Thursday the 11th June saw the feminist collective HYSTERIA and the LSE Feminist Society present a short documentary on female sterilisation in North India, titled Nasbandi: Conversations About Female Sterilization in Rural India.
On Saturday 20th March, 250,000 people came together for the People’s Assembly End Austerity Now demo. Only 60-70,000 people were estimated to attend, showing that people across the UK are far angrier about the recent cuts than anyone could have predicted.
So far in our quest for a set of feminist terms and definitions, we’ve covered some basics and some not-so-basics. Now we’ll get onto the complicated stuff, e.g. various types of feminism. This gets complicated because different groups have their own interpretations on what each of these things mean, so may not agree exactly with the definitions we have here.
I’d also like to explicitly point out that being a feminist does not mean having to subscribe to any of the below groups, or any other feminist group. Feminism is more of a spectrum than a cluster of rigidly defined groups, and the sooner we reject the idea of clear cut labels, the sooner I believe we can work together towards our goals. With that in mind, it can be confusing not to know the basics of each group – hence why I’m attempting to define each approach. So, without further ado:
So, you’ve decided to flex your right to protest and are going to your very first march, demo, or other direct action. Great! More people should be politically active and in these trying times, every activist counts. Chances are, you’ll have a good time, will meet other politically-engaged people and can feel proud that you took a stand and fought for something you believe in.
It’s good to be prepared. I’m not an experienced activist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m lucky enough to know some protest veterans and I’ve been cobbling together information so that I can share it with other newbies. In addition to reading this article and other information available on the web, I highly recommend attending a Green and Black Cross workshop. I went to one of their workshops (they’re free, so there’s no excuse not to) at the Protest, Policing and Civil Rights event held at SOAS Student Union a few days ago, and it was well worth it. The workshops go into more detail than I’m sketching out below, and going through the information with real life people will help you to retain the information and give you the opportunity to ask questions. The Green and Black Cross are brilliant at giving protesters information and support – please check out their website.
Don’t tell me you haven’t heard these words uttered time and time again, as each year we approach British summer time: “Are you beach ready?” and “Are you ready down there?” They’re usually heard alongside smiley women with perfect hair, smiles and, let’s not forget, “body confidence”. If you haven’t, I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock for some time. Otherwise, you’ll have been exposed to the idea that you must be bikini ready by Wilkinson’s colourful display of ads.
The Mad Max film series is mostly excellent but undeniably weird. The first in the series, Mad Max, is a cheaply, yet inventively, made exploitation film starring baby faced Mel Gibson and featuring eye-popping vehicular stunts. Its sequel, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, is unremittingly badass at every opportunity, topping the previous film with features such as a back-flipping feral kid who murders fools with a boomerang. It defined the punk aesthetic post-apocalyptic imagery that is now commonplace in the genre and is accurately cited as reaching peak Maxitude (at least until this year). The third in the series is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which is, unfortunately, a disappointment. It’s haphazardly structured with an odd family friendly tone, only benefiting from the visual brilliance in its lavish sets and from starring Tina Turner. She is every bit as awesome as you would expect and arguably sets the precedent for great female characters in the series.
So May 7th came and went, and we’re all left feeling like the kid who asked for iPhone, received a small, rectangle package, and opened it to find a calculator. Except quite a bit worse. It’s clear I’m in some kind of lefty-feminist bubble because I know only a handful of people who voted Conservative, compared to hundreds who went for Labour or the Greens, but there were 11,334,576 votes for the Tories. I’m not sure whether to be angry at the bubble for misleading me, or to love the bubble. If only we could go independent.
I remember when the heady days of summer meant something different. They meant Soleros and Calypsos from the newsagents, or Jubblies from the freezer at home. They meant factor 30 sun cream, thick and sticky and white, and cycle shorts in lime green and neon pink, and they meant staying out too late on your bike because the daylight made your Mum lose track of what time you had to be in. They meant being woken up at 3am to go on holiday in the Costa del Sol and returning sunburnt on a chilly English morning, shivering in your fringed white t-shirt (emblazoned with a Spanish map on the front). They meant paddling pools, home to dead flies and stray leaves and unbridled levels of joy, and barbecues where you could eat beef burgers without anyone butting in to tell you that they were horse.
As you can see, the heady days of summer for me only retained their true meaning in the early 90s, before I hit puberty. Once my buds became baps, summer gained new meaning. And that meaning was bullshit.
More academic than Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman but by no means dry, Finn Mackay’s Radical Feminism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) offers an alternative to the plethora of humorous and heavily autobiographical texts on liberal feminism published lately. The book gives the uninitiated an overview of radical feminism – its ‘definition’, history, arguments, etc – with heavy focus on its Reclaim the Night movement, recently revived thanks to the hard work of many activists including author Finn Mackay.