Author: emmathatcher

10 days left to reach our Crowdfunder stretch target!

10 days left to reach our Crowdfunder stretch target! Help us get the full amount needed for our new home

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Dear Feminist Library supporters,

As you are probably aware, we have been running a Crowdfunder campaign since Oct 2018. Thanks to your support we reached our initial target of £30,000. This enabled us to cover the basic costs of our move to the Sojourner Truth Centre.

Thank you so much! Once again the Feminist Library was saved by the hard work of its volunteers and the support of the community.

We decided to extend the Crowdfunder, and create a stretch target which would cover all the costs of refitting our new home. Now we have only 10 days left to reach this goal and we are asking for your support one more time.

Please do consider donating if you haven’t already: Donate now.

Achieving this goal would enable us to relax with the knowledge that the full costs are taken care of, and the Feminist Library is secure.

If you have already donated but would like to support the Library on a longer-term basis, please consider becoming a Friend.

Thank you so much for all your support so far, we’re so incredibly grateful for all the love we have received from so many people.

Love,

The Feminist Library Team xxx

Review – Milkman by Anna Burns

MilkmanReview – Milkman by Anna Burns

Anna Burns was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2018 for her novel Milkman, which focuses on the experiences of a teenage girl in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. The first-person narrative is a chronicle of a tight-knit community in turbulent and often frightening times – managing to tell its story without ever naming the characters, the city or even the country where the action takes place, leaving the reader to unfold layers of ambiguity.

Feminist Library volunteer Anna Pigott and London-based writer Catherine Madden shared some of their impressions of the book.

C: What were your initial impressions of Milkman?

A: A huge thing for me which I really loved and thought was amazing was that they don’t name the place they’re in.

C: The characters don’t have names.

A: And they use euphemisms for everything.

C: Like, ‘the other religion’

A: ‘That country over there.’ and they say ‘renouncers of the state’ instead of IRA. So there are layers of euphemisms which I thought was really good because it is the idea of it being so taboo that people don’t have the language to articulate what’s going on and I think that contributes to the sense of it being a stifling atmosphere. She even gets to the point where she won’t speak to people and you feel frustrated reading it because basically everyone has an assumption about her, which is not true, but she thinks if she says that it’s not true that it will seem even truer, so she doesn’t say anything at all. She doesn’t have the power to speak.

C: It’s like she’s almost frozen because to do anything would encourage suspicion so she can’t do anything.  She’s being watched all the time because of the place where she is and also she’s being policed because she’s a young woman. I agree with you that not naming the characters and place adds to the element of subterfuge and murkiness. Nobody quite knows what’s going on because you can’t be out in the open. And even the stuff like when there’s a tender queer moment between two characters. It’s all unspoken. Also, one of the things I liked about it is that it’s really, really funny.

I thought the ‘issue women’ [used in the book to describe Women’s Liberation Movement activists] were funny and also the ‘traditional women’ and how they were all on the same side really but there was a conflict between them. The ‘traditional women’ are quite strong…

A: … Super maternal, Catholic.

C: Yeah, and because the characters in the book don’t go to the hospital because if you go then you might get made to be an informer for the state, or people will think you have done anyway so you just don’t go to the hospital, all these ‘traditional women’ do their own medical interventions into things. And that’s a different kind of strength, matriarchal but not really. And then thinking about the ‘issue women’ who are the proto-feminists and everyone thinks they’re mad at first.

A: They’re ostracised but then the IRA let them carry on.

C: And then the ‘man who doesn’t love anybody’ even suggests to ‘middle sister’ [the narrator] that she should speak to them because they might be able to help her with this thing, which we haven’t even spoken about, the ‘milkman’ which is the main part of the plot

She’s being pursued through winks and nods, but also through him intruding on her personal space, by an older, married…

A: ..Man who is a high ranking figure in the IRA.

C:  She sees it as an intrusion but others see it as… She is seen speaking to him and that means that she is his mistress.

A: But there’s nothing she can do. I like the bit at the beginning in the first section and she is running and he comes alongside her and forces her to stop running although he doesn’t physically touch her in any way. It’s just by being there he forces her, with the powers of social convention and the pressure of how you are supposed to behave, to stop. It’s like he restrained her from doing what she wanted to do and I think that’s an amazing metaphor.

C: I read it quite slowly, much more slowly than I read other books. And actually when I went home at the weekend my mum was reading it and she said it was taking her ages and she’s a really fast reader as well. I think it is this thing of being trapped, and also being trapped in her head… you can’t move forward and there is a lack of freedom. Characters can’t tell each other things but also they can’t even have the top part of their mind telling the truth because they think that people are reading their minds all the time, so you have to push down what you actually think about things and have the top part of your mind thinking what you want people to think you think.

A: So, what’s your conclusion?

C: Give it a read. Stick with it, that’s what I would say. I was halfway through and I thought, you know what I’m going to stop this because I can’t be bothered, but then when it starts speeding up I thought, yes, yes, yes and it’s really worth it.

A: I almost don’t want to bring it up but with Brexit – I don’t want to make it from a British perspective – but I think it’s important for people to remember the conflict. It’s good to get different nuanced perspectives on the day to day experiences of the Troubles.

C: It’s completely within living memory.

A: So, two thumbs up.

C: What about four thumbs up? Because we’ve got four thumbs between us. Bloody good stuff.
We welcome submissions of book reviews and encourage readers to respond in different formats, such as a conversation, a micro-review or even a drawing in response to a book. Please send your submissions to emma@feministlibrary.co.uk

Interviews with Laura Coryton and Laura Steven

For our Friends Scheme March Prize Draw we are really excited to have two new books to give away, kindly donated by Egmont PublishingWe will be holding the prize draw on Thursday 14th March, at our AGM,  and two lucky winners will receive copies of both books! To be entered into the draw sign up to become a Friend of the Library:https://feministlibrary.charitycheckout.co.uk/friend#!/

We caught up with the authors Laura Coryton and Laura Steven to find out more about them and the books.


speak upSpeak Up! 
by Laura Coryton


Written by Laura Coryton, who led the international campaign against tampon tax, Speak Up! is a vital and timely book exploring what it means to stand up for what you believe in on both a public and personal level.

What inspired you to write the book? 

I visit lots of schools as part of the Tampon Tax campaign to support girls hoping to make changes. The schoolgirls I talk to are always so enthusiastic and determined to solve the problems they face. They are my inspiration for this book! I hope that ‘Speak Up!’ can support a new wave of rebel girls committed to changing the world.

What made you a feminist? 

I think I was born a feminist… When I was growing up, I was perpetually rolling my eyes. I was forever frustrated by what I thought was just ‘being a girl’. I hated the way men would stare at my friends and I as we walked in our uniforms to school in the morning. I was confused as to why everyone would watch the boys play basketball while nobody seemed to know our girl’s team even existed. I was angry at the presumption that I would study food tech and not maths because that’s what “girls do” (quote courtesy of my school’s careers advisor – no, seriously). But actually, I was never frustrated with being female. What I was, and still very much am, actually angry at, are the symptoms of sexism that so many of us face. I was a feminist. Always!

What sparked your period tax campaign? And what have you learned from it that you would like to share with our readers?  

My friends and I are always sharing feminist articles with each other. One day, my lovely friend Verity sent me an article that explained we pay tax on period products. I was confused. I presumed this tax must make some sense if the government was to back it (I was clearly young and naive) but when I started to research our tax system, I got angry. I discovered that while we don’t pay tax on maintaining our private helicopters, because apparently, that’s too essential to tax, we do pay tax for the luxury of buying period products each and every month. Seriously! Nobody was talking about the issue because there is a taboo surrounding women’s bodies and more specifically, around periods. I hope the campaign has helped to tackle that taboo, too!

From my campaign I have learned that anything is possible. If I got David Cameron to utter the word ‘tampon’ in parliament when he was Prime Minister, then you can do anything! I’ve learned that girls have such a passion for making changes and I’m really excited for what future changes their campaigns will bring. Essentially, my piece of advice to any reader would be to be ambitious, never give up and speak up!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with young girls and women just getting into feminism that could help them along their journey?

I think something that’s not spoken about enough is failing. It’s okay to fail. Everybody fails from time to time, but a singular failure doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail. Lots of us fail and go on to ultimately succeed. You can do the same!

a girl called shamelessA Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven

It’s been two months since a leaked explicit photo got Izzy involved in a political sex scandal – and the aftershock is far from over. The Bitches Bite Back movement is gathering momentum as a forum for teenage feminists, and when a girl at another school has a sex tape shared online, once again Izzy leads the charge against the slut-shamers

What inspired you to write the book? 

A Girl Called Shameless is about an aspiring comedian whose world implodes when dirty pictures involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench emerge online. I really wanted to take down slut-shaming and revenge porn, but I also wanted to weave in some seemingly innocuous themes – like the concept of the ‘Friend Zone’, and the problem with men who consider themselves ‘Nice Guys’ – and unpack why they can be just as damaging as the more overt symptoms of sexism. Plus I really wanted to tell a lot of rude jokes. I love rude jokes. (Which is why I will probably never win the Booker.

What made you a feminist? 

While I’ve always believed in gender equality, and always wanted the same opportunities that were available to my brother, I don’t think there was ever one single moment that made me a feminist. It’s been a journey, more than anything, and a journey I’m very much still on. There are areas I need to do better in, and I’ll never stop trying to educate myself into becoming the best feminist I can be. We’re all always learning, and always growing, and I think it’s important to give each other space to do that – while also holding each other accountable when we mess up. I really love how actress and activist Jameela Jamil refers to herself: a feminist-in-progress.

What has inspired you to join Mslexia? And what have you learned from it that you would like to share with our readers?

I actually left Mslexia after three and a half years back in October, and I miss it every day. It was a wonderful environment in which to grow as both a writer and a feminist, and I got to work with some truly talented people. The main thing I learned was the importance of carving out spaces for marginalised voices, and the value of lifting up other women. It was often frustrating, because we received so many accusations of being sexist, but we fundamentally believed in supporting women writers in a notoriously male-dominated industry. This may seem a little trite, but when it comes to Mslexia, I always think of this Theodore Roosevelt quote (via Leslie Knope): ‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’ I also learned that if you fire Lionel Shriver from a judging panel for being racist, you will be told to kill yourself by alt-right trolls.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with young girls and women just getting into feminism that could help them along their journey?

Do you believe men and women should be treated equally? Great, you’re already a feminist! Of course, it’s often more nuanced than that, and there are countless different debates that fall under the feminism bracket. It may seem like the world expects you to be perfect from the outset, and to know every single thing about every single one of these debates, but that’s impossible. The best thing you can do is listen to those who are more knowledgeable than yourself. Seek out a broad intersection of women from all walks of life, listen to their views, and never shout over them. Unless they voted for Donald Trump. Then some shouting is allowed.

Friends Scheme March 2019 Prize Draw

Friends Scheme March 2019 Prize Draw 

This month we are really excited to have two new books to give away, kindly donated by Egmont Publishing.

a girl called shameless speak up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven
It’s been two months since a leaked explicit photo got Izzy involved in a political sex scandal – and the aftershock is far from over. The Bitches Bite Back movement is gathering momentum as a forum for teenage feminists, and when a girl at another school has a sex tape shared online, once again Izzy leads the charge against the slut-shamers.

Speak Up! by Laura Coryton
Written by Laura Coryton, who led the international campaign against tampon tax, Speak Up! is a vital and timely book exploring what it means to stand up for what you believe in on both a public and personal level.

We will be holding the prize draw on Thursday 14th March, at our AGM,  and two lucky winners will receive copies of both books!

To be entered into the draw sign up to become a Friend of the Library:https://feministlibrary.charitycheckout.co.uk/friend#!/

Find out more about the books and read our interviews with the authors here: http://feministlibrary.co.uk/interviews-with-laura-coryton-and-laura-steven/

Feminist Film of the 1970s and 80s – 26th April, Women’s Theatre in the 1970s and 80s – 27th April

Celebrating the50th Anniversary of the start of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the UK

This year Conway Hall celebrates the 50thanniversary of the beginnings of this movement that would radically question and change society, culture, and gender roles.

We will be running a joint benefit there, with Unfinished Histories, on Feminist Film and Feminist Theatre from the 1970s and 1980s.

Feminist Film of the 1970s and 80s
Friday 26th April, 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tickets £10,£12,£15, available here

This event will include screenings of rare 1970s films including A Woman’s Place, the 1971 film about the first International Women’s Day march and the 1970 Body Politic conference at Ruskin College, documentaries on feminist nursery campaigns, on Women’s Aid and the movement to set up refuges, and on young women’s community groups.

Women’s Theatre in the 1970s and 80s
Saturday 27th April, 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tickets £10,£12,£15, available here

An illustrated talk with extracts from performances from the period, including Jane Arden’s ground-breaking 1969 Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven, and work by companies like Monstrous Regiment, Spare Tyre and Theatre of Black Women. Followed by:
9.00pm: Siren– a performance by the legendary lesbian feminist band (and former theatre company)

Both events are Benefits to support the work of Unfinished Histories: Recording the History of the Alternative Theatre Movement www.unfinishedhistories.com and The Feminist Library

Feminism in Camden in the 1970s and 1980s
Until the end of April 2019
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
This year Conway Hall celebrates the 50thanniversary of the beginnings of The Women’s Liberation Movement. The Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) in Britain began in 1969 with the first consciousness-raising groups, many of them in London.  Women got together to share their experiences of jobs, relationships, their bodies, domestic work, sexuality, education, children, political involvement, and most importantly, began to identify their individual personal experiences as political.
The exhibition runs to the end of April 2019 in the Brockway Room, marking the explosion of activism in the WLM locally through the posters produced for some early feminist marches and campaigns, and for an array of innovative women’s theatre companies.

Free Photocopier for good home!

Free Photocopier for good home!
Due to our move, we have an old photocopier to give away. The printer brand is SHARP and make is MX-5000N
The machine is in good condition, but it might need a service. We can supply the name of a reliable maintenance person.
You would have to pay to remove it to its nowlocation.
It would not be available until just before we move later this spring, date TBC.
If interested please email admin@feministlibrary.co.uk

MA Animation at LCC Film Screening -14th March, 3pm

Thursday 14th March, 3pm
Moving Picture Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano,
42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR
The brilliant student’s on London College of Communication’s Animation course had the opportunity to collaborate with us to create animated “portraits” of key historical or contemporary figures related to the Feminist Library. They are holding a free screening of the 15 films at Moving Picture CInema, open to all. You are welcome to join us in this creative celebration. Please check back for further details nearer the time.

New Home Crowdfunder – Stretch Target

New Home Crowdfunder  

Help us reach our stretch target by 31st March! Anchor

Thanks to you we smashed our initial £30,000 Crowdfunder target! This will enable us to move the Library and cover the basic refit of the new building. We have also received close to £20,000 in off-line donations, from generous Trade Union branches, feminist organisations and individual donors. We are immensely grateful to each and every supporter.

We now have a stretch target with the aim of raising £65,000 to cover the whole cost of the refit! Although we have raised enough to ensure our collection is safe, we really need this final amount to make a proper home for the Library. Due to offline donations, we only need to reach  £48,000 online to reach this goal. Please do donate, we are very nearly there!

We have until 31st March to reach our final target – you can help us by spreading the word of our Crowdfunder campaign to your friends and relatives: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-feminist-library-build-its-new-home/

In the past week or two, we also had new media coverage – you can read up on our conversation with White Fox Publishing here – and we have been invited to speak about the Library and its campaign at this fabulous Show & Tell event intended to inspire young people not to give up their dreams of working in arts & culture. And last but not least, the brilliant new addition to our feminist design team, Anna Lincoln, was interviewed for the Narrative Environments blog about her work, including her latest – Feminist Library new home project!

Mobile Feminist Library Van at the De La Warr Pavilion – 2 March, 3 April, 18 & 25 – 27 May

The Feminist Library has recently collaborated with artist Kristin Luke to create the Mobile Feminist Library! Kristin converted the van by hand to create a mobile community library, and worked with Feminist Library volunteers, particularly our Artist in Residence Minna Haukka, to fill it with a selection of books, zines and periodicals.

The van will be popping up as part of the exhibition Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2 at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea on 2 March, 3 April, 18 & 25 – 27 May, with more dates and locations to be announced.

Read our trustee Anna’s interview with Kristin about the project here.

Mobile Feminist Library Van – Interview with Kristin Luke

van2IMG_20190209_153031The Feminist Library has recently collaborated with artist Kristin Luke to create the Mobile Feminist Library! Kristin converted the van by hand to create a mobile community library, and worked with Feminist Library volunteers, particularly our Artist in Residence Minna Haukka, to fill it with a selection of books, zines and periodicals.

The van will be popping up as part of the exhibition Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2 at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea on 2 March, 3 April, 18 & 25 – 27 May, with more dates and locations to be announced.

One of our Trustees, Anna Pigott interviewed Kristin about the project:

How did you come up with the idea of a mobile Feminist Library?

For a long time I have been interested in how networks, long-term collaborations, radical pedagogy, archives, and their intersection with feminist politics, could better inform my own work. I gave a lot of thought to how I could make my practice, which spans sculpture, architecture, and film, more useful to these causes. I also looked back at the history of mobile education, from the Women’s Packhorse Library Network of the Appalachians to Jo Spence’s mobile photography darkroom. I decided that I wanted to created a mobile platform, or environment, which could transport and keep alive precarious bodies of knowledge, whether they are printed, performed, filmed, etc, and take them to locations potentially quite unlikely and remote. I wanted to do this as a distinctly counter-patriarchal approach to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge. I approached the Feminist Library because I instantly felt this could be a very exciting combination, especially after meeting Minna Haukka (the FL’s artist in residence), and seeing how she was really bringing the collection to life.

Is it similar to work you have made before?

I have definitely made a lot of physical work that combines architecture and multi-functional furniture. I have designed and built entire furnished living spaces for previous art projects, so the idea of making a self-contained environment was fairly familiar to me. But I’ve never worked on a project over such an extended period of time, or that could potentially involve quite so many different collaborators, which is very exciting. And I’ve never worked on a project involving a vehicle before.

Where are you planning to take it?

Our first stop was the De La Warr Pavilion, for the opening of the exhibition Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2. We will return to this location several more times. Minna Haukka and I are in the process of setting out the schedule for the mobile library as we speak – this will include art and educational institutions, schools, literary festivals, and even some quite remote, wild locations. I am interested in the healthy complexities that might arise from sharing these texts in places that might not be as familiar with them.

How will you be recording its progress?

The full route for the van will be documented and announced on this interactive map, so keep an eye out for upcoming stops.

What have people’s reactions been so far?

People’s reactions have been a really interesting combination of pangs of nostalgia, curiosity, a genuine enjoyment of the sensory experience of being inside the van, and the excitement of being able to pick up these books and journals which might otherwise be under glass or not allowed to be removed from a library. I think people have had this feeling, especially at the De La Warr Pavilion, that the van is this kind of secret environment where something unusual is happening, which is operating on its own terms, which is a fundamentally different way to encounter knowledge than in a school, university, gallery, etc. Many people have also felt that the mobile FL collection would really activate and complement the events and exhibitions that they are running too – it’s great that they want to further engage with it in a meaningful way, and keep this momentum going by sharing it with others.

What’s your favourite feature of the van?

That it has a piece of Snowdonia slate as a cover for the cooker. And the 5-way expanding sofa.

Kristin Luke (b.1984, Los Angeles, lives in Snowdonia) is an artist whose sculptural, written, and filmic work spans the themes of radical pedagogy, utopianism, forms of feminist resistance, and magical thinking in late capitalism. Her work and collaborative projects have been included in programmes at the De La Warr Pavilion, Somerset House, ANDOR, Bas Fisher Invitational (Miami), and New Shelter Plan (Copenhagen). She helped revive the journal Schooling & Culture in collaboration with May Day Rooms and The Showroom, and was an Open School East associate.

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