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Free Speech for Women event in Chicago, Memorial Weekend 2022

#FreeSpeechForWomen • #FreeSpeech4Women • #FemaXXisFemale • #[CITY]FreeSpeech • #FS4W

WHO: Start with 4 fully committed Women who are in or near the same city or town. By the time you’ve gotten to 4 “Committeds”, you’ve probably got some “maybes” and “yes, buts” and maybe a new friend who says yes, but it’s tough to count on new friends. This is your contact list. Are there feminist or lesbian or mom groups in your city? This is a good way to build a contact list. Work out from your contact list to recruit as many more Women as you can, but trust US, if you have a solid “Core4” that’s enough. At the event, WE encourage you to let anyone speak, but start and end with Women.

WHAT: Small groups of American Women coming together to stand on our soapbox and speak freely in a public space as is our First Amendment right. Later we may dine, dance, and distribute materials, but first WE demonstrate.

WHEN: Events being planned coast to coast for Summer and Fall of 2022, so plan yours. Don’t think you have to over plan. Pick a date in a few weeks that works for your Core4 and go for it! Weekend afternoons (e.g. Sunday at 2pm) are traditional, but any daylight hour that works for your Core4 Women works for Free Speech. You don’t have to go all day. If you’re 4-6 Women, plan for 2 speaking opportunities each. If there are more than 6, maybe just one. 30-90 minutes is about right.

WHERE: Out in public! Find a somewhat busy corner or public space in your nearby American city. Many cities have one or more areas with a legacy of public demonstration. Some cities don’t, so then just find a nice spot with some pedestrian traffic. Some locations may need a permit (see below).

WHY: Women’s rights and liberties are under attack and WE are being silenced and misrepresented now more than ever by the patriarchal media, our social media posts forced to be deleted and our profiles banned. It’s time to use your right before WE lose the fight.

EQUIPMENT: Make a PODIUM with a sheet music stand + a “Free Speech for Women” sign. Email to order a “cool kids” sign or make your own. AMPLIFICATION if you’re lucky (or serious about this), a battery powered speaker with a microphone & cable & mic stand & cart is a top tier setup. Almost as good is a megaphone that you can buy at an online retailer. If you do not have amplification equipment, just use your voice and speak loud. One Woman, One Sign is a good strategy, but we know one Woman who brings five signs. Flyers or other handouts are optional. A camera for recording video to file. Another camera or phone for live streaming. Phone and camera battery packs are essential because live streaming in the hot sun is a battery drainer. A microphone feed direct to a camera is a nice touch, especially without amplification. Wear a t-shirt and buttons. Bring a stack of stickers for “Distribution” (See below).

SAFETY & SECURITY: A Woman’s participation in an event is always at her own risk and generally the events are safe and fun. The safest bet is to keep your exact location and exact time totally private including from most participants until 12-24 hours out. Keep public and sharable recruiting messages/posts especially vague. Recruit via back channels and personal invites. Meet at a “rendezvous” location, and walk to the site together. There is safety in numbers so stay with the group and use the buddy system everywhere you go. If there is an issue, everyone leaves together. If someone tries to take your sign, you can make another sign for next time. Some events may include De-escalation training. WE are here to speak freely and peacefully–NOT to engage with hostile passersby.

LAW & PERMITTING: Free speech is generally protected by the first Amendment, although inciting violence is not Free speech. (And not what we do.) You can stand with a sign on a public sidewalk just about anywhere in The USA and speak loudly without any special permission.

If someone with the right to do so asks you to leave private property, it’s wise to do so quickly and peacefully and just find a new spot. Laws vary by city. Some (not all) require permits. Some permits have fees. Amplification may require a permit when voices alone do not, so consider your options. You may have to be a resident of a city to get a permit. One Woman assigned to research this for your group can get it done in a day or three.

COMMUNICATION: WE suggest you find one method that works for the whole group and get every single attendee to be individually on the group. Email is ok because most everyone has it, but there are apps that seem a bit easier if you can push to get everyone can get on the same app. It may be helpful to have an organizer group and one for all attendees. It is important to send a reminder a couple days out and then a detail message within 24 hours. Briefing and Debrief meetings are helpful for team cohesion. Coming soon, a sample email template for communication.

PLANNING ROLES: Location scouts all locations and provides address and key details. Logistics runs the brief and debrief meetings and makes lots of little decisions along the way. Communication works the contact list, vetting, confirms attendees and monitors communication channels for questions and helps late arrivals on game day. Video is the post-event “planning” role responsible for getting footage up to the internet . Everyone Recruits!

EVENT ROLES: Emcee officially starts and ends the event over the mic and when necessary, transitions from speaker to speaker, ad libs when needed and recruits passing Women (or others) to speak. She may call the local department in advance and alert authorities of the time and location of the event, will be the one to talk to the officers on site as needed and follow up with any reporting needed after the event. Perimeter is walking around the cohort (with a sign), preventing encroachment, watching for threats, regular headcounts. A/V runs the live stream, video capture and amplification. Flanks (1-2+) are an essential position- she stands next to the speaker with a sign to fill the visual space and provide clear messaging even for muted video or people who can’t stop to listen. All attendees can choose to be a Speaker. If your team expects a protest, it is wise to appoint one woman as Police Liason.

SPEAKING: Your core4 should plan to speak twice, just in case numbers are low. Emcee should be that Woman who can just keep talking all day if needed. Other Women should plan to speak if she wants. Planned speeches usually go better than headtoppers. Short speeches are better than long ones. Naturally talking is better than reading something word by word. Remember that not everyone is an immersed, activated Woman in this struggle, so choose simple and real words that your Grandma might know. Avoid (or at least define) hip new words and acronyms. Words like Woman, Man, Girl, Boy, pregnant, lesbian work better than heteronormative, c!s, T|M, gaslighting, superstraight, LGB, peak, and more. Speak slowly. If you can’t support what a Woman said, support, at least, her first amendment right to say it.

LIVE STREAM: Video recorded to a device or camera disk, card, or drive is going to have far superior quality and is much easier to capture, so at least get that. A live stream is nice, and even better if you have an anchor to interact with your on scene correspondent.

PARKING: A suggested parking lot or garage is an important part to the location plan. Research accurate information about cost, entry, hours, and how to pay. A parking garage middle floor doubles as a great rendezvous site.

RESTROOMS: A great location scout might find an available bathroom, but it’s wise to pee before you come. If you’re traveling, stop to pee before getting into the city because roadside rest stops are most convenient, and small town Women need to know that a bathroom can be hard to find downtown in most big cities.

SCHEDULE: The group should decide collectively whether y’all want to keep a strict or loose schedule. Remember Women may be coming from a distance, city navigation isn’t always easy, and summer means construction and detours. Live streams may have an audience expecting a certain start time. Starting in late afternoon allows travelers time and queues up nicely for dinnertime. Keep Women fed! Do NOT conduct an event outdoors after dark.

RULES: “I will keep Women safe at the event by sticking together, staying alert, and being responsible for my own conduct.” It is a Woman’s job to manage her own anonymity (with hat and sunglasses, etc). WE’re here to speak freely not debate with strangers. Never step toward agression. No more than 2 fXcks allowed per speech…buy more with $10 donation to a Womens’ charity or cause.

BONUS EVENTS: We have a ton of fun all day if we want. A very packed day would include: NVDA Training, Rendezvous, Walk to Location, Setup, FS4W Action, Teardown, “Distribution” Walk around the city to a nearby restaurant, Dining, another “Distribution” Walk to the Flash Mob site, Do an XXSalute #FlashMobMoms Dance performance and taping, chill a bit and do some social media about the event, then the diehards get ready, have a snack and go clubbing… (and Women’s favorite lawyer has been in bed for hours!) Allow your headcount to consider introverted or busy Women will leave after FS4W.

SISTERHOOD: Women, amirite? Sometimes Women get on our nerves. We may disagree about planning or politics. We have different backgrounds, values, and reasons for being in this fight. We have worked trauma, obstacles and sexism to get here. Some Women are controlling, crabby, stupid, annoying, vulgar, or rude. WE remind you to let it go. Forgive. Avoid gossip. Love, Mom. You do not have to be besties with a Woman to plan or attend an event with her. The most important thing is to show up how you can. If it’s not working for you, it’s ok to sit out. Usually, the only wrong way to do the event is to not have it and the best thing about an event is the friendship.