Hi Gabrielle. Moving to London - how exciting! What will you be studying? Re: feminist events, UK Feminista runs an activist training camp each summer, this year to be held in Birmingham on 17-18 August (not London, I know, but the UK is tiny compared to the US or Oz, and pretty cheap/easy to get around by train).
The London Feminist Network is a bit more radfem than, say, I am, but is an excellent source of feminist news and events. And you should definitely follow Feminist Events (@feministlondon) on Twitter. The Feminism In London conference, which I attended when I first moved here in 2010, is scheduled for 26 October. @Sarcastathon on Twitter has just launched a feminist group, too, focussed on taking feminism “out of the tweets and into the streets.”
And of course, I run a feminist discussion group of my own, which you can get on the list for either by clicking here, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We meet on the first Monday of every month.
Anything I’ve missed?
Just a quick note to let you know that the next London Feminist Discussion Group, hosted by Sarah Graham and I, will be held on Tuesday May 7 at 7pm, at LEON on Old Compton Street in Soho. We’ll be talking about the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Sketches Campaign.
All women (and interested men) welcome. We are a trans-inclusive group. Just RSVP to email@example.com (or join our Facebook group) by Thursday May 2 so we can book an appropriately sized space.
A few articles you might want to take a look at before the meeting:
Dove vs Science: Thanks, But We Are NOT Our Own Worst Beauty Critics (Mirror, Mirror… Off The Wall)
Why Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ Video Makes Me Uncomfortable… and Kind of Makes Me Angry (little drops)
The problem with the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign (Eat The Damn Cake)
One Narrative Fits All: Dove and “Real Beauty” (The Beheld)
Dove’s ‘real beauty’ sketches ad deserves some praise (The Guardian)
And there are plenty more where that came from if you care to Google.
Hope to see you there!
Just a quick note to let you know that the next London Feminist Discussion Group, hosted by Sarah Graham and I, will be held on Monday March 4, at the Earl of Essex in Islington. We’ll be talking about Hilary Mantel’s essay on Kate Middleton and Royal Bodies.
Our ethos is as follows: “We want this group to be a space where we can be messy, to dig into the issues that leave us uncertain, and to challenge ourselves politically and intellectually. Disagreement is great – it’s the process by which we open our minds and refine our ideas – personal attacks are not on.”
All women (and interested men) welcome. We are a trans-inclusive group.
To RSVP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday so we can book an appropriately sized space. Meeting starts at 7pm.
It was about life as an expat. The strange feeling of not-belonging that hits you when you return to your native soil. Which mirrors the feeling of not-belonging in the place that you live; the perpetual cycle of abandoning and being abandoned, as you or your friends move on to the next stop.
Monica has been living in Beijing for more than three years now, and was pondering her next move. She felt like it was “time to choose”: to either put down roots in Beijing, or return to Sydney. Or pick up to yet another place and make her life there? (The answer, of course, and somewhat selfishly, is that Monica’s next move should be wherever I am. Monica should be in the same city as me.)
Reading Monica’s article made me ask myself the same questions. Was it time to commit to London, to throw myself into it fully and without reservation? Or was it time to cut my losses and put the wheels in motion to move on to somewhere else, somewhere I might “fit” better?
It’s a silly question to ask, really – the ultimate in “first world” problems – but it’s been one that has preoccupied me ever since I left Australia two and a half years ago. And maybe it’s not so silly, after all. “Where should I live?” may be a question infused with privilege, but the emotion that lies beneath that question is common to us all. “Where do I belong?”
I’m conscious that when I write about London I often sound overly negative. Too inclined to focus on what’s missing from my life here – the ways that I feel awkward and out of place – rather than on the things I love about it: the friends I’ve made, the constant opportunities for adventure. (Next week I’ll be travelling to Berlin for the day, for a meeting associated with my volunteer job and a potential story. To another country! For a day! Who does that? Only a Londoner, I tells you. Or someone else who lives in Europe.) The truth is, I would be sad to leave.
But I am also prone to spending a lot of time thinking about not just what I want from my life here and now, but what kind of person I want to be in the future. “What kind of middle-aged person do I want to be?” (To which one of my friends responded, “But you’re not middle-aged, Rachel.” Which is true, but it’s never a bad time to start planning for the future.)
And the kind of middle-aged person I want to be is kind of like Nora Ephron as depicted in this New York Magazine article: working on interesting projects, meeting great people, surrounded by friends and mentors and mentees and collaborators. Can I be that person in London? Possibly, but I definitely don’t feel like I am her now. I feel like it would be a hard slog. And I’m not even talking about the career bit (which of course would be hard). I’m talking about the social life.
But here’s the funny – and perhaps not so surprising – thing. It is infinitely easier to be happier with where and who you are, if you stop evaluating what “is” against your final destination.
When you (I) stop feeling embarrassed that your career is based primarily out of Australia and the United States, even though you live in the UK. When you stop fretting about where your creative community is (across the Atlantic, you fear?), and throw yourself into your immediate future: the events you want to go to this week, the people you’d like to meet this month, and the places you’d like to visit and the projects you’d like to pursue this year.
As they say in Avenue Q, everything in life is only for now.
Exciting news! Sarah Graham, of La Petite Feministe Anglaise fame, and I are launching a new group in Central London, discussing all matters feminism.
We love the fascinating, challenging conversations that make up the feminist blogosphere. But we also think there’s a lot to be gained by taking these conversations offline, as well.
We want this group to be a space where we can be messy, to dig into the issues that leave us uncertain, and to challenge ourselves politically and intellectually. Disagreement is great – it’s the process by which we open our minds and refine our ideas – personal attacks are not on.
Each month, we’ll be nominating a blog post, article or book that has challenged us, and using it as the starting point for our discussion. This month, we’ll be talking about Hannah Mudge’s post, Fear not the mythical Evil Twitter Feminist.
All women (and interested men) welcome. We are a trans-inclusive group.
We’ll be having our first meeting on Monday February 4, in central London - venue TBD depending on numbers and availability. Email us at email@example.com to RSVP and with any questions.
Update: We’ve found a venue! We’ll be having our first meeting Monday February 4 at the Earl of Essex (25 Danbury Street, N1 8LE - Angel Tube) from 7pm. Please RSVP to the address above so we can book for the right number.