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Bizarre "feminist" event in Islington

(19 Posts)
Prawnofthepatriarchy Tue 21-Mar-17 14:49:07

Having loved the feminist event I went to in Cheltenham, I decided to go to one in London on Sunday: Dissecting Gender, run by consented.co.uk.

It was a large event, 100+ people, and I'd estimate about one in eight were men. A previous event had been about masculinity so I could see why men who had attended that one might be interested in this one. However we were put into groups during the course of the event and, at the close of each session, in nearly every case it was the men in any group who gave their group's feedback and I appeared to be one of the only people who even noticed this, let alone were uncomfortable about this. I don't think the rest of them had any feminist understanding of group dynamics. At all.

It was very weird, and badly organized. From the outset it was clear that none of the people organizing it understood gender. They used sex and gender interchangeably. Imagine a feminist or even gender critical meeting without an understanding of gender. I kept coming back to the old saying "you can't make bricks without straw". You can't dissect gender unless you define it. Not only was gender not defined, no one seemed to think a definition mattered.

There were four groups, and you chose two. The first choice was between "Exploring white feminism and intersectionality" and "Decolonising Gender and patriarchy." The second was between performance art from a 21 year old transman and "Purple Drum: Misrepresentations: Linking media representation and violence against women of colour."

I thought it would be interesting to hear from the transman, but found it unbearable. To wild applause from the trendy audience, she described how much she loathed her body, that she had been forced to transition so as "not to die as a woman" and I was reminded of the lesbians I spoke to last summer who talked about the damage being done by the absence of role models and lesbian spaces in which butch lesbians find their peers and their culture. Transition was not making her happy, and I have a DC her age. All I could think about was the tragedy of her never coming to terms with her authentic self, and the physical harm done to her body. I found it so distressing that I snuck out and joined the other group. They were discussing women being catcalled by men in the street but using gender to mean sex at every turn. I wanted to ask whether men ask your gender identity before they catcall , but I genuinely thought by this time that such a comment would go clear over their heads. There was a half an hour Q and A at the end, and there was a lot I wanted to say, but I was so pissed off and discouraged that I just walked out at the end of the second session.

I met a couple of feminists during a break who, like me, thought it was a waste of money: a superficial event with sod all content, and a younger woman who wanted to explore feminism and who was not satisfied with what this event was offering. I recommended she join the Feminist board on Mumsnet, somewhat to her surprise, and can only hope she turns up.

I came home well cheesed off. My DC were very entertained. Apparently I have now met a mob of SJWs. The boys tell me these guys don't care if a cause makes no sense at all, so long as it's trendy. They were pretty trendy, it's true. Visually speaking, there was a wide range of ethnicity, but nearly everyone spoke perfect RP and it was clear that many were privately educated. I did feel quite angry at all these safe affluent young people cheering on a woman's self-destructive course. It's not their bodies that'll be damaged.

TLDR: Check out an event carefully before you spend your money. A surprising amount of people don't know that gender and sex are not the same. And there are a lot of very trendy people in Islington.

vaginafetishist Tue 21-Mar-17 15:17:03

Wow, thanks for the feedback, it sounds awful. I have spent this afternoon listening to Cathy Brennan on YouTube - have you heard her? She is very impressive.
Mumsnet fwr board has reignited my feminism after being puzzled by three teenage girls I know becoming boys. It worried me and I didn't feel liberal about it. As my daughter is 7 I want to know more about this dangerous ideology. As a lesbian I should have thought it out before but the erosion of women's spaces and lesbians passed me by a bit as I've been out of that scene, raising children.
Thanks for your activism.

Datun Tue 21-Mar-17 15:18:30

That's so depressing. One of the things I really appreciate on mumsnet is how informative it is. Everything I've learnt about feminism, I learnt here. The links people post have sent me on a journey of the Internet which I would never have done otherwise.

I've tried to find women's study courses or feminist courses. They don't exist, it's all gender. And whilst it's sensible and right to be as inclusive as one can, it entirely misses the point that feminism is about women. And it's about women for a bloody good reason.

It would have sent my blood pressure soaring seeing men doing most of the talking - seeing the reason why feminism exists in blatant action. And that poor transman. I don't know where to start.

This is from your link:

"We must also be aware that discourses around masculinity can inadvertently recreate and reinforce patriarchal structures and norms."

And they let it happen right under their nose.

Shallishanti Tue 21-Mar-17 15:22:34

sounds dire
what are SJWs though???

TheSparrowhawk Tue 21-Mar-17 15:24:44

At the risk of sounding horribly patronising, if most of the organisers/audience consisted of young women, I think this sort of thing is to be expected. I think that dawning on women that men absolutely do not have their best interests at heart is a slow and devastating one and many women take refuge is a sort of fuzzy 'we can all work together' ideology first in the hopes that that will solve things. It's only as women get older IME that they start to realise the extent of how they've been disadvantaged and they realise they can't just join hands with men and be friends because men have a vested interest in holding them down, no matter how subtly or unconsciously they do it.

iamEarthymama Tue 21-Mar-17 15:32:42

Sparrowhawk I agree totally.
OP, that event sounds as though it needed a good dose of academic rigour.
I hate it when these things cost so much, money, time and energy, and leave you wondering why you bothered at all.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Tue 21-Mar-17 15:55:35

SJW = social justice warriors - here's a useful description. "A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation."

The organizers were men and women, mostly BME, and the introductory remarks to open the event were made by a black man. The only useful remarks were made in the context of the media's portrayal of black women, where they talked about the denigration of Venus and Serena Williams as "masculine".

You may well be right, Sparrowhawk about their youth. It was only their youth that excused the uncritical approval of that poor girl's account of her anguish. She brought the mother out in me roaring.

I love Cathy Brennan, VaginaFetishist. Have you come across Magdalen Berns? I am grieving for a selfie I had with her which I lost by baking my phone. I got distracted while putting something on a baking tray and when the timer beeped there was my phone. Cooked.

vaginafetishist Tue 21-Mar-17 16:45:36

Oh no! Yes I love Magdalen, very impressed by her bravery and intelligence. I think you're right about being a mother makes you think this is a dangerous road for young people (children)to go down.

vaginafetishist Tue 21-Mar-17 16:47:50

What do you think of the Women of the World festival? I have to be there for work and I find that a dreary lib fem kind of event, so inclusive it becomes meaningless.

VestalVirgin Tue 21-Mar-17 17:49:04

It's only as women get older IME that they start to realise the extent of how they've been disadvantaged and they realise they can't just join hands with men and be friends because men have a vested interest in holding them down, no matter how subtly or unconsciously they do it.

Hm, I don't know, I think it dawned on me pretty soon. But I was pretty isolated as a teen and most of my feminism came from reading what older women wrote.

I'd think the problem is not with being young as such and more with refusing to listen to older women who have been through it all.

Datun Tue 21-Mar-17 18:07:13

She brought the mother out in me roaring.

I was going to add to my first post that I felt very clucky after reading what you said about her. I want to sit her at my kitchen table.

wrappedupinmyselflikeaspool Tue 21-Mar-17 18:09:55

I can't believe you had to pay for that pleasure OP. Sounds awful but faulty typical. I work in academia and I avoid academic feminist events like the plague now. I haven't got to the point where I had to walk out yet but I've got close and been left fuming.

I don't actually mind a bit of lib fem or mixed events sometimes, it depends on the context but I did have the most brilliant time at the Feminism In London event where I went to my very first women only disco and had a fab time. It's so liberating being able to dance with just other women.I saw Nawal Al Sadawi speak and I was smitten. I also like the Women of The World event at the Southbank which is enormously varied and has some excellent speakers. I've spoken there on sexual violence, in fact there are usually lots of excellent panels on this subject.

I feel there should be room for many voices and opinions and even though I'm a rape, CSE and DV survivor (i know, it's a lot but it's more common than you think for women and girls to be victimised multiple times) I don't mind events with men there. I think they've a lot to learn and there's only one way for them to learn it. However, I can't accept that there can be no all female spaces anymore. They are so important.

Perhaps the lack of female only space leads directly to the kind of confusion that the OP describes at this "gender" event?

StewieGMum Tue 21-Mar-17 18:19:39

Quite a few older feminists like Julie Bindel and (I think) Germaine Greer have a policy of insisting that first and last questions go to women. I've been at events when no questions from men were taken. The absolute horror and tantrums from men is usually worth the admission price. They have no thought consideration whatsoever about women having actual opinions and being allowed to speak.

QuentinSummers Tue 21-Mar-17 18:52:17

prawn that sounds horrendous
I've come to the conclusion that feminism now is increasingly being seen as social justice done by women rather than a political movement to progress the cause of women.
Fucking ridiculous men were the spokespeople, I would've had to say something angry

VestalVirgin Tue 21-Mar-17 19:35:36

I've come to the conclusion that feminism now is increasingly being seen as social justice done by women rather than a political movement to progress the cause of women.

Yes, you have summed it up perfectly. That's what "feminism" without "radical" means now.

I go to some of those social justice for all genders events, but I wouldn't pay for it.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Tue 21-Mar-17 21:04:07

Thank god for MN. My time discussing feminism here has clarified and strengthened my views to the extent that I almost wanted to grab that last 30 minutes, subvert their Q and As, and give them a presentation on gender with a side order on why men should think hard and long before they try to dominate feminist events. Wouldn't have been able to do it a year or two back, but now I know what I think and why I think it .

Shallishanti Tue 21-Mar-17 21:27:29

thanks Prawn.
Was the event actually feminist? I've looked at the website and it doesn't seem so.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Wed 22-Mar-17 11:26:46

I went by the title of the event, Dissecting Gender, Shallishanti. I assumed it was feminist because no one else seems interested in dissecting gender, just endorsing it. Guess I misunderstood. sad

Prawnofthepatriarchy Wed 22-Mar-17 11:30:25

Checking back, the word feminism occurs more than once in the programme and I think the organisers thought it was a feminist event. It just wasn't.

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