WOW Minutes 1/29/12

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Meeting started out with a discussion – what is WOW?

Because currently it’s not clear. What’s our role? -discussed that much of our role is confronting sexism within the movement and serving as an advocate for those who encounter sexism

-how do we respond to sexist behaviors?

-discussed the training we did with Annie Ellman

– want to start training others using the knowledge we gained

-Larisa is going to upload her video from the training, would be great if Ris could also upload her video so we have the whole thing

-Simran is going to go through the video and start putting a list together that will be the start of a flyer, card or handout we can produce listing out techniques for confronting sexism and self-defense

-Kathleen mentioned possibly having cards to handout when someone is being oppressive, or some sort of tactic for calling out sexism

– Susan suggested a need for a focus group of some sort to see how people of different gender identities would react -Susan made the point that it’s not the role of the oppressed to teach the oppressor, also pointed to gender dynamics in roles in working groups – who is usually talking during the meeting, and who is usually the one talking and leading the meeting? Why aren’t there more women in OWS?

-Mel G made the note that there’s something assertive and aggressive about a “protest – the opposite of what society’s idea of “woman” and a way we’re conditioned against acting from birth.

We had a long discussion about language: -The argument about phraseology has divided the feminist movement, both in OWS and outside it -Large generational gap – those involved in 2nd wave feminist movements have big problem with the use of words like ‘female-assigned” instead of women. Younger generations tend to lean in the opposite direction – how do we bridge this divide?

-Why was 2nd wave feminism largely a heterosexual, white women’s movement and how do we avoid doing the same?

-Larissa, our resident anthropologist, noted that part of critiquing patriarchy is critiquing the language – words that feel natural to us are words that we have been conditioned to use by the patriarchy. Why is it natural to us to have 2 categories, man and woman, that everyone should fit into, with all the assumptions entrenched in those roles? Feminism should be about breaking down this gender binary altogether. Language feels clunky to us because it doesn’t fit within these norms.

-Mel B gave the example of the word African-American – is clunky, not as easy to say but we’ve learned to use it because it’s important to do so.

-Kathleen mentioned that this is an issue she’s confronted in past feminist orgs – feels that many who identify as women and feel power in that identification tend to feel threatened by those who break down the gender binary because by breaking down the binary, what does that mean to one’s own identity as a woman?

-Susan (L) brought up issues of accessibility – who are we trying to reach and how will they react to this kind of language? This is too intellectual

-We determined that there needs to be a lot of consciousness raising. Larisa is going to start a people’s glossary so these terms and why we use them are explained

-Stephanie made the point that we are focusing a lot of our time defining who we are instead of what we’re for/against, which is what we should be focusing on

-On that note, manifesto! Kathleen is going to re-send out the manifesto brainstorming doc so we can look it over and get started writing it. Should include a discussion on language.

Feminist GA: -Need to unify the plurality of feminist voices that are in this movement so that we can all better understand each other -Use a Sunday night, starting sometime in March to hold a Feminist GA -Invite outside organizations – Stephanie is going to send out the list of organizations again and we can pick a few groups that we really want to work with, and invite all to the Feminist GA

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