‘Events’ Category

  1. Nick Griffin and the Escalation of Ignorance

    October 19, 2012 by J9London

    Image from PA

    At this moment I, and half the country, are reeling in shock over Nick Griffin’s outstandingly hate-filled twitter attack on Michael Black and John Morgan, who recently won a suit against a Berkshire Bed and Breakfast.

    Brief backstory: Black and Morgan were denied the right to share a double bed by the B&B’s owner, Susanne Wilkinson, as she felt that would violate her own moral compass. They sued, were awarded damages, and in an incomprehensible move, Griffin tweeted their address along with some bigoted bravado and hints of a mob.

    Now, I am never a fan of people enforcing their values on others. As far as I’m concerned, Susanne Wilkinson is free to believe and act as she chooses, but her failure to recognise that she in turn, should grant that freedom to others is callous and narrow minded. However, the owner of any business has the right to operate that business in anyway they see fit; management’s right to refuse service is pretty standard.

    So she may have had the right to make her own choices about the Bed and Breakfast she owned, and by the same token, Michael Black and John Morgan, feeling themselves discriminated against, had every right to complain. In fact, given that equal marriage is still so hotly and unfairly contested, these particular fights are ever more important.

    The actions of both, I think, are understandable, and the ruling of the judge on the case simply that: one decision on one situation.

    Until Griffin.

    What makes his comments particularly damaging is his vile insinuation that campaigning for equal treatment of gay couples is indication of being against straight ones. It seems to often happen that this is a go-to defense move – feminists hate men, artists think sport is stupid, if you drink tea you’re anti-coffee. It’s illogical and has the dangerous effect of reinforcing ignorance with fear. It puts us into camps, forces us into war, it’s us against them, and both can’t make it through alive.

    I believe strongly that this kind of attitude is responsible for the very worst human behaviour.

    There is no “us” and no “them” – we are just one glorious mess of mostly bemused humans bumbling our way through lives were secretly sure we’re supposed to understand better than we do. We are all lost. We are all wrong. Our only hope is to be kind to each other. To be understanding of what we do not share. To be accepting of what we do not understand.

    We are in this together, all of us, every one, and we cannot let the ill-concieved bluster of a frightened little man make us think differently.

    Janina is addicted to dark chocolate and peppermint tea. She once made a burger so good she has a picture of the occasion on her bedroom wall. You can find out more about her at myrednotebook.com and follow her on twitter at @J9London.

  2. AWOT 4 announcement

    September 27, 2012 by Ashley

    Hello lovelies,

    AWOT is back for its fourth outing! And we are heading back to our favourite haunt, The Liberty Lounge, on Thursday 8th November. This time, we are offering AWOT ladies the chance to take part in a gin tasting ahead of the party. The tasting is entirely optional and costs £10 a head to try six gins with the lovely G and Tea Time – whose founders (Kate and Carrie) actually met at our very first AWOT gathering last year!

    If you want to come along to the pre-party gin tasting, then please select the gin tasting ticket option and come with a crispy tenner to give to the lovely ladies of G and Tea Time. You will need to arrive on time for the tasting to start at 6:30. If you would rather just come along for the AWOT bit, then feel free to come along from 7:15 onwards.

    As usual, everyone is invited to bake for the party (though that too is entirely optional!). If you haven’t been to an AWOT event before, you are absolutely welcome to come along, meet some fellow lady tweeters, and make some new friends. It’s lots of fun.

    I’ve had lots of people asking me recently about inviting men along to our socials. It’s something I have thought long and hard about, and I’ve listened to the views of everyone who’s offered them. The thing that I like to keep in mind is that AWOT did not start out as a feminist organisation. It started because there were loads of brilliant women on Twitter that I wanted to get to know in real life. It has evolved somewhat since then, and I feel that this blog is an excellent space where people (men and women) can share their thoughts on things. We’ve had feminist discussions and dialogues, and as a strident feminist (*high fives Caitlin*) I think that’s brilliant. At the same time, I am reminded that not everyone that comes along to AWOT identifies as a feminist, and that is not for me to make comment on. So while I am very happy for the website to be more of a feminist space, I think it would be unfair to make the AWOT events into actual feminist events.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but when I go to AWOT, I actually spend less time talking about hardcore feminist issues, and more time discussing cystitis and thigh chafing remedies. So the socials will remain women only for the time being. I think it is important for women to be able to meet and just be among other women. We have a brilliant thing going on, and if inviting men would ruin that for some people, then I don’t think it would be fair. If I have the time to organise a proper feminist get together, then I will of course invite feminist men. I did invite men to the after-party of AWOT 3 and found that very few actually came along. If you have any opinions on the above, or you agree/disagree then please feel free to say so on the comments section below. As always, I appreciate your thoughts. AWOT is a democracy! :)

    I really hope to see lots of you at the gathering in November. I’ve met some of my very best friends through AWOT and it really is a special event. If you haven’t been before and are interested, do come along. We’re dead nice, promise.

    See you in November!

    Ashley x


  3. Slutwalk: thoughts from the founder

    September 24, 2012 by mhd_bass


    “I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this, but if women don’t want to be victimised, they should stop dressing like sluts.”

    When he spoke these words at a student safety workshop, Constable Michael Sanguinetti of the Toronto Police had no idea what he had started. Outraged at the police force’s attitude toward rape victims, Heather Jarvis organised Toronto SlutWalk, a protest that would go on to inspire a global anti-rape movement.

    On the day of London’s second annual SlutWalk, Heather, a 26 year old PhD student at the University of Guelph, looks back on last year’s protest.

    I read the story in a student newspaper article online and I wanted to march down to Toronto police headquarters right away. When my friends started telling me that, actually, that was a good idea, I thought – why shouldn’t I?

    I mentioned the idea of a march to a colleague and he said: “What are you going to call it? A slut walk?”

    Perfect. That police officer was not the first to throw this degrading word at rape survivors, and I wanted to throw it right back.

    We gave ourselves just six weeks to organise some kind of rally before people lost interest.

     I remember watching the numbers climb on the Facebook event. I couldn’t believe it when it we reached 200 attendees, then 500 and then past 1,000. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if a hundred people attended?” I said to Sonia, my co-founder. I had no idea more than 4,000 would turn up.

    When the day came, the weather was on our side. It was early April but I still got sunburnt. About a dozen of us gathered in a public square in Toronto and watched as streams and streams of people started arriving.

    There were all kinds of groups carrying different banners – some serious, some playful. One woman dressed as a cop carried a sign saying: “To uniform fetishists, cops look like sluts.”

    I shuddered as I watched women in odd, outdated outfits carrying signs saying: “This is what I was wearing when I was raped. Tell me I asked for it.”

    Other women had decided: “I’m going to wear my highest heels and my fishnets and my underwear and I’m going to show my bra, because it doesn’t matter what I wear. When I was assaulted by my partner I was wearing pyjamas.”

    There were so many people we shut down an entire street in front of the police headquarters. I got up onto a raised sidewalk to give my speech and I was looking out onto thousands of crying, cheering faces. Not for the first time that day, I found myself on the verge of tears.

    I was assaulted several times when I was younger and I never dealt with it. I didn’t tell anyone; I just closed myself off and tried to forget. I had lots of serious blame and shame problems which were hard to get away from. I don’t even think I’m done yet. I still need to keep telling myself: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

    I never intended it but through SlutWalk I was able to start dealing with my own assault history. Now anyone anywhere in the world can Google my name and find out that I was sexually assaulted, which is weird but a huge step for me. Even though I know better, I sometimes still blame myself for my assault but SlutWalk has helped me to start healing.

    As told to Maria Hannah Bass

    Hannah is the online intern for @pulsetoday and co-editor of @wannabehacks. She writes about health, relationships, culture and feminism. You can find her on Twitter at @mhd_bass or on you can find more about her on her website

  4. Women: the undisputed queens of the Twitterverse

    March 8, 2012 by Ashley

    Image from http://www.changingworld.com/

    It’s no secret that funny women have fairly poor representation in the mass media – but not so on Twitter. On Twitter funny women are queens. Twitter is a new world, a microcosm of society in which there are fewer rules, greater freedom and no oppressive history. The voices that are coming through, from the Caitlin Morans and India Knights to the @NotRollergirl’s and @peachesanscream’s, are the free thinking, intelligent (and often hilarious) voices that need to be heard – and Twitter is listening.

    I don’t know what it is about women, but there’s definitely a wavelength, and most of us seem to be on it. We’re all wildly different, with our unique idiosyncrasies and whathaveyou; we’re not all friends, we don’t all believe in the same things, and we don’t all like each other, but it’s there. Women have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes being a woman something of a shared experience. Was it the centuries of oppression, inequality or second-class-citizenship? A shared sense of humour over the boatload of biological crap sent our way? Could it be a hormonal or evolutionary thing? Or is it something else? Whatever it is, throughout history women have categorically stuck together in a way that is quite different to men. The female relationship has been a core element of the human race since the dawn of time. And now it’s permeating the Twitterverse faster than the latest animal flu.

    I sometimes wonder if Twitter is particularly great for women because for the first time, it doesn’t matter at all what you look like, what you sound like, or what do you. It’s a whole new generation of media, defined by the thoughts and opinions of those we choose to listen to. We don’t have to hear what Cameron has to say, we don’t have to follow The Sun, or Piers Morgan or Justin Bieber. We can select exactly which voices we want to hear. The women who are making noise on Twitter have something to say. We’re all talking to each other. We’re making each other laugh. The experience of womanhood (which, let’s face it, is no picnic) is no longer something you write about in your diary, by torchlight, under a duvet – it’s writ large in 140 character soundbites, offering humour, wisdom and real consideration. It’s sort of magic.

    AWOT is living, breathing proof, that the female relationship, or at least the female dialogue, is alive and well. I, like most Twitter addicts, follow a few hundred people (both menfolk and ladies). But more often than not, it is the women who’ve provoked a reaction. It’s the women in my timeline that are having the interesting conversations (just google #presleepliedown) and it’s the women who are building actual relationships. That’s not to say I don’t love and respect the male presence on Twitter too – I do – but the female conversation on Twitter is just different. It feels more real.

    Take for instance, this story from Lauren Bravo, who more or less rescued a fellow lady from a man harassing her on the street. Lauren acted out a whole charade of female friendship with a complete stranger to get rid of a creepy man, in an act of solidarity that goes above and beyond the usual call of duty. There’s a real message there, about women and (though I loathe to say it), the sisterhood. It exists, people. It always has. So it makes sense that the relationships that were once built over years of socialising and time-spending, are now built online in 140 characters or less. Twitter is enabling conversations and women are owning that shit.

    No one IRL sends me pictures of ferrets in tuxedos, no one else writes the thought-provoking posts that stay with you all day, no one else can champion the hashtag  #cheesecoma with such joyful abandon. So this International Women’s Day, I raise a gin and tonic to the wonderful women of Twitter. It is OUR day.

    I will see you gorgeous ladies this evening! Roll on the gin!