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Bad Feminist: Book Discussion Series

Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist - March 2018 Library Book Discussion, sponsored by ISU Library's Committee on Diversity & Inclusion

Ground Rules: Original Sources

Bad Feminist


Book Discussion Ground Rules


-Sponsored by Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, ISU Library


We will use the Ground Rules below for our discussion group.  Each session will be a facilitated discussion of selected essays, led by a member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Participants should read our Ground Rules prior to the sessions.

Forward:  "This group is intended to be a forum for discussion of ideas and for learning about differing viewpoints, not for debate. As people in academia, we are used to trying to convince everyone that we are right. In discussions around diversity and equity, it's important to understand that everyone sees and experiences the world differently - what is "right" in your experience may not be so in someone else's. Everyone is asked to consider different perspectives, for the purpose of sensitivity, learning, and growth.  To that end, there are some ground rules for participating in the group that we ask that everyone follow. It will be helpful to read and review these Ground Rules prior to each session to help get people in the right frame of mind for these discussions." (1)

We can modify these as a group to meet our own needs.

  • Recognize: We recognize that we must strive to overcome historical and divisive biases, such as racism and sexism, in our society.
  • Acknowledge: We acknowledge that we are all systematically taught misinformation about our own group(s) and about members of other groups. This is true for everyone, regardless of our group(s).
  • No Blame: We agree not to blame ourselves or others for the misinformation we have learned, but to accept responsibility for not repeating misinformation after we have learned otherwise.
  • Respect: We agree to listen respectfully to each other without interruptions. Only one person speaks at a time.
  • Individual Experience: We agree that no one should be required or expected to speak for their whole race or gender. We can't, even if we wanted to.
  • Trust: We will trust that people are always doing the best they can. Everyone has come to the table to learn, grow, and share.
  • Share the Air: Share responsibility for including all voices in the discussion. If you have a tendency to dominate discussions, take a step back and help the group invite others to speak. If you tend to stay quiet, challenge yourself to share ideas so others can learn from you.
  • Not Experts: The facilitators are not experts. They are here to help facilitate the process.
  • Ask for help: It's okay not to know. Keep in mind that we are all still learning and are bound to make mistakes when approaching a complex task or exploring new ideas. Be open to changing your mind, and make space for others to do so as well. 

(1) Forward and Ground Rules from Ground Rules and Tools for Productive Discussions (NCAR); also from the ISU Principles of CommunityCenter for Research on Learning and Teaching (UMichigan), and ROPES.