Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

Reclaim The Night: The Feminist Vengeance of Sparkle*Matrix, Bea and Charliegrrl

Posted by charliegrrl on November 28, 2006

Reclaim The Night 2006 was the first RTN I’d been to. As soon as I set off on my journey to London, I was beaming with Sisterhood.

I was feeling particularly daring, so on my way down to London, I gave porn peddlers a good slap in the face…

WHSmith Manchester Train Station

WHSmith Playboy

On the train, a young man was reading a lads mag- he was sitting next to a woman openly reading his porn, without a second thought of how those images may make her feel. So, I went over, stuck a sticker on his mag whilst he was reading it, saying ‘Porn Harms Women’…then walked off!

Various people saw me stickering and came up to me to ask me why I was doing this. I had nice chats with them about feminism and my anti-porn stance. I don’t usually stick around after I have stickered magazines, but whilst I was waiting for my train, I could see people spotting the stickers on the mags and walking up to get a closer look. I could see that a small act of direct action, such as putting a sticker on a magazine, can have an impact.

Then I met up with Bea and Sparkle- and the feminist vengeance began!

On the eve of Reclaim The Night, Bea stickered a sex shop and phone boxes full of sex adverts.

The man working in the sex shop hurried out in a fluster to take down the stickers…but he missed one…

Dead Men Don't Rape Sex Shop

Dead Men Don't Rape Phone Box

We met up with loads of feminist bloggers and readers in the pub for pre-RTN drinks- you know who you are! And I thought you were all fantastic. I felt so inspired to meet everyone.

After the march through London, everyone assembled at theJo Student Union for speeches and music. Jo, from I Can’t Fly blog, performed her music, which was fantastic. She managed to include deriding remarks about lads mags and a few quotes too- nice one Jo!

During the evening, I spotted a few young men with a 5ft inflateable penis in the bar. I had spotted them previous to this near the march, and on their way in discussing amongst themselves if this was a ‘feminist party’. They had obviously come in to check out what was going on- thought it would be a laugh.

I went over to them to get a closer look at their penis. They Impotent Penisasked me if I wanted to sign it- to which I declined and rallied Sparkle and Bea for reinforcements. When we told them about the occasion and how inappropriate it was for them to bring in a giant penis into a gathering against sexual violence, they couldn’t grasp this. Sparkle got so mad that she grabbed a pen and stabbed the penis until it was deflated. Nice one Sparkle! Then Bea came over and nicely threw drink in their faces. The security guards tried to tell her that what she did was inappropriate. She pointed out how they should not have been allowed in, in the first place, and how the male security guards could not understand the problem of a giant penis in a rally against rape, because of their male standpoint. The boys left the Deflated Penisbuilding, along with their deflated penis, covered in coke. This event was so symbolic: a giant penis being attacked by feminists in an anti-rape rally, and the men leaving with their penis impotent and their masculinity sorely bruised.

I spotted two men dancing with a broken ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’ placard. They had broken it and were dancing around taking the piss. So we went over to confront them ,which involved them almost being booted down the stairs! This time the student union workers kicked them out.

I decided to voyage into the men’s toilets to do some stickering…

Porn Harms Women Toilet

And just to remind them when they are admiring their penises whilst taking a piss…

Porn Harms Women Urinal

After much dancing to supposedly feminist music…like Girls Aloud and Britney Spears (grrr) we decided to head off home. I managed to salvage lots of placards that people had left behind. So, as we walked through the streets of London with our anti-rape placards, we had a few hostile encounters from men. Bea put them nicely in their place by reminding them that dead men don’t rape, nor do men who have had their dicks and their testicles cut off. As we got food from a takeout, we got asked if we were ‘bitter feminists’…We also got the classic counter-argument- what about all the men who are victims..? Yawn…

Sparkle kept reminding us that men feel threatened when they see a woman using her gob for something other than giving a blowjob.

Thanks to Bea and Sparkle for a fantastic feminist weekend! Also Stormy, Fran, Jo, Charisa, Lonergrrl, Witchy, Jen, Laura, Laurelin, Elizabeth the anarcha-feminist, Sasha and Charlotte for making Reclaim The Night 2006 so inspiring.


40 Responses to “Reclaim The Night: The Feminist Vengeance of Sparkle*Matrix, Bea and Charliegrrl”

  1. fannyblood said

    ditto, charlie, ditto. x

  2. Laura said

    Good work on the inflatable penis – that really was inappropriate in the setting, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that they didn’t understand why.

    But, and I chickened out of saying this on the day, I really don’t agree with the use of ‘dead men don’t rape’ as antiporn/rape propaganda. Yeah, it’s true, but it also suggests that the way in which we want to stop rape is to kill all men, and that certainly isn’t the way in which I want to go about it. I also think that it is likely to encourage guys to use misogynistic porn in a kind of revenge against the perceived man hating feminists.

    Obviously I wasn’t using the stickers and it’s none of my business what you choose to sticker, but I felt guilty that I wasn’t brave enough to mention it on Saturday and just wanted to share my view.

  3. It would have made a good little feminist film and Oh look deflated penis bearer is blowing a kiss. Great pictures!

  4. whiztle said

    Yay!!! It was a great march. Thanks for writing about it and putting up pictures. Lots of feminist hugs.

  5. Yeah I see what you mean Laura, about ‘Dead Men Don’t Rape’. I like it in certain contexts- I think putting the slogan on sex adverts in phone boxes or outside sex shops, can shock men to think people object to what they are doing.

    I like to use it when in the face of confrontation, like when those men were hurling abuse at us.

    I also think that it is likely to encourage guys to use misogynistic porn in a kind of revenge against the perceived man hating feminists.

    I agree with this… Hmmm, I still like though…cos it expresses my anger with misogynists. I suppose using it discreetly might work, rather than face to face with men.

  6. lyazkahlo said

    “I like to use it when in the face of confrontation, like when those men were hurling abuse at us. ”

    It will never fail to amaze me that this seems to happen quite often. What, exactly, is deserving of verbale abuse here? Wanting there to be less violence against women? Marching together? Having the audacity to not praise T E H Porn? What?

    And what on earth would make the bouncers think that a huge inflatable penis was appropriate? And why in the world would those two little losers be so eager to invade and anger people? It was clearly their intention. Why?

    I don’t get human beings sometimes. Some (like those two little losers) seem like they are an entirely different species.

  7. witchy-woo said

    Damn, I wish I’d stayed around longer now.

    It was an excellent night and so fab to meet/see you all again. Let’s not leave it a year till we next get together, huh?

    Loving the symbolism of the misogynists deflated penis – and that blowing a ‘kiss’ pic speaks volumes. May I copy it?

  8. Of course you can use the photo
    Here’s a larger copy

  9. Jamie Alice Tanner said

    Sorry, but I really don’t think they knew it was happening. They were carrying it for Sara, it was her 22nd birthday present. I think you’re being a bit needlessly militant……….

  10. witchywoo said

    Cheers Charliegrrl 😀

  11. I’ll make the point again.

    A giant inflateable penis should not have been allowed in an after party for Reclaim The Night- an event against rape and violence against women. Seeing as the penis is instrumental in sexual violence agianst women, I think it was inappropriate, and my friends were expressing their anger, and right to do so.

    Even if they were carrying the penis for a female friend, they knew they were entering a feminist gathering- they were standing right next to stalls with literature on violence against women, they were laughing and could not see how this was inappropriate. Furthermore, the bouncer should never have allowed them to come in.

  12. stormcloud said

    “Let’s not leave it a year till we next get together, huh?”

    A spring/summer get together would be nice? 🙂

  13. Hi Charliegrrl et al
    Long time lurker! Thanks for posting the pics and the stories.

    On the sticker I have to say I agree with Laura. I have to admit after reading this post I was actually quite shocked to see the slogan being used by present day feminists. I never quite understood what the slogan meant in the first place – and I still don’t understand it. It implies to me the message that men who have not raped should be killed before they can have the opportunity to rape. (I can’t quite believe I am writing this!)

    I also think the use of this slogan could seriously backfire, portaying feminism as (sigh…) man-hating. I sometimes get emails from men who assume or believe that the aim of feminism is actually to murder all men. Seriously. Unfortunately I can’t see how the use of that particular slogan will help get rid of that particular myth. Many feminists have to really try to break away from that kind of ridiculous, unfounded stereotype and I fear that this would just feed those stereotypes rather than defeat them.

    Not to say we should spend all our time pandering to anti-feminists – and I understand the anger and the desire to use shock tactics to wake people up to the seriousness of sexual violence – but I do worry a bit about what someone new to feminism would take from that message, and I feel it could be counterproductive.

    I’m not familair with the history of the slogan, but Mind the gap had some really interesting comment on it: here

    Anyway just my two pence worth. Thanks for being open to feedback and sorry to post just to critique!

  14. witchywoo said

    I can’t see any needless militancy in the penis popping incident.

    I can see crass ignorance and complete thoughtlessness in the act of bringing a huge inflatable phallus to a gathering of people, mostly women – many survivors amongst them – who had come together to protest the power of the penis in the oppression of women.

    Imagine someone crashing a gathering of people of colour wearing a KKK outfit – made welcome? I don’t think so.

    Same applies here.

  15. R said

    I would like to say that I was one of those two “losers” (although in actual fact there were three of us). I absolutely agree with the point made by charliegrrl that the bouncers should not have let us in. If we were told at the door the purpose of the function we would never have ventured inside.

    As to the point that we were laughing, I cannot say we were not. For who would not laugh at the irony of the situation we had found ourselves in? Everyone in there had a right to express their view at the inappropriate nature of what we were carrying and that I do not argue with. But the assault we suffered (and the drinks throwing was an assault, albeit minor in the grand scheme of things) was inappropriate and unnecessary.

    To the point alleged that we could not see how inappropriate are actions were I completely disagree. One of the congregation maturely explained the facts to us and we would not have hesitated to apologise and to leave; however whilst we were in conversation with her someone took it upon themselves to throw drinks on us, which incidentally also went over the woman who was asking us to leave.

    I completely support the aims of your protest, I am currently studying law and am appalled at the conviction rate in relation to rape and the judges attitudes towards rape victims and would never be insensitive enough to maliciously offend any of you.

    I am aware that this message will probably be subject to abuse being hurled in its direction; I respect your right to criticise my actions and this message, but humbly apologise on behalf of myself and my two friends and hope you accept my apology.

  16. Laurelin said

    It looks like you had a lot of fun 😉

    I’m with Laura on the ‘Dead men don’t rape’ thing, however, so basically ‘what Laura said’.

    And the inflatable penis was totally inappropriate for a party against male sexual violence. Damn right the men who brought it in should have been humiliated- they should learn to show some respect.

    I had to leave early to get back to University X

  17. laura said

    “I like to use it when in the face of confrontation, like when those men were hurling abuse at us.”

    Yeah, I can see that. And what a bunch of arseholes they were, getting all worked up because the nasty laydeez refuse to let them paw at us whenever they feel like it.

    Interesting that you never see a giant inflatable vagina birthday present, huh? I wonder why that would be…

  18. Greg Jones said

    It happens to be called ULU – University of London Union – thus it is always full of students. The liklihood of them knowing that a feminist movement was in the other room is minimal. And nothing justifies violence of any degree, i think you did nothing but damage to your cause and ULU will be unlikely to let you back again.
    Dead men don’t rape? Please. If you think i’m a rapist just because i’m a man then you’re just being ignorant.

  19. Rachel H-G said

    I wish I could have been there is all I can say – roll on next year when I am safely at university again, with free time, subsidised travel and no fear of questions at work!
    Good work everyone!

  20. lyazkahlo said

    “I’m with Laura on the ‘Dead men don’t rape’ thing, however, so basically ‘what Laura said’. ”

    I’m a bit torn on it. On the one hand, it does give support to the fallacy that feminists just hate/want to kill men. On the other hand, given the prevalence of violence against women, it woudl seem that violence is the only thing that gets through to them.

    That said, I’m entirely jealous that I live in the US and couldn’t partake.

  21. To R

    I’m impressed that you have apologised, rather than being arsey.

    As to the point that we were laughing, I cannot say we were not. For who would not laugh at the irony of the situation we had found ourselves in?

    Irony..? I don’t think the irony of bringing in a giant penis to a gathering against sexual violence, is funny. I still dubious whether you were really unsure about what the event was- I saw you outside watching all the women marchers move into the student union- surely you would have seen placards and heard us chanting..? And I heard you say something like ‘is this a feminist party’…

    Anyway, I accept your apology, and agree that things could have been handled differently. And hopefully you aren’t too pissed off about having your photo on the net…

  22. Greg Jones said

    The giant penis belonged to a woman celebrating her 22nd birthday and you’d never see a giant inflatable vagina at a party because strippers are much more exciting.

  23. Dead Men Don’t Rape

    I can see that if feminists openly associate with the slogan ‘Dead Men Don’t Rape’, then this could damage feminism by coming across as man-hating.

    My main interpretation of the slogan is -the only man you can be sure won’t rape you, is a dead one. Not saying that we should kill men, but that rape is so pervasive and that it is ‘ordinary’ men who we know who rape women.

    Part of me still likes it though.

  24. Greg

    The giant penis belonged to a woman celebrating her 22nd birthday and you’d never see a giant inflatable vagina at a party because strippers are much more exciting.

    Before to R, I was being nice, but I can’t believe what you’ve just said! You are an arsehole.

    What, so ULU are unlikely to let me back in or Reclaim The Night..?

    You got some cheek, complaining about the violence of throwing drink in your friend’s face, and then not criticise bringing in a giant penis to a demo against sexual violence against women. May it occur to you how women felt, many of whom will have been survivors of sexual violence and abuse, to be faced with a giant penis in a safe environment for women against sexual violence..?!?

    You may not be a rapist, but saying strippers are more exciting than vaginas says alot about you being a misogynist.

  25. R said

    As to the point that we saw you move into the student union I can assure that I for one did not and was in a separate bar in the union at the time that you must have arrived.

    I agree the irony of walking into a rally against sexual violence is never funny, but we did not know it was a rally against sexual violence. We assumed once inside that this was indeed a feminist party which explains why you heard one of us say ‘is this a feminist party?’ and that is what we found funny.

    I do not object to the photos being placed on the internet, however I do object to some of the hurtful comments being made against me, ‘arseholes’ and the like.

    I do have some points to make about your campaign. Is your stance that pornography is equal to rape? Surely as feminists you should support that a woman can do whatever she wants with her body; if she decides to sell it for the gratification of others is that not her choice? I cannot see that this is rape. Also if you are claiming this is rape because she is selling her body for the sexual gratification of others then surely men in pornography are doing the exact same thing, are they being ‘raped’ by society also? Is gay pornography rape if it involves two men?

    In relation to your stance against ‘lad’ mags, who is the real mug: the man who folks out his money to buy a copy or the woman who rakes in the money by doing nothing other than getting undressed? ‘A woman should be allowed to make her money in any way she chooses as long as it does not harm others?’ I cannot see how anyone with a feminist ideology can disagree with this statement and so how can you be against a woman consensually posing in these magazines?

    I hope you will respond with enlightened debate on these issues, rather than some of the derogatory remarks often put forward, or the cliché of ‘you’re men so you do not understand’. Such comments do nothing to further your cause.

  26. WW has just used the analogy of KKK outfit wearers’ gate crashing a people of colour event. This was given as an example at the time to try reasoning with the penis bearers and we did attempt to engage in conversation regarding the complete inappropriateness of the object. We did not hurtle up to the offending penis and start hacking and slashing, an attempt was made to engage the bearers in some conversation and to enlighten them to the insensitivity of the ‘prank’ I am now finished with the penis malarkey as our memories serve us differently, and nor do I see ANY humorous irony.

  27. Grace said

    I think it’s good that R commented as was so clear about it all without getting defensive – although I really don’t think he can say that throwing a glass of coke over someone is assault – is does not incite fear or cause physical harm – unless you’re speaking figuratively of course (and over stating, as most people at one point or another will have had a drink spilled on/thrown at them by someone who was drunk in a bar, and it’s a cause of annoyance but you don’t go to court over it!)

    I don’t really think that it’s appropriate for an inflatable penis to be carried around at all anyway, but saying that it was for a woman’s birthday doesn’t make it better, I feel that it’s something that we would take issue with at any time, with the woman whose birthday it was!

    And as far as Greg’s comments go – the vast majority of students WOULD know about the event because it would likely have been publicised in their Uni buildings/union web site/union paper as it was happening in a university communal building so they can not just plead ignorance unless they go round with their eyes closed (would explain a lot about some people’s view of the world!) I would also say that for women who find inflatable penises funny they would probably find a male stripper more exciting so why did no-one think to get her one of those for her birthday (cuz she’s not getting married or so old that it’s a bit embarrassing probably)?

    Greg is clearly more excited by the image of fake women than the beautiful genitalia of a real woman – the complex and intelligent gateway to life that it is.

  28. lyazkahlo said

    “Surely as feminists you should support that a woman can do whatever she wants with her body; if she decides to sell it for the gratification of others is that not her choice?”

    And my estimation of these boys sinks even lower. The rest of the post is just one long journey into “WHAT ABOUT THE MENZZ!!!!!” territory. Because clearly the most oppressed human on earth is the total moron who buys lad mags to get off on the humilation, degradation and commodification of women. It’s oh-so-clear to me now! MEN ARE VICTIMS TOO!!! *headdesk headesk headesk*

    How cute though, that after posting such dreck he admonishes us to be kind to him – because it’s our job to educate him (nothing is ever a boy’s own responsibility, apparently) and provide “enlightened” debate – which is apparently defined as “that which does not hurt a boy’s feelings”, so unless we are nice to him surely Feminism will fail . . or something.

    Anyone else enjoying the irony of his attempts at controlling the convo? On a Radfem blog, no less.


    Sparkle – no one believes for a moment that feminists attending an anti-violence ralley needlessly attacked a couple of boys who crashed the party.

  29. “I hope you will respond with enlightened debate on these issues, rather than some of the derogatory remarks often put forward, or the cliché of ‘you’re men so you do not understand’. Such comments do nothing to further your cause“

    Oh dear as usual big man speaks and tells us how it is and how we should respond. To ignore would be to doing “nothing to further your cause” Didn’t see many men organising Reclaim the night march or giving excellent speeches post rally. In fact, most of what I witnessed was way too many men acting out as entitled, misogynistic and decidedly threatened control freaks. You talk of avoiding clichés.

    Well done women x

  30. delphyne said

    It’s a shame you’re being put in the position of having to defend yourselves, Sparkle. Greg has come here pretending to apologise but has actually blamed the people who complained about his and his friend’s objectionable behaviour and then did something about it.

    A proper apology, Greg doesn’t include blaming other people and complaining that they didn’t argue maturely enough. Were you being mature when you asked them if they wanted to autograph your oversized dick? Whining about women who get righteously angry about male disrespect and malevloence is standard practice for misogynists.

    WRT “dead men don’t rape”, Andrea Dworkin had it on her desk because she believed women should have the right to kill their rapists. One of her arguments was that if the first woman who had been raped by the Marquis de Sade had killed him, then many other women would have been saved from him. I don’t really like it but I don’t think other feminists deserve criticism for wanting to use it. It’s interesting that the fear that men might enact retribution on us if they see it comes up, considering that hardly any men who rape woman have ever suffered from women’s retribution. They actually do rape and kill us, not just produce stickers about it, but we are the ones afraid of retribution and afraid of being called man-haters.

  31. Grace said

    R – prostitution and pornography are different things – this we know – and yes, in my opinion at least, all men and women whose images are used for the soul purpose of being wanked over is exploitation by society, and yes these people do mostly choose to get involved but there is deep seated patriarchal socialisation that has lead to this decision – often the misguided conception that it is empowering.

    What many people also don’t realise R – and you may be one of these people so I hope this enlightens you I really do – is that a lot of men who get off on porn enjoy the degradation aspect of it and the submissiveness of the 2D images – and in some ways this is akin to rape – the terms are the same. I’m not saying that all men who wank over porn are rapists, cuz that’s just not true, but it leaded to those men predisposed to rape feeling a position of power and superiority over women and men in these images (because we should absolutely not ignore rape against men and that is not what we aim to do) and that in itself is perpetuation of a culture of violence and sexual violence – just as not all kids who play violent games go out and comit violent offences we do not expect that of all men who look at porn but it does happen as it does with the violent game -> violent offence problem.

    Soap box dismounted…

  32. Grace said

    [Apologies for my typo’s – I have good grammar honest i’m just in a rush before work!]

  33. Jenna said

    wow, i just ramdomly went through the comments on this page, and damn what a total arse greg seems to be! I’m not a rock hard feminist myself, but i have to say i got offended by his words! Clearly he has no respect for women at all and is just out to get drunk and take the piss out of everyone he meets who has a different oppinion than his!
    Get a life greg.. honestly

  34. Wholehearted Supporter said

    I’d like to give you girls a big hand, this blog has really warmed my heart. So, so good to see some people standing up for their rights, especially in the face of such inappropriate behaviour. If I didn’t have to go now, I would share an almost identical experience that I have had – it’s so parallel to the one you have had it’s amazing – would you like me to write about it when I have more time?

  35. Lya Kahlo said

    Well didn’t take long for those boys to reveal their yellow stripe and run off, huh.

  36. xanadu1015 said

    I almost wish he would. Kind of entertaining to watch some disrespectful arsehole pointing fingers and on a feminist blog no less, especially when they don’t succeed. Teehee


  37. John said


    With respect to “Dead Men Don’t Rape”, it seems to me upon first impression that the expression of stickering those words is a perfectly humane response to some of the violence that goes on.

    Sexual expression goes deeply into the emotions and, hence, our inner beings; inappropriately used, it leaves its scars on our souls for all our lives. My friend L had been raped twice before she was twenty, including once by a male ‘figure of authority’, in addition to being abused by her elder brother. Why shouldn’t she express herself in the strongest words, considering that her inner life will forever be hurt by these lunatics? My friend J is on a study year in Italy, but has been assigned to live in a misogynistic household where the loudest male, who happens to own the house, feels it’s ok to slap a woman who takes verbal and physical control of her life. The local mayor laughed at the tale of the assault on her. I join her in fury. No-one should be literally killed over this, but surely it’s both an artistic and emotional statement from the heart to sum up the feelings of injury and rage in the words “Dead Men Don’t Rape”.

    One may forgive: but how impossible it is to forget!

    The pendulum swings. If something extreme happens, the pendulum always returns to a less extreme position. I, personally, have no trouble with the stickered expression of outrage that is seen here.

  38. Ginny said

    The problem is men have balls – they are constantly producing sperm and semen – and because of this men need to wank all the time to get the semen out – so you’ve got to pity them really. The issue is how much they gawp at us women while they are wanking and how much they use our images to help them.

    For example see how this man uses the site flickr:

  39. Nic said

    “Dead Women don’t get raped.”

    Hypocritical misandrists.

    There is happiness out there, you just have to want it.

  40. Laurelin said

    That’s not actually true, Nic. There are many cases of men raping women’s dead bodies.

    Oh and misandrist isn’t a word.

    You don’t sound that happy to me, sweetheart…

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