Yes, the semi-regular news-surfing is back, which will of course mean more spam for me from surfing websites. Joys.

First off, there are a couple of things for which I have no sympathy;

The number of British students at UK universities has fallen for the first time in recent history” and “A boys’ club in Bristol has changed its name after the council threatened to withdraw funding if the club did not show girls were also welcome.

Since I have my crystal ball, I can forsee trouble ahead in the guise of being labeled as either a stroppy student, or a strident, man-hating bitch, or both.  Strangely enough, I am neither of those things.

I’m very grateful that I have the chance to get myself a degree. I really am. I just would have been more grateful if, for example, the student loan I get was guaranteed to cover my accomodation costs, or if it was not assumed that, since my parents earn X amount each year, they would of course be happy to subsidise my adult life, and my sister’s adult life, whilst also paying their mortgage and bringing up my seven year old brother. I’ve never believed that getting 50% of “young adults” into higher education was a good idea, and it seems even less so now –  because who, in these “credit crunch” days, wants to saddle themselves with £20,000 of debt before they’ve even found themselves a proper job?

As for the boy’s club, I find my levels of sympathy greatly reduced by the quotes from the club’s leader. Anybody that says things like “it’s this PC bureaucracy gone mad” has automatically lost any respect I might have for them. Or indeed things like “The boys’ club – formerly the lads’ club – has always been a major service, primarily for boys of course.” Which leaves me wondering who else the club served. Perhaps it’s that old nonsense about “man embracing woman” that means that when they say “boys”, they actually mean “all non-adult people”?

As it happens, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the council’s criteria, which says that “if you want funding, you have to show that you are meeting the needs of all young people”. And given that the club remains boys-only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I’m really not too concerned that boys will suddenly start feeling excluded.


In other news, women can harm themselves in new and exciting ways whilst pregnant, by drinking too much water. Interestingly, this article is written without the usual headless pregnant torso photo which is usually a given, so I’ll give the BBC a bonus point for that. On the other hand, it is yet more conflicting advice about what pregnant women should and shouldn’t do. I have to say, however, that I was greatly amused by the final quote: “the key thing is for the woman to listen to what her own body is telling her“. Well, who’d’a thunk it? Letting women decide for themselves? Surely not!

Moving on, before my sarcasm gets the better of me, and the last story of interest is that women are transforming Welsh politics. Why? Because there’s a 47:53 ratio of women: men. Apparently, “political debates were more consensual than adversarial as a result and had ‘non-traditional’ topics on the agenda such as domestic violence.

Happy times. Interestingly enough, we touched on these kinds of topics back in October last year, when we had two members of the Green Party with us. Of course, back then, what was said was that “the structures of the council are very traditional and adversarial which often puts people off”. It’s a catch-22 situation really; the adversarial format of meetings appears to deter women, which means that there is an uneven gender ratio with more men than women, which makes it more likely that the structure will be adversarial, which deters women….

If that cycle could be broken – as it hopefully has been in Wales – we could be looking at a much better governed country. At the very least, we could aim for “a consensual political style, an inclusive politics, and working arrangements which recognise the caring responsibilities of those working within it.” I can but hope.

Advertisements

Following on from our action in the city centre over the weekend, here a few ways in which you can help the charity Refuge rise more money.

Here is a bit of Info about what Refuge do and why they do it, including some worrying statistics relating to younger women!

One woman in four will experience it at some point in her lifetime, and two women are killed by a current or former partner every week. Domestic violence affects women of all ages; of all social and ethnic groups. Sadly, this means that it is likey that we all know someone who has been, or will be, affected.

Worryingly, recent research caried out by Refuge has shown a lack of awareness among young (18-21) year old women of the issues surrounding domestic violence. Only 57% had heard of the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, which can be contacted on 0808 2000 247. Only 41% of women surveyed said that they would know where to go for help if they were experiencing domestic violence. Even more worryingly, other research has shown that a frighteningly high percentage of young people (as high as 1 in 2 boys and 1 in 3 girls in some studies) think that it is OK to for a man to hit his female partner or to force her to have sex under certain circumstances.

Refuge saves lives, helping more than 1,000 women and children on any given day to escape domestic violence and build a safe and positive future. Our aim is to empower women, and therefore we do not only provide emergency safe accomodation; we also offer counselling and outreach services, give advice and advocacy support on pratical matters such as legal and housing rights, run campaigns to raise awareness and change people’s understandings of domestic violence, and also carry out research and lobbying to influence the governmental response to domestic violence.

So here are 3 ways to help Refuge rise money and help them to keep helping women…

You can donate your old mobile phone. Each phone that is sent off with result in £3.50 being given to Refuge.


You can take part in a sponsered Skydive (or sponser someone else if your not that brave)

Finally, you can use their online shopping facility, which provides them with 12% commission on every purchase.
Direct link here

Refuge do fantastic and vital work, please take the time to do one, other or all of these small things to help them keep working hard to provide much needed services to women who suffer domestic violence.


News from the meeting:

We’re still looking into changing the venue of meetings, to somewhere with disabled access. The University Arts Tower was suggested, as it should be free to book on the lecture theatres and there shouldn’t be any problems with needing to sign people in either. However it might isolate the group from non-student members. We are also going to look into the Quaker Meeting house in the city centre which would be a much more accesible venue for everyone, not just students. If anybody has any other suggestions, send us a postcard to the normal address!
We also talked about changing the structure of the meetings slightly so we meet downstairs in the bar of University Arms for a social drink first, so that everyone gets to know each other and it is welcoming to new members. This will partly be dependent on whether we change venues or not as well, of course.

There might be a conference/ day workshop at the University soon on Feminism in Sheffield soon. More details to follow if it takes place.

Finally, Sunday is the Sheffield University women’s party. Some of us will probably be there with some Sheffield Fems flyers and things, so if you’re a female Sheffield student, we might see you there.
From the discussion – Women and War – some things to think about were:

  • Some history/ information about Women’s Internation League for Peace and Freedom, which is one of the oldest peace groups, formed in 1915, 2 members have won the Nobel Peace Prize and they have offices at the U.N but also opperate on a local level around the world.
  • Women and children now make up the majority of victims of war, as war is no longer resigned to the battlefields
  • Women in the military- do they play a more supportive role than an active one? The military is still a male/ patriarchical system, will the presence of women change this?  How can women change such a regimented system?
  • In Palestine, the conflict there has resulted in a change in the status of women (a slight improvement, but groups like Hamas would like to reverse this)
  • Is joining the army a gendered issue? How does the supression of the individual effect women? And what about the squaddie culture – does it put women off? Do you have to go along with all these things to succeed in the military?
  • Apparently there has been a big increase in the number women joining the army, and there are good childcare facilities and maternity leave and little sexual harassment- is this the result of law changes or the presence of women? Is there are culture of silence (and would it be harder to speak out against sexual harassment in the miliarty then in a normal job?)

We also made some plans for an event to tie in with Reclaim the Night on 22nd November:
We are going to be in the city centre during the day (we talked about going to West Street in the evening but it was decided that no one would pay any attention as it’s a Saturday night!), with flyers and placards  about domestic violence statistics. We going to try and contact the local press etc. to get some publicity as well.
Next week, Tuesday 18th we’re going to be making the placards and sorting out flyers… come along, bring pens, card etc etc! This was going to be a social meeting, so we will probably go on to another pub afterwards as well.