Upcoming Event!

*THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO MEMBERS AND NON-MEMBERS*We’re so excited to be welcoming Lucy Holmes and team to our next campaigns meeting to talk to us to their fantastic No More Page 3 campaign.The campaign has been gathering momentum over the past year, gaining the support of organisations such as UK Girl guiding, the National Union of Teachers, UNISON, Women’s Aid, just to mention a few. This is a serious campaign which has huge potential to succeed.

The campaign aims to convince the Sun newspaper that it is inappropriate to picture a topless young woman in their ‘family’ newspaper every day, and to ask them nicely to drop the feature.

The campaign is not asking for a ban, but is hoping to change attitudes. The Page 3 feature started in the seventies when women were much more unequal than they are now, and when sexist attitudes were the norm. Increasingly there is evidence to suggest the depiction of women regularly in the media as nothing more than sex objects is damaging to young women’s self-regard and aspirations. Very young children are introduced to soft porn through its inclusion in a non age-restricted publication, which can be seen on trains and buses and in public spaces such as cafes and even play areas.

For more information about the campaign please visit the NMP3 website:

VENUE: Crimson Heart, 87 Leonard St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4QS

Facebook Event here.


The Casual Rapist or The Voice of Lad Mags, Can You Tell The Difference?

Filthy talk can be such a turn on for a girl . . . no one wants to be shagged by a mouse . . . A few compliments won’t do any harm either . . . ‘I bet you want it from behind you dirty whore’ ”
Welcome to the world of lad’s mags. I recently came across a study carried out by the University of Surrey with the University of Middlesex. According to their findings, people can’t differentiate between quotes from British “lad’s mags” and interviews with convicted rapists. In fact, men were more likely to agree with quotes from the latter.

Can you tell the difference between a rapist and the lads mags quotes about women and what they want from a real man, a relationship and how they want to be treated?
A relaxing Sunday morning breakfast turned into a heated discussion with my friends this weekend. Myself and my female friend were shocked at how inseparable the quotes between rapists and lad’s mags were; “There’s nothing quite like a woman standing in the dock accused of murder in a sex game gone wrong . . . The possibility of murder does bring a certain frisson to the bedroom” – yes, another supposedly light-hearted quote from a lad’s mag. You can find quotes from rapists and lad’s mags in the link below. But stick around, this get’s more interesting.
Another friend of mine, a male, is the epitome of gentleman. But in this discussion, sadly, he found himself defending the lad’s mags, for he said these lines was “taken out of context”.
Context; Perhaps it’s okay for lad’s mags to suggest you “go and smash her on a park bench” as long as the context is anything but a clear direction? 
The issue here is the language used. Think about this one;
“A girl may like anal sex because it makes her feel incredibly naughty and she likes feeling like a dirty slut. If this is the case, you can try all sorts of humiliating acts to help live out her filthy fantasy”.
Sure, some women (I hope not girls as the writer specifies) like anal sex. Sure, some will even want to feel “dirty”. But nobody, as far as I’m concerned, wants to feel humiliated. Women (and men for that matter), will all have a limit as to what is enjoyable and what is demeaning, but to be victim of humiliation, in itself, means that the receiver is un-wanting of the situation.
What is scary, according to my male friend, and indeed the media, is that this kind of language is considered ‘the norm’. Editors and publishers, the gatekeepers of what is and isn’t decent to print in the media, have set their limits low.
I can’t help but wonder if women’s magazines are also guilty of this. But I can’t imagine Cosmo, or any other mainstream women’s lit, suggesting we should smash a man on a park bench. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? My point exactly.
I’m all for freedom of speech. But what about the right for women to not feel objectified by mainstream media?

More Midwives Campaign 2013

Last year the  WI across the country voted to campaign about midwives, as suggested by Horwich WI, Lancashire Federation:

“There are chronic shortages of midwives. The NFWI calls on the government to increase investment in the training, employment and retention of midwives in England and Wales to ensure services are adequately resourced and are able to deliver a high standard of care.”

Almost one-third of midwifery heads were been asked to cut staff in 2011.

Recruitment freezes leave vacancies unfilled.

Existing midwives are stretched and can’t deliver the care they were trained to give, due to the shortages.

80% of women in labour in England didn’t receive one-to-one midwife care in 2010.

More to follow, on May 3rd when a WI commissioned report is published on this topic. If any of our members are free on May 3rd, we would like you to lobby your local MP and give him or her a copy of the report.

A Force to Be Reckoned With

This month’s big meeting is the second of our campaign themed meetings.

After the success of our Million Women Rise meeting in February, where we made the amazing banner above, we will have Jane Robinson, author of “A Force to Be Reckoned With” joining us for an inspiring chat about Women’s Institute campaigns of the past.

What a wonderful name for a history of the Women’s Institute, and we can carry on being that force as 21st century WI members. Soon we will be voting on resolutions (which means choosing the topic for next years national WI campaign) as well as starting our own monthly campaigning meeting, carrying on with the Embroideries FGM awareness campaign and starting a new, as yet undecided member chosen campaign. To inspire us, social historian Jane will tell us how the WI changed the world, about the suffragettes and social crusaders.

Anyone getting a copy of the book before the meeting, you’ll be as thrilled as I was to spot that not only do the Shoreditch Sisters get a mention in the book and on the jacket, but there is a photo of the 2009 Map Of Gaps, one of our earliest craftavist projects, with our founding president Jazz Domino Holly and her successor Becky Clark with Ruth Bond, overall President of the Women’s Institute. [See the quilt on the V&A’s website.]

As well as Jane Robinson’s talk, we’ll be asking members to think about what they would like to campaign about next, so have a think before hand. The ideas will then be discussed at our new monthly Campaigns Group.

We now have tea available at the bar, along with the usual alcohol, so bring some extra cash for merriment. Some WI committee baked cakes will be gratis – bring your own baked goods to share with your sisters.

Non-members are very welcome, no need to book ahead. Just pay £4 on the door. For this meeting, members of any WI are very welcome. 

The event on Facebook

6.50pm (starting at 7pm) till 9pm
Tuesday 26th March 2013
@ Bethnal Green Workingmen’s Club

September 2011 meeting at Time for Tea 110 Shoreditch High Street

The Shoreditch Sisters invite you to our next meeting.

Tuesday 27th September 7-9pm

Free for members, £3 for non-members

We will be continuing with our usual collision of craft and feminism this month.
Our guest speaker is the living legend Efua Dorkenoo, founder of FORWARD UK, author of “Cutting the Rose” and currently the Advocacy Director of the FGM Program at Equality Now. Eufa was part of the 1970’s women’s movement and was the first person to put FGM on the UK agenda 30 years ago, she is a true hero and inspiration. She will share with us the amazing work she is doing and has done campaigning against FGM. The Shoreditch Sisters have been working to bring the issue of FGM into the public consciousness, through our Embroideries Quilt and appearances in newspapers and on the radio. Eufa is the godmother of all FGM campaigning and we are really  excited to welcome her.
After the inspirational talk, we’ll be learning how to crochet with a group of friends and members of the Shoreditch Sisters, the East End WI and the Borough Belles. If you have a crochet hook and wool please bring them, but as usual we will have some spare hooks to lend out and a wool stash. If you have a spare hook you are willing to lend out for the evening, mark it with a dab of nail varnish, so we can get it back to you at the end of the night. 

August 2011 Newsletter

July Meeting Round Up
Women’s Environmental Network came along and gave a talk, if you are interested in finding out more, or getting involved, their website is here.
This was followed by tote bag making out of recycled t-shirts with Barley Massey from Fabrications. She has blogged about it here.

Future dates for your diary

17th August – Knit & Natter (fb event here) at Leon in Spitalfields. As well as the usual crafting, Birdy and Tara will be there with some fabric scraps donated by Zandra Rhodes for some last minute Embroideries patches. Come along and collect some scraps even if you can’t stay for the evening. You can also drop off finished patches if you aren’t able to make the meeting on 23rd August.
23rd August – August meet at Concrete on Shoreditch High St. Be there! (fb event here)
24th August – piecing together of the Embroideries Quilt at Tara’s studio near London Fields station. Volunteers to lend a hand appreciated.
1st September – Embroideries Campaign launch night – space will be very limited so don’t forget to bring along your patch to the August meeting to ensure you are involved. More information on the time and location coming soon.
7th September – Launch night for Queen of Crafts written by our founding member Jazz Domino Holly, with craft stall run by the Shoreditch Sisters. This will be in Bethnal Green. 

Interviews with Kirsty and Anna and a bit of Germaine Greer and Prick Your Finger

 Vicky with mikes from Kirsty on the left and Anna on the right

For anyone wondering who those ladies with mikes are from the last few meetings, the first was Kirsty, whose piece can be listened to above. As well as speaking to our lovely Birdy and mentioning our craftivism (see this post and embroideriescampaign.org.uk) she has interviewed Germaine Greer about the WI, who seems to approve. Germaine would like to see us think in terms of being an effective lobby group, and she “likes the WI best when they are angry.”  It is good to know that unlike some disapproving feminists she, like us, looks beyond the stereotypes of the WI and sees the value of women coming together to campaign.  
Though campaigning and feminism isn’t all we do. At our Yoga and Relaxation meeting, while Kirsty recording, she missed some insightful discussion of “Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism” by Natasha Walter (blog with a collective review coming soon) and arrived over at our group learning hand massage just as the topic had changed to The Only Way is Essex. Thankfully the whole incredulous “what is vajazzling?” part of the conversation and our collective laughter didn’t make it to the final piece.
As well as Kirsty, we’ve had two visits from Anna McNamee , reporter for Women’s Hour. Her piece is most likely to air at the end of June. She was at our last meeting in May, chatting to the members after the inspiring talk by super eco crafts women Annie Sherburne, and joined us again this week at our knitting session at Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green, where we had some serious discussions of cake, baking, feminism and of course knitting. Our treasurer Jen made a fabulous Lemon Drizzle cake and new member Samantha brought amazing Peanut Brittle. The cakes we knitted will be gracing our marquee at the Big Feastival (July 1st-3rd), so get your tickets now. If you want to knit your own cakes, the patterns are in “Knitorama” by Rachael Matthews, available from Prick Your Finger’s wonderful wool emporium. 

Big thank yous to Kirsty and Anna for showing an interest in our group, to Annie Sherburne for being a wonderful speaker and to Louise and Rachael at PYF for the tea and yarn and inspiration.