CounterForce

Adrienne Rich 1981:

”men’s ability to deny women sexuality or enforce it upon them; to command or exploit their labour to control their produce; to control or rob them of their children; to confine them physically and prevent their movement; to use them as objects in male transactions; to cramp their creativeness; or to withhold from them large areas of society’s knowledge and cultural attainments… These are some of the methods by which male power is manifested and maintained… what surely impresses itself is the fact that we are confronting not a simple maintenance of inequality and property possession, but a pervasive cluster of forces, ranging from physical brutality to control of consciousness, which suggests that an enormous counterforce is having to be restrained.”

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Cambridge Reclaim the Night, 11th May 2012

Apologies for taking a week for getting round to writing about this(!), but I wanted to share a quick report on Reclaim the Night for those who weren’t able to make it.

Reclaim the Night marches have been taking place around the world since the 1970s, giving women a chance to come together and protest against street harrassment, rape culture, victim blaming and all forms of violence against women. In Cambridge last week, over 100 women met up on Parkers Piece, including a group of FAC women with our two beautiful new banners. The group marched through the streets of Cambridge, making plenty of noise!

Large banner with the words 'Cambridge Reclaim the Night'

Group of women marching with placards reading 'Women Unite Reclaim the Night'

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Patriarchy’s Waitress – Would you like to taste our special feminist coffee? No thanks, I’ll have it the usual way.

Being a waitress under patriarchy is so much fun – I love it. What makes it so special is that not only are you working as a subordinate for bosses, customers, and capitalism, but your job is also shaped by your gender identity. Being identified as female makes your experience of service a specific one. You’re not doing a shift, you’re waitressing. It’s a specific activity, with specific requirements, specific joys. Here are my top 10 favourite things about being Patriarchy’s Waitress. The list is not exhaustive, feel free to add yours in the comments.

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Women’s vocal improvisation – starting soon

Women’s vocal improvisation – starting soon

I used to do some free vocal improv with a couple of friends who were music therapists.  This would involve getting together, sitting or standing with our backs to one another, choosing a theme, and then vocalising (in a wide variety of ways) around a chosen theme.  We were surprised to find how great it felt. 

I went to the Her Noise symposium at the Tate Modern the other weekend and there was a panel on voice which reminded me of these sessions, so I’ve decided to start them up for FACers. 

Our first meeting will be at the Bath House Neighbourhood Centre on the corner of Gwydir St and Mill Road (just before the MIll Road bridge on the left, click here for a map) on Sunday 27th May from 5-6pm.

We’ll see how the first session goes, and if it goes well we’ll continue on the same day/time/venue on subsequent weeks.  All self-identified women welcome.  It REALLY REALLY doesn’t matter if you can sing or not, or if you are confident using your voice or not.  You can join in as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.  You can be totally silent or incredibly loud, and everything in between.  This is a space for women to discover/recover/enjoy their voices, in whatever way works for you. 


Cambridge Reclaim the Night 2012 – this Friday 11 May

Hello FAC people! This friday is reclaim the night cambridge and we are
hoping to have a large party of awesome FAC peeps to represent cambridge
town feminists and march up a storm- remember this isnt just a march for
students! we already have quite a few FAC people going so far [judging by
the facebook group] and this would be a great opportunity to meet others in
FAC who you dont yet know! Bring any noise makers flags or banners you can make/lay your hands on.
To connect with other FAC members and arrange to march together keep track
of the facebook, or if you arent into facebook email me back [i will defo be
going] and we can arrange to meet at the start of the march.

here are the details…

Date: Friday 11 May
Time: 8.15pm
Where: Parker’s Piece

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A feminist reading of the French presidential election

On Sunday, May 6th Francois Hollande, the candidate of the French Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party), was elected President of the French Republic. An article by Alexandra Topping entitled “Vive la Femme?” published on the 8th of May in the Guardian asks whether Hollande is “the first feminist president of France?” If I agree on the necessity of a feminist reading of the election, I think this article is problematic in many aspects, for a large part because of a lack of information on French politics (especially feminismwise). It is partly understandable (the journalist mainly repeats what mainstream media says) and partly problematic (the journalist mainly repeats what mainstream media says). Here are my 4 critical points on the article and the election, as a French feminist woman. All the translations are mine; all the italics are French. I apologise for the fact that most of my links are in French.

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How not to write an article about Internet censorship: a case-study

Update: I’ve turned off comments on this post because we have a collective agreement that discussion on this site happens within a feminist framework, but this particular article is likely to be of interest to people who don’t fit within this. I warmly encourage readers to discuss this in other online spaces.

I care a lot about online freedoms, but the one thing that stops me from doing more campaigning on this topic, is the other campaigners. I’m going to pick one train-wreck of an article in particular, The Guardian: Porn panic! as an example, but I see stuff like this all too often. So without further ado, here’s how not to write an article about Internet censorship, in 4 easy steps:

1. Make it all about porn

A lot is going on in the world. Revolutions in the middle-East, nearly world-wide recession, the Euro crisis, austerity, an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor. If you want to get people to care about your issue, you’re going to have to show that it really matters. If, on the other hand, you want to give the impression that your issue is only relevant to people who watch porn online and don’t have any real problems, then present yourself as being, not pro-freedom of expression, but pro-porn.

Case in point: The first four – count them, four – paragraphs of this article are about breasts. Not about Internet filtering, not about censorship, just breasts. In general. The author would like us to know about the many, many, breasts he has seen in his lifetime, and how it didn’t do him any harm. It’s hard to understand what the point is, except that maybe the author thought this was funny? It isn’t.

The issue is not porn, it’s censorship. It’s about handing the government (and every future government) an off-switch for any part of the Internet they happen to dislike, along with many innocuous websites that would just get filtered out by accident, as happened to Conciliation Resources, a website devoted to resources for ending conflict. The government desperately wants us to think this is about porn, because they can win an anti-porn campaign, but they can’t win a pro-censorship campaign. Putting the focus on porn plays right into the would-be-censors’ hands.

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