We have new interns from the Richardson Institute working on the Mobilise! project. One of the first tasks we asked them to look at is what Mobilise! is all about, especially the power of storytelling... Here is their response.
The process of story-telling is the essence of the whole movement of Mobilise! As women and advocates ourselves, we have decided to share our own stories. Whether a protest, an interest, or a personal experience of civic marginalisation, here are our stories:
Nicola: The female voice has always, and should always be, a prominent voice in society. However, it is only in the past century that female advocacy has truly had any political and civic access; there has been a radical movement from women having no vote to a surge of pro-feminine empowerment in the media. Yet, as a female advocate myself, this progress is an ‘illusion’, because there is still an imposed immobility onto women, and this is internal too. As a queer activist, I annually attend Pride. For women-and every gender-it provides a safe-space for people to overtly express their rights and gender identity. However, this safe-space was comprised this year at Lancaster Pride when other women forced their silence. These women shouted transphobic slurs and violently shunned transwomen. They call themselves feminists. Fortunately, we peacefully protested in front of them with pro-trans flags. However, this story shows how far women are from having a united voice when our own sisters disgustingly silence each other, never mind wider society. These stories of internal silencing need to be heard.
Katie: The only protest I can say I've been a part of is when my towns schools all striked. I think that the strike was over pensions or the pay freeze that only translated to me as a day off school. But unlike all the other kids in town I wasn't at home watching SpongeBob, my mum, a teacher on strike traipsed me and my sister through town with the other teachers, holding placards and blaring microphones walking through a mostly empty city centre. At the time I was not very impressed, but as I've grown older the meaning of protest has changed from a less-than-ideal day off to being something that can help make a difference and make people's voices heard. I still haven't been in a protest since I was 12, instead finding other ways to protest against things I don't believe in. I hope from this internship I'll find a way to affix my daily beliefs and actions into more outward protests, making myself heard and helping make change.
Eva: In these contemporary times, even if a lot of progress has been done regarding respecting human rights, we still witness phenomena of social or gender discrimination, leading to violence, or even death. A typical example of this is the huge rates of women being killed worldwide, because of their gender. Society tends to label these affairs as “love crimes” or as a result of mental disability from the victimizer, leading to declaring a male offender as innocent. While society covers these actions as if they are less important or less indicative of the sexism that exists in our milieu, it is more than essential for all to oppose this handling and protest in favour of all these people who have been victimized because of something they are.
Emily-Mae: My passion for feminism and interest in female activism lies in my membership of the Lancaster University Feminist Society. I started reading feminist literature by authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Roxane Gay, which I would consider in itself political activism as I would often discuss these works with other resistant women around me. The only example of protest or resistance I can think of in my own life would be my plans to lobby the Lancaster University Students’ Union for the protection of their student night-club The Sugarhouse, voted the 2nd safest night-out in the country. My resistance has included attending the Annual General Meeting of the Students’ Union, and if there is further protest I will be joining the Save Our Sugarhouse campaign in their efforts to keep nightclubs in Lancaster safe for vulnerable customers.
Lizzie: I can’t say much in terms of personal experience of protests but one image that has really imprinted in my mind was when I saw thousands of people marching through London in demand of more money for the NHS. Seeing the dedication of everyday people who were fighting for a cause they believed in so passionately really showed me the power of political activism. I believe women’s empowerment is a necessity in a society and I feel that this is best achieved through each generation of women building on the last’s work whilst they strive for political and social development. It is the determination of women that has been highlighted in Remembering Resistance that I believe we can use to inspire many more women who find themselves politically alienated, to mobilise them. I feel hopeful that in using other women’s experiences we will be successful in encouraging more to become more politically active.