Next Meeting: 7pm-9pm, Tuesday 14th May 2013
We will be meeting at our new venue and shared premises!
Unit E (press the buzzer), 5 Pundersons Gardens, E2 9QG. (Nearest tube Bethnal Green)
The recent events which culminated in Julie Burchill’s shocking article, ‘Transsexuals should cut it out’, in The Observer, has revealed a nasty bigoted underbelly to mainstream politics and, in particular, a type of so-called feminism which is promoted in the media. The very fact that transphobia of such ignorant venom was ever written by some-one who calls themselves a left-wing feminist, never mind published by a self-named liberal newspaper, is absolutely horrifying. Why do they hate transwomen so much?
“People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me.”
‘Shims, shemales, whatever you’re calling yourselves these days – don’t threaten or bully we lowly natural-born women, I warn you. We may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you, but we’ve experienced a lifetime of PMT and sexual harassment, and many of us are now staring HRT and the menopause straight in the face – and still not flinching. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet. You really won’t like us when we’re angry.’
And, right back at ya Burchill, we will overcome.
|LSE’s PR machine has been in firing away, shamefully attempting to whitewash the closure of The Women’s Library and present themselves as it’s saviours. When in fact, they have simply taken the valuable collections and integrated them into their academic corporate library in central London. This means an end to community and outreach work and the closure of the purpose-built reading room and gallery. At least now emminent professors won’t have to dirty their shoes with a trip to Tower Hamlets! We re-print below the press release of the campaign, which vows to keep the building open.|
Save The Women’s Library campaigners vow to fight on
Women’s Library supporters have vowed to continue their campaign, following an announcement by LSE and London Metropolitan University that The Women’s Library will leave its purpose-built home in the East End of London.
The decision to close the building follows a series of protests by the Save The Women’s Library Campaign and the presentation of a 12,000-strong petition against the Library’s closure. The Library’s current home opened just ten years ago, with £4.2m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and contributions from other supporters. It encompasses purpose-designed collections storage, education and exhibition space, and light and airy reading room facilities.
A rare monument to women’s lives, learning and scholarship designed by a woman architect (Claire Wright MBE), it was purpose-built on the site of an old Wash House off Petticoat Lane to provide safe housing for its unique collections, open up access to the public, and contribute to the regeneration of Tower Hamlets. Its high quality, sustainable design, and contribution to the local environment was recognised with an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 2002 it was named RIBA Journal’s building of the year, the Brick Award’s Best UK Public Building, and winner of the Liveable City Sustainability Award. A dedicated, high-quality building for The Women’s Library’s collections recognises the importance of the fight for women’s equality to national life.
A statement from the Save The Women’s Library campaign said: “Moving the collection out of its purpose built premises on Old Castle Street will limit and reduce access to this powerful collection. Access is more than opening times, and we find it hard to see how current plans will accommodate the vibrant exhibitions, education and events programmes that have opened up this collection to the wider public over the past decade. The closure of this building would be a step back for women’s equality, as well as an enormous waste. “We do not accept that ensuring professional care and custodianship for this library can best be ensured through removing its contents from their home. The Women’s Library must maintain its building, staff, accessibility and commitment to the community. It is an institution of national and international importance which deserves secure funding in its own right. It would be senseless to close it because London Met is in trouble. “We remain confident that a viable alternative to closing the building can still be found. We intend to pursue the full range of available options and to work with all supporters to ensure that The Women’s Library stays where it is, open and accessible to all. As the LSE runs respected archive and library services, we’d be delighted if they wanted to be part of this solution”
Rushanara Ali, Bethnal Green and Bow MP, said, “The Women’s Library provides a crucial hub for local women, researchers and students, contributing to the East End’s vibrant intellectual and cultural life. London Metropolitan University and the Government need to make every effort to keep The Women’s Library open.”
Further support for the Save The Women’s Library campaign
Address for TWL visitors: The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, Old Castle Street, London E1 7NT; nearest tube Aldgate East, Aldgate or Liverpool Street; open Mon to Fri 9.30am-5.30pm, Thurs until 8.00pm
Follow us on Twitter: @saveTWL, #savetwl
Save the Women’s Library!
Public Meeting: 7pm on Friday 6th July at The Rocket, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB (nearest tube Holloway Road)
Join us to discuss what’s going on at The Women’s Library and what you can do to save it!
Many of you have heard about the threat of closure faced by The Women’s Library. Many of you (12,000 people to be precise) have signed our petition protesting against London Met’s decision to divest custodianship. Many of you will have read the extensive press coverage generated by the campaign to save The Women’s Library, which demands that its collections remain together, that we keep its heritage-lottery funded building and its expert body of staff.
Now is the time to get together, as library users, librarians, students, teachers, archivists, union members and community activists to work out how together we can protect this world-famous resource on women and their struggles for freedom.
The meeting will discuss
• How can we ensure that the WL remains open and accessible to all?
• How does this sell-off relate to wider cuts in higher education and attacks on research culture at widening participation universities?
• What is the government doing to protect our museums and archives in a climate of austerity?
• How can we make The Women’s Library an even better resource for feminist activists and the East London community?
For more information see firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com
Lambeth Women’s Project is a volunteer run community organisation which has been supporting women in Lambeth from the building at 166a Stockwell Road since 1979. It’s future is now under threat.
In 2010 management of 166a was handed over to neighbouring Stockwell Primary School who refurbished the building and a five year agreement was agreed for shared usage of the space between the school and the project. On 31st May, on the eve of the Jubilee Bank Holiday and only two years into this lease the school informed the project that they had two weeks to pack up their belongings and leave.
The school later agreed to consider independent mediation with the project but on Monday 18th June, with no prior warning, a new lock was added to the building and women were locked inside. The school called the police but were told they must give Lambeth Women’s Project access and keys to all locks.
LWP are seeking legal advice and are clear that they are being unjustly treated and that their eviction will compromise the already hard hit services offered to women in Lambeth. At the moment women are staying in the building at all times.
Find out how to help here:
Campaign Blog: http://savelambethwomensproject.wordpress.com
Sign the online petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lambethwomen/
A message of support from Feminist Fightback:
Dear Lambeth Women’s Project
We are writing to give you are solidarity in your struggle against eviction.
We are all aware of what is stake in such an incredibly important and invaluable space for women and girls in south London is lost.
Over the years many of us have come to Lambeth Women’s Project for feminist meetings and events and we hope this will continue for many more years ot come.
Your struggle so far has been inspiring. Members of our collective are following developments and will do what we can to support you in your crucial fight to save the centre.
Do let us know what we can do. We’ll continue to send updates on our list and support your demonstrations.
In solidarity and sisterhood,
Feminist Fightback will be participating in the Feminist Study Day at the
Bishopsgate Institute (E1) next week on Sat 26th May at 11am.
We have been developing materials on sex and relationship education for
teachers to use in schools. Come and hear about how were inspired by the
amazing Feminist Library Pamphlet Collection, recently donated to the
Bishopsgate Institute. This collection holds many materials from the Women’s
Liberation Movement on how to empower young people to talk about their
sexuality and relationships.
Our workshop will be part of a day long event in which different feminist
collectives talk about how they have used the history of our movement to enrich
our activism today.
11 – 11:45am – Welcome and introduction to the collection – Gail & Stefan
12 – 12:45pm – Feminist Fightback: hands-on session on reproductive rights
and sex education material.
Lunch – people to provide their own, plenty of cafes in the vicinity.
1:45 – 2:30pm – Solfed: hands-on session on sexual harassment.
2:45 – 3:45pm – Patrizia; hands-on session looking at the art and imagery
of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
4pm – Finish
To book a place: e-mail Stefan.Dickers@bishopsgate.org.uk.
Report back from workshop at ‘Women At the Cutting Edge’ and suggestions for how to further pursue the questions it raised.
Aims of the workshop
What the workshop came up with…;
Many people did not have time to use public services because they had to work full time – a teacher said she hadn’t been to the dentist for years, a civil servant never got to her local library, a charity worker couldn’t take time off to visit her GP.
They were all public sector workers and public service users, but these two different roles were completely separated. People also suggested that their own stresses and work pressures as public service workers made them more demanding about the service provision they received from other public sector workers.
People spoke positively about their experiences of the NHS – a life saving service. They also commented on the long waiting lists, and sometimes grumpy and over-worked staff that came with this, though this did not stop them from strongly endorsing the service. One participant felt strongly as a result that our first and foremost position had to be to defend these services, not to critique them.
This connected to a point about there being great potential in all our public service institutions which was often stifled because workers were prevented from doing the job properly. One positive arising from this was that the fury and frustration that it provoked might be effectively channelled into fighting management.
Going on strike might be seen (and argued for) as the ultimate experience of workers taking control of these services.
Guilt of state workers providing essential services such as education or public transport when they either had to limit their work in order to protect their own health or withdraw their labour during strikes. In this context it was useful to point out to service users that management, who force workers into these positions, are NOT running the service for the benefit of the public.
This was a clear example of the paradoxical/ dual nature of these services – in whose interests they are run and how they are run depends on who runs them?
Higher education provided another useful example of the multiple ways in which the state operated in this context. On the one hand higher education could be a liberating and transformative experience for working class people. Yet the higher education establishment is currently structured to operate as a border, benefitting a chosen few and deliberately excluding the majority, and it is upon this exclusion that it derives its prestige. So now higher education, or lack of it, is also a way of ensuring that people who don’t have a degree will be trapped in minimum wage jobs. One participant felt strongly that as a result is was not possible to simply defend higher education (despite his positive experience of it), we need to imagine a different system altogether[?].
Important to ask who is empowered to access state services and who is not.
State services and the housing system were even more explicit examples of ‘gate-keeping’ public resources – dividing working class people and making them see each other as the enemy.
Case Study: Taking over the local library
What would happen if we took over a local library earmarked for closure? Would we just be providing this service for free?
Case Study: ESOL Classes
Free ESOL classes provided by volunteers in a migrant resource centre are being used to fill in the gap in provision created by under-funded FE college and closure of ESOL courses there.
Questions/ Issues to Pursue Further…
Do we need to go back to basics? To ask why these services exist in the first place? What is their function? What are people’s needs? Why do people need them?
How can we challenge fragmentation between workers and services users as well as breaking up of these services themselves?