speak outs/soapboxes?)

·                  -Need to communicate that it’s learning space as well as specific issues

·                  -need to address FEMINISM within OWS and suggest how can we make sure this is not marginalizing from within and without

·                  -Can we guarantee that folks whose voices are generally left out are the general assembly? How will we do that?

·                  -How can we overcome the idea of the Vanguard – and actually make space for people to speak


·                  -Include facts on gender bias? Building off of ‘we are half of everything’ every conversation we have should be a feminist issue.

·                  -Bottom rung image – how to make the image stronger – BREAK THRU THE BOTTOM RUNG

·                  -How can we make it clear that not just a meeting for WOMEN

·                  -That our issues are everyone’s issues and vice versa – out of gender binary

·                  -Not getting rid of the word FEMINISM


Broad discussion – what do we want the political goals to be of the first Feminist GA?

1.    be a part of OWS in a way that’s educative and brings feminism to OWS and addresses issues of feminism in the movement to help OWS overcome problems

2.    be an outward facing event that brings in groups that have been excluded from OWS and address why those feminist groups haven’t been a part of Occupy

Specific agenda items:

·      Should this be indoors or outdoors? Had trouble deciding.  Desire to be outdoors because it’s more accessible.  If it’s indoors it’s easier to hear each other/carry on a conversation.  Solution – since we’re going to be doing this often – one item on agenda should be how often we do this and where

·      Have part be a discussion on what feminism is and what was your reason to coming to any feminist event

·      Talk about how WOW came to be and why

·      Visions for the future – what would we like to see for all of us?

·      Important to have a part be a spokescouncil model where each organization gets to share what they’re working on, and create space for everyone to work on issues together to be a uniting force

4. Next steps

·                  -Make proposal to OWS GA that we have a Fem GA once a month (this is kind of TBD because of the state of GA right now)

·                  -Determine location – outdoor plus contingency plan for indoors, should have one just in case

·                  -Kathleen will start a Google doc to make a list of possible locations

Locations (please add):


·                  -Kathleen will send out list of organizations that WOW has compiled for people to add to – then we’ll divvy up who will contact what organization

Organization list:


·                  -Dior will take the first stab at writing up a blurb about what Feminist GA is and asking people what they want included in the agenda – this will be used on a flyer and in social media

Here are some notes from the agenda setting/logistics break out group.  Kathleen thank you again for these very thorough minutes.


Next meeting – April 12, 7-9pm, 56 Walker (this is an accessible location)

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