Don’t forget the men on International Women’s Day

Sisters, we have gone too far. We took a whole day out of the calendar and made it all about ourselves, leaving men to make do with a mere 365 days (because it is a Leap Year, after all) where they can go about their business without being obliged to think about the 52% of the world’s population that isn’t male. We made them feel left out! They don’t know what their role in society is anymore! Are we women not content with the fact that we had an International Women’s Day this time last year? Talk about greedy.

 This is what somebody at Radio York clearly thought when they decided to devote a whole hour of their morning’s programming on 8th March to the subject of great men. Presenter Julia Lewis, whether of her own volition or because she was told to, presided over this laughable affair, opening with the proposition that celebrating men is something that “we hardly ever do”. Do we not? A quick glance at the TV schedules for that same day show me that I could have watched documentaries about Charles I, James I or JFK, or maybe travelogues fronted by Timothy Spall and Robson Green (not both together – just imagine), or if I’d fancied a bit of comedy there was a double-bill of QI featuring precisely one woman in the whole line up. There were no programmes specifically about great women. But let’s swallow Julia’s odd assumption for the moment and move on to her next justification for this man-fest.

 “Men can be just as inspirational as women, sometimes more so”. I don’t remember getting the memo that IWD was supposed to be a competition to see who could be the most inspiring, but OK. I can see how some people would feel threatened by the suggestion that women sometimes do good things and maybe it would be nice to talk about that occasionally. But only on one specified day of the year, obviously, part of which we’re still going to use to talk about the people who really matter.

 “We don’t want the boys to feel left out, do we?” Well, no, if there are men whose masculinity is so fragile that it can’t withstand the prospect of women talking about women for an hour or so, then it would probably be safest not to tip them over the edge. I doubt that such men really exist outside Julia Lewis’ imagination, but I think we’ve already established that said imagination is a strange place. 

Julia then decides to talk to Lisa Clifford, who happens to have climbed Mount Everest and is “an inspirational coach”, but instead of asking her about anything that she herself has achieved or done, she merely asks her what she thinks about men’s feelings and whether or not IWD is really necessary. At this point, the existence of International Men’s Day is mentioned, but only in relation to how low profile it is and why we all ought to be making more fuss over it. Lisa valiantly attempts to talk about the sort of people who inspire her, but Julia is on a mission now – “but you’re talking about both women AND men, aren’t you?” 

There is more, much more, of this sort of stuff. The first “great man” suggested by a listener is Nigel Farage. The Nigel Farage who wants to abolish all anti-discrimination laws and make marital rape legal again. That Nigel Farage. A male councillor is dragged on to talk about how inspirational he is, and when he suggests that he himself actually finds women more inspiring than men, Julia exclaims “Really? How interesting!” All the callers except Lisa Clifford are men, and the token concession to female recording artists is Shania Twain with her classic feminist rallying call “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”.  

I confess that I didn’t make it to the end of the hour, so it’s possible that this show turned out to be a big satirical joke about the lack of representation for women in the media generally – if so, then it was an exceptionally subtle joke – but the overall feeling was of a huge kick in the teeth to women everywhere. Men already dominate media stories about politics, sport, business, science; pretty much everything apart from the “women’s pages” which are primarily about fashion and make-up. We’re constantly told that women don’t feature in these stories because we don’t achieve anything in those fields, but even a cursory glance at the history of science would tell us that this isn’t true. Women’s sport exists and thrives but it is rarely covered in any of the tabloids, except to maybe feature a picture of Anna Kournikova in her pants. On a daily basis, women’s contributions to the world are undermined and ignored. The whole damn point of IWD is to redress that balance a little and to actually talk about these things for a change, before we go back to the standard state of affairs for the rest of the year. Radio York’s decision to take that platform away from women and give it to men, on the one day of the year that they don’t already have it all to themselves, is not only facile and insulting, it displays contempt for women the world over. 

What next, Radio York? What are your plans for Black History Month – maybe you’ll talk to some prominent white people about just how little recognition they get for their achievements? Or LGBT History Month – how about a phone-in where everybody can tell their favourite homophobic joke, just in the interests of balance, you understand, so that straight people don’t feel too left out? In any case, we’ll look forward to your coverage of International Men’s Day with great interest. For now, though, how about an acknowledgment that this was a terrible idea, and an apology to the women of York and beyond for treating them so shabbily on the day that was meant to celebrate them?

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IDAS fun day!

  
Hi all!

Thanks so much for offering to help with our Fun Day in Clements Hall on Saturday 12th March.

I thought I would send round an update as I am aware that things aren’t quite as slick organisationally as they could be. This is because I am coordinating a much wider awareness raising campaign with a huge number of events and other activities, so please bare with me.

I am thrilled to announce that LUSH cosmetics will be donating 50 goody bags for the first people to arrive to our Fun Day. This is a great incentive to encourage people to come along and join in with the activities and workshops.

We also have the support of Kyra women’s project and Survive who will be running a craft table and/or stand on the day. It is great to come together for this event as part of York International Women’s Festival to raise awareness and help people to get the support that they need.

Julie Gunnel will open the event at 11am and I am inviting all other local councillors too.

Also, we have very kindly been donated a bouncy castle for the day! (Thanks Julia!)

I hope that this will be a really fantastic day with a range or activities to keep anyone busy and create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and happy and can leave with information to help them have happy, healthy relationships.

What next?

So, we have a lot left to do and I would be really grateful of any help that you can give.

MUSIC

We don’t have any music. It would be amazing to have a few musicians doing kind of busking performances throughout the day, something upbeat but not too loud. If you have any contacts please get in touch with them and beg them to help us 😉 Choirs would be fab!

CAKES & BAKES

We really need to source a range of cakes and bakes for refreshments. These could be homemade cakes or donations from local cafes or bakeries. If you have any skills or contacts in this area please do let me know. Please feel free to approach people yourselves and let me know if they are able to donate or bake for us. Any cakes and bakes will need to be delivered to Clements Hall at 9.30 am on Saturday morning. Let me know if you need to make alternative arrangements to drop off cakes etc. Thank you to anyone who has already offered.

If anyone fancies taking ownership of calling around cafes/bakeries/shops to ask for donations please do, I need all the help that I can get!

PROMOTION

The York International Women’s Festival brochure is out but they printed the wrong venue so we are going to need to really step up our promotion of the event. Can I ask that all of you join the Facebook event page and invite LOADS of friends. The link is below. Also, share the event flyer and cover image that I’ve attached on your social media channels as often as you can. Also, we’ll need to distribute flyers. If you can help with this let me know. Thanks to anyone who has already offered to do this.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1664060950549053/

Are there any blog sites or web sites that could help us to promote this? Let me know if you think of any…I’m preparing a press notice.

CRAFT TABLES

So far we have Kyra offering bracelet making which is wonderful and we discussed at an IDAS volunteer meeting the possibility of having a kids craft table (something really simple like decorating hearts with nice messages, all ideas welcome) and a collaborative sewing/stitching table.

GAMES

We also discussed having a few games for kids, someone mentioned splat the rat!?! Any ideas welcome and even better if you could lead on creating/bringing a game and running it for the day that would be great!

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS TABLE

Information and quiz questions? Ideas welcome.

We also have a workshop space which IDAS will use to run a Healthy Relationships workshop but it could also be used for a nice meditation/yoga/breathing/singing workshop. If you have contacts please get in touch with them and see if they are available for an hour.

The next IDAS volunteer meeting is on 8th March at 6.30 at IDAS offices 39 Blossom Street. If you can’t make this please let me know your availability and I will try to coordinate an alternative meeting.

Really excited to hear from all of you and to pull this event together!

Thanks again for all you help.

Carmel Maria Offord

Working days Tuesday-Thursday  

Direct Line 01904 635 792

IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) 

http://www.idas.org.uk/  

24 hour helpline number 03000 110 110

charity no: 1102337      

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January meetings

New year, new meetings or something like that!

We’ve had a rather quiet few months recently, but now we’re ready to start up again.

Our regular women only meetings this month will be on Monday 11th January at 6pm at the York Explore Library on Museum Street. We’ll be sat in the cafe area. Please note that the cafe will be closed so you’ll have to bring your own refreshments. If you’re a newcomer and worried about finding us then email us at yorkfeministnetwork@hotmail.couk and I (Agnes) will send you my number.

Our other meeting will be at Kafeneion on Goodramgate at 11am on Sunday 24th. We’re usually sat upstairs, just ask at the counter and they’ll direct you to us.

Our open meetings are for self identifying women only, where members feel able to share openly. While children are welcome, we are unable to provide childcare, though we will always endeavour to support women who wish to bring their children along.

The reading group will be meeting on the 20th. We’re reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. The meeting will be at a member’s house, so get in touch if you want the address.

Hope to see many of you in 2016!

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Twice monthly women only meetings – Change in time and venue.

From next month we will be changing the time and venue of one of our twice monthly women only meetings. People have struggled to make our regular Sunday meetings, so we’ve decided to trial a weekday evening meeting to see how this works for people.

The second Sunday meeting will instead be on a Monday at 6pm at the York Explore Library on Museum Street.
Meeting times and dates:

12th October: York Explore Library 6pm
25th October: Kafeneion, Goodramgate 11am

9th November: York Explore Library 6pm
22nd November: Kafeneion, Goodramgate 11am

14th December: York Explore Library 6pm
27th December: Kafeneion, Goodramgate 11am

We have decided to keep all meetings for self-identifying women only, in order to provide a safe space where members feel able to share openly. Women are more than welcome to bring their children along. Though we are unable to provide childcare, we will endeavour to support those women who would like to attend with their children – on the understanding that we allow an open space for feminist discussion, which might include topics that parents may feel are unsuitable for their children.

If you have any questions, comment on here or email us at yorkfeministnetwork@hotmail.co.uk

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Women’s only cafe meeting 13/09/15 – results of our discussion.

Well, it’s the beginning of the new academic year, most people are back from their holidays and we had a lot to discuss about what we want to do this year!

Thank you very much to everyone who came today, and also everyone who’s given feedback, it’s been very much appreciated!

We had a very positive meeting (I feel!) As well as talking about what we want to do with this year we had some interesting discussions about domestic violence, and Charlotte Proudman, the so called ‘feminazi.’

In the past we’ve been very active, and done quite a few things, however in recent months we’ve been quieter. Lots of people have been unable to attend meetings for one reason or another, and so we haven’t been able to do as much. We had a talk about how we could improve things, get more members and hopefully get active again.

The first thing we discussed were our meeting times. At the moment the frequency seems to work (twice monthly), but not everyone is able to make it to the Sunday meetings due to other commitments (having a family and so on.) We decided that we’re probably going to replace one of the Sunday meetings with a weekday one. At the moment we’re thinking Monday, and our venue will probably be the library. We’ve yet to decide which meeting it will replace, and what time it will run but we’ll update you all when we know.

We also talked about what we want from the meetings themselves. As I mentioned in the previous post, the meetings at the moment are completely ‘open’, and designed to be a safe forum for women to meet and discuss feminism. We’ve agreed that in future our meetings will have an agenda, mostly focused on current issues and events (things in the news and so on), and all feminist network members are invited to suggest topics for discussion through the Facebook group, this blog and email.

We’re also, with any luck, going to host a few ‘mini events’ in the meeting space. Various people will be giving talks and holding discussions around feminism. If you would like to give a talk or be involved yourself then do let us know!

We talked about activism. In the past we’ve been very successful in doing things, such as our campaign against lap dancing clubs in the city centre, having marches and holding a conference. We discussed what we’d like to do and see happen in future. With any luck we’ll be involved in ‘reclaim the night.’ We’ve also talked about ‘active issues’ which various members would like to do something about, such as ‘revenge porn’ and abortion provision in the city.

We also thought about how we’d improve our social media use and presence. We’d like to see this blog become active again, and invite contributors, to get things a little more interesting and start discussion. I have a few posts planned myself that I’ll try and get out soon!

We’re still very much in the planning stages, so apologies if this is all still a little vague, but things have started moving again, and this is just the beginning of an exciting year.

Leave us a comment on here or our Facebook group, or email us at yorkfeministnetwork@hotmail.co.uk with anything you’d like us to do or you’d like to see happen.

Also if you’d like to write something for the blog, just let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

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13th September – Women only cafe meeting. We’d like to know what you think!

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. The blog and email account have recently changed hands and it’s taking me a while to get into the swing of things!

We’ve recieved a couple of emails asking us whether our twice monthly, women only cafe meetings are still happening. Yes! They very much are, and they’re on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. This month they’ll fall on the 13th and the 27th of September.

For those of you who haven’t been before, they’re held at Kafeneion on Goodramgate at 11 am. We can usually be found upstairs or on the sofas at the back, just ask at the counter and you’ll be directed to us. Order food/ drink and come on up! They’re open meetings, and a place to discuss feminism. Newcomers are always welcome.

Related to the meetings is the fact that we’d like to know what you think! It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime member or if it’s your first time, all opinions and feedback are important to us.

On our meeting on the 13th September we will be hosting a discussion on what we’re going to be doing with the meetings. At the moment the meetings are open and unstructured. They’re designed to be a safe space for women to discuss feminist issues. Recently we’ve worried that the meetings are beginning to lose their focus, and we’re currently having a think about how we move forward.

Some points to consider:

  • Are the meetings better open or would you like to see more of an agenda?
  • Should we be more ‘active’, getting involved in more campaigning?
  • Would you like to see more events, for example, like the conference we had in April being organised?
  • How do the meeting times suit you? Would a different time/ date work better? Do you want them held more regularly/ less regularly?

We’d love as much input as we can get. If you can’t make the meeting on the 13th, then feel free to drop us and email at yorkfeministnetwork@hotmail.co.uk or leave a comment on the blog.

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Sexual entertainment – consultation

We’d like to make you aware of a consultation being carried out by City of York Council about sexual entertainment.  You do not need to live in York to comment.  You can have your say at https://www.york.gov.uk/info/20169/business_licences/1686/sexual_entertainment_consultation

This is a great chance to have our views heard, however diverse they are, we do believe that high quality feedback will allow for a more informed decision.

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