Donate To The F-Word Redesign Fund!

I’m sure many of the readers here will be as enamoured as I am with the fantastic feminist website The F Word but, for the uninitiated, this site shows contemporary UK feminism in all its glory – and has been doing since way back in 2001. More than just an online source for feminist news; it’s a lively community that nurtures, engages and questions its writers and readers alike. Hell, it’s the site that just keeps giving… and now it needs you to give something back!

The F Word team are eager for a lick of virtual paint to revamp the site – and this requires money! With the site being non-profit and advert free, this means The F Word are now looking to the community it has established over all these years to make donations. So, why should you dig deep? Well, a revamped F Word will not only look good but it will also, most likely, become easier and more pleasing to navigate – making your whole feminist reading experience pretty darn satisfying!

Websites such as The F Word are so important for the modern feminist movement – As F Word Founder Catherine Redfern and feminist lecturer Kristin Aune observed in their book, Reclaiming The F Word, feminists today cite engaging with the Internet as the biggest influence on their development as a feminist than any other activity!

Donate here to The F Word Redesign fund, and ensure that this engagement is as enjoyable and fulfilling as feminists deserve it to be!

By: Sarah Barnes, 21.07.2010 | Comments (0)
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Ladyfest Ten Festival Dates Confirmed

Exciting news today as Ladyfest Ten confirm the dates for the festival! Get out your diaries now and mark down the 12th, 13th and 14th of November 2010, because something tells me this is going to be a fantastic event…

Ladyfest Ten will be celebrating 10 whole years of Ladyfests – the global, grassroots festival that celebrates and promotes female creativity. The three day event will be taking place around various North London venues, including The Relentless Garage.

Confirmed acts and ticketing details will not be broadcast until next month, but the organisers are promising an exciting and diverse programme of female-fronted music, arts, film, literature, comedy, craft, workshops and even sport! If you want to keep up to date with all the details as they unfold, then make sure you follow the Ladyfesters on their Facebook andTwitter pages.

Oh, and if you want to get involved, don’t worry – it’s not too late! The next Ladyfest Ten meeting will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 30th June 2010 at the Southbank Centre. See the website for more details.

By: Sarah Barnes, 23.06.2010 | Comments (0)
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LASH out at Street Harrasment.

Whilst browsing for low level perverts on Hollaback, the NY edition drew my attention to a new campaign launched recently in the borough of Hackney, London. The London Anti-Street Harrassment (LASH) has a rather ambitious aim: to put a stop to a certain kind of man who thinks it’s flattering/appreciated/wanted for him to give you an insight into whatever seedy thought is running through  his brain whilst he encounters you in a public space. Or worse, deciding his hands just have to wander over to your body. LASH is busy writing to MPs and the media to try to give exposure to an issue that is often considered as yet another thing women just have to ‘put up’ with.  Founder Vicky Simister decided to start up the campaign shortly after moving to Hackney and noticing the level of street harassment she received increased. She states:

With many noble organisations dedicated to preventing gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual assault and other important women’s issues, street harassment gets overlooked as a minor problem. Women are told to accept harassment as a fact of life, or to ignore it. We don’t think is fair. We need to re-educate people, both the perpetrators – who often brush off their actions as “harmless” – and the victims, who frequently feel intimidated, offended and afraid.  It needs to become socially unacceptable to yell at a woman in the street, or make unwelcome comments about her appearance.

Street Harrasment is one of those areas which divides opinion on as to what actually constitutes inappropriate behaviour. In the chat forum on Cosmopolitan, started by LASH, the first two pages of comments are pretty depressing. One commenter posted, “It’s when they stop wolf whistling at you that you have to worry!” and offered the useful adviceCould you not walk another way? or something?”.  Whilst a small cross-section, most depressingly most of these comments appear to be written by women. Whilst no doubt some women do appreciate being wolf whistled at on the street, I’m not sure they would appreciate what the next step may be; being kissed at or having someone masturbate in front of you – just two of the most recent posts on Hollaback. So, exactly what is street harassment, what do you think constitutes street harassment?

I certainly don’t feel flattered when a man wolf whistles as me; I am mostly confused as to what sort of response I am supposed to give. Does he really think I will run over and declare my love? Or is he simply satisfied knowing that he’s made my day by blowing air through his lips?

Nor do I feel flattered when I am wheeling my bike down the road and a man suggests “I’d give you a ride” punctuated with a sleazy smile. Nor (having grown up near a park known for curb crawling) to have a man, old enough to be my father, slow down to a crawl alongside me and ask “Are you working?” before laughing to himself and, thankfully, driving away. Did I mention I was wearing my school uniform at the time? Nor when sitting on the tube with my sister, to have the man opposite us stare unbroken until we felt so uncomfortable we moved.  These are just few examples street harassment I have encountered that stick in my head, but every time it happens I flit between felling scared and angry at my first reaction of fear because some else has a problem.Why should I feel threatened when I am simply walking down a street?

I feel uncomfortable discussing exactly how I look and how I dress, because I feel that removes the focus from the real issue. It is not about how attractive or unattractive a person might be… how slim they are or how big/small their boobs are. None of this is what is at fault. It is the man, who feels it gives him some power by commenting on the way you look, that is at fault.

That said, and as much as I believe that statement, I have a further confession to make… one that I am rather ashamed about; recently I have started lowering my hemlines or covering up a short hemline with a long coat.  I know this is slightly illogical to my previous statement (and, no, you are not excused from comments just because you are wearing jeans and a jumper) but it does seem to decrease the amount of comments.

I am so fed up with these attitudes of some men, and my reaction to it, that I want to do something more constructive than getting pissed off and amending my outfits. There may be a lot of people to convince that street harassment in any form is not ok but, with growing support, LASH may well do it.

Image from here

By: Dearbhaile Kitt, 04.05.2010 | Comments (5)
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eveRy body counts!

Okay, so you lot may not be quite as excited to see this as I was… but, nevertheless, I thought I’d show you the snapshot taken of me at London Fashion Week by the people at All Walks Beyond The Catwalk. I wrote about the campaign, which seeks to diversify the shapes, sizes, ages and races of models in the fashion industry, here soon after I had my picture taken – but the pics have only just been published, which gives me a great excuse to bring up the work of All Walks once more!

Posing the question “Does current fashion imagery reflect individuality?”, the All Walks team set up a make-shift studio in Freemason’s Hall to capture a true collection of stylish individuals. The result is a lovely set of expressive and fun images that delivers a pretty clear answer of, ‘No, this is individuality’ – as well as showing just how many people support the idea of diversifying the modelling industry. See the images here and here.

This blog post is brought to you by the letter ‘R’!

By: Sarah Barnes, 13.04.2010 | Comments (0)
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Demand Change!

Do you think we ought to be criminalising the demand for prostitution? Check out The Demand Change! Campaign,  a joint initiative between women’s charity Eaves and human rights organisation OBJECT, which aims to:

•    Promote an increased understanding of the myths and realities surrounding prostitution;
•    Call for prostitution to be seen and widely understood as a form of violence against women;

•    Lobby for adoption of the ‘Nordic model’, which tackles demand for prostitution, decriminalises those selling sexual acts and provides adequate resources to assist people to exit prostitution.

If the campaign is succesful, this will be a crucial step towards ending the exploitation and abuse experienced by many women and girls in prostitution. To offer your support, please sign the Demand Change! petition now, before it closes tomorrow.

By: Yasmin Eshref, 23.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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The International Violence Against Women Act: Sign The Petition

The International Rescue Commitee would like help to pass The International Violence Against Women Act; put forward to Congress, to empower women to claim their most fundamental human rights. The devastation in Haiti seems to have faded from the media as a cause for concern, however as The IRC point out in their short video, help is needed now just as much as it was and is certainly not limited to one geographical area.

In the aftermath of conflict and disaster, women and girls can and do suffer violence, exploitation and abuse. But, with the necessary resources for medical care, counseling, economic opportunities and education, women and girls can win in the fight against violence.

Urge Congressional leaders by signing this petition to pass this legislation to ensure women and girls have the necessary resources to win in the fight against violence.

By: Dearbhaile Kitt, 18.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Million Women Rise 2010

Thousands of women from across the UK and beyond gathered in London on Saturday the 6th of March for the third annual Million Women Rise march. Travelling from Hyde Park, through Oxford and Regents Street to gather for a rally in Trafalgar Square, women marched, chanted and sang to assert their rights to lives free from violence. (more…)

By: Sarah Barnes, 09.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is fast approaching (it’s on Monday, the 8th, in case you weren’t aware), which begs the question; What will you be doing to celebrate it? And when I say ‘Celebrate’, I don’t really mean party hats and bubbly booze (although this is also a very valid, and fun, way to mark the occassion!) but choosing a worthy event where you can reflect on the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Whilst many people will be marking IWD by donning their marching boots for the Million Women Rise March today, here is a little list of events going on on the day itself…

From 9.30am to 12.00 mid-day
You’ll learn to express yourself assertively when communicating with others. The skill of expressing opinions confidently and clearly, with respect for the other person, is essential. This event is free, but spaces are limited.
Venue: Kinnarps, Mack House, Gatwick Road, Crawley, RH10 9RJ

From 10.30am to 2.00pm
Prominent women from Slough will be on a panel discussing why this year is so important to make sure you exercise your right to vote.
Venue: Thames Valley Community Centre The Green Chalvey , Slough, SL1 2SP

From 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Speakers including Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (British Muslims for Secular Democracy); Yassi Atasheen and Maryam Namazie (One Law for All); Clara Connolly and Yasmin Rahman (Women Against Fundamentalism);  Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters)  and Joan Smith (Writer and Activist) will come together to discuss opposition to Sharia Law within the UK legal system. Tickets cost £10 (or £3 for students/low income) and you will need to register here beforehand.
Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (Closest Underground: Holborn)

Doors: 7.30 p.m. for show 8.00 p.m.
Some of the best and most innovative female comedy acts (including Jan Ravens, Shazia Mirza and Bridget Christie) take to the stage in support of Funny Women’s annual charity gala, Funny Women Stand Up. There’ll be free cake too! The serious message alongside the laughs is about bringing attention to the issues surrounding violence against women. Tickets cost £25 (buy them here) with proceeds raised on the night donated to V-Day Tender, which is currently focusing on a campaign to stop the physical violence and brutality that women and girls are suffering as a by-product of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Venue: Leicester Square Theatre – main house, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX

The Birds Eye View Film Festival is still in full swing, so why not celebrate with one of their film screenings on the day?

Still not found something to do? Then head to the International Womens Day Website for more ideas!

(Vintage Women’s Liberation March image found here)

By: Sarah Barnes, 06.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Million Women Rise Tomorrow!

Just a reminder that tomorrow sees thousands of women marching through central London to call for an end to violence against women. Coinciding with International Women’s Day, Million Women Rise (MWR) will be marching for a properly government funded plan, backed by the commitment of all political parties, to enable women to live free from the threat of male violence.  Further, the march will demand International Women’s Day to be declared a national public holiday in recognition of women’s contributions to all areas of UK society.

The women only event will mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and will be the third annual march. Last year, attendees reached over the 5,000 mark and as a result of the success, MWR national co-ordinator Sabrina Qureshi was invited, by the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, to a join a consultation on violence against women and girls. However, with women still experiencing violence at the hands of men there are still plenty of reasons to march. 

Marchers are invited to meet at 12 noon on Park Lane opposite Hyde Park’s Speakers Corner before heading to Trafalger Square, via Oxford Street and Regent’s Street, to gather for the rally at 3pm. Hope to see you there!

By: Dearbhaile Kitt, 05.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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All Walks Beyond The Catwalk at London Fashion Week

Running around London Fashion Week last week there were plenty of fantastic collections to write up (something I’ve been doing here)… but very little in the way of feminist happenings to report on. That was until I bumped into the All Walks Beyond the Catwalk campaign in the Vauxhall Fashion Scout venue at the opulent (and slightly creepy) Freemason’s Hall. In a little make-shift photography studio the All Walks team were snapping away at willing participants, each holding a letter that would later spell out ‘Every Body Counts’. (more…)

By: Sarah Barnes, 01.03.2010 | Comments (1)
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