We would like to make the following announcements below. After much thought and deliberation, we have decided to decentralize the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group. This means several things, which we have outlined below.
We have come to realize that we do not have enough time to properly keep this group active through in-person events in addition to managing the Facebook groups. We have chosen to move towards decentralizing the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group, which means that we will keep the Facebook group open so that anyone can hold events like book clubs, coffee chats, happy hours etc. That said, we will no longer be holding monthly events and have discontinued the 101 group since we haven’t had the time for it either. If you would like to hold your own events, please feel free to contact us for guidance.
We will be shifting the focus of the group to include more self-care activities and opportunities since many people are burning out and/or exhaustingly busy in their personal and activist lives.
The Facebook group name will stay the same for now.
In the meantime, we have revamped the guidelines for membership in addition to the rules and guidelines and our overall group policies.
Criteria for Membership
The Admins and Moderators of the Facebook group will be reviewing ALL new members to the groups. We will continue to approve all new posts to the group. If you post/comment something problematic, one of the admins/moderators will contact you to clarify any issues or to revise your posting or to delete it.
The admins/moderators reserve the right to close comments on any posts that get out of hand and devolve into slinging insults or hate speech of any kind. Please contact any admins/moderators by tagging them in posts where their voice and actions are needed.
Rules and Guidelines
Our group and community is made better by a diverse set of voices, perspectives, and opinions. Our discussions and meetups will be improved with an intersectional and diverse group of members. The participation of marginalized persons in our group including but not limited to, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disabilities, is vital to its health and is needed now more than ever. The focus of the group will be to facilitate conversations about intersectional feminism, activism, education, self-care, and event promotion in the Greater Philadelphia and Tri-State area.
We welcome people of any gender identity or expression, race, skin color, ethnicity, age, size, nationality, sexual orientation, ability level, neurotype, religion, elder status, family structure, culture, subculture, political opinion, education level, identity, and self-identification. We welcome everyone to this group. We believe in the broad spectrum of individual and collective experience and the inherent dignity of all people. We believe that amazing things happen when people from different worlds and worldviews approach each other to create a conversation.
I just wanted to let everyone know what is going on with the changes in leadership for the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group.
First and foremost, I want to announce that I am taking a step back from moderating the main PIFDG group and other leadership duties. This is something that has been on my mind for awhile as I have been struggling with the direction and purpose of the group due to the population growth since the election.
When I started the group over the summer, it was mostly comprised of a small group of friends with the shared goal of meeting monthly to have intellectual discussions about intersectional feminism. Then the election happened and interest in the group surged, which meant I had to scramble to find a bigger meeting venue and tailor the events to a growing membership. Around the same time, my grandmother died. She was my last living grandparent which made the loss all the more painful.
Since then, I have been trying to keep up, which has been made all the more difficult by my bipolar/ADD diagnosis. Maintaining balance and functionality in my life is a daily challenge. I also started a new full-time job in January after being unemployed for the better part of a year and a half, which shifted the amount of time I have to dedicate to the group.
I’ll still be around, but not active in the main group. I am focusing my energy on managing the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminism 101 subgroup given my love for research and education. Right now, the group is pretty small with about 30ish people in it, most of which are also in the main PIFDG group as well. I am working with Brielle on structuring the group appropriately in moving forward. I also will be building and maintaining the forthcoming website.
For now, Samantha Connors and Brielle Harbin will be the primary leadership contacts for PIFDG and Admins for the group. Over the next month and a half, we will be restructuring the group including: defining the group’s focus, mission and values, organizational structure, and membership process. We ask that you all be patient with us in this transition. Our goal is to use the next meeting, which will take place on May 20th, to present what we’ve come up with and solicit feedback from the group. Between now and then, all posts made to the group will need to be approved by an admin before it is visible to the larger group. We’ve implemented this policy because we want to avoid any additional conflict as we re-structure the group.
I sincerely apologize for any remarks and comments that I have made in the past and any negative impact they may have had to members of the group. I hope that you will stick with the group as we make this transition.
After several conversations on foundational support for members of the group who are new to intersectionality and feminism, we have decided to start a subgroup to share resources and conversations on a 101 level. Experienced members are welcome to join the group too if you are willing to help out in sharing resources and guiding discussions.
Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group Mission:
We are a community of intersectional feminists, dedicated to exploring and discussing issues pertaining to intersectionality, especially education, social justice, and activism. We acknowledge that some members of the group are new to intersectionality, please be respectful of members who are not new and Google things thoroughly before asking a routine question. Here is an article to help you on your journey: https://medium.com/…/intersectional-feminism-101-3a39f372bc…
See our doc with additional references and resources on intersectionality and feminism here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/1761038104165295/Intersectionality%20References%20and%20Resources/1837491256519979/
We seek to create an accessible and open space, where a broad group of voices can share their experiences in a dialogue with one another.
Rules and Guidelines
1. Our members represent many different backgrounds and experiences. Please remember to value the voices and experiences of all members. This means: listen and learn from one another. No tone policing. Listen and absorb each other’s truths.
2. Do not expect emotional labor from people of color, and other marginalized groups, to educate you. Google exists.
3. Don’t be a TERF. (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist)
4. Do not define other people’s identities and states of being.
5. Do not talk disparagingly about any marginalized groups, i.e poor, queer, non-white, genderqueer, sex workers, etc.
6. Do not address the group with gendered language.
7. Be respectful to other members of the group, whether you agree with them or not. Heated discussions are fine, but do not allow it to devolve into name-calling, intolerance, harassment or abusive/threatening behavior. Depending on the situation you will be banned from the group and reported to Facebook.
8. Always use a Trigger Warning (TW) or Content Warning (CW) if posting discussion material that may cause unwanted emotional or psychological response from another member of the group. Leave several lines of spacing between the TW or CW and the rest of the post. If the preview image could be triggering, remove it.
9. If an article is Not Safe for Work please post a NSFW comment at the beginning of your post.
10. Please bring any issues you may experience to the admins/moderators of the group via private message or by tagging us in threads and/or comments you or others deem problematic.
11. We agree to be accountable to this space and one another in our interactions, both online and in person.
If you are rolling your eyes already, please skip this note and go watch something about the Kardashian’s or whatever floats your boat.
I’ve been silent too long, for most of my life probably. I’ve been silent when I’ve heard and seen friends do unapologetic racist shit, display homophobic and transphobic behaviors, say sexist/misogynistic BS, and using ableist language in offensive ways among a host of other things. Hey you know what? We all do this shit sometimes by accident and other times out of ignorance. It’s long past due that we start checking ourselves and each other. It will be difficult, it will be uncomfortable, some feelings might get hurt, but you know what? This is a good thing. PS... If you don’t understand why certain words or expressions are offensive GOOGLE IT!!! Most of us are not etymological experts on the origins and historical use of language in addition to pop culture configurations.
Please note that I do not presume to speak for anyone other than myself, but I may refer to the experiences and words of others or pose hypothetical questions. Though I am repeatedly told that “you’re being divisive”, “not all ___ people feel that way or are offended”, or “you’re being too critical or dismissive” or “don’t speak on behalf of others” to name a few. This has led to a new hobby of mine called “arguing with other white liberal people.” Fun times!
I’ve been deeply troubled having witnessed on multiple occasions when people have realigned the argument because being inclusive, intersectional, and considerate is such a “burden.” This is pattern redirection from the issue at hand moves rapidly to self-victimization. “Oh noes, someone called me a ____ist, feel bad for me.” Well did you say or do something ___ist? Was it intentional or accidental? Well in either case that’s probably why you got called a ____ist in the first place. I know it sucks, but you are probably not the victim here. So do better next time. Apologize. Learn. Listen and do the work.
In mentally preparing for the next meeting of the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group on Saturday, I have been thinking about some things that I have observed lately and about numerous conversations that I have had recently both online and offline. Let me preface that all of which have been with other white liberal people.
There are several concepts that collectively we need to understand and address because in my experience I can admit that I have struggled with them and I have seen others struggle with them as well. It’s a process and a constant struggle, but these are some things that we should be aware of in our journey towards intersectionality.
White fragility is something that is exhibited by white people when any type of racial stress triggers a range of emotions such as anger, fear, shame, guilt, thus resulting in arguments, silence, and fleeing the situation. The end result being that the white person sees themselves as the victim in the situation.
I’ve noticed that some people seem to be annoyed by the personal “burden” of inclusivity of other people and having to consider what they say and do and how it might be offensive or alienating to them. The burden of consideration shouldn’t even be a burden. This is how white fragility plays out and I have seen it go beyond issues surrounding racial history, experience, and justice. I’ve seen well-meaning people completely offended by acknowledging the experiences and emotions of others and play themselves as the victim.
Tone policing is another difficult aspect of white fragility because when some people are confronted with expressions of anger, people feel or say that they can't/won't listen because of the “tone” of the other person. We do not get to dictate the feelings and emotions of others and how they choose to express them – which can sometimes be difficult to hear because it makes us uncomfortable.
White tears go hand in hand with white fragility. What are white tears? The expression describes what happens when certain types of white people get upset or complain about a perceived racial injustice and present themselves as the victims. This is often the result of being called out or even called in about something that was said or done. White people have historically had their emotions centered, nurtured, and coddled when it comes to conversations about race. We need to listen and learn and not get clouded by our perceived emotional superiority. No one wants to be called out or corrected harshly, but it has to happen and we have to suck it up and learn something, or change or beliefs or patterns of behavior.
White guilt/shame is the individual or collective guilt or shame felt by some white people due to the racist treatment of people of color by other white people. This takes into account both historical and current political and societal ramifications. I struggle with this all of the time, I feel guilty for my own actions in the past and for things that I see people do obliviously that make me cringe and recoil with guilt for their actions. At the end of the day, it is okay to feel guilty for these things. But, these feelings of guilt and shame should not further perpetuate white fragility. We have to move beyond this and be proactive. We cannot change the past, but we can course correct our future.
White privilege refers to societal privileges that benefit all white people. This goes beyond the experiences of and by people of color under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. As white people, we are born with privilege, granted some aspects of it will vary throughout the courses of our lives, but at the end of the day, we still benefit from being white. We have to understand this and our complicity in a society where white privilege and white supremacy reign supreme. When I say “white supremacy” I am not referring to the KKK or Neo-Nazi’s. (see below) One thing that goes along with white privilege and supremacy is coming across or being “tone deaf” in our inability to appreciate or understand the concerns or the difficulties of others making us out-of-touch. For instance, ‘All Lives Matter” is a tone-deaf statement.
White supremacy is the historical and institutional system of exploitation and oppression of people of color by white people. White supremacy maintains and defends systems of wealth, power, and privilege. This is the world that we live in and it has become impossible to ignore any longer. Like white privilege, we are a part of white supremacy whether we like it or not – it plays out in our education system, through our jobs and careers, politics, and pretty much everything else.
White feminism tends to focus on the struggles of “well-off white women” while failing to address the oppression faced by women of color, transgender or gender variant persons and those who lack other privileges. I am white and a feminist, but that does not necessarily make me a “white feminist,” but I am complicit in it and always will be because of my inherent white privilege. It will be something that I struggle with to overcome. I am sure that I will falter and fail at times, but I am determined to move beyond it, but first we must unpack white feminism in order to understand it and ourselves better.
One of the purposes of this group is to guide us towards intersectional feminism since we are all on different pages or even books. Some of us are reading the instructional manual, while others have been doing the work for decades. I urge you to think of these concepts in your everyday life – in what you say, what you do, how you respond, how you comment, and so on and so forth.
If you are having trouble with the fact that intersectionality is hard work, I applaud you – because it is hard work and it is work worth doing, keep on fighting and learning. Intersectionality illustrates all the ways that we intersect in multiple layers with ourselves and each other. It’s complicated and messy, but necessary for survival. I have seen people/friends flee situations because they are tired of the sentiment of “white women telling them to do better.” I’ve also seen this when sharing the thoughts and experiences of POC – somehow it’s “too critical” and “too divisive.” We need to do better – all of us. It can be hard moving beyond our years spent living in a world that caters to white privilege. We have to unlearn and relearn a lot. I fail at intersectionality and sometimes I succeed, but I am going to keep on trying and doing the work and helping others along the journey. Intersectionality is not meant to be divisive and it is not easy work either. This shit is hard and we will feel shitty about our words and actions sometimes and that is okay. This is how we learn and move forward.
I’ve been noticing recent trends in social media conversations and have been watching the left tear each other apart for various reasons. When I say “left” I am referring to all non-republicans. This probably won’t be a popular post, but I am going to say what I have to say anyways. This is not aimed at any one person or group of people.
In July 2016, I started the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group envisioning that it would be a small group of people getting together over coffee to discuss various feminist issues. The the election happened in November and interest in the group and our events grew exponentially. We went from 100 members to almost 700 since then between the Facebook Group, MeetUp, and Twitter accounts.
The reason I started an intersectional feminist group was due to finding that most feminist groups out there were "women only", which left transgendered persons and gay/queer feminists in a murky gray area. I wanted to be inclusive of everyone. We welcome people of any gender identity or expression, race, skin color, ethnicity, age, size, nationality, sexual orientation, ability level, neurotype, religion, elder status, family structure, culture, subculture, political opinion, education level, identity, and self-identification. We welcome everyone to this group. We believe in the broad spectrum of individual and collective experience and the inherent dignity of all people. We believe that amazing things happen when people from different worlds and worldviews approach each other to create a conversation.
Our first two events in September and October were on the topics of Intersectionality and Feminism and Men in Feminism.
Our November event was on Revisiting Intersectionality as it relates to feminism and racial justice and we relocataed to our current location at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia due to the amount of interest and RSVPs.. Carlee Myers from A Piece of Positivity Studios led a discussion on "Four Steps to Healing Collectively."
After the success of the event and growth of our group, I decided to bring on several more organizers and was joined by Samantha Connors, Jennifer Hayes, Colleen Moravec, Leticia Viloria, Brisa Smith Flores, Hollie Walls, and Keely Hooper Erades. I am in the process of on-boarding two more organizers and starting an Advisory Board/Committee to help promote diversity and outreach.
In December we changed up the format of the discussion group's events to include short talks with a variety of different speakers and the topic was Combating Sexism, Misogyny, & Rape Culture thru Local Activism. Our speakers included: Amanda Silberling from We are Watching, Lara Witt from Pussy Division, Sarah Gawricki from Project Safe, Nicole Goicuria from the March to End Rape Culture, Anna Frangiosa from Philly Socialilsts, Toby Fraser from the Lutheran Settlement House, and Rose Corrigan, a law professor from Drexel University.
In January the organizers will be meeting to discussion strategic planning for the upcoming year. Our topic for the January event is Promoting Feminism Through Political Action. Our speaker line up includes: Megan Malachi from the Philly Coaliltion for REAL Justice, Ernest Owens who is an Entertainment Columnist at BET, Editor of G Philly at Philadelphia Magazine, and TV Producer at PhillyCAM, Emily Cooper Morse from the Women's March on Philadelphia, Anna Holemans from Alice's March for Equality, Heather Boyd who is the Chief of Staff to State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D-161) and President of the DelCo NOW chapter, Samantha Connors from the Equality Coalition, and Sarah Roberts from PSN Philadelphia.
We are looking forward to everything that 2017 offers and will be launching our official website soon and announcing future events including workshops and other types of events.
Disclaimer: I am a white woman and a feminist as well as a host of other things. I am well aware that I come from a place of white privilege.
As you may know, I founded and am an organizer of the Philadelphia Intersectional Feminist Discussion Group. I started the group envisioning that it would be a small discussion group that would meet and talk about various feminist issues. Then the election happened, and we now have over 600 people between the Facebook group and the Meetup.com group. Most of which have joined since the election. Since then, I have been scrambling to bring on a diverse group of co-organizers so that we are not just another “white feminist” group. In addition, we have been making sure to have people of color as speakers as well. Our audience has been somewhat diverse, but still is predominately white. We are looking forward to creating a strategic plan for 2017 instead of flying by the seat of our collective pants on a month-to-month basis.
All of this leaves me in the quandary of how to promote diversity from within and to be inclusive of everyone. One of the reasons I started the group was because a lot of feminist groups exclude men, which puts trans people in a murky gray area and while they claim to be LGBTQ inclusive, it also excluded gay/queer men.
The question that I am struggling to answer are how to represent diversity through our organizers, speakers, and audience? This is a common problem, most people pat themselves for a job well-done if they have one or two people of color on their board or leadership teams. It’s good, but not good enough. But how do we remedy the situation? It can be awkward to approach someone from a specific group because we are trying to be inclusive. It has been pointed out that some people find it intrusive to constantly be asked to be the face of diversity in a given organization or group and to have to represent their race or group. I’ve put open calls out on numerous occasions for co-organizers for my feminist group, but am still struggling to really represent a truly diverse organizational structure, but it is something that we are working on. It would feel weird to me to put a call out for more organizers/volunteers, but only if they are, for example, a person of color. I don’t know if I am right or wrong in this assumption. It is a learning process for me since I have had to put all of this in place in just a little over a month.
Recently, I watched the live stream of a panel discussion on bring diversity to the arts in Philadelphia, and one of the speakers, who is a black women, stated how much she hates the push towards diversity in many organizations. We mean well, we want to accurately represent the diversity of our collective organizations, but sometimes we go about it all wrong. Putting myself in those shoes, I would probably categorize being constantly asked to be the face of diversity as a microaggression. Which brings me to the question of how to be inclusive without being too pushy about it.
Similar issues arise when claiming allyship and standing in solidarity with some groups. It draws into question, the power relationship, the ally has the power and the group that they are supporting may feel powerless as a result. It is all to easy to call yourself an ally and then call it a day. Actions speak louder than words and with allyship and solidarity, we must be more than just a label as we move towards intersectionality.
Simply put, intersectionality is a key issue and mode of analysis, teaching, and learning about issues surrounding race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, ethnicity, nation, religion, and age and any combination of them. This framework recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppression's and marginalization’s. The whole point of intersectionality is to recognize that no two people can say their lives are the same, ‘much less groups, and nations, but being able to create and hold space for people themselves to find their way in, and say “this is resonant for me.”
Keeping with an intersectional approach to feminism, when I first started the group, I researched diversity statements and came up with this:
“Our group and community is made better by a diverse set of voices, perspectives, and opinions. Our discussions and meetups will be improved with an intersectional and diverse group of members. The participation of other voices and experiences is vital to its health and is needed now more than ever. Feminism isn’t just for white women anymore and we welcome you all to participate in the discussion.”
“We welcome people of any gender identity or expression, race, skin color, ethnicity, age, size, nationality, sexual orientation, ability level, neurotype, religion, elder status, family structure, culture, subculture, political opinion, education level, identity, and self-identification. We welcome everyone to this group. We believe in the broad spectrum of individual and collective experience and the inherent dignity of all people. We believe that amazing things happen when people from different worlds and world-views approach each other to create a conversation.”
It is not a perfect diversity statement by any means and still could use some work, but it is a start. Now, how do we practice what we preach?
I know we face a long journey as we move away from "white feminism" and move towards intersectional feminism. We need to be inclusive and involve everyone in our actions and conversations. We will sometimes fail in order to be truly inclusive, but we must learn from our mistakes and open our eyes to realities beyond our own.
Tell me what you think... any and all advice will be much appreciated.
If you are new to intersectionality and feminism, this list contains articles, videos, and podcasts about intersectionality and feminism. It is not complete by any means, so if we missed something, please post a link in the comments.