Hi, my name's Michael and I'm a feminist.
Yes, that is a y chromosome there on my sleeve.
No, I don't mean ally. Ally is a term for someone who supports a group but can't be a member of the group.
Nope. Not that either.
Yes, I'm straight, genderwise I'm cis, and no, I'm not here to get laid.

I'm not sure that I'm the newest member to write one of these things, but if I'm not then it is just by a matter of weeks. To be honest, I started coming here as something social to do on a regular basis right after take back the night, and in large part because the meeting time worked with my work schedule while WSA's meetings were completely unworkable for me. That's probably pretty good, since I doubt I would have attended a third WSA meeting. I'm much more comfortable with the informal collaborative atmosphere we tend to have hereabouts. I don't deal nearly as well with highly structured meeting styles where one person (or small group of persons) absolutely drives the agenda and the tone. Well, honestly with our recent meeting sizes, maybe I'm comfortable with the small group of persons thing when I'm part of the group. Who knows?
The FMLA, as I see it, and we have had some spirited disagreements on this matter, works best as a support structure for individual members' personal activism. We get together, we discuss what the FMLA is going to be doing, but at the same time we talk about the particular issues and events on the horizon that particularly interest us. A personal example. I came here a little before Christmas break and sort of went off on a tangent about needing to call our assorted congress critters in support of the Freedom of Choice Act because I had some friends who were already beginning to mobilize in opposition to it. I figured that everyone present would possibly call their congress folk and thus act as a force multiplier. So you know, one voice becomes five. A couple of weeks later we had a huge stack of post cards for assorted congress folks (and I'm sorry, I can't remember who organized that feat. I know it wasn't me.) So instead of getting a few new voices, the FMLA increased my voice by an order of magnitude, possibly two.
As I see it, our basic mission here is memetic or informational. We talk. We talk to and thus provide support for each other, which is pretty important if you want to be an activist who doesn't either lose track of how other people thing or burn out early. We also talk to other people. We help organize awareness marches, we help host the Vagina Monologues, we create a newsletter, we support other groups and people who are also talking. We make people aware of feminisim as a matter of justice and way of life instead of a caricature of shrill, sexless/slutty, and angry women and downtrodden men that the movement has allowed its opposition to create in the minds of society as a whole. Feminism is, as I see it, essentially an issue of cultural memes, and if we want a feminist society, then we need to talk. We need to speak with not one voice, but with five, with ten, with thousands.
Hum this isn't really a paragraph so much as it has paragraphs... I fail once again at brevity. So in brief, welcome to the FMLA. My name is Michael Phillips, I'm your webmonkey until you find someone better. Enjoy the pie.

As always
Michael Phillips

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