Tag Archives: feminism

Pandora Press #6 out now!

The sixth issue of our zine, Pandora Press, is out now!

Pandora Press zine body feminist zine

This issue is themed ‘body’, and features diverse writings by Swansea women on topics including sexuality, body hair, street harassment, and gender roles.

Copies of all our zines can be purchased at any SFN event, or via paypal – contact the editor Cath at pandorapresszine @ gmail.com for more info.

There’s nothing sexual about rape.

image by thetomi.deviantart.com

(trigger warning)

I was a feminist before I was a rape victim. I knew all the theories, I knew all the buzz words, and I knew that rape isn’t about sex. I’ve always known that the rapist is to blame, he holds the responsibility for his actions – and I say ‘he’ because, overwhelmingly, women are the victims of rape by men. I think that’s why it was so difficult to reconcile what I knew with what I felt. I felt shame, I felt fear. I felt responsible, and I felt like something inside me, which I didn’t even know I had, had gone, had been taken away. I felt like some little part of what made me myself was being pounded away. At the point when I realised what was about to happen, that I was going to be raped, I also realised that despite all the things I know about rape –  about my right to control what happens to my body, about defending myself –  I was completely powerless to stop this man doing what he wanted to me. I realised that it had nothing to do with the fact that he was bigger than me or physically stronger, and had everything to do with the fact that because I’m a woman this man felt that he had the right to use me as he saw fit. At that point, I had an overwhelming sense of impotent fury and absolute fear – for me, that realisation of powerlessness is almost worse than what happened next.

The powerlessness is the thing that has stayed with me above all else. I feel so angry that my sense of being independent and strong is compromised by fear of powerlessness, and when I politely tell a man who’s harassing me to Fuck Off, I have that momentary doubt that my outspokenness might lead him to teach me a lesson. Because actually, that’s what my rape did, was teach me a lesson. It taught me that we, as feminists, were right all along. Society rewards us for being women by abusing us, it tells us that it’s ok to violate a woman’s body and that violation is tacitly endorsed by the institution that is ‘justice’ (my experience with the police is a whole other story). It tells us that a woman’s sense of self is worth nothing. It dresses up rape as being about sex when it’s not, it’s about power and it’s about authority. My rapist pretended that he wanted to have sex with me and he pretended that what he was doing was having sex with me. He definitely wasn’t. I can say that because I was the other person there. So whenever I hear or read the complete shit about women being raped because they were wearing certain clothes that emphasised their sexuality, or that actually they did want to have sex – they were just playing hard to get, or any of the other rape myths that we like to pretend are true, I think to myself, if any of you people saying those things could see the face of a rapist while he’s raping, you would know that it’s not about sex. I’ve seen that face and it’s about the buzz of being powerful, of taking what you want, when you want it whether you’ve been told you can have it or not. There’s definitely nothing sexual about rape.

This article was originally published anonymously in SFN zine Pandora Press #2.  You can buy a copy at any upcoming SFN event.

My Feminist Hero: Angela Carter

I first read an Angela Carter novel in 2010, an amazing book called ‘The Passion of New Eve’: it was a set text on one of my elective modules.

I read Carter and I fell for her. Her words stream like a song, I swear, and I didn’t let go of the book for two days. ‘The Passion of New Eve’ details the life of a misogynist man living in dystopian New York, who ends up being kidnapped and is given a sex change by a tribe of militant and malicious women. It’s fascinating to read a novel of this genre – magical realism, through the lens of a post-operation trans woman who never wanted it in the first place. It’s gross, it’s good, it’s genius.

Angela Carter writes of boisterous, fiery women, more akin to mythical sirens than modern day post-feminist figures. She has no sympathy for timid or unassuming women – Angela Carter writes bitches, and I love that. Before her death in 1992, she was a feminist-literature icon. I am now the proud owner of all but 3 of her books, and cannot help myself when I see one of her books on ebay, even if it’s just a different cover. Her books are long-train ride gems – the kind of books you read with a broken-heart, when you’re feeling inspired – when you’re truly enjoying a night in. They’re beautiful and they’re grotesque – they’re sublime. The one thing about Carter is that she was fiercely unique: she was incredibly well-read and yet grounded. She wrote to ignite the minds of bookish types. Thanks Angela Carter, for knocking my favourite books down a place each on my top ten, and for making me read everything differently.

This is a guest post by SFN founding member Eleri, originally published in the SFN zine Pandora Press #1: Our Feminist Heroes. 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Pandora Press #5, the Media Issue!

media advert

We’re now accepting submissions for the spring 2013 issue of Pandora Press,  the Swansea Feminist Network zine. The theme of this issue is MEDIA. We’re mainly interested articles and opinion pieces, but are also interested in the following (many of these, such as the reviews, will not need to fit into the theme):

Short Fiction
– Films
– Music
– Blogs
– Zines
Swansea Women’s News/Events

The theme MEDIA is a vague one, open to broad interpretation, but with some sort of focus on gender/sexuality/feminism. Here are some ideas where you could go with this:

– Advertising
– Print media: magazines, glossies, newspapers
– Online media: websites, blogs, social networking, memes, “trolling”
– Music
– Film
– Theatre
– Independent publishing (i.e. zines/pamphlets)
– Books
– Art/photography/fine art
– Television: soaps, documentaries, current affairs, reality TV, etc

Don’t feel limited by these ideas though; even if you want to write/design something that you feel doesn’t quite fit into this theme, submit it anyway and it will probably be featured (if not in this issue then certainly in a subsequent issue)!

Contributors must be from South Wales, preferably the Swansea area, and must self-identify as women. Just email your ideas, questions, or submissions to the editor Cath at PANDORAPRESSZINEatGMAIL.COM.

***Deadline: 31 January 2013***

NB: we are unable to pay writers for their contributions at this time, but you should consider this writing opportunity as a great chance to share your thoughts and creativity with others, and an encouraging and supportive environment in which you can develop your portfolio/CV!

SFN Celebrates International Women’s Day 2012

Thursday 8 March 2012 marked the 101st year of International Women’s Day,  a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.  SFN celebrated it in style with a free day of workshops, stalls, and feminist art, co-hosted by the Swansea Women’s Centre.

An art gallery was set up in the main room, with a wide variety of feminist-themed artwork on display, including photography, collage, drawings, pottery, paintings, handmade crafts, poetry, cartoon strips, and mixed-media art.

Swansea Women’s Centre, SFN, and BAWSO had information stalls set up all day where people could come and find out more about the organisations.  SFN also had lots of goodies for sale – alongside our usual zines and pin badges, we were selling handmade cards and knitted wombs and vaginas that our committee members had made by hand!

Wombs and handmade cards for sale

The newly-released Pandora Press #3, alongside back issues of Pandora Press, committee minizines, and pin badges.

We had a number of excellent and informative workshops on throughout the day, including Human Trafficking, Lap Dancing, Domestic Violence, and The Sexualisation of Women and Girls.  A vegetarian buffet was laid on for lunch, during which time a poetry reading workshop ran.

Ali Morris hosting a workshop on the topic of Lap Dancing

The day went very well – the workshops were lively and filled with passionate discussions, and gave the attendees a chance to meet many like-minded feminists, view some inspiring artwork, and learn more about the women’s organisations working within Swansea.  We hope that International Women’s Day 2013 is even bigger and better than 2012 was!


UK Feminista Summer School 2011: Review

Two weeks ago, a few SFN members attended UK Feminista’s Summer School 2011 at Birmingham, where 500 feminists of all genders attended to learn more about feminist activism and issues surrounding UK feminism.  It was heartening to see so many passionate feminists at this event, most of whom asked intelligent questions and provided some interesting anecdotes and advice of their own.

First we attended an introductory talk held by the organisers, closely followed by Feminist Resistance: the past, present, and future of activism.  Speaker Rosalind Miles was fantastic, providing the perfect response to the question “Why are you a feminist?” – “Why aren’t you?”

Next, there was a lunch break, during which time we attended The Colour of Beauty: race, gender and the beauty industry.  Personally, I was very disappointed that this workshop was on during lunch, as I felt it was too important an issue not to be placed in a more sociable time slot; plus, this was my favourite workshop of the day!  The facilitators Sandhya Sharma and Chitra Nagarajan divided the room into groups of around 8, gave each group one or two mainstream beauty magazines, and asked us to tear out every image of a person of colour, and tack it to the wall on our left.  The resulting wall of images took us by surprise – the people of colour found in the pages were usually either celebrities whose lives were being picked apart by the likes of Heat magazine (e.g. Whitney Houston’s daughter’s drug habit), or they were fashion models featured in ads where their race was stereotyped (in adverts such as this).

After the morning talks, we had to choose between the numerous workshops on during the afternoon, a decision that proved to be very difficult given the interesting topics on offer!  Our first choice was The Role of Nonviolent Direct Action in Feminism, which featured many inspiring and passionate speakers including activist and London Feminist Network founder Finn Mackay, and Tamsin Omond from Climate Rush.  Tamsin’s speech was particularly inspiring, providing us with plenty of pithy quotes that we shared via Twitter using the hashtag #femschool, including the suffragette slogan “deeds not words”.  Alison Dear, coordinator of OBJECT’s Feminist Fridays, showed us a video of OBJECT’s Feminist Friday action at Tesco, which encouraged us to be much louder at SFN’s next Feminist Friday!

After lunch, we attended a lovely workshop run by Emma Moore of Pink Stinks, where she discussed their work and future campaigns.  What was particularly interesting about her speech was the discovery that Pink Stinks, an organisation that has been featured extensively in mainstream press, is run by only two women, both working mothers!  It was saddening to hear the amount of criticism and vitriolic comments they have received for their work, including claims that they are bad parents (one need only read the Daily Mail’s coverage of the campaign to get an understanding of the kind of backlash encountered).

A discussion on women living in the Arab Spring, led by Nesrine Malik, closed the day’s workshops.  Afterwards, the organisers led the attendees outside, where we all stood in the courtyard spelling out the words “FEMINISM IS BACK”.  An aerial photograph was taken of this; we’re all very excited to see it!

That evening Birmingham Fems held an after-party at a local bar, where they laid on a vegan-friendly buffet, played awesome feminist music, and held a feminist pub quiz (SFN’s team name was “This is What a Drunk Feminist Looks Like”!).  It was a lovely atmosphere, very relaxed and cosy, and we got a chance to mingle with some of the other attendees.

The following day, we dragged our slightly-hungover selves to the opening workshop, which perked us up and got us back into our angry-militant-feminist moods: Defending Women’s Reproductive Rights.  The speakers, Darinka Aleksic from Abortion Rights and former MP Dr. Evan Harris, were great.  It was frightening to learn how the government has increased its efforts to restrict women’s access to abortions, handing reproductive health advisory services over to religious, anti-choice organisations.  Aleksic informed us of the lies that such organisations spread to pregnant women seeking abortions when they seek counselling, e.g. that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, and that they would birth the aborted “child” at home a few days after the procedure.  Another shocking discovery was learning of the arrival of American Christian pro-life groups in the UK, and their extreme tactics used to restrict abortion access.  (It’s impossible to condense such a dense topic in one paragraph; for more info, check out the Abortion Rights website. Adele from SFN also wrote a great blog post on this topic here).

After a break, we attended Mobilising Men: Engaging Men in Feminist Activism.  This workshop was met with very mixed reviews, and was arguably the most widely-criticised of the whole weekend.  Some rightly criticized speaker Matt McCormack Evans’ use of the phrase “both genders” rather than “all genders”, and his inability to acknowledge anyone outside the gender binary.  Others argued that Matt McCormack Evans came across as condescending when urging us to include men in our activism; as blogger Madam J-Mo noted, “it was troublesome to have a man stand up and tell women what to do (never mind clap his hands to silence us at one point)”.  Others argued that his comments that “men experience sexism too” were offensive.  I would also add that the workshop seemed rushed and poorly structured, as if the facilitator had thrown it together at the last minute – it didn’t seem to provide us with anything we didn’t already know, and relied too heavily on audience input.  The workshop was derailed for a good 15 minutes by a discussion on whether we ought to rename “feminism”.  At a feminist conference, this seemed like a complete waste of time, and only served to convince most of us that shying away from the F word will do us no favours, and only serves to distract us from more pressing issues.

After lunch, we attended Not For Sale: Resisting the Sex Industry, led by Anna van Heeswijk from OBJECT.  The weekend was brought to a close for us with Everyday Activism: Promoting Feminism in Everyday Life, a fairly disappointing talk which also relied too heavily on audience input, and suffered a derailment by those who insisted on discussing the merits of the word “feminism”.

My main criticism was the lack of intersectionality at this event – there was a strong black presence, and a few great workshops on race, but little to no representation from transgendered, LGBTQ, or disabled women.  There was also no discussion of class issues, and no presence on any of the panels from sex-positive feminists.  This may well have been due to the lack of women available to run workshops on the aforementioned issues, but I feel that a bigger effort perhaps needed to be made to make sure that these groups were better represented at such a large-scale event. Furthermore, as many have pointed out, it seemed fairly incongruous to hold a workshop on the inclusion of men in feminist activism, but nothing on the inclusion of LGBTQ or disabled women.  Surely our first priority as feminists is to mobilise women from all social groups, before moving onto men?

Another minor criticism, from a more personal stance, was that the “getting to know each other” aspect of the weekend could’ve been a little more structured, so that we could all participate, rather than just trying to talk to the people sat around us when we could find some time between talks.

Despite its problems, the weekend was a success, as it proved to be well organised, informative, and inspiring.  Good job, UK Feminista, and thank you for providing us with such a lovely space for us feminists to get together and meet – we’ll see you next year!

Other interesting blog posts on this event: 

Women’s Views on News
Mary Tracy
La Petite Feministe Anglaise
The Feminist Companion
The Guardian

(written by Cath Elms, media officer of SFN)

Music Fundraiser Review & Pandora Press news!

We held our Music Fundraiser this Friday in The Garage, Swansea, in aid of the  Swansea Women’s Centre (which has recently revamped its website!).  As well as some excellent music, we had delicious vegan cupcakes,  a raffle, a feminist disco, and the newly released SFN zine Pandora Press for sale (if you couldn’t make the event but would still like a copy of Pandora Press, get in touch with Team Zine at pandorapresszineATgmail.com to see if we can post you a copy)!

pic by Ali Morris

Act 1: Catherine Elms (www.catherineelms.co.uk)

Act 4: Sleepy Panda Club (http://www.myspace.com/sleepypandaclub)

An excellent evening was had by all, and our event managed to raise close to £500 for the Women’s Centre!  Pats on the back all round, girls!

Some SFN girls partying! (pic by Ali Morris)

Pandora Press is now looking for submissions for its second issue!  The theme is sex.

Here are some suggestions in which you could go with this theme:
Sex in culture
Sex in the media – literature/music/zines/mainstream press/film
Sex and religion
Gender and/or sexual identity
LGBTQ issues
Sex and love/relationships
Sex-positive feminism
Sex throughout history
Social attitudes to sex
Prejudices surrounding sex
Sexual violence
Sexualisation/raunch culture
Sex for sale: pornography/prostitution
And anything else you can think of!

As well as general articles, we need the following submissions, which will not need to fit into the issue’s theme:
Cover art
Interior art/illustrations
– Films
– Music
– Blogs
– Zines
Swansea News/Events

The deadline for submissions is 2nd October 2011.  Please send any ideas, questions or submissions to Cath at:


Finally… we’ve added a new page to the blog – upcoming events!  Take a look at what we’ve got coming up this month and come along to whatever takes your fancy! :)

(Written by Cath, media officer of SFN)