Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Reflecting on the (2/26) WAM! It Yourself Conference!

This is the last WAM! Post I promise! The unanticipated presence of what seemed like a million rowdy soccer fans at Hoboken Station this evening lead to a three-hour long commute home (2 hours waiting for a ticket and a train, 1 hour on said train) that left plenty of time to reflect and tie it all together. This is going to be concise and a little more personal, unlike my prolific amount of liveblogging I cranked out today. I even put it in list form to make it easier to get through!

10 Takeaways from WAM! It Yourself NYC

1) Social media is a powerful tool for revolution. It can be used to share stories, call out public figures, disseminate information about actions that people can take... its all about using it effectively by having a strong message and making sure your social media use is only a part of a larger spectrum of activist effort.

2) Community is everywhere. Sometimes I freak out about leaving the comfortable community of my school, where I can walk into the Women's Center and just know that I am surrounded by "my people" without a doubt. Organizations like WAM and events like this remind me that the feminists and the activists and the cool people don't just evaporate when I step off campus... they're out there, we just have to find each other!

3) You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for. This was my first trip into NYC alone, with no idea where I was going ahead of time. I got there and back in one piece... before today I would have never guessed that I was capable of this. Similarly, your words (and my words) can do so much if we just say them to the right people... you never know who you might impact just by speaking out. So don't be afraid to push past your comfort zone to see just how much you can do.

4) YOU control the conversation, you set your limits. If someone is being disingenuous and giving you a hard time it is totally fine to just  end the conversation and get on with your life. Sometimes the best way to deal with criticism is simply to laugh it off and move on; the more ridiculous the commentary, the better this strategy works. This one is tricky because, an an organization the Women's Center does a lot of work to be open and welcoming to all dialogue. At the same time, if someone is being a jerk and purposely making a space unsafe it should always be okay to ask them (politely) to leave.

5) Speak your truth and the rest will follow. This was big today... and there isn't much to say. Yes, your opinions may change over time but as long as you are always being honest and open and you then you're going to be okay because, at the end of the day, regardless of the criticisms, if you speak your truth you'll have nothing to regret.

6) Know what you (and your words) are worth. I skipped out on the session about getting published in order to learn about social media and activism... but judging from the twitter feed and the general buzz of the day this was a big theme. I honestly don't know how I feel about writing for free vs. being paid because I write for free a lot (like on Persephone and Not Your Average Feminist and here) and I love it: I love the community and the impact my words can have. That said... getting paid to write feels really good and I do believe my words are often powerful enough to warrant it... its a tough line to walk, really, and I'd love (so much) to hear input if anyone has it!

7) As a feminist writer it is important to find a balance between inhabiting and maintaining feminist communities, and slipping feminist dialogue into the main stream media.We need our communities, to stay sane, and to learn, and to push the dialogue forward... but we also need to be getting the things that we learn out there to the general public which often means struggling a bit, and distilling things (like by replacing buzzwords like patriarchy with something more intuitively understood). Both of these things are important in their own ways.

8) As a journalist it is important to keep a balance of what you need to survive and what you need to thrive: meaning, sometimes you will have to write pieces that don't thrill you, or work a bunch of side jobs, in order to keep food on the table and a roof over your head while you write what actually makes you passionate.

9) Effective media apperances take a ton of research and practice! A handful of solid talking points that tie in hard data, recent news events, and personal stories plus a bunch of role-playing practice are what it takes to be at your best!

10) It takes exactly three and a half chai-lattes to get through a day-long conference on three hours of sleep. Granted, most of the energy derived from that caffeine was used to power my brain as I tried to make sense of how the PATH runs on a weekend so... I'm not exactly sure about that figure, your mileage may vary!
Check out my coverage of the conference if you want more: [Social Media for Activism] [Feminist Perspectives in Progressive Media] [Feminist Blogger Roundtable] [Media Training] [The Closing Keynote with Deanna Zandt] Also, check out the official liveblogs from the conference here and here. Plus, the twitter feed is pretty awesome!

Crossposted at Imagine Today!

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