Up to a week prior to the UK Feminista launch party I felt a tad overwhelmed by what it could be. The site aims to become a bridge for the myriad of feminist organisations in the UK and, if they succeed in their mission, UK Feminista could become a vital part in re-establishing the new feminist wave in the 21st Century. That’s a lot to be a part of, but nevertheless I picked up my overwhelmed self and headed down to The Women’s Library to see what was going on.
The day started out with a cup of tea in The Women’s Library cafe and a chance to peruse the variety of stalls promoting different organisations. As I walked through the crowd I kept getting that feeling that I knew pretty much half of the people I was walking by. I guess I go to too many of these events!
The conference started off downstairs in a small seminar room that struggled to contain the hundreds of feminists within. Acting as Chair was the Guardian’s Hannah Pool, who described her disappointment at the answers of celebrities when she asked them the simple question ‘are you a feminist?’ (The answers were mostly “No”, by the way). UK Feminista creator, Kat Banyard, then came to the podium to discuss the organisation and what they hope to achieve.
A number of speakers then came along to talk about their various organisations including Object, Abortion Rights, Birmingham Fems, Anti-Porn London, Latin American Women’s Rights and Unite the Union. While interesting, the speakers took up a lot of time – which I personally thought would have been allocated to focusing on the smaller feminist groups and individual activists who came.
The whole room then dispersed into three groups; grassroots feminists groups, individual activists and the ‘reclaim feminism’ campaign. Here we were meant to be sharing the problems we had and how to resolve them. I joined the grassroots feminists group, as part of Ladyfest Ten. There was a very short amount of time allocated to this section and, while we tried to make the best of it, there was just too much to do.
After the focus groups everyone congregated in the seminar room to give feedback on what they had talked about and direct questions to the creators of UK Feminista. It all got a bit tense, as it always seems to when groups meet up. An older woman at the back claimed that UK Feminista had alienated less technically able women as their website only works on the newest browser. Another woman took issue with a statement Elizabeth Carola, of Anti Porn London, had made earlier about pro-sex groups claiming she had ‘dissed’ them.
This, it has to be said, put a downer on my day… but looking back what did I really expect? It will not take one website and one idea to unite the feminist movement. It is an unrealistic idea to think that feminism will – or ever has been – entirely united. Someone will always disagree and someone will always feel left out. It is, unfortunately, how the world works. This will probably be one of the main obstacles in UK Feminista’s way. They need to remain as a bridge for feminists to connect with each other and nothing more. If one group seems to have more promotion or special treatment than the other then UK Feminista will never take off the ground.
The day ended with a short performance by The Muffia, two scantily dressed woman revealing their lady gardens to the world and doing, spot on, impressions of the caricatures of Loose Women. While we may not always be able to get along, at least we can all find humour in a good muff joke!
More about the author, Stephanie Phillips, here.By: Stephanie Phillips, 31.03.2010 | Comments (4)
Tagged: Abortion Rights, Anti-Porn London, Birmingham Fems, Hannah Pool, Kat Banyard, Ladyfest Ten, Latin American Women's Rights, Object, The Muffia, The Women's Library, UK Feminista, Unite the Union