"Meetings are the heart of the SAA fellowship." (Sex Addicts Anonymous, p. 10) They are places where we can hear the message of recovery and share about our own struggles with people who are like us and who understand us.
Now, in an ideal world, conferences would be coed and everybody would feel welcome everywhere. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world.
One of the most important tools of recovery is literature. Literature is like having a portable program. It can go anywhere, and it will reinforce the ideas you hear at meetings. Keep literature available and carry it around with you. It is especially valuable when you travel, as you may not have easy access to meetings.
My answer is focused on the sessions that usually occur within a larger conference.
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What is clear is that gender biases in conferences still exist (e.g., https://biaswatchneuro.com/) and the all male conference panel (aka the manel) are still all too common. In presence of these, and other gender, biases, providing women only conferences/workshops seems a reasonable approach as part of a larger strategy towards gender equality.
I actually agree with you completely. I think that the women only conference concept is very well intentioned but in practice kind of terrible. I once went to an all girl hackathon and spent 2 1/2 hours not making anything and instead watching everyone pat themselves on the back for being women. Had to sit through a ton of self congratulatory "Ted Talks" while all I wanted to do was code with some other female engineers. It was.... weird.
The Program concentrates on learning new self-enhancing behavior rather than using fear, reproachments and dependencies to control old destructive practices.
We suggest attending at least six meetings before deciding whether SAA is for you. Attending several different meetings may be helpful, as each has its own format and atmosphere.
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The ideal size of a group is from six to ten women, small enough so that every woman has a chance to be involved in discussions. WFS groups are like a conversation in the round. Each group, however, determines its own size. However, you can begin a group with just 2 women.
WFS is a self-help Program for women with problems of addiction. It is the first and only self-help Program for women only and its precepts take into account the very special problems women have in recovery - the need for feelings of self-value and self-worth, and the need to expatiate feelings of guilt and humiliation.
There are several ways to get a sponsor. Go to local meetings and listen for women who have completed the Twelve Steps and who have some experience in SAA. After some tele-meetings (including most women-only tele-meetings), some members provide their phone numbers. Listen for women who state that they are available to sponsor.
Item 2 above is not very clear. However, imagine you are artistically inclined and you are viewing two possible schools. One of which has listed many art clubs and provides several art forums. You don't know how good any of these forums are. The other school has fewer art clubs and forums. Which one is more appealing?
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For younger women, these experiences are invaluable. It tells them that it's okay to be who they want to be, that they're not alone, and that they have people who really will rally around them and support them as they grow and come up in the world. Honestly, I wish these things existed when I was a kid.
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Frankly, and I realize it's not part of the question, but I don't see many of these approaches being very helpful for purposes of equality.
How does this behavior develop real solutions to real problems?
That being said, isolationism is stupid and self defeating. I'd be much more interested in something that fostered actual dialogue between genders, or provided hands-on technical training in skills that I actually need instead of congratulatory prose about what a good little girl I was for showing up.
If enough people feel the need for such a conference, then there is a need. Since these conferences keep getting held, clearly there is a need for them.
Anything discussed at a WFS meeting is confidential. The identity of members is not revealed to outsiders. It is up to the discretion of each person whether she wants to break her own anonymity as a member.
The SAA Women's Outreach List is another way to connect with female sponsors. More information about this list is available under Contacting Other Women. Some women ask a gay man to sponsor them, if they cannot find a female sponsor.
You're quite right in your observation of that segregation does little to exemplify equal opportunity, and is a poor venue to discuss gender inequality.
Women can attend a variety of meetings throughout the day via telephone. There is at least one women-only tele-meeting every day of the week. Some of us have gained and maintained sobriety attending only tele-meetings. Others have attended both face-to-face meetings and tele-meetings. A list of telemeetings can be found on the Electronic Meetings page, under the Meetings tab.
In the SAA fellowship, sponsors are other addicts who are willing to share how they worked the Twelve Step program and how they found recovery. Sponsors are not experts but fellow travelers in recovery, who carry the message as part of their own program of recovery. Sponsors share their experience, strength and hope in order to help others find the same freedom from addictive sexual behavior that they have found.
Some women may be unable to attend either face-to-face or tele-meetings. When you are unable to attend either local meetings or telemeetings, audio recordings can serve as a meeting any time. More information about these recordings may be found in MP3 format or on CDs.
What is the purpose of women-only meetings
Many of us have gotten sober at mixed meetings while others have found sobriety in women-only meetings. No one type of meeting works for all women. The type of meeting you choose to attend is a personal decision. Look under the Meetings tab of this website to find a list of meetings in your area.
Similarly, if a field of study holds women-only events, there is a perspective that this field of study is taking steps to be extra-geared toward women. A woman who is deciding between a career field heavily populated by women and a field holding routine events specifically for women, may be swayed won by the field holding events expressly for women.
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You complain about being called "unsafe". Remember that there are other men than you in this world and that some of them are definitely unsafe. Also remember that "feeling safe" is not only about physical safety, but also safety from ridicule, from being ignored, and from getting your self-confidence shattered in other ways.
I have never seen any of these sessions be closed, (there are no bouncers stopping people at the door for lack of bosom) simply that the circulars and announcements strongly emphasize that they are for the women (for the women's benefit). They encourage an atmosphere that will end up with a room full of women scientists (senior/midcareer/junior/student). The attendees, thankfully, tend to self-select for being truly supportive.
The vision of the Association for Women in Science focuses on compensation, advancement, discrimination and respect. These are real problems for women in academia. To an extent, conferences for women are a result of the "leaky pipeline" of the 1970s and and 1980s where women were more likely to leave academia then men. While the leaks have been slowed, possibly stopped or reversed, at the Bachelors to PhD stage, the pipeline may still be leaky at later stages.
However, the purpose of these women-only panels, forums, conferences, scholarships, prizes, etc. is not for the express purpose of solving gender inequality or un-equal opportunity.
I think that the biggest threat to women is other women who view them only as competition. The women only concept removes that competition from the equation so that we can have a safe space to actually support each other.
To find out the closest WFS Group in your area, please contact WFS Headquarters. This confidential information is only given to the woman alcoholic. WFS groups are only open to women with alcohol and/or chemical dependence.
Groups are run by a WFS Certified Moderator. Moderators must have good sobriety and be thoroughly acquainted with the WFS Program and its philosophy. Meetings are held at least once a week and do not exceed one hour and a half. If you are interested in becoming a Certified Moderator, please contact WFS Headquarters for the proper information to be sent to you.
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Most conferences are male-biased. Having woman-only conferences is not a good solution to this problem, but it is better than doing nothing about it.
Why is it that in academe, in my experience, it is common for women to segregate themselves in the context of raising gender issues?