Monday, December 7, 2009

Womyn's Caucus

IMPACT! upheld an important tradition started by previous organizers in Petaluma by having our first Womyn's Caucus on December 3, 2009. Not only is it tradition, but creating these safe spaces is part of IMPACT's vision and statement of principles. Originally, the idea of caucuses developed years ago after some Petaluma folks from various organizations began working with United Students Against Sweatshops(USAS). USAS held national, state and regional conferences to facilitate campaigns and gain more effective organizing skills. A key component were the different caucuses hosted throughout the conference. Now what is a caucus you may be wondering?!

"A caucus is a space to address the oppression of minority and marginalized groups within society and often even within social movements." (UASA)

"Simply put, a caucus is a safe space for people facing different forms of identity-based oppression—sexism, racism, heterosexism, or classism—to meet and discuss how this oppression affects them both within and outside of our organization, personally and politically. Membership in a caucus is self-defined. No one should feel the need to prove their identity; however, it is important that everyone respects the need for marginalized groups of people to have safe spaces. " (UASA)

That said, IMPACT! womyn got together over tea and trail mix to discuss what we wanted from a Womyn's Caucus, why it's important, boundaries, definition of "safety," womyn's issues (personally and politically), different locations to meet so that it's more inclusive to the community, to keep the age range of people attending to high school and college age womyn and to meet twice a month. However, if practical in the future, there was some interest in doing outreach to younger, middle school students.

Ultimately, everyone attending agreed it is critical for womyn to have a safe space to discuss issues of oppression with other womyn. However, we also agreed that it's not enough to just have a space, but rather, it's more effective, healing, and important to have a radical venue that can acknowledge and incorporate other oppressions, is peer based, nonhierarchical and has a focus to build community and leadership.

Our next Womyn's Caucus will be held next Thursday, December 17, Location TBA, and will most likely be a little more silly and fun, so all you interested lady readers, please comment for more info!

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