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“She was like summer warmth on a cold day – she was a girl who would make any dad proud.”

It’s hard to believe but I’ve been at this blogging lark for almost a year now, my first post having been on 26th October 2010. I started this because I didn’t know where the young feminist voices were in Northern Ireland and it seemed that if I started to shout out then maybe they’d shout back. It’s an absolute honour to now be able to make noise together as part of Belfast Feminist Network along with all the other great feminists I’ve been lucky enough to meet because of this pursuit.

Over the next couple of weeks as soisaystoher approaches its first birthday I am going to try and review the main issues that have been discussed here this year and try and put some perspective on what has actually been done. Have there been positive changes in any of the areas our blog posts have highlighted or are we struggling to get off square one?

It would also be good to plan some actions for November/December as we focus on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. Last year I wanted to do something but alone it felt impossible to make an impact. This year alone is not a word that describes my feminist experience I’m glad to say, and so I know we can come up with some ideas to remind the people of Northern Ireland that violence against women is all of our responsibility. A quick scan of today’s news alone brings a terrible reminder of the ‘two women a week’ statistic that describes the number of women who die at the hands of partners or ex-partners in the UK.

Continue reading ‘“She was like summer warmth on a cold day – she was a girl who would make any dad proud.”’

Recent Belfast Feminist Network event on sex industry.

I’ve been so busy with Belfast Feminist Network of late that blogging has definitely taken a back seat. I don’t mind though. I always wanted to be an activist, surrounded by activists supporting each other, making a noise, refusing to back down. And getting to do stuff like this…

(Post originally appeared in UK Feminista here.)

As the Facebook group for Belfast Feminist Network hit 200 members and our fortnightly meetings began to attract more keen new people with each one, we decided to host a public awareness raising evening on the subject of the sex industry. In fact it was something we’d had in the pipeline for a while as we discussed feminist activities on the issue in other parts of the UK and Ireland. We wanted to learn more about this industry as it is currently playing out in Northern Ireland. Given the cultural peculiarities of this place, it is really important that we don’t try to import campaigns and activist strategies from other places without doing everything we can to find out what’s really happening for women and girls involved in the sex industry in our own towns and cities.

Continue reading ‘Recent Belfast Feminist Network event on sex industry.’

A very feminist weekend.

There is surely no better way to spend a weekend than surrounded by strong, compassionate women who have come together to share their vision for a feminist peace on our still troubled island. When I came home from the Hanna’s House summer school yesterday I was suffering from a satisfied exhaustion, full of so much information, inspiration and craic, overwhelmed by the whole experience and simultaneously wanting more of the same! The seminars, workshops and panel discussions were an opportunity to hear from the activists who have been tirelessly building the path to gender equality in this country for years, rolling their sleeves up, breaking new ground, breaking windows, breaking themselves at times to make sure that women are heard and that our human rights are respected. With the exception of reproductive rights (a workshop on the issue would have been a courageous and welcome addition) the diversity of issues covered was fantastic, from domestic violence to women in prison, dealing with the past, women and the media and what feminism means to younger women, to name but a few. The joining of dots between many of these issues was equally as impressive, reminding me that the oppression of women in our wee country occurs across all spheres and so has to be addressed with this in mind – something that keeps one woman in fear or without full realisation of her potential and agency, affects all of us. My continuing sense of being a part of something that requires all of our pieces to be brought to the table for the whole picture to be revealed and imagined, was very much heightened by the Hanna’s House experience. As the leaders of the project attempt to create an island-wide approach as well as knit together the experiences of feminists past, present and future, from the suffragette to the blogger, I find myself humbled and delighted to have a sense of fitting in and being able to contribute.

Continue reading ‘A very feminist weekend.’

Lessons in violence from the UK Top 40

I’m a bit of a pop music fiend. In my car, in the gym, in my office…I love my daily fix of catchy tunes and sexy beats. Sometimes however, I’m tempted to give it up for good…

I noticed a fair amount of debate on the feminist blogs recently regarding the theme of domestic violence in the latest tune from Captain Misogyny himself, Eminem. Somewhat disturbingly, Love the Way You Lie features vocals by Rhianna singing about her attraction to a man who ‘hurts’ her, a word which she mouths in the video with a bite of her lower lip and a strained look of longing and desire. The drama played out by the two fictional characters in the video came under The Guardian CIF scrutiny drawing some degree of debate as to whether it appears to highlight the problem of domestic violence in a responsible way, sexualise and hence glorify it, or neither. My own feeling about it is summed up by one canny CIF commenter who stated ‘The only thing this video tells us about domestic violence is that it’s something people do before having sex.’ As the universally adored Queen of Sexyface Megan Fox flounces about a sweaty apartment in slow motion with the hobbity bloke form Lost who’s a bit buff, I see only a sanitised, Holywood version of relationship violence that tells me nothing of the horror of the ‘behind closed doors’ abuse that kills 2 women every week in the UK.

Continue reading ‘Lessons in violence from the UK Top 40’

Rapes at Latitude and festival co-ordinator’s disappointing response.

Hey all. So I’m a little bit behind with this one but my week in work has been beyond stressful.

Anyway, I was upset at the beginning of the week to hear that two rapes were reported at the Latitude festival in Suffolk. Having had my best ever festival experience at Latitude in 2007 (glorious sunshine every day, jumping like mad to CSS, screaming along with Arcade Fire, being mesmerised by Jarvis Cocker’s charms…) I was gutted to hear about attacks like this happening. The group of mates I went with generally agreed that one of the things that made Latitude great for us was the relative lack of pricks. No one threw pints over the crowd during gigs, there appeared to be more people conscious than passed out and loads of cute little kids ran around all day with their parents’ mobile phone numbers scrawled in permanent marker up their arms. It felt relaxed, it felt inclusive, it felt safe.

Knowing that two women were raped at this year’s event does impact on my desire to make a return visit to Latitude, it taints my warm fuzzy festival feelings about the place and I’d be looking for some reassurance from the organisers if I was to consider returning. So when the Guardian covered the story on Monday I was hopeful that their superior journalistic sensibilities would elicit such assurances from the festival coordinator Melvyn Benn of Festival Republic. What I actually read made me a little nauseous. Have a look at the first two paragraphs and tell me it doesn’t make you want to throw a pint over him:

Continue reading ‘Rapes at Latitude and festival co-ordinator’s disappointing response.’

The liberation of knowing how much you have to learn.

Getting married was awesome. The nerves, the leap of faith, the adrenalin, feeling loved and supported and celebrated, being on top of the world and so proud of my incredible parter. Putting on a rucksack and weaving a path from Paris to Malaga was pretty awesome too with adventure enough to match our high spirits and beauty and stillness to let our peace with each other breathe and grow.

Coming back with tans and goosebumps at 11pm on a mizzly sunday and setting a 7am work alarm was not so awesome. That was 2 weeks ago and I’m only just reaching a reasonable level of acceptance now. Walking past half unpacked Debenhams delivery boxes, anticipating the big reveal of the photos, and continuing to find penis-shaped confectionary from the hen party in hand bags and coat pockets, all contributed to my sense of limbo. Surely it wasn’t all over? Only after a fortnight have I felt honestly content to be in our home, living our lives instead of the carnival that the last few months have been. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I finally cleaned the bathroom. Huge relief.

Continue reading ‘The liberation of knowing how much you have to learn.’

Je suis en vacances!

This isn’t a proper blog entry but I thought I should officially let you know that I’m off on my honeymoon at the minute and as such things will be quiet around here for a couple of weeks. Rest assured I will be back with lots of thoughts, ideas and reflections in July and look forward to catching up with you all.

For now I will get back to watching the rain pour down into the swimming pool in this campsite in the south of France. A bientot!


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