I was quite shocked when I realised that I hadn’t written anything for this blog since August, partly it comes down to prioritising paid writing over blogging, but there’s more to it than that.
It is both an exciting and frightening time to be a woman. Exciting because there is a lot of feminist activism going on and some decent coverage of it in the mainstream press, but terrifying in terms of the way women are still being viewed as sex objects and the way our culture has legitimised this, the way that violence against women, including rape, is taken lightly and even viewed as something to joke about (a man I know innocently told me this joke last week: “What time does an Indian wife-beater start hitting his missus? At six o’clock, on the dot.”) and the fact that the UK coalition government’s austerity measures are hitting women so hard that it threatens the progress that has been made towards equality.
Then there are the things I read or hear about in the news. The conviction of Vincent Tabak for the murder of 25 year old landscape architect Joanna Yeates and the apparent sexual motive of the killing; the murder of 21 year old Casey Brittle by her ex-partner even though she had complained to the police about him many times (there being little comfort in the fact the Independent Police Complaints Commission found the Nottinghamshire force had failed to protect her) and the ongoing debate about the way women journalists and bloggers are threatened and condemned for expressing their opinions in print and online. So many stories about women being criticised, abused and killed because they are women.
I thought about writing about many of these things but when it came to it I was overwhelmed and got no further than being shocked, saddened and angered, which reminded me of a poem by a fantastic writer called Joolz Denby, who used to go simply by the name Joolz when publishing and performing her poetry.
Fuel to the flame (which you can read in full here: http://joharrington.blogspot.com/2011/09/fuel-to-flame-by-joolz.html) resonates that dreadful feeling of being overwhelmed by one’s anger but there is a line that seems to offer a little advice on how not to waste it:
“And it takes control to be angry, you must be precise, get hold of the twisting screaming thing each day and leash it tight, because otherwise you burn up inside and nothing gets done…”
So, I will put my anger on its leash once more and try to find productive ways of using it so that it doesn’t get the better of me.
My starting point for this mission is to attend the FEM 11 conference in London this weekend, where issues such as abortion rights, women-only activism, ending violence against women, the sexual objectification of women and fighting back against the government cuts that threaten women’s equality are on the agenda and a host of women’s organisations are represented.
If I manage to keep my anger in check I’ll report back on how feminist activists are channelling their anger and on my efforts to do the same.
UK Feminista is the organiser of FEM 11. Read more about it here: http://ukfeminista.org.uk/events/fem-11-agenda/
Find out more about the brilliant Joolz Denby here: http://www.joolzdenby.co.uk/
Read about what happened to Casey Brittle and the findings of the IPCC investigation here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/18/police-failed-mother-beaten-death-casey-brittle