My Body Is Mine: A March for Freedom from Sexual Violence

Thank you to everyone who joined the march for freedom against sexual violence on April 11, 2015!

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Here’s the story: Friday evening April 10th, we gathered for an art-making event at 8th & Argyle, a women-owned artists cooperative. We enjoyed music, vegan treats, and took part in some inspired poster and puppet making. Freedom Arts / Arte de Libertad brought paint, cardboard, and their social justice art making expertise.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Freedom Arts, it’s headed up by the fabulous Bobbi Negrón and Jairo Robles (photos below). We are so lucky to have them here in Nashville! They also work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida and with our very own Workers’ Dignity/ Dignidad Obrera and Nashville Fair Food here at home.

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NFC came prepared with a number of slogans and many people chose to write their own messages.

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It’s not a march without a puppet. Marie, Bobbi, and others worked hard on our puppet with a “stop sexual violence now” message.

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As usual Rafi stole the show as the littlest and cutest (sorry everybody else!) feminist in the room.

The following day, April 11th, we prepared for the march. Whitney led us in a security training while folks gathered at the base of the Capitol at Bicentennial Park. When we arrived we were approached by a state trooper who explained this was state property – oops! None of the planners had ever led an action, so much capacity was built, many mistakes were made, and we learned so much. Thanks to everyone for bearing with us, despite all the hiccups: choosing a meeting point in full sun, not specifying clearly which part of the park to meet in, marching too far a distance, setting a pace that was too quick, etc.

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Hiccups and all, once we got started we were a vision.

We marched to Gay Street and around the Davidson County Criminal Justice Center. We stopped so that Whitney could read a speech that another member of NFC wrote about sexual assault in prison.

[TRANSCRIPT] “We stand here, outside of the Criminal Justice Center, to acknowledge that while we often turn to policing, jails and prisons as a response to sexual violence they are in fact themselves, purveyors of sexual violence. The stark realities are often masked by a culture that has made prison rape a running punch line.

Just last August, Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was arrested and charged with 32 sex crimes against at least 13 black women who had criminal histories of drug use and prostitution.[1] His assaults escalated from groping to rape and he returned to and re-victimized some of the same women, using threats of jail to illicit compliance.  At the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama it was recently revealed that corrections officers had raped, beaten and harassed women for at least 18 years and sex was used as currency for basic supplies such as toilet paper and tampons.[2]

Sexual assaults by law enforcement cannot be written off as isolated incidents but must be understood as part of the state violence of policing and incarceration. The U.S. incarcerates more of its people than any other country in the world—mostly poor people and disproportionately people of color. Most often charged with non-violent crimes, nearly 1 in 10 people in jail and prison—men, women, and youth—suffer sexual violence while incarcerated, queer and trans people disproportionately so.[3]  For those who have experienced sexual violence prior to or during incarceration, strip and cavity searches are re-traumatizing violations.

Incarceration strips people of their bodyright—saying in essence, “your body is not yours, it belongs to the state.” To create safe and healthy communities, we must stand in solidarity with all victims and survivors of sexual violence.*

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Then we swung back to 4th Ave, turned left to head towards Broadway, marched up Broadway to 8th, then on to Legislative Plaza, and back to Bicentennial.

Chants included: “Hey, Hey. Ho, Ho. / Sexual assault has got to go” …. “Our bodies. Our lives. / We will not be compromised” …. “1‐2‐3‐4 / We won’t take it anymore! / 5‐6‐7‐8 / No more violence! / No more hate!”

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At Legislative Plaza, Cristina, an organizer for Workers’ Dignity, shared a few words (thanks to Brenda for translating!) about the global fight against gender-based violence and how it’s important that we work across borders.

And Whitney talked about HB 1239/SB 981, a bill being considered this session in Tennessee that would create a protocol for the collection and testing of sexual assault evidence kits.

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At the conclusion of the march, we gathered for a Speak Out where survivors shared stories and everyone rallied in support. Olusola invited everyone to “MY BODY IS MINE: BEAUTIFUL, mystical magical, (W)holy” on Friday, April 24, 7:00 pm at Vanderbilt Divinity School. My Body is Mine is a creative arts gathering of poetry, dramatic readings, music, painting, dance, and community art making that seeks to empower women, speak out against domestic and sexual violence, and declare that all bodies are sacred. When broken bodies come together, we can all be made whole.

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News Channel 5 was there filming the event and covered our action on the 10 o’clock news. Watch the coverage here: News Channel 5: Survivors of Sexual Assault Rally In Downtown Nashville.

Please join us throughout the month as we continue to raise awareness about sexual violence. Stop Violence Period!


*For more information, see:
[1] Prosecutors File Six Additional Felony Counts Against OKC Officer
[2] Troubles at Women’s Prison Test Alabama
[3] Report: Nearly 10 percent of inmates suffer sexual abuse.

Posted in Activism, Art, Feminism, Violence | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

#NashvilleSAAM #StopViolencePeriod

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

For the month of April, Nashville Feminist Collective will be participating in the ‪#‎30DaysOfSAAM‬ – the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC) Instagram contest. For daily themes – check the NSVRC’s Facebook pagewebsite, or this flyer.

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For graphics to download and use for your profile picture in honor of #SAAM, click here.

We have a whole calendar of events this month, including #SAAM trivia, a #TakeBackTheBars bar crawl, a protest/visibility march, a reading/discussion group, and more! Check out what we’ve got planned at our Stop Violence Period page.


Stop Violence Period

stopviolenceperiod Also happening this month: we are launching a new project! Stop Violence Period is a collective and scattered performative action(s) that seeks to stop violence against women and girls, bring awareness to the both disparate and intersectioned economies of violence, and to spring forth the hope of peace, justice and safety in the world. In doing so, we intend to transgress normative boundaries of respectability and outrage sensibilities. We will not be silent, period. Twitter: @noviolencperiod Instagram: @stopviolenceperiod Gmail: stopviolenceperiod@gmail.com In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and inspired by Elonë in Germany (read her story featured in Huff Post), our first project seeks to bring awareness to the horror of sexual violence. Look for our maxi pads around town this month.

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Follow us on Instagram @nashvillefeministcollective and @stopviolenceperiod AND put up your own maxi pads with your own messages and tag us so we can repost! Let’s cover this town in sexual assault awareness, y’all. #SAAM #NashvilleSAAM #MyBodyIsMine #StopViolencePeriod

Posted in News | Tagged , ,

Legislation to Watch This Session in TN

Following Women’s Day on the Hill yesterday we were inspired to put together a list of legislation that feminists might be interested in following, supporting, opposing, and/or lobbying. There are a whopping 12 bills (!!!) aimed at limiting abortion access, but there’s much more on the agenda affecting women in TN than just abortion.

You don’t have to be affiliated with an organization to lobby, but if you’d prefer to go with a group, Planned Parenthood has a lobby day on March 10th. For those of you who are interested in lobbying, here are 1o Basic Tips for the Occasional Lobbyist.

To follow any or all of these bills, visit The Tennessee General Assembly and create a My Bills profile. This tool allows users to create a personalized list of bills to follow through the legislative process. Additionally, users can subscribe to committee calendars and view agendas.

Our Watch List:

HB 974/SB 1159 Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce and Labor CommitteeThis bill explicitly require employers to reasonably accommodate employees with conditions related to pregnancy when necessary to keep a worker safe, healthy, and employed. Read more from abetterbalance.org‘s fact sheet on Pregnancy Discrimination in Tennessee. If you’re a voter in TN, sign this online petition in support of the PWFA to US Senator Lamar Alexander.

HB 557/SB 663 Family and Medical Leave Feasibility Study – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Health Committee and the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. This bill requires the commissioner of labor and workforce development to study the feasibility of the development or implementation of a paid family and medical leave program at the state level. Read more from abetterbalance.org‘s fact sheet on Paid Family Leave in Tennessee: Studying the Issue.

HB 1353/SB 1394 Access to Prenatal Care – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Health Committee and the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. This bill directs the Dept. of Health’s commissioner to develop a plan for ensuring that 90% of pregnant women in TN have access to prenatal care.

HB 552/SB 662 Paid Leave Policies Supporting Parental Involvement in Children’s School Activities – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee and the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. This bill equires an employer to grant four hours leave per year to any employee who is a parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis of a school-aged child so that the employee may attend or otherwise be involved at the child’s school.

HB 296/SB 371 LGBT Anti-Discrimination Protections – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee and the Senate Judiciary CommitteeThis bill adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination or harassment in employment, public accommodations, housing, financing, insurance, education, in places where alcoholic beverages are consumed, real estate, public utilities, tax exemptions, the profession of healing arts, health facilities, and welfare in the state.

HB 1159/SB 1037 Require Bullying Policies and Consistent Reporting – SUPPORT
This bill would require school districts to develop policies against harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying. According to the TN Equality Project, students need a clear way to report bullying without getting in trouble. The first statewide bullying report compiled in 2013 from school districts showed a wide variety of approaches. Some districts reported 0 cases of bullying, which is not realistic. Moreover, we need more specificity in the reports, i.e. why the student is being bullied — race, appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, etc. We can’t accurately address what we’re not measuring.

HB0539/SB1033 Mandated Education for Early Childhood Illness Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Insurance and Banking Committee and the Senate Health and Welfare CommitteeCytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital viral infection in the United States, yet only 14% of women have heard about it. According to the CDC, 1 out of 150 children is born with congenital CMV, which places them at risk of blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities and even death. This virus is preventable. AWAKE has proposed a bill that requires healthcare professionals who care for pregnant women and/or women who may become pregnant to provide information to patients regarding CMV prevention and symptoms. Read more: CMV Fact Sheet.

HB 217/SB 428 Protecting Victims of Domestic Abuse Strangulation – SUPPORT
Recognizing that victims of strangulation are seven times more likely to become homicide victims, AWAKE has drafted legislation to strengthen our strangulation law to make prosecution of this extremely dangerous crime safer for survivors. Assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read more: Strangulation Fact Sheet.

HB 754/SB 1160 Removing Barriers to Treatment for Sex Trafficking & Abuse Survivors – SUPPORT
Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Criminal Justice Committee. AWAKE is proposing legislation that would help survivors of sex crimes who were convicted of aggravated prostitution recover from both substance and physical abuse and receive longterm treatment and screenings for HIV under enhanced probation for ten years. This approach to offender rehabilitation would remove them from the sex offender registry, which prevents these survivors from receiving medical care, recovering from their abuse, and engaging in their communities as parents and employees. Read more: Aggravated Prostitution Fact Sheet.

HB 387/SB 256 Extends Term of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women – SUPPORT
This bill failed in the Senate committee yesterday making national news — Think Progress and HuffPost — for the question asked by Sen. Mike Bell (R) “With women making up 51 percent of the population of the state, why don’t we have a men’s economic council?” The council publishes a monthly newsletter on their website.

HB 218/SB 1089 Prohibits Custody of Child to Person Charged with Child Abuse – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Civil Justice Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prohibits the court from awarding any form of custody to a parent who is charged with or indicted for aggravated child abuse, sexual abuse of a child, or severe child sexual abuse while the charge or indictment is still pending.

SB 1121/HB 554 Eliminates Custody for the Rapist of a Child Conceived from Rape – SUPPORT
Assigned to the House Civil Justice Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Eliminates the rights of custody, visitation, and inheritance for persons convicted of aggravated rape, rape, or rape of a child from which crime the child was conceived; permits the child’s other parent to request reasonable visitation with the convicted parent; requires a court to establish a child support obligation for the convicted parent.

HB 1239/SB 981 Mandates Rape Evidence Lab Testing within 60 Days – SUPPORT
This bill requires that either a healthcare provider or law enforcement agency must submit rape kits for testing within sixty (60) days of being prompted by a victim of sexual assault to go forward with the case. As reported in the Tennessean, past rape kit testing has been delayed years. Indeed, a report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found more than 9,000 untested rape kits in the state of TN, some dating back 30 years.

HB 566/SB 397 Religious Opt Out of Counseling LGBT Youth at Public Universities – OPPOSE
This bill allows counseling, psychology, and social work students at Tennessee public universities to opt out of serving clients based on the students’ religious beliefs. This bill is bad for clients who may feel additional stigma because they are being rejected by a counselor at a time when they need help. This bill targets LGBT clients. SB0586/ HB1340 

Amendment to Increase Criminalization of Existing “Pregnancy Criminalization Law” – OPPOSE
Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Criminal Justice Committee. This bill requests an amendment to the existing pregnancy criminalization law that would add use by pregnant woman of methamphetamine to a list of substances/behaviors subject to prosecution for assault. The first woman arrested under the pregnancy criminalization law in Tennessee was charged for methamphetamine use after she and her newborn tested positive even though methamphetamine was not included under the law at that time. This bill puts new moms struggling with addiction in jail rather than prioritizing affordable access to effective treatment options so they can get the help they need and stay with their families.  Read more: “The State Where Giving Birth Can Be Criminal.”

SB0587/ HB1344 Dept. of Health Commissioner to Report on “Pregnancy Criminalization Bill” – MONITOR/OPPOSE
This bill was recommended to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee requiring the commissioner of health to be in consultation with medical licensing bodies, district attorney’s general, and the commissioner of mental health and substance abuse services about how the pregnancy criminalization law impacts how pregnant women access health care.

HB 948/SB 716, HB1368/SB1280, HB 50/SB 69 Facility Requirements for Abortion Providers – OPPOSE
These bills would require that abortion only be performed in facilities that are licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers (ASTC), a medically unnecessary requirement that is not grounded in evidence-based care. Read more about Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws at the Guttmacher Institute and why these types of regulations often have the effect of unnecessarily shutting down clinics. For a state-by-state breakdown of TRAP laws, including TN, see this fact sheet.

HB 2/SB 775 Mandated Ultrasounds for Abortions  – OPPOSE
This bill requires that a person undergo a transabdominal ultrasound before they seek an abortion. It is wrong for politicians to tell a woman that she has to endure a procedure that is not medically necessary and that she may not want. It contradicts the principle of informed consent and interferes with the doctor/patient relationship.

HB 989/SB 1190, SB 13 Delaying Access to Abortion with Mandatory Waiting Periods – OPPOSE
These bills interfere with the informed consent process and forces people to delay accessing services. It is not the place of politicians to determine what type of information should be read or shared during a health care visit. Women take the decision to seek abortion seriously. We should offer respect and support, not more barriers to health services.

HB0480/SB1201 Restricting Private Clubs from Locating Within 1000 Feet of Schools or Churches OPPOSE
Sponsored by Democrats Rep. Beck and Sen. Yarbro, this bill is aimed to put restrictions on a privately owned swingers club in Nashville. The definition of “Private Club” specifically targets one club due to the sexual practices of consenting adults. This bill targets a business due to stigma against a sexual minority community.

HB 336/SB 213 Terminates the Advisory Committee on Women’s Health – OPPOSE
The National Conference of State Legislatures explains, at least 17 state legislatures have created or authorized an office or commission of women’s health, including Tennessee. State initiatives on women’s health can provide many different roles, including developing agendas on women’s health issues, providing policy guidance to the governor, state legislature or the department of health; serving as a clearinghouse and resource for information on women’s health for the public; and overseeing and identify funding sources for direct health care services.

HB 756 Prohibits Serving Alcohol to Pregnant Women – OPPOSE 
Creates a Class A misdemeanor to serve alcoholic beverages or beer to a pregnant woman for consumption on the premises. Heavy drinking is linked to negative birth outcomes, but research does not show increased risks for light alcohol consumption. Fetal protection laws infringe on the mother’s personhood and interfere with a pregnant woman’s autonomy. This is a public health issue not requiring a criminal justice response.

** What other legislation should we feminists be watching? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!!

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Posted in Feminism, Politics | Tagged , , , , ,

First Ever Trans Visibility March in Tennessee

Yesterday, February 22nd, was the first ever trans visibility march in Tennessee. The event was planned by the Tennessee Trans Journey Project (TNTJ), headed by LaSaia Wade, Executive Director. LaSaia founded the organization last year in response to the killing of Gizzy Fowler, a trans woman found dead in Bordeaux, a Nashville suburb, last November.

Over a hundred trans folks and allies were in attendance. The group started at Legislative Plaza and marched west down Church Street.

Marisa Richmond attended and spoke during the march. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Marisa, she’s a lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, professor of History and Women’s and Gender studies at MTSU, and the first openly transgender person to win an election in the history of the State of Tennessee.

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photo (right): LaSaia Wade, Executive Director TNTJ

Rj Robles also spoke, saying: “We must build solidarity, but we must act now because my life deserves more, all our lives fucking deserve more. Let us be angry, let us struggle, not one more, let us breathe, but let us show love today to all trans people. And let us continue to fight for our rights until we get it right.”

photo (below): Rj Robles and Rell Freeman address the crowd

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Finally, LaSaia Wade addressed the crowd, saying: “Creating Change was a change for me,” referring to the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change event in Denver, Colorado earlier this month where a group of nearly 100 trans people and allies stormed the stage during a planned address, demanding solidarity from LGBQ advocates.

“Creating Change brought me back to reality and where I needed to be. It brought me focus. It brought me the power I needed to bring to Tennessee,” she said to the crowd. “Today we’re demanding our rights. Today we will leave here and spread the word that we will not stand without our rights. We will walk into spaces that don’t include us so we can speak about our rights. Some of these boards don’t have trans people on them. Some of these boards don’t allow trans people to speak. Some of these boards don’t include trans people or people of color. It’s time to change. We are the T [in LGBT] and you will – from here on out – include us in decision making, make us leaders, and allow us to lead, because if you don’t we will shut you down!”

LaSaia’s comments were addressed to OutCentral, a LGBT center in Nashville that does not have any trans people of color on their board or in leadership positions. The march symbolically ended in front of their office on Church Street.

LaSaia also announced that TNTJ would be organizing a May Day protest on May 9, 2015.

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Posted in Activism, LGBT | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Weekend of Feminist Jams and NFC’s First Tabling Event

Feminists turned out in droves on Friday, February 13th for She’s A Rebel: A Girl Group Tribute Concert at Mercy Lounge. And Nashville Feminist Collective tabled our first event on Saturday, February 14th at Red Violet Valentine’s. All in all, it was a great weekend for feminist music in Nashville.

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In a write up about She’s A Rebel in the Nashville Scene, feminist musician Tiffany Minton of Adia Victoria and PUJOL explained that songs – like “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Be My Baby” – were chosen for the evening’s playlist because they contain strong messages about women defining their own identities. “This is music that young girls and women attach themselves to for a lot of reasons,” she said. “With the Vanderbilt rape case, and NFL players abusing their wives, there’s a lot of things in these songs that are still relevant. They don’t occur in a vacuum. They’re telling us something about our culture and experiences.”

Awesome, right?

She’s a Rebel featured songs of 1950s-1960s during the era of Second-Wave feminism and everyone who attended will agree that it was an amaaaaaazing show. Shout out to the Nashville Riot Grrls who were there, too.

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“There are a lot of talented women in Nashville, and I think as a community we need to get to know each other across the great divide.”
-Tiffany Minton


photo credit: Sarah Bandy

If you aren’t familiar with these awesome feminist artists and bands who contributed to the concert, definitely check them out and support their work: Jessi Zazu and Nikki Kvarnes of Those Darlins, Tiffany Minton and Ruby Rogers of Adia Victoria and The Black Belles, Laura Taylor of Take the Power Back, Heather Moulder of Rhythm Kitchen/Don Coyote, Thelma and the Sleaze, Caitlin Rose, Tristen Gaspadarek, Alanna Royale, Jasmin Kaset, Kyshona Armstrong, Alicia Bognaanno of Bully, Luella/Melissa Mathes of Luella and the Sun, “The Gambler” from The Protomen, Coco Hames of The Ettes, Carey Kotsionis, Robin August “Little Bean” Fritsch, Kelli Karnes, Larissa Maestro, Jessie Friedman, Beth Cameron of Forget CassettesMargo Price of Margo and the PricetagsEmily Deloach, Olivia Scibelli and Sarah Bandy of YEAH! Youth Empowerment through Arts & Humanities, Inc., Ellen Angelico, Jordan Hamlin, Alice Buchanan, Brooke Ivey, Kristin Weber, Jen Starsinic, and Alyssa Beach.

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photo credits: Jennifer Stalvey

Mercy Lounge’s event page has a more detailed write up of a few of the She’s A Rebel contributing artists, too.

Saturday was another fun-filled event. Nashville Feminist Collective tabled at Caitin Rose’s Red Violet Valentine’s – our first ever tabling event! There’s a great interview with Caitlin in Lockeland Springsteen, Nashville’s only women-run music blog.

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Nashville Feminist Collective tabled for the first time at the event.

Posted in Feminism, Music | Tagged , , , ,

February’s Feminist Trivia Packed the House

February’s trivia night had the highest turnout to-date! Brenda’s women’s co-operative debuted to great acclaim. She sold out of her fabulous vegan tamales and likewise, Missy sold out of her homemade vegan rosemary chocolate chip cookies. Feminists are a hungry bunch!

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Thank you to this month’s question writing team: Missy, Anna, Christine, Marie, Lis, and Sarah. As usual, there were some impressive team names including “Saved by the bell hooks,” “Susan B Agony,” “Ain’t I a Winner,” “Great Barrier Queef,” “Notorious RBGs,” and “Cliteracy.” Congratulations to the winning team – “Born Friedans!” Such a great turnout meant that we filled all of Jackalope’s tables and seats – awesome sauce!

But also, we need to start looking for a bigger space, since that means we had 60+ folks, and we’re just getting started. Meanwhile parking, as you know, is horrendous at Jackalope. Sadly, a few of our feminists even had their cars towed this month.

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NFC’s First Organizing Meeting

NFC’s Mission Statement: “A grassroots collective of people committed to building understanding, community, and power around issues of gender, identity, and experience.”

For those of you who didn’t attend our organizing meeting, the main output was this powerful new mission statement.

We toyed with many different ideas like “transformational friendship” “intersectional feminism” and “social justice.” In the end we decided we wanted to be gender-neutral and focused on education (understanding), community (relationships), and power (dismantling hierarchies). Identity and experience were important to emphasize that we are a community that is enriched by each member’s particular experience and voice. And of course, we’re a grassroots group, not an organization but rather a loose affiliation of like-minded folks.

Thank you to those of you who made it out to the Bordeaux Branch Library on Jan. 25th for our first ever organizing meeting! We hope to see and hear from more of you next month!

Posted in Activism, Feminism | Tagged , , , ,

Launch of Our New Website

Nashville Feminist Collective is excited to announce the launch of our new website!


Find us on Google+

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