WOWs Meeting Minutes 5-27-12

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North End of Union Square
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Alix, Lisa, Melanie, Janet, and later, Jen
There was not one facilitator. Janet took minutes

The whole meeting included both practical/operational questions and reflective discussion.
Benefits of WOWs continuing along with Feminist GA planning group
Support and a more flowing type of discussion can take place
Melanie has written up the tasks related to WOWs that also contributed to Feminist GA can take place
How will these tasks be continued and who will take them on? WOWs meetings can be used to delegate these responsibilities
Historical continuity of how WOWs developed from lack of space for women’s issues at OWS
We discussed how to find each other—should we continue in the North End of Union Square (no chairs available now!) Jen found us by knowing where to expect us
Can we get a WOWS “patch”, some fabric pieces (T-shirts? A WOWs blanket to sit on? Or a piece of sheet (pillowcase) to hold up that has a design or WOWs logo on it.
The WOWs  Caucus visual design on the NYCGA site was made by Larisa, a long-time person in the group
Lisa was interested in designing another visual identifier

Next Feminist GA
Christopher Street pier was discussed as location
Questions included accessibility for disabled; Alix’s friend Nadina
Suggestions for facilitators knowing where bathrooms are, either on the location and/or nearby
Alix suggested that we agree  to “honor” various issues/themes at each Feminist GA, but not to devote the whole GA to one issue, such as Gay Pride week. For, example, we could make a statement as she did at the last on acknowledging the anniversary of the removal of homosexuality from the psychiatric diagnosis manual.
Melanie was concerned both to connect/collaborate with organizers in particular spaces and also not to intrude on the turf of others
Lisa suggested we remain clear and positive in our approach
Alix was a part of WITCH Women International Terrorists Conspiracy from Hell. She said that the name can’t be used now because of the word terrorists.

Feminist History, Waves, and Tsunamis
Feminist history was shared and clarified as to what the different “waves” were
First Wave—the suffragettes who worked for the vote for women
Second Wave—women’s liberation, control over our bodies and sexuality, Alix identified with this group
Third Wave—lipstick feminists (Please append this part!) and intersectionality Lisa identified with this group
Fourth Wave—what’s emerging now, whatever that will be; Jen said it should be freeing, not restricting; Janet thought we could contribute with feminist principles in action to how groups get along amongst our selves and in social movements like Occupy. Melanie and Alix discussed the Feminist DA (Direct Action) meeting at Judson Church where the words “feminist” and “women” were never mentioned (actively discouraged “women’s issues – MG edit).  Challenging gendered pronouns seemed to be a new action especially to make the space more comfortable for trans-gendered folks.
Discussion of how the New Left criticized feminism as a divergence
Feminist and peace activism was discussed as relating (in part) to the anti-nuclear wave of the 1980s—Janet identified with this and included Betty Reardon and Ingeborg Brenes who attended one of the planning meetings. Alix also explained that Women’s Strike for Peace Against War existed a long time before they called themselves feminists
OWS feminist as exemplified by Feminist Resistance aims to do away with all gender binaries, as explained by Melanie.
All the waves were varied and had myriad opinions
The wave is an interesting metaphor—do we want to work for crests? Sea changes? Tsunamis? What are the implications of these varied metaphors?
What are the values they express?
What alternative relationships and/or lifestyles do they aspire to?
What do we want to have to identify with and also connect us with all that has come before?

How can WOWS and Feminist GA explore what values we have/want as the  commonality of the group?
Lisa stated that discussions of  values had really worked in the OWS Vision and Goals working group.
She offered to run a skills teach-in on values—both as a method and with the goal of setting up the principles that the group agrees to
Lisa also explained that the purpose of the group can be defined in a positive way by these values and  that having them would support WOWs and Feminist GA as safe spaces
An intermediate electronic page was discussed as a way to make the WOWs Caucus and the Feminist GA internet exchanges as respectful, safe communication spaces (i.e. signing up for the list serve could include an agreement to be respectful, etc.)
We discussed the history of WOWs with regard to “female-identified and/or female bodied” as something worked out over weeks early in the OWS movement.  Melanie explained the history of WOWs as coming out of the need for women to find each other, to create safe spaces and to address issues that affected them.  She encouraged “institutional memory” and not revisiting some things that took long to be clarified
We discussed and reaffirmed the original statement of purpose (or description) listed on the NYCGA website for the WOWs Caucus, i.e. women always means “female-identified and/or female bodied” for our group

Using Models of Feminist Groups’ Defining Statements for WOWs
Alix suggested Redstocking—see the email group
Melanie suggested the Feminist Resistance and also the OWS statement
[others have already been put on the list serve]
We agreed that we could write a manifesto that had both historical (OWS-WOWs?) and current statements
Alix stated that the Redstockings manifesto took the position of the poorest, most oppressed women
The manifesto could give us boundaries, rules, guidelines

Tasks and Issues
Lisa suggested and we agreed to figure out how to support the Women with a Vision group in New Orleans. A fire intentionally set destroyed their office. [See the email discussion.]
Melanie agreed to put the tasks list on line (except for the jail support info doc?)
It was agreed to make a new flier that would be easier to read that could also be used and reused. Janet suggested having a blank space that could be filled in with specific information/themes/other connected events (i.e. Spring Awakening, Gay Pride, etc.)
We discussed 3month planning of Feminist GAs so that we could get Safer Spaces (they need one month or more notice), collaboration for other spaces from the local and specific groups that are organized in that borough or park
Alix suggested that we might also lead the tasks in three month segments
We also discussed facilitation of meetings
We agreed that facilitators could be leaders within the spirit of OWS by not taking power, but as Lisa said, by nevertheless facilitating getting things accomplished in the meetings, as Micah had done.
We agreed that minutes could include headings and other organizational input by the minute taker
We further agreed that neither of these needed to be “perfect” and that learning by doing was valued.
Appreciation was expressed for the women who had stepped up at the last Feminist GA planning meeting to take minutes (Natalie), facilitate (Marie), and take charge (Margo) of the next letter to the new email list (put together by Dior)

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