Author Archive

What’s Your Story?

August 14, 2010

After the last Reclaim The Pub on Thursday (thanks to everyone for coming!), I started thinking about why I call myself a feminist and others don’t. Maybe even the definition of feminism that I ascribe to. It got me thinking about when I first started reading about feminism, and how angry it made me that women all over the world still have to fight for equality. At the time, my mother was going through her own personal struggle with the break up of my parents marriage, so we were both learning about feminism together, and having a brother and some very good male role models around (my grandad could be the greatest man alive!) probably contributed to my emphasis on gender equality now.

I understand feminism to be about gender equality, and that this equality is beneficial for both men and women. Kids learn to respect and understand eachother, and then grow up to form mature relationships with eachother. Financial responsibilities are shared, emotional struggles are halved by having an equal to communicate with.

I treat men and women completely equally, expect the same standards for both, am equally impressed by any persons ability to reach stuff off the top shelf or cook a slap up meal. I don’t know many men that knit or crochet, but the guy who runs IKL in Waterloo is probably just as good a place as any to start. I’d like to think that gender stereotyping is losing its value as more people embrace the idea of equality.

How do you identify with feminism on a personal level?

Cx

RECLAIM THE PUB: QUATRE

August 11, 2010

It’s that time of the month again! Sorry for the late notice, I hope you can still make it (or haven’t already missed it)…

Reclaim The Pub: Quatre!

Come on down to the Roebuck Pub, 50 Great Dover Street. About equidistant from Borough and Elephant and Castle tube stations and a couple of extra minutes walking distance from London Bridge. Click here for more details.

I’ll be getting there for about 6pm tomorrow (that’s Thursday 12th August), straight after work. Look out for me sitting at a table, lovingly booked under the name Ada Lovelace.

Cx

LASHINGS OF GINGER BEER: ONE NIGHT ONLY IN LONDON!

August 7, 2010

Hey kids,

This is for one night only in London so get in there while you can! Lashings of Ginger Beer, tonight at The Roebuck, featuring our very own Pub Reclaimer, Chloe!

They have a Facebook Group, where you can RSVP. If you’re heading North, why not book a ticket for their Edinburgh Fringe show? They’re on for 2 weeks 15-30 August.

Queer feminist cabaret. Combining lush Victorian drag with thigh-high PVC boots, upbeat musical theatre optimism with 21st-century political rage, this is music hall for the internet age. Re-living the politically-charged roots of burlesque, we aim to provide titillation for the brain by entertaining and challenging our audiences in equal measure. This Radical Feminist Burlesque Collective takes in a wide variety of perspectives – kinky and vanilla, monogamous and polyamorous, transgendered, lesbian, bisexual, and straight. Every performance is different: song, dance, comedy, poetry, and more besides!

Have a jolly good time!

Cx

Reclaim The Pub: Trois

July 7, 2010

Quick reminder: Our third installment of Reclaim The Pub will be held at the Roebuck, directions to which you can find here. Get there anytime from 6pm on Thursday 8th July (that’s tomorrow at time of writing), a table has been reserved under the name “Ada Lovelace” as usual.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Dawn and Carmen

PS: Please note, we are not affiliated with The Roebuck Institute, but support everyone’s right to freedom of expression and wish Jack of Kent the best of luck in his recent endeavour into pop fiction.

Schroedingers Rapist Debate

June 27, 2010

I’d love to know your opinions on this, as we’ve just been having a discussion about it on Twitter (follow us @dawnhfoster and @carmenego)

I read a post this morning that I found interesting and re-tweeted it:

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger’s-rapist-or-a-guy’s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

I’d better clear some things up on a personal level as I have a lot of friends and fellow Twitterers who were offended by this article.

  1. Most women probably don’t spend every waking minute of their day wondering whether the postman or unusually friendly man at the bar will rape them. I know I certainly don’t. This article says they definitely do, which would be impractical if you’re a woman and have a job or letter box or any sort of social life.
  2. I live my life, like the vast majority of women, on the basis that I will not get attacked, mugged, run over, slip on a banana skin cracking my skull open, fall off a cliff, die under a piano etc etc.
  3. Whilst the article is worded a bit (ahem) contentiously, I think there are some good points made, that have perhaps been lost in the overprecautious anecdotes and blunt tone.

The way that I read the article was as an exaggerated anecdote about personal safety. Ok, it reads as if the onus is on women to not get attacked, rather than this tiny proportion of men who commit rape to just not attack. I’ll get back to that in a minute. What I was particularly interested in was:

When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions.

From time to time, I get people approaching me out and about, telling me I look nice, yet I find it very difficult to take it as a compliment. As much as I’d love to take the compliment at face value, I instantly check what I’m wearing: Is it low cut? Is the skirt too short? Were the fishnet stockings and hotpants combo a bad idea? Am I wearing something that indicates I’m “up for it”? I’m really sorry that this is such a backwards thing to say, and that’s it’s opinions like these that propagate a culture of fear. But when a compliment is given out of context, I question it.

@HolfordWatch tweeted:

Also issues with risk assessment? In broad terms, people often overestimate risk of violent crime compared to other risks / + to what extent can one accurately predict the risk posed by one person or situation over another?

We can do our own research and find out for ourselves that nearly 9 out of 10 rapes are perpetrated by someone known to them. And yet look what our beloved news is telling us…

http://www.harrowobserver.co.uk/west-london-news/local-harrow-news/2010/01/22/rape-allegation-in-harrow-park-116451-25661640/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4986942/Black-cab-rapist-John-Warboys-targeted-young-middle-class-women.html

http://www.sundaysun.co.uk/news/north-east-news/2010/05/09/tyneside-rapist-released-on-bail-79310-26407090/

This constant narrative feeds into us women, and it’s hardly surprising to see articles like this:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1251040/Rape-Its-fault-victims-say-50-women.html

So when a stranger approaches you out of the blue and starts a conversation, I’m not sure it’s completely unfair to suggest that some women might question your motivation for doing so. @LouiseJJohnson says:

When approached by a bloke, many women think “Oh No Not Again” because too often, a similar situation has turned out badly.

What do you think? Are you a woman who modifies your behaviour to the same extent that the woman who wrote the original blog post does? And if so, why? If it doesn’t make a statistical difference if you get assaulted then why is it such an issue?

Were you offended by this article? On re-reading, substituting gender for ethnicity, I have to say I see the point that a lot of men raised, that it was playing on the assumption that all men are potential rapists. We do not assume that all Muslims are potential terrorists, or that all women are potential bunny boilers, or that all white people are racist, why should this be any different?

Cx

Discussion Topics For Reclaim The Pub

May 19, 2010

Hello all,

For our first meetup, myself and Dawn had prepared a couple of topics we wanted to discuss beforehand to get other people’s thoughts on the matter. Naturally, conversation progressed and we covered a far larger number of subjects than we anticipated which was both enlightening and fun. I thought it’d be nice to get the ball rolling a little early this time and gradually post articles up here as I see them. Perhaps some discussion will be enabled in the comments, and we can expand on those points at the next meetup. What do you reckon?

The first thing that caught my attention was an article on the excellent Feministing (http://www.feministing.com/archives/021197.html) – “Men who abuse think others do too.” A survey was conducted in America which showed that “men overestimated by two to three times the actual rates of seven behaviours ranging from throwing something at a partner to rape.”

Immediately my mind sprang to the Danny Dyer/Zoo debacle a few weeks ago (http://m.guardian.co.uk/?id=102202&story=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/may/05/danny-dyer-zoo-magazine) in which an agony uncle column suggested a reader “cut his ex’s face” in order to get over the stress of their break up. Charming. Twitter was swamped in arguments from both sides. Both sides – one side saying that was pretty bad advice, the other saying it was just a joke and we “feminists” need to develop a sense of humour. If we lived in a world where 1 in 4 women weren’t victims of domestic violence, or that domestic violence incidents weren’t reported to police at a frequency of approximately one every minute (source: http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic_violence_topic.asp?section=0001000100220036&itemTitle=Statistics) then perhaps Danny Dyer’s column would have been amusing.

I would be interested to find out exactly what is taught in Sex Education lessons (are they still called that or is it Sex and Relationship Education now?) and if the complexities of relationships are discussed in schools or left to family, friends and Zoo magazine. Having been in an abusive relationship (emotional and physical) a couple of years ago, it took months after we’d broken up before I even accepted that I didn’t deserve the crap he put me through. Anecdotes aside, it would be extremely interesting to find out exactly how common that feeling of blame is, and precisely what measures are being taken to ensure the safety of men and women on the receiving end of abuse.

To what extent is teaching courtesy the responsibility of the government (in terms of legislation and education) as opposed to family/friends (by example)? In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to legislate courtesy, but sadly this does not seem to be the case yet, as current statistics on domestic abuse demonstrate.

I rather like the poster campaign currently running on London Transport – http://www.togetherforlondon.org/ At first I thought it was pretty patronising, until I noticed that people were actually paying attention and as a result, I’ve seen far fewer arguments on the tube and buses since then. Is there a way to integrate this sort of approach to a wider range of situations, perhaps to publicly tackle the problem of domestic violence?

Cx

News Alert 17/05/10

May 17, 2010

Well, it’s been a week since our first meeting and there’s plenty to report, ladies and gentlemen:

We made the Guardian!
http://m.guardian.co.uk/?id=102202&story=http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/12/women-theresamay

The affable @mePadraigReidy totally plugged us on the telly! [If there is a link, we will post it here]

The Facebook group has reached 100 followers and counting!
http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=119193488095218&ref=ts

Tuesdays meeting was glorious, we laughed, we japed, and we discussed some fascinating issues – Danny Dyer/Zoo-Gate, Boobquake, lack of female ministers, Belgium and their ban on burkhas, Belle du Jour, and the bloody cost of living in London.

The meeting was such a success that we’ll be doing it again next month, wahey!

We had a fair few people approach us to commiserate Tuesday evenings as it clashes with the rehearsals of the spectacular BHA choir, so our next meetup will be in The Roebuck, near Borough, on Thursday 10th June.

Once again, please find the table booked under the name “Ada Lovelace” from about 6.30pm. All are welcome, whether you believe men and women are equal and should be treated as such, or not. We’d love to hear your point of view.

Thanks for reading!

Dawn and Carmen

Hello there!

April 19, 2010

Hello and welcome to Reclaim the Pub, the start of a monthly event aimed at feminists in London!

It’s open to everyone, male or female, if you’re into equality, fairness, and good conversation, this is just for you!

If, like me, you are dismayed that politicians can publicly talk about the repeal of women’s rights in order to gain votes, or that women still typically earn less than men for doing the same jobs, or that religious organisations still continue to oppress, torture and rape women without being punished, then head down to The Roebuck Pub in Borough (map) from about 6.30pm onwards on May 11th, table booked under the name “Ada Lovelace“. They serve great food and a decent selection of drink. It’s about a 5 minutes walk from Borough Tube Station on the Northern Line, Elephant & Castle on the Bakerloo Line, or London Bridge for National Rail.

See you there!

Carmen