Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

Reclaim the Night 2007

Posted by charliegrrl on November 26, 2007

I went to this years Reclaim the Night. Was worth the journey from up North.

The best part of the event was listening to the speakers. Jane from Bradford Rape Crisis gave a powerful speech about the reality of working in a rape crisis centre- that being begging for funding by filling out grant application forms. She told us how one time she had spent all day filling out a grant application form, having to compete with hundreds of other projects, just to get cash for the Rape Crisis she works in. A colleague working on the helplines then comes and asks her for help with a difficult call she had taken- it was a twelve year old girl, who had been raped and could barely speak, only breathing panically down the phone. This is the reality of rape crisis centre, Jane reiterated, that they have to spend so much energy begging for funding, rather than focusing on helping women and girls who have been raped. They shouldn’t have to beg for funding. She told us how there are now less than 40 Rape Crisis centres in England and Wales. Women in the audience started shouting ‘Shame! Shame!’. But whose shame is this… It’s our shame, for allowing Rape Crisis centres to close. As a feminist movement, we should be volunteering to support Rape Crisis centres, organising fundraising events to support our local Rape Crisis centres, lobbying government for support. But instead they continue to close due to a lack of funding and volunteers. I feel ashamed at this.

Another great point was remarked by Julie Bindel saying lets forget talk of ‘new’ feminism, ‘third wave’ feminism, and I’d add queer feminism, whatever…there’s nothing wrong with the radical feminism that the ‘new’ feminisms try to distance themselves from- and the radical feminist battles that we still have not won.

Here are some pics from the march…

Throughout the march, these lasses from East Midland Feminists took down the porn ads in the phone boxes!

When passing a sex shop, we chanted ‘Women are Not for Sale’, direceted angrily at the owner outside- he soon retreated inside! Women congregated outside Spearmint Rhino lapdancing club, booing, chanting and stickering the outside of the club. Here’s a sit-in of women outside the club. Funnily enough, the lapdancing club was closed, unlike on last year’s march!

Prior to the march, I was disappointed to hear that a feminist activist group were planning to protest at Reclaim the Night due to it’s women-only policy, in particular the women-born policy. In fact, LFN state that RTN isn’t women-born only (..!) but that anyone who identifies as a woman can go. Ah hem… However, having a women only protest, according to these queer feminists, is not trans-inclusive, and doesn’t include challenging patriarchal violence against gender queers and trans people. So they were planning on attending dressed in male drag. The point being what, I ask myself…? Endeavouring to dissolve the definition of a woman to create an all -inclusive gender queer party, will not make women disappear and will not stop men from raping women and girls. Get a grip!!! It pisses me off when trans-activists bang on about how ‘radical lesbian seperatist feminists’ oppress trans people, cos they won’t allow trans women into a women-only/lesbian spaces. Well, if a lesbian feminist seperatist is all you have to worry about, then you are lucky.

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13 Responses to “Reclaim the Night 2007”

  1. polly styrene said

    ‘Woman’ is a socially constructed gender identity. However it’s a socially constructed gender identity that leads to a lot of very real sexual violence. Just as ‘black’ is a socially constructed racial identity. But racially motivated violence is a very nasty reality.

    There are all types of violence in our society and it’s true to say that some are against men, some are against trans people, some are against gay men and lesbians etc etc. However this ignores the origins of reclaim the night. Which started when women were told to stay off the streets at night when the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ Peter Sutcliffe was killing women. Please note – this was WOMEN being told they couldn’t go out because WOMEN were being killed. So women literally decided to reclaim the night – women shouldn’t have to obey a curfew because of the threat of male violence.

    So I think the trans activists are missing the point really. It would be like me (a white person) asking why I couldn’t go on a march against racially motivated violence because I had experienced homophobic violence. It wouldn’t mean the organisers of the march were anti white, but that they were trying to provide a safe space – and that I wasn’t a member of the group experiencing that particular threat -that’s the difference.

  2. Debs said

    Great write-up, Charlie, and I love this bit:

    “It pisses me off when trans-activists bang on about how ‘radical lesbian seperatist feminists’ oppress trans people, cos they won’t allow trans women into a women-only/lesbian spaces. Well, if a lesbian feminist seperatist is all you have to worry about, then you are lucky.”

    Well said! See you there next year, hopefully 🙂

  3. Unfortunately the continuing closure of rape crisis centres is not only due to lack of funding it is also about sexual politics. Now we are supposedly living in a gender neutral world with the result men’s violence against women is a non-issue. One only has to read how the media continues to hold women and girls accountable when a man or boy rapes them. I’ve no doubt some would say the 12 year old girl was to blame for ‘allowing a male to rape her.’

    But Charlie your write-up is excellent and I love the photos.

  4. Sian said

    Unfortunately the funding issue is one that affects most charities/help organisations. The women’s organisation I volunteer for is in the same predicament – and as you are only helping women and therefore funders can’t tick the men and children boxes we get turned down a lot. Most of our time is also taken up begging people for money – sadly its out there but you have to know how to play the game to access it. Funnily enough you can get money for things – eg computers, desks etc but noone will pay for an office (rent) for you to work from or people (staff) to work in it.

    We got turned down by the National Lottery 3 years ago based on them not funding “core work” and we’ve since found out they’ve funded core work.

    What can you do?!!!

    The march looks amazing btw! Really hoping to go next year, Im trying to plan early for it.

    xx

  5. Michelle said

    I loved RTN this year, we were all amazing!

    And I wholeheartedly agree with this:”Endeavouring to dissolve the definition of a woman to create an all -inclusive gender queer party, will not make women disappear and will not stop men from raping women and girls.”

    That is why- as Julie Bindel said- we still need radical feminism, because women are still oppressed and abused because they are women, by men, and radical feminism is the theory and action that can try and tackle that.

  6. Sorry I didn’t come to say hello Michelle- I think I was marching a few feet behind you!

    Here is a film clip of the RTN march

  7. An Edinburgh Feminist said

    Did anyone see David Cameron’s speech on sexual violence against women at the Conservative Women’s Organisation conference? It was broadcast in full on BBC News 24. Cameron showed a good grasp of the issues and said that under a Tory administration, funding of rape crisis centres in England and Wales would be awarded in three-year cycles. Cameron is obviously looking for women’s votes.
    Here in Scotland, the First Minister made a commitment to reform the law on rape and sexual offences, in his speech in September on objectives and legislative priorities for the new government.
    Lobbying clearly is working; I’d be interested in people’s reactions to Cameron’s speech in particular, in light of Charlie’s comments above.

  8. wytchywoo said

    Excellent pics of a fab night Charliegrrl. I was a few feet behind you at one point but I don’t think you saw me. You may have noticed the hat… 😉

  9. Anji said

    I had an awesome time. Your photographs and write-up are fabulous. 😀

  10. Fantastic pics and report Charlie. Alas, I was away on a much needed holiday, which was a shame as I had a great time last year – so hopefully 2008.

  11. TruthFreeZone said

    Are Warwick “anti sexism” society going to campaign for mens rights to equal access to kids? What with that being “Anti” “sexism”, or, is the Anti Sexism thing just a cover, a smoke screen, a lie, specifically to attract moderates into what will inevitably be, just another male hate group?

  12. Debs said

    TruthFreeZone – If you have a problem with men not having equal access to kids, why don’t you set up a campaign group for that instead of expecting feminists to do your work for you?

    Organisations like Warwick Anti-Sexism Society only exist because women have seen something that pisses them off, and got organised to do something about it. It is not their job to fight your battles for you. Women have never had their battles fought for them.

    (Sorry, Charlie, I know I’m not supposed to feed the trolls, I don’t mind if you delete me!)

  13. chewitt said

    Sorry but isn’t Denis Macshane fighting women’s battles for them on the prostitution issue ?

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