FemSoc look at EUSA election hype!

If you’re wondering why people keep handing you small pieces of paper with their face on when you’re trying to get into the library, voting opens in the EUSA elections today at 12pm! There are lots of lovely candidates running this year and, if you’re so inclined, you should really take a look at all the manifestos over at: http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/elections/candidates/10/

Of course, we know you’re not actually going to, so we asked a few questions to all the presidential candidates about the important things – by which we mean feminism because, hey, what’s more important than feminism?

We feel it’s important to mention before we get started that the campaigning period this year has been particularly brutal; we’ve been seeing candidates subject to similar abuse that many members of this society have been this year and, it must be said, from many of the same people. The message these people seem to be trying to send to us is that women with opinions aren’t welcome at this university – whoever you decide to vote for, let’s all of us who can head to the virtual voting booths tomorrow and prove them wrong, eh?

So, we sent all presidential candidates the following message and have posted their responses underneath:

“Hello candidates,

FemSoc loves democracy and given the feminist motions passed at student council this year, we’d like you to tell FemSoc why we should vote for you to be EUSA president. We’d like to ask for a short blurb from each of you on why/how you would support women’s liberation in your position. We’d like to publish your responses as part of a blog post and share it with our members via email and through our Facebook group and page.

In your response, please be sure to address the following questions:

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

Please send your responses to our email account (edinburghfeminists@gmail.com) by Sunday 6pm. Best of luck to all of you in your campaigning!

FemSoc team”

Kirsty Haigh

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

I think campaigning for liberation should be one of EUSA’s key priorities, and women’s liberation is a big part of this. EUSA has a chance to genuinely improve the lives of our self-defining women students and tackle the oppression they face. Not only that but it can provide a platform to educate and change the culture and tackle the structures of the patriarchy.

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

Feminism is a big part of my life. This year I’ve been trying hard to improve my feminism, learn about other women’s struggles and help those who I can. Among other things I brought a motion which made our students’ association a pro-feminist organisation, attended a pro-choice training day, helped on the outskirts of organising for Reclaim the Night, voted to help pass the motion supporting sex workers and started a national debate around rape culture in popular music after calling out Blurred Lines and banning it in our Student’s Association buildings.   

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

I want to introduce a zero tolerance to sexual harassment policy for night clubs across the city. This will introduce structures for people to report harassment and ensure that nightclubs publicise these structures. However, structures aren’t going to solve the problem. The big thing about sexual harassment is changing the culture. ‘Lad culture’ and ‘rape culture’ are very prevalent in our society and until we can change this we won’t solve the problem. One of the key parts of introducing this policy is ensuring that people are talking about it- about why it’s needed, why we’re introducing it and why people don’t know how to or don’t want to report at the moment.

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

At EUSA we need to properly establish the equal opportunities forum. This is a space for our liberation groups to come together, collaborate, learn from each other and further their causes. More than that we need to just get students talking about these liberation groups, increasing their understanding and thus being able to offer their fellow students more support and understanding.

Dan Scott Lintott

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

We live in a patriarchal society and I think EUSA should do all it can to show solidarity with women in their fight for liberation.

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

2 & 3)

In my manifesto one of my key policies is a more accessible and confidential way of reporting experiences of sexual harassment on campus. I would also ensure that there is a specific person on-site at the Big Cheese and other EUSA club nights who would be there to respond quickly to incidences of sexual harassment and assault.

These are a few things that tackle the effects of the patriarchy on students but I realise more has to be done to tackle the root cause of harassment and abuse that women students face daily. I think that EUSA needs to remain committed to feminism, pro-feminist policies and working to increase awareness of liberation issues so that many more students define themselves as feminists and feminist allies.

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

I think what EUSA does to fight for the four Liberation groups is central to what we do as a Union. The fight against oppression should be led by these groups, but I would put supporting the Women’s, BAME, Disabled and LGBT+ campaigns at the heart of my Presidency. Intersectionality plays a major part in fighting oppression and as President I would do everything I could to facilitate co-operation between caucuses.

Briana Pegado

1)     Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

Yes.

2)     What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

I think EUSA should support sex workers’ rights. As for whether or not EUSA should be a pro-feminist organization, it is. That has already been declared. I just hope we get to a point in society where we do not have to declare anything feminist but that we embody awareness, tolerance and freedom. Our society marginalizes and oppresses so many groups across the spectrum of self-identifiers. I cannot hide the fact that I am black, American and female. Many would consider at least two of those groups oppressed. What have I done for feminism?

First off, I am standing for EUSA President. Second, I have worked tirelessly throughout my university career with brilliant female leaders at our university to improve the lives of students. Our Chaplain and Vice Chaplain, our Vice Principal for Learning and Teaching, the University Secretary, the head of EUSA Global and so many members of our student community are women fighting to improve our experience. My society Edinburgh University North American Society (EUNAS) chose to support EWRASAC for our Annual Thanksgiving Charity Ball and we raised over 2,000 for them. I am not going to list my CV but if you have worked with me you know what I have done for feminism.

3)     Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

Three words- sexual health education. And four more – sexual harassment and abuse awareness. This is an issue close to my heart. One of my best friends from home was raped in 2012 and it took her over 6 months for her to come to terms with the fact she had been raped. It took another year for her to tell me. I do not tolerate sexual abuse or sexual harassment. The level of both on our university campus is … more than unacceptable, disgusting, unreal – (there is no single word to describe how I feel about it).

For starters, we need emergency help points on our campus. Our campus is disparate and widely integrated into urban areas of the city. Most American university campuses have help points. They are stations where you can push a button that allows you to connect to the local police or provides a phone where you can call your friend to escort you home if you are feeling unsafe. What happened to the walking trains across the Meadows. There were a substantial number (substantial takes just 1) of rapes in the Meadows a few years ago and we had created a buddy system for students to walk home across the Meadows together. What happened to it?

4)     FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

We need to make sure liberation groups are working together and not viewing their liberation demographic with a single lens or perspective. No one is simply one-dimensional. The beauty of humanity is that we are a diverse group with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. We need to embrace it. The problem with the university is that it does not collaborate enough. It does not share enough. Everyone is focus on their little niche and do not view themselves as part of a bigger, living organism. That is the entire reason why I’m running. We need to work together.

There should be a liberation group forum. Liberation groups should be pooling resources, information and sharing stories to work together on these issues.

Jacob Webber

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

Undoubtedly, yes. No question about it.

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

On a fundamental level, intersectional feminism informs how I conduct myself on a day to day basis. I am always mindful of trying to limit the extent to which I exercise the power that comes with my privilege. This manifests in lots of ways, even things as small as making sure I thoroughly understand someone’s point of view and not just blindly trying to convert them to my way of thinking. Real change begins with the individual.

It is important that the president of EUSA is a public voice for students. If elected I will take a vocal stance in favour of the complete legalisation of sex work in this city and elsewhere. I will condemn the police harassment of sex workers. I also believe that a person’s gender is whatever they define it to be. We need to push for more gender neutral toilets and support the trans community in Edinburgh.

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

These are big problems and difficult to solve. We need to take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment. This begins with believing the victims. I believe this would make people more willing to report sexual harassment. This is made easier by having our venue security in house, which we can train and instruct appropriately.

In terms of other clubs, EUSA can compile a list of those that meet a high standard in ensuring their patrons safety, while blacklisting those that don’t.

As well as this information on safe clubs to go to, the advice place can provide support for victims of sexual harassment. We should advertise this.

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

Listening. As someone who scarcely defines in to one liberation group I need to listen to those who define into many and act as a reliable ally. I’m all ears.

So, there you have it! We were very impressed with all the candidates answers and we’d like to thank them all for taking the time out of campaigning to send them in. Now, it’s up to you – if you’re a matriculated student at the university, head over to MyEd or http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/getinvolved/elections/annualelection/ before noon on the 13th March and get your democracy on!

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Chest Action

Femsoc’s not so new project, Chest Action, seeks to provide a platform for expressing our body positivity and silence the body shaming surrounding our bodies and how we display them.

And how are we going to do this? By photographing our own bodies along with signs, stickers, badges, body paint and slogans!

It is our belief that how much skin you show is in NO WAY proportional to the amount of worth you have. Any person of any gender identity is encouraged participate. Whether you want to bare all, or remain fully clothed (and everything in between) is entirely up to you.

We are aware that certain similar campaigns in the past have endorsed Islamaphobia, and we would like to stress that we DO NOT share or encourage these views, and we will NOT TOLERATE any of those who do.

This project was proposed in response to an article published on a ‘satirical’ magazine based in Edinburgh. An article, “FemSoc bare all in exclusive Flipside interview (see page 3 for pictures)”   published on the 30/09/13, which was later removed and apologised for, got us thinking. This view that feminists disapprove of body and skin in public places is really annoying. So we decided to do something to visually illustrate that we think any amount of skin and/or clothing is absolutely fine, if that’s what you want to do. Have a look at our entries so far, you’re welcome to email edinburghfeminists@gmail.com with anymore entries which we will put up anonymously. Remember they have to be hip to chest, no other requirements, show and cover what you like, open to anyone of any gender identity.

Post Note: due to a long running situation where the president of Flipside found her way onto our committee we did not publish this action. The person in question has now been recalled and banned from the society, so here we go!

EDIT 09.12.13: Have a look at some submissions which have been emailed to us after we launched this post.bra burners unnamed

Chest Action_DSC0009_DSC0015_DSC0017_DSC0020_DSC0022_DSC0031_DSC0034_DSC0037_DSC0042_DSC0044_DSC0049

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York Feminist Network: we reject your whorephobia

Last week, the Edinburgh University Feminist Society received the following email from York Feminist Collective:

‘Hello, I hope you don’t mind me sending you this quick message.

 

I’m a member of the York Feminist Network, and a number of our group are calling on City of York Council to reject the application for renewal of SEV (Sexual Entertainment Venue) licence from lap dancing club ‘Upstairs’ (part of The Mansion), on Micklegate in York. The current licence expires on 30 November 2013.

 

As Council policy states that we are not able to object on moral grounds, our campaign takes a more community-focused argument, concerned with the impact on local residents, creating ‘no-go’ areas for women and damaging both the character and reputation of York as a welcoming, family-friendly city. This is the link to our petition: [petition redacted]

 

If you are able and willing to share it amongst your group, that would be much appreciated

 

Thank you ever so much,

 

[name redacted] York Feminist Network.’

 

We would like to say that not only will we refuse to support your campaign- but that we call upon people to actively oppose it.

Sex workers nationwide are facing vicious attacks on their working conditions, and as an intersectional society we must think about the implications of working class women in this assault. This is especially evident in Edinburgh where the merging of Scottish Police forces is leading to a crack down on saunas. Here police asked saunas to ban condoms, and raids are becoming more common. Any safety that saunas offer sex workers is being eroded as police forces exercise their power in violent, dangerous and intrusive ways. Feminists should not encourage or participate in any behaviours that condone or perpetuate this.

We ask you to think about the livelihoods of women whose jobs you will take away. What about the children they have to feed? The roofs they must keep over their heads? The intentional endangering of women is not feminist.

As a feminist society we educate, agitate and organise around the emancipation of women and others directly oppressed by patriarchal standards. We will not have the liberation of women whilst we remain divided; whorephobic standards perpetuate slut-shaming, victim-blaming and rape culture. Sex workers are part of our fight, and we will not turn our backs on them.

We catagorically reject your claim that Adult venues are ‘damaging’ to communities, and in your appeal to families you place sex workers and families in opposition. We do not accept this.We say that sex workers are an integral part of our communities- not something in opposition to them.

We will not participate in your whorephobic, anti-sex work, sex-negative feminism. We hope you will reconsider your campaign and we look forward to future dialogue with you. We suggest that you organise collaboratively with sex workers and take a lead from organisations like Scot Pep and Sex Workers’ Open University.

We offer our solidarity to the dancers of ‘Upstairs’; know that we support your right to bodily autonomy, freedom of association and right to work in safe conditions.

Edinburgh University Feminist Society.

PS: after being asked to clarify, we want to remind people that the York Feminist Network are separate from and not affiliated to the University of York Feminist Society.

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#BigotryBashing

Turn to this page for FemSoc on the Edinburgh Fringe.

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Abortion: a panel Q&A with the Edinburgh University Life Society

So – we’ve decided to engage the Ed Uni Life Society! We’re hosting a short showcase debate followed by an open forum discussion a la the BBCs Question Time in Appleton Tower Lt5 on Crichton Street between 19.15 and 21.00 on Thurs 1st March.

Pro-choice? Pro-life? Undecided?

Across the world, abortion remains a cultural, religious, moral – and sometimes legal – morass. Even within the UK, and especially between Britain and Northern Ireland, the framework and rhetoric of the debate changes frequently.

Our Panellists:

Professor Dr Wendy Savage: obstetrician, gynaecologist and former press officer for Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion

Breedagh Hughes: Northern Ireland Board Secretary, Royal College of Midwives

(their panellists):

Professor Dr Calum MacKellar: Visiting Professor of Bioethics at St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham

Elaine Gallcher: Education Officer, Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative

If you would like to submit a question in advance of the event please fill out the form on http://www.edinburghprolifesociety.com/. Otherwise – come along and make use of the roving mics!

£2 tickets are available in advance here: http://edinburghuniversityfeministsociety.bigcartel.com/

Roll up!

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I am woman and I (get) fucked.

I ponder on feminism, I reflect on my inequality

I see you looking at me, I quiver, I subsume

I let you in my bed, where not many go but I let you

I am haunted by the ghost of my old, broken heart

The pieces run around the room, spinning along with my head

You grab my hand, you touch my face, you kiss me and I follow

I try to fight, to be there as an equal, I make the effort to determine the situation

You grab my hand, you push me down and I give in, tired and drunk, I give in

 

We wake up in the morning and everything is spinning indeterminate

You will walk away, the way others have, the way I have

You will determine the situation;

You will leave me wondering and you will walk in confidence

You will take out the roots of my first love, and plant collective absence

Opening the window to a myriad of conditions that

Will confirm that I’m right in fighting for my rights, for my equality

And my friends who do not wish to call themselves ‘feminists’ will be right,

‘This is what men do’, they say; ‘This is what guys are’, they say.

 

And I will be tired, so tired because I fight everyday

Against your right not to be thought of as an asshole because you have a penis

Against the giant, blood sucking, constraining monsters of capital,

Against the destroyed past and destitute present of (neo)-coloniality

I want my language; I want to be woman without your negation

I fight next to you, I fight with you, at moments we are ‘we’ -man

But then you walk-man and I follow-man

Out of trust? Out of my own oppression? Out of your unquestioned privilege-man?

 

I am woman and I (get) fucked again

This time I thought it could be real and it was,

But the ‘real’ was you blinding me, telling me to leave in the morning

My eyes displayed blurry memories of the previous night

I tried to understand, I tried to defend, I tried and now I am tired

How I hoped the constellations that instead of living above me asphyxiate me did not exist

How I hoped I didn’t need to be a feminist,

How I hoped the personal needn’t be political

 

And I fight with you too, next to you comrade- man

And we speak of the socialist future, of the socialist present

I tell you about Trotsky and Gramsci

And about theorizing the hegemony of rich, white, men

I cite the relevant sections of Capital and tell you why Marx is right

Why I disagree with orthodoxy and prefer heterodoxy

We argue about socialism and bourgeois morality

I tell you how I think gender can be material yet find feminist socialism problematic

I tell you about class as a cultural concept underpinned and reproduced materially

Yet I am woman and I (get) fucked

Yet I am woman and I feel ashamed, insecure of my body

Yet I am woman and you get to walk

You get to tell me about the one you actually love,

You get to chose you don’t want a relationship

I only get to listen, to accept, never to chose

What is the equality we fight for, are ‘we’ fighting for the same one-man?

Are we seeing in Lenin the same tradition?

Have you read Luxembourg?

Have you read De Beauvoir?

Have you read Susan B. Anthony?

Have you ever listened to me, have you ever chosen to humanize me-man?

 

I am woman and I (get) fucked no longer

I wish to be proud to be a woman; I wish to be proud to speak my language

I wish to be a socialist,

I wish to smash capitalism with my fist

I wish you to listen! To question! To look at me!

And see an equal.

 

- Anonymous

 

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Reclaim the Night Edinburgh!

RECLAIM THE NIGHT & fundraising ceilidh for Shakti Women’s Aid

facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=259746177409651&pending&context=create

The next Edinburgh Reclaim the Night will be held on the evening of Nov. 24th in honour of the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th), and in tandem with the London RtN (26th) and the Glasgow RtN (28th). Reclaim the Night is the manifestation of a long, proud tradition of marching to reclaim freedom of movement at night. Violence after dark, especially against women, must be challenged. The myths about rape, including the tendency towards victim blaming, must be challenged. Cuts in funding to rape crisis charities, women’s aid organisations and domestic abuse centres must be challenged. We will march, we will shout, we will be loud, we will be visible. The streets are ours.

JOIN US.

Gather at 7pm in Bristo Square. We will remember the victims of violence with a candlelit vigil, before marching through the streets of central Edinburgh accompanied by the Beastie drumming troupe. When we arrive back in Bristo Sq, we’ll rally listening to speakers from influential charities and organisations (tbc). After-party at the Counting House, ceilidh-ing on down for the benefit of Shakti Women’s Aid.

All ages and genders welcome. For those with limited mobility or concerns about marching for 2.2 miles, there will be a protected block at the front of the march setting the pace.

First Aiders, stewards and legal observers will be in place. This march has the permission of the City of Edinburgh Council and will be appropriately policed.

WHATEVER WE WEAR, WHEREVER WE GO – YES MEANS YES, AND NO MEANS NO.

FOLLOWED BY A CEILIDH!!

facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182203371866286

Ceilidh (/ˈkeɪli/)

Oxford Dictionary says: ‘a SOCIAL event with traditional MUSIC and DANCING’.

We say: ‘DANCING, MUSIC, CLAPPING, WHIRLING AROUND, HAPPINESS’.

Either way, get down to the Counting House at 9pm for some ‘Strip(ping) the Willow’, a ‘Dashing White Sergeant’, the ‘Eightsome Reel’, a few ‘Gay Gordons’, a ‘Canadian Barn Dance’, the ‘Virginia Reel’ and others.

£5 waged (£4 student) (or £2 if you’re wonderful and volunteer at the Edinburgh Reclaim the Night march immediately prior)

ALL PROCEEDS to Shakti Women’s Aid, an Edinburgh charity that’s been working since 1986 to offer support, advocacy and information to all black / minority ethnic women, children and young people experiencing and/or fleeing domestic abuse from partners / husbands, ex-partners and other family members. http://www.shaktiedinburgh.co.uk/

GOOD DANCING for a GOOD CAUSE.

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