Tag Archives: herstory

Kahlo’s work still tells a story we struggle to talk about, even today

Happy Birthday Frida Kahlo! A mere 107 she would have been on 6 July; alas she died young at only 47.

60 years later, her 1932 painting Henry Ford Hospital (otherwise known as ‘The Flying Bed’) still pierces us with a painful image of womanhood we barely allow ourselves to talk about, let alone look at. Frida Kahlo dared to paint it. She was one of the first female artists to ever portray the realities of womanhood on canvas: the earth red ground beneath her a symbol of her loneliness. “I don’t paint dreams or nightmares,” she said, “I paint my own reality.” Decades later, her reality still beguiles us.

As Frida Kahlo lies splayed on the blood-splattered bed, hovering above ground, reality and reason, six images surround her, tied down with umbilical cords like six lead balloons against a barren sky: the foetus, Dieguito (“Little Diego”), who will never exist; a snail representing the slow horror of losing a baby; an autoclave, a device for sterilizing surgical instruments, the symbol of infertility, “bad luck and pain”; an orchid, a hospital gift from her husband Diego Rivera – a strange mix of sex and sentimentality; the pelvis and uterus, two anatomical signs of her broken body.

On 4 July 1932, Frida’s pregnancy ended in miscarriage at Henry Ford Hospital. With this loss came the painful realisation that she would never physically be able to carry a baby to term. It was a reality she had already mythologised seven years earlier. On 17 September 1925 Frida and her boyfriend got onto a school bus. Minutes later it was hit by a tram. In addition to suffering a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs and a broken pelvis, a metal handrail pierced her abdomen, exiting through her vagina, permanently damaging her reproductive capacity. While in recovery, Frida was forced to face her reality: she may never be able to walk again, let alone have children. She responded by creating a birth certificate for an imaginary son she called “Leonardo”. It was at this moment of reality-versus-imagination that Frida Kahlo began painting seriously for the first time.

To understand Frida is to understand her pain. That doesn’t make her a victim, or her suffering a perversion. Frida Kahlo’s husband Diego Rivera once talked about Frida’s art as “paintings that exalted the feminine qualities of endurance and truth, reality, cruelty, and suffering.” He would go on to conclude: “Never before has a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas.”

Whether Frida would have ever identified herself as a feminist remains punctuated with a question mark. For many today, her traumatic life and powerful works communicate a strong feminist message which dream weaves the reality they experience in their own lives. In fact, without the feminist art movement of the 1970s and 1980s, Frida Kahlo’s work would have remained an obscure footnote to husband Diego Rivera’s own artistic career. Second wave feminism in America brought Frida to a mass audience and she has captivated us ever since. Her stark presentation of the harsh lives women face has retrospectively made her a striking feminist at a time when a woman’s reality was hardly ever talked about or discussed. Her battle with miscarriage and infertility tells a story we struggle to talk about, even today.

According to her own count, Frida Kahlo would suffer two more miscarriages. Her art reflects a lifelong fascination with procreation, birth and the female body. Lithograph Frida and the Miscarriage is a stark example: Frida’s one dimensional body is divided into light and shade, two tears fall either side of her face as the tears of blood haemorrhage down her darkened leg. A male foetus is attached to her via an umbilical cord as her third arm holds an artist’s palette: artistic productivity her solace in the absence of children. It isn’t easy to look at but, in the words of her husband Diego, it is agony and poetry.

“My painting carries with it the message of pain,” Frida Kahlo once explained. In each and every canvas Frida painted, there is both the message of pain yet also survival. Paintings such as Survivor (1938), Roots (1943) and The Broken Column (1944) communicate strength, even at the point of physical breakdown and despair. It is also worth noting that her paintings display the true reproductive anatomy of women, a shocking and controversial undertaking in the early 20th century. In 1932 painting My Birth Frida gives birth to herself depicting the moment of childbirth in all its glory. My Birth succeeds in blending both imagination and reality, communicating a woman’s inner and external truth. For every person who struggles to look at Frida’s outstretched legs, its power and relevance is affirmed. Her reality is no longer hidden.

In the last year of her life, Frida told a friend: “Painting completed my life. I lost three children…Paintings substituted for all of this.” 60 years later, her work still endures.

Kat Lister is a Contributing Editor at Feminist Times and a freelance writer living in London and can be found tweeting to an empty room @Madame_George. She has contributed to NME, The Telegraph, Grazia, Time Out, Clash magazine and Frankie magazine.

Photo: Chris Weige

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How pioneering women took back Yoga from men.

Twenty-first century yoga is female. Look around the classes. There are a few men on planet yoga, but they are massively outnumbered by women. Yoga is a women’s thing – isn’t it?

But the practices all these women are doing were created by men, and for men. Some medieval yoga manuals advise yogis to avoid women, for fear of distraction or pollution. Hatha yoga (yoga that works through physical postures to modify mental activities) was a boys’ game, and women were not invited. Medieval hatha yoga manuals were not written for women’s bodies. The practices were closely guarded secrets, to be passed on from one male teacher to his initiates for their spiritual advancement.

So how does a medieval male practice, a secret technology for spiritual evolution, become a multi-billion pound global business with an almost entirely female customer base?

It’s a long, fascinating story, only now coming full circle. Most histories of hatha yoga refer to fifteenth century manuals, and to philosophy set out around the first century. Ideas and techniques from these texts were codified and possessed by male teachers who established powerful lineages to protect their teachings. Some of the lineages are monastic, ascetic traditions, and others are secular, but all of them are patriarchal hierarchies, with little place for women.

But there are feminine roots to yoga. Before the lineages and hierarchies existed to promote certain forms of yoga teaching, the deep roots of this holistic practice of self-care and empowerment were female.

Archeological evidence from 1300 BCE shows the roots of tantra, an approach to spirituality that embraces all aspects of human experience as a means to liberation. The roots of tantra include practices that honour the yoginis (goddesses and women who practice yoga) and celebrate the powerful energies of menstruation and birth as opportunities for profound spiritual initiation. It’s from the roots of tantra that hatha yoga grew. Hatha yoga is the son, but tantra is the mother.

Could this be why women love yoga? It was ours in the first place: a whole technology of self-care and spiritual development inspired by the cycles of our bodies. So when we get on our mats and follow our breath, we come back home to ourselves, rediscover our own power, and reconnect with ancient feminine roots of yoga.

For western women, this rediscovery began at the end of the nineteenth century. During the 1890s, when Queen Victoria was taking yoga philosophy lessons in Buckingham Palace, an Anglo-Irish governess called Margaret Noble met a traveling Bengali monk in a London drawing room, and fell in love with yoga as a spiritual teaching. Margaret traveled to Calcutta to study with her teacher.

As ‘Sister Nivedita’, Margaret Noble was one of a wave of courageous women who rediscovered the power of yoga and shared it. Other pioneering women traveled to India, each seeking yoga teachings to bring back home. In 1912 Mollie Bagot Stack studied in India, and brought her ‘stretch and swing’ classes to the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in London in the 1920s. In 1930, Latvian Eugenie Labunskaia studied with yoga master Krishnamacharya. Known as Indra Devi, Eugenie was a passionate and hugely influential international yoga teacher. By the time she died at the age of 103, she had spread yoga throughout five continents.

Indra Devi was the most prominent of the astonishing women who devoted their lives to yoga. When these women began to share yoga, something remarkable happened. Initially, yoga students would be lined up like soldiers, performing standard poses to order. This masculine approach to yoga teaching is still widespread, but slowly, women teachers began to sense that military approaches to yoga promoted by traditional lineages were not exactly suited to women’s bodies, at least not all of the time. Inspired by teachers such as Vanda Scaravelli and Angela Farmer, many women teachers have begun to work intuitively with the tools of hatha yoga, to share a more feminine, potently nourishing and womanly practice.

This fluid, powerful yoga brings us back to the ancient feminine roots of tantric practices that informed hatha yoga in the first place. We are coming full circle. I’ve been practicing yoga for forty-three years, and have spent seven years researching the history of women in yoga. I’ve been delighted to rediscover that yoga’s feminine roots nourish women today.

When we heed our intuition, honouring the wisdom of our cycles, then yoga responds perfectly to the needs of our female bodies: bodies that menstruate and conceive, bodies that miscarry and give birth, bodies with breasts, wombs and bellies, bodies that go through menopause and experience pre-menstrual tension. The yoga that best serves women does not impose upon us the shapes and forms of yoga practice designed for men, instead, it supports us at every stage of our lives.

So if you are female and you practice yoga, then I invite you, next time you are told in a class what to do, to pause, to feel into yourself and ask: does this really suit me right now? If I am menstruating, or ovulating, does this make a difference to my yoga practice? If I am about to bleed, or if I am having a hot flush, then does this yoga that I’m being instructed to do really suit me today?

When we ask these questions, we don’t just replicate sequences learnt from male lineages that exist to protect teachings, not to serve the well-being of students. Instead we find yoga that works best for us as women, that respects the cycles of our female bodies. This is a radical shift towards self-care as empowerment. And yoga that empowers women has very ancient roots.

Uma Dinsmore-Tuli Phd is a yoga therapist. Her new book, Yoni Shakti: a woman’s guide to power and freedom through yoga and tantra is out now. For more details of the book, please visit www.yonishakti.co. To connect with teachers who share a feminine vision of yoga practice for women please visit www.wombyoga.org

Stockist details www.yogamatters.com

Photo: Wikimedia

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The forgotten women of Kalamazoo

In 1942 Glenn Miller’s I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo swung its way to the top of the Hit Parade charts for eight weeks. One year earlier, a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy at Pearl Harbour had dragged America into war, stealing its men overnight like a hypnagogic hallucination. At the same time an extraordinary group of women walked quietly through the doors of 225 Parsons Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Their mission: to build wartime Gibson guitars.

Glenn Miller wasn’t the only one who had a gal in Kalamazoo. During the years 1942-45, Gibson Guitar Corporation had several. As is the case with many a clandestine affair, their existence has long since been deleted and rewritten from the Gibson history books, their fingerprints and handiwork polished away with a J-cloth. As quietly as they entered the Gibson factory in January 1942, they disappeared again.

John Thomas’ personal quest to find the lost Kalamazoo gals is endearingly told in Kalamazoo Gals: A story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII. This is not just one story but many; finally giving these women their voice, to talk about the guitars they made for a manufacturer that denied they ever existed.

Why the cover-up? We never quite find out. The Kalamazoo women produced nearly 25,000 guitars during World War II yet Gibson denied ever building instruments over this period. Their ads in 1945 even welcomed a ‘new world’ where guitars would be ‘available again’. Gibson folklore eradicated their gals from history, claiming only “seasoned craftsmen” too old for war were carrying out repairs. In reality, women such as Jenny Snow, Velura Wood, Mary Jane Dowels and Ruth Stap populated the work benches, creating refined Banner Gibsons from rationed materials. No mean feat.

As the women vanished in 1945, returning to their children, kitchens and marriages, the Banner Gibsons vanished too. These guitars are unequivocally strapped to the women who made them, with the slogan “Only a Gibson is Good Enough” on the golden banners of the guitar headstocks. “There it would reside for four short years, to disappear sometime in 1945, not again to be seen until the Gibson Company produced reissues in the 1990s of the guitars that many players and collectors contend represent Gibson’s zenith.” And this is what makes John Thomas’ book all the more vital; the Kalamazoo Girls created some of the best guitars in Gibson’s history.

This book is their story, their lives, in their modest words. None consider their work extraordinary. Most shrug themselves off the page that frames them, undermining their contribution as unskilled. 84-year-old Jenny Snow who can uncoil and recoil Gibson mona-steel string in a blink of an eye; Velura Wood who inspected every single Banner flattop guitar during the years 1943-46; frail Mary Jane Dowels, now 80, who back in 1944 “did those fancy ones, you know. The L-5s and Super 400s. I could bind 26 or 27 headstocks in a day.” And then there’s Ruth Stap, who inlaid the Gibsons with mother of pearl. Around her neck is a wooden heart she made in the Gibson factory with five mother of pearl stars. Each star represents one of her brothers: “One for each of my brothers who was in the war. I wore it every day of the war and, you know what? All of my brothers made it back.”

What makes each tale bittersweet is their brevity. As one Gibson gal, Delores, sums up for the group: “My husband got out of the service in 1946 and I became a homemaker”. They loved to work. Like most of us, they loved getting paid even more, but when the time came the same modesty that underpinned their talent, underpinned their willingness to leave as quickly as they arrived without complaint or protestation.

All we’re left with is this one sincere testament to their story, told 70 years after both the Banners and their Kalamazoo gals disappeared, just like Glenn Miller, whose aircraft vanished without trace only a few months earlier in 1944 somewhere over the English Channel. Miller himself once declared: “America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music”. How true that was, and will always be, for the extraordinary Banner women of Kalamazoo.

Competition

We’re offering Feminist Times members the chance to win a copy of Kalamazoo Gals: A story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII, signed by author John Thomas.

Enter your details here and we’ll select one winner at random at 5pm tomorrow, Thursday 24 April. Please enter the email address you used to sign up as a member; only entries made by current Feminist Times members will be counted. If you are not yet a member, or your membership has expired, click here to join us.

Kat Lister is a Contributing Editor of Feminist Times. She is a freelance writer living in London and can be found tweeting to an empty room @Madame_George. She has contributed to NME, The Telegraph, Grazia, Time Out, Clash magazine and Frankie magazine.

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Sisterhood & After: Listen to Fifty Years of Feminism

Tonight the East London Fawcett Society is holding a debate on the legacy of feminist campaigners from the Second Wave, 50 Years of Feminism. This event, chaired by the Southbank’s Jude Kelly, has been inspired by and is being held in partnership with The British Library’s new feminist oral history project, Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement. Panelists include Melissa Benn, Beatrix Campbell, Laura Bates and Lesley Abdela.

To coincide with this event, The British Library has selected three of the more than 150 recordings to share with Feminist Times readers. These recordings and their transcripts, as well as the rest of the archive, are available online on the British Library’s ‘Sisterhood & After’ website. Listen to them below.

Sisterhood & After is a unique oral history archive depicting the stories of the women involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement, launched on 8 March last year by the British Library, in partnership with the University of Sussex and The Women’s Library.

From Spare Rib to Greenham Common, the Southhall Black Sisters to the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights’ movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s transformed the lives of men and women and shaped the world we live in today. This oral history archive brings together the diverse experiences of the women involved in this movement for the first time, including issues ranging from reproductive rights, equality, independence to marriage and sexual rights. Over 350 hours of unedited recordings from the archive are available in the reading rooms of the British Library, and highlights from the archive, including edited clips, video and contextual information are available online.

The project was developed over the last four years in response to a demand from the activists themselves, who felt their stories had never been recorded in full before. Participants include well-known figures such as Susie Orbach and Jenni Murray as well as lesser known stories, such as Una Kroll, a former doctor, nun and campaigner for women’s right to be priests; Rowena Arshad, a trade union activist who co-organised a pioneering black women’s refuge in Scotland; Betty Cook, a miner’s wife who became politicised during the miner strike forming ‘Women Against Pit Closures’; and women involved in campaigns such as the Miss World protest, the Grunwick Strike, Reclaim the Night, the Equal Pay Act and many more.

Pragna Patel describing her involvement in Southall Black Sisters

Pragna Patel is the founder and Director of Southall Black Sisters Centre (SBS). SBS is, a multi-award-winning women’s organisation founded in 1979 to address the needs of black and minority women experiencing gender violence. It successfully campaigned for the release of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a landmark case in which an Asian woman was convicted of the murder of her violent husband. The case reformed homicide law, creating greater awareness within and outside minority communities. Pragna is also a co-founder of Women Against Fundamentalism.

Pragna Patel interviewed by Rachel Cohen, C1420/18 © The British Library and The University of Sussex

Karen McMinn describing violence against women in the context of the Northern Irish conflict

Karen McMinn (born 1956) joined Belfast Women’s Aid in 1977 and was involved in the Free Noreen Winchester Campaign in 1978. As Director of Northern Ireland Women’s Aid 1981-1996, she played a key role within the women’s movement in raising the issue of violence against women and women’s social and political empowerment during a period of intense political violent conflict in Northern Ireland. Karen now works as an independent consultant focusing on issues of gender inequality and marginalisation within post conflict societies.

Karen McMinn interviewed by Rachel Cohen, C1420/26 © The British Library and The University of Sussex

Ursula Owen talking about setting up Virago and the way it was received

Ursula Owen is a publisher and editor. She was a founder director of Virago Press, which published many remarkable women writers, including Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Rebecca West and Mary Chamberlain, and recovered many out-of-print writers, including Willa Cather, Rosamund Lehmann, and Isabella Bird. She worked at Virago for seventeen years from l974 as editorial director and then joint managing director; she was chief executive of Index on Censorship, the magazine for free expression, from l993 – 2006, and founder of the Free Word Centre for literature, literacy and free expression.

Ursula Owen interviewed by Rachel Cohen, C1420/36 © The British Library and The University of Sussex

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Feminist Events Listings: April 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in April.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

30 March – 5 April || International Anti-Street Harassment Week @ Worldwide.

Organised by Rape Crisis South London. As part of International Anti-Street Harassment Week (30th March – 5th of April 2014), we are asking anyone who wants to help end street harassment to take a photo of one of London’s many stunning landmarks alongside a message of support for loving London streets but hating street harassment.

You can post your photos on the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/1405046029753784/

MORE INFO: http://www.meetusonthestreet.org/

11 April || What the Frock! Comedy Awards @ Maurentania, 9 Park Street, Bristol.

The all-female What The Frock! Award returns for a second year. Last year, all the places were filled within 24 hours of the competition being announced, and this year they were filled within 10 hours! This is one of only two all-female comedy awards in the UK, and is free to enter. The compere for the evening will be Cerys Nelmes, and we will have a performance from Annabel O’Connell, who was a finalist in 2013. Tickets £10.00

MORE INFO: http://www.wegottickets.com/whatthefrockcomedy

25-27th April || Pussy Whipped Festival @ The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh.

Pussy Whipped presents a full weekend of queer/LGBTI+ and feminist underground shenanigans in the form of live music, dancing, films, workshops, poetry and performances. For full listings please see the Facebook event. All designed to stick a finger up at queer-phobias and sexism with great big smiles on our faces. People of all genders and sexualities welcome. Funded by Awards for All Scotland.  Weekend tickets are just £6, available from or £8 on the door. Day tickets are also available at £3 advance or £4 on the door.

TICKETS: http://www.wegottickets.com/f/7129

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/502028353250998/

LONDON

8-13 April || Birds Eye View Film Festival 2014 @ Various venues including; Barbican, BFI Southbank and ICA.

The Festival will feature UK premieres, cutting edge features, insightful personal documentaries, live music, silent film and special events featuring some of the world’s leading female filmmakers and rising new talents. There will also be industry training opportunities supported by the British Council and Creative Skillset. For full programme information please follow link below.

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/JlHZUH

16 April || The Fawcett Society present; Story Tellers: Why Women’s fiction deserves a price @ Holt International Business School, London.

A special evening event in Central London on 16 April, as part of our Fawcett+ scheme, which you can read about by clicking here. Renowned and inspirational writers will discuss the contribution of women’s fiction to writing and wider social change, and the importance of continuing to celebrate and profile this. To speak and lead the debate will be Kate Mosse OBE (international bestselling author of novels Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel and founder of the Orange Prize, now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction); and writer and campaigner Lisa Appignanesi OBE (author of several novels and works of non-fiction, including Trials of Passion to be published in April, and editor of 50 Shades of Feminism).  6.15-9.30pm. Tickets: £20

TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fawcett-story-tellers-tickets-7311772709

17 April || Feminist Whores? Exploring Feminist Debates Around Violence, Sex Work & Porn @ Middlesex University, London.

The Crime and Conflict Research Centre at Middlesex University is delighted to present this year’s annual conference theme with Dr Erin Sanders-McDonagh and Dr Lucy Nevill. Feminism has traditionally had an uncomfortable relationship with pornography and sex work, often positioning women in these industries as hapless victims, and men as perpetrators and criminals. In the face of increasing criminalisation of sex work and censorship of pornography, this conference will aim to look at the ways in which both porn and the sex industry have been construed as violence towards women in the popular imaginary. The conference will have academic speakers, sex worker activists, and third sector practitioners speaking about these issues – we welcome everyone who is interested in exploring these issues in a respectful and engaging setting. 10:00am to 17:00pm. FREE

TICKETS: http://goo.gl/SE1Lp3

26 April || Let’s Start a Pussy Riot @ The Feminist Library, London.

Let’s Start a Pussy Riot is a creative response founded by Free Pussy Riot, Girls Get Busy, Not So Popular and Storm In A Teacup. A collective of collectives whose aim was to bring together voices from the arts in support of Pussy Riot. “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” was published in June 2013 by Rough Trade Records. At the Feminist Library we will be discussing the story of Pussy Riot (their motives, their influence and the future of Pussy Riot), exploring the context – Russian State and the Orthodox Church, the degradation of LGBT rights in Russia and encouraging all to use the idea of “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” to create their own forms of collective activism.

MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/FeministLibrary

30 April || Rights for Women training: The Asylum Process and Financial Support for Asylyum-seeking women, EC1, London.

With delivery in partnership with the Asylum Support Appeals Project, this course is a comprehensive examination of asylum support (Home Office financial subsistence and accommodation) options open to women who are seeking asylum and failed asylum seekers. Featuring practical exercises and discussion of actions support workers can take, book this course to compliment your asylum claim knowledge or as an introduction to supporting asylum-seeking women. 10am – 4pm. FREE.

MORE INFO: http://www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/training.php

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for April.

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The most badass women in history: Sister Like You

Sister Like You is a new book from Belly Kids in which Jade Coles looks back at the most fierce females in Ancient History, through poster-worthy illustrations next to each woman’s story, broken down to its most “digestible, radical level”. As a friend of Feminist Times (Jade reported from a Southhall Black Sisters protest for us), she agreed to give our readers a sneak preview and an insight into why she chose the women she did.

One of the reasons I was interested in doing this book is that I don’t remember learning anything about women rulers at school. I don’t want to go all out and blame the corrupt schooling system – maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention; that seems unlikely though, as history was my second favourite subject.

Cleopatra probably popped up, maybe Elizabeth I in the context of being King Henry VIII’s daughter, but nothing major or concentrated. It was all NHS reform and the Holocaust.

Sister Like You by Ellie Andrewsfinale

Image: Sister Like You by Ellie Andrews

When writing the stories it soon became clear that it was going to be hard to have a fave. Every ruler had their own particular style, they came from a very individual background and were ‘endearing’ in their own way. You know, dressing up as a man your whole life, murdering slaves at will, gifting rich European women cute dogs. I was so caught up in each one!

sisterlikefeat

Image: Empress Dowager Cixi by Molly Goldbury.

Saying that, if I had to choose, it would be Empress Dowager Cixi – an ex-prostitute who was sold to the street by her drug addict father before rising to be a brutal Empress. She was gossiped about relentlessly and was never really in power, so she had to flex her muscles in the background, but she did that her whole life.

When researching for the book the word that kept popping up in my head was “PUSH”. Each Sister was pushing against something without a break or hope. Each ruler wanted to claim power and desperately hold onto it for a long period of time. I’ve taken, in my business and personal life, to being focused and push hard. I’m not about to take concubines and kill anyone, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all take a bit of power.

Queen Zenobia by Kaye Blegvadfinale

Image: Queen Zenobia by Kaye Blegvad

The other thing I learnt was that if you’re a strong woman ruler, you get bitched at hard. Rumours flew around about them. They were all seen as sex-crazed, violent psychopaths by their peers, both at the time and also by history. Has stuff really changed as dramatically as we like to think? Do we still get characterised as a weirdo for being strong? Are we still happy to alter our appearances to fit in? Do we go into meetings and have weird power games played on us? It’s like, yeah, tick tick tick tick all those boxes.

COMPETITION: Jade & Belly Kids have given us a signed copy of Sister Like You for one Feminist Times reader to win! To be in with a chance, tweet us (@Feminist_Times) with the name of your own most badass woman and a reason why yours is the best. Make sure you include the hastag #sisterlikeyou. We’ll announce the winner at 5pm on Monday 7 April.

Jade Coles is a lot of things including opinionated, loud, and into a lot of stuff. A curator of culture Jade writes stuff with @bellykids, performs/sometimes tweets for @gaggle, and programmes talks, workshops, music, bands and everything in between for a very popular location in East London. You can follow her adventures on @perpetualcrush.

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Shakespeare’s Dark Aemilia

DarkAemiliaAbout five years ago, I decided to write a historical novel about Lady Macbeth. I began by researching eleventh century Scotland, but I also read about Shakespeare’s London, and the players, theatres and chaotic streets. As the story was inspired by his play Macbeth, this seemed logical. I didn’t know it at the time, but a sixteenth century poet was looking for me, lurking in the internet ether, between the pages of obscure books on seventeenth century writing and in Shakespeare’s sonnets. A female poet, a woman born out of her time. Her name was Aemilia Lanyer.

Born Aemilia Bassano in 1569 , she was  the illegitimate child of a Jewish Venetian musician. Her father died when she was about seven, her mother ten years later, and she became the mistress of the Lord Chamberlain Henry Carey at the age of seventeen. Henry and Aemilia seem to have been happy together, and the relationship lasted until she became pregnant in 1593.

At this point, Aemilia Bassano was married off to her cousin, Alfonso Lanyer, a recorder player at court. He spent her dowry within a year of the marriage and Aemilia was impoverished for the rest of her life. However, rather than disappearing from the pages of history completely, as countless other cast-off mistresses have done, she triumphed over adversity, poverty and the Early Modern patriarchy.

In 1611, against all the odds, Aemilia Lanyer became the first woman to publish a volume of poetry in a professional manner, as a man would have done. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum told the story of the crucifixion of Christ from a female point of view and included a poem suggesting that Adam should be blamed for the Fall of Man rather than Eve.

I’m fascinated by Aemilia’s life story: she is an amazing inspiration for 21st century women. Although we know so little about it, her courage and determination are demonstrated by what she achieved. To become a published poet was an almost impossible goal for any seventeenth century woman. But not only did Aemilia have her gender to contend with, she was poor, illegitimate and saddled with a useless husband.

Researching my novel, I found that one of her great advantages was that she was unusually knowledgable for a woman of her time. Some historians have concluded that Aemilia was educated at court, that she spoke and wrote Latin and Greek, and was widely read. It has even been suggested that her high level of education, her sophistication and her knowledge of Venetian culture might have enabled her to write all of Shakespeare’s plays, though there is no evidence to support this.

Neither is there any evidence to support the other myth associated with her name: that she was ‘the Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Shakespeare’s collection of sonnets were published in 1609. While the more tender poems in the collection seem to address a handsome young man, ‘the Fair Youth’, the later sonnets are a different story. These are thought to have been inspired by the Dark Lady, and they express ambiguous and jealous feelings. Not so much love poetry as anti-love poetry: an exploration of sexual addiction and despair. I wondered what Aemilia would have made of being the target of such ambivalent and hostile feelings? As a fellow-poet, she might have disliked being the object of poetry, rather than the author of it.

Aemilia Lanyer is one of several candidates for the Dark Lady title. The list includes Jacqueline Field, Lucy Morgan, Penelope Devereux, Mary Fitton, Marie Mountjoy and Jane Davenant. With the exception of Penelope Devereux, an aristrocrat, very little is known about these women.  Other writers have been inspired by other candidates, and their role in Shakespeare’s life is a fascinating area to explore.

My choice was Aemilia because she was an artist herself, which makes her a timeless role model not only for women artists, but for any woman who wants to be treated as the equal of a man. Unfortunately, there is nothing dated about the fact that men dominate the arts, or that we primarily see the world through male eyes. This was the point made recently by Jude Kelly, who set up the Women Of the World festival after becoming artistic director of the Southbank Centre, just a stone’s throw from Shakespeare’s Globe. The festival celebrates the creative achievements of women across the world. Aemilia, a Jewish Venetian of Spanish descent, would be proud to be one of them.

Sally O’Reilly is a former journalist and author of How to be a Writer. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth. Sally’s first historical novel, Dark Aemilia, is published by Myriad Editions on 27 March

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Profile: Sheroes of History

Sheroes of History is a new blog and podcast which aims to shine a spotlight on history’s heroines, telling their stories and inspiring girls and women today.

Women are hugely underrepresented: remarkably, although the female of the species makes for around 51% of the world’s population, this is still the case in film and media, in business and politics, in art and music, the list goes on.

History too is one area which has always been dominated by the stories of men. To a degree this is perhaps easier to understand; in the past women’s access to education, power, property, and anything resembling independent lives was more restricted than it is today. History has largely been written by men, about men, for men. Google recently admitted that of its 445 Google-doodles honouring historical characters, only 17% were women (they have pledged to equalise this henceforth).

I started Sheroes of History to address this imbalance. Despite the fact that we hear about them far less, there are in fact thousands of stories of incredible women doing incredible things throughout history – often even more inspiring when set against the limitations women have faced in the past.

I’m a feminist and I work in museum education; I care passionately about equality – and I love history! Sheroes of History brings these two strands of my life together.

For a long time I have felt that I wanted to do something to give girls more role models; real life heroines who inspire them to be all they can be. I feel desperate every time a new kids film is released, or a new children’s TV show airs – and yet again the main protagonist is male (conversely, I probably get a little too overexcited when strong female characters do emerge: see Katniss Everdeen.)

As young girls grow up, the stories – be they real or fictional – of women who take centre stage are few and far between. More often than not the story belongs to the male character, with female characters rarely having their own narratives.

Working in a museum, I sometimes feel the same way; when I tell stories of the past to the schoolchildren who visit I’m conscious of the sometimes passive roles of women in these stories, and make pains to emphasise the ones where women show agency and attitude.

Sheroes of History will be an ongoing blog and, soon to launch, podcast, which tell the untold stories of women whose lives we may not have heard of and whose actions will inspire girls and women today. In the future I hope that by collecting these stories I will be able to develop them into further resources that can be used with young girls.

I hope that the blog will feel collectively owned; contributions can be submitted by women who have their own ‘Shero of history’ they want to tell the world about. There are three words which encompass my aims for the Sheroes of History project; ever the fan of alliteration, these are: Inspiring, Inclusive & Informative.

Alongside the blog will be a monthly podcast that will feature short profiles of selected Sheroes of History, as well as the opportunity to nominate a Shero of Today – I am keen not to overlook the fact that there are tonnes of awe inspiring women and girls blazing a Shero’s trail in the world today also.

Please check out the blog over at Sheroesofhistory.wordpress.com

You can like on Facebook – www.facebook.com/Sheroesofhistory

And follow on Twitter @SheroesHistory

If you would like to contribute to the blog please send an email to sheroesofhistory@gmail.com

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The unheard voices of World War One

This year sees the centenary of the First World War, which began in July 1914. A hundred years on, when we think of writing from the Great War we think of Flanders Fields and of Anthems for Doomed Youth. We think of trenchfoot and mud; of men in khaki sat pouring their hearts into tattered notebooks by the light of shellfire.

We think of all of that because it happened. Because it’s right to remember, and because it’s right to pay respect. But society’s idea of war literature is not respectful. It ignores a whole bloody swathe of it.

When we read about the war, we don’t read women.

Oh, we know about them alright: how they took up the roles left behind by men and gained the vote as a result. We talk about how wonderful that was for them all the time. What we don’t talk about is how hard it was: how they still came up against sexism, ending up doing twice the work but with half of the respect. How propaganda, when it mentioned them, relied on sexist tropes: girls simpering over soldiers, mothers bravely packing off chivalric sons.

It’s this that’s partly responsible for their exclusion now; perhaps the most remembered women writers of the time were those who fervently took up where the propaganda left off. Daily Mail sweethearts Jessie Pope, Mrs Humphrey Ward and Emma Orczy penned mountains of jingoistic doggerel which so disgusted Wilfred Owen that he wrote the eloquently furious Dulce et Decorum Est and dedicated it to them. Siegfried Sassoon went one step further and tarred an entire gender with one misogynistic brush in The Glory of Women, sneering: “You believe/that chivalry redeems the war’s disgrace”.

This disgust at feminine sentimentality is a large part of the picture we have of WW1 women now. But if we don’t look past it we’re as daft as Sassoon was then: fooled by the false picture built up by a war-mongering elite. Not all women  – if any – were sat dutifully at home, creaming themselves over needless sacrifice.

For a start, being left behind was to play a grievously cruel waiting game, something evident in the poetry of Kathleen Tynan and Margaret Widdemer. Tynan had two sons on the front and her poetry, although patriotic, has little to do with nationalism and everything to do with offering comfort to herself and others. Widdemer, meanwhile, manages to be both a loving mother and to mourn the war (who’da thunk it, Siegfried?) in Homes, which sets up a cosy hearthside idyll and then laments: “Somewhere far off I know/ Are ashes on red snow/ That were a home last night”.

There were also women far from hearthsides themselves. Hundreds volunteered to work in field hospitals amonsgt the wounded and dying, although little of their writing has survived our ignorance. May Sinclair’s Journal of Impressions in Belgium is amongst those scraps which do.

Touchingly human, it draws a vivid picture of the front In one heartbreakingly furious entry, where she flies into a rage when a Commandant speaks delightedly that he and another nurse have come under shellfire. “I promised her mother that Ursula Dearmer would be safe,” she writes, “and then here he was, informing me with glee that a shell had fallen and burst at Ursula Dearmer’s feet.”

Sinclair’s journal and the writings of of Louise Mack – who was the first woman reporter on the front – reveal a uniquely female perspective of the trenches. But women writers dealt too with the one aspect of the war dealt with by men and women together: the aftermath.

In place of a solid class system and set gender roles was a decimated upper class, a female workforce and the previously unthinkable horrors of mechanised war: limbs left stumps by shells, jaws shot away by sniper’s bullets. Perhaps cruellest of all were the mental scars, which would take lifetimes to heal.

Everyone had to re-negotiate their place in this world, whether man or woman. Rebecca West’s novella The Return of the Soldier depicts this beautifully, telling the story of Chris, a brain-damaged upper class veteran and his working class teenage sweetheart Marge, who is the only person he can recognise since being hit by a shell. The poetry of the woefully underrated Charlotte Mew, too, deals uncompromisingly with a world gone mad: “What’s little June to a great broken world with eyes gone dim/From too much looking on the face of grief, the face of dread?”

As Mew wrote, it was the world who looked with horror at the war. The world. Not just men. Not just soldiers, doctors and politicians, but nurses, mothers, reporters and lovers. Tynan, Sinclair, Mack, West, Widdemer and so many others put down their words because they thought others would listen to them, because they knew their experience was as important as any man’s.

And now, whilst we rightly value male trench poetry as a valuable way to pay respect, women writers are dealt a different hand. Only Rebecca West is in print in any large-scale way today, whilst Sinclair’s and Mack’s journals exist only on project Gutenberg, and Mew has been left to rot in obscurity.

Even the one female-authored text which does get attention – Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth – is diminished at the same time as being revered: immensely powerful and deserving of praise, it is at the same time all too often seen as speaking for all women of the war, despite only focusing on a handful of upper-middle class individuals.

The suffering, bravery and talent of the women writers of the Great War have been ignored for too long. Its about time we opened a few more books, and stopped this partial remembrance.

Rebecca Winson is the News Editor for For Books’ Sake, the feminist webzine dedicated to promoting and celebrating writing by women. Find out more @rebeccawinson

A centenary edition of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth will be published by Orion Books on 27 March 2014, with a foreword by Kate Mosse OBE. Rebecca West’s Return of the Solider is published by Virago Modern Classics.

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Women Against Pit Closures: memories from the miners’ strike, 30 years on

On this day, 5 March, in 1984 the first of the year-long miners’ strikes began, followed on 12 March by National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Arthur Scargill calling for a national strike. Thirty years on, as part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, we celebrate the women who have been credited as the backbone of the miners’ strikes and bringing feminist values to the industrial dispute.

We contacted our members to ask for their memories of the strike and interviewed Anne Scargill, one of the women at the forefront of the women’s movement against pit closures.

Anne Scargill, co-founder of Women Against Pit Closures and ex-wife of Arthur Scargill:

barnsley-women-against-pit-closuresWomen Against Pit Closures had about three or four rallies in London. We went to see Michael Heseltine at the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and he wouldn’t see us, so we made a pit camp outside his office – this was Friday and on the Saturday we were having a big rally in London.

There were thousands of people at that rally, thousands, and all of them supporting the miners. It’s a shame that the trade union leaders didn’t come out and support us like the rank and file were doing – if they had done, we’d have been in a different society today. I don’t know why they didn’t come – because they were after lordships and money and that, that’s my opinion. The rank and file from the fire brigade’s union, all the unions, all really, really helped us.

wapc_logo_body_203x203Very rarely did we get anything like “get back to work” or owt when we were collecting in York and places like that, or London, we didn’t get a lot of hostility – you might have got somebody shouting “get back to work”, but they weren’t many. There was a hell of a lot of support, we couldn’t have managed without em.

The atmosphere was brilliant, it lifted you. There was a lot of solidarity. When we started our soup kitchens we got people coming from all over, bringing us food and coming to see us. We had a lot of crying, but we had a lot of laughing as well.

Read Sarah Graham’s full interview with Anne Scargill here.

Peggy Seeger, folk singer and Feminist Times founder member:

photo_womens_supportgroupsMy story is our story: Ewan MacColl and I were a duo, activist singers and songwriters. Together with our son Calum, then 21 years old, we gave concerts for the miners here and in Europe. We three issued a cassette of five new songs entitled Daddy What Did You Do in the Strike? which raised considerable funds for the striking families.

An unique feature of this project was the interspersed spoken testimonials of the miners and their families, who welcomed us into their homes and their lives, telling it like it was. The title song, Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike, was subsequently adapted for other strikes worldwide.

Ewan’s 70th birthday concert was held on January 25 1985 at the Royal Festival Hall. The highlight for me was the presence of a huge contingent of miners’ families who sat in the balcony cheering and singing the words of Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike?

Women played a huge part in this strike, not only women from the mining community but women  all over the country, who collected funds, clothing and food. We lost the strike – but new issues and new methods of resistance came to the fore.

Susan Hemmings – former member of the Spare Rib collective and Feminist Times member:

ms6_zoomMartin Hoyles and I produced a small book 64 pages of writing by Striking Miners’ Children in 1984. It’s called More Valuable Than Gold (after one of the pieces, referring to both love and coal). Many written by girls, many drawings, some about their mothers and also obviously some about their father. They are all about politicisation through struggle and all proceeds went to Women Against Pit Closures and it sold thousands.

At that time I had cancer and was in hospital a lot, and I was also working on A Wealth of Experience actually from my bed there, as well as the miners’ children’s book. I was  just recovering from major surgery when the Tories got blown up in the Brighton hotel and I had to beg to be taken, full of tubes, to see the news on TV – in those days there was just the one in the ward – to watch Norman Tebbitt being brought out in his pjs. What a year.

Susan kindly lent us her copy of ‘More Valuable Than Gold’ for inclusion in this article:

More valuable than gold

Waste a child’s future – Ellie Bence, Kent:
Waste a child’s future
Destroy a grown man’s life
Don’t let him feed his children
Don’t let him love his wife
A world we don’t belong to
A world so cold and dark
It’s a terrible, terrible place
Where the Tories have left their mark
So let’s start it all from scratch
Try and live again
Forget about the Bombs
And ignore the Acid Rain
Let us go on living
Forget about the night
We’ll never be defeated
The workers will unite

The letter – Kerry Adele Evans, 12, Wales:
I’ve written a letter to Maggie
Her address is 10 Downing Street
I’ve written a letter to tell her
That the miners will never be beat.

So get off your backside dear Maggie
Can’t you see we’re winning the FIGHT
Because all the unions are with us
To stand for the just and the right.

You’ve tried to starve us dear Maggie
How cruel can anyone be
But you’ll never succeed dear Maggie
For united we have the key.

To stand and confront you dear Maggie
As we know when this day is through
We’ll win the right to work
And that will be goodbye to you!

More valuable than gold 1

The strike – Nicola Cowan, 8, Northumberland:

While my dad picketed to stop them closing the pits, I helped my mam at our jumble sales to raise money. We had nice times on our trips with the union to the beach and parks, and we made lots of new friends. Uncle Derek used to make us laugh and sing songs. I missed our colour television. We had to watch a black and white set. At Christmas we had a smashing party and we got lovely toys sent from France. I wrote a letter thanking the people who sent us the presents. I am pleased my dad is now back at work after twelve months on strike.

Lynda Walker – Feminist Times supporter:

WAPCBadgeI was not involved in Women Against Pit Closures but as a member of the Belfast Trades Council I did take part in collection, meetings and general support for the miners. We produced leaflets and met delegations, and some of my comrades even smuggled money to the banks in the Republic. 1984/1985 was just one of the “troubled years” here but it did not prevent solidarity actions with the miners.

In 1993, when mine closures began, Anne Scargill and three other women spent five days down a mine pit. Actress Maxine Peake dramatised their story in a play for Radio 4, Queens of the Coal Age.

Event: Saturday 21st June, 12 to 9pm, Women of the 1984 Miners’ Strike, Feminist Library, 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW

Thirty years on, the Feminist Library will be celebrating the stories of some of the women who played a crucial role in the strike, and the transformative effect it had on their lives. Laura Wilkinson will be reading from her new novel, Public Battles, Private Wars – a story of friendship, rivalry and cakes, which follows one woman’s journey and a community on the cusp of a seismic shift. There will be a screening the short film Not Just Tea and Sandwiches from The Miners Strike Campaign Tapes – an evocative and moving documentary showing the organising and activism of the women in mining communities. The Feminist Library have invited others involved in exhibition and film projects focusing on women’s involvement in the strike to take part in discussions, and they are still open to more participants – if you have relevant involvement or work on the subject please get in touch at bookshop@feministlibrary.co.uk

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Anne Scargill: “There’s no jobs. There’s nothing. In 1984 we knew this would happen”

As part of Women’s History Month, we’re marking the 30th anniversary of the year-long 1984-85 miners’ strike with a collection of memories from our members and supporters. Deputy Editor Sarah Graham interviewed Anne Scargill, co-founder of the Women Against Pit Closures movement, which has been credited as the backbone of the strike.

AnneScargillI got involved in the strike early. Some women started a support group called Women Against Pit Closures because we knew that the strike was going to be a long one. Thatcher started on the steelworkers and then she thought: “right, I’m going to start on the National Union of Mineworkers” because they were a strong union.

I don’t think that she thought the women were going to be as strong as they were – she thought the women would say to the men “get back to work”, but we didn’t. We thought: “a woman, doing that to us? Taking our livelihood away and our communities?” We weren’t striking for money, we were striking for a job for our kids and our grandkids; we were striking for what we believed in, and it was terrible.

The men were getting beat up by the police on the picket line, getting arrested, and they couldn’t go here and there anymore, so we thought “if they can’t go, we might as well go. They can’t sack us – we don’t work for the coal board.”

So we organised and decided to go picketing, and I shall never, ever forget the first picket I went on. We went to a place called Silver Hill in Nottinghamshire and the picket was pretty lively but there was no violence.

As we were coming away when these two vans of policemen came and they started pushing us about and that. They arrested one of our women so I went to the inspector and I said: “Excuse me officer, I don’t want to be rude, but what are you arresting Lynne for? What’s she done?” And he said: “Get her an’ all” – that were me – so I got arrested that morning with Lynne.

They took us to a police station in Nottinghamshire and we were in ages. I started kicking the bottom of the door because Lynne wanted to go to the toilet, so they come, opened the door, took me out and took me into a room with a bath in and this woman police officer. So she said to me: “Come on, get undressed.” I said: “what for?” and she says: “I said get undressed, I’m looking for offensive weapons and drugs.” I said: “You’re joking? I’m old enough to be your mother! I’ve never been in a police station in my life.”

She said: “I’ve said get undressed”. So I got undressed and they strip searched me, and the same with the other four women. I just said to her: “Yes, that’s what they said in Nazi Germany when they were taking the Jews to be slaughtered – they were only doing their job.”

The magistrate threw the case out of court, but I’ll never forgive them for doing that to me. Never, ever, ever. I bet they thought: “they’ll not come no more now”, but I’ll tell you something – it made me ten times worse than I would have been because I thought what more can they do to me? I’ll never ever forgive them for that. And then after that obviously I really, really was a thorn in their side – or tried to be. I think they picked me up about seven or eight times – in fact, I got used to it, I used to know my rights when I got to the police station.

About three weeks before that we’d organised this rally in Barnsley – the first Women Against Pit Closures rally. We didn’t know how many were coming so we said to the police “we’re having this rally in the Civic Hall in Barnsley”, “aye, ok,” they said. We expected about 100-150, my goodness! We were going to march through Barnsley and there were buses coming from all over – from Wales, from Scotland – the police weren’t right happy!

We all started marching and waving our banners, and Arthur spoke there. When we came to the Civic Hall the police were there saying: “you can’t come in with any banners” and we said “who can’t go in with banners? Get out o’t way” and took all our banners into the Civic Hall – there’s a lovely photograph of us all waving our banners in’t Civic Hall! I think that was the first time that we’d turned on the police – it was three weeks after that I was arrested. The police didn’t know what to do, they just moved!

We had about three or four rallies in London. We went to see Michael Heseltine at the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and he wouldn’t see us, so we made a pit camp outside his office. This was Friday and on the Saturday we were having a big rally in London.

There were thousands of people at that rally, thousands, and all of them supporting the miners. It’s a shame that the trade union leaders didn’t come out and support us like the rank and file were doing – if they had done, we’d have been in a different society today. I don’t know why they didn’t come – because they were after lordships and money and that, that’s my opinion. The rank and file from the fire brigade’s union, all the unions, all really, really helped us.

Very rarely did we get anything like “get back to work” or owt when we were collecting in York and places like that, or London, we didn’t get a lot of hostility – you might have got somebody shouting “get back to work”, but they weren’t many. There was a hell of a lot of support, we couldn’t have managed without ’em.

The atmosphere was brilliant, it lifted you. There was a lot of solidarity. When we started our soup kitchens we got people coming from all over, bringing us food and coming to see us. We had a lot of crying, but we had a lot of laughing as well.

We had a community Christmas that year in the welfare and we were all there singing. I mean it were hard, don’t get me wrong, it were hard but we tried and tried to help one another.

The women in my community here, some of them went everywhere with their husbands and that started changing. There were women speaking in York, something they never thought they could do – so there were women with talent and ability that they never knew they had.

Miners are very dominating – they used to have to come home to their dinner on the table, but here the roles were reversed – the women were going out on the picket lines. The men were going picketing where they could locally, and they were having to look after the children, so the roles were changing gradually.

A few of the women went back to the kitchen sink when it was finished but there’s a lot didn’t. A lot went to university, a lot of them are in social services, so they got an education. I didn’t go to university or anything but during that strike and after I got a better education than any university could have taught me because I was living it.

A lot of people’s lives changed through the strike, quite a few marriages broke up. As I say, the women were the most dominant part and if it hadn’t have been for the women I don’t think that strike would have lasted as long.

I think [the feminism] came out of the work that we were doing. Women had never been out of the village without their husbands, yet here they were in York, talking to people and finding out that there was another life besides them four walls in their house.

When the men were going back to work this man said to me: “Anne, I want my wife back” and I said “[the strike’s] over now”. He said: “yeah, but I don’t want her I’ve got now, I want other one I had before” and I said: “that’s your problem, not mine.” Their marriage broke up. It was a very empowering experience for those miners’ wives – they found talent and ability they never knew they’d got.

We were really inspired by the Greenham Common women – we got in touch with them and started going down to Greenham. We’d a lot of sympathy with the Greenham women and they used to come and see us. When they started to close the mines in 1993 the Greenham Common women used to come and we set camps up outside every mine that was profitable – we thought we’ll demonstrate here at this mine and try to keep it open. That was all based on the Greenham women.

We found a community spirit in our village here that, as years have gone on, we an’t got it now. There’s no jobs now, there’s nothing. Some women have to work two jobs to survive, and it’s all low-paid jobs, all for women. There’s nothing for the men.

When I look round my community now I feel well at least I tried to do something to prevent this happening – my conscience is clear. In our community now we’ve got about five food banks and on a Monday we serve breakfast. Five years ago we had 47-48 people coming for their breakfast, and do you know we had 111 yesterday? They’re not only young lads that are coming now, they’re people with children, and we’re getting people probably my age – 65, 70 years old – coming because of the Bedroom Tax.

It’s a long time, 30 years on, but we knew this would happen – they shut our industry down. They’re importing coal and there’s thousands and thousands of tonnes of coal beneath our feet – and here we are going into this dangerous nuclear power.

This is our society in 2014, where we should be going forward, and we knew in 1984 this was going to come – that’s why we fought so hard. And we did fight hard. The women were very, very brave.

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Emmeline Pankhurst turns up in a pancake

A Pancake Day miracle! A feminist believes she has found the image of beloved suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in her Shrove Tuesday pancake.

Abigail Jones, 37, of Totnes in Devon, believes the mysterious pancake image is a message from the past, sent by Mrs Pankhurst to egg on today’s activists in their battle against the patriarchy.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “The image of Emmeline’s face in my pancake has given me the confidence to stand up to crepes who harass me in the street.

“The Pankhursts fought hard to make the world a batter place for women, and it makes me flipping angry that some people still couldn’t give a toss about the way we’re represented.”

Ms Jones has resisted calls from friends and relatives to sell the Pank-cake on eBay, despite the fact a pancake depicting Jesus and Mary almost sold for $338 (£165) in 2007.

Honour Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters yourself, with our exclusive Suffragette-themed Pankhurst Pancake ideas…

Ingredients (serves 8): 

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Pinch of salt

Toppings:

Savoury – fig, goats cheese, spinach and honey

Sweet – blueberries, cream and crushed pistachios

Method:

  1. Put the flour and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl, add the eggs, oil and about 50ml of the milk
  2. Whisk into a thick paste, adding more milk if necessary
  3. Pour in the rest of the milk, while still whisking
  4. Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat
  5. Spoon a thin, even layer of pancake batter in to the pan
  6. Cook for about 30 seconds
  7. Flip, using a spatula to gently lift the pancake
  8. Cook for another 30 seconds on the other side
  9. Turn onto a plate and decorate with your suffragette coloured toppings
  10. Enjoy!

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Yarnstorming manly Manchester

Needlework artist Helen Davies and curator and historian Jenny WhiteCraftivist duo Warp & Weft are needlecraft artists Helen Davies and historian & curator Jenny White.

Their latest project is Stature, a yarnstorming exhibition in Manchester Town Hall, which for two weeks will see eight of the town’s male busts yarnbombed with crocheted masks of some of Greater Manchester’s most inspiring women.

They shared some of their exhibition photos with us and explained what the project is all about:

In 2013, high profile feminist campaigns like No more page Three and women on bank notes inspired us to think about how women are represented in society. We were shocked to learn that of 640 listed statues in the UK, only 15% are of women and most of those are statues of monarchs or mythological characters

We noticed that, barring Queen Victoria’s status through accident of birth, Manchester’s municipal statues still only celebrate the achievement of historical men.

We thought it was about time they honoured some great female role models, and a crochet mask facelift seemed an ideal format. Traditionally dismissed as women’s work, craft has been undergoing a revival in the past few years.

We’ve timed our exhibition so our celebration of Esther Roper can put some ‘L’ into February’s LGBT history month. On 8 March, International Women’s Day, we’ll be speaking about our project at the People’s History Museum’s Suffragette Legacy Conference.

We’ve chosen eight women from Greater Manchester with diverse backgrounds and achievements all of whom deserve recognition:

Sunny Lowry – the channel swimmer who scoffed 40 eggs a week; Sylvia Pankhurst – the suffragette who became an honorary Ethiopian; Esther Roper – the protector of barmaid’s jobs; Dr Kathleen Drew-Baker – the saviour of Japan’s sushi seaweed industry; Elizabeth Gaskell – the novelist whose books were burnt by mill owners; Louise Da-Cocodia – the race relations and community enterprise champ; Kathleen Ollerenshaw – the maths boffin & politician; Annie Horniman – the flamboyant arts patron.

Sunny Lowry MBE

Ethel ‘Sunny’ Lowry, (1911 – 2008) Pioneering long-distance swimmer

1SunnyLowry

In August 1933 Sunny fulfilled her channel swimming dream, crossing over night from France to England in fifteen hours and 41 minutes. Her skin was smeared in wool grease and chilli, and she had to contend with jellyfish stings. From her support boat she was fed coffee, cocoa and beef tea; a bagpiper played to help keep her stroke rhythm regular; and carrier pigeons were released at intervals to send updates on her progress back to dry land.

Sylvia Pankhurst

Sylvia Pankhurst, (1882 – 1960) Suffragette

1Sylvia Pankhurst

Sylvia was an active votes-for-women campaigner: causing disruption; damaging property; anything to draw attention to the cause. She served many jail terms, and was force fed whilst on hunger strike in Holloway.

Whereas her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel just wanted voting rights extended to posh, privileged women, Sylvia believed that working class women and men deserved the vote.

Read more about Sylvia here.

Esther Roper

Esther Roper, (1868 – 1938) LGBT magazine pioneer & campaigner for barmaids’ rights

1EstherRoper

Esther Roper was one of the first women to gain a degree from Manchester Uni (then known as Owens College). In 1886 she was admitted on a trial scheme to test whether females could study without harm to their mental or physical health.

In 1896 she met the love of her life, Eva Gore-Booth.They formed the Barmaids Defence League to campaign against a proposed ban on female bar staff.

In 1916, along with transwoman Irene Clyde, the couple co-founded one of Britain’s first LGBT publications, Urania magazine.

Read more about Esther here.

Dr Kathleen Drew-Baker

Dr Kathleen Drew-Baker, (1901-1957) The scientist who became Japan’s seaweed saviour

1KathleenDrewBaker

Dr Kathleen was co-founder and first president of the British Phycological Society – that’s the algae study society to you and me. Her ground breaking discoveries led her to become the saviour of nori, or sushi seaweed.

Read more about Dr Kathleen Drew-Baker.

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell, (1810 – 1865) Pioneering writer and biographer

1ElizabethGaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Unitarian upbringing instilled in her the importance of taking action against injustice. She used her fiction writing to highlight the plight of the industrial poor. Exploring themes such as class conflict, gender roles, prostitution and drug addiction, her books inspired heated debate and moral outrage but ultimately contributed to social reform.

Read more about Elizabeth Gaskell here.

Louise Da-Cocodia MBE

Louise Da-Cocodia “Mrs D”,  (1934 – 2008) Race relations & community enterprise champ

1LouisedeCocodia

Louise Da-Cocodia believed passionately that everyone has the right to access housing, education and employment where they feel safe, secure and fulfilled. She spoke of how important it was “…to help young Black people understand that this is their home, this is the society they live in, and that they have a part to play in developing it. Young Black people need role models around, not necessarily high profile ones…”

She worked tirelessly to improve people’s quality of life, both on a grassroots community level where she was affectionately known as ‘Mrs D’; and on a more formal level.

Read more about Louise Da-Cocodia here.

Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw

Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw, (born 1912, still going strong) Mathematician & politician

1KathleenOllerenshaw

Dame Kathleen used her maths skills to influence government policy on social issues. She campaigned tirelessly for improving standards in schools, and the importance of education for girls. Published in 1955 her statistical report on the state of Britain’s crumbling school buildings led the government to release funds for capital building programmes.

Read more about Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw.

Annie Horniman

Annie Horniman, (1860 – 1937) Eccentric arts champion

1AnnieHorniman

Annie Horniman challenged society’s expectations of women. She raised many an eyebrow by remaining unmarried and being a heavy smoker; not to mention travelling alone, in trousers, across Europe and North Africa – including cycling across the Alps.

She attended the Slade School of Fine Art, and would pop to see new impressionist exhibitions in Paris.

Read more about Annie Horniman here.

Warp and Weft’s Stature exhibition is on at Manchester Town Hall from 24 February – 9 March. Check out their crocheted masks on the ground floor, and learn about some of Manchester’s amazing women.

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Feminist Events Listings: March 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

March is Women’s History Month and it’s always a busy month for feminist events – I found it even harder than usual to pick this month’s highlights!

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in March.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

8 March || International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

MORE INFO: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

5-16 March || 25th Anniversary of Oxford International Women’s Festival @ Various venues around Oxford.

A very special line-up of activities is taking place during this milestone Festival, ranging from theatre, to poetry and storytelling, plus talks, film screenings, cabaret, a Dinner, and more. The Festival exists to celebrate the achievements of women from Oxford and beyond, and it’s organised by local volunteers. Please visit their website for full programme.

MORE INFO: http://www.oxfordinternationalwomensfestival.co.uk/2014-festival/

8 March || Suffragette Legacy event @ People’s History Museum, Manchester, M3 3ER.

Suffragette Legacy: How does the History of Feminism Inspire Current Thinking in Manchester? Camilla Mørk Røstvik, PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, and Louise Sutherland, Head of Collections and Engagement at the People’s History Museum, started planning an interdisciplinary conference to celebrate the legacy of the suffragettes in Manchester and beyond. Asking questions like –  is the first wave of feminism is still relevant to our artists, scholars and activists? Can we still learn from the suffragettes? Can we enter a dialogue with them? In our packed one-day conference we hope to show off the people and ideas who keep the spirit of these women (and men) alive.

MORE INFO: http://wonderwomenmcr.blogspot.co.uk/

8 March || International Women’s Day festival Sheffield @ Sheffield Town Hall, S1 2HH.

The Women’s Network IWD planning group has been hard at work putting together a great event for International Women’s Day. Including singing on the front steps of Town Hall, keynote presentation from the Women of Steel, various workshops, an international women’s voices panel and information stalls. 10am – 1pm.

Here are the workshops planned so far:

  • 100 years of change, manufacturing and STEM – WEA/Glass Academy

  • Challenging stereotyping – Women in Engineering

  • Celebrating feminist activism – Sheffield Feminist Network

  • Women inspiring women collage – Sheffield Futures

  • One Billion Rising – Cllr Nikki Bond

  • A history of protest – WILPF

  • Women and domestic violence

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/FCicVS

9 – 30 March || Translation/Transmission: Women’s Activism Across Space and Time – Film Season @ Watershed, Bristol.

Over Women’s History Month in March 2014, Translation/ Transmission: Women’s Activism Across Time and Space will celebrate the diverse ways women activists have communicated their struggle and resistance through film.  Translation/ Transmission features activist documentaries and women filmmakers from the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain, Jamaica, Palestine, Germany, Vietnam, USA, Iran and France/ Cameroon, highlighting the diversity of different feminisms across geographical locations and historical moments.

FULL LISTINGS & MORE INFO: http://translationtransmission.wordpress.com/

FACEBOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/761938503821442/

16 March || What the Frock! presents Comedy Skills Workshop and Showcase @ Halo, 141 Gloucester Road, Bristol.

What The Frock! Comedy is pleased to be teaming up with award-winning comedian, broadcaster and all-round superstar Kate Smurthwaite.

WORKSHOP: http://www.whatthefrockcomedy.co.uk/#!march-16/c1tb3

The workshops are aimed both at those who’ve always wanted to try stand-up and those who have done a few gigs but are keen to develop their skills. Whether you’re looking for a new career or just a speedy confidence boost (or even a truly original gift for a friend!), we guarantee you’ll have a great time. £65.00. 11am-1pm, 2pm-5pm

SHOWCASE: http://www.whatthefrockcomedy.co.uk/#!march-16—showcase/c1243

Following on from the comedy workshop at Halo led by Kate during the day, come and show your support for the workshop graduates by joining the audience for the evening showcase – where they will be trying out their new comedy skills.  £5.00. 7pm -9pm

MORE INFO: http://www.whatthefrockcomedy.co.uk/

LONDON

1-21 March || BP Spotlight: Sylvia Pankhurst @ TATE Britain.

Dont miss this exhibition in its final month. Tate Britain shines a light on Sylvia Pankhurst and her artistic skills in the fight for women’s rights, designing badges, banners and flyers, and recording the lives of working women. Sylvia Pankhurst (1882–1960) made a profound impact on the fight for women’s rights as both an artist and a campaigner. Trained at the Manchester Municipal School of Art and the Royal College of Art, she was a key figure in the work of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) set up with her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel in 1903, using her artistic skills to further the cause. This display has been devised by curator Emma Chambers with The Emily Davison Lodge. FREE.

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/7zSvG8

5 March || Layers of Inequality – the impact of public spending cuts on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women @ House of Commons, Committee Room 16

Discussion on the impact of the public spending cuts on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women. The meeting will consider evidence that BAME women are being disproportionately affected by the cuts based on research carried out in Coventry by the University of Warwick and Coventry Women’s Voices. Whilst this research focuses on Coventry, BAME women across the country are likely to be similarly affected and this is therefore a much wider issue. To confirm your place at the event please email: equality@unitetheunion.org

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/611875185549676/

5-9 March || Women of the World Festival 2014 @ The Southbank Centre.

A weekend of talks, debates, performance and activism celebrating women and girls. The WOW weekend is for everybody. Talks, debates, comedy, workshops, activism and performance on everything from politics, science and sex to fashion, war and power.  Previous WOW festival speakers have included Julie Walters, Alice Walker, Gordon Brown MP, Naomi Wolf, Shami Chakrabarti, Bridget Christie, Ruby Wax, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala Yousafzai, Ahdaf Soueif, Angélique Kidjo and many more. Book your day or full weekend passes now.

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/bkvkB6

8 March || Million Women Rise March and Rally @ London.

A woman’s right to live free from violence and / or the fear of violence has not been achieved. Women continue to be attacked and violated in many different ways, in our homes, on our streets, on our public transport, at our places of work. The government, the TV and newspapers do very little to address this issue; instead they often blame women for wearing the wrong clothes or being in the wrong place.  If you think this needs to change, then join us on this women only critical mass. We need to be strong together and in large numbers. Unity is strength; the voices of many are louder together than a single voice.

MEET: 12:00 NOON, OXFORD STREET, LONDON

SET OFF: 1:00

RALLY : 3:00 @ TRAFALGAR SQUARE

AFTER PARTY: 5:00 @ THE 52 CLUB, 52 GOWER STREET

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/246935428810959/

8 March || Birds Eye View Presents; “Wonder Women!” @ BFI Southbank.

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and produced by Kelcey Edwards, Wonder Women! offers an informative and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre, and is the perfect film to celebrate both International Women’s Day, and the official launch of the 2014 Birds Eye View Film Festival. Wonder Women! traces the fascinating birth, evolution and legacy of the Wonder Woman figure, from the 1940s comic book heroine to the blockbusters of today, and introduces us to a dynamic group of fictional and real life superheroines who are fighting for positive role models for girls – both on screen and off.

BUY TICKETS: http://goo.gl/qrxmmo

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/lJZb5b

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for March.

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Pussy Riot split confusion: cultural action always has blurred lines

Pussy Riot sang in their Punk Prayer, two years ago today: “become a feminist, become a feminist” – a rallying call to action. From Sochi to Kiev, Caracas to our own cities and towns, we need to believe in ourselves a little more and give feminism and her activists a break. This week has seen some people taking sides as Pussy Riot begins to show splits, following a statement released by the group saying Nadia and Masha were no longer part of Pussy Riot. The two women then appeared in Sochi as Pussy Riot and released a track and video under the moniker.

Social movements appear, develop and dissolve, and movement members fall out and disagree with one another all the time. Why should feminism be so often singled out for failure? It may not give us all the answers but by embracing feminisms together we will begin to start asking the right kinds of questions.

At the heart of social movements lie social relationships. These relationships are often built over time, developing a kind of organisational memory and expectations that persist even when members come and go. Social movements are more than the sum of their parts and are nothing without the actions of those willing to take part. Activism is frequently a difficult path to take but, when it comes to feminist activism, the path is at times more uneven, weed-strewn and so pot-hole ridden that the task of patching it can seem overwhelming. Yet, like the road less traveled, this path can lead to profound personal and social change.

It is important to pay attention to the historical lineages – though arguably not a linear history – of feminist cultural activism and its attempts to challenge gender inequalities. These historical narratives are less about discrete chronological stages and more about blurry overlaps, with each participating actor writing and re-writing their stories with each new encounter.

Attempting to fit contemporary feminist cultural activism into neat, time-specific periods perpetuates a popular discourse that all too quickly relegates feminist acts of cultural resistance to, at best, the history books, and at worst something to be appropriated by capitalist structures and sold back in bite-sized, watered down versions to the very girls and women who these activities are meant to empower. However, this grand ideal of collective action and impetus, to create new worlds that counter mainstream conventions, is not without its problems and critics.

In various art and music based movements, such as Riot Grrrl and Ladyfest, the initial motivation for engaging in activism is women’s lack of visibility and, where women are visible, a disagreement with the narrow roles they are frequently assigned. Drawing connections between different feminist cultural movements in different time periods allows for a continuity of experiences and a chance for subsequent generations to learn from one another through dialogue, rather than perpetuating the perceived generational rifts so often referred to in literature on feminist waves and by those that purport feminism has failed.

Pussy Riot may be a clandestine covert network of feminist activists, but they are emerging from their own particular histories carrying forward previous social ties, whilst at the same time developing new ones. That two of its members should now be reportedly ex-members may disappoint the collective’s supporters but can be viewed as an inevitable stage in the cycle of change. Movements change and members move on to other things. If anyone can be Pussy Riot, just like every girl could be a Riot Grrrl or every town could start a Ladyfest, then perhaps the power of feminist activism lies with its potential.

We all need to be a little kinder to one another. Our activist strategies may be flawed, we may be emotive, impassioned and our approaches at times may not work but it is by taking those steps to engage with one another, to voice our feminisms and render them real, lived experiences that we can begin to make a difference.

Synthesisers, social statistics, music and methods, Susan is currently a Sociology lecturer at the University of Manchester. A serial Ladyfest organiser and SNA user, her research looks at gender inequalities in music worlds, cultural production and participation. Mixing-methods and mixing beats at the edge of the analogue-digital divide, Susan is one half of the dark electronic duo Factory Acts. Their first EP is due out with AnalogueTrash Records summer 2014. SoS tweets @FactoryActs and  @Susan_OShea

Photo: a.powers-fudyma

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Feminist Events Listings: February 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in February.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

14 February | One Billion Rising for Justice – V-day!

One Billion Rising For Justice is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, workplaces, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.

Events happening worldwide and nationwide please follow this link to see events in the UK: http://www.onebillionrising.org/events/

MORE INFO: http://www.onebillionrising.org/

10 February – 3rd March | Women in Philosophy @ Manchester Metropolitan University.

In a series of public talks coordinated by researchers from the Department of Philosophy, issues of gender will be addressed by four women scholars who are by profession eminent philosophers in their respective fields. Women have arrived as practitioners in philosophy relatively recently when compared to the first 2,500 years of the discipline. This series of talks will look at whether the inclusion of women in philosophy has changed the landscape of what is being researched, learnt and taught in this fundamentally important subject. If philosophy is the study of how, what and why we think, what do women have to say about it? Come and join the debate! Women in Philosophy will present the following four talks:

Monday 10th February 2014: Dr Anna Bergqvist (MMU)

Moral particularism: a contribution to feminist thinking

Monday 17th February 2014: Professor Jennifer Saul (Sheffield)

Stop Thinking (So Much) About ‘Sexual Harassment’

Monday 24th February 2014: Professor Tina Chanter (Kingston)

The public, the private and the aesthetic unconscious: Reworking  Jacques Ranciere

Monday 3rd March 2014: Dr Meena Dhanda (Wolverhampton)

Facing Prejudice: Negotiating the Cultural Politics of Identity

All talks take place in Geoffrey Manton Lecture Theatre 4 at 5.30pm (tea and coffee in Geoffrey Manton atrium from 5.00pm)

MORE INFO:http://www.eventbrite.com/o/ihssr-4168900447?s=16853075

15- 16 February | Feminist Libraries and Archives Gathering @ Feminist Library and Nottingham Women’s Centre, Nottingham.

A gathering of UK-based women’s libraries and resource centres. The event will give attendees an opportunity to meet and forge relationships between one another, as well as share ideas, knowledge, and resources. There will be discussion groups, talks, and workshops on topics pertaining to women’s libraries and resource centres.

EMAIL: zaimal@nottinghamwomenscentre.com

WEBSITE: www.nottinghamwomenscentre.com

27 February | Reclaim the Night Manchester 2014 @ Owens Park, Manchester.

This year’s theme will be ‘sound and voices‘ – participants will be filling the streets with sound and light our united energy against sexual harassment and sexual violence. The march starts at Owens’ Park, Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield at 7pm and a neon parade will head down Wilmslow Road towards Manchester Students’ Union.  The evening continues with the Reclaim the Night After Party, a festival of the finest women talent, with live comedy and music, arts & crafts, fun activities, community stalls & awesome DJs till late – at Manchester Students’ Union from 9pm.

EMAIL: tabz.obrien-butcher@manchester.ac.uk

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimTheNightManchesterUk

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/439068732888265/?ref=22

LONDON

7-21 February || SOAS Women’s Society event series; Ain’t I A Woman? What’s race got to do with it? @ SOAS University, London.

The Women’s Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) present; ‘Ain’t I A Woman? What’s race got to do with it?’ Exploring the intersectionality of gender and race in a week-long series of events centred around Ntozake Shange’s play ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.’

Monday, 17 February 2014, 8pm: Performance

‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf’ + Q&A with director and actresses Directed by Adam Tulloch

Tuesday, 18 February 2014, 7pm: Workshop

Redefining the Strong Black Woman

Wednesday, 19 February 2014, 7pm: Panel Discussion

Black (Mis)Representation

Chaired by Brenna Bhandar, SOAS

Thursday, 20 February 2014, 7pm: Conversations

Black Feminism 101: Claiming spaces in mainstream feminism

Facilitated by Charmaine Elliott, Black Feminists UK

Friday, 21 February 2014, 7pm: Performance

‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf’ + reception

Directed by Adam Tulloch

MORE INFO: http://aint-i-a-woman.tumblr.com/

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/aintiawomansoas

18 February || Gender Institute Series of Conversations to welcome The Women’s Library @ London School of Economics.

With the arrival of The Women’s Library at LSE, the Gender Institute will be running a series of Conversations during Lent Term. These Conversations will be led by Professor Mary Evans and audience participation is warmly invited.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 Is there a Sexual History?  Speakers include: Professor Jeffrey Weeks and Professor Clare Hemmings

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 Money and Inequality Speakers include: Professor Ruth Lister and Professor Diane Elson

MORE INFO: http://www.lse.ac.uk/genderInstitute/events/Upcoming.aspx

22 February || Women’s Assembly Against Austerity @ Conway Hall, London.

Women remain at the sharp end of the government’s economic and social austerity policies. As women’s unemployment rises, wages fall, the pay gap widens, benefits are cut and household and living costs rise, women face a daily struggle to keep themselves and their families from slipping deeper into poverty. In recognition of the leading role of women in the campaign against austerity and in articulating a new vision for our society The People’s Assembly is pleased to announce the Women’s Assembly conference 2014.

MORE INFO: http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/women/

TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-assembly-against-austerity-tickets-9613437049

25 February || Rosie Wilby “Nineties Woman” @ Rich Mix, London.

Nineties Woman is a new show from award winning comedian Rosie Wilby using live interactive storytelling interspersed with video interviews, music and photo archive to trace a journey through early 90s feminism, refracted through a very personal lens. There will also be a post-show panel discussion with Jane Czyzselska, CN Lester, Kaite Welsh and Naomi Paxton. Starting with her treasured old copies of Matrix (Greek for ‘womb’), the newspaper that she and a collective of women set up at York University in 1990, Rosie peeks through a kaleidoscope of cultural history and personal activism including poll tax riots, Reclaim The Night rallies, political lesbianism and same sex wedding demos and wonders how on earth we ended up with ‘Girl Power’?

BOOK TICKETS: http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/rosie-wilby-nineties-woman/

MORE INFO: http://www.rosiewilby.com/

26 February || Men’s discussion group @ The Feminist Library, London.

Starting in February, the Feminist Library in Lambeth will be hosting a monthly Men’s Group meeting to discuss books and articles on feminist themes, with the aim of developing a better understanding of those themes and how they as men respond to them. Part of the East London Fawcett Groups campaign; “Are Men Doing it?”

MORE INFO: http://eastlondonfawcett.org.uk/are-men-doing-it.html

JOIN MAILING-LIST & ATTEND: : mendiscussfeminism@yahoo.co.uk

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for January.

Feminist Times is 100% crowdfunded, with no advertising, so we only survive if people join as Members or donate. If you enjoyed this article and want to support this site, become a member by clicking the badge below…

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More info here.

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New Year Message from a Crone: Woman’s Inner Time

I’m calling on Dames, Matrons, Crones and Hags, Witches and Medicine Women – “Granny” can be rather patronising and too comfortable – to set up a network of ‘WIT Eldership’ collectives, supported by trusted and respected people of other age groups and genders.

Eldership is a source of strength, especially in old women who acknowledge our species is self-destructing (destroying many other species along the way) and who recognise that true teaching is a receptive process; knowing what the Earth needs requires solitude and quietness.

I often feel lonely and irrelevent, and in the great tradition of older people, feel concerned that the younger generation is losing its way. From the perspective of age we can see what’s important. It’s our role to steer us all back onto the path of intuition and deep listening.

Yesterday at Oxford Antiques Market I got talking with a Moroccan who sells old stuff that appeals because of its mystery. He has no idea where it comes from, we know nothing of its history. I picked up two horses that were skillfully made with leather; I could feel the way the person who made these objects loved and respected animals. This knowledge came from a sense that is beyond words.

Both of us have been watching our grandchildren using their iPads and computer games, and realise they appear to be disconnected from their heritage. They feel masterful in their own worlds, but are they able to reach out to each other and communicate complex & subtle emotions? In a time of urgent and evolving crisis for our beloved Earth, these skills will be paramount.

Young people need to be listened to. I want us to move beyond patriarchal authoritarian concepts of ‘the expert’ to a deeper place where people search within themselves for their own innate skills and capacities, which the alienating forms of exam-based education tends to squash. All human beings have amazing capacities, which older people can draw out with patience and insight.

It takes a village to raise a child” – Proverb with African Roots

How do we construct that “village” in our world of super speedy communication? How do we find communion between different ages and levels of society? I request that we invest in old women who feel ‘called’ and have been moved by the sixties/seventies liberation struggles, by that age of interactive self-exploration.

I’m an old hippy and I’m remembering how earlier in my life I was so full of hope, as so many of us were. Aware we had work to do and willing to pledge and honour that sense of being called; but now I’m questioning myself and sometimes feel powerless and daunted to the point of numbness, but I know that it’s not hopeless. The Work is increasing in its depth and demands.

We’ve just moved through solstice time, nurturing our bodies and developing communal bonds. We’re also at a stage in our human development where we need to nurture the inner realms we sometimes call ‘soul’. I’ve developed the concept of WIT (Woman’s Inner Time); as contemporary Medicine Women, we would not be teaching children, but rather supporting adults who teach kids, including parents and professionals.

We older women would develop the art of listening without imposing agendas, judgement or opinion, but rather create ‘sacred’ space for uninterrupted personal exploration. We would be a resource and would begin with ourselves and our own ego-nurturance, in order to move beyond old wounds and the habits of internal conflict and self-sabotage.

Raga Woods is a frequently-photographed, much-travelled mad Crone . If you’d like to find out more about WIT email her: ragawoo@gmail.com

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Feminist Events Listings: January 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in January.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

6th of January || The History of Radical Women in Greater Manchester at Aquinas College, Stockport.

This 10 Week course,  beginning on the 6th of January is an introduction to the history of radical women’s movements in Greater Manchester. This area was at the centre of the social, economic and industrial upheavals of the Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to radical political movements. The course will look at women’s role in movements and events such as Peterloo, the Luddites, Owenite Co-operation, Chartism and Votes for Women and will also include three walks in Manchester city centre.The course is being tutored by Michael Herbert.

For more information please contact Sheila Lahan at Aquinas College, telephone 0161 419 9163, email : Sheila@aquinas.ac.uk.

 

17 January  || Policy & Parliamentary Training, Sheffield.

Does your organisation want to make its voice heard in the policy making process? Does your organisation want to influence decision makers but have no idea how? Are you a community group that wants to lobby your local MP Voice4Change are holding a one day policy and parliamentary training session in partnership with the Parliamentary Outreach Service. The session is aimed at BME voluntary sector organisations who have little or no experience of lobbying or policy activity. This course will cover; Parliament, the policy making process and how to get your voice hear and how to plan your lobbying or policy work.

MORE INFO: www.voice4change-england.co.uk

 

 

LONDON

8 January || 1 Billion Rising for Justice @ Southbank Centre.

Looking at the state of female justice in the UK hosted by Jude Kelly (artistic director of the Southbank) Featuring: Sophie Barton-Hawkins (Poet and former prisoner), Marissa Begonia (Justice for Domestic Workers), Stella Creasy (Labour MP), Helena Kennedy (Baroness, Barrister, House of Lords) Rahela Sidiqi (Women for Refugee Women), Eve Ensler (V-Day Founder).

Free Admission. 7.30pm. This event will be live-streamed.

RSVP: monique@vday.org or rossana@onebillionrising.org

 

14 January || NUS National Summit on Confronting Lad Culture in Higher Education at London South Bank University.

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, is confirmed as one of the keynote speakers and other participants include Lucy Holmes, founder of the No More Page 3 campaign. The agenda will feature workshops and plenaries from a diverse array of organisations dealing with issues related to ‘lad culture’ and will feature an opportunity to shape the direction of a national strategy to respond to ‘lad culture’ in higher education. From 10am -5pm. Students Union Delegate: £25, Sector Delegate: £50.00

MORE INFO:http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/ents/event/896/

 

16 January – 22 February || Blurred Lines @ The Shed Theatre, London.

A play created and devised by Carrie Cracknell and Nick Payne. A blistering journey through the minefield of contemporary gender politics. With songs. Nick Payne’s plays include Constellations, Wanderlust (Royal Court) and The Same Deep Water As Me (Donmar Warehouse). Carrie Cracknell is Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre. She was previously Artistic Director of the Gate. Recent work includes A Doll’s House (Young Vic and West End) and Wozzeck (ENO).

MORE INFO: http://theshed.nationaltheatre.org.uk/events/blurred-lines#.UsV4cfRdVth

 

25th January || London 70’s sisters, The Feminist Library. 

Feminists who were active in the 60s, 70s & 80s are invited to an afternoon of connecting with other feminists and  joining in discussion around themes of ageing, ageism,  and activism, as well as offering the chance to form new ongoing  groups if you would like to. Women from outside London welcome. 2pm to 5:30pm. Tel: 020 7261 0879

MORE INFO: http://feministlibrary.co.uk/

 

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for January.

Feminist Times is 100% crowdfunded, with no advertising, so we only survive if people join as Members or donate. If you enjoyed this article and want to support this site, become a member by clicking the badge below…

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#IDontBuyIt: Make Your Own Feminist Fairy!

FM_Fairy

– Double click on the image and choose print.
– Print out the image.
– Stick it on card if you want you Emily Davison to stand proud.
– Then carefully cut around Emily and the strip.
– Stick Emily to the strip.
– Stick the ends of the strip together to make a loop.
– Place you fairy on top of your tree.
– Have a Merry Christmas!

Rebecca Stricksons works as an illustrator and do-er of things based in Peckham. She was selected to appear in the AOI’s Images 36 book in 2012, and was shortlisted twice for the AOI Illustration Awards 2013. Follow @beckystrick

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#IDontBuyIt: How to be a Christian and a feminist

At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’s birthday. Except we don’t, mostly. We celebrate gifts, food, family, Christmas TV, time off work. We might take an annual trip to church to murder a few carols by a cosy manger scene. But for most Brits, there’s little Christ in Christmas.

Quite right, say many feminists. When Catherine Redfern and I surveyed 1,300 feminists for our book Reclaiming the F Word, fewer than 1 in 10 called themselves Christians. Many saw religion as a barrier to gender justice.

And it has been. Institutionalised Christianity has been patriarchal, and its patriarchs perpetrated misogyny. They issued pronouncements like: “Woman is a temple built over a sewer” (Tertullian) and “Woman is a misbegotten man” (Albertus Magnus) and oversaw the burning of Joan of Arc. Protestant Reformers’ fears of female independence and sexuality were a factor in the closure of convents across Europe; to quote Martin Luther: “The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.”

Even today, wives’ submission is enshrined in the American Southern Baptist Convention’s Official Faith and Message Statement (“A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ”) – think of the implications for women in abusive marriages. Roman Catholic and some conservative Protestant denominations don’t permit female priests or pastors. The church has a woman-hating history.

But there is another history, a her-story if you like, shrouded by saccharine Santas and male privilege. It’s a story of emancipation, of God becoming human, coming to earth to proclaim a message. Christian feminist novelist Sara Maitland sums up the message like this: “Jesus was born, suffered and died to reconcile humanity to God.” It’s a controversial message, barely believable to children of the Enlightenment, but still embraced by a third of the world’s population.

Feminists often misunderstand the Christmas story. They object, for instance, to the representation of Mary. But the ‘Virgin’ Mary isn’t presented in the Bible as an impossible ideal that all women should follow; it’s just that the cult that developed after her death did (see Marina Warner’s book Alone of All Her Sex.)

Mary inspires me because her story demonstrates God’s elevation of the marginalised. Mary was a Palestinian teenager of low social rank. In organising Mary’s impregnation when she was engaged to someone else, God puts her at risk of social disgrace (even to stoning for adultery). God organises a series of supernatural appearances (some to women) to prevent baby Jesus from being murdered and his mum from being outcast. These verify Jesus’s extraordinary nature.

The prayer Mary utters – the Magnificat, one of the best known hymns in Christian history – expresses shocked praise at God’s favouritism toward those of low position. A migrant during Jesus’s early years, Mary gives birth in a house’s animal quarters. She wraps him in swaddling bands (used by the poor), and raises him with carpenter husband Joseph.

Jesus wasn’t patriarchal or socially powerful. He hung out with the marginalised (eunuchs, sex workers, fishermen, shepherds, those with stigmatising illnesses). Jesus’s interactions with women transgress social norms: he educates women and encourages them out of the kitchen – see the story of Mary and Martha. He sees them as independent people, not in relation to male relatives. That may not seem revolutionary today, but it was then.

After his death, Jesus chooses Mary Magdalene to witness his resurrection first – a decisive statement of trust in a culture when women were not considered reliable witnesses. There’s no real evidence that she was a prostitute or married to Jesus (sorry, Dan Brown – though so what if she was?) But, as an unattached woman, she became the focus of others’ lurid imaginations. Her report of the resurrection isn’t believed (surprise, surprise), until the men see Jesus and are made to look foolish.

Jesus’s transgression of patriarchal norms, his challenge to power and privilege, is why Christianity attracted so many followers among the marginalised, leading 2nd century pagan critic Celsus to describe Christianity (he thought disparagingly) as a religion of “women, children and slaves.”

History tells how women encountered freedom through Jesus. It tells of women transgressing traditional roles, dressing in men’s clothes, becoming martyrs, refusing motherhood for a life of activism to help other women (in the church, activism is often called ‘service’, but really it’s the same thing). It tells of female mystics (Margery Kempe, Teresa of Avila, Simone Weil), prophets, preachers and, occasionally, bishops (might the 2nd century Montanists put the Church of England to shame?)

As a Christian feminist, I know the harm institutionalised Christianity has done to women. Those profiting economically from Christmas or using Jesus to shore-up male supremacy should, let’s use a biblical word, repent. But Jesus, the divine-and-human, whose radically different engagement with women was key to his liberating message, has nothing to apologise for.

Kristin Aune is co-author, with Catherine Redfern, of Reclaiming the F Word: Feminism Today (Zed Books, new edition, 2013) and directs the University of Derby’s Centre for Society, Religion & Belief. She is one of the founders of the Christian Feminist Network. Find out more at @cfemnet

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#IDontBuyIt: Immaculate Conception & Womb Envy

At this time of year, in nativity plays, churches, and in the general consciousness, we are reminded of the central role of the female in the guise of Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary takes a special role in Christian theology as the mother of Christ and has been called the ‘mother of the world’.

This concept of worship of the feminine predates Christ, with “Venus figurines” dating back 25,000 years. However, worship of the centrality of the role of woman as the mysterious bringer of life is not without its darker side. Modern feminists rightly reject the narrow stereotype of the nurturing, wholesome woman, consumed with a desire for children to fulfill her purpose in the world.

As a psychiatrist, during the psychoanalytical part of my training, I viewed Freud’s ideas on femininity as diametrically opposed to my own belief system. Freud was a man of his time, opposed to the emancipation of women and had a distorted view of the centrality of the masculine. In Lecture XXXIII: “Femininity” (1933) Freud ponders the “riddle” of women and argues that, in a woman’s psychological development, her first object of her mother must be rejected to fulfil her need to attach to her father.

Her associated despair at realising that she does not have a penis when glimpsing this, leads to envy of the penis, with a powerful “feminine” wish for a baby. According to Freud a woman’s happiness is greatest if her wish for a baby is fulfilled and more so if that child is male and brings the longed for penis with him.

Feminist psychology as a movement rejects this notion of penis envy and proposes the more intuitive concept of womb envy. After training as an analyst and gaining recognition for her talents, Karen Horney rejected Freud’s theories that sex and aggression were the main drivers in achieving personhood. She viewed man’s envy of woman’s ability to bear, nurture and feed children as a cause of conflict in neurotic men. She introduced the term womb envy to describe the drive to success as a compensation for their in-built inability to bear children.

She rejected Freud’s idea of penis envy as a defensive reflection of a patriarchal society. His analysis could be more explicable as a defence arising from a female envy of men’s unfair generic power in the world. The neo-Freudian concepts with the birth of feminist psychology were a decisive point in the psychoanalytical movement. Karen Horney’s own drive in the face of rejection by some of her purist contemporaries was inspiring. I felt this addressed my own uneasiness at the centrality of the penis and sexual drive.

Contemporary psychoanalytical theory has moved away from this phallus-centric model to a more appealing and authentic discussion with a humanist perspective. This more realistically reflects the impact of societal and cultural influence on the development of the personality, and a more acceptable view of childhood development.

As a clinician in mental health, the impact of childhood trauma and neglect, and its influence in the development of a sense of self, has been a recurring theme in my own therapeutic work. But the responsibility of this is not the maternal object and should be felt by both sexes.

Horney was convinced, through her work and own analysis, that the fulfilling of a child’s needs for food, safety and love allowed a child to develop healthy self concepts. This in turn led to successful interpersonal relationships. She felt children whose needs were not met – through neglect or inappropriately defined ideas of child rearing – would develop anxiety, with an associated adoption of maladaptive coping or defence mechanisms to manage this anxiety.

The centrality of the “objects” in the child’s life, or influence of caregivers has achieved its rightful place, and these ideas have developed further in the psychoanalytical community in the last century. The works of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott brought me back to accepting some value in the psychoanalytical model. Klein, although a Freudian herself, co founded Object Relations Theory and was extremely influential in the UK, where she practiced from 1926 to her death in 1960. A divorced mother of two, without an academic background (having halted her studies for her marriage), she must have been extremely determined and talented to excel in the then male dominated field of psychoanalysis.

As we reflect on the enduring symbol of Mary this Christmas we can view not only its religious aspect but an ongoing unconscious societal need for worship of female fertility which has changed little in 25,000 years. Our challenge I feel, as modern feminists, is to not be defined by our nurturing role but to transcend this with the acceptance and recognition of a equal role between genders to contribute to society in whichever way an individual chooses, with self actualization and happiness.

The views in this article are my own and do not represent those of my trust or other organisations.

Anna is a Psychiatrist, feminist, mother of one preschooler and fan of the arts. Follow her here @annacfryer

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Feminist Events Listings: December 2013

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in December.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence | 25 November – 10 December

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute conference sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Every year from the 25th of November, UN’s International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women until the 10th of December, Human Rights Day -thousands of organisations from across the globe organise events and campaigns to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at a local, national, regional and international level. Over 2,000 organizations in approximately 156 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign since 1991. This year’s theme is “Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women”. There are lots of ways to get involved whether you want to go along to a local event or raise awareness within your own networks –Amnesty International have some great resources and activist toolkit available on their website. There are lots of events happening locally across the country.   Please see below a list of events for 16 Days – coming up in December. For a full Calendar of Events please visit Womensgrid

Dundee

Edinburgh

Fife

Ireland

Liverpool

Leeds (Otley)

London (Kensington & Chelsea)

Manchester

Norfolk

Perth

Wales

LONDON

NOT FOR SALE: Fighting Sexism in Advertising and Toys at The Feminist Library || 2 December

Both the advertising and toy industries are powerful tools in the subjugation of women and shaping ideas of femininity. The former spreads the lies that women are inferior objects and commodities to be consumed, while the latter indoctrinates girls to accept roles of passivity and submission. What can be done to resist that? The Feminist Library is hosting an event with members of the French feminist collective CCP (Collectif Contre le Publisexisme – the Collective Against Sexism Through Advertising), which, since 2001, has fought against sexism in advertising and toys using a variety of tactics. The collective prioritises direct action (with sit-ins in department stores and sticker bombing poster ads, among others), and have produced two books of theory and research to back their actions. 6.30pm onwards.

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/596284507093456/

TEDx Whitehall Women at BAFTA, London || 6 December

TEDx Whitehall Women is in its second year and this year explores the theme ‘Invented Here’ where speakers will be invited to explore how women and girls are reshaping the future. TEDx features a programme of talks from women who are innovating in business, social enterprise and government; and women who have reinvented themselves or their organisations. Participants will come away with ideas, inspiration and connections to help them in their personal and professional lives. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. This year speakers include Carla Buzasi, Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post UK, Stella Creasy MP, Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Walthamstow. Elizabeth Linder, Politics & Government Specialist, Facebook and Belinda Palmer, CEO, Lady Geek.

MORE INFO: http://www.tedxwhitehallwomen.com

Feminist Review Annual Panel: Women in the Media at The Gender Institute, LSE || 10 December

The Gender Institute at London School of Economics co-hosts the Feminist Review annual panel discussion. This year’s panel will interregate current representations of feminism in the media and share suggestions about avenues of intervention. Speakers include Natalie Hanman, editor of Comment is Free at theguardian.com, Lola Okolosie a writer, teacher and prominent member of Black Feminists and Tracey Reynolds who is a reader in social and policy research at London South Bank University.

MORE INFO: http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2013/12/20131210t1830vSZT.aspx

The Feminist Review has also announced its call for papers on ‘The Politics of Austerity’: “The financial and economic crises of the last four years, together with an ascendance of conservative politics, have had far-reaching material and discursive consequences in regards to deepening social and economic inequalities. As capitalism seeks to reinvent itself in order to survive a crisis of its own making, austerity politics exacerbate divides of class, gender, race, ethnicity and disability at local, regional and global levels. In this special themed issue, we invite contributions that will provide new feminist analyses of the origins, modalities and effects of this contemporary economic, political and social crisis.”

PDF DOC: Please read the full Call for Papers [PDF,22KB] for details on suggested submission topics.

DEADLINE: 15 December 2013.

MORE INFO: http://www.feminist-review.com/

Feminist Times Anti-Consumerist Christmas Service at Conway Hall || 13 December

Join us for feminist Christmas carols, an anti-consumerist Santa and guest speakers giving anti-capitalist ‘sermons’. Details available on our Facebook page.

Free to all Feminist Times members and Founder Members but RSVP is essential. Email events@feministtimes.com to confirm your attendance. Tickets are available for non-members to purchase in advance from Eventbrite.

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for December.

If you enjoyed this article and want to meet other feminists like, and unlike, yourself, join Feminist Times as a Member. Join us and support the building of an incredible feminist organisation and resources like this website.

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#ManWeek: What about my Man Day?

It’s International Men’s Day! Hooray, said hardly anyone, ever, as millions of people around the globe have literally no idea it’s going on. While around half of the ones that do, including many feminists, just roll their eyes and say ‘every day’s international men’s day’. And quite.

Men. That famously oppressed group. I’ll park the sarcasm there.

Have you ever tried to explain International Women’s Day to a drunk and very annoying middle aged man? If so, I’ve been there: ‘What’s that then, a day for talking about periods? Pfft, and what about Man day? Where’s my Man Day?” To those of us scarred by such experiences, IMD appears to be the answer to that question, and that’s just one reason why it comes across as ridiculous as that old lush.

It’s galling that the one day that women have to address a historical global imbalance is mimicked by those many consider to be the perpetrators. Like white supremisists who claim to be victims of racism, or a straight pride. It feels at total odds with reality where women are 70% of those who live inpoverty and violence against women is at pandemic proportions.

It’s obvious then why many feminists and women find it hard to engage with International Men’s Day when one is repelled. But what if we start with the idea that men also suffer, that men are victims of patriarchy too – can it ever make sense?

International Men’s Day was founded by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999. You can see Dr Teelucksingh explaining his reasoning on the video below: Too many families with absent fathers. Too many men in prison. Men failing at education and losing their identity as the ‘breadwinner’.

The ‘family unit is under attack’, he felt, back then. ‘Society needs to strongly condemn certain trends like multiple partners…. these deviant family patterns influenced by North American media… These project the wrong image of men which we tend to copy, we tend to mimic, we are mimic men, and we see that men are being less responsible.’ He goes on to explain that they need ‘better quality men’, ‘high calibre, trustworthy’ role models.

The men behind IMD are not just the white privileged few. IMD comes from a place where the men admit they are irresponsible, where their brothers are wasting their lives in prison, where they miss out on fulfilling relationships with the women and children in their lives. Fourteen years later in the UK IMD focuses on some of the same issues:

The six ‘pillars’ of International Men’s Day in 2013.
To promote positive male role models.
To celebrate men’s positive contributions.
To focus on men’s health and wellbeing.
To highlight discrimination against males.
To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
To create a safer, better world.

Some men, the minority involved in IMD, feel misrepresented, some feel discriminated against. The similarities between International Women’s and Men’s Days are that they both seek to express what they feel is misunderstood about their gender and bring to light issues their gender face.

In the light, not every day is fun times for all the boys, which is probably why the younger ones are the highest suicide-risk group. The pressure to fulfill stereotypes with a lack of diverse and ‘quality’ role models. Stereotypes that lead to abuse of women. The pressure to succeed in a world they are supposed to have built, with rules that are supposed to work for them, when really they are in a system that only allows the few to succeed. Shining light on both these issues can change life for the better for women too.

But IMD has the danger of being highjacked. By men who hate women. By the guys who think we’ve got too many rights, and that our rights are discriminatory towards them. By that drunk guy who just wants a day too. We should be wary of him.

Every day is a Man’s Day, but International Men’s Day is a chance to have a different kind of Man day, where gender stereotypes can be challenged – imagine if that happened every day.

Photo: Martin Abegglen

 

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Feminist Events Listings: November 2013

Verity Flecknell

Welcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in November.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

LONDON

Film Spotlight

London Feminist Film Festival || 24 November – 2 December

The London Feminist Film Festival was set up as a response to the underrepresentation of women in the film industry, as well as to the lack of films addressing feminist issues. In its second year, the festival will take place at Hackney Picturehouse over seven days and will screen 10 feature length films and 21 short films, from 18 different countries, including eight UK Premieres, eight European Premieres, and six World Premieres. Some of the films on show include; En la Casa, la Cama y la Calle about activism in Nicaragua, Still Fighting about abortion clinic escorts in the US, and Foot for Love about a South African football team’s campaign against lesbophobia. And UK-based films such as To Hear Her Voice about suffragette theatre. Each screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring feminist directors, activists, academics, and arts critics. Festival Director, Anna Read says: “We want to celebrate women creatives whilst ensuring that this feminist ethos also extends to the films we show. The festival is a celebration of feminist films past and present. Our aim is to inspire discussion about feminism and film, to support women directors, and to get feminist films seen by a wider audience. Following the success of last year’s festival, we hope to make the 2nd festival even bigger and better, with even more inspiring feminist films and discussion”.

FACEBOOK EVENTS: https://www.facebook.com/events/424690467597346/

PROGRAMME: http://londonfeministfilmfestival.com/lfff-2013-programme/lfff2013/

MORE INFORMATION: www.londonfeministfilmfestival.com

Underwire Short-Film Festival || 19-23 November

Underwire, the UK’s only short film festival dedicated to showcasing the raw cinematic talents of women return for their 4th annual festival, running 19-23 November at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick, London. Featuring an eclectic mix of genres, themes and aesthetic styles across 10 competition screenings. These ten craft awards aim to recognize outstanding female film practitioners working in the UK today. This year’s festival also includes 23 dynamic events, bringing industry icons and familiar faces to our audience.  Underwire Festival 2013 is focusing on feminist issues more so than ever before, bringing women in film and feminist discussion back to the heart of Hackney. With an exciting programme of industry events, this year’s festival questions what it means to be a woman, as a filmmaker and with our society. Teaming up with Little White Lies Underwire presents ‘Girls On Film’ a day of panel discussions focusing on the representation of women in film. The day splits into 4 events; ‘The Bechdel Test: The Ugly Truth?’ featuring guest speaker Muriel d’Ansembourg (BAFTA nominated Good Night); ‘Act Your Age: Is there Space on Screen for Older Women?’ with Kate Hardie (Shoot Me); ‘Honest Lies: The Representation of Prostitution in Cinema’ looking at mainstream films from “Breakfast at Tiffanys” to ‘Monster” and ‘Is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl dead?’ with Laurie Penny (The Independent, The New Statesman, The New Inquiry) and Catherine Balavage (Writer/Actor, Proses & Cons). Tickets are £7 per session or £20 for an all day pass.

MORE INFO: http://www.underwirefestival.com

Theatre Spotlight

This November we thought it was important to highlight some of the groundbreaking feminist theatre that is currently storming the stage in London.

Clean Break present; “Billy the Girl” at Soho Theatre | Until 24 November

Celebrated theatre company Clean Break return to Soho Theatre with Katie Hims’ ‘Billy the Girl’ which runs from 29 October to 24 November. Clean Break is a women’s theatre company using theatre for personal and political change and working with women whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system. On 12 November, a post-show panel conversation features past and present Clean Break commissioned writers discussing the Clean Break commission and its impact on their writing lives. On 13 November, post-show panelists from various disciplines discuss concepts of chaos and women in the criminal justice system.

SOHO THEATRE: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/billy-the-girl

MORE INFO: http://www.cleanbreak.org.uk/

Camden People’s Theatre present; “Calm Down Dear” | Until 10 November

The Camden People’s Theatre present a festival of feminist theatre “Calm Down Dear” a gathering of artists and companies presenting a three-week season of innovative theatre, performance, comedy, cabaret and discussion about feminism. Programme runs from 23rd October until Sunday 10th of November. CPT co-directors Jenny Paton and Brian Logan say: “we were struck earlier this year by the number of feminist-themed applications to our annual Sprint festival. That didn’t come out of nowhere: the boom in feminist thought and action – from No More Page 3 to Caitlin Moran, from Jane Austen on banknotes to Everyday Sexism on Twitter – has been one of the most heartening features of public life in the last couple of years. Our Calm Down, Dear festival celebrates and channels that. We’re really proud to be hosting some of the most exciting and urgent art to be found at the crest of this feminist new wave.”

TICKETS: http://www.cptheatre.co.uk/event_details.php?sectionid=theatre&eventid=732

MORE INFO: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/sep/19/bridget-christie-festival-feminist-london

Politics Spotlight

Why Gender Should be on Europe’s Agenda || 7 November

Organised by National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO)and taking place at the Amnesty International building in East London. This panel and discussion brings together academics, NGOs, political bodies and youth voices to explore how and why young women can and should get involved in the European agenda. Speakers include: Mary Honeyball MEP, Dr Roberta Guerrina, Rebecca Taylor MEP, Catherine Bearder MEP, Serap Altinisik – Member of EWL Free event.

RSVP: admin@nawo.org.uk.

MORE INFO: http://thewomensresourcecentre.org.uk/why-gender-should-be-on-europes-agenda-london/#more-%27

Zero Tolerance: Eradication Female Genital Mutilation || 13 November

Organised by Public Policy Exchange, this day long conference includes speakers from the Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and the Metropolitan police.  It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. This timely symposium provides an invaluable opportunity to; Understand the current legal framework for eradicating female genital mutilation. Explore how to overcome sensitive cultural barriers and improve protection, support and the services available. Discuss ways in which to engage with schools and the wider public to raise awareness of FGM. Examine new strategies that encourage communities to challenge FGM and develop a stronger response at a local level.

MORE INFO: http://www.publicpolicyexchange.co.uk/events/DK13-PPE

NATIONAL

Women in Politics: Yes We Can! Bradford || 15 November

An event that will discuss how women can get involved in politics, Parliament and campaigning. Find out how you can raise important issues and hear from three experts with unrivalled experience of campaigning on behalf of women inside and out of Parliament: Speakers include; The Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (Paralympian, Crossbench Member of the House of Lords), Ann Cryer (former MP for Keighley) The event runs from 10am to 12pm, taking place at City Training Services, 39-41 Chapel Street, Bradford BD1 5BY.

BOOK TICKETS: contactwinterfloodkl@parliament.uk

This event has been arranged by the Houses of Parliament’s Outreach Service. Further information on their work can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/outreach

Reclaim the Night: Leeds || 16th November

A group of women in Leeds are planning a Reclaim the Night March for Saturday 16th November 2013.  A Reclaim the Night March is direct action by women to reclaim the streets and assert our right to feel free from fear of rape and sexual violence. The march will take women on a route around the city centre to reclaim places where women feel vulnerable from attack; the last stage of the march will be open to all. There will be a rally, which will be open to all  supporters. Reclaim the Night Leeds will be setting off from Victoria Gardens (outside the Art Gallery) at 6.30pm and arriving at Leeds Met Student Union Bar for approx. 7.30pm for speakers and stalls.

MORE INFO: http://reclaimthenightleeds.wordpress.com/

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/224837194347698/

RECLAIM THE NIGHT: http://www.reclaimthenight.co.uk/

Women’s History Conference, Manchester || 23rd November

The North West Labour History Society is celebrating 40 years of activity promoting labour history with a conference on women’s history on 23 November in Manchester. A day long conference with sessions on “Women, Politics and Music” and “Women as Political Activists” covering topics including trade unionism, socialism, Votes for Women, socialism and feminism. Also a panel discussion on Socialism and Feminism. The speakers will include Lindsey German, Claire Mooney, Alice Nutter, Louise Raw, Rae Street and Sonja Tiernan. The fee for the day will be £10 waged/£5 unwaged.

WEBSITE: http://workershistory.wordpress.com/nwlhs-events/

MORE INFO: redflagwalks@gmail.com

LaDIYfest Sheffield || 30th November

Sheffield’s grassroots feminist festival, LaDIYfest, returns for its third year with a whole day and night of practical activities, discussion workshops and live music raising money for local women’s charities.  Celebrating women in the arts, Ladyfest is a community based not-for profit movement that started in Olympia, Washington in 2000, Riot grrrl identifying bands like; Sleater-Kinney, The Gossip and Bratmobile all performed at the first ever Ladyfest. Since then Ladyfests have been organised by individuals and grassroots organisations all over the world.

During the day, festivalgoers will have the chance to participate in lively workshops and discussions run by local groups and visiting speakers. Workshops will be a mixture of serious and fun, teaching practical skills such as sound engineering, organising your own grassroots events, and t-shirt printing, alongside discussions on men and feminism, women and anti-fascism and the Lose the Lads Mags campaign. Workshops take place from 11am-5.30pm at the Quaker Meeting House, Sheffield. Saturday evening will see the city play host to an exciting line-up of bands including London based band; The Ethical Debating Society, Halo Halo, Weird Menace, and Not Right with DJ sets from local collective INVERT until late. LaDIYfest seeks out the best new women-led bands from the local scene.

FACEBOOK EVENT / DAY: https://www.facebook.com/events/687874341242421/

FACEBOOK EVENT / EVENING: https://www.facebook.com/events/220472771448725/

WEBSITE: http://ladiyfestsheffield.wordpress.com/

26 November || Bristol Women’s Lit Fest presents: The glory of Pride and Prejudice @ Watershed, Bristol, BS1 5TX. The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival invites you to join us at Watershed on Tuesday 26 November for an evening of conversation, discussion and enthusiasm to find out. Chaired by Professor Helen Taylor, this panel discussion will explore Austen’s lasting appeal and the misconceptions that have dogged her public persona. Professor Taylor will be joined by Jean Burnett, author of Who Needs Mr Darcy, and Professor Jane Spencer. 6.15pm – Tickets £8.00 full (£6.50 concs)

BUY TICKETS:  online

MORE INFO:  http://womensliteraturefestival.wordpress.com/

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for November.

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Angel

Forgotten Crafts: Traditional Dublin Biscuit Folding

This angel is believed to be holding a  tray with two biscuits on it.

This angel is believed to be holding a
tray with two biscuits on it.

Legend has it was Mary Magdalene who first made these hard, biscuit-like sweets for the table at the Last Supper. The craft was first officially documented when it was brought to Ireland by monks travelling from Greece in the 8th century, who illustrated the ancient craft in the Book of Kells.

In the 14th century the craft had spread to the rest of Britain where Chaucer wrote in the Wife of Baths tale:

“ye fealdan disc fare beon god”

Modern English Translation:  “Your folded disc food is very good.

First photograph of an early 20th century Dublin Folded Biscuit

First photograph of an early 20th century
Dublin Folded Biscuit.

By the 19th century it was common place in Ireland for a virgin to bake the folded biscuits for her father-in-law on the eve of her wedding. The dough became lighter in colour, it’s folds representing the folds of the white sheets on the virginal matrimonial bed.  The biscuits were now often more decorative in style, with seeds and fruit often used to create symbols of love.

Often mistaken for Belfast Biscuit Bending, whilst the two crafts are derived from the same ancient tradition, the modern Dublin’s Biscuit Fold is distinctive for the crispness of fold as opposed to a bend.

Daniel Day Lewis unveils  the plaque, 2004.

Daniel Day Lewis unveils
the plaque, 2002.

Belfast Bend dough is much softer in touch.  In fact the dough was of such a gloopy consistancy it was often used to plug cracks in homes during the Blitz in East End Irish settlements.

The Dublin Folded Biscuit made it all the way across the atlantic with the famous New York DBF Pantry being launched in 1952, of course the DBF Pantry is now a well known coffee and biscuit chain with 22 hundred units across the US.A plaque commemorates the first Pantry, now a block of luxury apartments,which was unveiled by the Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day Lewis shortly after the Gangs of New York premier in 2002.

 

 

 

Make your own Dublin Folded Biscuits.

1)  Mix 250g softened butter and 140g caster sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, then add 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp vanilla extract and briefly beat to combine. Sift over 300g plain flour and stir until the mixture is well combined – you might need to get your hands in at the end to give everything a really good mix and press the dough together.

2)  Roll out until half an inch thick and fold once.

3)  Bake.

NEXT MONTH:  Traditional Icelandic Clog Blowing

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Witch and Devil woodcut

The witch report

Are you sick of the term ‘witch-hunt’ being bandied around in tabloid coverage and, most recently, in the Michael Le Vell case? As an historian of witchcraft, there’s nothing more likely to get me ranting. When I spotted a column by Rhiannon and Holly of Vagenda Magazine entitled ‘Why a rape trial should never be called a witch-hunt’, I thought, great. But they too fell into the trap of connecting the term with ‘black hats and broomsticks’, saying ‘people who believe in [witches] are gullible and oversensitive’, and the obligatory reference to the Crucible. Oh dear.

It’s not surprising because, after all, witchcraft is one of the great feminist stories, isn’t it? The tabloid equivalents of the Early Modern period – pamphlets and plays – often talked up a good burning. We have to remember that in an intensely religious society, where you could be executed for adultery, theft, or sodomy, rejecting Christianity was the worst sin imaginable and people genuinely believed in witchcraft. To turn to the Devil, worship him, kiss him under the anus, attend an orgy and then cause harm to one’s neighbours or kill cattle was viewed with all the revulsion reserved for a paedophile ring today.

Since witches were women, it’s surely a feminist issue? Popular knowledge of the ‘Burning Times’ owes a lot to our vision of witches as prototype feminists, as the ultimate martyrs to male domination. It was patriarchy gone mad – a time when women were burnt just for being women.

Adding academic fuel to the pyre was the blossoming of witchcraft studies during the second wave of feminism in the sixties and seventies. As historians broke free of the shackles of monarchy, militarism and diplomacy, feminists in History (or the renamed Herstory) departments liberated the lost voices of women past.

Soon angry cries were raised of nine million women killed – a gynocide! Some held that midwives and healers were executed to promote the emergence of the male medical profession. Most of you, I suspect, imagine witches as female, old, ugly, healers, or herbalists and this is largely a tribute to the strength of the feminist appropriation of the witch as the prototype feminist – those who paid with their lives for being a strong woman.

You may be surprised to discover for a start that witches were not burnt in England and around 25% of those executed (in Europe and North America) were male, a figure rising to 70-80% in areas such as Finland and Russia. Many witches were young – some were mere children (boys and girls), tried with their mothers, since being a witch was regarded as a hereditary trait. Relatively few of the women tried were midwives or healers – they were too valuable to society. Most scholars now agree that around 40,000 men and women lost their lives in a period roughly between 1450-1800.

The judiciary was male, true, but women supported the judicial procedures in their roles as those who pricked the accused, examined them intimately for the so-called Devil’s Mark (a piece of skin that apparently was immune to pain) and who also testified as prosecution witnesses. More horrifically, women dragged other women to their deaths through denunciations, admittedly under torture, but sometimes it was their own relatives or friends. The term ‘Witch-hunt’ deserves much more respect, in memory of the tortured and the dead.

 

Dr Wanda Wyporska has written extensively on witchcraft and is the author of Witchcraft in Poland 1500-1800, published by Palgrave Macmillan on November 6th. She blogs about witchcraft, writing and publishing at www.witchcraftinpoland.com. Find out more @witchcraftwanda.

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SIATC logo

Feminist Events Listings: October 2013

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my first feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy or get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in October.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

Women in Comedy Festival | 1st – 27th October

The UK’s first ever ‘Women in Comedy Festival’  takes places from 1st – 27th of October with over 100 events across Greater Manchester and surrounding areas including  acts such as Gina Yashere, Lucy Porter, Shazia Mirza, Jo Neary, Zoe Lyons and Ava Vidal. Spearheaded by Hazel O’Keefe of Laughing Cows Comedy, this festival is a collaborative venture, with shows produced by What the Frock, Funny Women, Laughing Labia, plus many more. Celebrating all things funny and female across a variety of platforms including live comedy performances, comedy theatre, spoken word, book readings, film, visual art, installations, improvisation, photography, workshops and debates.  Women in Comedy Arts Festival will be an opportunity for female comics across the UK to meet, perform, debate, discuss and get feedback from industry, insiders and professionals. Aiming to put an end to circular conversations and blow certain myths out of the water whilst showcasing, promoting and nurturing female comedy across a variety of platforms. Performances will be taking place all the way through October at venues across Manchester. For the full programme and info on how to buy tickets please click here.

MORE INFO: http://www.womenincomedy.co.uk/2013/home.html

FACEBOOK:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Women-in-Comedy-UK-Festival/133974683463983

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/womenincomedyuk

TICKETS: http://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Manchester/Frog-And-Bucket/The-launch-of-the-UK-Women-in-Comedy-Festival/11937054/#eventticketsbox

FULL PROGRAMME: http://www.womenincomedy.co.uk/2013/home_files/Women%20in%20comedy%20festival%20guide.pdf

History of Feminism Conference | 12th October

History of Feminism Network present their 2013 conference at the British Library on October 12th. Originally set up in 2007 by a collective of postgraduate students passionate about the history of feminism,  their aim was to create a meeting and debating space for everyone interested in celebrating, exploring and debating the history of feminism. This year the conference is based around the title ‘In Conversation with the Women’s Liberation Movement: Intergenerational Histories of Second Wave Feminism’ and is supported by the Sisterhood and After: an Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement project at the British Library, the University of Sussex, the Raphael Samuel History Centre, and the History of Feminism Network. It is set to be a day of intergenerational dialogues between Women’s Liberation activists and younger feminists, hailing the today’s resurgence of feminist activity and asking what is the relationship between this new feminism and the Women’s Liberation movement of a generation ago. Sessions cover – race, sexualities, reproductive choice, the rise of women’s history, and class and work, we will both celebrate and critically examine British feminism and its legacies.

Already tickets have sold out but join their mailing list and keep an eye out for more ticket allocation releases. History of Feminism Network also organise a regular seminar series at the Institute of Historical Research, please click here for more info.

MORE INFO: http://historyfeminism.wordpress.com/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/HistFemNet

NE Feminist Gathering | 12th & 13th October

In only its second year North East Feminist Gathering is back on October 12th & 13th with a packed programme of workshops, panel discussions and even a feminist open mic event. The gathering is designed to raise awareness of discrimination and injustice and to provide a space to develop a network of feminists in the North East, where according to the NE Women’s Network report; austerity measures are cutting particularly viciously. Their aim is to combine opportunities for discussion, learning and planning with creative and artistic elements. Offering a broad choice of workshop sessions across three strands; activism, creativity and skill sharing. Workshops include; “Accessing our rights to Justice”, “What is Feminist Activism?”, “Using Social Media in Feminism”, “Welfare Rights for Women and the Austerity Measures” and “Finding our Voices; Public Speaking for Feminists”. As well as the evening social event “Open Mary” an opportunity for anyone to get up and speak or perform; open mic feminist style. The North East Feminist Gathering is taking place at Westend Women and Girls Centre, Newcastle.

TICKETS: http://www.skiddle.com/events/11918748?skcampaign=fbe

MORE INFO: http://www.nefeministgathering.com/the-programme.php

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/NorthEastFG

Ladyfest Leeds | 19th October

Ladyfest Leeds is back on Saturday 19th of October for the first time since 2007. Celebrating women in the arts, Ladyfest is a community based not-for profit movement that started in Olympia, Washington in 2000, Riot grrrl identifying bands like; Sleater-Kinney, The Gossip and Bratmobile all performed at the first ever Ladyfest. Since then Ladyfests have been organised by individuals and grassroots organisations all over the world. Ladyfest Leeds includes a range of workshops, talks during the day and later in the evening performances by local musicians; Etai Keshiki, Nervous Twitch, Esper Scout and The Three Amigos.  Panel speakers include members of Object! who will be talking about their current campaigns and how to get involved locally in Leeds. Kristin Aune co-author of the groundbreaking “Reclaiming the F-Word: Feminism Today” will be signing copies of the new edition, as well as the Leeds Roller Dolls talking about how to get involved in the exciting female dominated sport; roller derby. All proceeds from the event will go to charities; SARSVL, Women’s Aid and Women’s Health Matters.

MORE INFO: http://leedsladyfest.wordpress.com/

TICKETS: http://www.leedsladyfest.bigcartel.com/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/505109659581311/?fref=ts

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/leedsladyfest

Clit Rock III | 23rd October

Clit Rock returns on Wednesday 23rd of October at Rattlesnake of Angel, Islington. Clit Rock is an annual music event raising awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and raising funds for FGM charity Daughters of Eve, who are committed to preventing and ultimately eradicating FGM. With Live bands; Deux Furieuses, post punk band who have worked with Rob Ellis (producer of PJ Harvey Fame), The Pearl Harts and Dana Jade, founder of Clitrock as well as DJs; Beck Rosman from Clubmotherfucker. More to be announced and only £5.00 entry (tickets available on the door)

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CLIT-ROCK/220135141374485

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1106342036172633/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/CLIT_ROCK

Feminism in London Conference  | 26th October

The London Feminist Network (LFN) set up the first Feminism in London Conference in 2008 and since then have organised conferences in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and this year they are back with an impressive programme of speakers, panels and workshops for Feminism London Conference 2013 on 26th of October taking place at the Institute of Education. The conference programme includes workshops for children and teens as well as a pro-feminist workshops open to men.  Morning panel keynote speakers include; Caroline Lucas speaking about ‘Sexism in the Media’, Natalya Dell “Inclusive Feminism” and Shabina Begum “Acid Violence”. In the afternoon join team No More Page 3 for “Kick-Ass Activism” workshop to find out how to start your own feminist campaign. Members of Object! who made submissions to the Leveson enquiry about the portrayal of women in the media, discuss “Women and the Media, A Post-Leveson World”. This year the Feminism in London conference has integrated two other special events into the evening programme including; the inaugural Stop Porn Culture UK meeting (5.30pm – 6.30pm) and the annual Reclaim the Night march, gathering outside the Institute of Education and marching through central London.

Stop Porn Culture UK inaugural meeting, 5.30 – 6.30pm

Reclaim the Night – meet 6.30pm for a 7pm start

MORE INFO: http://www.feminisminlondon.co.uk/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Feminism-in-London-conference/161906123876922

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/FIL2013

TICKETS: http://fil.clientsite.co.uk/

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog site for full feminist event listings for October.

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