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I am starting a feminist forum at an ultra-conservative university. Do you have any suggestions for activities or discussion areas for the first meeting? I am a young feminist and have never been to feminist meetings before. I afraid our first meeting will be like "the blind leading the blind."

Most feminist forums are a combination of the personal and the political...they begin with a "why are we all here" and "who are we." This helps to break down an otherwise "stuffy" and impersonal environment--and encourages an understanding environment. In the 70s the model was CR (conciousness raising) groups, where women sat around their kitchen tables sharing stories about their lives. Inevitably they discovered that they weren't alone and that what was happening in their personal lives was linked to a larger political context. The issues that arise the most--discrimination in the work place, not knowing our history, sex, disagreements in the family--are the ones that then deserve the most discussion and maybe even should be the focus of your next forum. (I'm not sure if this is something that you want to be continued or a one-time deal.)

If you have people in the room that have gathered under the umbrella heading of "feminist forum" it is likely that you will have more allies than enemies and the evening will take a life of its own. My one recommendation would be to spend time collaborating with those who think mostly like you...and don't spend too much time with those who you clearly will never see eye to eye with. Good luck.


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