I've been going to WOW (Women of the World festival, Southbank Centre, London) for about 6 years. It is held every weekend around International Women's Day the 8th March.
It is a month before the festival starts and already every ticket – all the day passes and all the weekend passes have sold out.
It seems Trump and the Women’s March has kickstarted a new feminist consciousness. Which is great. But feminism is more than going to London for one day as a protest, or attending a weekend of lectures.
However, the WOW festival is an excellent place to start. If your education was anything like mine (free of gender studies or feminist theory) and 90% of the renowned people you learnt about in school and University were men, you will need Feminism 101. The WOW festival is the best place to get this because it is truly intersectional and international – this will not be a solely white, middle class, British, cis gender feminist experience. You will hear all voices from all backgrounds and some viewpoints may contradict others and that is ok. It won’t all be at ‘introductory’ level either – even the most knowledgeable feminists go away from WOW having learnt something from an expert speaker.
I’m very much a self – taught feminist. I’m still learning. But once you know even a little, I believe the most important thing is to put it into practice. Feel free to call yourself a feminist. Explain feminism to your friends. Talk to men about it. Learn about women from history. Do something in your community with it. Bring it home, into your home. The revolution starts with housework (unpaid labour). It is easier to say than do. Action is hard. The suffragettes motto was Deeds not Words.
Feminism is politics. So many of us accept the way things are now as inevitable, unalterable. Please remember how much society has changed in just fifty or sixty years. We used to have free education for all until graduation from University (for those who chose to go). Grammar schools enabled some degree of social mobility. Tuition fees and student loans did not exist. We used to have affordable housing. We used to only need one breadwinner in a household. We had enough doctors. We had an extensive and low cost railway system! In the second world war women did every type of physical labour, including steel working and handling canal boats. Yes our population has increased with matching demands but it is ideology that determines how we live and co-exist.
When the state does less for the people, yet we pay more taxes and care is cut for our children, our elderly, our ill, our disabled, don’t you wonder Why? and How can they get away with it?
The state asks communities and charities to do more – when children’s centres close, care homes close, not enough beds in hospitals and hospices, not enough homes and school places, when grants are cut, we’re expected to just pick up the slack. Who are the majority of the volunteers, the unpaid carers? In your school charity, doing the school run, in your NCT group, in charities and community centres? Women are expected to work and to be the primary carers of their children and elderly parents, plus do voluntary work in their communities to make up for the state shortfall.
We all have a voice, we all have a vote. We can change the ideology if enough of us say a two letter word.
A political party was formed at the Women of the World festival. If you have a ticket this year go into it and have a great experience. Then please come out of it and do something.
(c) Wendy Thomson 2017