Archive for the Activism Category

Mental health blog up and running!

Posted in Activism on March 10, 2008 by nectarine

We only have two posts so far and posting may be somewhat eratic but

Here it is!

Thoughts on the abortion rights demo

Posted in Activism on March 5, 2008 by nectarine

[EDIT: I notice I’ve been linked by some pro life blogs, While I respect their right to do that I do not want this post used as fodder to explain that the pro choice position is wrong, I am and always will be 100 percent pro choice]

Last night I went to the abortion rights protest against the pro life road show in Cardiff, protesting is important and obviously abortion rights are really, really important but the way the protest happened really disturbed me.

From the off I was kind of annoyed, as we started gathering one of the protesters pointed out another group of people and there was some discussion on weather they were there for the roadshow or the protest and she said “I don’t think they are pro life they look too nice.” I think that’s really unacceptable firstly aren’t we about getting away from judging people on what they look like, but also because pro lifers are not bad people, they are not nasty people. They absolutely believe what they are doing is right and moral.

The protesters arranged themselves right outside the door of the city temple with a walkway between the middle of them that was just narrow enough to those going to the roadshow to walk through, then when those attending (some of whom were older people and the majority of whom were female) walked through the protesters chanted slogans really loudly, which must have been incredibly intimidating. Some of those in the front rows of the protest were male and from what I could see were the most vocal. So there’s a situation where men are shouting at women and telling them what to think.

If we want to protest and make a difference protesting then we need to unpack and discard the patriarchal attitudes that say the best way to make people do what we want them to is through intimidation and aggression. And really left wing men need to unpack their male privilege and think about how shouting at women because they are doing something they don’t want them to do is upholding a capitalist patriarchal system. Also while I think its good that men are involved in the abortion rights movement if as feminists we believe it is not okay for men to tell women how to think and behave then it shouldn’t be okay for men to tell any woman how to think and behave, even if we find her politics to be reprehensible

I also had a problem with the chanting. One of the chants was ““Pro-life, that’s a lie – you don’t care if women die” I think this is really, really unhelpful. I grew up in a very right wing hard line church that was very anti abortion and although it did many damaging things to women, and had many rules on women’s submission and inferiority, the pro life position is not about carelessly killing women, the pro life position is not about women being less than men. In fact the pro life position from a philosophical perspective is extremely logical

1)Humanity begins at conception

2)Abortion kills the human in the womb

2)Killing humans is wrong/sinful

3) Therefore abortion is wrong/sinful

While it lacks compassion for women it makes perfect sense that a person who thinks a foetus is as human as the woman carrying it wouldn’t think that the woman had the”right” to “Kill” another human being.

Telling the opposition what they think and getting it wrong does not help the cause. It makes us look stupid and vindictive. We don’t appreciate it when they do it to us so we shouldn’t do it to them.

We need to be a movement that understands what pro lifers actualy think so we can refute their actual arguments and not straw ones, we need to be a movement that doesnt use the tactics of the status quo to try and get people to change.We need to be a movement that doesnt automaticaly write pro lifers off as nasty/evil/woman hating

Feminist mental health blog?

Posted in Activism on February 19, 2008 by nectarine

I was thinking maybe I would like to set up a UK group blog focusing on a feminist views of mental health/ feminist reactions to the way mental health is viewed and treated and ways of making things better for those who live with mental health issues. Would anyone be interested in running/contributing to this? I have a few people in mind I might ask but I wanted to do a call out first.

The requirements would be:

you are female

you identify as a feminist

you have now or have had mental health issues and experiences with the mental heath system.

(would appreciate if people linked to this also so lots of people see this)

Older Feminist Network

Posted in Activism, intergenerational connections, welsh news on February 18, 2008 by nectarine

On saturday I went with a friend from MTG to meet the women from swanseas Older feminist Network. It was pretty damn awesome. Firstly Swansea women’s centre is a woman only building which pretty much made me squeee with pleasure! (it’s the last womans centre left in wales) And the women were awesome they were really friendly and welcoming. It was really interesting because they seemed to have a sense of solidarity and sisterhood and just friendship that it often missing from younger feminists. They seemed really enthusiastic about MTG as well which made me feel really good, because I think when your constantly inside something its hard to see what progress you are making with it.

I think this was a really usefull fruitfull meeting I hope we continue to make conections with them and learn from them. I think some of them are wanting to come on the abortion rights protest in cardiff so hopefully we will meet some of them again then.

It really breaks my heart that so much is lost, that younger feminists either dont know what older feminists did for us or they have a really bastardized media garbled view of them, that what we have now and what we are loosing now we have because older feminist fought for it, and that we have to take thier examples, that we have to fight so our daughters have the same rights and more than we have.

On an emotional level this is just amazing for me anyway and I just think These are the women that saved my life (not these actual women, but women of the same age and the same politics who gave me a way of understanding the world that took me out of the wreckage)

FCAP Launch

Posted in Activism, violence against women on February 13, 2008 by nectarine

On Monday I went to London for the launch of the feminist coalition against prostitution. For those that don’t know FCAP’s position is this:

We are a coalition of UK Feminist individuals and groups who believe that prostitution is violence against women:

*
This is a UK wide group advocating a common approach to prostitution for the whole of the UK
* We invite all Feminist individuals and groups, from all backgrounds, to join this Coalition
*
We are calling for the decriminalisation of all women, children and men involved in prostitution – and demand that all criminal records for loitering and/or soliciting be wiped so that survivors are not barred from employment branded as ‘sex offenders’
*
We urge the UK Government, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly to consider a Swedish style law to make buying sex illegal and to invest money in exit services such as housing, education & training, legal advice, welfare benefits and health care
*
We believe that prostitution is not inevitable – end demand

(taken from their website)

I think this is really important because Its really important to push for recognition that prostitution is violence against women and I love that they are really focusing on exit routes for women involved in prostitution because without that criminalizing the buying of sex would just leave women who are involved in prostitution with nowhere to turn

I was really impressed with the way the whole thing was presented, it seemed really slick and professional. There were some excellent speakers the ones that stood out for me were Aravinda Kosaraju from CROP (Coalition for the removal of pimping) and Gunilla Ekberg who was speaking about the Swedish system.

It was quite hard for me to be there partly because I find the underground difficult to negotiate and quite triggery for my PTSD and also because the subject of prostitution brings up a whole lot of emotional stuff for me, but it was also really good to feel like I was really part of something that mattered. Also I met up with Arantxa before hand which was awesome because we haven’t seen each other for about a million years and I’d forgotten how much I like her and how similar her feminism is to mine.

I also met rmott62 which was good and we talked lots and it was nice to meet someone who kind of knew where I was coming from on stuff.

And the woman I stayed with was pretty darn awesome

I really want to set up a sister group in wales, as London is not particularly easy to get to and also there seem to be members of the assembly government who are on board with the idea of prostitution being violence against women, so I’m going to start seriously getting contacts and support for a welsh group up together next week

Braver than us, braver than this

Posted in Activism, International feminisms on February 4, 2008 by nectarine

I just finished reading “My Forbidden Face” which is a young woman’s account of her experience of the Taliban seizing power in Kabul. (you can read the first two chapters here
and here) and the thing that struck me was how brave she was.

Part of the account was of how she and some friends set up a secret school in their homes as normal schools were forbidden and girls were forbidden schooling and boys only got Taliban sanctioned religious education

This was when she was eighteen and she had so much to lose, her bodily integrity, her life, her families lives and she knew this:

One of our former teachers was recently caught in the act by the Taliban-right in the middle of teaching a class. First they beat the children, then they hit her. They threw her down the stairs of her building so violently that she broke a leg. Then they dragged her by the hair and jailed her. And after that, they forced her to sign a declaration promising that she wouldn’t start again, that she respected the law of the Taliban. They threatened to stone her entire family in public if she didn’t acknowledge the error of her ways (page 106)

But she went ahead and did it anyway because it needed doing.

It just makes me think. Really what am I doing? Although feminism is locked into my life it is not my life, I am not running risks for it and maybe I should be. Could I be that brave? Could I have that much courage? That much determination? No probably not but I can still be braver than this, braver than I am now, more committed and more principled than I am now.

Where my passions are

Posted in Activism with tags , on January 31, 2008 by nectarine

There are so many things I want, as a woman, as a feminist but i am only one person with only one life and if I think about all the things that need changing I tend to freeze up and do nothing. So this year this is my list of things to concentrate on.

I want the continued provision of abortion and birth control for any woman all the time.
so I will Make myself aware of reproductive justice issues (this blog looks fab for such things!) and take necessary action (writing/campaigning/protesting etc)

I want an end to prostitution and trafficking and more support for women who have or are experiencing this to get out of these situations.
So I will join and give my time and support to the Feminist Coalition against prostitution and possibly try to set up a sister group in Wales

I want an end to rape and more support for rape victims
So I will work with anti/ending rape campaigns, and work with campaigns which are trying to get more rape support/rape crisis centers open.

I want an overhaul of women’s treatment by the mental health system. I hate that women are often effectively punished for the damage that patriarchy has done to them by being pejoratively labeled and then often retraumatised by the mental health system.
So I will run a MTG discussion group on women and mental health, organize the creation of a Zine which contains women’s experience of mental health issues, Start working for mind Cymru

I want to connect and encourage feminisms in Wales (London is not, in fact, the center of the universe) Including minority women, working class women, and women’s groups that are not traditionally seen as “feminist” but that still support women.
So I will Build a database of contact information for womens groups in wales so they can be contacted when events/discussion/activism is going to take place.

I want passionately, passionately, for younger feminists to understand, respect and honor what our foremothers have done for us and how hard they fought to get women to the point they are to day
So I will attempt to build cross generational connections, and talk about the importance of cross generational connections to younger feminists, I will support older feminists in getting their voices heard rather than dismissed by younger feminists

I also want to teach myself more about racism about the experiences of women of colour and eventually do activism around asylum seekers.

Also something I’ve really noticed is there seems to be a real lack of both theory and support for feminist women bringing up children. I’m not a mother and I will probably never be a mother but I think supporting mothers is really important for feminism and maybe we need to be thinking about family structure and childcare issues and the media portrayal of mothers more than we do. And what mothers and children’s rights are and what they want and need.

And there will be issues that come up in the year that are other than I have written down here that it will be really important to react to and reflect on.

And of course these aren’t the only things that matter there are many, many things that matter, but I cant do all of them and you can’t do all of them, and its important that collectively we are doing all of them because they are all interlinked and they all have to be unlinked at the same time, at the same pace or the balance will just shift and not change.

So tell me: What are your feminist passions and priorities for the year ahead?