What we're about
This is an inclusive book group that focuses on gender politics and feminist literature. We read a mixture of non-fiction and fiction including essays, short stories, novels and poetry. The idea is to stretch our brains a bit and generally just have a good time reading, discussing and listening to others and to make new friends. You don’t have to identify as a feminist or a woman or have any particular knowledge or background to join this group, and there's no pressure to contribute to the discussion if you'd prefer to listen. However, it is important to us that the group is welcoming to all and celebrates diversity. We will consciously use books to explore how feminism sometimes excludes marginalised communities (such as people of colour, disabled people, members of the LGBT community etc) and how it needs to grow in response to this.
Format of the meetups
We usually meet on the second Wednesday of each month. Each meetup we have a focused discussion of the chosen book and then hold a vote to decide the book for the meeting in 2 months’ time. This gives everyone 2 months to read each book. A list of potential titles is available in the "files" tab of this group, and we welcome suggestions for additions to this list!
For each meetup there is an optional contribution of £1 per person to the cost of running the group.
So that we can set up the room correctly, please change your RSVP in advance of the meeting as soon as possible if you are unable to come along.
Purpose of the group
We aim to create a safe, mixed gender space to discuss feminist books.
We are a book group
The focus of our discussions is therefore on the book as a book – its tone of voice, how well it is structured, how accessible it is, how well it communicates its message, whether it is something we would recommend to others, how it fits in around other aspects of feminism and other writings. Naturally we will also look at its content and the issues it raises. However we wish to do this while keeping reference to the book.
We are not a debating group. The purpose of the group is not to debate the need for feminism or to focus on individual feminist issues. Nor are we an activist group or a consciousness raising group. We recognise the importance of all of these different activities (and at times our discussion may touch on all of them) but we ask that members respect the purpose of the group and engage in discussion with that in mind.
We are a mixed gender group
We recognise that some people would be more comfortable in gender segregated groups. However, there are others for whom a mixed group would be more comfortable. We therefore believe it is important that both segregated and mixed gender groups exist.
We chose to run a mixed gender group because we wish to welcome people of all genders to discuss feminist books. Our queer book club (http://www.meetup.com/London-Queer-Books-Group/) has shown us that having a mixed gender group discussing gender issues results in some enlightening discussions. We hope this will be a great opportunity to learn more about the background of feminism and gender issues and explore new ideas.
Code of conduct
We have prepared the following code of conduct to help ensure that each discussion is interesting and enjoyable for everyone present. We hope that the points contained in it will seem like common sense. If you have any comments or suggestions on the code of conduct, please contact the organisers using the message function on meetup and they will take your points into consideration.
Everyone is deemed to have accepted the rules of this code of conduct when they join the group, post on webpages associated with the group and/or attend an event run by the group. If you do not accept this code of conduct you must leave the group.
We, the organisers of the group, may modify the terms of this code of conduct from time to time at our sole discretion, which we will do by updating this document and posting it on the group’s meetup page.
• We expect everyone who joins this group to accept and be comfortable with it being a book group (see above)
• We expect everyone who joins this group to accept and be comfortable with it being a mixed gender group (see above).
• You do not have to stay at a meetup event if you feel uncomfortable. You can leave at any time.
• You do not have to participate in the discussion. It is fine to just come and listen.
• Do not pressure anyone else to take part in an activity or to disclose information about themselves. Respect other people’s privacy and their boundaries.
• Do not monopolize the time of the meeting: allow others to contribute to the discussion by not interrupting, not having side conversations and not talking for an excessive amount of time.
• People will have different views and interpretations. Respect the individuality and views of others. Do not use the discussion as a vehicle to try to convince other people that they are wrong. State your view but then move on.
• Please remember that everyone is at a different stage of awareness about various issues. It is fine to point out if something is problematic, but do not assume someone is being malicious.
• If you are unsure of the pronoun someone uses we encourage you to ask them or avoid gendered language by using “they” instead of “he” or “she”. If you ask someone or are corrected about pronouns, please try to use them correctly. We expect everyone to accept a person’s self-identified gender.
• Do not shout, use offensive language, insult anyone or threaten anyone.
• Do not make negative comments or assumptions, or stereotype people on the basis of their ethnicity, class, accent, appearance, gender, disability, sexuality, religion/belief, age, lifestyle or any other factor. Bigoted behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated.
Dealing with issues
The organisers will try to deal fairly and respectfully with any issue brought to us. If you want support in challenging anyone’s behaviour or anything they’ve said, please come and talk to one of the organisers or email us via the meetup page.
Things we may do to deal with a problem:
• communicate to the people concerned that there is a problem and reiterate how we expect people in the group to behave
• ask for an apology
• delete a post
• ask the people concerned to leave you alone
• give the people concerned a warning
• exclude the people concerned from the group
These will be implemented at the discretion of the organisers. The organisers’ decision is final. We may also make reasonable requests that are not specifically included here.