22 May 2014 19:30 ~ Lesbians On Screen: How Far Have We Come? – Newcastle + 5, 12 June & 2 July 2014

Film series at Star and Shadow Cinema

A series of classic and provocative films giving a taste of how lesbians have been represented on the big screen from 1968 to the present. The audience is warmly invited to stay for post-film discussions considering how far we have come with representing lesbians on screen. Have we made progress?

Organisers: Dr Jacky Collins and Dr Julie Scanlon from Northumbria University. There will be a brief introduction to each film and opportunity for discussion after the films. The screenings and discussions are for WOMEN ONLY – ALL WOMEN WELCOME.

Thursday 22 May 2014
Film: Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
7:30 p.m.

Thursday 5 June 2014
Film: Lianna (1983)
7:30 p.m.

Thursday 12 June 2014
Film: Bound (1996)
7:30 p.m.

Wednesday 2 July 2014
Film: Ghosted (2009)
7:30 p.m.

Check http://genderedsubjects.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/lesbians-on-screen-how-far-have-we-come-film-series-at-star-and-shadow-cinema/

Why Women Only?

A couple of us in the Gendered Subjects group are organising a series of screenings at Newcastle’s volunteer-run cinema, The Star and Shadow. The screening series is entitled ‘Lesbians on Screen: How far Have We Come?’ (see previous post on our blog here http://wp.me/p2eKCh-6r ). We decided to make the screenings as well the discussions and focus groups open to women only and have had the first of, no doubt, several queries as to ‘Why Women Only?’. Here’s the email I have written in response:

To answer your question, it might be useful to know the history of the project. The screening series comes out of a workshop Jacky and I hosted at the North-East Feminist Gathering (www.nefeministgathering.com) in October 2012, which was a very successful DIY gathering in Newcastle organised by local women and was a women-only space. One of the participants in our workshop suggested it would be great if there were a screening series of films focussed on representations of lesbians and an opportunity to discuss them. It’s taken us a while to get some funding but this is a follow-on from the work we did in the workshop.

Both of the North East Feminist Gatherings to date as well as our own workshop were incredibly positive spaces in which women felt able to voice experiences and opinions that research has often shown get stifled in the presence of men and that also shows how women speak and behave differently in mixed groups (Deborah Cameron’s book Man-Made Language is excellent on this). More specifically my colleague Ruth Lewis, along with Elizabeth Sharp of Texas Tech University, undertook research on the North East Feminist Gathering itself. You can see what women said about the importance of women-only space at the NEFG in a snapshot of their research in the Feminist Times: http://www.feministtimes.com/whats-so-safe-about-feminist-women-only-space/ The value that these women themselves have placed on such spaces has led us to keep these events women only in the spirit of the original workshop.

Given that the topic is ‘lesbians on screen’, and potentially sensitive, we were keen that women feel as ‘safe’ as possible (to use the terms women used in the article above) whilst viewing and discussing the films afterwards in the post-film conversations. In particular, lesbians very rarely get to ‘own’ the discourses/conversations that operate around representations of our own sexual identities. We anticipate that the screenings will attract a good number of women who identify as lesbian (as well as other identifications), and that this ‘safety’ aspect of being in women-only space will appeal. Rather than being divisive, a women-only space in this context can provide a positively partisan arena in which under-represented voices can be heard. Our research from the focus groups will explore some of these issues in much more detail.

Source http://genderedsubjects.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/why-women-only/

May 21, 2014

5 July 2014 ~ Women and Activism in the North East: reclaiming the past, mapping the present and projecting the future

Are you a woman living in the North East region who has been and/or is involved in activism? We invite you to join us and other women activists for a half-day workshop at Northumbria University on 5th July 2014 to discuss our histories, share our experiences, and plan for future activities.

Who are we and why women and activism?

We are a group of researchers from Northumbria University, keen to research the vibrant women’s activist scene in the North East. Women in our region have made important contributions to changing the face of politics and society by, for example, setting up Rape Crisis Centres and other services, influencing policy-makers and politicians, organising International Women’s Day events and numerous other activities. But women’s activism is sometimes overlooked or lost to history. We want to document, record and research what women in the NE have done over the past decades and are doing now to change our region for the better.

Where has this project come from?

In December 2013, we hosted an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most momentous and important actions of the Greenham Peace Camp in 1983. (You can find a short film made at that event here: http://youtu.be/fWEPk07WWM4). Women who participated were very enthusiastic about continuing and expanding the conversation about women’s activism. We want to design a research project which maps the recent history (say, since 1975) of women and activism in the North East, both in terms of activities taking place in the region but also the activities of local women’s actions outside the region. And we want to be guided by women activists who would like to work with us on this project.

The Workshop

To ensure that the project is relevant to women in the region, we’ll work together to scope out the broad shape of the project. We’ll also identify potential research partners including individuals who would be interested in becoming active members of the research team and being trained in basic research methods.

Get in touch!

If you have been an activist in the past or are involved in any kind of political, social or community action now, it would be great to share your thoughts with us and to hear ours in return. If you would like to participate in the workshop, please email: s.f.regan@northumbria.ac.uk and register your interest by Friday 6th June. We’ll be back in touch about venue and timing as soon as possible.

Please forward this message to others who might be interested. We look forward to hearing from and working with you as we develop this exciting new research project.

We are:

Carol Stephenson; Julie Scanlon; Karen Ross; Ruth Lewis; and Sue Regan

Check http://genderedsubjects.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/women-and-activism-in-the-north-east-reclaiming-the-past-mapping-the-present-and-projecting-the-future/

May 21, 2014

RCNI call for action as Rape Crisis Centre serving three counties in Ireland closes for a month due to lack of funding

RCNI call for action from An Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, as Rape Crisis Midwest today announced it is forced to close for a minimum period of a month due to lack of funding. The centre provides a range of services covering three countries including providing ongoing face to face counselling for approximately 80 survivors per week.

Fiona Neary, RCNI director said, ‘for six years rape crisis services have been experiencing cuts to funding with further cuts earmarked. So far these represent up to 30% in cumulative cuts. Simultaneously RCCs have been experiencing extraordinary increases in demand for their services:

Between 2009 and 2012 RCCs have seen a:

  • 28% increase in clients accessing their counselling and support services,
  • 38% increase in helpline contacts, 1
  • 116% increase in numbers of accompaniments. 2

‘This situation is unsustainable. In the current context of decreasing public budgets it is important to put on the record that unless these cuts are reversed and additional investments made in prevention programmes, we are watching nothing less than a spectacular failure in terms of what Ireland should be doing in order to provide any meaningful response to victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence, and all forms of gender- based violence, can be addressed and can be ended. The devastating impact of crimes of sexual violence on individuals, and their families, can be greatly mitigated through expert, victim-sensitive responses. Prevention programmes can reduce incidents of sexual violence. A government which does not set-out to achieve this, through dedicated and adequate funding, is a government which fails children, women and men in Ireland. This failure is not just a failure by government, civil servants and the state, it is a failure by Irish society as a whole.

‘Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland have cut services with many closing outreaches, programmes for vulnerable populations, education programmes with young people, cutting hours and the access of survivors to the services. RCCs are increasingly dependent on volunteerism for core service provision. There is nothing left to cut. Under these continued circumstances closures such as we see in the Midwest today have become unfortunately and disgracefully inevitable.

‘RCNI estimate that funding for frontline services and national coordination, would require at least a 50% increase in the current budget for the sector of 4.5 million euro.

‘No adequate government response to tackle sexual violence in a meaningful way is possible without frontline services for victims. Indeed from 2015 onwards the Irish state will be liable to fines from the EU under the Victims Directive if these services are not in place. Perceptions that ‘reconfiguring’ of front line services can in some-way off-set the impact of year on year cuts occurring in an already resource-starved sector are misguided. Any money ‘saved’ now which results in less services, less prevention programmes and less data and analytical capacity,  will most likely cost us dearly, even before you try to calculate the cost to survivors, their loved ones and communities.’


  1. This information is a comparison of the same 14 RCCs using the RCNI Data Collection System between 2009 and 2012 inclusive. It does not include Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Cork Sexual Violence Service. Reliable data for Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is only available in 2011 and 2012. No reliable data is available for Cork Sexual Violence Service.
  2. As above and please note that Donegal SATU opened in 2010.

Source: http://www.rcni.ie/rape-crisis-midwest/

May 21, 2014

Statement/Press Release: Rape Crisis Midwest – temporary closure of centres in Clare, Tipperary and Limerick – Ireland

Rape Crisis Midwest was established 32 years ago and is a regional organisation serving Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. We provide a confidential one to one counselling service to both male and female survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse. We see approximately 80 clients a week in the entire Midwest.

Our head office is based at Phoenix House, Punch’s Close, Rosbrien Road, Limerick. We also have services operating in Clare and Tipperary. The Clare service is based at Tracklands Business Park, Clonroadmore, Ennis serving the entire County of Clare. The Tipperary service is based in Silverview, Nenagh, Co T ipperary.

The financial status of the centre is at a critical point. We are part funded by the Child and Family Agency and like many other charities, have experienced significant cut backs over the last number of years. There is no reasonable prospect of meeting our shortfall, estimated to be in the region of €120,000 in the entire Midwest. The current fundraising programme in place will not satisfy that shortfall.

Temporary closure of service – We regrettably have been forced to implement cost saving measures including a decision to temporarily close the Clare and Tipperary service for at least one month and possibly more. In addition, we have had to implement similar measures in Limerick and will only be in a position to offer a skeletal and limited service over the coming months. This is a decision that we have not taken lightly and has come on the back of additional significant cost saving measures over the last number of years.

We are appealing to the public to help fund the centres and to donate to us in a number of ways
1. Log on to www.rapecrisis.ie and follow the link to donate – you can donate via your credit or debit card
2. Contact us on 1800 31 1511 and donate now
3. Get involved by emailing fundraising@rapecrisis.ie or by phoning 1800311511

It is ironic that during difficult economic times, demand for the service in the centres is even greater and we do not wish to have to close our doors to those who are most vulnerable in society.

Please assist in helping to save our centre and providing this much – needed service to survivors of rape and childhood sexual abuse.

Source http://www.rapecrisis.ie/media/ghqdesign/RCC-1207/docs/statement-website.pdf

Donate to Midwest Rape Crisis Ireland http://www.rapecrisis.ie/fundraising_donations.html

May 21, 2014

Women’s Aid response to reports of sexist comments from Premier League CEO

As an organisation working with the Premier League to increase awareness of domestic violence and the sexist attitudes that underpin violence against women, Women’s Aid was shocked to read over the weekend of the sexist and derogatory language used in emails between a lawyer and Richard Scudamore, the Chief Executive of the organisation.

Women’s Aid Chief Executive Polly Neate said:

“We were appalled by the sexist language that we read in the papers over the weekend and particularly dismayed that this conversation involved an individual leading an organisation that had agreed to add much needed and influential support to a campaign we are developing, working to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexist behaviour. In fact, it illustrates all too well why the campaign is needed. We have thought long and hard about the future of this partnership. However, the support of the Premier League is critical to the campaign’s success, and we are also encouraged by their further commitment to engage Women’s Aid internally to assist with developing best workplace practice in countering sexist attitudes and behaviour.”


See also:

World Cup domestic violence risk: Why football really needs help

With the World Cup nearly upon us, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, explains why the charity is dedicated to changing football culture and working with the Premier League, in spite of Richard Scudamore’s sexist comments

Football is core to the nation’s identity, but it certainly isn’t one that offers equal voice and opportunity to men and women. It is largely dominated by male players, male managers and big organisations such as the Premier League which are headed up by male chief executives such as Richard Scudamore.

At Women’s Aid, we were appalled by the sexist and derogatory language which was used in several of Scudamore’s leaked emails, as we had just started to work with the Premier League to campaign against domestic violence and the sexist attitudes that underpin violence against women. So, does this mean we stop working with the Premier League? No, it means the opposite. It means we have some serious work to do.

With the World Cup only a few weeks away, Women’s Aid is launching a full-on campaign with the football community to coincide with the beginning of the tournament. Our partnership will focus on combatting domestic violence – which we know is a significant problem after games.

It is very easy to dismiss sexist comments as japes or as comments which have been taken out of context, but they can have a significant impact on our culture. Within football, sexist attitudes can stop women feeling welcome at football grounds, no matter how much female fans they love the game. Casual comments on Twitter with the hashtag #evertonwivesrunforyourlives and ‘jokes’ about convicted rapist Ched Evans, the former Sheffield United and Wales striker, coming back “to rape your defences” only serve to trivialise violence against women, which affects at least one in four women at some point in their lifetime.

We believe that these voices come from a minority and that many people would never dream of being sexist or abusive. The footballing community is of course a massive cross-section of society, made up of both the good and the bad. However, we also know that it is often the minority that we hear the loudest, and this is why it is so important that everyone else speaks out.

This is why we are currently working with a number of partners within football, including the Premier League, to, excuse the pun, tackle abusive behaviour and attitudes towards women, both within the context of the footballing world and in society more generally. We have thought long and hard about continuing the partnership, and we have come to the conclusion that walking away won’t achieve anything. We will work with the Premier League to develop workplace policies that directly address sexism and violence against women, and we are aiming to have real long-term impact in the football community through our campaigning work.

We hope the widespread criticism of the comments made in Scudamore’s email conversations mean that calling out sexism is becoming less of a minority sport.


May 21, 2014