Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

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..?

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Posted in General Activism | 25 Comments »

Liverpool picket of Widdecombe’s anti-abortion roadshow

Posted by charliegrrl on January 29, 2008

MP Ann Widdecombe is touring Britain rallying support for her anti-abortion agenda. She is holding rallies under the name of ‘Passion for Life’, to rally support for anti-abortion amendments to the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill.

She has already met with protest in Cardiff, and below at Glasgow University. Plans are underway to picket the London rally Wed 6th Feb

Feminists in the North wiil also be picketing her rally in Liverpool Feb 12th.

To join the picket, assemble outside the Liner Hotel, Lord Nelson Street (next to Lime Street Station) Liverpool. Tuesday 12th February, 6.15pm

There is also an organising meeting 31st Jan, Egg Cafe, Newington Street, off Bold Street, Liverpool, 6pm. For more info, contact Tom and Beck via nwfeminists[at]googlemail.com

See also Feminist Fightback’s picket of The Christian Medical Fellowship.

Photo taken by Duncan Brown, found on socialist worker website

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

Reclaim the Night North

Posted by charliegrrl on January 26, 2008

Reclaim the Night North will be held in Manchester city centre
March 1st 2008.
The march is women only- congregate at 6pm, Sackville Street. There will also be a march for supportive men, starts at Sackville Street 6pm but wil march on a different route, and later will join the women’s march. Then there will be a mixed rally for everyone from 7.30pm, back at the University of Manchester Students’ Union.
The march is being organised by NUS Women, so for more info email women@nus.org.uk
See ya there! 

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 4 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 »

Ban men from buying sex

Posted by charliegrrl on December 21, 2007

Last night I was thrilled to see on the news, Harriet Harman and co, wishing to make it illegal to pay for sex. They hope to reverse the model of criminalising prostitutes, and instead criminalise the men who pay for sex. About bloody time!!! They said the Bill will be discussed in the New Year.

The idea that men can purchase women and girls in the same way as that they buy a take away pizza, is deplorable. The fact that newspapers advertise massage parlours, saunas, escorting etc is irresponsible (they are soon to discuss regulating this). The fact that so many women and girls outside of Britain are trafficked into Britain to meet the insatiable demand of men to have sex with a woman/girl whenever they want- well it’s dispicable.

However, as much as I was delighted to hear this news, I was also saddened by seeing women speaking out against such a move to criminalise punters (English Collective of Prostitutes etc)… They state that making it illegal for men to pay for sex, will push prostitution underground and make it less likely to help trafficked women, as punters will be less likely to provide police with info.

On newsnight lastnight, a former government minister, Denis MacShane, argued that men should be criminalised for purchasing sex. He said why should men be able to purchase women, just because they are men…and that no woman he knows would be willing to sleep with 30 men a day to make a living. The opposing speaker was the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of London, Sian Berry. She dribbled on about how the answer to helping sex workers is to liberalise prostitution, not criminalise punters. Mr MacShane could not understand how a woman could be speaking in favour of men purchasing women for sexual gratification. And neither can I. This fustrates me so much to see women speak in favour of men having the right to purchase women for sex, as if they don’t want to do anything to upset these ‘loyal customers’. Liberalising prostitution is basically giving the green light to men who want to buy sex and allows the capitalist sex industry to expand to meet the greater demand. But it wouldn’t be the prostituted women making the money, but the pimps behind the industry. Sian Berry says that sex workers don’t want men to feel afraid to purchase sexual services- if the demand is reduced, so will the sex worker’s money. I can understand this, but I think to remedy this, if we reduce the demand for paying for sex, we will have to also tackle the issues that lead women and girls to become prostitutes: criminalising men paying for sex would have to go hand in hand with more exit-prostitution projects, supported housing projects, supportive drug treatment programmes, tackling poverty, child abuse and allowing trafficked women and girls to remain in Britain with recourse to public funds, amongst many other things. I wholeheartedly support the drive to criminalise men paying for sex, but I hope that this drive will bring about more support for prostituted women and girls as well.

PS, just found this great flim via Witchy about trafficking, with Emma Thompson in.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 89 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 »

Bin the Bunny Film against Playboy

Posted by charliegrrl on December 4, 2007

The Bin the Bunny campaigners, in their campaign against Playboy, have made three short films called Bin the Bunny- The Trilogy, to highlight the true nature of Playboy.

Our aim is to illustrate the fact that Playboy, while being marketed to young women and girls as a ’stylish’ and ’sophisticated’ brand, is a pornography company. The films use satirical humour to expose Playboy Enterprises’ exploitative practices against women and girls as well as demonstrate some of the objections raised by the public against the company.
Bin the Bunny website

Posted in Anti-Porn Activism | 8 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 »

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.

Posted in Anti-Rape and Violence Activism | 13 Comments »

Kilmacolm Campaign against Lads Mags

Posted by charliegrrl on November 18, 2007

Margaret Forbes, from Kilmacolm in Scotland, has been leading a succesful campaign urging supermarkets and retail outlets, to stock lads mags on top shelf, and partially concealed. She has managed to encourage Morrison’s Supermarket to display lads mags on top shelf.

She has collected almost 200 signatures from Kilmacolm residents supporting her campaign and will continue by urging the Scottish Government to take action.

A lot of women, and men, have said they back me all the way and this stuff shouldn’t be displayed in front of children. I’m still going to keep fighting.

Read the full report from here

Posted in Anti-Porn Activism | 15 Comments »