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Women's Alliance(21 Posts)
A PR person of my acquaintance (male, starting to get it) observed yesterday that given the choice between 20 small pissed off groups and one large, well-funded one, he'd always choose to deal with the scattered groups.
Also that husbands and partners standing outside women's events as a protective cordon would be practically and symbolically useful.
Got me thinking - we have lots of grassroots groups who are important and specialist, and a couple of larger groups, but maybe we need to affiliate formally and speak with a single, louder voice?
The power of having thousands of individuals and small groups is that there is no one chain and no one week link.
It's impossible to break up a group when there isn't one.
Very true too. I was thinking more of getting into the room when all this shitty policy is being decided.
Coming together behind a representative, that sort of thing.
I would like to see this too. I think it would give us more power if we had some kind of alliance.
The idea of having husbands and partners (presumably male?) standing outside women's events as a protective cordon would be practically useless and symbolically awful.
Women's campaigning for our rights are doing so in opposition to patriarchy and the imposition of gender stereotypes. Men being the protective cordon is the opposite of that.
There's a place for men in solidarity with women, but the protective cordon isn't it.
There are opportunities for organisations and campaigns to have our say on policy formation. The trans lobby has been very effective in influencing policy, despite having a multiplicity of organisations and campaigns (in fact, some would say that this has been an advantage to them), albeit that gaining Stonewall was a massive boost. The equivalent would be if we could get Fawcett to fight for women!
* Also that husbands and partners standing outside women's events as a protective cordon would be practically and symbolically useful.*
This undermines the very core of feminism imo. However I am making an assumption that feminism would be at the core of the larger group? If not, what key initiative would unite these smaller groups?
I think an alliance whose purpose was to promote and provide space for smaller groups to run their own actions, may be a good idea.
The main issue with this really is that we have already seen group fragmentation and that we don't all get along. So if the alliance is promoting one group which another group doesn't like, would they withdraw from the alliance?
This is kind of what the resisters are as well isn't it? Local resister groups under an umbrella?
Informal alliances may be less problematic.
My friend was trying to think, as a guy, of what he might do to give visible support to his partner without taking over or imposing his voice. He was pretty horrified by the idea of secret locations and meetings being intimidated. Agree would need careful handling but I thought the perspective was interesting.
There was a workshop at Women's Liberation 2020 run by Michael Conroy (of Men at Work) and David Challen (who with Justice for Women fought for his mother's freedom) about how men can have solidarity women without talking over etc... I think there might be some useful materials come out of that workshop. Generally, I think the advice to men is speak up, but particularly speak up for the right of women to speak and amplify women's voices. And listen too.
I also think we have to be careful not to overplay the threat to women's meetings - particularly because it unnecessarily puts off women from attending.
Yes, some of our meetings have been threatened, and sometimes venus have cancelled at the last minute and we've had to scramble to find another. And yes, there have been some obnoxious protests. But there have also been meetings with no protest at all, and events with venues published in advance and completely benign protests.
The success of Women's Liberation 2020 does also mean we may be moving into a situation where venue details can be advertised more openly.
I hope so, Plonit - that would be the best outcome. And I will have a look for those materials.
Still think there's something in an informal alliance though.
I think on one level, and certainly when I was younger I thought this, Alliances offer the opportunity for smaller voices to be fed through a shared mouth piece.
But as far as I am aware, nearly every alliance or network that has set out with best intentions of being representative of the smaller groups, ie being committed to amplifying members voices, nearly always gets turned round and in no time is directing the direction and "policies" of the alliance / network.
This is more likely if it gets as far as having paid officials, or gets a grant of something. eg I am sure Stonewall started out as being representative of its members, then over time with people being employed, they get swept up in the gravy train of securing grants or whatever. I may be wrong but I dont think there is one alliance or network that hasn't gone down, or drifted in that way.
Also in what used to be called the voluntary sector, now called the third sector of which women service providers are a part, funders and local government positively encourage the setting up of an agreed mouthpiece. Many of the groups (called 2nd tier groups) in the theird sector are artificially creations that members who are part of a common funding stream have to join. And it ends up with these 2nd tier groups basically doing the work of funders, ie telling service providers what their aims should be. In fact there was such a growth in 2nd tier groups, that it lead to 3rd tier groups being formed to represent the representatives. And all it has done is isolated front line services from being heard.
I know this isn't quite the same as a political alliance, but too often egos get in the way, and what should be more like the role of facilitating various voices coming together as a chorus about an issue, becomes someones ego trip.
But it is true the media and politicians love them as it is a shorthand way for them to say they have consulted with a community of interests.
maybe we need to affiliate formally and speak with a single, louder voice?
Good luck trying to get all the groups to cooperate with each other! Sadly, it's never going to happen.
Some of the groups can't stand each other and won't stand on the same platform.
This was the subject of a (very drunk) conversation I had with some friends recently. What we were thinking of was a declaration that we’d try and get all the disparate grass roots groups, all the big “respectable” organisations, and all the high-profile individuals to sign up to, along the lines of “we are women fighting for women’s rights above all else, and we won’t allow ourselves to be distracted from that by stupid hyped-up internal arguments”. We haven’t got around to doing anything more about it yet, but I think it would be incredibly powerful. Exactly as teawamutu says, a Women’s Alliance that could say, we aren’t a hive mind and we don’t agree on everything, but we absolutely stand united on this.
But I agree with resisterpersister about the male security. No thank you. I’ve seen some absolutely awesome female security on the Women’s March and from Get the L Out, and I trust those women not to turn protection into dominance. It’s nice that men want to support us, but they should do it from the sidelines, as observers and amplifying voices. Not in charge, not in the centre, not leading.
I agree with the comments about supporting individual groups whose politics and aims you agree with, and thought as someone on facebook I should make more of an effor to like / follow such groups. It help give them and others a sense of the fact that they aren't some fringe group but a group that many women share their aims.
Also, there are some existing Women's Alliances, and in my mind they are all some how linked to left / TU groups which isn't necessarily true.
I think in recent years the non sectarian women's alliance that grew out of the troubles in NI was one of the most sucessful. So whether that was because they had a common aim of ending violence rather than trying to match up different political aims I dont know. For some years after they would often be held up and consulted as offering a template of how women could come together across sectatian divides because of having a shared perspective as women.
I mention them because there is now an alliance of women in NI called reclaim the agenda. But each of their aims is so broadly described that it could encompass women with very different politics as to how to achieve them.
1. To live free from poverty
2. To live free from discrimination
3. To have healthcare services that meet our particular needs
4. To live our lives free from domestic and sexual violence and abuse
5. To live in a society where women are equally represented as decision maker
6. To have access to good, affordable and flexible childcare provision
There's an Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk - Agenda, but how that is different from EVAW I'm not sure.
There's also the National Assembly of Women who have links to the TU / Labour - and for some strange (though not really given that they are socialist feminists) WPUK worked with in planning the recent conference. (which is probably why it was more like a Socialist Education Camp than a women's liberation conference!) www.sisters.org.uk/index.html
And it seems that the National Alliance of Women's Organistions which used to be the recognised group the Government would consult with, but dont any more. Well at least not formally because it looks like the some Government departments still do. Maybe a few terfs should try and infiltrate! nawo.org.uk/
I'm not sure if you were actually at the conference stumbledin, but WPUK worked with UCL Women's Liberation Special Interest Group, National Assembly of Women, Southall Black Sisters, FiLiA and Centre for Women's Justice to put on the event.
The idea that it was a Socialist Education Camp isn't really reflected in the content of the conference or in the reports coming out of it from women who went.
I am refering to the structure of the conference which bore no relationship to the original Women's Liberation Conferences.
The agenda was highly structure and hierarchical based on who WPUK as socialists feminists thought were appropriate to "lead". All of they "worked" with operate on a similar top down approach.
Had it been a women's liberation conference the content would have been based on what those attending decided for themselves were what they wanted to talk about and prioritise.
In fact FWR has far more in common with the practice of women's liberation. ie anyone is able to suggest topics or issues to be discussed. And some take up the option and some dont.
In practice socialist feminists have always the liberal arm of women's liberation, ie prioritising how women should work within existing male structures, rather than the women trapped into working in those structure can challenge them. The BBC ones were a prime example. Let alone being told how to work within Party Political Structures!
Just think of who wasn't there and the very deliberate structure not to give delegates a voice. Or, even more bizzarely any attempt to widen their primary campaign work and take it to another level. Instead it institutionalised the concept that there are a few stars / leaders and the rest of us are just foot soldiers.
It is what is called a misdirection.
I think quite a few women are trying to work out what their motive was / is.
Have never understood when mumsnetters are so challenging online to each other and to outside issues, that they turn into model pupils in real life and accept that teacher nows best.
But I do know that in virtually any situation where women have the opportunity to be together they have a positive experience.
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