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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Really, really need some enthusiasm boosting - my confidence has been knocked

53 replies

FlamingoBingo · 07/03/2011 12:05

I have a few friends coming to my Bridge event on Tuesday. I had thought they were coming for the same reasons I'm organising it. A friend this morning just said to me 'not sure quite why I'm coming, really. Just to support you, I guess, not because I think it'll make any difference'. So now I'm thinking (I am in a PMT fug, btw, so aware I'm prob being melodramatic) what's the fucking point? If I stand up to talk and am aware that potentially most of the people there are thinking 'aw, look at Flamingo, trying in a rather pathetic way to make a difference...isn't she sweet, even if she's a bit deluded', then what is the point?

Feeling very Sad and very Angry right at this moement.

Someone tell me what the point is? Will raising awareness and cash make a difference? How can I persuade myself I'm not making a complete arse of myself? How can I persuade any 'kind but cynical' supporters that there is a point in marching/protesting?

Please help! On the verge of cancelling the whole thing.

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AitchTwoOh · 07/03/2011 12:08

sorry i don't know what the event is flamingo, but isn't coming to support you enough for starters? you can win minds easier if you have hearts already, surely?

dittany · 07/03/2011 12:09

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dittany · 07/03/2011 12:10

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Prolesworth · 07/03/2011 12:14

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HerBeX · 07/03/2011 12:16

For every one who turns up for the right or wrong reason, you'll have a hundred who walk past you approving what you're doing, agreeing with you, being grateful to you for bothering and feeling ever so slightly guilty for not bothering themselves and possibly resolving that next year, they'll join in if someone else organises it for them... Grin

So have some leaflets to hand out to them.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat · 07/03/2011 12:20

Flamingo - coming from a slightly different angle. IME when you organise events like this there is always a low point in the run up where you think "what am I doing this for. Nobody will appreciate it!" Honestly, they will! And if you just get one person to at least think about the issues then you have a victory! I bet you & your friends have a great time and Wednesday you will be buzzing on here!!

NicknameTaken · 07/03/2011 12:21

Standing up to be counted matters, even when you think it doesn't. There's a story (don't know if I've all the details exactly right, but the substance is true) about an exile from East Timor who was wandering about in London feeling deeply despondent, when in front of the Indonesian embassy he saw two elderly women with a placard protesting about Indonesian abuses in East Timor. They'd been coming to stand there every weekend for years, with no prospect of anything changing, passers-by sniggering at their patient vigil.

He felt immensely heartened, and vowed to keep the faith. Within a year or two, East Timor had gained its independence, and he had become its president. He tells this story himself, of how the knowledge that somebody somewhere cared kept him going when things seemed impossible.

And cash will definitely help the cause too!

Saltatrix · 07/03/2011 15:35

If it makes you feel any better ALL political movements/humanitarian aids and general views start off small then grow.

We have a shining example of that right now in the middle east. It was started by a man setting himself on fire an event so minute has set the entire region off and change is sweeping there like wildfire.

FlamingoBingo · 07/03/2011 15:39

Thank you, everyone. I don't imagine for one minute I'm going to start a revolution myself Grin, but it would be nice if I didn't think everyone else thought I was wasting my time!

But I'm feeling far happier after reading all your thoughts. What is the famous quote? Well behaved women seldom make history. I know that when you put your head above the parapet and say 'No, I'm not standing for this any more' you risk the wrath not only of the oppressors, but of collaborators with the's just a bit depressing when those collaborators are your friends Sad They just don't seem to believe that these are real issues that need people to make a fuss about.

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AliceWorld · 07/03/2011 15:42

Can't add much really but agree with other posters. It absolutely makes a difference. It will make the people there think. It will draw attention. You're in the paper, so it will reach even more. Little things like this shift things all the time. Just posting stuff on the internet, adding a feminist comments somewhere, all that stuff is doing something. You're doing a really good thing Grin

Quodlibet · 07/03/2011 15:54

Flamingo, the other way of reading your friend's comment is that she is in dire need of some inspiration. She's not feeling very courageous right now which is why she 'doesn't think it'll make a difference'. But she's still coming, because you've created a place where she can maybe let herself be inspired, where she can maybe draw some strength, and where, even if she doesn't admit it, she is willing to be persuaded otherwise.

I think we all have friends who are wobbling about on the fence, thinking that feminism is too intimidating/too scary/too complicated/too frustrating to commit themselves to, and we help those friends every time we visibly commit ourselves to making a statement of position.

I'm very inspired by what you're doing and am absolutely sure it'll have more positive effects than you can anticipate.

sethstarkaddersmackerel · 07/03/2011 16:37

NicknameTaken's story is fab!

I think there are different sorts of difference that you can make.

I decided before MWR that it would be worth doing just for BrokenGirl alone, that even if it didn't achieve a change to the law or make rape conviction rapes any better, the march was worth doing just so you can say to rape victims 'we are not happy about this and we are making a fuss about it.'

the other thought I am fond of is that even if an event (or a feminism group, or a thread on the internet) doesn't achieve much that you can point to it might attract someone to feminism who then goes on to do great things Smile

sethstarkaddersmackerel · 07/03/2011 16:37

sorry, that should say 'rape conviction rates'.

FlamingoBingo · 07/03/2011 18:36

Can some of you lovely women please read and critique my speech for tomorrow evening. It took me 7 minutes to read it just now - is that too long? (that's not including hte minute's silence.)

I'll copy and paste it after this message.

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FlamingoBingo · 07/03/2011 18:36

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HerBeX · 07/03/2011 18:39

FB d'you really want your name on MN?

FlamingoBingo · 07/03/2011 18:41

Oh arses! No I don't! Thank you! Will ask for it to be deleted and post it again without my name on it!

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zikes · 07/03/2011 18:45

It's very good. Well done.

dittany · 07/03/2011 18:47

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EngelbertFustianMcSlinkydog · 07/03/2011 19:11

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InmaculadaConcepcion · 07/03/2011 20:33

Keep the faith, Flamingo - you're doing a great thing Smile

FlamingoBingo · 07/03/2011 22:40

Try again, without the personal info this time! Grin Thanks for all the comments so far - feeling a bit more confident now! DH is very excited and keen!


Let me tell you why I organised this event. A couple of months ago, a man I know said to me ?I don?t think feminism is relevant nowadays?. I didn?t know the answer, but something in me told me he was wrong. So I thought I?d better go away and read up about it.

I found out that, despite the equality laws women fought for and won, in the UK we women are still paid 22.6% less than men per hour, a situation that is due to get worse once the cuts really start to hit. Girls do better in education, but they are still being steered towards gender-stereotypical subjects, which don?t lend themselves to high earning careers later in life. The glass ceiling still exists and women still do the majority of the work in the home (not in mine, I hasten to add! ), even if they have full-time paid jobs themselves.

So, I thought to myself ?well, that?s a bit unfair! I?ll have to do my best to make sure my daughters know they can do science or maths or engineering despite being girls.

But?then I found out some even worse reasons why we still need feminism. I found out that one in four women in our country, will experience domestic violence at some point in her life; and that a victim will, on average, have been attacked by her partner over 35 times before she calls the police. ONE IN FOUR!!! I thought most of us were now lucky enough to live in equal, mutually respectful relationships! I couldn?t believe ? I still can?t - how wrong I was! One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police EVERY MINUTE! And every week ? EVERY WEEK! ? two women are murdered by their male partner who has probably already been attacking her for some time. Women who murder their male partners are usually found to have been being abused for quite some time before the murder.

And rape! Women are more worried about rape than about any other crime - probably because only 5% of reported rapes result in a conviction ? I say reported rapes because we know that many women do not report rapes, thanks to the peddling of rape myths such as it being the victim?s fault for dressing wrongly, or drinking, or being in the wrong area at night.

I came away from reading these statistics utterly enraged, and concerned for the future of my daughters. Yes, there is definitely still a need for feminism!

But this particular event is not about the UK. This is about the even more horrific situation abroad, in war-torn and developing countries. Countries where daughters are more likely to be raped than learn to read. Countries where women are, as a weapon of war, routinely dragged from their villages, brutally and repeatedly raped and mutilated. When they manage to crawl back to their home, they find themselves shunned by their families and their communities. And, of course, they may well have contracted HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses to compound the horrific injuries they are likely to have suffered.
And, worldwide, every single minute, a woman dies in childbirth or pregnancy in situations that could have been avoided had they had adequate medical care.

I felt overwhelmed. What on earth can one woman do about this? Thankfully, as I found out, there is not just one woman who is angry about these injustices. There are many, many organisations full of women and men who want to change things. One of those organisations is Women For Women International.
Women for Women International works with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities. Each woman they serve has her own story?some of loved ones murdered, and others of physical and emotional trauma. Most have endured a struggle for survival. When they enroll women in their one-year program, they learn job skills and receive business training so they can earn a living. They come to understand their rights and how to fight for those rights in their homes, their communities and their nations and become leaders. Women for Women International (WfWI) believes that lasting change can only be achieved when women have access to both knowledge and resources.
Two years ago, on International Women?s Day, they organised for women from the DR Congo and Rwanda to meet on a bridge between their two countries to spread a message of peace in their countries. Last year, they were joined by over 20,000 men and women around the world, who stood in solidarity on 119 bridges. This year, there will be Join Me On The bridge events on 314 bridges in 53 countries around the world - we are in good company! As well as the WFWI events, there are countless other conferences, marches and protests going on

This year, the most urgent issue is Afghanistan. Life for Afghan women did improve slightly when the Taliban regime fell, but still the situation is dire. Education for women increases dramatically the chance of their children surviving beyond 5 years of age; and also allows them to pull themselves a little further out of the oppressed lives they lead. But in the countryside of Afghanistan, the education of girls comes with a high-price. Girls walking to school frequently get acid sprayed in their faces, and school teachers who teach girls get shot. 87% of Afghan women report being beaten on a regular basis and the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the third highest in the world.

In June the UN troops will withdraw. You?d have thought, wouldn?t you, that the powers that be would be working hard to make sure that any peace negotiations would listen to women and work with them to ensure that their lives don?t deteriorate again once the troops leave? Oh no! They had to be pressured heavily to allow just 10 token women onto their 70-strong committee.

I learnt about this issue from a workshop I attended run by Women For Women International, where I also heard about the Join Me On The Bridge campaign. So, I thought, this is what I can do. This is one thing I can do to make a small impact on the inequalities affecting women everywhere. On the 100th anniversary of International Women?s Day, I can find a way to join with women all around the world to make a bloody big noise and fuss and tell as many people as possible that THESE INJUSTICES CANNOT CONTINUE!!!

By standing here today, you all are showing your support for women in war torn countries around the world, and particularly for the 100 brave Afghan women who are risking their lives standing on a bridge in Kabul, asking for an equal say in the corrupt High Peace Council, who are already negotiating with the Taliban at the expense of women?s rights.

Please, if you haven?t already, sign our petition that Claire is bringing round, calling for women to have an equal seat at the negotiating table.

There are collection buckets going round ? any donations you can offer will be sent to Women For Women International to support their work.

And consider sponsoring a woman through WFWI, which costs £27 a month.

Thank you all for being here.

Please could we all now hold a minute?s silence in support for women suffering around the world?

And now a couple of photographers are going to go onto the main bridge to take a photograph of us ? make sure you?ve got some bubbles to blow, or flags or placards to wave!
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JessinAvalon · 08/03/2011 00:34

Just seen this thread, FB, but just wanted to say well done and good luck with what you are doing. These things take courage and conviction and I know it's not easy, particularly if you worry about a lack of support.

I organised the lunchtime protest against M&S at the feminism in London conference. I was terrified and when the two Bristol feminists who were supposed to be helping me pulled out half an hour before I felt very despondent and pissed off. But 45 women and men, most of whom I didn't know came along to support the cause and it was great. For some it was their first ever bit of activism. I had people coming up to thank ME and I was busy trying trying to thank them because I was so grateful that they had given up their lunchhour to support Bristol feminists when Bristol feminists didn't do that. I had people telling me that it was the best thing about the day.

Be really proud of yourself for what you're doing! I am very impressed with what you've organised in a short space of time.

And, with the speech, the only thing I would say is judge the audience and if they start getting fidgety, bring the speech to a rousing end!

Let us know how you get on and good luck!

fridakahlo · 08/03/2011 00:55

Think your doing a fantastic thing. Hope it goes amazingly well!

HerBeX · 08/03/2011 07:57

Good luck today FB

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