A blog post written by volunteer Emily Brooks on her research looking at women's activism in West Yorkshire...
"Tea and cake round at mine?" This is the first question I ask my friends when we are arranging to meet up, so it's not something I would associate with resistance. However, during my research for the project, I discovered some very interesting, non-typical spaces for protest - women’s homes, specifically living rooms.
When I think of protest, I think of marching, banners and parades. But there are cases of women meeting in each other’s homes to discuss their grievances. An intimate and private space which highlights the courage that these women have in opening their homes up to other women who were, in the beginning, strangers.
One woman I came across during my research was named Elaine Connell from Hebden Bridge. When she moved to Hebden she advertised for a women’s group in the local newspaper. She ended up having meetings in her own home. But she was not the only one. In Hebden Bridge, in the 1970's, a woman called Annie Fatet held a group at her house at what was then The Bull where, along with the many issues the women had, they would talk about women's health. It was a moment for them, who confessed they didn't have the education, to come together in resistance to the conforming way of living and make a point to look after each and stand up for one another. Other topics of discussion included feminism, talking about understanding the female body and different sexualities as well as redefining women's roles.
These groups, coming together in such an intimate, private space, would move their acts of resistance to public spaces. A Women's Exhibition was held in Hebden Bridge at Pitt Street in the 1970's. As well, there were campaigns at the Adult Education Centre, Pitt Street - a transformation of the private to the public but with the public sphere educational, rather than the expected political space.