Sunday, 25 November 2007

First meeting of the London pro-feminist group minutes

3/11/07 @ Café in The Crypt

Present: Jim, Jon, Kat, Matt, Richard, Robin, Tony

1) Discussion

We discussed how we can’t just focus on our own guilt and responsibility for sexism and that we’ve got to do stuff to challenge and ultimately change the bigger structures in society that shape gender inequality. This means changing things like the economic system, child care provision and responsibilities, advertising and media, schooling and other processes of socialisation etc.

In some ways it’s like environmentalism. There are individual changes that we can make (like reducing waste and saving energy) and these can be multiplied across many individuals to make big changes. However, there are other things that individuals can’t really affect on their own like the conduct of governments and large corporations. We therefore need to do things that focus on the big picture as well as our own lives.

The group should ultimately try to facilitate both these things – individual changes and political activities focused on the rest of society.

One practical thing we could do is go along to the Reclaim the Night rally (this is held at the end of the women’s only march against rape and male violence) and have a visible presence, maybe a banner or some placards, that would identify us to other men.

We also discussed the way in which individual changes in our lifestyles, attitudes, actions and relationships might make a small change (but are still very important) but that through inter connections with other people those ideas can potentially spread very rapidly across a large number of people. This idea is based on a book called “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and explains how certain trend setters have the ability to make an idea catch on very quickly amongst a large number of people.

These are just a few brief notes and don’t do our conversation justice at all – really it’s just a taste for those of you who sadly missed out!

2) Information Points

Reclaim the Night march, is a women’s only march against rape and male violence and is happening on Saturday 24th November. Men are welcome at the rally at University of London Union afterwards for a rally and after party! We are also welcome to volunteer as stewards and some of us have already committed to doing this. It would be an obvious practical thing the group could do to support the women’s march and show solidarity with what they’re doing.

The White Ribbon Campaign is starting on 25th November which is the international day for the elimination of violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign UK is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. There will be events in London and throughout the whole country for the 16 days following the 25th and Jon will be meeting with the UK campaign’s organiser this week to discuss how we can be involved.

3) Action Points

It was decided that we’d look into making placards and/or a banner for the rally after the Reclaim The Night March. Richard will speak to people at his art college about helping us with this.

We need to decide what to call the group – or at least what to write on the banner/placards – any suggestions? We could just be “London pro-feminist Group” or “London Men’s pro-feminist group” or London Men Against Sexism”.

Jon will also find out if there is a meeting space available at the London Action Resource Centre for a second meeting and send out the details to everyone.

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