Disney Princesses, Irish Women’s History and News from the Web in our latest bulletin
Have you ever been involved with donating, gathering or cataloguing the Feminist Webs archive? Or have you ever wondered what the archive is actually like?
Well look no further…
We are doing 2 days of archive training and archiving in the archive on 8th and 9th April as our annual Archive-athon.
If you want to come lend a hand and learn more about it, and our archiving process then come along:
8 and 9th April 2013 (our can come to either or both days)
The Admin Building
Youth and Community Studies
Manchester Metropolitan University
799 Wilmslow Road
Bring your own PACKED LUNCH!!
Women only (self-identified), all ages welcome.
We will have dinner on the Monday night at 6pm at Nandos at Parrs Wood, so if you want to pick your food now then look at http://www.nandos.co.uk/themenu
Feminist Webs will put £5 towards each person’s food as a way of saying thank you.
0781 398 1338
On Valentine’s Day I joined a group of old, fat,…..no I mean I joined a group of harridans…..no, I joined a group of women and some men in Picadilly Gardens, dancing as part of the Billion Women Rise against violence against women.
Then a week later I joined a group of younger women and men along Oxford Road Manchester, as part of a parade to Reclaim the Night, challenge rape and sexual harassment and reaffirm equality and dignity in relationships.
Last night I watched Channel Four News and saw U-Tube clips of group of activists and dissidents in Tunisia doing the ‘Harlem Shake’ as a form of protest. Dancing in the streets as dissidence again.
In the first two places I was there in my own person and connected through friendship, through being a tutor and by thirty years of activism with others who were there too. In the third case I was connected by a sense of spirit and solidarity and moved by what I saw.
The Shakers were a group of Millenarian Christians/revolutionaries who believed in radical equality and openness and that the ‘end times’ were with us now. They are best known now for their furniture. But their ‘shaking’ was an ecstatic dance, perhaps like that of the Sufi mystics. I do not know.
All of this is by way of reflection on the importance still of women occupying public space in order to dissent. One I had become used to being with my friends of a certain age dancing at eleven o’clock in the morning as if we were in an aerobics class in which I had – as usual- failed to learn the steps, I thought: why not! Maybe we needed a reprise in our sixties and seventies of the dancing that accompanied some of us in the Women’s Liberation marches: the dancing in the street to ‘Keep Young and Beautiful. It’s Your Duty to be Beautiful. Keep Young and Beautiful If you want to be loved.’ And with the student/youth ‘Reclaim the Night Parade’: I revelled in the face paints that glowed in the dark and the animation in young people’s faces. And yes,Amelia, it is very contained. Maybe we should go and do our dances and our songs outside the Headquarters of L’Oreal!
As for what we imagine and work for? Well, the young shall see visions and the old shall dream dreams. Here’s an old one, a very old one. Peaceable relations between humans, based on civility and mutuality, based on equality and fair treatment, and between humans,other species and the earth. No exploitation of people’s work for the gains of a tiny minority. Satisfying and creative work. Access to beauty. Freedom to worship and to play. A sharing of the work of care for the old and young between men and women and across generations. An education system geared to these ends. So all we need to know is: what’s stopping us? And why do mainstream politicians seem to find it almost impossible to talk about these things. On the day the EDL are messing about in Manchester and after the UKIP ‘anti-immigrant’ vote in the Eastleigh by-election I haven’t heard a single politician on TV discuss the reality that blaming and fearing immigrants in a time of economic crisis is an old and dangerous trick that leads only in the direction of cruelty and massacre. We do need to keep taking and reclaiming the public spaces, including these virtual ones.
What an International Women’s day weekend, with the In Defence of Youth Work Conference, and discussions about the resurgence of feminist youth work, and then the History of Youth and Community Work Conference. Such thoughtful and inspiring youth workers involved in both. And now, something from the archive… Young Lancashire’s that is…
Facebook foes, International Women’s Day events and more. Check out our latest news in our monthly bulletin here… eepurl.com/wjHDT
Last night I put on an extra layer of clothing, made a banner and took to the street like thousands of women do at this time of year. Between V-day (ending violence against women day, also known as 1 Billion Rising, 14th February), and International Women’s Day, (8th March), many women join together for a combination of protest, re-connection, catharsis, anger, or to gain the energy from other women to continue to build a fairer world.
Reclaim the Night and such protests are really important to bring us together, but now, after years of participating in such marches, I am often left with a creeping, uncomfortable feeling.
The women and the connections we make are truly inspiring, but those connections have been forged not so much on a protest march, as in our day-to-day lives; in the work that we do, in the choices of socialising that we make; and in a commitment to spend our ‘free’ time developing alternatives and challenges to a society tipped in favour of men and masculinity.
We spend large parts of our lives educating each other and other women; supporting women who have been abused or limited through sexism; as well as raising awareness of feminism and how to challenge it. For me, this is part of what a ‘Reclaim the Night’ can’t do, but what we can and must go away and do… which is to not focus of the things we are against, but to look to what we are for. Debi-Rah Withers put it well in her speech ‘What Can Feminists Say Yes To’: She asks, what does this fairer world look like that we are running to? And argues that our destination points should be our focus, rather than concentrating on the old world we are running from.
Words create the images in our mind, they shape how we understand ourselves and affect then how we behave. Instead of raging against the language of violence, objectification, commodification and oppression, we need to be using a different vocabulary and creating a new language that liberates women. After all, as Audre Lorde put it: ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’. So what I look towards is a world where people are thoughtful in what they say and honour the people they talk to and about, and never hide behind ‘jokes’ or ‘banter’ as an excuse to add to the oppression of others. This is the bedrock of change: our words, our minds and our voices.
With refuges and women’s groups closing across the breadth of the country, while male white-collar job are protected, Reclaim the Night is perhaps a little too tame for our current times. I will not ask for permission for women’s services, women’s equal opportunities or women’s freedoms to walk the streets, as these are our rights: self-evident; universal; indivisible; interdependent and interrelated rights.
If our structures support inequality and reinforce oppression of women, who are also black, Asian, disabled, lesbian, bisexual, pregnant, or poor (economically and culturally), then it is the structures, not the women, that must change.
So what I look towards is every area having women’s services for health and wellbeing, and these always economically prioritised above creating weapons of war. I look towards a culture where the family you are from does not define your destiny. There is no economic inheritance. The notion of family is about the people who help raise and support you and not about blood ties. There is a maximum wage. Rape is exceptionally uncommon and responsively dealt with in a way which never diminishes the reputation of the survivor, and ensures the perpetrator never rapes again. I see women’s webs: meetings and forums of support, discussion and ideas, which are more common to participate in than sitting at home and watching TV.
So let’s shout and march, but when the next day comes, let’s create action, engage with power structures, take on the patriarchy and create our feminist futures.