Ladiyfest Sheffield & Festival of Debate presents: Sheffield’s Manifesto for a Feminist Government

Hosted by Ladiyfest Sheffield & Festival of Debate
Sat 25th April | 1pm-3pm | Moor Theatre Delicatessen, S1 4PF

What would YOU like a feminist government to achieve?
With inequality, sexism and violence a part of so many women’s lives, Sheffield’s Feminist Manifesto is a chance to create a list of demands for a government to inspire, liberate and find solutions to these problems.

Please join us for an inclusive meeting where we would like to discuss and debate the most important issues facing us as feminists today. The meeting will conclude with the writing of a manifesto drawn together from your contributions and presented to all those wanting your vote on 7th May.

We are in the process of creating an online survey, so that there will be the possibility for you to contribute to the manifesto even if you can’t attend in person on the date. Please check back with us soon for this option!

We would also like to invite you to SAVE THE DATE for Saturday June 6th – we hope to organise a feminist multi-disciplinary arts and performance festival that evening, where artists from all backgrounds can show work which directly responds to the manifesto. More information on this soon! Please get in touch if you are an artist or performer who might like to show work on the night, or can recommend a potential performer to us: ladiyfestsheff@gmail.com

Please register your attendance for the Festival of Debate event at Moor Theatre Delicatessen on April 25th here.

Accessibility: The space is fully wheelchair accessible. We are working to clarify our full accessibility situation at present- more info coming soon. Please contact ladiyfestsheff@gmail.com if you have any questions.

>> FB event! <<
Thanks! xx

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Designing out Suicide: Call out for submissions!

Designing out Suicide: Call out for submissions!
Sunnbear Zine is currently creating a collaborative mental health zine. Our specific aim is to raise the awareness of women suffering with suicidal thoughts/ideations or mental health problems, which could lead to suicide.

Why women?
In the UK this year approximately 6000 people will end their own life, 3 quarters of this figure will be men. Today the targeting of men in high profile campaigns for suicide prevention are more widely promoted than in women. In full support of existing campaigns that are targeted specifically at men we wish to create a new forum or an output that is tailored to support women, as a means of proactive balance. 90% of suicide is related some form of mental health problem, and there are many serious mental health issues that are statistically higher in women – for instance suicidal ideations are higher in women, as is unipolar depression. Arguably, these statistics may be higher due to women being more likely to seek help, either way the need to raise awareness and eliminate stigma is well-founded.

What is a zine, why create one?
A zine is a physical (and sometimes digital) self-published/produced/crafted/glued/stuck/mishmash book. The reason that we’d like to create a zine is so that we can make high numbers of copies at low cost and be creative in the process . We’ll be hosting workshops to encourage collaboration both in conversation and with the practical side of the making.

What do we want?
We want you to feel empowered to submit anything at all

Stories:
– Your stories and experiences – do you yourself suffer with a mental health problem or know someone who does
– Short fictional stories – if you have any short stories you’d like to share around the themes above, please share them (this should also sit with ‘artistic’!

Artistic:
– Poetry
– Illustration / Design / Art
– Poetry
-Collage

Self Help / Alternative solutions
– Advice – any tips for self-help and maintaining mental wellbeing and wellness / any bad advice you have received and why

What are the general themes of submission?
- Awareness
– Depression / Anxiety / Disorder
– Alternative solutions
– Therapy
– Drugs and Diagnosis
– NHS- Politics
– Stigma
– Empowerment
– Experiences
– Wellbeing
– Anything you feel fits within the theme of mental health and suicide in particular

Who can submit?
Male and female contributors that interested in sharing something, named or anonymously (we ask that you be over the age of 15)

How to submit?
I’ll be hosting creative workshops to encourage conversation, creative play and collaboration. Please don’t feel if you are not creative that you can’t attend – there will be something for everyone above the age of 14th.
You can submit work at one of the workshops listed below or via email.
If submitting over email scan or photograph your work
Email: Lisa.ohara@hotmail.co.uk or designingoutsuicide@gmail.com
If you would like to meet up and submit separately or would like a chat about the project, please contact the inboxes above.

Delivery date:
We would like all submissions to be made by the 27th of April so that the final zine can be distributed around the general election – however workshops are likely to run after that. We’d like to send a copy of the Zine out to MP’s around Sheffield and beyond!

I’ve set up a meeting for Monday (23rd of March) in the Showroom café, I’ll be talking about the themes in more detail and just wanted to have a bit of a start-up chat with whomever is interested in taking part.
I’m going to be putting on a drawing workshop on the following Sunday (29th) – location/info TBC!

If any of you have any questions please contact me here: lisa.ohara@hotmail.co.uk or designingoutsuicide@gmail.com. You’ll find more info about events and the general gist of the Zine on the following links

Link to 1st group chat even Monday the 23rd of March:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1422241684742812/

1st creative event: Zine and Drawing Workshop 29th of March TBC

More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/335251560004379

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Queer Presence: Film Fest and Divine Disco, Sheffield, 18 April

divineDetails about a brilliant FREE event being organised by some of our friends in Sheffield. Go!

Facebook event here for you to put in your virtual diaries.

‘LGBT Sheffield and Interplanetary Division are proud to present the first in a new programme of events titled QUEER PRESENCE. Our launch event shall be South Yorkshire’s first Queer Film Festival. Oh did we mention its FREE. And we did it with no budget. Like none. I knowwwwww. You are welcome.

Once again the British Film Industry is not touring any of the films or events from its LGBT Flare Festival whilst putting on TEN DAYS of events in London so we thought right lets do our own punk DIY version.

So we asked directors and artists if we could show their films and they said YES. YEAHHHHH. So we are taking over the Theatre Delicatessen on the Moor for a day and a night. This will involve films in the day and a DIVINE DISCO in the evening following a showing of the I am Divine Documentary.

YOU AND YOUR MATES SHOULD COME.

IF PEOPLE DON’T COME TO THINGS THEN WE CANT DO MORE STUFF AND APPLY FOR MONEY TO DO EVEN BETTER STUFF.

The full programme can be found here

http://goo.gl/0BafCF

and there is a summary below.

Ethical Partying

This event is brought to you by ethically minded volunteers who believe queer is not just about sexuality or gender. Its a mind set. Divine represented outsiders and with the rise in UKIP and austerity there are more outsiders than ever. Gay, lesbian, transgender, gender neutral, victims of the bedroom tax, people with mental health problems not helped by the welfare state, immigrants, strong women who don’t do what they are supposed to do, the partners of strong women who don’t do what they are supposed to do, those on low incomes working hard, allies who fight every day against discrimination on our behalf, anyone shouted at in the street for being themselves. THIS IS FOR YOU. COME AND DANCE AND REVEL WITH YOUR PEOPLE. PARTY AND MAKE A POLITICAL STATEMENT.

OVERVIEW

THE DAY – 12:30 – 17:30

We will be showing a series of films and documentaries in a number of categories which are as follows:

Feature Presentation – Show me Love
International Queers
Queer Gender
Queer Sheffield Then
Queer Sheffield Now
Queer Bodies
Documentary – The Cockettes

THE NIGHT – 8:00pm – 1:00am

Learn
A cool as flick lecture on the Cult of Divine by the fabulous Missy Tassles

Watch
A screening of the I Am Divine crowd funded documentary

Squirm
Performance to cause discomfort

Mince
It ain’t a dirty word. The Divine Parade. Join us in clothing inspired by Divine and strut our makeshift catwalk to the screams of an adoring crowd. Or be an adoring crowd member. Whatever makes you happy. We just want you to be happy. You need to know that. If you need a hug you can have a hug.

Dance
Bop and slut drop to the music of Sheffield and London DJs. Michael Kelly Chella Quint

Love
This is about QUEER LOVE…..any shade and you will be ejected…..we will not accept body fascism, economic discrimination, stupid questions about peoples gender, sexuality or dress (hint – just ask them politely), slut shaming, moaning, negativity, non-constructive criticism, justification of UKIP or Clarkson. We are proper hard line on the last two.

Any questions then just ask

Karl Olsen, LGBT Sheffield’

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The Duke of Burgundy: A Review!

This is a review of The Duke of Burgundy, between Cara, LaDIY organiser, and Sarah from Edge Of The Universe Printing Press. Contains some spoilers!

SARAH: Having seen it last night, here are my full thoughts on The Duke of Burgundy. I feel like it’s one of those films that I’m enjoying far more in hindsight, when I’m able to pick it over properly, than I actually did at the time. Still, overall I am definitely in the ‘fan’ camp. I really, really, really loved the aesthetic obsessions of the film, to the extent that the goodwill born of that pretty much saw me through the rest of its duration. But that soundtrack! That title sequence! That colour scheme! So, so great. Just the sound design and the staging was brilliant, I thought. I have a real fondness for a bunch of the stuff this film was influenced by (hauntology; 70s Euro-horror / Euro-sleaze; the accompanying soundtracks to both those things), so I was pretty much pre-destined to like it. I also liked the completely deadpan, “yeah, so?” weirdness of it. So, Cynthia and Evelyn live in a world of coiffured, bicycling women obsessed with both insects and BDSM. What of it?

Around the hour mark it began to lose me a bit (/ a lot) – the repetitions of the action (‘You’re late. You can start in the study’ etc.) was obviously there to say something about the two leads’ relationship, but that didn’t make it any less patience-testing to actually have to sit and watch it. I also felt like a lot of the film only had a real impact if you “got” the joke – you had to be part of the in-the-know in-crowd to understand what Strickland was referencing and riffing on. So, I had an “aha!” moment when the film “breaks down” (during Cynthia’s increasingly delirious dream sequence, when she finds the skeleton in the coffin, and Evelyn’s wandering around outside, and the screen is filled with moths and moth’s wings), because I “got” that this was a very explicit reference to landmark experimental film ‘Mothlight’ by Stan Brakhage (with a dash of when the film “breaks” in Bergman’s ‘Persona’). This “I got the joke!” pleasure was instantly followed by annoyance, as I find the in-built alienation of these kind of clever-clever filmic references pretty off-putting.

Patient-testingly slow as it could be at time, I also really enjoyed watching the relationship develop between the two lead women. I thought it was really well played (I really liked that they treated the potential ridiculousness of some of the situations so seriously and tenderly), and found the way that their very different needs became slowly more apparent, even though they clearly did have real love for each other, fairly heart-breaking.

Have you had time to digest it now? Whaddya think?

CARA: HEY! Thanks so much for writing all of that, you should add it to the LaDIY post I put, or let us feature it as a review on the blog!!!

I really liked all the colours and aesthetics too! It reminded me of some films that I saw ages back at Bungalows that someone put a small series of, weird Czech surrealist/new wave stuff like Daisies (that’s the only title I can remember).

I enjoyed the dynamics of the relationship, really silly little things like clicking of fingers when snoring, doing things with each other for the other person even tho its not what you want to do all the time, little nuances that are so true in loving and yet tired relationships and often overlooked in lesbian/queer cinema, it was very untypical of that genre – It felt like a very real relationship, albeit an unusual one. I smirked at their world too, a lecture theatre full of women all beautifully polished – did you notice there were actually manequins in those audiences too, was there some meaning/link to those that I might have missed? I defintely didn’t get the injoke you did about Mothlight, I’ll mention it to Jo though and see if she caught on!!

As a fairly standard cinema viewer, I did feel a bit lost at times, I wasn’t sure what all of the repetition was meant to be alluding to. A lot of what you said makes real sense though

SARAH: Hey! Glad you enjoyed my rambling – I do have a tendency to get carried away with analysis when it’s a film that’s interesting…

Speaking of interesting, this article on the director’s influences is pretty good (with Strickland being as intimidating knowledgeable as you’d expect): http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/peter-strickland-six-films-fed-duke-burgundy

Oh, and of course if you’d like to you can feature my “review” (such as it is!) on the blog! Though I thought what you’re saying is really interesting too: I loved how minutely observed the dynamics of the main relationship was, but I hadn’t really thought about how little you see that kind of thing in queer cinema. You’re right! So often these films seem to be coming out narratives, or involve at least some kind of conflict directly born of characters’ sexualities; queer relationships are so rarely depicted as just normal, even mundane (and all the repetition of their BDSM set-pieces meant the couple in ‘Duke’s’ relationship did seem to be plodding a bit) that it made this film feel really refreshing.

So, I thought maybe if you want to put some ‘Duke’ thoughts on the blog, it could be as a kind of discussion between us, rather than just me pontificating?!

Anyway. Totally missed the mannequins sat in the audience at the butterfly lectures thing. I’ve recently decided on a new film watching tactic where I sit right in the front row of the cinema, which makes films so intense that I think I actually end up missing a lot of stuff…

FIN.

Did you go see this film as well, let us know what you thought!

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GUEST POST: Excluding Transgender People Doesn’t Make Anything Safer For Anybody

Content note: this piece contains descriptions of transmisogyny, homophobic bullying and sexual assault.

Recently I read an article in the New Statesman in which the writer recounted her experience of rape, and the subsequent lack of empathy and care she experienced from the men around her. My heart sank as I read this all too familiar story. I felt a surge of empathy with the woman, as well as anger on her behalf.

And then my heart sank even further, and the anger I had felt in solidarity with this woman turned towards her, as she made the argument that, having felt safer and more able to recover from her ordeal in “female only” spaces (implication: spaces that do not admit transgender women on the basis of their gender assigned at birth), there was a reasonable debate to be had about the exclusion of transgender women from such spaces. While I respect the right of anyone who has been assaulted to a space in which they feel secure, I find myself once again faced with this implication that the exclusion of transgender women from a space somehow makes it safer for cisgender women.

Let me be clear: the majority of sexual assaults are carried out by cisgender men, but there are sexually abusive people of all genders. That includes cisgender women.

I’d like to tell you a story from my past. It is not a story of rape; it wasn’t even something I always thought of as sexual assault. I believed, you see, that only men could be sexually abusive. I also believed it could only be sexual assault if the assaulter was attracted to the victim.

At 14, I was an awkward misfit who was bullied constantly. My tormentors were almost always female. I didn’t know, then, that words used to humiliate me (“Lezzer!” “Queer!” “Dyke!”) would one day be labels I’d wear proudly. I just knew that I didn’t fit in, that I was reviled by most of my classmates. The most dangerous time for kids like me was P.E. The changing rooms were always unsupervised: (Why not? We were all girls together: there could be no danger of hassle from boys.) As such, it was common knowledge that one of us unpopular girls would be kicked, punched and mocked by the bullies while trying to change into her gym kit. We never knew who was next. On this occasion, it was me. I got into the gym already bruised, aching and with the knowledge that worse was to come. The changing room torture was always the warm-up act.

As our teacher had us warm up, several girls leaned over to kick or slap me as I stretched, letting me know I was no safer here than in the changing room. I don’t know what that teacher saw, whether she assumed it was nothing more than a mild tiff, just something minor between girls. I don’t know if she heard the stage whispers (“Lezzer!” “Dyke!” “Queer!”) as they echoed around the hall. Perhaps fear of reprisals under Section 28 stopped her. Perhaps her own sexual orientation was on her mind and she feared that taking a stand might lead to trouble. I do know that she watched as a group of five girls dragged me onto the mats in the corner and began simulating sex with me. I was straddled and groped, my face was licked. The ringleader groaned in mock pleasure to whoops and laughter from her gang. I do know it was loud.

I don’t know how I managed to push her off me. I think panic mixed with incredulity and fury that no help was coming gave me an adrenaline boost. I don’t remember what happened next but I am informed I scaled the climbing bars with a speed nobody had ever seen from my timid, uncoordinated self. I remember becoming aware that I was now around 15 feet off the ground and that the whole class was staring at me. And that I was screaming.

Later, in her office, the head of year told me she was really sorry the “teasing” had been allowed to go too far, but these “spats” between girls really had to stop. I remember the phrase “It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other” being used. I didn’t know how to say I had been assaulted, and the assault was of a homophobic and sexual nature. I didn’t know. The girls in question never faced any reprisals for what they did to me, but they left me alone after that.

I’ve told this story before, as a funny anecdote. The day I defeated the bullies by acting “crazy” so they never bothered me again. The day I scared my poor teacher to death because what she thought was a suicide threat was me, the adrenaline rush gone, trying to work out how the hell I was supposed to get down. I minimised and repressed the reason I got up there in the first place for years.

Because “cisgender women don’t sexually assault other women.”

Because “cisgender women don’t stand by and watch another woman be assaulted”

What happened to me could not really have happened because it happened in a space everyone in authority presumed to be safe.

Had I been given the opportunity to recover in a “safe space”, who should have been excluded to preserve that safety? Cisgender men? They hadn’t done anything to me. Cisgender women? That would have kept me out. Should my attackers and their enablers been allowed access to me on the grounds that their sex organs were like my sex organs? Should transgensder men (and non-binary gender people assigned female at birth) have been excluded on the grounds that their sex organs were like those of my attackers?  If I had consciously known any transgender people then, I suspect we’d have had plenty in common. They’d certainly have been more likely to empathise with the constant threat of abuse I lived under than anyone around me at the time: transgender people, especially trans women, live with constant risk of assault. Perhaps we would have been able to support each other by finding our common ground.

It’s not the presence of people assigned male at birth that makes a space unsafe, it’s imbalance and abuse of power, and tolerance, or lack of recognition, of that abuse. Transgender people do not wield that kind of power over cisgender people. In fact, the reverse is true. This is not a “six of one, half a dozen of the other” argument. The power imbalance here is immense, and it’s weighted in favour of the group doing the excluding. The exclusion of transgender people by cisgender people from refuges, hostels and other “safe spaces”, from our communities, our support networks and our families is an abuse of our privilege and power. It perpetuates the abuse those places should help protect us all from.

Sarah Thomasin is a poet and sex educator from Sheffield.

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LaDIYfest Open Meeting // Thur 5th March @ Coffee Rev

Following on from our last meeting in January, we welcome any potential LaDIYfest collaborators to come help us plan some upcoming events and action. New faces wholly welcome! FB event for this meeting here!

Things we will be plotting and discussing:
-Our Festival of Debate workshop on April 25th: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/festival-of-debate-sheffields-manifesto-for-a-feminist-government-tickets-15713855565
We would like to discuss what outcomes we hope to get out of the workshop, as well as planning creative ways we can express and publicise our resulting manifesto
-The potential to host a mini-arts festival night on Sat, June 6th where local artists and makers will be invited to respond to the resulting manifesto of feminist values
-Our upcoming Hysterical Injury gig at TAAE on March 28t (FB event!)

All of these events are in the early planning stages so we would welcome volunteers to come on board and help out with a variety of tasks!
We are also open to suggestions for other LaDIYfest events and activities, so please feel free to bring your own ideas along that we can work on!

Meeting at 5.30pm-7ish, at Coffee Revolution at University of Sheffield Students’ Union. We will have something recognisable on the table so you will know who to approach – will confirm what this shall be closer to the date! x

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Julie Bindel – Not In Our City

While LaDIYfest Sheffield generally encourages and welcomes more feminist activity in our city, we write in opposition to the event being held at the Quaker Meeting House in Sheffield with Julie Bindel speaking this weekend about the ‘No Platforming’ of radical feminism. It is not an event we want in our city, in a similar vein to Julie’s attempts to arrange book tour events in Sheffield which were cancelled twice before due to protest, once by a local organisation as a result of our intervention, and once by the Sheffield Students Union for contravening their inclusion policies .

The talk this weekend purports to address the theme of ‘No Platforming’ which has prevented her from speaking in the past. This is due to the increasing unacceptability of some of her views. The fact is, Julie Bindel has not been and can never truly be no-platformed as long as she has the ability to go on speaking tours across the country and write about her transphobic, biphobic and whorephobic opinions in the national press (see links below). To suggest that she is marginalised and silenced for these opinions is not the case.

LaDIYfest Sheffield is a small collective of people of different genders, many of us are exhausted enough from facing the daily battle of existing as women, as sex workers or trans people or bisexuals to ‘silence’ a powerful media personality such as Julie Bindel. But yet, we should fight against people who either don’t believe in those existences or don’t believe such individuals should exist. Transphobia and whorephobia and biphobia go beyond opinions and move into the territory of hate speech which is dangerous and used to justify continued violence against us as those individuals, whether this is overt and physical or takes the subtler forms of institutional and social discrimination.

We were accused by Julie Bindel’s supporters of being childish, but protecting your space is not childish, we have grown up and realised that we don’t need to accept abuse done unto us. We were accused of dividing the feminist movement and letting down the side but we don’t believe in a movement that allows the marginalisation and murder of our siblings in struggle. Where people like Julie Bindel (and now all those who signed the recent letter) are concerned, no safer spaces policy can be strong enough to make their participation in our spaces safe and inclusive for all who need protection, support and solidarity.

Julie Bindel preaches a feminism that is not inclusive, it is harmful and hostile and by consenting to a platform in our city, or not raising awareness about our concerns, we would be complicit in that abuse. Sadly, no other speakers who hold opposing beliefs have been invited to speak alongside Julie Bindel at this event to hold an equal platform and enable a whole encompassing viewpoint to be appreciated by an interested audience – There is a total lack of contrast to allow a continually evolving educational space, which is why we won’t be attending to enter into a debate.

Simply, by not supporting this event, we are making a statement that we do not believe Julie Bindel’s voice needs any further amplification, what she says should not warrant any publicity or audience in our city. Her right to speak is NOT more important than protecting the marginalised communities she speaks against.

NB – We have not called for any protest or specific boycott, but we hope this post will be widely shared. Anyone who wishes to organise any action would have our support.

 

Julie Bindel – A Brief History of why people object:
- Claiming that bisexual women do not have the autonomy to exercise their own sexual preferences or politics 
- Hugely dismissive about the validity of sex work as ‘real work’
- Critical of transgender people, feeling entitled to speak against their access to medical treatment, despite an apology for some of her earlier notorious comments, which led to her being excluded, 11 years ago, she continues to be a threat and danger to these communities, communities who need our support and solidarity as increasing numbers of trans identified individuals are reported as being killed each year for the very fact that they are trans. 
- Critical of Muslims’ right to wear the veil 

For more info about the wider significance:
https://feministchallengingtransphobia.wordpress.com/tag/julie-bindel/
http://www.newstatesman.com/juliet-jacques/2014/08/dispute-between-radical-feminism-and-trans-people
http://feministkilljoys.com/2015/02/15/you-are-oppressing-us/

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