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Archive for September, 2009

EFN Women’s Discussion Group

4th October 3-5pm

Mac Donald Road Library (Off Leith Walk)

Trans-Friendly, Children Welcome,

Venue is wheelchair accessible

Topic: Trans Identities and Feminism

Following the recent headlines about an athlete put through ‘gender-testing’, and some discussion of Julie Bindels comments on transexual and transgender people and politics within the group we are having an open discussion of feminism and trans politics: exploring the discrimintation that people who break gender or sexual “norms” face and whether trans-identities challenge feminist ideas of what women are and present difficulties to feminist politics. I’ll bring along some cuttings and some of Julie Bindels comments to spark discussion. Feel free to bring anything else along!

Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel

This is for many a sensitive topic, which deals quite closely with peoples personal sense of identity. I’d stress that this is safe-disscussion space, which will be facilitated. Whilst different veiws and opinions are very welcome, respect for peoples different experiences and opinions will be central. The group has a trans-friendly policy welcoming all who identify themselves as women.

On a lighter note – tea and coffee will be around, but feel free to bring cake/biscuits to contribute if you have time. If anyone wants to chat prior to meeting /ask questions/ suggest anything for facillitation do message me!

The Wikipedia Page for Julie Bindel is good, and links to her controversial articles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_Bindel

Heres the recent article about the athletics ‘gender verification test’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/aug/19/caster-semenya-gender-verification-test

NOTE: I feel this is a really vital/challenging/difficult area for feminists and women’s human rights activists to negotiate, especially if they are cis sexual (i.e. not straightforwardly identifying as male/man and female/woman) and have never had to consider other experiences of gender identity. I’ve been wrestling with the wording… apologies if i hit the wrong note, comments telling me I have are genuinely welcome, preferably with constructive criticism…

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Social Time

Just a announcement/reminder that our first of a new regular pub night is:

the pub!

the pub!

***NEXT Tues 22nd September at 6pm***

it will be in the Blind Poet on West Nicolson Street, mainly because we have met in the Pear Tree before and its usually so busy/cold we end up in the quieter Blind Poet.  This is a mixed night open to all for some relaxed feministey-fun.  Ideal for new folk, and for oldtimers. Its a small pub, but i’ll make some sort of sign or wear a hat so you can find us.  Do just come along, have a chat and see what we’re about.

It is also a nice prelude to Ladyfest Edinburgh, a weekend of feministy-arty amazingness which will be happening between the 25-27th!

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A brief summary of what I thought were the main points at Sunday’s discussion group on the topic of women in politics:

(Admin: please feel free to add anything I may have skipped over, especially on the topic of Harriet Harman’s comments, as I wasn’t present for that part)

Harriet Harman’s comments: “Men cannot be left to run things on their own. I think it’s a thoroughly bad thing to have a men-only leadership. In a country where women regard themselves as equal, they are not prepared to see men just running the show themselves. I think a balanced team of men and women makes better decisions.”

How did these rational words get so twisted by the media?

How do women get elected to constituencies?

The atmosphere of aggressive and often puerile debate in Parliament. Is this a factor, are women actually choosing not to go into politics, if they have to go into this kind of environment? I found it interesting to note the phenomenon of group interaction. It was mentioned that in a group full of men, some of us felt we became more ‘masculine’ in arguing and speaking style; as in more gestural and loud, in order to be listened to or even heard.

Are the hours of work in Parliament discouraging for women who have families? We briefly touched on child-rearing and workplace dilemmas, including still archaic soceitial attitudes. For example, women are assumed to want (or need or that they ought) to spend more time with their offspring, ignoring the man who works all hours and his potential difficulties with only seeing his children at weekends. Is there a marked difference between the situation in the Scottish Parliament and in Westminster?

Is it a possibility that established women in, say, the Conservative party are prejudiced against working under a (young) female leader as opposed to a man? Could this sort of attitude, especially among the older generations, be preventing women from getting high up the political ladder?

The fact that female politicians still get judged on their clothes and appearance over their politics. We briefly talked about Germaine Greer’s column in the Guardian criticising Michelle Obama’s dress; was this supposed to be ironic? Those who read it commented that if it was indeed intended to be, then it really was not obvious! We would’ve expected better..

On the whole this was a really great discussion and thanks to everybody who came along. We are also pleased to have arranged a more structured group format from now on with sharing of administrative and facilitation responsiblities on a rota basis.

YAY for feminisim!

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