We hope you are all looking forward to Nottingham Women’s Conference on the 22nd November. In response to recent events, the conference organisers have decided we need to release this statement.
This year’s conference features a range of feminist perspectives, from the maternal feminism of Melissa Tibbs, to the socialist feminism of Bea Campbell. We are also pleased to be featuring a diverse range of issues that many women’s conferences do not cover, including raising anti-sexist children, misogyny in lesbian culture, FGM and feminism & disability.
To be a feminist means it is necessary to adopt a standpoint and rarely will everyone agree with that standpoint, so, arguably the majority of feminists have said something that has upset another group of women. Indeed last year’s conference organising group invited speakers who another community of women disagreed with, and they held a small demonstration outside the conference. This is well documented. This will always be a possibility as we can only cover a number of perspectives during the course of one day. The only way to avoid such controversy is to refuse to cover issues that affect many of the most disadvantaged women in our society, and we refuse to do that. We have made sure that we have responded to feedback from last year from women who attended the conference, and the themes we have chosen are directly related to that feedback.
We think we have done an excellent job re diversity and inclusion this year as the conference represents the perspectives of black women, lesbian women, mothers, women with disabilities, working class women and more! We stand by our previous statement that we will not tolerate any form of aggression or hate speech and will deal with it if it occurs on the day. The conference organisers actively oppose all forms of discrimination and we also understand the importance of intersectionality, which originated within black feminism, as we know that individual women do not live single issue lives. We know that a small number of people have raised concerns about how welcome trans women are. We have stated many times that all women are welcome to attend. We do not think anyone can ever guarantee a ‘safe space’ in the public sphere but as stated, we will not tolerate aggression against any woman on the day. We know that some trans women fully support this year’s conference, as they have stated on our facebook page, and have bought tickets to attend. As far as we know, none of the public criticisms we have received come directly from trans women. However, we know that there is a range of views within the trans community, and that not all trans women will agree with our choice of speakers.
We have invited our critics to host fringe events during the feminist festival around the conference in November, but to date these offers have not been accepted. However, we cannot support organising these due to limited capacity. We are a very small group with no funding and still have lots of work to do. We will be collating a programme of fringe events so if anyone wants to do something for the festival please get in touch with us.
There are a number of inaccuracies in the Nottingham Women’s Centre’s statement re this years conference, but like us, we are sure you are not interested in the minor details. As conference organisers we all support the Nottingham Women’s Centre and the individual organisations housed within it, which provide valuable services for women in Nottingham. We are sad that they are not willing to fully support what will be a fantastic women’s conference, organised by a small group of volunteers, with no funding. We are happy with what we have achieved so far, and we hope you will join us for what is going to be a thought provoking, challenging and enjoyable day.