Fem11, the national conference of UK Feminista held on 12 November at Friends House, London gathered over 1000 feminists.
Keynote speaker Sandy Toksvig bemoaned the lack of suitable role models in children’s literature – “If Rapunzel had hair long enough for a prince to climb up, couldn’t she have fashioned a rope out of her hair to escape?”
Also criticised: the way female role models were re-fashioned to make them more “respectable”. Did you know that Florence Nightingale was known amongst the injured soldiers as the “Lady with the hammer” (NOT the lamp) because she smashed open a cupboard containing drugs meant for the senior military only?
The afternoon session on building for International Women’s Day 2012 was excellent. The need for more publicity for the day was evident. In some countries women get the day off work, elsewhere, flowers and chocolates are given to the women of the house.
A feminist Question Time chaired by Rania Khan preceded a mayoral hustings. Two men standing for London’s mayor showed up: Brian Paddick talked like a well-trained LibDem and Ken Livingstone was same as ever. Natalie Bennett stood in for Green candidate Jenny Jones . Boris Johnson declined to appear.
Forthcoming demos include the Fawcett Society’s Don’t Turn Back Time on women’s equality demo on 19 November campaigning against cuts which hurt women more (report to come); and the Muff March on Harley Street, London, to campaign against labiaplasty surgery on 10 December.