This month LaDIYfest happens in Sheffield. A joyful blend of music, fun and workshops, it’s run by a volunteer army of women and men who love to party and combat gender inequality and oppression of all kinds. DIY, anti-capitalist and community-based, it highlights female and LGBTQ art and activism, promoting social change in a non-discriminatory […]

This month LaDIYfest happens in Sheffield. A joyful blend of music, fun and workshops, it’s run by a volunteer army of women and men who love to party and combat gender inequality and oppression of all kinds. DIY, anti-capitalist and community-based, it highlights female and LGBTQ art and activism, promoting social change in a non-discriminatory environment.

It’s more of a global movement than a festival. The actual festival is on Saturday 30th November but they run events all year round. The 2013 workshops will touch on topics including Men in Feminism, Women and Anti-Fascism, and Sex Work Solidarity. The evening gig kicks off at the Red House at 8pm with four bands and DJs. Funds raised will go to the Ugly Mugs scheme, which helps sex workers – female, male or transgender – with warnings about dangerous individuals who are a threat to them. LaDIYfest is also holding film evenings, screening classic 90s queer and feminist films every month until Christmas.

It would be “a blooming good idea if everyone was treated equally regardless of their gender”, says a review of a new book called Reclaiming the F Word: Feminism Today. After years of campaigning for women’s rights and gay rights, why isn’t this all sorted? The war is still being waged, and equality may even be in retreat.

Take pornography. If it was just pictures of people naked it wouldn’t be so bad, but these days porn goes much further – quite unlike the posing pin-ups of yesteryear – and with it comes language that conditions the male mind to enjoy seeing abuse. Any parent with hope for the growing freedoms of the next generation must ask themselves, where is this leading?

Crime is generally falling in Britain, but reported rape appears to be rising. Some young people see violence as a normal part of relationships. Misogynistic lyrics still permeate music culture. Sure, music has always cruised the bleeding edge of acceptability to excite fans and scandalise parents, but songs celebrating exploitative, violent, manipulative relationships are unjustifiable. If it’s intended as irony or critique, isn’t that likely to go over the heads of kids?

While the middle-class media targets hijabs and women in the boardroom, grassroots domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault continue like some atrocious guerilla war. The word ‘gay’ continues to be a general term of abuse in the classroom. Obviously something is very wrong in our society. Attitudes and behaviours need to change. Men are also twisted and harmed by sexism and gender roles. Liberation of men is an equally necessary part of feminism.

Cher – yes, the singer – campaigns against the closure of abortion clinics in the US. Abortion divides opinions, but in some poor communities these clinics are the only services for women’s health, contraception advice and tests like mammograms, so it matters a lot. In cases of pregnancy through rape, say, or where birth complications would bring a serious risk of death, abortion is generally accepted. But there is a mean streak in the Republican right that disagrees. By stalking and harassing clinic workers, constantly lobbying and using every obscure rule possible, they are closing clinics, one after the other. And what starts in America has a sneaky tendency to appear in Britain in one form or another.

Civil rights aren’t automatic. They have been fought for by our parents and grandparents, but they can be peeled away by nasty attitudes or powerful people with enough money to influence policy. Challenging oppression is a constant call to arms. If you’re not angry, you haven’t been paying attention.

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