The Fab Feminist Festive Fair 9 Dec 2021

Karolina Szpyrko, PhD researcher at the School of Media, Arts, and Humanities, writes:

“I loved getting involved in this pre-holiday showcase of ethical, feminist business at the University of Sussex.

Our Fab Feminist Festive Fair brought together educational and sales stalls (The Feminist Bookshop, The Craft Society, The New Internationalist, The Careers and Entrepreneurship Centre, Leave No Trace Society), and I designed a follow-on Crafty Workshop with activist badge-making and festive crafts.

The Students’ Union kindly supported the fair, hosting it in Falmer House Reception. Its lively, central feel worked very well with our fair, making it into a little neighbourly market with snacks, activist-inspired gifts, crafts and other curiosities as well as chats about ethical business, feminism and winter holidays.

Our aim was to generate interest in inclusive, ethical, women’s and feminist enterprise and trade, and to promote local, businesses. Several student-run bodies (Student Union, student societies) were involved.

The Crafty Workshop, where we made feminist, temporary tattoos, activist badges and holiday cards, added a creative follow-on activity, and we thank the Brighton Resource Centre for loaning us an excellent badge-maker. (See me using it here!)

The intersection of activism and commerce can spark tensions and ambiguities, some of which I have been exploring in my own doctoral project on activist labour and perceptions of its value in the context of Polish feminist activism. On one hand, there is a danger of activist/fem/green–washing of capitalist profit-driven activities. On the other it can revive traditional, communal exchange of mutual interest, recreating multidimensional space where several social needs are met. Here are some comments from some of the fair’s stallholders:

It has been fabulous, honestly. I love it. It has been great fun. There has been plenty people coming and going, and it is all for a great cause. (…) I didn’t know what I would sell, but I thought I would bring some of this stuff, you know, to see what we can raise for the craft society and stuff. All the expectations were blown away and I left with a nice badge as well. What more could you want?

It was really nice atmosphere today, getting me into the Christmas spirit as well.(…) Here with the New Internationalist we did very well today. Everyone in Sussex always alights well with us and our values and mission, we got a lot of people signing up and supporting us, which is really important as well.

All in all, an inspiring, sparkly day!”

Karolina Szpyrko, University of Sussex

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Fab Feminist Festive Fair

All welcome at The Fab Feminist Festive Fair, a mini-market of festive goodies and cheer, featuring local ethical women-led businesses transforming the way we shop and live.

Featuring The Feminist Bookshop, The Ethical Shop, Mooncup and more! Includes advice on ethical careers and a follow-on ‘Crafty Workshop’ led by Karolina Szpyrko.

Where: Falmer House reception, University of Sussex campus.

When: Thursday 9th December 11am-3pm.

No need to book, just pop by to treat yourself and grab a last minute holiday gift!

Supported by the Business of Women’s Words Project and the University of Sussex Students’ Union. and
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Mapping feminist loneliness

Feminism is sustained by collective organising but women have often been driven to campaign by a sense of loneliness. This is my surprising finding while working with The Business of Women’s Words project (BOWW) and exploring the hidden history of feminist enterprise in the many independent magazines, journals, imprints, bookshops and other small creative businesses which the movement enabled – and which also enabled the movement, despite a general antipathy to capitalism.

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Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights

BOWW has made a significant contribution to the British Library’s new landmark exhibition, Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights, which shows how feminist activism in the UK today has roots in a long, complex and compelling history of struggle.

The BOWW principal investigator Margaretta Jolly, Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities, co-edited the exhibition book, working with Dr Polly Russell, lead curator at the British Library.

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Selling ‘books that change lives’: Talking to Gail Hewison of The Feminist Bookshop, Sydney

By Rosa Campbell

In the oral history interviews I have recorded with those involved in the Australian Women’s Liberation Movement, The Feminist Bookshop, Sydney, comes up again and again. Jane Bullen, active in Canberra Women’s Liberation, spoke of coming to Sydney for a weekend “part of what you did was go to The Feminist Bookshop and pick up a little pile of books which were not available anywhere else.” Gail Shelston, the first Women’s Officer for The Teacher’s Federation – the NSW teaching union- remarked that this bookshop “was there for me at every stage of my life. It was there for me, you know.”

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The commerce of romance: from Edwardian to Second Wave feminism

The talk I gave on Friday 14 June 2019 at the National is about courtship and forbidden love in the Edwardian period (mostly) and is linked to the theatre’s showing of Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son (1912). It’s a fascinating play for its contribution to one of the hottest debates around marriage and society at the time: the way patriarchy, capitalism and the logics of family finance and consolidation all conspired to make marriage a ‘trade’ in which women, essentially property, inevitably got ripped off. 

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Feminist Maps and Mapping Feminism

Feminist Maps and Mapping Feminism: Lessons from The Women’s Atlas

Sussex Humanities Lab with the CLHLWR

With legendary geographer Joni Seager

Thursday 23 May 2019, 15.00-17.00pm

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The Virago Story – an interview with Catherine Riley

Earlier in the summer D-M caught up with Catherine Riley whose new book The Virago Story: Assessing the Impact of a Feminist Publishing Phenomenon was published this year by Berghahn Books.
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Feminist Book Fortnight 1984 and 2018: An interview with Jane Anger

Jane Anger is a feminist who has worked in the booktrade for 40 years. She helped found the legendary Silver Moon Bookshop and was an early member of Women in Publishing, a feminist network for women in the book business. In 2018 she coordinated the revival of an iconic initiative of the 1980s, Feminist Book Fortnight. As she explains to BOWW lead, Margaretta Jolly:

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‘Academic dyke, 25, feminist, non-scene, seeks similar’: Personal Ads in Spare Rib

Spare Rib – the iconic magazine of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, offered a small pleasure to readers looking for ‘love among the small ads’, despite its complex relationship to both advertising and romantic relationships. It started out with a minimal classified section and no personals (SR’s early classified pages ran to about half a page), but by the 1980s the classified section was a double-page spread, with ‘relationships’ the longest and – of course – the most eye-catching category.
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