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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Northern ReSisters: Conversations with Radical Women

We have received an email asking if we can post the following information.  We are not endorsing or recommending it as we haven’t read it or looked into it.


Northern ReSisters: Conversations with Radical Women

by Bernadette Hyland Publication date 1 May 2015

Published by the Mary Quaile Club ISBN 987-0-9932247-0-6 £5.95
In the first part of this book Bernadette speaks to nine women from Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds who have been active in radical movements over the past forty years, including trade unionism, Ireland Women’s Liberation, radical bookselling, anti-racism and the peace movement.

Bernadette says: “In this book I ask the question; what does it mean to be an activist; how does it affect your life and how do people keep going in the face of adversity? My conversations with these women tell their story of involvement in many of the important social and political issues of the post-war era. They have been chosen by me because their stories have gone untold.”

The women include Betty Tebbs, from Bury, aged 97, a trade unionist and peace campaigner since the 1940s who recently appeared on television with Maxine Peake; Mandy Vere , from Liverpool, who founded News From Nowhere bookshop in the 1970s and still works there; Claire Mooney, from Manchester, who is a singer-songwriter ; Karen Reissman, a nurse from Bolton who campaigns about the NHS; and Alice Nutter, from Leeds, formerly in the band Chumbawamba, who now writes drama for theatre, radio and television.

In the second part of the book Bernadette has selected a number of her articles previously published between 1988 and 2014. These include a discussion in 2014 with writers Cathy Crabb, Alice Nutter, Maxine Peake and Sally Wainwright (writer of Last Tango in Halifax) on whether there is such a thing as a “northern writer”.

Bernadette Hyland is a writer and journalist. She grew up in East Manchester in a working class Irish family. Her articles have appeared in the Irish Post, Guardian Northerner, Morning Star, The Big Issue in the North, Contributoria and other publications. She also writes a popular blog, Lipstick Socialist. Bernadette is a member of the National Union of Journalists.

This book will not be sold on Amazon. It can only be purchased online from News from Nowhere (the “real Amazons”). Full details on how to buy the book can be found at http://maryquaileclub.wordpress.com

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“Man up Man down” Workshop by Cat Crossley

Notes from “Man up Man down”, a workshop run by Cat Crossley at the York Feminist Network Conference.


A workshop that could have easily carried on over lunch, Cat Crossley managed to squeeze in some interesting discussions into the hour she had.

“The workshop is called Man Up Man Down because I hate the terms ‘man up’ and ‘man down’ – ‘man up’ suggests maturity and bravery are the sole preserve of men, and ‘man down’ uses ‘man’ to mean ‘person’, thereby erasing, like so many other phrases, the existence of women as people.” – Cat

We shared our most hated sexist language, which was varied and included:
• Bitch, cow, chick, other female animals
• Belittling words / usages such as ‘love’, ‘dear’, ‘flower’, ‘lady’ (which depend on context)
• Terms diminishing women’s words like ‘mothers’ meeting’ (when women are talking) or ‘old wives’ tales’
• Crazy, mad, hysterical
• Stereotyping of women as objects / pretty things
• The double standard of calling women ‘girls’ either to belittle or flatter them (suggesting that there is something unpalatable about women getting older) but calling men ‘boys’ in more positive contexts and validating their immaturity (‘boys will be boys’)

Almost everyone has an example of being on the receiving end of sexist language.

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We also looked at a number of adverts, magazine covers, displays of children’s books and Chris Brown “Ayo” lyrics.  After small group discussion looking at different things we fed back to the group.  A number of key themes kept reoccurring; women as objects or to be consumed, the idea of a primitive man who can’t control himself, women as an object of humour etc.

It was a really interesting workshop with lots of discussion and if we had been able to have longer, it could have covered fascinating ground and led to some creative ways of challenging sexist language.  Instead that was left for another day.  Leave your thoughts and ideas below!

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“Men don’t see dirt; women have higher standards of cleanliness.”

A write up from “Who’s Doing the Tidying Up? The Role of Women in the House”, a workshop run by Lotika Singha at the York Feminist Network Conference by Carla Jardim

“Men don’t see dirt; women have higher standards of cleanliness.”
“Women are naturally clean; men can’t help but be messy and dirty.”
“Men need to be persuaded to do housework; women need to bribe them to do it.”

Lotika’s session on housework as a gendered activity invited us to challenge the ‘received’ wisdom about men, women and housework. In discussion of our own experiences and context, the group demonstrated that the performance of housework is much more complex than the simple oppositions offered above.

One main issue with the sort of broad generalisations above is that it assumes that households are made up of one man and one woman. Our discussion of our living situations demonstrated that this generalisation doesn’t actually take into account the huge diversity of living situations, even amongst our group. Some people live alone; others cohabit with partners; some live with parents; others live in groups of mixed gender; some of us divide our time between different households. Therefore any feminist approach to housework has to apply outside of a heterosexual household model.

Additionally, these gendered generalisations about housework have a lot in common with most gendered assumptions: they focus on the differencesbetween genders at the expense of differences within the same gender. Again, a quick discussion of our own household work habits demonstrated a variety of different understandings of what counted as household work, and how often we expected to do each task.

The discussion is complicated further by trying to define exactly what constitutes housework. Cleaning? DIY? Cooking? Gardening? Pet care? Tidying? Household maintenance (including decoration)? Bill payment? Insurance renewal? Contacting landlords? When broken down into these separate tasks, the group demonstrated that household work was not mainly the preserve of the women in their household. This raises the question: if we always presented household work in these terms, would the persistent “men don’t do housework” opinion remain?

The most important outcome from this session – I think – came from our discussion of two case studies provided by Lotika. Both case studies demonstrated that the division of household work is not fixed and unchanging. Rather, the division of household labour is a serious of negotiations which are ongoing, and flexible. Patterns of housework which are established early in households may change over time.

I think this is the most important observation from this session because it demonstrates that the assumptions that started this post are not only not universal, but not permanent. And for anyone living in an household with an uneven distribution of household work, this can only be a good thing.

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