On Friday the 27th of April we FemCells held a film screening at the Feminist Library in South London. A hub for feminists to discuss, debate and learn about our past, present and future as women. On the night itself there were women present from all different strains of feminism. Some radical feminists who have organized for a number of years and others from a younger generation who face the same issues as they did in the past. Far from what this society may claim, we are under no illusions that the oppression and exploitation of women has not gone away. ‘Not a love story’ was made by Bonnie Klein (Naomi Klein’s mother) and on our flier we simply put ‘’if you’re angry about the objectification of women and girls in pornography and our pornified culture, lets strategise a viable opposition. Open to all women.’’
Following the film we had a candid Q&A which sparked a healthy debate. As we went around the room introducing ourselves we found ourselves disagreeing at times on other aspects of this culture we live in and how it effects women. But we had the utmost respect for each other because we are stronger together. Present were mostly students from various universities around London but some from overseas. Some had already set up a feminist book club or engaged in other such activities, while others said that this was their first feminist meeting. For us at FemCells it was exciting to see these young women from a range of backgrounds engaging with feminist thinking in their own ways and wanting to share their thoughts with others. FemCells North are explicitly coming from an Anarchist perspective on every issue, but nonetheless it was great to find common ground with some women who didn’t identify as anti-capitalist. We could all see that as women we are stronger together and therefore we are the ones that need to organise in raising the issues that effect us. Because no one else will do it for us.
As the evening went on we touched on how we could effectively get our voice across and our points made successfully. We looked at how the wrong self-image is sold to us by the media and so on without impunity. And we also talked about how the feminist topic is hogged by women and men who we don’t necessarily agree with at all. But who is speaking from our point of view? This year there was a conference at a major university in London, which charged over £80 entry! Lucky for some. The class element plays heavy in our struggle always.
A big thank you to the women who turned up on the night that revealed they were stood opposite us at the vigil demo on Friday the 30th of March. It was very brave of them to admit that. And I think very helpful in our overall discussion. The abortion topic is very heated. FemCells are very clear on this right. ‘‘Our body, our choice’’. However I didn’t feel right to dismiss the reasons why these particular women felt they personally wanted to be in the vigil. They gave the reason that many women have a botched abortion job. I have some friends myself that this is true for. But our fight should be against the cuts and saving the great public services to help us women have the best care available. And I explained how the law needs to remain the way it is in this country because women die when abortions are made illegal in any country. Another reason they said they were at the vigil was the moral aspect. That one we FemCells decided to drop. We should never ignore the sacrifices others have made for us and their achievement has become our right today. We intend to pick up from where they left off.
Another interesting debate we had was to do with the adult industry. Someone tried to argue that stripping for example was a valid job and our efforts were better spent elsewhere. In the room was a radical feminist (who has a son) who gave her point across about the problems and abuse that can arise from such an industry. I myself accept that sex sells. But to the blind. I see the art in pole dancing, belly dancing but the moment stripping occurs and in the audience its men waving money about, glaring and ogling and getting turned on, it leaves me with an unsettling feeling. We also touched upon the effects that porn has on women’s self-image and their personal lives. It’s a fact that especially for young women, the pornified culture will unfortunately have an impact on the way men (and often even other women!) engage with us in and outside the bedroom. As FemCells we will have plenty more discussions on this I’m sure.
We ended the night with a small speech made by one, summarizing the feelings the film conjured/stirred up.
‘’The problem isn’t the explicit side as such. Cause the body is beautiful. But porn/a mainstream industry, gives the message that women are a product to be consumed. It’s this message that endorses oppression. And breaking the silence is the way to stop all types of violence against women. The film we watched today said we shouldn’t accept it. And that’s the stance FemCells takes. Us women are not a service. We’re human beings with feelings. The class element is paramount to this because why do poor/lower class women have to do this type of work? Why don’t all rich and privileged women go ahead and do it if it’s so great? Keep the option there but take away the need. That way we support the decriminalization of women that have to do prostitution and porn and we should support women everywhere we can. However this society has an unhealthy obsession with the degradation of women. Lets not bow any longer. Lets organize against patriarchy and lets make ourselves heard!’’