Clapham Film Unit with Lottery Heritage money is doing a project called “These Dangerous Women”.
Now as Bryn might say on “Gavin and Stacey” “I have got my knickers in a twist”.
I went along with five women from Up Your Street to an excellent training session in researching women who were prominent in 1915 in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Clapham Film Unit was running it in the LSE library, Holborn. There we were a mixed and ethnically diverse group representing Black African women, Black Caribbean ones, Indian, British Celtic, and Indian Oceanic types.
Now, let me introduce you to Dr Joyce Blackwell. She wrote about the ways that Black women aka women of Color were not recorded as being that in the annals of WILPF archives. 2014 here we are.
There was a trip to Tilbury Docks last week and that was the place where in 1915 Peace Suffragettes left Britain to get to The Hague to voice their protest for peace during WW1.
I have learnt loads and watched as a colleague on the workshop, a woman from Up Your Street who says openly that women should cook for their husbands, ordered a book about Isabella Ford from Kensington library and went on to read it on the Piccadilly Line today.
I learnt what WILPF stood for. I learnt that LSE didn’t want me to join their library.
I felt I wasn’t really welcome as a participant at Tilbury and that anyway I would have to get an outfit for the event by the week before the Tilbury film shoot which “would be very physically demanding”. Costume? Where? Money? What? I learnt after the event that there was a costumier for the Project. Who knew?
The women of colour were not invited.
Today the photos from the event were published online. The photographs by Anna Watson are beautiful. The participants in the shoot are white white women. The project is white white women.
Oh, missed opportunity!
On the day of the shoot, I busied myself supporting MUSEfest, a women’s festival about women and mothers who make waves in music and who inspire others through music. I had joined up with younger feminists. I was supporting actively a charity which currently promotes an international charter for safe childbirth for every mother globally. The African and Asian women who had two weeks ago dipped into the territory of “these dangerous women” made food for the musicians. They don’t talk about the experience at Clapham Film Unit workshop . They cannot identify with the Tilbury women of 1915 because there is no-one in the manuscripts or in the pictures past and present who look like them.
The Tilbury actors have not had the opportunity either to engage with and consider the herstories of women with different heritages who, back in the day, flew the orange flag for the same causes; peace and freedom.
If the project were to engage the community then my community has not been engaged.