Wondering how to get more active? Isolated? Stuck for ideas on how to help feminism progress? Not sure what you can do? Well, The F-Word is here to help. We’ve invited groups and individuals to suggest a stack-load of practical suggestions for activism to take you through 2005.
It’s January; a whole new year stretches ahead of us. Why not banish those post festive-season blues, make 2005 a year to remember, and get active!
Tens of Thousands of people read this website every month, so remember, you’re not alone. If only a few of us take some of the following actions this year, just think what we could achieve! Take a look through the list below and see if anything catches your eye; print it out and pin it somewhere useful; highlight the items you plan to follow up, or tick them off one by one; or if nothing here interests you, invent your own ideas.
Truth About Rape
Mission: Challenging the Myths that surround Sexual Violence
- Become a member of the campaign
- Write a letter or organise a ‘Truth’ meeting/hearing/report
- Take part in our anonymous ‘side-panel’ survey (current issue is on judges) on our website
- Donate a pound or two
- Suggest something for us to include on our website.
Mission: Voicing Women’s Right to Choose / Abortion
- If you are passionate about a woman’s right to choose, join Abortion Rights’ campaign for abortion on request
- If you have spare time, why not volunteer for Abortion Rights. We have an array of exciting projects lined up for 2005.
- Have you had an abortion? If so, speak out about it & help de-stigmatise the issue.
- 2005 is likely to be an election year – lobby your MP and get his/her views on abortion.
- Visit Abortion Rights’ website for the latest campaign action.
Aldermaston Womens Peace Camp
Mission: We are a women-only campaign, committed to nonviolence and against militarism, and our ultimate aim is to stop the production of Britain’s nuclear weapons at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, and to see the site shut down and safely decommissioned.
- Come and visit us at camp. We have a monthly peace-camp at AWE Aldermaston in Berkshire, every 2nd weekend of the month. Come for a few hours, a day, or camp overnight. We can offer you a camp fire, tea, chocolate cake (if you bring it!), and plenty of time to find out about Britains nuclear weapons and share ideas and action to get rid of them. We are usually a small camp and all women are welcome. Details on website and phone for details of location, lifts, etc on 07969 739 812.
- Join our new direct action campaign called ‘Block the Builders’ (can we do it, yes we can!). This is a campaign open to men and women which aims to stop them building new facilities to make a new generation of nuclear weapons. Yes! Not only do we have our own weapons of mass destruction but we are investing in new ones! Details on www.blockthebuilders.org.uk
- Play your part in stopping the new generation (tng)of nuclear weapons by writing letters objecting to planning permission for the new buildings and facilities. Join our growing band of letter writers by signing up on-line to the tng alert list. You will then get an email when a planning permission is being sought, with details of how to respond. No other emails go through this list. To subscribe send an email with the subject line tng_subscribe to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep in touch by email and hear about other planned exploits. We have been known to dress up as fairies/cleaners/policemen for various actions around the base, or have a silent vigil in black, or plan larger actions such as last year’s London-Aldermaston march. We are always looking for new ideas and enthusiasm!
- Put August 6th in your diaries. A bigger event is planned then, on Hiroshima Day, where we hope to combine anti-nuclear activism with music, theatre and general getting together. Help/ideas with planning are very welcome.
Mission: campaigning against women as sexual objects
- Join Object if you are opposed to the increasing “normalisation” of women being portrayed within the media as sexualised commodities.
- Get involved in Object’s campaigns and in particular add your voice(s) to the rapid action force (RAF) which has just been formed in order that members can send model letters of complaint to organisations such as billboard owners etc.so that a response can be made and hence give Object an opportunity of suggesting working with said organisations in order to change their attitudes.
- Spread the word – tell other individuals who might be interested, about Object and its on-going campaign work – above all get involved – take action now!
Fawcett Society Bristol Local Group
Mission: Fawcett’s vision is of a society in which women and men are
equal partners at home, at work and in public life.
- Join the Fawcett Society, the national campaign for women’s equality. Fawcett depends on membership income and donations for its campaigning work. You’ll receive campaign updates, invitations to members’ events, and regular issues of “Towards Equality”, the magazine for Fawcett members.
- Sign up for Fawcett’s e-newsletter with ideas for action, by sending a blank email to email@example.com
- This is election year in the UK. USE YOUR VOTE! Try to encourage other women to vote and/or to engage with the electoral process.
- Write to your local political parties and candidates in the run-up to elections, asking them what they intend to do to win women’s votes. You can use Fawcett’s Manifesto for Equality (published on Fawcett’s website) for ideas. You can publicise their responses.
- Find out what’s going on in your local area and get involved with a local women’s group. This can be a great path to active involvement. Actively seek out common ground with ‘other’ groups (e.g. between young feminists/’second wave’ or older feminists etc.) and support each other.
Feminists Against Censorship
Mission: A network of women fighting for freedom of expression as an essential part of the liberation of women.
More Information: www.fiawol.demon.co.uk/FAC
- Educate yourself. Many people believe they know the contents and effects
of controversial media. Before you advocate changing the law, make sure you really know, rather than relying on hearsay. A lot of what you have heard is very likely to be false. Feminists Against Censorship has published several books in order to compile information about media effects and content, as well as women’s experiences. Don’t read only our books,
but by all means read ours, too. Learn why most of the feminists from the women’s liberation movement era still oppose censorship, even of pornography.
- Engage in dialogue. Talk to others about what they believe, and tell them
what you have learned. Think about what you really feel about issues that some people want to censor, and why you really feel that way. Try to be honest with yourself, and compare your own experiences with others. Consider the possibility that things you
don’t like present an opportunity rather than merely just an offense. Ask people why they say things you don’t like, rather than just trying to shut them up. Never underestimate the value of bouncing your ideas back and forth with others – including those you may
vehemently disagree with. Understand opposing arguments and find ways to articulate your own.
- Write to legislators and media outlets to educate them. Once you have learned more about the subjects that interest you, try to share that knowledge with people
who are in a position to inform others and promote change (or slow it down).
- Look out for calls for submissions to books, places that would be good outlets for leaflets and for magazines or publications that would put the information you have out to the public. Write letters or produce briefing papers for your MP and keep abreast of new legislation and government consultation papers, considering the wider implications of
censorship laws as well as any short term solutions you think they might be designed to offer. Join FAC!
Mission: Encouraging underprivileged young people to consider education as a route to achievement.
More Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteer to mentor a student whether that is secondary sector or FE. This is very important particularly for young women to see professional experience and skills and to receive support.
- Spend some time listening to young people whether that is through a Youth Club or just a younger relative. The level and depth of their thinking always surprises me and prompts me to think too.
- Spend some time lobbying about the University fees issue – differential fees (like tuition fees per se) will hit women more than men because of different post-graduate working patterns.
Mission: A national conference on women’s rights, bringing together the leading organisations campaigning for gender equality in the 21st Century in order to educate, stimulate and motivate individual men and women to get involved in feminist campaigning.
- Be on the organising committee: you will make decisions and implement plans relating to speakers / format of conference / publicity / communications etc.
- Be a regional organiser: help generate support and attendance from your local area.
- Send in your suggestions about what themes you would like see covered in the conference, and any speakers you would like inviting.
Mission: Menstrual activism – encouraging others to learn about sexual/menstrual health and breaking taboos surrounding menstruation and female sexuality. By Marie
More Information: Seac Tampaction is US based menstrual activism site, can be a very good starting point for those wishing to learn more (but only a starting point!) and a good resource for UK based menstrual activists – particularly because they referred to me as an awesome UK menstrual activist!
- Educate yourself, it’s simple and the number one thing menstrual activism is about. You don’t realise until you look how much you don’t know about sexual health, menstrual options and the issues that surround these subjects.
- Think about alternatives: cloth pads with funky patterns; the amazing menstrual cup; homemade or organic options; there are many options that are safe and environmentally friendly. Most importantly to feminism, do not support commercial manufacturers who use menstrual taboos to help sell their products. Options include Mooncups or Lunapads.
- Change the way you view menstruation. Although we have come a long way menstruation is still very much something viewed as dirty or embarrassing. Many young women can go many years with a warped view of their bodies; many find that their period is no longer a curse once they change their view. Say no to the idea of having to have bleached menstrual products and scented sprays that can harm female sexual health in order to make womens’ cunts acceptable to others.
- Educate others. There are around 15+ different menstrual options to explore with advantages in health, environment and culture. Although many will approach the idea with apathy getting the message out on forums and to your friends is a great way of helping to break menstrual taboos as well as improve health and environment.
- Tell them what you feel. Commercial tampons and pads remain the most popular menstrual options despite being some of the most harmful options to both health and environment, before even mentioning issues of shame used to sell their products. Write to manufacturers to ask about their manufacturing and advertising, tell them that you are unhappy with how their products are made and how they are advertised to women. Send your commercial products back with a polite letter, or make use of them by making art to share with others to express your feelings, or even donate them to women’s shelters who need whatever help they can get, while letting them know of cheap alternatives.
- Get out there. There are places all over the UK where you can spread the word and organisations such as the Womens Environmental Network who would be more than willing to help. ‘Alternative’ menstrual product suppliers are often more than happy to give leaflets, stickers and free samples to help spread the word. There are often green festivals where other women may be interested in learning and sharing experiences; same goes for college events, local fares and a whole host of events easy to get into even if you just offer leaflets.
- Drop leaflets, providing you are in public bathrooms – not those within supermarkets who sell commercial menstrual options. You can easily carry around some leaflets to conveniently leave where others will see. Stickers are also a great idea. Product manufacturers are happy to help with leaflets and stickers and it costs very little to get yourself some buttons to decorate your badge to show your love of the cunt and your cause.
- Plaster your message online, write online diaries specifically for menstrual activism, female sexual health issues and feminism, go onto forums with web links flashing spreading the word, put links to as many alternative menstruation links as possible, submit online reviews of alternative menstrual options, join communities to join with other menstrual activists like my own: Anti_tampon
- Support other activists by buying their stuff. Badges are my favourite, appropriate Aid’s and Breast cancer awareness ribbons, T-shirts from pro-women/pro-vagina/pro-menstruation web sites like My Vagina shop.
- Keep websites informed. There are many sites that offer young women advice on menstruation, however do not include information on all options or risks involved – let them know how you feel. Break censors, let sites know that ‘cunt’ is not an offensive word and let the youth who use these sites know that it is perfectly ok to say the word ‘Period’ or ‘Vagina’, and it is even better for them to be open about discussing topics relating to such words.
Mission: thinkingwomen is a discussion and networking group promoting the achievements and progression of women in society, politics and the workplace.
More Information: www.thinkingwomen.org
- Question the status quo
- Don’t take no for an answer
- Speak up, people do listen, even if they appear not to
- Follow your dreams, and share your dreams with others
- Do one thing for your local community (if everyone did..)
- Don’t work too hard
- Do challenge your partner on housework issues, it is important
- Don’t be too serious; laugh, be free
Genderquake Ltd / Hags, Harlots, Heroines
Mission: www.hagsharlotsheroines.com is a site brought to you by Genderquake Limited and offers members dynamic, inspiring herstories; tales of groundbreaking gals from history, legend and myth whose actions helped shape the cultural landscape we now inhabit.
- Research and unearth some unsung heroines yourself and tell their stories from your own unique perspective. Submit tales by first registering here. Better still enter our competition to celebrate International Women’s Day – details on the site.
- Review a book, exhibition or event which shows women in an unexpected or challenging light for our Writer’s toolkit section.
- Work with Genderquake and use your skills to shape the future and help people from many walks of life maximise the benefits of the changes brought about by the ‘genderquake’.
Want some more ideas?
Some suggestions from The F-Word for armchair activists.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: If nothing on this page interests you, don’t give up. Create your own movement; work for your own goals and others will find you and support you. Don’t despair; just get active!
- Join the mailing list UK Feminist Action for news of events and actions across the country.
- Come out as a feminist! Dare to use the word in conversation; help to make it normal.
- Take action against media imagery that infuriates you: investigate culture jamming, subvertising or simply complain to organisations like the Advertising Standards Authority – and don’t give up if/when they don’t support your complaint. Write to newspapers about ads in your community and write to the manufacturers.
- Stop feeling frustrated and enraged by street harassers: find out how to handle it and walk away with pride instead of fear by reading Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment by Martha J. Langelan. Then share your story at Anti Street Harassment UK
- Support feminist magazines by subscribing to one (or more!). Not only does it expand your own horizons and provide a welcome relief from the mainstream media, but by subscribing you’ll be providing vital support to magazines that otherwise wouldn’t survive. Even the international magazines are not as expensive as you might think. Try these: Ms., Bitch, Bust, Off Our Backs, Herizons, $pread. Support feminist and riot-grrrl zines by contacting a UK zine distro such as fingerbang.
- This year, vow to read at least one book that changes the way you feel about your body, and share it with a female friend or two. We highly recommend: Cunt by Inga Muscio; The Curse by Karen Houppert; Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler; Woman by Natalie Angier; The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.
- Find a non-threatening way to challenge friends who use gendered words (cunt, twat, etc) as insults; who casually use the word “gay” to mean crap/weak/pathetic, or, should you feel so inclined, people who insist on referring to women as “you guys”
- Try to avoid the multinational corporations and use your cash to support women-owned businesses.