Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

Archive for the ‘General Activism’ Category

Time for a change

Posted by charliegrrl on May 22, 2008

This blog will be changing. I’m not even sure if anyone will care, as I have no idea if people actually read this blog or if they just stumble acoss this blog in search for pornography.

Anyways, time for a change. I’m fed up of living my life as a feminist through the internet. I’m fed up of putting energy into an online feminist community that is not real. I’m fed up of the blog wars, the radical feminist elitism, the secret clubs and the attacks on women for not agreeing 100% with the party line.

For the past few years I have been involved in what I would describe as extremism. This is not the same as radical feminism, only the way in which it is applied. Extremism is when you live your whole life for a political vision, you spend all your time campaigning, you ex-communicate yourself from all your friends who do not share the same vision as you or who offend you, you only hang about with people who think the same as you, you think that all men are oppressive, you assume that any man you meet watches porn, has raped a woman or child and wishes to oppress you, you are extremely intolerant of any person who does not 100% share your vision, your only socialising is at feminist meetings, you stop liking male musicans, authors and thinkers who you loved before, you stop taking care of yourself, you’ve forgotten how your life was before feminism, you are angry, stressed and bitter most of the time.

So here I am, on a new path. This blog will from now on be less about feminist activism and more about the struggles I face being poor and being a lesbian. I’m not involved in any feminist activism at the moment as I’m too tired and live in the middle of nowhere where not much goes on. I spend my time going to my allotment, meeting up with local anti-climate change people and going to my local lesbian group, rather than going to feminist protests. And I love it. The truth is that I do not feel a sisterhood with all women- as a person who was born working class, I feel more solidarity with working class people even if they are men, as opposed to a solidarity with all women. I don’t have the money nor the energy to go to feminist protests and meetings around the country; in these difficult financial times we live in, I need to focus on myself in keeping my head above water, as well as looking out for my friends and family in the same boat.

Anyways, we’ll see what happens. I do feel concerned about the feminist activist scene at the moment- it’s a problem that so much communication goes on via blogs and mailing lists rather than in real life. Setting up a Facebook or mailing list will do nothing for women’s rights, if it does not translate to genuine change. Having lots of Sisters online to talk feminism with is fine, but that don’t mean they will be there for you in times of need.

Will the internet be the downfall of the third wave feminist movement..? Hmmm… I hope not.

I’m tired of sitting infront of a computer screen.

‘Get off the internet, I’ll meet you in the street’ Le Tigre

Shit video, just close your eyes and listen to the song.

See ya’ll sometime x

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Posted in General Activism | 38 Comments »

No recourse to public funds protest

Posted by charliegrrl on April 16, 2008

So imagine you are an in abusive relationship, but you are unable to access a refuge, or seek emergency accomodation from your local council to escape, because the government refuses to give you benefits to pay the rent or even for food. Shit..? Well of course and this is the situation facing many black and migrant women who come to Britain on the basis of marriage. They are refused access to public funds, such as rent and basic income…until after a two year probationary period and until their immigration status has been established. This leaves refuges in the awful position of turning away battered women soley because they are not classed as having British citizenship and leaves many women trapped in abusive partnerships through economic dependency.

On 1 March 2006, Kent Police contacted Southall Black Sisters about an Asian woman who had been subject to violence and who did not have secure immigration status. She came to the UK under a 2 year probationary visa as the spouse of a British national. The police did not want to return her to her marital home to face what they described as ‘certain death’.

They had no where else to place her. All attempts to find her a place to live, including in women’s refuges, had been unsuccessful because she could not claim benefits to pay her rent or living expenses. In desperation, the police stated that they were minded to contact the Home Office to have her detained as she had no other alternative place to live.

Taken from Southall Black Sisters

Many women’s rights groups and services will be protesting April 23rd, to lobby the government to support all women who wish to leave abusive partnerships with public funding, not exclude some on the basis of immigration status.

Demonstrate Wednesday 23rd April 2008 Victoria Embankment 11am

Public Meeting, Portcullis House (nearest tube Westminister) 1pm

For more info and a template letter to send to your MP

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 2 Comments »

Please sign this petition for Rape Crisis

Posted by charliegrrl on April 12, 2008

Please go sign this petition.

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/RapeCrisis/

The Truth about Rape campaign need 2,500 signatures in the next coming week to make a serious statement to the government to improve funding for rape crisis centres.

Go Sign!!!

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 1 Comment »

Women I Love

Posted by charliegrrl on March 10, 2008

In spirit of International Women’s Day, I wanna celebrate some women who make me happy when I get down and women who I think are fab.

Lady Sovereign reminds me of me when I was a lass, except I had far worse dress sense and couldn’t rap, but yeah.. I love Lady Sovereign cos she has a great attitude, takes the piss out of the classism of those who hate ‘scallies’ or ‘hoodies’, and refuses to pose naked for FHM.

Staceyann Chin, a fab feminist poet.

Below is Dystin Johnson aka Norma on Shameless. Forget the L Word, finally a proper dyke on TV!

Christina Aguilera may not be an obvious choice, but she grew up with a violent father and here she sings about it. It’s brilliant.
And here’s Christina Aguilera again with my favourite feminist song, in which she gets harrassed by a man in the street and there ends up being a standoff between the women fighting back against the men.
And finally, Salt n Peppa, watch the difference in how these women sing about sex and dance with sexual agency, compared to groups such as girls aloud, sugababes and Britney Spears.

Posted in General Activism | 5 Comments »

Queer anti-feminist protest against Reclaim the Night North

Posted by charliegrrl on March 7, 2008

At Reclaim the Night North March 1st, a queer and trans activist group demonstrated against feminist seperatism. Despite the protest going unnoticed cos of the amount of men that were there, I feel it is still worth highlighting.

Below are quotes from their call for action…

The QUEER TRANS BLOCK will share the same start and end points on
Sackville Street as the “women” only and “men” only demos, but will be actively queering gender, space and separatism as an entirely unique protest accountable to itself

The QUEER TRANS BLOCK is a transfeminist response to the separatism, erasure and censorship of transwomen, transmen, sex workers, gendervariant, genderqueer, non-gender-normative and intersex folk within the populist feminist movement.

I’m still trying to get my head around their motiviations. Reclaim the Night North was organised by NUS Women and was open to transpeople. They could not argue that RTN North was transphobic cos it wasn’t. Below is a video of RTN North of the queer activists. It incudes some good clips of the demo, but notice towards the end how the chant ‘2-4-6-8, No excuse for violent men’ is drowned out by ‘2-4-6-8 Queer and Trans against the State’

The reasons why they came to protest RTN North was for the following reasons:

  • They consider RTN a seperatist and transphobic space, with all the debate over RTN London being women only and the criticism that Ipswich RTN received for being open gender and organised by queer activists.
  • They reject the man/woman dichotomy that RTN North highlights in terms of male violence against women
  • They wanted to protest against me and my radical feminist mates who advocate women born women spaces.

Now the last point may sound like an exaggeration but it is true. We personally know the guy behind this and fell out over his and his cronies’ reluctance to support violence against women actions and women only spaces- cos doing this is reinforcing a gender dichotomy did you know..? Zzzzzzzzz. In the above video at the beginning, the video focuses in on me and Rad Fem Sisters, then goes back to the queer crew, then back to the Rad Fems again as if they are indicating the evil feminists that the queers are up against. I noticed a guy filming us at the time and it was very uncomfortable. One of my mates, who is a radical feminist who has always advocated and supported women only spaces, is despised by the queer crew. When she posts an action on Indymedia, even when it doesn’t relate to feminism, she gets bombarded with ‘your a transphobic fascist seperatist’! When she organised a women only craft fair, the queer crew deemed this to be oppressive. Oh yes, laugh cos I do all the time at their logic. Cos you see, when a woman with radical feminist politics draws a line in the sand and says NO, I refuse to accept your definition of a woman, your definition of women only spaces and your definition of feminism, they detest it. They feel’ oppressed’ cos they know there are activist spaces they cannot go into and that represent a politics they feel uncomfortable with. But this is the women’s liberation movement- it’s a radical politics for radical change…for women. It’s bound to piss some people off.

We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by a movement that we are not a part of. We are not obliged to accept the trans and queer definition of a woman. They are not entitled to force us to change our women only spaces just so that they can join and change the focus of our actions and the focus of our oppression. There is nothing wrong with a women’s movement campaigning against violence against women and a queer/trans movement campaigning against violence against trans and queer people. We do not need to merge together. The very reason why they force themselves into our women only spaces is indicative of their political aims, not for the liberation of trans and queer people under patriarchy, but for the colonisation of women only spaces and the destruction of the gender binaries upon which feminism is based, in their endeavour to prove a point- that anyone who identifies as a woman…is a woman.

Over 50% of the world’s population are female. Fact. The other half are male. (There is a grey area of intersex but most live as either women or men.) Feminism is based on the liberation of those 50% of the worlds population, that being women, from the other half, that being men. It’s quite simple. It’s not reinforcing gender binaries- females, males and intersex people should be free to behave without the constraints of gender. The fact is that if you are born with a female body, you are born a 2nd class citizen. You are born into a world in which men wish to control that body for their own use and abuse, be it to do their housework, cook their tea, suck their cock or just to make them feel superior. They have a variety of ways in which to control the female population for their benefit: rape, violence, sexual abuse, fear, sexual morals, poverty, capitalism…the list goes on. If a male identifies as being part of this population of women, their bodies will not have been put through the same oppression that women experience from birth, therefore they cannot be part of the women’s liberation movement. The women’s liberation movement cannot include male bodies, no matter how they identify in terms of gender. Their experience of violence and oppression will ultimately be different. They can however be allies, although not many of them have realised this yet.

My and my mates discuss our need for women only spaces. What has come out of this is that for women to be able to feel safe from male violence and to be able to talk about sexual abuse as girls, there cannot be a male bodied person in the room, as this will not make them feel comfortable. Some of us who are Lesbians need Lesbian only spaces to find comfort from the het- dominated and the queer dominated scenes. We want to be with other females.


We are now in a position that if feminists try to organise a women only protest or space, they will immediately come under attack from the queer lobby. Genuine women only spaces are being picked off one by one. We know that the Michigan Womyn’s Festival, a womyn born womyn event, has come under attack by transpeople trying to enter. They have set up Camp Trans opposite Michigan Women’s Festival in protest. My mate who has just returned from travelling around America reports that the We’Moon calender now includes art of transwomen and they now live on Women’s Land. York University Women’s Committee is no longer women only, neither in the Manchester University Women’s group. The Lesbian Community Project in Manchester is not women only, nor is the Women’s Space at Manchester Pride. The Lesbian bars on Canal Street are now ‘people’ bars. There is also a silence around the definition of a women only space- for example with Reclaim the Night London and Million Women Rise, most women I know would prefer these events to be born women only and go because they percieve them as such. Hardly any transwomen will go to these events anyway. But instead these events advertise themselves as transinclusive. Maybe to passify cos they know hardly any transwomen will turn up..? There’s something very wrong in appeasing people who attack our politics.

Another point I would like to make in now what is becoming probably the longest post I have written…is that it is people from within the feminist movement who are destroying women only spaces. Men may shout abuse at us when we march against violence against women, but Men’s Rights Activist groups don’t turn up to our protests and our spaces and demand entry so that we take violence against men seriously. It’s the people who call themselves feminists who are destroying women’s attempts to organise autonomously. Like the NUS Women’s Officers who insist a women’s committee must include men, like the queer feminists who insist on trans-inclusion and like the feminists who won’t say to their male friends, sorry you are not invited.

And to conclude this piece with something very trivial but very telling at the same time- when my girlfriend has a go at me for not being nice, for not accepting transwomen as women, I say to her- ‘Look, would you ever go down on a transwoman..? She stops, ponders, stalls to speak, then says, ‘Well no I wouldn’t…’ To which I say, ‘Why not..?’ The answer is cos they’re not female… Now go and ask your boyfriends the same question. The moral is, we can be as nice as pie in accepting transpeople into our women only spaces, but at the end of the day they aren’t the ones we are supposed to be working towards liberating, it’s not our job to make them feel comfortable in their identity as women and we aint gonna get anywhere if we continue to be nice all the time.

Hate mail can be posted to The Women’s Commune, That Field in the Middle of Nowhere PI55 0FF

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 63 Comments »

International Women’s Day 2008

Posted by charliegrrl on February 26, 2008

Soon it will be International Women’s Day, so keep your diary free and go along to one of the many events all round the country. And if you can’t, make sure you celebrate March 8th with your women friends or treat yourself, cos despite all the shit, it is fab being a woman. Below are some of the events going on:

Million Women Rise

Join the women only rally in London to demonstrate against all forms of violence agianst women and girls.

Bolton Women’s Liberation Conference

The Bolton Women’s Liberation group that existed from 1971 until 1986 are forming an archive of their works and are holding a conference to inform feminists of their past activism and inspire us to carry on the work of feminists both past and present. Speakers include Julie Bindel, Baroness Ann Taylor, Jalna Hamner of Feminist Archive North, and women from the Bolton Women’s Liberation group.

Feminist Fightback picket against Yarls Wood

Yarls Wood is a detention centre aka prison that imprisons women and children seeking asylum in Britain. The detention centre is is Sheffield, but the private company that owns Yarls Wood is Serco, in London.

…up to 405 women and children asylum-seekers are detained at any time [in Yarls Wood]. These women, 70% of whom are survivors of rape, are held in appalling conditions. The women detained at Yarl’s Wood have reported being subject to racist and sexist physical and verbal abuse, confirmed by a recent government report investigating abuse at detention centres. They also state that the food served is inadequate, and that necessary items are sold at extortionate prices. As well, women have complained that staff members have interfered with their attempts to contact their lawyers.

No to the detainment of women and children seeking asylum
No to private companies making profit out of the imprisonment of vulnerable women and children
No to racism. Demonstrate, 4.30pm Serco Research Institute at 22 Hand Court London WC1V 6JF
For more info email Feminist Fightback via
laura_schwartz2003@yahoo.co.uk

Glasgow Feminist Network

Club night, V Day filming and Public Reading ‘Why I’m a feminist?’, spread out over International Women’s Week. Loads more links too to events in Scotland.

Faslane Peace Camp

For music, dance, poetry and blockading the military base

Helensburgh, Scotland 1pm

Women Centre Stage

A day of women’s creativity in celebration for International Women’s Day.

March 5th Swansea email womencentrestage@hotmail.co.uk

Act Together, Women’s Action for Iraq

10th March London. An event to share experiences and stories about and by Iraqi Women

And lots of others, feel free to link to any I have missed out.

Manchester Council events

Women in Palestine National Tour

TUC event in Leeds

Capital Women

Abortion Rights Demo

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 6 Comments »

Poverty is shit

Posted by charliegrrl on February 12, 2008

I’m fed up of being poor. I’m not even the poorest of the poor in this country, but I’m still poor. And nothing has ever changed. I’ve been poor my whole life. University promises lots, but dreams of a career fail to deliver in the real world. Cos the barriers poor people face their whole life to get to uni, are still there waiting for them once they leave…along with a student loan and astronomical overdraft to repay.

What many people forget is that poverty is stressful and time consuming. It pushes you into committing crime to save money. It drains you of creativity. It is isolating and depressing.

In this country they treat poor people as criminals rather than people who they are required to help. Housing is scarce for those with little money. Applying for state benefits leaves you feeling like a worthless individual who can’t get a proper job. The whole experience of trying to survive on benefits/low wage/no wage is scary, cos when things go wrong, you realise how little help there is out there. They don’t make it easy for you, but are there ready and waiting around the corner for you when things go wrong.

When the real problem is that poverty is not an individual problem of the fecklessness of tax-robbing individuals or single mothers who can’t keep their legs shut, as they like to make out, but it is symptomatic of class inequality that this country refuses to resolve. Don’t believe the propoganda. That’s what they want. Many people fall on hard times and need financial help; many people have genuine reasons why they are unable to work. We are not criminals. Safe and suitable housing should be a human right for all. Not a privilege for those with money. Everyone deserves to be fed, have clothes on their back, to be able to live a life with dignity.

The reason for this rant is cos I’m fed up. After almost being caught twice at the weekend dodging train fares, simply because I cannot afford to pay the ridiculous train fares we have, I find out that I am under investigation for benefit fraud. Sounds bizarre but true and all for applying for assistance with my rent. They think I’m lying. Whatever, I can prove different, but do they need to haul me and my mother into the council to have interviews under caution for which we might need to pay for solicitors and lost time from work. Treating me like a criminal for just seeking help that I was entitled to for when I was unemployed. Could they not just have been nice and asked me to provide further information in support of my claim… Arsewipes.

So what are us feminists doing about poverty in this country..? I’m not sure, please enlighten me, cos things are getting really shit. Debt is crippling, rent is unaffordable, homes being repossessed, gas and electricity prices going up, food prices up, council tax is a rip off, poor kids are hurting and killing one another, but yet we blame them cos they are evil. Join a union, I hear the socialist feminists cry. Yeah I’m sure that’s gonna help. When are we going to rise up..?

Posted in General Activism | 25 Comments »

Happy New 2008

Posted by charliegrrl on January 8, 2008

Happy New Year to everyone.

At the beginning of the year I like to reflect over the previous year to see what I’ve done and who I’ve become.

2007 was a very busy year for me. I was involved in a lot of feminist projects with lots of successes, but this came at a price. I ended up spending far too much time on the internet, travelling too much to go to protests and neglecting myself.

I’m winding down now and spending far less time on the internet, which I recommend for all you bloggers. I’m thinking differently about the activism I get involved in. Instead of travelling to meetings in London, I’m looking closer to home. It’s easy to spend lots of time on the internet or reading books about feminism, but in the meantime neglecting the actual women in our lives, and what difficulties they are going through. So at the beginning of 2008, I’m learning to be a better friend to my women friends and learning to look after myself. I’m learning to cherish having found a stable home and learning to budget…and I’m learning to dodge train fares so I can still travel to the odd feminist meeting 🙂

Hope everyone has a lovely New Year. I hope this is the year that men are finally criminalised for prostitution and I hope this is the year the government puts more money into Rape Crisis and no more close down.

Charlie x

Posted in General Activism | 13 Comments »

Feminist Activist Forum

Posted by charliegrrl on December 20, 2007

Feminist Activist Forum is a new forum for feminist activism, set up by feminists at Ladyfest Leeds in 2007. The aim is to create a vibrant feminist activist network, that creates bridges between various feminist standpoints, is inter-generational and challenges all forms of oppression that women experience. So far there have been forums all over the country, with the next one being in London 26th January.

I went to the most recent one. I have to say it was brilliant. The main action points we discussed were:

Abortion Rights:

Everyone in the group, and I hope you can too, is emailing their MP via They Work for You, to ask them to support the pro-choice amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passing through Parliament. The amendments aim to get rid of the necessity for a woman to have two doctors’ signatures to allow her to have an abortion and to make abortion easier in the early stages. We are also asking our MPs to speak against the anti-abortion amendments aiming to curtail the time limit in which women can have an abortion. Please email your MP, as they are discussing this in Parliament and it is so important that they hear our voices and demands.

Rape Crisis Centre closures:

We have set up a working group to campaign against the closure of rape crisis centres. We feel that feminists should be supporting local rape crisis and violence against women services, as they are under threat from lack of funding. So many have closed down so far, and we can’t let anymore close. This group is soon to meet in Leeds to discuss plans. Please sign the petition calling for the governement to end the postcode lottery for violence against women services.

No Borders activism:

We heard from a woman seeking asylum about her experience of living in Britain and of the immigration system. Women who have fled torture and rape are being deported back to their country of origin. When they are in Britain, they are treated as criminals by the immigration system and can be imprisoned in detention centres for indefinate periods of time, with limited representation. Feminists are organising action against the racist and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and against detention centres.

We also discussed women-only spaces as there has been great divide about whether women-only spaces should include transgendered people. This discussion was excellent and there was a sense of commitment to create unity between feminists of different opinions about trans-inclusivity- rather than the usual polarisation of groups and in-fighting. This day was an excellent example of how when feminists can come together and work through differences for the greater good of the women’s movement.

I recommend if anyone can, to attend the next forum in London 26th January, venue to be confirmed on website.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism, General Activism | 2 Comments »

Sexist Breast Enlargement Advert

Posted by charliegrrl on November 29, 2007

Linda came across the below advert in a pub, advertising breast enlargements…and thought she’d make an amendment.

“It’s a great first step to achieving the looks you are after”

Yeah whatever… Nice one Linda!

Posted in General Activism | 22 Comments »