by Allyson Smith
What started as a small gathering in Lindsey Phillips’ home has grown into a larger group of women who meet at Compass Coffee every month to discuss different aspects of womanhood and explore how they can be their authentic selves, from postpartum mental health to self-advocacy.
“I felt like I had different behaviors around different people, and once I did the work to find my authentic self, I wanted a place for women in Akron, in this community to come together, be safe together. Let’s ask the hard questions and not be afraid to do that,” Lindsey says.
At the beginning, the meetings were in her house. It started out as a small group of women but soon blossomed into a large, diverse group of women of all ages, races and backgrounds.
“I think what I love hearing from women after each meeting is, ‘I’m so glad we had this conversation. I’m so glad I found out about X, Y, Z, whatever it is,” Lindsey explains.
Each meeting, the group discusses a different topic, such as race and feminism, motherhood, or mental health. Last October, Lindsey began inviting co-facilitators to the meetings to help lead the discussions. These co-facilitators are women who have direct experience with or expertise on a subject or are simply passionate about it.
Lindsey explained that if it’s a subject she has direct experience with, she’ll share her story, but she likes having speakers with experience or passion because it “produces a more thorough conversation than one person can do.”
She also shared what brought her to creating this group.
“I had an abusive relationship in my late teen years, 16 to 19. And those are your formative years, forming expectations of what love is, what acceptance is. And so for me, it turned it into a journey of quite a lot of therapy, which I also think is important to de-stigmatize because that really helped me overcome being told that I was less than and the journey through who I was, and what that meant.”
She also explained that although the organization is not faith-based, being a follower of Jesus inspired her.
“For me, it was like, teach this idea of ‘the last finish first and the first finish last.’ This idea of the great reversal: Reverse what society tells us. It has to be reverse this, reverse that, so what I did was, I thought, ‘I want a space for women to come together and be authentic and learn these things. Is anyone else interested in that?”
Lindsey has also begun incorporating a membership as a part of the organization. For an annual fee of $97, participants get access to exclusive courses on the website (Reversewomen.com), tools and resources for a variety of subjects and can attend monthly meet-ups. For those just interested in the meetings, it costs $5 per meeting.
“You truly as a woman, as a growing woman, of any race, you’ve never arrived. Don’t ever know it all. We have to get to a place where we can all understand that no matter what we’ve been through, we can all learn from each other no matter what,” Lindsey says.
More information can be found at www.reversewomen.com or Reverse Women on Facebook.
Allyson’s background is in media production and anthropology. Her hobbies include coffee, traveling, and taking months to read a single book.
Photo: used with permission from Lindsey Smith