Feminism, Capitalism and the State.

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Self Defence in Brighton Report

by Loosey Parsuns

Self Defence is very important if you want to protect yourself from any sort of attack. It is very important we tool ourselves up with the knowledge that may save us. A handful of Femcellers went to Brighton on August the 4th 2012 to learn some vital techniques in a women only self defence class. We joined Brighton women in a class of around 15 and trained for approx 2 hours. It was very empowering to learn moves that are crucial in a world where we as women are constantly harassed, abused and as we all know, worse. Every woman should do self defence. And every Feminist should remind women of that.

Part 2 of the day was an open talk to all on Anti Fascism and how best we can organise around it.

Let’s hope this is one of many! Thank you Brighton Anti Fascists for hosting this! We look forward to more.

xx

FemCells at The Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair 2012

by Loosey Parsuns

The 23rd of June 2012 Sheffield held its annual Anarchist bookfair, where a hub of Anarchists and Libertarians come together and our ideas are welcomed rather than ridiculed. Located at Bank Street Arts, as soon as some of us arrived, the pigs parked up right outside the front entrance and made their way in all their ”authority” glory. It was later found out that when they went in they did their usual ”who’s in charge here?” routine. Um, all of us you hierarchical loving numpty! They kept driving past in their usual ‘intimidating’ manner throughout the course of the day. Bothered?

Our stall was jammed full of bags from the Feminist Library, feminist rare out of print books, postcards, flyers for actions/demo’s and of course our swanky new badges saying ”patriarchy, what a load of bullocks!” and also simply a purple and black one with ‘FemCells’ on it.

Our meeting kicked started right after lunch and we were really pleased at the turn out! Just over 30 people attended, some from various different groups. And it was a public meeting so everyone was welcome to come and discuss (regardless of gender),

-Why enough women aren’t represented in the barricades?
-Women’s experience of activism?
-what needs to be done to attract more women to activism and the role of gender in the movement?

If we had longer we would have taken the conversation into looking at the current role of Feminism within Activism and also discussing the rising third wave of Feminism [Slutwalk, Manarchist Meme’s etc.], But i’m sure we’ll get another chance to expand on that in the not too distant future.

We broke off into smaller groups of around 5, after a short introduction, and conscience of time we gathered back together in one discussion again  near the end and each group shared their findings. The results didn’t come as much of a surprise but the way in which we all in the room responded was refreshing because we were all keen to work together towards a solution. FemCells only facilitated and tried to aid the process. We didn’t go in there with the intention to preach.

Some of the most important things that came up in the discussion were,

-How do we respond to allegations of sexual assault/abuse in the movement?
-why do activists not say they are Feminists as well as Anarchists?

Some notes taken on the day by a friend of FemCells:

·         Women are often more positive which means their views are dismissed
·         Judgements are made on women’s opinions on the basis of what they’re wearing so if they look too ‘feminine’ they aren’t taken very seriously
·         Not always feeling safe in male-dominated spaces and so the importance of creating women-only spaces
·         Wondering whose responsibility it is for women to speak up in meetings – we often need to be encouraged and given the space to speak but then we      don’t want to force someone to speak who doesn’t want to etc
·         The importance of scheduling meetings and events at times and in places that don’t exclude people with children or other caring responsibilities

– Also, one of the things one of the groups talked about that really struck me was the way that, as women, we often feel like we don’t really have control over being seen as sexual objects, so even if we dress ‘modestly’ or in an unfeminine way so as not to attract attention, just the fact that we’re one of the few women there marks us out for male attention.
A big thank you to FemCell’s North and South joint time and effort spent organising this! Thank you to the Book Fair organisers. And thank you to all those who put us up and made us feel welcome. It was well worth establishing contact with activists outside London and we will be going to future Anarchists book fairs around the country when able. Onwards and upwards!

New FemCells Logo!

by Loosey Parsuns

Thank you sabcat printing for this! Available to be the T-shirts very soon on their website!

The Scum Manifesto Quotation

by Loosey Parsuns

Say what you will about The ‘Scum Manifesto’ but it’s certainly not guilty of mincing it’s words. In a parallel universe matriarchy could be in full swing in some far away planet. ridicules? why? it’s as ridicules as patriarchy. And we now live under patriarchy. We have done so since men thought to themselves they were above us womin. Most still do. Why not be creative with trying to express that? The author of ‘Scum Manifesto’, Valerie Solanos, FemCells North cannot comment on. It’s beside the point. It is possible to separate the work from the creator sometimes. We do it all the time when we like a film or a song or a book. ‘The Scum Manifesto’ is great radical fiction which challenges our pre conceived notion of power. We are not claiming Valerie Solanos is perfect just because we used a snippet of her work. May i remind everyone that no one is.

The reason we will keep with the quote we decided as a group already to use, is the shock value.Clearly it’s working. And we will not be censored as to what we publish. Especially not from a non FemCells person.  No offence but perhaps us FemCells North for this reason isn’t really your cup of tea in terms of Feminist groups.

FemCells are a mixture of  Anarcha-Feminists and womin who are new to Feminism. We see the value in womin only safe spaces and so we choose to have womin only meetings regularly. And plans are in motion to hold public meetings once a month which includes everybody, to discuss and to see what comes of it. We don’t hate men. The problem is so many of them hate us.

We do not seek to replicate any other feminist group out there. Instead we seek to do something new. We welcome Feminists from all generations so that we can together take a stride forward to abolish patriarchy and have some fun along the way. The very least we can do is try it out and see if it works.

Sisters are doing it for ourselves!

by Loosey Parsuns

Our ‘Not A Love Story’ Film Night

by Loosey Parsuns

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!’’

by museifushugi

femfilmnight-page-001

Feminist Film and Discussion Night

Our bodies our choice!

by Loosey Parsuns

On Friday 30th the 40 Days for Life’s big prayer vigil event held outside an abortion clinic in central London with Bishop Hopes was opposed by a coming together of all those who believe that women’s choice and freedom still matters.

The militant faction of radical feminists were also present observing, holding placards, partaking and in some cases leading the chants. We were sensitive to the fact that the un-holy alliance was hiding cowardly behind pregnant women and very young children long after dark. We thought carefully about what to chant, our targets were not victims of the church, but they brought the fight to us and we fought it back. Critical mass joined us early on and bombarded the vigil with noise and color and numbers.  I must admit for me it was the best demo I’ve ever been to. The spontaneous nature of it combined with the turn out made it a success. As Anarchists we do not believe in God and that the institution of the church is not out to save you and is not concerned with being Christ like. We kept the demo about the issue at hand and chanted ‘’Where’s your bishop now?’’ and ‘’Right to life, your names a lie, you don’t care if women die!’’ and ‘’we give life, we decide!’’

South London Femcells took the initiative of going to the bishops home and tightening a banner on to his front door with the words ‘’Bishop Hope shame on you. Come to us, we’ll come to you.’’

The fight is not over. We’ll be there to oppose all your dogma cause we know for something like this it’s just a mask concealing violence against women. Well no more!

Stop Praying On Our Bodies!

by Loosey Parsuns

On March 25, 2012 at 11am we assembled at Victoria station and gathered.  Those among the group were members of  Fem Cells, Alarm, Sol Fed, students and sympathizers to the cause. We made our way to Westminster cathedral (the catholic church) and got our banner out ‘’stop praying our on bodies, ritualized patriarchy kills women’’. Our message was loud and clear as we chanted ‘’our bodies, our rights’’ and ‘’we give life, we decide!’’ also my personal favorite ‘’not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate!’’

Stating we didn’t receive a warm welcome from those coming in and out of Sunday Mass is an understatement (one woman walked right in front of us and knelt. Prayed for ‘our sins’ presumably). But we made it clear it was no more appropriate to be standing there as it was for the ‘40 Days for Life’ pro life religious group to be protesting outside abortion clinics which they’ve started to do, intimidating women. We do not want to return to a time when women were forced to get unsafe back street abortions in this country. As progressives we should strike a blow to all those nutters all around the world that think its their business what we do with our bodies. It’s not on! Appealing to people’s sensitivities and using emotional blackmail because they want to appease a God that is a myth which belongs in the past not in our future. So I urge you that the threat is not over and on Friday the 30th of March Bishop of Westminster Alan Hopes will be visiting the 40 Days of Life Anti-Abortion Vigil outside Bedford Square Medical Centre. 40 Days of Life have been holding prayer vigils outside the clinic for the last 30 days and attempting to stop women entering the clinic. It’s important that we do not ignore these attempts to take away essential and often life-saving services. Check out Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance and also FemCells for more information.

We are calling for all women everywhere to have free access to safe services in that difficult time in their life. The religious should keep their nose out! And we will keep coming out as long as they do. We women deserve freedom and dignity and this issue serves to reflect the bigotry women face day in day out. And the control over our bodies belongs to us. Women have abortions for many different reasons, rape is one of them. The hate towards women is entrenched in blood but we will keep fighting for what’s right. Even if others don’t like it!

MANIFESTO

by femcells

Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.

SCUM manifesto by Valerie Solanas

WE ACKNOWLEDGE

  •  That we live in a society where women are still second-class citizens, constantly objectified by the media and that this is reflected in everyday life.
  • That the streets do not feel safe for us, because we are constantly being told that the length of our skirts, having tits or our smell are an invitation to RAPE. By the way we choose to dress, smell, look, etc., we are “sluts” and “deserve it”.
  • That society is constantly telling us how we must look and behave in order to be accepted, trying to control our bodies and censoring our agency as individuals with sexual desires.
  • That the previous waves of feminism have seen some of their demands satisfied, but capitalism has found a way to adapt and change the tools for oppression.
  • That capitalism and full gender equality are incompatible, as capitalism is a product of patriarchy.
  • That gender is a social construct that has been used in order to create hierarchies; the first classist society was one that made a distinction between women and men.
  • That we live in dangerous times where conservative institutions, from MPs to antiabortionist campaigns, are constantly trying to cut any form of progress that allows women more autonomy.
  • That many women are still highly dependent on others, be a husband, father or the state, but also are the ones that play a role of carers and do housework most of the time, even when they also have a job.

WE BELIEVE

  • That capitalism and the state must be abolished if we wish to live in a true egalitarian society.
  • That no woman should be judged or shamed by her life choices, who she sleeps with or what she does with her body.
  •  That the only way to eradicate future situations where a woman is subjected to rape and/or domestic abuse is by educating the next generations to RESPECT our own bodies and others.
  • Society has to stop telling victims not to get raped and start telling rapists not to rape.
  • That we should show 0 tolerance towards men who are abusive in anyway, verbal or physical, as both types of abuse are equally destructive and unacceptable.
  • That the anarchist movement, along with the wider political activist scene in London, is failing to address issues regarding sexism and is letting women down, so we must stand up and remind them.
  • That we are not housewives, sluts, sexual objects, nuns or hysterical/emotional creatures, we are humans and our bodies, freedom, rights and subjectivities must be respected!