Mind the Gap, a group blog and real-life group based in Cardiff, have a really interesting post on the trials and tribulations of setting up a feminist group, covering issues such as whether the group should be affiliated to a University, how to attract members, and how to define the purpose and aims of the group.
I was especially interested in the comments on the difficulties and problems in ensuring the group is inclusive to all feminists – something that is of great concern to me on this website and in the London based feminist networking group London Third Wave, which I was involved with setting up (along with many other people).
I heartily recommend the post to anyone thinking of setting up a similar group, and would add the following suggestions / comments:
1. Right at the beginning, explicitly agree whether your group will include men or whether it will be women only, because different people have different assumptions about a feminist group which may not be the same as yours. It sounds strange to put this first, but it’ll save a lot of time and arguments later on. Trust me on this!
2. Also at the start, decide what the aim of your group is and be clear about it. Is it going to be a discussion group, a social group offering friendship and support, or an active campaigning group, or a mixture of both?
3. As the writer on Mind the Gap said, be clear about whether the group will be open to all feminist views or only certain ones. It’s likely that some people will join the group and then leave because they were expecting a certain kind of feminism to the one they found. If you clearly state the group is diverse (or not as the case may be) then hopefully this misunderstanding won’t arise.
4. The internet is a useful tool but the benefits come from meeting in real life. Internet groups can be as useful as a modern day consciousness raising group, but feminism has to be about more than t’internet, especially if the group is based in a particular local area.
5. For internet discussions it’s often useful to agree some principles by which the members must abide. It sounds silly but sometimes some ground rules can help if arguments get out of hand.
I’d be interested to hear any other suggestions and will share them if I can.