Feminist Self-Help Principles of Unity
The Feminist Self-help (self-cervical exam) Movement has been shared with three generations of women by Women’s Health Specialists, a Feminist Women’s Health Center, and the community of Feminists who remain committed to self-help as foundational to self-determination and women’s liberation.
The following principles of unity seek to preserve the integrity of feminist self-help groups and to identify those elements which are at the core. Feminist Self-help groups share these common values:
- Participatory group - Women create a non-medicalized, participatory, group experience guided by women in consensus with equal commitment, participation, and confidentiality.
- Judgment free - women create a safe space to share and learn from one another in a judgment free, non-hierarchical fashion made powerful by and reserved for women. We will not pass judgment on the number of sexual partners, or any woman’s right to have or not have children. Self-help is an opportunity for women to receive and give support to each other regarding their choices of birth control methods, abortion, adoption, number of children, child spacing, body image, sexuality, sexual practices, aging --which undermines the larger society’s greater attempts at coercing women to view their bodies and themselves in isolation.
- Decolonize our bodies - We support decolonizing, demystifying and demedicalizing our bodies and minds through sharing our own experiences, listening and learning from one another and validating each other’s experiences.
- Decision - making through participation and consensus- Group facilitators and participants are one in the same, sharing and learning from one another in an environment free from voyeurism, exploitation, and individualism. We leave professional and academic titles at the door, and do not recognize hierarchy by position. The group members make all of their decisions in an egalitarian way, keeping the participatory energy present in the circle. Every woman has her own pace in participation, and that no woman will engage in self-exam unless she chooses to do so.
- Inclusivity - We are deeply committed to inclusiveness and value women from all cultures, classes, and races as we incorporate their stories and learn their social mores. We inspire and support new generations of women to carry on self-help in ways that may be unfamiliar, but relevant to the current culture.