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sisters are doing it for themselves

Recently, and quite by chance, I've been reading a spate of books both fictional and non-fictional that deal with the women's movement in Britain in the '70s and '80s, from Jill Tweedie's collection of Guardian Women's Page columns to the Spare Rib reader. And it's making me kind of jealous. All these smart, funny women going off to their women's groups and consciousness raising sessions every week! Obviously, the reality was probably a lot more boring and annoying (I can just imagine some of the meeting attendees), but still. There was something there that we don't have.

Of course, Ladyfest was a bit like that, but Ladyfest was a year ago (I know! It's so hard to believe). It's also making me feel a bit guilty that most of my own feminist writing and, recently, reading has been purely about cultural issues which, let's face it, aren't exactly burningly important to our actual lives. There's more genuinely significant content in the average episode of Woman's Hour, with its regular pieces on political, domestic and work issues - and fascinating women's history - than in the average issue of Bust or Bitch. Because much as I enjoy those magazines, articles on how American TV programmes treat abortion aren't exactly as important as the fact that I and my compatriots don't actually have any abortion rights ourselves, or that when we do have kids there is virtually no government support especially if you work outside the home. Or that we end up doing all of the housework. There's no equivalent to Spare Rib - the more socio-political feminist mags, such as they are, are incredibly dry. But it doesn't have to be. We all know feminism, and politics in general, doesn't have to be like that.

So I'm thinking of starting up a good old fashioned women's group. A weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, whatever meeting of women who'd like to get together and talk about gender issues in our own lives and feminism in general and support campaigns and actually DO something.

Just think how much Kevin Myers would hate it.


Nov. 29th, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a great idea - I was a member of a women's group (and a big fan of Jill Tweedie to boot - have you got Letters From a Fainthearted Feminist and More From Martha?) in the early 80s and we did a lot of moaning about how unpoliticised our generation were compared to the students in the 60s. So there probably weren't quite so many supportive sisters around as it might appear. But in other ways it was great - we organised Reclaim the Night marches, and worked with striking miners and their families, trips to Greenham and to big CND marches in London as well as the more personal sisterhoody stuff which I wasn't so keen on because far too often it degenerated into women moaning about their boyfriends.

Was Ladyfest a one-off or an ongoing thing?


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