There is much evidence that children and young people are exposed to pornography, and that pornography contributes to a conducive context for sexual violence, particularly in the lives of girls and young women.
FiLiA stands in support of our spokeswoman Heather Brunskell Evans. We were surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Women's Equality Party to remove her as spokeswoman for WEP.
The trigger for this was Heather's participation in the Moral Maze, on an episode entitled "Defining Gender." It was, as one would expect on Radio 4, gentle, considered and thought-provoking. The whole thing can be heard here.
During that programme Heather expressed the view that while adults could define their gender in whichever way they see fit, more caution should be exercised when it comes to children.
We are astonished that such moderate views attracted a complaint to WEP. This is an issue where there is frequent disagreement, between politicians, between medics, between sociologists, between scientists, as well as within the trans and feminist communities. Removing a moderate voice from these discussions simply because others disagree with it is dangerous.
Heather's own statement can be found on her website here.
It is deeply worrying that across political parties, universities and media outlets, traditionally the homes of unafraid opinion, there is complicity with a culture of thought-orthodoxy. Yet we all know that nobody has ever changed their viewpoint by being told what to think. Persuasion has always come through reasoned argument, the foundations of which are free speech and free thought. FiLiA will continue our established principle of encouraging all three.
Guest post by previous FiLiA speaker, Rahila Gupta a freelance journalist and writer
As you may be aware, a heavily under-reported Kurdish-led feminist revolution organised along the principles of direct democracy, racial inclusivity, ecological sustainability and a co-op based economy is taking place in Rojava, also known as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, in the middle of death and destruction.
More background information is available here: The Rojava experiment
After having successfully reduced ISIS to a rump of their former selves, they are now under attack themselves. One of the cantons, Afrin, has been invaded by the Turkish army. Although Turkey is a NATO ally, very little pressure has been exerted by the West on Turkey to withdraw. The war on Afrin is a war on women.
The women of Rojava are seeking to build links and solidarity with the British feminist movement to find ways in which to secure the future of this fragile revolution. I believe that your history of activism and interest in political struggles places you in an ideal situation to be part of this discussion.
You are invited to a meeting at the House of Commons, Committee Room 3, 6th March at 7pm to help build a Women's Initiative for peace in Afrin.
Remember the moment of hope that was generated by Nicaragua. Rojava is the revolution for our times. All of our individual dreams and struggles for another world are coming to fruition here. As a source of hope and inspiration, we should do whatever we can to prevent the bullyboy tactics of aggressor countries like Turkey from putting the boot in.
Hope to see all of you on the 6th. Please RSVP so we have an idea of numbers.
Further information is below.
A women’s revolution in Northern Syria fights for its life
We call upon the women of Britain to join us in the Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin to be launched in Parliament on 6th March, Committee room 3, House of Commons at 7pm. Please leave 30 minutes to allow for security clearance.
Behind the frontlines in war-torn Syria, the region of Rojava has established, since July 2012, grassroots democratic structures based on the principles of radical democracy, ecology, and women’s liberation. Led by the political system of Democratic Confederalism, the people created communes, assemblies, academies, and cooperatives to organise their daily lives in a secular, multi-cultural, and gender egalitarian manner. An autonomous women’s movement has established women’s social, political, and economic structures to secure a radical transformation of a society shaped by male domination, patriarchy and violence against women. A wide-ranging legislative programme has banned harmful traditional practices such as polygamy, child marriage and forced marriage. The Social Contract of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) makes the elimination of discrimination against women in all spheres of life a guiding principle. A women’s quota of 40% is enforced in all governance structures while the co-presidency principle ensures that every institution, from the federal administration to the small neighbourhood communes, is chaired equally by a woman and a man.
Despite its ground-breaking assault on patriarchal structures, Rojava gets very little coverage, perhaps because its commitment to true equality is threatening to Western capitalist powers. This is probably the best place in the Middle East to be a woman. Women’s struggles all over the world can take heart from this truly revolutionary society which has achieved so much so quickly.
This relatively peaceful and totally non-sectarian society is under threat from Turkey. On 20 January 2018, the Turkish army and affiliated jihadist gangs launched a war of aggression on Afrin, one of the cantons of DFNS. This cross-border invasion by the Turkish state, cynically labelled “Operation Olive Branch” is a violation of international law. Since the beginning of the operation, hundreds of civilians have been wounded and killed, dozens of homes, schools, and vital infrastructure have been destroyed in the airstrikes and ground invasion.
The War on Afrin is a War on Women. This revolution is your revolution.
· immediate end to the attacks on Afrin
· end of arms trade with Turkey
· humanitarian support for Afrin
· independent investigation into war crimes in Afrin
· establishment of a No Fly Zone for the protection of civilians
· support for the democratic forces and peace efforts of the DFNS for a free, democratic Syria
· support for the inclusion of the DFNS in the Geneva peace talks on Syria
February 6th marks the 100 year anniversary of the first time women were allowed to vote in the UK. The Representation of the People Act in 1918 expanded the electorate to include virtually all men regardless of income or status, and offered 8.4 million women the right to vote for the first time in history.
A full century after women were first granted the right to vote, the UK is still being made to suffer a massive imbalance in the political sphere.
Although every election in recent history has broken records in terms of women in government, Westminster is still significantly skewed. Only three out of every ten Members of Parliament are women, while women make up over half of the general population.
On February 6th 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed by the UK government, signifying a momentous day for women. As well as abolishing many of the property qualifications for male voters, the law included this:
“Women over 30 years old received the vote if they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency.”
FiLiA VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: GRANTS MANAGER
Who are we looking for?
One of the challenges that we have faced is making our conference as accessible as possible. We have managed in some areas better than others, for example we have always had a creche and speech to text made available. However, we could do better, and this is where you come in. We are looking for a woman to support us with completing funding applications. Our aim is to apply for grants that will allow us to bring the ticket price down, opening the doors to more women on lower incomes.
For the full article and others on Sexual Exploitation and Violence please access the online Dignity Journal
With deep thanks to Cath Bore for contacting us about the book 'Know Your Place' which can be bought HERE
'Know Your Place is a book that is a political howl from those who know that it is easier, that we are easier, to go unacknowledged and that our experiences, our lives, our humour are difficult for others to take.' Lisa McKenzie
There is no official record or commemoration of women killed by men in the UK, so KAREN INGALA SMITH is taking to social media to remember them
IN JULY 1981, at the first Feminist Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Colombia, November 25 was declared an annual day of protest in memory of three activist sisters Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel who had been assassinated due to their involvement in efforts to overthrow the fascist government of Rafael Trujillo.
FiLiA Statement: in support of a woman’s right to speak
Since the beginning of recorded history, women have been forced or coerced into silence.
‘If a woman speaks disrespectfully (?) to a man, her mouth shall be crushed with fired brick, and that brick will be hung at the main gate’
c. 2350 BC Urukagina’s Code
Women and girls have been fighting patriarchal oppression for thousands of years. Patriarchal state laws, religious instructions, institutional and cultural norms combine to quieten, shape or silence our voices. Where we make even small gains, the backlash is fierce.
We have a right to speak out on issues that affect us, and it is incumbent upon those in positions of power to ensure that we are listened to and heard.
FiLiA is concerned by recent attempts to prevent discussion of the Gender Recognition Act. It is not acceptable that individuals and women’s organisations are unable to openly and freely explore the impact of this potential change in law on our lives.
Mary Beard points out that ‘women, even when they are not silenced, still have to pay a very high price for being heard’. That price is being felt in the form of threats, actual violence, withdrawal of speaking opportunities as well as the fear of loss of funding, job security and reputation.
FiLiA stands by Heather Brunskell-Evans and others who have stepped forwards; determined to uphold the principle of democratic debate and healthy discussion.
FiLiA is proud to provide a feminist space for women from all over the world to come together and share their views, respectfully and with the recognition that in order to be effective in creating positive change for women and girls – we must immerse ourselves in those difficult discussions; not be prevented from allowing them to happen.
In sisterhood and solidarity,
"We were willing, both of us, to give our lives for the Socialist Revolutionary party. That was a just punishment for the lives we tried to take. We dedicated ourselves to the movement, Manya, and we didn’t take that vow lightly. We didn’t flinch from the consequences.”
Angelina will be involved in the following FiLiA session:
Revolutionary Women (Saturday Morning)
We're delighted to say that there are going to be two additional sessions at FiLiA 2017 over the lunch break with young women in mind!
Session 1: Pornography and Young Women's Sexuality - How Porn Culture affects me
TIGER (Teaching Individuals Gender Equality and Respect) is a Bristol based workers cooperative who work with young people to provide education on topics related to gender equality. In this session, we will be exploring a range of issues related to mainstream pornography and the impact this has on young women and their partners lives. We will be asking questions such as - who is porn made for and who does it represent? What does it teach us about how and why we have sex and the impact this might have on our ability to form healthy relationships with ourselves and others?
Session 2: Body Image
TIGER (Teaching Individuals Gender Equality and Respect) is a Bristol based workers cooperative who work with young people to provide education on topics related to gender equality. In this session we will be discussing body image. This is a huge topic for young people today who live in media saturated environments, which convey multiple and often contradictory messages about how we should look and how we should feel about this. In this session we will be aiming to create an open and supportive environment from which to begin to explore these ideas as a group.
What does Lesbian feminist art looks like? What are Lesbian feminist’s concerns in 2017? How do Lesbians visually illustrate and frame their experiences as Lesbians in a word where the backlash anti-Lesbians is rife?
The Capital L room displays a series of work by Lesbian feminists artists addressing these issue and highlighting the richness and diversity of the Lesbian feminist political view point on ourselves and our lives as Lesbians.
Men, patriarchy and mental health; feminism; taboo… Over the years, the Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR) has picked intriguing conference themes. This year’s event, held on 6 May 2017, was organised by Dearbhaile Bradley, “eco psychologist, counsellor and poet”, and Chip Ponsford, whose starting point for wanting to be involved was having tried to run a workshop in the northeast called Rip Up Your Man Suit. No one had come.