This accountability policy is a collective work in progress informed by the care-based approach of feminist and social justice organisations such as Sisters Uncut, DIY Space for London and INCITE!, amongst others. As we continue our work and increase our understanding of the needs of everyone involved in our projects this accountability statement may change. If you feel there’s something that could be improved please let us know.
‘Accountability’ is about being conscious of the needs of others and ensuring that every aspect of FAS’ work is inclusive. We aim to create a supportive environment where people can learn and grow with the expectation that we should individually and collectively take responsibility for fostering inclusion in activism and education.
Ensuring the physical and social accessibility of the Feminist Archive South and related events is an important factor in all we do. We make sure all venues booked are wheelchair accessible with disabled toilets. We are also mindful of the specific needs of people living with a disability, physical or mental health condition. If there’s anything we can do to support you please get in touch to discuss- whether it’s provision for a carer, a comfortable chair or just regular breaks.
There are opportunities for people of all genders and ages to engage with the Hatpins to Hashtags project, although some strands are specifically targeted at those under-represented in politics and civic life. For more information on the reasons for this please see the Hatpins to Hashtags project page.
We don’t assume people’s gender and we uphold the right to self-identify for all trans, intersex, cis, nonbinary and gender variant people. When we talk about women and nonbinary people we mean everyone who does not solely or primarily identify as a cis man. We always aim to use people’s preferred pronouns and provide gender neutral toilets when possible. If you have any questions about our gender inclusion policy, please don’t hesitate to contact a team member.
Communication has always been a key concept of the feminist movement, in particular ‘consciousness-raising’ of the Women’s Liberation Movement. It is through communication that we become conscious of the intersecting oppressions each of us experiences in different ways. Try to think of who is not included in the conversation and what their perspective may bring.
Whether in person or online, we should always try to communicate in a clear and respectful way and be aware of how our words may be interpreted. Our social media and website will be moderated; any post considered racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic or otherwise discriminatory will be taken down (this is at our discretion). To the same degree, anyone making comments of this nature in person will be approached by a member of the FAS team and appropriate action taken. This may involve checking in with the person to explain why what they said is offensive if they were unaware, or it may require a more formal conversation and action.
It is crucial that we create a feminist culture where we remain open and willing to learn from criticism. If you wish to ‘call-out’ someone for something problematic they have said, perhaps consider the effect of this on the person’s mental health and ‘check-in’ with them about it first if possible. Conversely, if you have acted or spoken harmfully, even unintentionally, you should listen and acknowledge the harm caused, then think about what you can learn from the situation. Defensiveness is unhelpful and can make a space unsafe for those raising a concern. Feminism is complex and challenging work- sometimes we make mistakes. As long as we are open, we can learn and change.
Recognising your privilege(s) is a key part of understanding how various hierarchies might exclude some and benefit others. When we acknowledge our privilege we can begin to see the challenges others face.
Learning from the archive and the FAS community
The Feminist Archive is home to many different feminist knowledges and it is our aim to provide opportunities to learn from the archive as well as from each other in a supportive environment. If you don’t understand something, please ask someone. A team member or volunteer would be happy to help.
We try not make assumptions about the his/herstories that the Feminist Archive South does or does not hold without first researching in the archive. This is because we acknowledge the many ways in which different herstories, particularly those belonging to women/people of colour, people living with disability and LGBTQIA people have been systemically marginalised and erased.
We also acknowledge that the archive cannot be an accurate representation of the full plurality of voices of the Women’s Liberation Movement and transnational feminist activism. Whilst there is significant diversity and intersectionality within the materials, FAS does not claim to represent all women or the notion of ‘global feminism’. We strive to make ourselves more aware of the ways in which some feminist knowledges are privileged over others and actively challenge these systems of oppression. However, we always welcome opportunities to learn from suggestions for how we could be doing this differently.
Examples of our accountability in practice include:
- Ensuring the selection of materials from the archive is as representative of race, gender, class, sexuality and disability status as possible.
- Making sure all venues are accessible to wheelchairs and considering provision for a range of other disabilities.
- Working together with a range of women’s organisations in Bristol to increase trans inclusivity
If you feel that FAS is not meeting these principles you can raise it with any team member.