Moonlight Phoenix has risen

music, feminism, spirituality, words and more

Feminism in London 2013

Trigger warning: mentions of violence, rape, sexual abuse and menstruation.

Yesterday I attended Feminism in London 2013 a yearly feminist conference which this year took place at the Institute of Education near Russell Square. This is how my day went.

I’d never been to the Institute of Education before but it turned out to be part of a big university building which it seemed was a bit confusing to find to quite a few other people attending as I saw others looking, eventually I saw a corridor with a Feminism in London poster up and another lost soul, so we went inside together and we still weren’t in exactly the right place, it was on a few floors and eventually we found the registration downstairs.  I got my name checked off and collected my bag full of leaflets (which I will post about at the end of this blog).

Image

The day started off with everyone coming together in the mail hall for the opening speeches. This was a mixed conference so it was interesting to see the type of people who came (apparently there was just under 800 people)! There was mostly women, but there were also some men and transgender/non-gendered. There were some women with babies (I saw one being breast fed a few rows in front of me), children (I saw a little boy with a self made t shirt saying ‘boys like pink too!’ aww) and a very wide range of ages right up to around 60.

The conference was opened by Kate Smurthwaite, a comedian and activist, who I have came across at events before and am warming more and more to. She spoke about an event she had been at the previous day organised by the BBC- 100 Women– with women debating issues facing us today. She said how the presenter had ironically started the conference by saying “You all look wonderful!” so with that in mind, Kate decided to open this one with “You can be fat!” and also a clear note that we could argue, that we didn’t have to agree with everything that was said today. She also mentioned how she had took part in a debate about Syria (I think that’s what the debate was) but the news had decided Miley Cirus was a more pressing issue to cover! How Miley is NOT a women’s issue but a men’s issue.

Then the speeches were opened by spoken word poet Leah Thorn who read a poem she had just written called “Shh!” about the various issues of feminism and how we won’t shut up! It was amazing, I wish I could find it to show you but hopefully she will put it online soon.

Next to speak was Green Party member Caroline Lucas who I am probably a bit biased about, as I find her very inspiring, but her speech was the best I heard all day. She spoke about all the current feminist projects- everyday sexism, the TFYA, No More Page 3 and Lose the Lad mags were all mentioned. She spoke of the irony of her being told to cover up her ‘No More page 3’ t shirt when speaking in parliament recently. She mentioned the shocking stats of violence towards women and the link between sexualised images in mainstream media and sexual violence. She argued that yes lads mags and page 3 are about choice- we should have a choice that we can walk in a local supermarket and not have to see them. That people who want these kind of publications could still get them just online or specialist shops. She also spoke about the lack of women in the media.

Second speech was from Natalya Dell, an activist for disability and bi-sexual rights. I also found her speech very interesting and inspiring. It was very interesting to hear from this kind of point of view as it was a relative new one for me to hear about, and made me feel much more aware of the complexity of intersectionality. If you take a peek at her twitter feed, you can see that some of the things she said caused some controversy to some people (not me) like saying she had only agreed to speak the event as it wasn’t a ‘women only’ space. I support both types of spaces as my experiences so far of both have been positive, but I think it’s important to hear the opinion of ALL women. She spoke about the sexism she experienced as a young girl who needed technology to get by, her dad was very supportive but if he had to take her to buy something, the sales assistants would talk to him instead of Natalya. She spoke about disability charities,  how she’s sure the work they do is good, but she doesn’t feel she should be grateful for them, because they are providing things that are taken for granted by non disabled people, that they are things they have a right to have too. She spoke about her experience of being bisexual and becoming aware of various intersectionality issues she dealt with being an organiser of Bi-Con. her trouble with the job centre.  I think a lot of the event was filmed so I am hoping that will be videos up of the speeches as I feel like Natalya’s would be an important one to share.

The final speaker was Shabina Begum– an activist for acid violence. She started her speech about acid violence by asking if we would give up any of our senses if we had a choice, to fully understand how it feels for a victim of acid violence. I haven’t heard of this crime really before but I found it shocking that this crime is growing more and more in the UK as well as other countries and yet we aren’t even aware of it happening. She asked that we make others aware of it- so here’s a link for you to check out- here

Then there was a short break before the first workshop I had booked- “Challenging Linked Systems of Power- Towards a whole-istic feminism”
First we heard briefly from a few speakers their thoughts- Cynthia Cockburn– a feminist writer, Jenny Nelson– from Red Pepper magazine, Pragna Patel– a founding member of Southall Black Sisters, and Ece Kocabiak- an activist in Turkey. They covered things like the cuts and the experience of black women. The rest of the workshop was practical, we were all seated at tables in groups with two large bits of paper one headed “Your experiences” and the other “Your strategies”. First we had to write about our experiences of sexism, racism, classism etc. On our table it was very much all about sexism in families and also religion. Then we had to write ideas on the strategy paper before we heard back from some of the groups. Some ideas that came up for various people were creating a women’s political party, discussing more lack of representation and networks of educators and women in media. To be honest although I liked the idea of the workshop, I really struggled with it, as a lot of language was being used that I didn’t really understand, so I kind of wished I had gone to a different one, but apparently all the ideas will be emailed out to us, and I think the people who organised the workshop are planning some kind of group or movement around what it was about, so it will be interesting to hear what happens next.

It was then lunch hour, so I had a little stroll, looking at the stalls- some selling books, various organisations and there was some artwork to look at too. I didn’t take many photos but here are a couple:

Image

Image

As I was walking about I came across the Red Tent

Image

the ‘spiritual’ room. I had read that this would be doing a lunch time work shop but when I looked they had a sign up saying about a number of workshops happening- felt a bit annoyed that I might have missed out something better in the morning, and then debated whether I should go to the Women in The media panel I had booked in for, or whether I should spend the afternoon session in the tent as it felt very calm in the space just outside the tent (lots of books, crystals, meditation music), and decided I would go to the red tent instead as I thought I had missed out and wanted to spend at least part of the day in there. As it turns out I’m not exactly sure how many workshops they did do in there as when I went in it turned out to be the workshop advertised for the lunch hour ‘Menstruation- Sat Nav of the Soul- cultivating awareness, creativity and healing through tending to the wisdom of our cycles’ but I thought since I had ended up in the circle of women, I must have meant to be there. We passed around a talking stick and each said why they were there, a bit about how they were feeling and where they were in their cycle right now. Each different part of the tent represented a different part of the cycle- I was in the ‘Ovulating’ part which is about right! Then the lady running it spoke about comparing different parts of the cycle to the seasons- the winter being our period, pre menstrual being autumn etc, and we talked about the kinds of things we feel the seasons are about and how we can translate it into our monthly cycles. we spoke about how we want to rest when we are on our periods, and the leader (sorry I can’t find her name anywhere) said this is the time we should spend journeying/meditating and really listening to what is inside us, as we are at most intuitive, and also how pre menstrual time is very much about deep and often harsh truths that we really need to take heed of. It was also about noting how we feel on different times of the cycle and honouring that- don’t organise big important events if you struggle on pre menstrual week, doing creative projects during menstruation and so on. I found it very interesting, After we did a brief meditation about connecting to our ‘yoni’ we had to make the sound we felt, and we went round and those who wanted to shared wisdom they received.

Finally it was time for the closing speeches which I didn’t find as inspiring as the morning’s but maybe because I was tired by then. There was a speech from Gita Sahgal and the Emma Humpreys memorial prizes were handed out- awards for people and groups who have helped against violence to women. Final speech was from Finn MacKay who got a standing ovation, although I’m not sure I agreed with everything she said myself. I didn’t take many notes for the closing speeches so sorry I can’t tell you more!

There was an anti porn conference and the Reclaim the Night march but I didn’t go to either. Overall I found the event very good and inspiring and found there were many views being shared which was good. I then went to a nearby park after which made me really happy as there were lots of squirrels who came right up to me in there!

Finally i’ll end with what was in the bag I took home-some I took from various stalls but mostly they were already inside-

Peace News

Friends of the Earth

Ethical Consumer

London Feminist Network

Women’s Aid National Training Centre

Socialist Party

Free Stacey Hyde- a justice for women’s campaign

Green Party

national Secular Society

White Ribbon Campaign

Tender

Cool Tan Arts

Feminist Library newsletter

Billy the Girl musical

Bad Housekeeping

Conscienceonline

Feminist Times

Advertisements
5 Comments »

The Pachamama Earth Healing Circle

The last few weeks in my spiritual group I go to, we have been working with elements (yes for me it’s the third time this year I’ve been working with them week by week)! Each week we have been exploring the sound, the movement, bringing balance in ceremonies using each element and making a commitment to each one.

The first week we did water- my commitment was to do beach clean ups and cleaning up by the brook. That week I visited the beach and collected a bag full of rubbish.

The second week was fire- my commitment was to understand and learn more about the healing gentle side of fire. I did several fire related rituals that week.

This week is Earth and is my biggest commitment so far, which ultimately will involve all of the elements combined, I knew before I even got to the session what it was I needed to do. I’m setting up an Earth healing circle. A group that’s purpose will be to heal the earth, using rituals and spells, but also practical things like beach clean ups. It’s based in Southend although will be open to all, as we may also do things like group meditations that anyone can join in with. I’m hoping to set up the first meeting next month to discuss ideas. There is a facebook group- https://www.facebook.com/groups/1424861171058930/

A massive part of my spiritual journey has been and even more so now as a Faery Shaman is to heal the earth, so this feels very important to do, and I hope can be a catalyst for positive change.

Leave a comment »

The 21 Day Kindness Challenge

Recently I took part in a 21 Day Kindness Challenge through http://www.kindspring.org/ 

This is a blog about how it went for me:

Day 1- Give a ‘Sweet’ treat to somebody

When I got the shopping on this day, I bought a chocolate bar for my husband Miguel and gave it to him when I got in.

Day 2- Reconnect with an old pal

I messaged a friend on Facebook I was friends with when I was at school who now lives in Mexico, and despite having her on my friends list I hadn’t spoke to much. She did reply but it didn’t initiate a conversation like I had hoped really, but at least I did reach out.

Day 3: Gift your Favourite Book

First challenge that I failed, although I have given books away before in the past.

Day 4: To Thank A Public Servant

On this particular day I went on a lot of buses, so I was extra cheery as I said ‘Thank you!’ getting off the bus and a specially reserved ‘Thank you very, very much’ to a grumpy bus driver.

Day 5: Share an Inspiring Story with Friends

I shared this video: http://vimeo.com/3118527#at=0

Day 6: Beautify Your Neighbourhood

I made this simple as I was at work, I wrote positive messages around the place like ‘You Look Lovely!” and ‘Smile!” for people to find.

Day 7: Send a Handwritten Note

I wrote a card for my friend Catherine.

Day 8: Give Up Complaining for One Day

For most of the day I managed not to, but I started to feel unwell so by the evening I had started complaining!

Day 9: Surprise Someone with Flowers

Failed! As I was at home ill in bed!

Day 10: Give away something you cherish

Failed this one too, although recently in the group we did a give away where I had to do this.

Day 11: Pay Forward a Kindness recieved

Bad few days as didn’t manage this one either!

Day 12: Donate Clothing or Household Goods

Do this quite a bit so failed as didn’t know what to give!

Day 13: To Connect with a Stranger

Every day when I walk to work, a stranger says good morning to me every day, so on this day I said it first. I then made extra friendly conversation with customers for the rest of the day.

Day 14: To Call a Loved One

Most of the things I failed I do fairly often but I have to admit I am not very good at calling people!

Day 15: Make Something with Your Hands

I decided to write a poem for the spiritual group, here it is:

Back in January, I was feeling so blue
I didn’t know what I should do
But then there came a shining light
a group of like minded souls
from the beginning, it felt so right
to help lift me from the sadness
and clear away my mental mess
Beautiful teachers Skie and Red
Helped to put wonderful new thoughts in my head
little did I know what amazing new friends I’d make
finally, I felt awake
I found what I was waiting for
friendship and connection, and so much more
something Miguel and I could do together
learning lessons that would last forever

so many brilliant people make up this group
Gareth, with his magical children’s story, about a faery in all her glory
With Zoe, together, we faced our fear as we walked on broken glass
Paula who found my power animal, a squirrel, and I found her a deer
Crystal who taught a wonderful healing class
Karen, such a generous soul
Jackie, who helped me to reach my goal
Rik and his smiley face
Sue, who makes sure I never feel out of place
Trevor who has so much to teach
Jeannie who shows happiness is never beyond reach
Chris, who keeps his feet on the ground
Liz, who came back around
Gemma such a beautiful mind
Becky, always so kind
and Roberta with her italian fire
of this group I will never tire
Southend Spiritual Growth group- on an amazing journey together we go,
towards our amazing futures, AHO!

Day 16: Spend 15 Minutes in Silence

Something I do every day anyway, as I meditate everyday.

Day 17: Compliment Two People

I told Miguel he smelt nice and I told a lady at the sound circle group that her handmade swan feather fan was beautiful.

Day 18: Make time to listen to someone

I only saw two people this day- Miguel and my friend Fiona, so I was extra attentive to them both.

Day 19: Choose Your Own Kindness Adventure

I wasn’t very bold, I did Click to Donate and daily action over on http://www.care2.com

Day 20: Give Something back to the Earth

I do these things without thinking- recycle, don’t eat meat or dairy, save water, don’t drive, reuse shopping bags..

Day 21: Start a Gratitude Jounal

Every day I share on Facebook and Twitter the day’s ‘good things’. a Record of all the lovely things!

Kindspring are doing another 21 Day Challenge in November..this time about Gratitude..I’ve signed up..if you fancy giving it a go here’s where to sign up..http://www.kindspring.org/21day/

 

 

 

1 Comment »

dontbeanostrich

if you bury your head in the sand to avoid the rain youll never see the rainbow when the sun shines again

ThriveTrue

May we Thrive True, Open, & Free in Harmony

The Genderfluid Experience

Not confused....just fluid!

Wandering Wives

A Comedy Lesbian Travel Blog

The Vegan Lily

Because My Body Will Not Be A Tomb For Animals

artemis muses

It's all about the hunt

The journey of eclectic pagan teen

my experience exploring my path of an eclectic pagan and spirtuality

Pagan Approach

Discussing spirituality and the secrets of the Universe

Hike Our Planet - @HikeOurPlanet

Lee Hiller Photography - Exploring Nature One Step At A Time

Katzenworld

Welcome to the world of cats!

Simply Marquessa

Life is just a story. And I've got a pen.

wisermonkeys

poetry, prose and occasional thoughts.

Southend Soup

Chat. Connect. Create.

Catherine Elms

Dark cabaret singer-songwriter and pianist from Swansea, UK

Maral Cavner

A Graduate of Emory University in Atlanta

Born to be Jetthead

It's not an obsession, it's a calling. :)

Spirituality Exploration Today

Delving into the cross roads of rationality and intuition

Eric Carlson (awolsurfer)

Building a Business While Still Having a Life...