As feminists, how should we organise?Posted: 2 April 2012
This was the title of the discussion group we had last Wednesday, with a view to thinking about how we as FAC should structure our group. As I mentioned in the introduction to this discussion, this is something that people have spilled a lot of words trying to think about, as there are very vivid political implications – whose voices are heard and whose are silenced, for example. So no pressure, then! (I was facilitating).
I summarised the two articles we were using as inspiration, The Tyranny of Structurelessness, by Jo Freeman, and Participatory Democracy, by our very own KM, and we discussed in pairs what kinds of qualities we’d like a feminist group to have. Points raised included reflexivity (i.e. we should reflect on what we’re doing as we go along and try to improve it), sisterhood, working groups, hierarchy versus structure, purpose, aims and principles, process versus goal orientation, malleable (i.e. open to new people), mixed versus women-only, reflexivity, and burn-out/rotation/skill sharing.
We then discussed how these might apply to FAC, and some concrete proposals started to emerge (I’m summarising here what was a somewhat slow and arduous process… not dragging-a-concrete-horse-up-a-hill kind of slow, but maybe dragging-a-baby-lamb-up-a-hill – please excuse the farming metaphors, it’s my heritage).
We talked about whether it would be a good idea to have a statement of aims and principles, which would then give people joining the group an idea of what we were about and would direct our own practice. Some people thought this was the most important thing to do first, others thought that we couldn’t do this until we’d decided a group structure and mode of working, and someone else said that what we’ve done IS our political statement – people know what our ethos is from our actions. So we didn’t reach any agreement on that – something to revisit in the coming months. We did agree that we’d want time to reflect on this before discussing it further, so please reflect away!
We discussed the structure of the group as regards working groups, transparency, and the month-to-month running of the group. KM has some great suggestions in her article about transparency, in particular using the internet more to keep notes/wikis on things (wikis are documents which any participant can edit), as well as summarising things for people, and reporting back. We agreed to expand on the current working groups we have (action and blog) to add two more: meetings and press/publicity. The meetings group will organise the monthly discussion group, as well as a three-monthly admin/organisation meeting, which will reflect on how things are going, organisationally (see ‘reflexivity’ above). The press/publicity group will all have media training (I will organise this soon; all welcome, keep an eye on the email list) but will liaise with the rest of the group before sending out any press statements.
The blog working group will also encompass internet safety and moderating the Facebook page, and any other internet-related business (eg Twitter which is @FemActionCam). And finally, the action/events/workshops group will do all the Action, Events, and Workshops, of which we hope there will be many (including a feminist spoken word poetry night coming up, date tbc but probably in June). Also, at some point in the future if we need it, we’ll form a finance and fundraising group. Generally, we agreed that working groups would keep the discussion list (see below) updated on their activities, as well as the three-monthly meetings.
We have also finally created a discussion group to be a higher traffic email list than the announcements list. If you’d like to join either the discussion or the announcements list, you can add yourself on the groupspaces site. For the other lists, please ask at a meeting or email the list concerned:
firstname.lastname@example.org (for press and publicity!)