Toronto Feminists

Blast from the Past

Remember that scene in the (original) Stepford Wives where Katharine Ross and her buddy get together all the neighbourhood wives to incite a little discontent with cookie-baking and baby-making?  Love it.  Love it!

The Chicago Women’s Liberation Union has posted a 1971 guide to starting your own Consciousness-raising group.  Darn it, I just wanna jump right in and do it!

Well, I mean that’s kinda what I envision our meetup as anyway but there are little differences that are intriguing that I’m curious about pursuing.  Like the fact that it’s so personal.  That’s what drives us to actually pursue feminism – the personal experiences that tell us something’s up – and the sharing and support aspect really draws from a women’s tradition that gives colour and character and strength to what we’re doing.  On the flip side, the meetup is limited in generating the intimacy of this kind of gathering promoted.  There’s a good chance you won’t wanna dredge up your issues in Tequila Bookworm or any other public place, and the composition of the group is a little core and then a satellite of new people so you have to consider your comfort and security with sharing personal stuff with people you really don’t know.

I think a lot of women would say “Well, that’s what I talk with my girlfriends for.”  But I think there’s a big difference in the way you’d process this stuff in a consciousness-raising group where there really is the aim of analyzing it to politicize yourself.

It would be interesting to hear from someone who participates in a modern-day equivalent, and gang take a look at the suggested questions in that link:  delightfully dated.  I’d like to hear how you’d update them.  Give it a go!

-Tara

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Written by torontofeminists

May 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi there,

    I think this is a great idea. Are you suggesting that this be restricted to women only? I have suggested some questions below that would include men as well. There are a few questions that might require a certain level of trust before people might feel comfortable to share.

    I have and do participate in a similar type of group (not a feminist group but a women’s group). What will be important will be to have guidelines for discussion that would include confidentiality, respect for other opinions, using “I” statements, and others as agreed by the group.

    Questions:
    If you are in a relationship (or relationships), why that person (or those people)?
    What are your own personal values? What qualities do you value most in other people?
    How do you feel people see you?
    How did you learn as a little girl what “feminine” meant? Or How did you learn as a little boy what “masculine” meant?
    Do you worry about being “truly feminine”? Do you worry about being “truly masculine”?
    What does “femininity” mean to you in terms of your own life? What does “masculinity” mean to you in terms of your own life?
    What were you like as a young child? What behaviours were encouraged and which were discouraged?
    Who taught you about sex and what did they teach you?
    What is a “nice girl”? Were you a “nice girl”? Do you care if you are a “nice girl”? (not sure of the equivalent for men)
    Do you compete with other women?/Do you compete with other men? In what ways?
    Who was Sojourner Truth? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Who is bell hooks? Judith Butler? Vandana Shiva? Judy Rebick…
    What do we know about our history as women?
    What does it mean ( to you) to be a woman? Are there times when you feel more like a woman? Less like a woman? /What does it mean (to you) to be a man? Are there times when you feel more like a man? less like a man?

    Let me know what you think.

    Nora

    torontofeminists

    May 27, 2008 at 10:34 pm

  2. Yeah, Nora, that sounds like exactly the good stuff. Is the group you belong to open to new people or are you suggesting we riff on this in our group? I really hadn’t even considered that guidelines would be important but it seems so obvious now that you’ve pointed it out. Good call.

    Tara

    p.s. are you the Nora I know or the Nora I don’t know?

    Tara

    May 28, 2008 at 10:52 pm


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