Clit Rock :: Episode 2

After a brief hiatus, Clit Rock is back on Sunday May 27th with its 2nd night of music, education & fun at The Lexington

After the fantastic success of Clit Rock Episode 1 and collaborating with Feminism In General for a fundraising production of The Vagina Monologues in February, Clit Rock is back on Sunday May 27th with its second music event at The Lexington. Forging ahead on its mission to raise awareness and funds for Daughters of Eve (who are committed to preventing and eradicating Female Genital Mutilation aka FGM), Clit Rock is an artistic and celebratory show of support and solidarity with those affected by FGM. Clit Rock aims to put on regular events to educate and entertain (whether via music, spoken word poetry, or drama), as well as raise money for Daughters of Eve to help them continue with the vital work they do, with both their and our ultimate goal being to help bring about an end to FGM.

WHEN: Sunday, 27 May 2012 :: 19:00 until 23:00

WHERE: The Lexington :: 96-98 Pentonville Road, N1 9JB

Raffle and Merch Stall! Dancing! Stomping good live music! Spoken word poetry! Clit Rock introduction from Daughters of Eve! More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/307711645966488/

BUY TICKETS HERE: http://daughtersofeveclitrockepisode2.eventbrite.com

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Every year, more than 3 million girls in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and communities in the West are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with the consequences of this practice. The practice has no basis in any religion, and has no beneficial health effects. It is driven by socio-cultural, psychosexual, chastity, religious and aesthetic or hygienic arguments. Almost all of these are linked to girls’ social status and marriageability. Girls and women who are not cut suffer stigmatization.

The procedure, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, is mostly performed on girls between just a few days old and age 15. It is extremely painful and generally carried out without the use of anesthetics. It is frequently done using items ranging from kitchen knives and razor blades to cut glass and sharp rocks, carries significant health risks, including death from blood loss and serious infection that can cause long-term problems such as infertility, fistula and incontinence, complicated pregnancy and higher risk of obstetrical problems and infant death.

Handy links…

Clit Rock on Facebook: http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/CLIT-ROCK/220135141374485

Daughters of Eve: http://www.dofeve.org

More about Female Genital Mutilation: http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation

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Finally…two (count ‘em) films for women which are not just about boys and shoes

I went to see both The Runaways and Made in Dagenham the other week. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from either. Made in Dagenham has been touted as the new feel good hit and, as the Daily Mail expressed, though it “may look off-puttingly like a radical feminist tract [… ] this is a film that should lift your heart, whatever your politics.” With its cheeky, Carry On characters, it had apparently had the working title, ‘We Want Sex!’ thanks to a real event at one of the women’s demonstrations in which a WE WANT SEX EQUALITYbanner had not been properly unfurled. My mother and I went to see it, and she told me beforehand that she wasn’t sure if she even wanted to go, so worried was she it might make her angry. She had been deeply affected by the original Dagenham strikes in 1968, and was concerned that the film was simply going to make a light mockery out of it.

I had similarly mixed feelings about going to see The Runaways. Hannah and I had got tickets to see it, and since Joan Jett had been something of a role model to us as lonely, bad hair sporting, cigarette wielding sixteen-year-olds dancing around to ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You,’ we were both sceptical about how Hollywood and in particular two Twilight stars were going to pull this one off. So it was with a queasy feeling of trepidation, my heart braced for disappointment and a bag stuffed with chocolate, fizzy cola sweets and beer (even with Orange Wednesdays 2-4-1 deal the tickets still worked out around £6 each, so bringing one’s own supplies is always essential), that I entered both films…and I am surprised to say that I loved both of them.

My favourite was The Runaways, which is loosely based on Cherie Curie’s autobiography, ‘Neon Angel’. The film focuses on Joan and Cherie, and little detail is given to expanding or explaining any of the other girls in the band as characters – they simply serve as plot instigators as we watch Joan and Cherie’s relationship progress. The band is originally formed by Joan, with the openly sexist and obviously deranged svengali figure of Kim Fowley, and the girls fight tooth and nail to claw their way to recognition in the misogynistic, solely male environment that was the music industry in 1975. In no way do I claim that this film is revolutionary or even a technically great film; it’s not. The film falls into cliche on more than one occasion, with overly long and boring shots of Cherie wandering around, high on drugs, with swerving camera work that makes you nauseous when accompanied by lots of trippy lights and twanging guitars. More than once, I found myself frustrated and wanting to shout, “YES WE GET IT!” By this stage, we know by heart just what a Troubled Musician High On Drugs In The Height Of Excess & Fame™ looks like; it has been done many, many times and we do not need fifteen minutes more of it, thanks.

But where the film fell into Hollywood cliches on the issue of drugs, one of the reasons I liked it so much was that when it came to the issue of Kim Fowley’s disgusting sexism towards the girls, and making evident the (still prevailing issue) of the girls being forced to sexualise their image to ‘make it’, the film didn’t disappoint me. At the start of the film, though Fowley is obviously a bastard, he is set up as a comedic character. As he gyrates in front of Cherie at her audition, telling her what to sing and how to sing it, screaming, “This isn’t about women’s liberation – this is about women’s libido!” - I cringed, hoping against hope that his character was going to be shown up to be a complete pig by the end. I assumed that instead of this, they were going to try and portray him as a token comedy character, the ‘loveable’ misogynistic-but-it’s-okay-guys! dude who was going to ‘help’ Cherie by releasing her inner sex kitten. Or even – and this would have been worse – going full strength, unadulterated Hollywood by turning him into a paternal figure for the girls; after all, it is brought up throughout the story, that both Cherie and Joan have daddy issues (Cherie’s is an alcoholic and Joan’s has left the family).

Thankfully and surprisingly, the film did not take either of these routes, and instead painted Fowley very clearly and honestly as the mentally unstable, unedifyingly manipulative misogynist he was. One of his last scenes in the film – wherein he taunts and laughs at Joan from behind the safety glass of the control room as she, overtaken by immense frustration and anger, all but destroys the studio – is doubtlessly one of the film’s most powerful moments.

Another scene that stayed with me was one which involved the girls’ reaction to discovering that Cherie had been convinced by Fowley to do a perverse (particularly when you consider she is barely fifteen) photo shoot for a Japanese calendar, all PVC and doggy-style poses. The girls are horrified when they see the pictures, and the dialogue between them seems depressingly familiar and serves to highlight the issue of forced/expected sexualisation that girls today are still dealing with on a daily basis in the music industry, the fashion industry, the film industry and in normal everyday life. “He phoned me up and told me to do it. What was I supposed to say?” Cherie agitatedly points out to her bandmates. “…You could have said no!??” Joan exasperatedly throws back at her, “Now this is all anyone will ever remember us for…”

Made in Dagenham had scenes of its own which stayed with me – though not on quite the same sort of level as The Runaways scenes did, and I’m unsure why. It definitely received better reviews and more publicity than the latter managed to garner. Made in Dagenham primarily focusses on the life of Rita O’Grady – a loveable, sweet-natured, and unlikely leader, who finds her voice and uses it, leading her fellow workers at the Ford Factory into strike. Rita is a fictional character – she appears to be a hybrid of all the Ford strikers rolled into one, and it works. Sally Hawkins is a brilliant actress, and captures well the sense that these women were utterly unused to having a platform from which to speak, to raise their voice or to give their opinion from. Despite being rowdy and carefree when interacting and joking around with each other, they certainly weren’t expected to speak out in a room full of men, and even less were they expected to do so with a conflicting view. We observe this as Rita grows steadily bolder and braver throughout the film, starting out timid and shy, shocked by her own innate power, and triumphantly addressing a room full of Trade Union men, and speaking on national television.

I loved the sense of solidarity the film conveyed and one of my favourite scenes was when Lisa Hopkins, the wife of the Ford manager goes to visit Rita. Rita is at a pivotal moment in the film – one of the striker’s husbands, disturbed by his servings in the war, has committed suicide. His wife feels desperately guilty for striking and protesting instead of looking after him and being a dutiful wife. Rita’s own husband is beginning to resent her always being away protesting, and she herself is starting to doubt the whole process, the sacrifices involved and its relative value as being worthwhile. Lisa Hopkins has met Rita once or twice outside school when they are both picking up their children, but has never told her who she is married to. Yet she comes and visits Rita, and tells her that she has a degree from Cambridge and yet her husband treats her as though she is a fool. With tears in her eyes she congratulates her, tells her she’s making history and asks of her, “Don’t let me down.” I really appreciated how smoothly and gracefully that one scene conveyed to us the hope that the strikers were giving to women of all classes.

However, the film also managed to irk my inner feminist critic more than The Runaways did. Firstly, the horrible missed opportunity as the film drew to its end, where there was no mention of the fact that there still exists today a pay gap between men and women. The film ended joyously, bathing the audience in a false sense of security, “well, aren’t we all just glad THAT’S been sorted out now!” It is the Achille’s heel of most feel-good films; wherever they are based on real life events or characters, there is the over reaching objective to sustain that fuzzy glow and soft drink fizz in the mouth, which regrettably seems to necessitate papering over of cracks and actual facts, both. It would have been leagues better if there had been just one modest title at the end, that would have informed, inspired and motivated those people (of whom there are far, far too many) who do not know about the current pay gap.

My second problem with the film was the much hyped, unnecessary and ridiculous notion of the women stripping down to their underwear in the factory. As one of the original strikers says of this scene, “That was a bit degrading – there’s no way would our boss have allowed us to show our underwear like that!” So just what was the point of this scene? Why did Nigel Cole elect to include it? It was definitely historically inaccurate and served no plot purpose whatsoever. All that it really did was give weight to the argument made by those who thought the women didn’t need to strike because they didn’t need to work; their husbands were the real breadwinners, their work was nothing much, just a fun hobby, something to keep them busy. Showing them stripping off at work merely re-enforced the view that these women didn’t really take their job seriously. I’m sure that this is not what Nigel Cole intended, so one can only assume that the stripping was just stuck in there for some cheap laughs and a little bit of titillation. Which is a shame.

This gripe brings me to my next point, which is the appearance of the women. Now I know, I know; the film industry is never going to be anxious to cast plain or slightly overweight women in films – and of course The Runaways was no exception. Both Kristin Stewart and Dakota Fanning are stereotypically gorgeous. But then…so were Joan Jett and Cherie Curie. They were meant to fit the glamorous rockstar mould. The point of Made in Dagenham, however, was supposed to be that these women were ordinary women, fighting against inequality. The youngest of the original strikers was thirty-five, and one of the most vocal women of the strikes was named Rose Boland, who was heavy set and powerful-looking. In contrast to this, the youngest striker in the film (‘Sheila’, played by Jaime Winstone) is about twenty, dreams of being the next Twiggy and wears hotpants to work. The rest of the ladies are all slim, attractive, and stylish (Rita herself is waiflike and conventionally ‘feminine’). In fact, as far as I recall there is only one remotely heavyset woman in the film, and she never gets a character name or any important lines. She purely exists, it seems, to bring more ‘comedy’ to the stripping off scenes. Because it’s obviously hilarious when a larger lady takes her clothes off. I get it, I know that that’s how the film industry works. But in a film that is supposed to be about equality, it just renders the message a bit hollow, hypocritical and…well, ridiculous. Especially when, in the same film, Bob Hoskins (himself an ordinary, short, plain-looking man) is allowed and accepted to play an ordinary, short, plain-looking man.

I could nitpick and complain more. There was more that bugged me about the film, like there were things that annoyed me about The Runaways, too. Cherie’s book ‘Neon Angel’ deals with horrific stories of abuse and rape that the girls were forced to deal with, which were only ever lightly touched on in the film, and I wish that they had gone into this on a deeper, more honest level instead of focussing for so long on the substance abuse. I know that the drugs were the main issue for Cherie, but if they had just shown the level of abuse she received while growing up, the audience may have better understood and perceived a different reason as to why she continued to abuse herself with drugs. The film definitely played down the sexual abuse and that form of glossing over and re-writing is in itself another form of silencing.

I certainly cannot fault either film too much, however. I just can’t, because both warmed my heart. With the ever present over-saturation of movies in the industry which are all about braindead women stabbing each other in the back to get: The Man/pregnant/the latest pair of designer heels, of COURSE I am going to fall in love with films about women brandishing guitars, rising up and fighting for equal pay, pissing on the all-male, arsehole headlining band’s instruments, triumphing and standing up strongly and shoulder-to-shoulder, without men. Let’s hope to god that this heralds the start of a new trend in mainstream film, because we are ready for it. We have been ready for it for a long time.

- Siobhan Knox (edited by Hannah Dunton)

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On Irish Education ; Contraception, Abortion

Discussions about contraception and abortion this evening have got me thinking seriously about what I would really do if this situation arose for me. At this moment in time, if I happened to become pregnant, I believe that I would do everything I could to procure an abortion as soon as possible. I can’t imagine how I would gather together enough money to travel to England, for somewhere to stay, and for the actual procedure. I’m not financially independent and I can’t imagine turning around to my poor father and asking for money for an abortion. The poor man would have an embolism.

A part of me, though, berates myself for my arrogance – an arrogance that a childless teenager such as myself can hardly help but lay claim to, I suppose. I can’t, and in any case would not, presume to understand or encapsulate what it feels like to be a mother. How could I? What do I know about anything involved? My lack of understanding isn’t wilful as much as it is indicative of my life experience. I’m not going to throw phrases like ‘bursting pride’ and ‘all-encompassing love’ around when I’m quite aware that no experience of motherhood is the same and that, in any case, I don’t know what it’s like to be a mother myself. I’m undecided about whether I want children at any point in my life, I think that I’m far too selfish and immature to bring a baby into the world. I can’t quite reconcile holding my new-born godchild in my arms yesterday and falling absolutely in love with her, with the act of wilfully denying myself the experience of motherhood. It’s merely that no, I don’t necessarily feel that all women are wired to be mothers.

As much as the innate ignorance of most of the pro-life movement rankles with me, I can’t imagine how I would feel after terminating the life of what would have been my own baby. Nonetheless, as has been said elsewhere this evening, I ”…hate that women are essentially trained to associate abortion with depression. The imagery of the crying girl at the abortion clinic is a bit overblown, as is the imagery of the woman with prolonged regrets.” I don’t know what it’s like to have aborted a child. I just can’t stand the blind, manipulative stance of those who label abortion as a method of contraception for the lazy and immoral. I sincerely doubt any woman has ever just sailed along until she arrived at this decision, and made it on a whim. And while I can’t imagine the multitude of emotions which might be felt by a woman who chooses to abort, all of which she has a right to, I’m absolutely against the notion that anyone should be made to feel that she must pay for the decision she made by years of emotional anguish. Such bullying and manipulation alters inherently the meaning of the word ‘choice’.

If I’m to be labelled by anybody a horrible person to advocate abortion in a case where a woman feels that this is the right decision for her, I’m probably not fit to be a mother, am I? The pro-choice argument which I find myself returning to most often is this – if you can’t trust me to make a decision for my own body and my own life, how could you possibly trust me with a child? I think motherhood is as wonderful as the decision to remain childless, but what I prize the most is the fact that the choice to be either exists. I just wish it did in my own country.

- Emma Nestor

NB: Check out Emma’s adventures in France over on her blog! In July, Emma kindly agreed to let us feature her post once we’d made ourselves a site. ;)

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Pretty – Katie Makkai

Check out this awesome poetry slam, guys!

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich, which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill of fluorescent floodlight of worry.

“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty? …But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dry add: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long, and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting…my poor mother.

“How could this happen? You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist.” “You sucked your thumb. That’s why your teeth look like that! ” “You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were six, otherwise your nose would have been fine! Don’t worry; we will get it all fixed!” she would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that as if it were a cabbage she might buy. But, this is not about her. Not her fault she, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable appearance.

By sixteen I was pickled by ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs, laying in a hospital bed. Face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved. Belly gorged on two pints of my own blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist, like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you? ” All the while, this never ending chorus groaning on and on like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood; “Will I be pretty?” Will I be pretty like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter that her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.

And now? I have not seen my own face in ten years. I have not seen my own face in ten years, but this is not about me! This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl thirty stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those two pretty syllables.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” – I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “NO.”

“The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in six letters. You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing, but you will never be merely “pretty.”
Via the ever excellent
F-Word!

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Relationship advice from ‘Cheers’ magazine

This morning I was alerted to the existence of Cheers magazine, which is apparently a free publication distributed in Barking. As far as free publications go, this one’s fairly special and I challenge every print and production journalist, designer and writer reading this to take a look at the latest online edition without feeling slightly nauseous.

Remember when you were at primary school and got made to put together some sort of ‘magazine’ for a project, using only an aging Acorn A3000 and as much clip art as you could fit on a page? It’s like that. One feature is actually entitled “Summer is here! Yay!”. Amazingly they claim to distribute up to 48,000 copies.

The discussion about Cheers started because one woman who had it delivered to her was horrified to read its feature on ‘What Men Really Want From Women’ (you can click here for a much bigger version – complete with outraged reader’s scrawl). As well as tips about being a housewife and how to communicate with their husbands, women of Barking have been treated to such wisdom as:

“Bin the track bottoms and try feminine clothes like knee-length skirts and slingbacks. Above all behave well,” and more charmingly:

Make sure he gets you regularly. Lack of intimacy at home is the major cause of infidelity.

Because you know it’s always your fault if your man cheats, right? I think we all agree that a healthy sexual relationship is a good thing for most couples, but I’m not sure that ‘make sure he gets you regularly’ is the healthiest way to phrase it.

Incensed, the woman emailed the editor to tell him exactly what she thought of his 1950s-style marriage tips. He promptly replied – and here I quote the entire email and highlight some choice morsels:

Sorry you feel that way. However, we stick by our article. Our focus is building back our community, which sadly has been destroyed by weird ideas from within and outside government.The home is the basis of society, and it’s broken in lots of our communities.

We will also be doing an article on men’s responsiblities to which you may choose to contribute.

Also, the article is titled “What men want in women”. As you are not a man, I do not think you are in a position to know what men want or determine what they should want.Also, our article is geared to helping many women who have marital issues caused by ignoring to do basic things.

I will touch on a couple:
Whether you like it or not some women hold back on intimacy, thinking it is a hold on the man or a reward. Quite often, it drives them to other women and the divorce court. What you fail to realise is that for a man to be with you at all, he saw something in you. So, why on earth should he play? It’s not because he does not love you, it’s because sex and love are NOT linked in men, unlike women.Some do not think cooking is important. Well, to most men, food is more important than anything else. Many men go into stone walls without any obvious reason. Deep down, it’s because he’s hungry. “I’m going home. My wife is cooking” is the only thing that makes most men leave the pub. Not “I’m going home, my wife needs me.” Tough but true.Thank you

Dapo Sijuwola
Cheers Magazine”

Way to go with the misogyny there, Mr Sijuwola. I’m sure your male readers are also enjoying being stereotyped as cavemen who can’t connect sex with love and think about little more than food all day. If this is how his relationship plays out, I feel sorry for him.

A quick bit of investigative work by other people who were just as horrified by the magazine’s content threw up links to a bizarre publishing company called Paul Books, interestingly listed on one directory as a ‘religious organisation’. And someone else quickly found out that Dapo Sijuwola stood in this year’s general election as a candidate for The Restoration Party, a party which calls for ‘a return to the values that made Britain great’. Apparently rampant misogyny is one of these values.

Now Cheers magazine is so ridiculous (and, well, awful) that you’d think it’s a spoof. But people have definitely had it posted through their doors. Have you? I’m intrigued. If you like, you can email editor@cheersmagazine.co.uk to let Mr Sijuwola know how you feel about this sort of ‘advice’ being distributed to the general public in the format of a ‘community magazine’.

- Hannah Mudge

NB: This piece dates back to July of this year, and was originally posted to Hannah’s blog, which we recommend highly. In July, Hannah kindly agreed to let us feature her post once we made a site!

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Banning The Burqa, eh?

Two days ago I found myself inadvertently caught up in a ‘debate’ with a regular face at my workplace. I say debate in inverted commas purely because when you are serving someone coffee and eggs on toast, hoping for a good tip and you’ve a long queue of other jaded, city bankers calling, “MISS…” and snapping their fingers at you, there’s really only so much vigour you can throw into a conversation. The only reason that I was drawn into it anyway was because he was reading an article about banning the burqa. As I placed cutlery in front of him, full of vitriol, he spat – which took me by surprise as he looked like quite a nice fellow – “They should ban the burqa, it is a complete and utter disgrace – don’t you think!??”

Probably, I should have just smiled and gone away to make him his double expresso, but instead said, “Well. Um…not necessarily.” He looked incredulously at me. “It’s SO disrespectful. If you went to Iran or wherever, you’d have to wear a veil and cover up – they should have to dress as we dress!”

I answered with some kind of paraphrase of my opinion about civil rights. See, we’re supposed to be a democratic country. Which means that technically an individual should have the freedom to do, say and wear what they like. Therefore an argument consisting of, “Well they would force us to dress their way, so we’re gonna force them, too! SO NYEEER!” really doesn’t fly.

He rolled his eyes. “I thought that you, as a woman, would agree with me on this one.”

At that point I was bustled away by my boss to serve the line of jittery people awaiting their cappuccinos, and didn’t get another chance to continue the conversation. As a feminist living in the west who has never worn a burqa as part of my culture, of course I find the symbol of one to be against my own ideals. I think that the concept of taking away a women’s visibility is, quite frankly, pretty disturbing. But as far as I can see, outright banning of it is not going to solve any problems. Many women choose to wear them, and I fail to see how telling a woman what she can and cannot wear is helping to remove the shackles of patriarchy. And come to think of this, if we are in the spirit of banning symbols of patriarchy, then why aren’t we also talking about banning high heels, corsets or ‘lad’s mags’ and other symbols which litter our society and which, one could definitely argue, also symbolise patriarchy?

“Well, we have a choice about those things,” I hear you say, “Some women who wear the burqa don’t have a choice, and the ones who do freely choose to wear them are simply being influenced by their patriarchal culture.” Most times I have chosen to wear heels, it is because I am influenced by my patriarchal culture. It’s certainly not because I get off on the blistering pain they give me. It’s because, just for the night, I desperately want my legs to look like the ones plastered and airbrushed onto magazines and movie screens. I can’t imagine that we are going to be talking about banning heels any time soon, or any of the obvious, garish images and western symbols of patriarchy that are continuously vomited into our faces every day. This is because the issue surrounding the ban-the-burqa issue is not about feminism – nor is it about women’s rights or symbols of patriarchy. It is about taking away more of our fundamental freedoms. It is about banning anything that is unknown and scary to us, and stripping us more and more of our basic rights.

To grab support for this, the media will fall back onto women’s rights because they know that this will get people on their side; people who have never before identified with feminism will be outraged. Women and men up and down the country will be standing up and screaming for The Rights of Women To…be told what to wear. Some people who are veterans of feminism may be duped into following it too, as they will be so desperate for some media coverage of women’s rights.

As Laurie Penny wrote in this excellent post, the rights of women will always be used for political gain. When Maggie Thatcher came into power in 1975, my mother (an active feminist campaigner) remembers one of her left wing male friends sneering at her, “I suppose that you’re really happy about this!” – a statement which almost made her eyes pop out of her head as of course nothing could have been further from the truth. But of course, it is always going to happen. Mister Double Expresso at the cafe, chiding me for my very “un-feminist” attitude toward burqas whilst folding up his copy of the Daily Mail, is just one example – but we must challenge people as much as possible on these issues, and not allow our opinions to be swept along with popular opinion. We can’t afford to let our beliefs pigeonhole us into supporting something that actually symbolises everything we want to fight against.

It’s easier said than done, but I believe we can try.

- Siobhan Knox

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Introductory Post: About FiG

“So some speak and others are silent” –

Luce Irigary, Speculum of the Other Woman

We are FiG. We stand for Feminism in General, a new network who embrace feminists from all walks of life, with a view to discussing anything relating to women’s issues and feminism. We aspire to be Engender’s humble younger sister group, with an interactive online forum where we would ask members to post topics of debate, as well as regular meetings in cafes and pubs around London so as to further the discussion. Eventually we hope to record and podcast these meetings for those unable to attend so they can also add to the discussion online if desired.

On our forum we will be encouraging members to submit ideas for discussion topics whereafter we will have a more official list up on this blog and facebook, so that everyone knows what will be up for discussion from week to week.

We hope that by keeping the discourse alive offline as well as online, we will be better able to engage with one another and to articulate in discussion, thereby connecting with a new generation of feminists some of whom may have only experienced feminist communities online. We want to create a better balance between active, engaged involved discussion while still encouraging people to post online in their own communities and keep the ball rolling in that vein, too.

Why are we called Feminism in General? Feminism in General means that rather than focussing on one specific concern of feminism (ie, sexual violence or the pay gap) we want to incorporate and welcome all aspects into our discussion. This means that we will be encountering many differing and potentially opposing ideas and concepts of feminism along the way, but in our opinion this is a good thing for as long as debates remain respectful then positive discussion will progress us further in our various causes and as feminists. One of our aims is to act as a sort of feminist mosaic for the hundreds of feminist networks and groups working separately all over the world.

We understand that we can’t do everything, but what we can offer is to welcome all ideas and promise to put them forward for exploration in the hopes that those with different opinions can come to better understand one another and we can all grow with and support each other. We are an all inclusive feminist collective, which means we welcome trans feminists, queer feminists, male feminists, feminists of all genders, races, classes and ages.

Follow us here, at our forum, twitter, facebook group (see links in the pink strip at the bottom!), and we will have some information up about the first meeting in the coming weeks. If anyone has any contributions or pieces that they wish to see featured, send your articles, poetry, latest concerns, rants, spiels, blog posts, on anything relating to feminism specifically or in general to: feminismingeneral@gmail.com

These are highly appreciated and valued as we are still in embryonic stages and therefore need as much support and food for thought on our sites as possible!

Love, Fig

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