Emails, Meetings, Ideas and Networking.

Today I met with a fellow Cardiff Met student who put a post on Cardiff Feminist Network group page on Facebook saying he was thinking of setting up a sexism awareness/ women’s society as Cardiff Met does not have one unlike Cardiff University and he was asking if anyone had any information or if they wanted to be involved. I contacted him asking him to meet so we could possibly start something up. We discussed how to go about setting up a society, how to generate interest and who we have ben in contact with so far. We need to generate interest from at least 10 students to be able to suggest starting up. I spoke of the society promoting equality rather than being gender specific and encouraging work fromĀ  both sides rather than creating a ‘X vs Y’. I plan to speak to my peeers and the rest of the course to get names and contact details, speak to the SU and come up with a plan of action. Christia has gone away to do more research and speak with his peers also and already reported his positive responses to the idea.

I am still waiting on a reply to the email I sent to Cardiff PCSO department about legalities and information on who to report incidences of sexual assault to. A friend who studies Journalism suggested contacting Gwent Police as they have a department that specialises in this area.

I received an email back from Chris Green of the White Ribbon Campaign. He said he is keen for me to help with illustration work to promote awareness and he has an idea for an alphabet book. I have given him my facebook page so he can have a look at my work and see if I can tailor it to the audience he is aiming the book at. I also told him about the society as it would be good to work in colaboration with them and Christian has been looking at the campaign and plans to contact them also.

I have recieved the brief to launch the new Sexual Wellbeing charity and we are waiting for people to report back when they are available for a group Skype meeting. I have sent my page over to Olive and she has said the work will suit and has asked if we could also speak seperately at some point over the week.

I have sent emails out to the lady I met at the workshop at the WMC who works for Equality and Human rights asking for legal information as I have an idea to create a ‘cocktale’ menu to put around bars in Cardiff, stating things that are actually illegal and consequences and inofrmation etc, in the style of a cocktail menu.

Tonight I visited a creative networking event at Little Man Coffee Company ran by A Little Chance. I have emailed A Little Chance asking for information to speak and show a presentation of my work at their next event. I also chatted to some of the staff at the coffee shop and they are keen to promote creatives. They ahve a wall that you can apply to exhibit on and the girls were enthusiastic about the sexism awareness. Also, the space below would be a perfect space to hold workshops/interaction. I have emailed the manager to see how I can apply for the wall and space although the staff were sure the next six weeks is booked out. The manager is also good friends with my current manager, so hopefully he will be happy to help and possibly allow my menus to be displayed there as well as the bar I work in now.

TBC…

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Slow Week.

I feel like for the last 2 weeks I have been so ridiculously busy yet not really got anywhere, with my images anyway.

This week I have met with Victoria Jones of the PDR building. She has selected some of my pieces that she can use for a blog on gender equality within the creative industry. I just need to write up a blurb about each image and send them over to her. She gave me a few people to also look up and contact.

I have emailed the police regarding who to go to and what can be done when women are sexually assaulted in public spaces. 2 people have responded, 1 telling me to contact my local police; so obviously nothing is drafted across the nation and the local police telling me to contact my local PCSO. I will do that tomorrow, but I am aware that they don’t have the powers to arrest etc, they can only request the names and addresses of people and sexual assault is illegal…

I have had a mini tutorial with Nigel in the print studio. I shown him some of my images and he doesn’t believe they need takin ginto print to be any more effective. he said for what it would bring to the images, it would take up the rest of the time of my degree to perfect technique and achieve the desired effect. He suggested maybe just playing with the collage again. Deconstructing the images, printing them out seperately and physically making the collages again. I’m thinking of even deconstructing them and creating them as a scene as they would be physically in public then photographing them. He did suggest an animation, which would be pretty amazing, I could have scenario into scenarion, but again, I haven’t ever done an animation and we don’t have long left. I have a tutorial with Anna next week, so will speak to her about the options.

I have also had a phone conversation with a lady from a Sexual Wellbeing Charity that has just been launched. She spoke with me about drawing up a brief and me creating some illustrations for the websites and leaflets and posters. I am aware she has not looked at any of my work, she doesn’t seem to mind this; but we are in touch because I was originally going to volunteer for the charity. But now it is at crunch time with my degree, I don’t have the time to waste making images if they are not what is in mind for the branding of the charity. I have emailed her a link to my page so she can look and I will have a look at the brief when it is drawn up and decide whether I should commit to it or not.

I haven’t started collaging the furniture yet… I need to get moving on this…

There is more. I now I am forgetting something…. TBC.

Men On Our Side- The Welsh Assembly.

Tonight I was in the audience of a panel led discussion called Men On Our Side organised by the Welsh Assembly as Part of Women in Public Life; International Women’s Day Events.

This event was brought to my attentian via Cardiff Feminist Network. There were a lot of women against this as it was to be an all male panel. I signed up to be in the audience and decided to keep an open mind as I didn’t believe the event would of been composed in a way to undermine women or in a way the audience were not allowed to be involved in the conversation. Surely it has to be a two way things and that we need men to be actively involved in bringing equality to all aspects of life?

The panel consisted of Dr Neil Wooding (The Office for National Statistics), Carl Sargeant AM (National Assembly for Wales), Chris Green (White Ribbon Campaign UK) and Roger Lewis- WRU Group. The men were obviously commited to bringing equality into their areas and discussed how they went about this, how they challenged other men who are apposed to their ideas. Chris Green spoke of his White Ribbon Campaign and how it ties into the Everyday Sexism Campaign. I am planning to look more into this and contact him.

Although the audience were involved and their questions answered by the panel, it was apparent to me that the Women in Public Life title didn’t really cover public life. It covered work place, women on boards; all job related. They spoke of success and the negative look it gives to a woman and how men will exagerate their skills (and lie) where women will play down and doubt themselves etc, but it never addressed the issue of women in public spaces. The areas addressed are, obviously, in need of change, but I feel these are places where there are laws and regulations in place. These need to be upheld and improved and acted out on the ground. However women actually experiencing sexism in public areas, the lack of laws, protection or places to go and report are being over looked. There was talk (which I agree with to a certain extent) of the younger generation having more respect for women and treating them as equals in regard to work and education; but nothing was mentioned about the lack of respect for young girls/women in regard to sex. From the stories and reports that I have read, there seems to be a dangerous attitude, a lack of understanding of consent and respect and unrealistic expectations when it comes to the younger generation. The word ‘education’ keeps flying about, but who is going to give the education? When is it going to start?

I also watched a TED talk on the devastating effect of telling yourself that you are ugly. The lady speaks of the insecurites of young people and the bullying that happens on social media and how it implicates their future. Again, the confidence factor was spoken of when applying for jobs in the future and the impact that then has on the economy. This and tonight’s talk made me realise that people were resorting to using the economy to pin point the effect of undervaluing women. Which addresses the money-success-male attitude. Why is this the most important reason to regard a female as equal? Cause she can make your business as much money as a man can? Why not because it she is a human, entitled to the same treatment and worth?

http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Archive/53fb0dae-e1c6-4661-8967-e0d2cfd9650d?autostart=True#

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Everyday Sexism Workshop and Illustration Interaction.

Here I will post some of the comments made in relation to the illustrations I hung on the wall of the workshop.

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The notes from this were;

(on sexualised as a young girl)

* Grew up in the countryside & used to go on walks around “the block”. Had to hide from a white van who was following and making inappropriate comments. Aged 14.

(on discimination in education)

* Discouraged from Science by teachers.

* Placements offered men students more money than me.

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(on western beauty ideals and perfection portrayed in the media)

* From 12 years old onwards I was asked if I was ‘pregnant or just fat’ because I didn’t meet beauty standards.

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(on staying safe in public)

*ALWAYS hold keys as a weapon.

* Have been told off by male friends for walking home after a night out as if I am not a capable woman able to look after herself.

* Hold keys b/w my fingers.

* Had bruises from people smacking my bum.

* Fag burn from men in van because I didn’t appreciate sexual comments.

* Security at club told me to ‘suck it up’ when harrassed.

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This note reads; I have been brought up to ‘dress appropriately’ for my figure- I even wished I was Anorexic because at least then I could be considered as pretty.

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One woman addressed here; Sexual fulfilment for women as much as for men.

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(refering to sexism around the family unit)

* Mother is a professional in health service & father lives away. There was a stigma w/ parents living apart but not seperated. “What’s wrong, doesn’t your dad like you?”

(refering to sexism within the home)

* Being told it was my ‘job’ to have sex with my boyfriend.

After reporting back the events of the workshop, there are plans to have a meeting with members of Cardiff Feminist Network to take the discussion further.

Everyday Sexism Workshop.

A post asking to step in and facilitate a workshop was published on the Cardiff Feminist Network late last week as a group had dropped out of the planned slot. A workshop on Everyday Sexism was arranged as part of the Women’s Equality Network taking place after the Welsh Women’s Summit for International Women’s Day. I had previously posted about my illustrations in response to the book and campaign asking if anyone was also interested in this and if we could collaborate on an awareness campaign. I contacted the lady about being involved but told her I had never facilitated a workshop before. She convinced me to go ahead with it and between conversations put me in touch with another lady who was interested in facilitating and had experience as well as writing a book on ‘Lad Culture’. I met with Shahla, a green economics phd student from India, and we drew up a plan for the 45 minutes, planning to tell our stories, who we are and how we became interested in the campaign. We planned to get the group to interact by hanging a selection of my illustrations and asking them to apply post it notes to the ones they could relate to.

There was a concern about the numbers for the workshop as it wasn’t publisised too well and most people left after the summit. The workshop before ours was concelled, I assume, as we were able to have the room half an hour before schedule. However, a small group of 8 women and 1 man came and after a quiet start we managed to generate a conversation on different aspects of sexism they had experienced. As soon as one spoke, things picked up momentum to the point where the structure was taken away and it was more of a what felt natural approach. There were reoccurring themes; sexual assault, discrimination within education and the gender stereotyping of children and children’s toys. The group was pretty diverse; we had young sisters,say early 20’s, a mother and her 14 yr old daughter, a Kurdish male, a woman I am guessing in her mid 20’s and one around late 30’s and a middle aged woman who works for Equality and Human Rights.

I placed up 6 of my illustrations on the wall, trying to cover the range of areas sexism can take place; staying safe in public, gender stereotypes withing the home and family, being victimised within the home, beauty ideals as portrayed by the media and western culture, young girls being sexualised and discrimination within education. I asked the group to place post it notes next to any of the ilustrations and scenarios they could relate to and offering pens to write their experiences if they would like to.

The lady from Equality and Human rights took this opportunity to address what was obvious to her while the rest of the group were busy; we were getting caught up in labelling everything that was happening as bad attitudes where as a lot of it is illegal.

When the group returned we discussed this and the areas that needed to be addressed for us to take things forward. People need to be made aware of what is actually illegal and where. The lady suggested there used to be more of a sense of support when there were more workplace/organisation unions who could give out advice and information on laws that take place. She said laws are available on the EAHR website, but it doesn’t sound like there is one specific place you can go to easily and find the information you need. There are problems also of what if things like sexual assault happen in a public place, who can you go to and what can be done about it when the person can leave just as quick as they arrived and just what can the police do about it? The focus then turned to education with regard to respect and gender stereotyping. Not just education for children but also to the parens and grandparents. This would not be as simple as proposing that this be drafted into the education systen as another thing for teachers to take responsibility for. Realistically, there is only so much that can be put on teachers. Maybe this is where workshops can help, travelling to schools and events; getting adults involved. There were also suggestions to approach universities with regard to sexism and objectification, and major toystores with regard to gender stereotypes and exectations. This is something that could also be sold to toystores; them as being the brand that promotes equality and diversity, publicity, so to speak. This was spoken about at length and something I would fully get behind.

Proposed actions were; educate/ run workshops aimed at all age groups, disseminate images to raise awareness in bars/clubs, contact FB and ask why they don’t provide a system that allows you to state exactly why a group/page offend you (9 grounds of discrimination), find out exactly what is illegal and raise awareness, question gender stereotyping of children’s stores, contact police/CSO’s to find out exactly what can be done regarding incidences/who to report to, etc.

The workshop was meant to run for 45 minutes, but nearly overlapped by double the time. People stayed behind to talk, go through the other illustrations and swap contact details. The Equality and Human Rights lady was very keen to get involved and help me with what I needed to know and a lady regarding a business plan she has for gender neutral toys. The man stayed behind to talk a little more quietly; he suggested that the government should take the issue more seriously, as if the men have no deterrant, they will only continue and that more women need to stand up and believe in themselves and that it is wrong.

There were post it notes pinned on each illustration on the wall and even some on the illustrations I had left out on the tables. Some were left blank, but others had wrote some saddening stories.

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International Women’s Day at the Millenium Centre, Cardiff.

Today I took part in the Welsh Women’s Summit as part of the Women Making a Difference organisation. A programme of discussions had been organised to bring the community together and have their say. Proposals were put to the panel which consisted of Mrs Uzo Iwobi MBE; Chief Executive of Race Council Cymru, Maria Battle; Chair of Cardiff and the Vale Health Board, Liza Kellet; Chief Executive of the community Foundation in Wales and Lizz Roe; Director of WEN Wales. The discussions round the tables varied from how do we reconnect people with the voting system, the representation of women in the media, women’s health taboos to how we can encourage harmony in a culturally diverse society. Problems and solutions were discussed and presented to the panel where they gave in depth responses and individually intend to take the proposals to the necessary areas and make a difference to society.

The room was filled with women of all ages, nationalities, backgrounds and interests. But sadly, only one man. I’m not sure whether this is due to the way the event was publised, maybe seeming as involving women only? Or whether it is due to lack of interest of social stigma of being a male feminist.

The discussion leaders, facilitators and panel were incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their areas of interest and work. My tables discussed how we could reconnect voters. I was completely unaware of the systems that are in place within Wales that invite interaction and opinion of the public; a petition here only needs 10 signatures in comparisson to the 10,000 needed in Britain. There are organsiations set up by the Welsh Assembly that visit schools to hold talks and workshops and an organisation called Funky Dragon which is particulary interested in engaging young people. Although, sadly, cuts are affecting these areas.

My afternoon session discussed the Paula Principle and the problem of the pay gap between women and men slipping backwards and questioning why women have a tendancy to work at a level below their competancy. The issues of child care and discrimination, and gender stereotyping within society were heavily linked as well as the lack of mentoring and the way working structures and vertical networking mostly benefit men. The panel discussed the invaluble worth of a good mentor. Although the discussions were seperated into tables, a lot of the issues crossed over.

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