Feminars

Feminars (feminist seminars!) are organised by the LFN and aim to inform our members (and often a wider audience) about various feminist issues and campaigns. We aim to hold a feminar every month, and an outline of recent events – including related materials – is below.

Check the calendar for upcoming events, and join the LFN forum or mailing list for the latest.

 

Past Feminars

July 2013: Rape Culture – does it exist?

Rape culture – what does this term mean?  Is male sexual violence against women and girls just isolated individual male acts, or is there a system/culture which promotes; condones and justifies male violence against women and girls?

Are women and girls passive victims of male sexual violence?  What role does the law have in justifying/reinforcing ‘rape culture.’

Speakers:

  • Julia Hilliard, a Feminist Activist, co-founder of Nordic Model Advocates, talked about how the media subtly promotes rape culture.
  • Ikamara Larasi and Lia Latchford lead on Imkaan‘s work on issues impacting young women.  Imkaan is a black feminist organisation dedicated to addressing male violence against women and girls.  Ikamara and Lia facilitate a range of focus groups with young women to ensure their voices are represented within policy and service delivery.  They also deliver workshops and presentations on issues affecting young women, including media representation of women and girls and use of social media and technologies which promote and justify male violence against women and girls.
  • Jennifer Drew, Consultant to Scottish Women Against Pornography and Independent Researcher into male violence against women and girls, talked about how the law draws on ‘rape culture’ to justify/minimalise pandemic male sexual violence against women and girls.

May 2013:  Women and the City: how urban planning policy impacts on women

Urban planning policy is fairly gender neutral, right? – wrong!  As this Feminar demonstrated, how our cities are planned can impact on how women use their cities, often to their disadvantage.

Speaker: Clara Greed, Professor of Inclusive Urban Planning, University of the West of England,  examined how urban planning can impact on us as women in every aspect of our lives, both at the level of overall policy decisions and at the more detailed design level to show that urban spaces are still heavily gendered

January 2013: Online Misogyny Directed at Women Bloggers/Writers  – Is It Harmless Male Humour?  Or Is it promotion of Male Hatred/Contempt for Women?

Speaker: Helen Lewis, a journalist and Deputy Editor for the New Statesman.

Helen has written extensively on the issue of endemic online misogyny directed at women bloggers; women writers and women who wish to express their views on a variety of subjects.  Helen has also written for The Guardian’s Comment Is Free on this subject.

September 2012: Women in the Middle East (Iran and Iraq, and the situation for feminism now)

Speakers:

June 2012: ‘What every feminist needs to know about property law and co-habiting’

Speaker: Rosemary Auchmuty, Professor of Law at University of Reading

This workshop aimed to equip women with the information needed to understand the issues involved in property ownership, co-habiting, and making a will. Topics covered included co-ownership (do you want to be joint tenants or tenants in common?), the effect of marriage and civil partnership (does it make a difference?), and – in particular – the importance of writing a will and how to do it!

To download and read Rosemary’s presentation, click here (PDF)

March 2012: ‘Screen Sisters – Women in Film and Television’

Speakers: Dr Melanie Williams and Dr Eylem Atakav, Department of Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia

Melanie’s presentation was about women filmmakers in British cinema in an attempt to making invisible women visible and re-writing women’s film history.

Eylem introduced and discussed women in television adverts in Turkey, specifically recent ads for newspapers Cumhuriyet and Zaman. Her presentation referred to gender politics, Islam and politics.

  • To download and read Melanie’s presentation, click here (PDF)
  • To download and read Eylem’s presentation, click here (PDF)

January 2012: Lynne Harne on ‘Violent Fathering and the Risks to Children’

The discussion focused on the situation for women and children post-separation from male perpetrators of domestic violence.

To download and read Lynne’s presentation, click here (PDF)

Useful organisations:

In 2012 LFN will campaign on this issue – please join us for more information.

October 2011: ‘”Selling Feminism?’ Neoliberalism, “choice”, and subvertising’

Speakers: Jennifer Drew and Lisa-Marie Taylor (independent feminist researchers, LFN members)

This session informed us about the dynamics of how mainstream advertising is so effective at undermining women’s self-confidence and self-belief, and what women in many countries are doing to combat misogynistic advertising.

Resources:

July 2011: film screening – ‘Sylvia Pankhurst, Everything is Possible’

A WORLDwrite production: “In feature length essay form, the film traces Sylvia Pankhurst’s ideas, campaigns, and political life. The film is packed with facts from primary sources, rare images from museums and archives, interviews with historians and compelling testimony from Sylvia’s son Richard Pankhurst and his wife Rita. The film investigates the period and context which shaped Sylvia’s campaigns and examines her role and impact upon the political landscape of the early twentieth century.”

Resources:

May 2011: ‘”Honour killings” – what do we know, how do we know it, and what can we do?’

Speakers gave an overview of the important work they do raising awareness of “honour” killings, from the perspective of their experience, their organisation and their academic work. A thread running through the session was about the media representation of “honour”-based crime, looking at how it is represented and, therefore, how the majority of people learn about and form opinions on this issue. Specific case studies, cultural relativism, and the need for feminists to unite internationally around this issue were discussed.

‘Just to say a huge thank you to the organisers and speakers – I just attended my first Feminar and it was incredible. Well done all.’ - LFN member

March 2011:

Feminar: ‘Challenging Violence against Women in Central America’

A public meeting at the House of Lords chaired by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Vice-Chair of the APPGs on Latin America, Mexico and Bolivia.

  • Feminicides: Violence, Narrative, and Justice in Post-Conflict Guatemala (Kate Saunders-Hastings, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies / Balliol College, University of Oxford)
  • ‘Feminists in Resistance’: Challenging Violence Against Women in Honduras (Evelyn Cuellar, Legal Advisor and trainer, Centro de Estudios de la Mujer-Honduras [CEM-H]; Mercedes Lainez, Community Leader)
  • Advocating to strengthen solidarity links with grassroots feminist movements. (Katherine Ronderos, Programme & Advocacy Co-ordinator, Central America Women’s Network [CAWN])

Women of the World Festival: ‘Women and Public Space’

LFN was delighted to hold a panel session on ‘Women and Public Space’ as part of the ‘Women of the World Festival 2011’ held at London’s Southbank Centre.

The speakers covered a wide range of topics, including: how to integrate gender equality issues into design and planning; the importance of women’s participation in design and planning; women and the built environment; woman-friendly design look like; lap dancing clubs and display of lads’ mags as public space issues; feminist interventions in public space; personal experience of the construction industry, and how to effect cultural change within the industry.

The different perspectives and expertise of the speakers made for an extremely lively and energised discussion, and the audience certainly left with a heightened awareness of the need for women’s input into design and planning issues!

‘It was brilliant linking design issues with other public space issues such as the mainstreaming of the sex industry. Lots to think about!’

‘I was always annoyed by the long queues for women’s toilets, but now I’m enraged! I never realised that they actually provide fewer toilets for women than men, because of not allocating sufficient space. I am going to be telling all my friends about this!’

Speakers

  • Dr Barbra Wallace, Director of the Women’s Design Service.
  • Prof Clara Greed, Professor of Inclusive Urban Planning, School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the West of England, Bristol.
  • Anna van Heeswijk, Campaigns Manager, & Alison Dear, ‘Feminist Friday’ co-ordinator, from OBJECT, the award-winning human rights organisation that challenges the sexual objectification of women and the mainstreaming of the sex and porn industries.
  • Chrissi McCarthy, Director of Constructing Equality, the UK’s leading organisation for construction specific equality and diversity training and consultation.
  • Chair: Julia Long, LFN

February 2011: ‘Women and the Economy’

‘Women and the Economy’ was the third in our series of feminars on women and economics. The feminar featured the following presentations:

  • ‘Credit, debt-deflation, globalisation and “austerity”’ by Ann Pettifor, Executive Director, Advocacy International; Fellow, New Economics Foundation (click here to download [PDF])
  • ‘An Introduction to Feminist Economics’ by Diane Elson, Chair, Women’s Budget Group; Professor of Sociology, Essex University (click here to download [PDF])

Ann’s talk ‘set the scene’, giving an introduction to economic concepts from a progressive perspective, explaining the current crisis and making the case for alternatives to the government’s approach. Diane’s presentation provided an introduction to feminist economics, demonstrating what a specifically feminist perspective introduces into economics debates and highlighting the disproportionate impact of the government’s programme of public spending cuts on women. The presentations were followed by questions and discussion.

Absolutely brilliant’ – LFN member

January 2011: ‘In conversation with Shere Hite’

This feminar featured a presentation and interview with world-renowned feminist scholar and writer Shere Hite, author of many groundbreaking works, including ‘The Hite Report on Female Sexuality’, ‘The Hite Report on Men’ and ‘The Shere Hite Reader’.

‘Thirty years ago a book by an unknown American writer took the world by storm. Its author, a young graduate student, had debunked one of the great myths about female sexuality: that most women should be able to have orgasms through sexual intercourse. The idea that something was wrong with popular assumptions about sex, not women, was so radical that it propelled Shere Hite to instant fame’. (Joan Smith, The Independent)

The feminar was organised in partnership with SOAS Women’s Society.

See: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/shere-hite-on-female-sexuality-in-the-21st-century-475981.html

November 2010: ‘Engendering Justice – women and prison’

This feminar, organised by ‘Women in Prison’, involved an exploration of the personal experiences and the political context of women’s incarceration. It was facilitated by Liz Owens, Southern Services Manager for Women in Prison; Laurel Townhead, Policy & Campaigns Manager for Women in Prison and Leah Thorn, poet/activist and former writer-in-residence at HMP Bronzefield.

See: http://www.womeninprison.org.uk/

Absolutely brilliant’ – LFN member

October 2010: Women’s Budget Group / Fawcett Society

This feminar was the second in our series on women and economics, and featured presentations from Janet Veitch (Deputy Chair, Women’s Budget Group) and Daisy Sands (Policy and Campaigns Officer, Fawcett Society).

Janet spoke about the work of the Women’s Budget Group, with a particular emphasis on their recent Gender Impact Assessment of the Budget; Daisy spoke about Fawcett’s legal challenge to the Budget and how women can support their campaign. The presentations were followed by questions and discussion.

Context

An analysis of the Coalition Government’s budget carried out by the Women’s Budget Group demonstrated that 72% of the spending cuts will be met from women’s income, as opposed to 28% from men’s. The Fawcett Society is seeking a Judicial Review of this budget, as the Government is under a legal obligation to carry out a Gender Equality Impact Assessment of major policies: despite repeated
requests, the Treasury has provided no evidence that such an assessment took place. This feminar was particularly timely given the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20th October 2010.

  • Download Janet Veitch’s presentation: click here (PDF)
  • Download Daisy Sands’ presentation: click here (PDF)
  • Read the WBG’s response to the emergency budget: click here (PDF)

September 2010: Film screening – ‘Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics’

This film screening was the first in our series of feminars on women and economics. The aim of the series was to promote economic literacy amongst LFN members; inform members about feminist and progressive perspectives on mainstream economics, and generate awareness of and support for campaigns for economic justice for women.

Witty, irreverent and accomplished in what she calls ‘the art of the dumb question’, Marilyn Waring challenges the myths of economics, its elitist stance, and our tacit compliance with political agendas that masquerade as objective economic policy.  Divided thematically into 15 short chapters, ‘Who’s Counting?’ is an entertaining primer for anyone who suffers from what Waring refers to as ‘economics anxiety’.  See it and the evening news will never be the same!’

About Marilyn Waring: Marilyn Waring was 22 when she was elected to the New Zealand Parliament.  She was re-elected three times and blazed a trail that eventually brought down her own government and launched her as the foremost spokesperson for global feminist economics.

‘Who’s Counting?’ can be viewed here: http://www.nfb.ca/film/whos_counting/

(NB the webpage can be temperamental and say “Film Not Available”, but persevere – if you try another day it starts playing properly!)

The film was such a revelation… she’s my hero!’- LFN member

June 2010: ‘In conversation with Sheila Jeffreys’

Radical feminist academic Sheila Jeffreys, author of ‘The Spinster and her Enemies’, ‘The Idea of Prostitution’, ‘Beauty and Misogyny’ and ‘The Industrial Vagina’ discussed her life and work with LFN founder Finn Mackay, followed by questions and discussion.

May 2010: What is ‘gender’? A radical feminist perspective

Radical feminists are often misrepresented as being essentialist, and there seems to be collective amnesia that radfems were critiquing the whole concept of gender roles long before Judith Butler! In this feminar, Deborah Cameron and Joan Scanlon addressed questions such as: What is ‘sex’? What is ‘gender’? What do we mean by the ‘binary gender system’ and the ‘social construction of gender’? And what political critique do radical feminists bring to questions of gender? The feminar was followed by questions and discussion.

Speakers

  • Deborah Cameron is Professor of Language and Communication at Oxford University, and author of ‘The Myth of Mars and Venus’.
  • Joan Scanlon taught Women’s Studies at the Open University and was Dean of Academic Affairs at London Contemporary Dance School.

They are co-editors of the recently published ‘The Trouble and Strife Reader’ (Bloomsbury), and are longstanding activists in a range of feminist campaigns.

An edited transcript of the feminar is available at: http://www.troubleandstrife.org/?page_id=527

This was a truly superb feminar – big thanks to whoever organised it’ – LFN member

April 2010: ‘What is radical feminism?’

Radical feminist and academic Lynne Harne gave a talk on the development of 20th century feminism in the UK, with an emphasis on second wave radical feminism.  She took a historical approach, looking at how radical feminists developed their analyses and strategies, and discussing their key achievements. Lynne also brought along materials that gave a flavour of the dynamism and energy of radical feminism since the 1970s. The talk was followed by questions and discussion.

Lynne Harne is co-editor of ‘All the Rage: Reasserting Radical Lesbian Feminism’.

March 2010: Film screening of ‘Women’, BBC4 documentary series

In March 2010 we organised a screening of two episodes (‘Libbers’ and ‘Activists’) from the BBC4 documentary series, ‘Women’. The screening was followed by a Q&A with series director, Vanessa Engle.

Articles in this series