This page provides information about some of the things we did in 2010.
Fundraising for Feminism in London 2010
On the evening of 29 July 2010 we were treated to a night of wonderful performances, as part of a series of fundraising events for the Feminism in London conference. Performers included Acton Bell, Kath Tait and Rosa Conrad, Catherine Brogan and Sophia Blackwell performing material from their upcoming Edinburgh Fringe Festival show and Jude Cowan and Portia Winters. These evenings (called Feminist Musical Variety evenings) became a regular event throughout the summer and early autumn as we stepped up our fundraising efforts in an attempt to keep the entrance fee to the Feminism in London conference affordable to all.
Other fundraisers included a midsummer feminist party, a pub quiz, a pre-release screening of Made in Dagenham and an art auction. The pre-release screening of Made in Dagenham was a partnership with The Barbican Centre, The Women’s Library and the TUC Library Collections. It was held in Cinema 1 at The Barbican on Wednesday 29 September 2010. The screening was followed by a conversation with the film’s producers Christine Langan, Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, activist and writer Beatrix Campbell, and broadcaster and trade unionist Cath Elliott. Hosted by author Orna Ross.
The art auction was organised and curated by Sarah Maple and the venue was the Aubin Gallery. It was a one-night only exhibition and auction of original postcard-sized artworks on the theme of “Feminism”. The postcards were designed by artists, activists, comedians, writers and feminists of all stripes.
Free Kirsty Scamp Demonstration
Organised by Justice for Women, this demonstration took place on Wednesday 21 July 2010 outside the Court of Appeal on the Strand in London. The demonstration was in support of Kirsty Scamp’s appeal against her murder conviction for killing her violent boyfriend, Jason Bull, when she was just 19 years old.
The appeal was successful – the judges agreed that the trial judge failed to adequately direct the jury to take into account her history of experiencing domestic violence in considering the defence of provocation. Kirsty’s conviction was amended to manslaughter and her sentence reduced to six years. Because she had already served four years in prison, she has now been released on probation.
Demonstration against plan to grant anonymity to rape defendants
On the evening of Thursday 15 July 2010, members of the London Feminist Network held a small but enthusiastic demonstration against the government’s proposal to grant anonymity to defendants in rape cases. We gathered by the Edith Cavell statue just north of Trafalgar Square. There was lusty feminist singing, lots of leaflet were handed out, and we had some interesting conversations with members of the public, most of whom were supportive.
I spoke to one young woman who already knew about the proposed change in the legislation and she was furious about this proposal… her boyfriend is a member of the Lib Dems and he too utterly opposes this legislation. [She] told me her boyfriend had been trying to find out where this proposal originates from but has so far been unsuccessful. Both she and her boyfriend have lobbied the Lib Dem party concerning this misogynistic proposal.
Demonstration against Israeli assault on aid ships heading for Gaza
Recognising that war is a feminist issue and that the majority of those being slowly starved and left without access to vital medicines by the Gaza blockade are women and children, members of the London Feminist Network joined the emergency demonstration against the Israeli assault on a flotilla of aid ships heading for blockaded Gaza. The march, on Saturday 5 June 2010, started from Downing Street at 1.30 pm and headed to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington where there was rally.
Feminism in London Fundraising Walks
Over the summer months we are having some walks to raise funds for Feminism in London 2010. Open to men as well as women, these walks are a great opportunity to enjoy the company of other feminists and their partners, families, friends and supporters, have some exercise and explore our beautiful city, all at the same time.
Putting the Woman in (Wo)manual Trades Workshop
On Saturday 8 May 2010, the famous and long-standing group Women & Manual Trades (WAMT) ran a very successful workshop on basic DIY plumbing and electrics for members of the London Feminist Network. WAMT have been training women plumbers, builders, carpenters, electricians, etc. for many years, since back in the day of the women’s movement in London. We wanted to empower ourselves to do basic DIY tasks in our homes and flats and houseshares and even save us some money if we don’t have to get tradespeople out for basic jobs.
“It was a good day and I’d highly recommend it – only problem was that there was so much to get through. It covered basic information about how to rewire a plug, how a fusebox works, fixing a leaking tap – there were practical exercises and also some theory to explain how the systems in your house work. The day was really good fun and was genuinely empowering – not the fake variety.”
“It was *brilliant*. I was particularly looking forward to plumbing and I did enjoy that one most. In part, because if I get plumbing really wrong, the worst that will happen is loads of water everywhere and having to call a plumber. If I get electrics really wrong, no second chances.”
Read more about the day on LILI’s blog.
“What is Radical Feminism” and “Talking about Gender” Feminars
On the afternoon of Saturday 10 April, 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 and looked at how radical feminism developed, its analyses, strategies and key achievements. She brought along materials that gave a flavour of the dynamism and energy of radical feminism since the 1970s. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session.
On the afternoon of Saturday, 22 May, Debbie Cameron and Joan Scanlon spoke about gender and what it means for radical feminism. You can read an edited transcript of their talk on the Trouble and Strife website.
The London Feminist Network was the topic of the third part of acclaimed filmmaker Vanessa Engle’s recent three-part documentary series about feminism and its impact on women’s lives. The concluding part, called Activists, was first shown on BBC4 on Monday 22 March.
On Saturday 27 March, we held a screening in a SOAS lecture theatre of the Activists episode and Libbers, the first programme in the series, which charts the rise of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. This was followed by a question and answer session with Vanessa Engle, who explained some of the decisions she made when making the film, like why she focused so much on the catering and why she interviewed the parents but not the partners of the individual women she followed.
Since the film was broadcast, LFN has welcomed hundreds of new members and has been flooded with messages of support. Here are just a few of them:
I would like to congratulate you all on your activities. It was wonderful to watch and like many of you I was in tears- from very mixed emotions: admiration, sheer joy at your commitment and understanding, and sadness and anger that women are still having to fight so hard for the things we have fought for forever. I was very much involved in similar activities in the 70s 80s 90s, and am still campaigning with WEN. I am so proud of you all. In sincerest sisterhood, Morag.
I just wanted to thank you for doing something and trying to make a difference. This is such a HUGE problem and I thought that feminists, and feminism, had pretty much been hegemonised by our horrendous consumer culture and various other nefarious forces until last night. It was such a revelation to find that there are still people who are a) aware and b) actually taking a stand. Samira.
I was so moved by the programme on BBC2 tonight featuring you group. It has opened my eyes more to the feminist movement, and the ever increasing need for us and society to change! I could not believe the success of the ‘Reclaim the Night’ march.. I had never heard of it before. I hope I can make the next one. Thank you, Abbe.
Reclaiming Birth, Sunday 7 March 2010
Members of the London Feminist Network joined the Reclaiming Birth march to Whitehall to deliver a petition to the Health Minister, calling for an improvement in the standard of maternity services throughout the UK.
Million Women Rise, Saturday 6 March 2010
Members of the London Feminist Network joined with thousands of other women to march through Central London to protest against male violence against women and children. We gathered in Park Lane and then marched down Oxford Street and Regent Street, through Picadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square, where there was a rally. This is how The Independent described it:
If the theme was oppression, the mood was anything but. Whistles, songs, chants and cheers drowned out the regular din of a Saturday lunchtime on Oxford Street as thousands of women rejoiced in their collective – if temporary – power. Men on the pavement watched open-mouthed, unsure what to make of the colourful spectacle of yesterday’s Million Women Rise march in London. Read the rest of the article >>
Million Women Rise is a coalition of individual women and representatives from the Women’s Voluntary and Community Sector who have come together to organise an annual national demonstration against male violence which coincides with International Women’s Day in March each year. http://www.millionwomenrise.com/
Feminist Parenting workshop, Sunday 7 February 2010
Feminism in London organised this workshop as a trial for the conference on 23 October. The workshop was facilitated by Jan Williams and started with a general discussion about where we had experienced challenges around our feminist views on parenting. Things mentioned included: gender stereotypes, the commercialisation of society, grandparents taking a stereotypical view of grandchildren against the wishes of the parents, reproductive choices, the lack of enough good resources for children, the sexualisation of children, work guilt, the splitting of the sisterhood, heteronormality, the demonisation of mothers and how parents are treated in public spaces. Unfortunately there was not enough time to discuss all these issues but they have given the Feminism in London team ideas for future workshops. The workshop covered a variety of practical parenting skills, such as influencing skills and listening to children.
Most people agreed that one of the highlights of the workshop was looking at some case studies, such as “What would you say to a boy of five who says that boys are better at football than girls”? We did this in groups based on the age of our children. We only wished we had more time to hear everyone’s case studies and the groups’ responses.
At the end we agreed to set up a Yahoo email discussion and support group. This is now up and running and is open to parents and carers who are actively interested in feminist parenting as a part of their own parenting lives and agree to abide by the group’s ethos.
The London Pro-Feminist Men’s group ran a crèche for the afternoon, which was a great success, with at least one little boy saying he didn’t want to go home!
Here are a few quotes from women who attended the workshop:
- “This was a brilliant opportunity to interact with other feminist parents.”
- “Well done. Thank you for today.”
- “Jan was really friendly, flexible, open and able to encourage conversations in an easy-going and un-frightening way. She managed to foster a safe and happy atmosphere – while making important and hard hitting points.”
- “It was incredibly reassuring to know that there are other like minded feminists negotiating motherhood and parenting.”
- “It was nice to meet so many like-minded people this afternoon and to see the Feminism in London conference give space and time to parenting issues.”
- “It was amazing to meet so many fabulous people intent on putting feminist thought into their parenting.”