Professional pounder of the patriarchy.

Posts tagged ‘IWD’

Happy International Women’s Day!

This time last year, I set myself a challenge. From that day onward, I would focus less on the negatives – on my own shortcomings as an activist and on the difficulties we face as a movement – and more on the positives. I challenged myself to spend more time uplifting my fellow women than trying to argue with naysayers.

And (hesitantly), I think I’ve achieved it. I’ve run Feminist Society since last September, which has been a hugely positive experience. My co-leader is wonderful and the members are all amazing, and the whole initiative has been an incredible opportunity to grow in confidence. I feel as though I’ve empowered myself and hopefully empowered others too. I’ve tried to do things that challenge social standards (and that damn patriarchy!) but also make me feel happy too, like making feminist and body-positive stickers, devoting more time to my spiritual wellbeing (something I’ve been tentatively dabbling in since I left school) and trying to be more open and honest about what I believe. Sometimes that’s difficult – people don’t always like it! – but it’s important.

I want to set myself a new task, though. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Be Bold For Change, so my plan is to do just that – to go forth boldly and to be the change I want to see in the world. Obviously I’m pretty open about my politics; I wouldn’t write this blog if I wasn’t! However, I don’t discuss all aspects of my beliefs, especially the relationship between my politics and my faith, due to fear of being ridiculed. So that  insecurity is something I want to well and truly bin.

On a broader level, this has been a pivotal year for women’s activism. After the election of Donald Trump, people have protested on an astonishing scale. The Women’s March on Washington in January – 100 years after the Women’s March on Petrograd and 228 years after the Women’s March on Versailles – demonstrates how integral women are to protest and to revolution. It was incredibly moving to see so many  women, literally in their thousands, on the streets, raising their voices. As Karl Marx once put it, in a letter to Ludwig Kugelmann: “Everyone who knows anything of history also knows that great social revolutions are impossible without the feminine ferment.” Women are the world’s greatest catalyst, and the future is female.

Have a fabulous Women’s Day and Women’s Month!

Love,

Dolly xx

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Happy International Women’s Day!

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!!!

I wish you the most wonderful day, and I hope you have the opportunity to inspire and be inspired by other women. I owe such a lot to IWD – it was really the start of my activism. I had the best time last March, giving my presentations in assembly at school during the week leading up to this special day. Having a platform and the ability to inspire younger girls was the most exceptional feeling in the world. Most of all, I owe a lot to Clara Zetkin, the lady who started it all. You can read other things I’ve written about her here and here.

Sadly, I’m not doing any presentations this year. However, I have responded to an email yesterday from the enrichment supervisor at college, so hopefully – fingers crossed! – I’ll be able to run a feminist society next academic year!

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Me when I got the sacred email asking for applicants

But, on this loveliest of days, I’d like to have a moment of reflection. I know I’m not a perfect feminist. I focus too much on the negatives. While it’s important that I’m critical and that I basically piss off the patriarchy at every opportunity, I forget about the thing that drew me to feminism in the first place.

Feminism inspires me, and I love being able to inspire other people in turn. That sounds horribly, terribly, patronisingly arrogant, but there was honestly nothing better than seeing a sea of little faces light up when I did my assemblies.

As Caitlin Moran says, “Women, be excellent to one another.” And so I shall. This International Women’s Day, I pledge to spend more time uplifting women than I do tearing down misogynists. I can’t help being a rant-y feminist sometimes – and, if you can’t handle that, GTFO – but maybe I should try not to be one all the time.

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I will still make this face a lot, though.

Much love,

Dolly xxx

5 Female-led Rebellions

I know this is a day late, but my prom was on Friday 3rd July and the weekend was a whirl! I hope you all saw the note in the sidebar though! Sorry, Clara…

We celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March every year, but Clara Zetkin – the German woman who first launched it in 1911 – is an unknown name for many people. She was a Marxist theorist and an activist for women’s rights, advocating for women’s suffrage and encouraging them to participate in the socialist movement. She acknowledged that women made up much of the workforce – why should they not reap the benefits of revolution?

She was born on 5th July 1857 and died on 20th June 1933, so it’s Clara’s 158th birthday today. In honour of her, this article is about five instances in which women led a revolution or a rebellion. I think Clara would approve of these ladies!

  1. The Women’s March on Versailles

France, 5th October 1789. The Bastille prison has been successfully stormed only three months earlier and the stirrings of revolution are in the minds of France’s poorest citizens. The price of bread has rocketed and the women of Paris can barely afford to feed their families. How do they choose to rectify this? They start a demonstration in the marketplace, gather their allies, ransack the city armoury and proceed to the Palace of Versailles, where the crowd of 7,000 women besiege the home of King Louis XVI and confront him.

Good plan, nicely executed (that’s a shameful pun, Louis, and I’m deeply sorry).

The March on Versailles is often considered to be a defining moment in the French Revolution. It was relatively early on – Louis wasn’t executed until 1793 and the period of upheaval didn’t end until 1799 – but it demonstrated the strength of the common people to the aristocracy. My favourite part of the story is that the infuriated women were encouraged to march by “a young woman (striking) a marching drum.” We may never know her name, but she was the catalyst and we know her legacy.

  1. Las Mujeres Libres

“Las Mujeres Libres” (or, in English, “The Free Women”) were a Spanish anarchist movement that fought for women’s liberation and social revolution. They considered both issues equally important and were angry that anarchist men marginalised their female counterparts. The organisation, with approximately 30,000 members, was created in 1936 by Lucía Sánchez Saornil, Mercedes Comaposada and Amparo Poch y Gascón. Lucía was a writer and poet; Mercedes had been raised in a socialist household and was frustrated with how the movement treated her and her fellow women. They joined forces with Amparo, who wanted greater sexual freedom for women and aimed to challenge the sexist double standard surrounding monogamy.

What ensued was nothing short of awesome.

They raised awareness through radio transmissions, travelling libraries and by forming a network of female activists. They saw that women were unprepared for leadership roles due to lack of education, so they created literacy courses, trained women as nurses and helped them to gain confidence through women-only social groups.

  1. Mother Lu’s Revolt

Mother Lu is known for being the first female rebel leader in Chinese history. She came from Haiqu County, an area now called Rizhao. In 14ACE, her son, a county constable, was executed – under the harsh Xin Dynasty regime – for not punishing peasants who couldn’t pay their taxes. According to The Book of the Later Han (the previous dynasty), her family was very wealthy, so she gathered her peasant supporters and armed them, leading them to storm the capital. The population had already become dissatisfied with Wang Mang, who had usurped the throne and declared himself emperor of the Xin Dynasty (“Xin” meaning “renewed”). She captured the county minister who had sentenced her son to death, then she beheaded him at her son’s tomb as an act of vengeance.

Thanks, Mom.

Her revolt inspired several later rebellions, but Mother Lu herself died in 18ACE, only four years after her uprising. She reportedly died of an illness; however, we know very little about her – we don’t even know how old she was when she died. Her followers went on to join other rebel causes, continuing her legacy.

  1. Boudica’s Uprising

Sometimes called Boadicea – or Boudicca, or Bunduca, or even Buddug – she was the queen of the Iceni tribe, located in Norfolk, England. Her husband Prasutagus, an ally of the Roman Empire, died and left his lands jointly to his family and to Rome. The Romans ignored his will; Boudica was flogged and her daughters were raped. Justifiably furious, Boudica led her armies in an uprising against the Roman occupation, destroying Camulodunum (Colchester) and burning down Londinium (London) and Verulamium (St Albans). Her revolt culminated in the Battle of Watling Street, which the Romans won, despite being outnumbered by Boudica and her band of Britons.

It is said that either she fell ill and died or that she poisoned herself to evade capture. Regardless, she went out with a bang. She’s now an iconic figure and a symbol of Britain, due to her efforts in attempting to hold off the Roman invasion. You can watch an epic musical retelling of her story here (x). The song starts at 2:47. It’s slanted for copyright reasons (it’s getting ridiculously hard to find the Horrible Histories songs online!).

  1. 2011 Peaceful Protests in Cote d’Ivoire

From 2010 to 2011, there was a crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. The dictator Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing the election to Alassane Ouattara and it was alleged that the government had been sending taxpayers’ money out of the country as part of their own personal wealth.

In the midst of the crisis, the peace activist Aya Virginie Toure organised her fellow women in nonviolent protests against Gbagbo. Every protest she led was intended to be peaceful, but they were often met with hostility and violence. On at least one occasion, the security forces opened fire on the women. On 8th March 2011 – International Women’s Day – Toure mobilised 45,000 women in peaceful protests across the country. By 30th March, the UN had demanded that Gbagbo step down and allow the internationally-recognised president Ouattara to take on the role. Toure is now the President of the Rally of Republican Women in Cote d’Ivoire. Several issues remained; Ouattara undertook investigations into human rights violations during the conflict and Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011. You can read more about it here (x).

I hope you enjoyed the article! I encourage you to do a little research about Clara – she, like all the women on this list, was a fascinating human being. As always, please share this on Facebook/Twitter/Google+ if you liked it! Also consider following my blog if you haven’t already; I do follow back!

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Five Awesome Women on the Internet

In honour of International Women’s Day (8th March), I decided to compile a list of 5 awesome women on the internet to share! Some of these women identify themselves explicitly as feminists, but I consider them all inspiring and motivational in their own way.

1. Claudia Boleyn – feminist vlogger/singer-songwriter. She explores the implications of TV programmes like Sherlock and Doctor Who from a feminist perspective. Her reviews are thought-provoking, insightful and just generally amazing! She’s bisexual and has borderline personality disorder (BPD), so she discusses LGBTQIAP+ and mental health related issues regularly. Her album “Mother, Maiden, Crone” is currently in the production stage and she writes primarily about women, especially historical women. Claudia’s main platforms are Youtube and Tumblr, so you can check her reviews out either on her channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-p8Eaq7vTezQH_fCl2qegQ) or her blog (claudiaboleyn.tumblr.com). As Claudia would say: “Do no harm, but take no shit!”

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2. Ellen Murray – transgender activist/trans youth advocate. Ellen is the chair of GenderJam NI, which is an amazing organisation which is just starting out – it offers advice and support to young trans people in Northern Ireland. She’s also appeared on Northern Irish television talking about her experiences as a trans woman and she’s leading the way for British trans youth. I’d recommend her to anyone, as she is hilariously funny, but I’d especially encourage anyone who is trans (or thinks they might be) to look her up. She candidly discusses the challenges of transitioning and how to overcome them. You can find her on her blog (ellenmurray.co.uk) or take a look at the GenderJam site (www.genderjam.org.uk).

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3. Mo O’Brien – singer-songwriter/vlogger/actress. Mo makes lots of funny content – you may recognise her Frozen parodies or her fangirl parody of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, “I’m in a Fandom”. She is also really body-positive (see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnrdXWGaDhc), which is so important in a world full of Nash Grier clones trying to make women cater to their every whim. She encourages self-love and confidence. Her videos are cute and clever, and they’ll make you laugh and spit tea all over your computer screen! You can check out her Youtube channel (youtube.com/user/mobrienorwhatever) or take a look at her Tumblr blog (mobrienorwhatever.tumblr.com).

Mo O'Brien

4. Beckie0/Rebecca Brown – vlogger. Rebecca suffers from trichotillomania (the impulse to pull out one’s hair) and frequently offers advice and updates about the condition (youtube.com/user/TrichJournal). She has participated in documentaries and interviews about trichotillomania. She discusses sexual harassment and victim-blaming in some of her videos on her second channel (www.youtube.com/user/Beckie0). I particularly recommend this video, “You Shouldn’t Wear A Low-cut Top” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlPcE-IyrA0); it’s her own personal experiences of sexism which I found really interesting – if upsetting!

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5. IISuperwomanII/Lilly Singh – vlogger/comedienne/motivational speaker. Lilly is known for her satirical takes on everyday life and her use of her Punjabi heritage in her comedy. In some videos, she performs as her parents and it is pure (comedy) gold. She is also a motivational speaker and produces cool, positive videos that are guaranteed to make you smile! (A quick note: some of her language/phrasing can be cissexist. It isn’t intentional, but, if this will trigger you, take care.) You can find her on most social media platforms, such as Twitter or Instagram, but she is primarily a YouTube personality (youtube.com/user/IISuperwomanII). She is also active on Tumblr (iisuperwomanii.tumblr.com).

Superwoman

Check these ladies out! They’re funny, they’re smart and they’re inspiring.