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Go Feminist Conference, thoughts and links round-up

February 10, 2012

Last weekend I went to the Go Feminist Conference in London. It was brilliant! I went with some lovely people from Feminist Action Cambridge. I also ran into Catherine Redfern again, and met Helen from Bird of Paradox, who was extremely gracious and lovely when I went ‘HELLO! I know you from the Internetz!’.

The first session I went to was on intersectionality, which was very thought provoking. There was lots of discussion of different kinds of privilege and oppression, and how we need be conscious of our own assumptions and advantages. There were a few moments of glaringly ironic awkwardness – one activity involved stepping forward or stepping back in response to statements read out, and it would have been good if the presence of the person in a wheel-chair clearly not doing any stepping had been acknowledged. But then one of the main points of the workshop was recognising that everyone does make mistakes, and it’s important to acknowledge those and work on improving things for the future, which the facilitators themselves demonstrated. I really enjoyed the group discussion in this session. We discussed how to make events more accessible and one idea I liked from this was having ‘accessibility volunteers’ on hand to assist anyone who might need them.

The session on sexism in the media was fascinating. I loved Bidisha‘s take on the lack of female panellist on TV shows – along the lines of ‘It’s just sexism. They’re being sexists. That’s it. There are no excuses. It’s clearly sexism.’

The final panel discussion, on activism, was simultaneously the most hard-hitting and the most inspiring. There is such an amazing legacy of activism, of women working for years, against incredible opposition, in difficult personal circumstances. The conference showcased some incredible role models, women like Orna Ross, Hannana Siddiqui and Sophia Kahlu, but it also revealed how much more needs to be done, and how hard it will be.

The conference has been praised elsewhere for its accessibility and emphasis on intersectionality, and that was that was evident in the diversity of speakers, the topics of the workshops and the practical arrangements. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event so centred around inclusiveness – it was an essential part of the plan of the day, rather than just a tacked-on extra. There was no tokenism, no-one seemed to have been invited to make panels look diverse. Rather the day recognised that there are people in marginalised groups are already doing amazing work on women’s rights and gender-related issues, and their work should be recognised and their views should be heard. It was refreshing to see, and something really needed in feminist thought and activism. I really hope that it becomes a model reflected in other feminist events. Obviously, not all of the practices can be adopted – professional sign language interpretors and transcribers are expensive – but the principles can.

Links:

Post at The F-Word, with video

La Petite Feministe Anglaise

What Glass Ceiling?, interview with Bidisha

Engenderings on accessibility at Go Feminist

We Mixed our Drinks on the Faith and Feminism workshop

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. anna permalink
    February 10, 2012 8:58 pm

    Great to read about the day since I couldn’t be there – would love to hear more about the workshop on activism… What directions are people taking this in?

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