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Phase Three June 3, 2006

Posted by Winter in the adventures of mind the gap.
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In September Mind the Gap will be two years old. I’m of the opinion that we’re currently entering the third phase of our development, although it’s quite possible that the others will say I’m just a crazy person.

When we first started (phase one) Naiades and I spent a long time doing little more than putting up posters and sitting in coffee shops, drinking wine, and hoping that people would come. Slowly, they did, and we began to raise our hopes that we might at least achieve a small feminist social and discussion group, perhaps even run a campaign (phase two). I’m not sure when it really took off, but things suddenly seem to have moved very fast and now we’re trying to catch up with ourselves and enter what I’m calling phase three.

This blog is only one aspect of Mind the Gap and slow posting here does not indicate a lack of activity elsewhere, but because you only get a few voices here it’s difficult to convey the actual group dynamic. The largest active proportion of the current group are not, in fact, British. We now have three German members, one Italian, one from Iceland and one, possibly two, from Finland. I guess this tells us something about the state of feminism in the UK. I think the rest are variously Welsh and English. We are all white, and predominantly from middle-class university educated backgrounds. This tells us something even worse about the state of UK feminism. Then there is a silent majority lurking on mailing lists and occasionally putting in appearances. Feminist identifications within the group range from radical feminist, to socialist, to more mainstream liberal feminist politics. We have one who seems to identify as a sort of post-feminist. On the sexual spectrum, we have queers, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals. We have one honouree male member. As Siberian Falls likes to say, “We’re open to men, they’re just not open to us.” We even have interest from a woman who does not identify as a feminist, but is interested in the discussion nights. This is a new one, but it might provide an interesting “edge.” We have always aimed for inclusivity as a principle and we’re sticking to it, but it does have consequences, such as making it tough to reach consensus on issues and impossible to please everyone.

The discussion nights have been largely successful with anything between 4 and 12 people turning up. It’s been remarkably civil really (wine helps, lots and lots of wine). The topics are decided, like everything else in the group, in an entirely haphazard way: members tell us what they want to talk about and we work through the list. Although not the most radical aspect of the group, the discussion nights provide a space in which we can educate each other and ourselves about feminism. And they make us do the reading.

We’re in a strange place at the moment, a state of transition, I think, somewhere between what the group was, and whatever it is going to become in the next year, which is not going to be what those of us who set it up expected. We’ve survived and, much to our surprise, we now find ourselves running a more high profile group than we had initially imagined possible. On Wednesday, in a (somewhat emergency) meeting with a couple of other members, the necessity of getting serious and getting more organised was pressed upon me, because we actually have one hell of a lot to do in the next few months.

So on Thursday, Naiades and I spent most of the afternoon sorting out our chaotic emailing system … actually we created a system. Until now, the two of us have just randomly gone into the account and dealt with things, or not, as the case may be, and we didn’t tell each other what we’d done, or hadn’t done. This is how we like to run things generally (we produce the blog in the same way – which probably explains a lot). However, it’s not really appropriate when you’re getting a lot of email, some of it pretty important, because messages don’t get answered and get pushed onto the next page by all the new messages where they don’t get seen etc. We have offended a few people and it needs to get sorted. You can file this bit under how not to run a feminist group. From now on we’re going to try and do them together so it might take a few days for us to answer, but we will answer, which is a bonus … most of the time anyway.

In the first weekend of July, we’re taking part in Ladyfest Cardiff. We’re down to run a workshop/discussion on the topic of feminism and sexuality and also the feminist T-shirt making stall — more on this after the emergency Ladyfest meeting. In August, we have to return to the Welsh Assembly with our recommendations for policy in relation to consent education and raising awareness about the reality of rape. We’re particularly interested in the educational side of things and also in fighting for better services in Wales for victims of rape. This means we have research to do and also networking because we want to get the support of as many other groups and organisations as possible. So from our little petition we seem to be gradually gaining a role as a lobbying group of some kind. We’re also about to start our campaign to promote feminism. We couldn’t think what else to call it, but if anyone has a snappy title, speak up. It’s going to be directed at younger women who don’t consider themselves feminists. Our graphic designer is currently creating the material and hopefully you can all have a look at it soon.

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Comments»

1. witchy-woo - June 4, 2006

Oh Winter… I have no snappy titles for you – I just want to wish all of you all the luck in the world.

2. Blage - June 5, 2006

I love the name of your blog, spent much time on the tube during my summer in London of ’86. Stop by my site, I have a bit of empowering fem art.
http://tddesigns.blogspot.com


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