Friday, February 13, 2009

Promises and Trust, Words and Linguistics

Following my previous post, I very much appreciated metal sunflower's response:
This is an open letter, and if I thought that it would be welcome, I’d have started it with the words “Dear Incurable Hippy”. But if I’m angry with people, the last thing I want is for them to be civil without saying anything helpful. So I’m not going to do it here.

What I would like to say is that the Sheffield Fems as a group have been wrong, and have done wrong, and that I, personally, have done wrong. And for all of that, I am sorry.

I don’t want to try to offer any glib explanations.

I have been wrong. I haven’t done enough. I saw your post last time you publicly showed how angry you were. I saw it and brought it up at a meeting and asked that something be done about it. I didn’t follow up on it. I should have done. I should have kept asking, and kept looking for different venues, and kept insisting that we did something about the pub, and I didn’t do any of those things. I don’t hold the Sheffield Fems email account, and I used that as an excuse to distance myself from it, and from you.

I am very, very sorry.

As of yet, we haven’t had to pay for the use of the room in the University Arms. But that doesn’t make it right. I can’t - and wouldn’t - argue with any other point you make. You’re right. And it’s my fault as much as - if not more so - than anybody else. Because I was the one who first saw the post you wrote last time, and I didn’t do enough for you.

Although I can see that by now, it’s unlikely you’d ever want to associate with me (or with the fems in general), I would like to promise you that this time, I won’t let it rest. As I should have done the first time, I consider myself warned. I am ashamed of myself.

I have been ablist. You’d think I’d know better. I will try my hardest to make up for that, and make sure that I don’t do it again.

I hope you can accept this as a sincere apology, but I understand if you can’t. Either way, and regardless of whether we ever meet (although I hope that we do, one day), I wish you well.

I appreciate her sincerity and determination, however belated. In the most recent Sheffield Fems minutes, they say,
2. We're having another crack at looking into moving the meetings. Any suggestions more than welcome... we need somewhere with a private room we can book long term, that's accessible by all, is central and is free/ really really cheep! This is a difficult list of requirement to meet so please suggestions!!!

It's certainly less enthusiastic, but hopefully there is determination which is not shining through!

When I thanked metal sunflower for her acknowledgement and apology, I did so because I was genuinely moved by her post, and I was appreciative of it. I also felt vulnerable - did I dare believe they'd sort this out? Did I dare thank them in advance?

I really, really hope that a premature gratitude doesn't make me look a fool. I want them to sort this out for other women to be able to join them, should they want to. I want my words and experiences to have got through. I really, really hope they sort this out with the urgency it deserves.

In other news, because of the snow I am tempted to remain in my latibule during my succisive hours, to avoid labascating on the ice and requiring an odynometer.

Thankfully I am not too much of a philargyrist, during this credit crunch, though I could do with a few quid I have to admit. I wonder if pound coins are plenispheres? In any case, I don't addecimate, which must save me a few bob, though doubtless provokes theomeny. And no amount of veteratorian pleas from the numerous charities who are writing to me at the moment will allow me to give them any more.

I wonder if the current economic situation is essomenic, or whether it will improve, or indeed worsen?

In penarious matters, I could do with stocking up, certainly. I won't be behaving pamphagously unless I do. I am not nequient in cooking, so can rustle up a nice meal, but fresh ingredients would be a bonus. Let's hope there is no hirculation or other pomarious problems when I need to buy fruit. Ruriculous people may be able to advise.

I keep meaning to do an ipsographic podcast for this blog, but haven't done it yet. I do hope this is not boreism.

You, too, should save the words.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sheffield Fems and Inaccessibility

Last November I wrote a post about my local 'feminist' group and their meetings being held upstairs in a building without a lift.

I was told that they had discussed the issues but didn't want to meet somewhere that would alienate non-students. Other than that, I have seen the agenda and minutes for each subsequent meeting, and it has not been mentioned.

They also wrote a post on their blog about it. The post is copied below, and my comments are in bold italic

We are still trying to find a new place to meet that has disabled access. Currently we meet upstairs in the University Arms which has no disabled access at all, although we keep being told they are working on it! (Personally I think they need a good kick up the arse on this because they’re been saying that for a while now and nothing has changed!!!)

Is it the pub that needs a kick up the arse? Or the customers who continue to use it?

However there are certain limitation on where we can meet as well…

A lot places charge to book rooms which we just can’t afford! Any fundrising we do we want to be using for campaigns and charities not just on booking a room (and some of them are really expensive)

They are now paying to use the inaccessible room, which makes me wonder about the above point.

It has been suggested several times that we use the Student’s Union building. We are a university group so would be entitled to book rooms, but we are also open to none student and the union building is not open to the public in the evenings (it is possible to sign people in) and we don’t want to alienate none students either! There maybe the possibility of booking Coffee Revolution, but this again does require that it ‘makes money’ and if that means that we have to guarantee a certain amount of sales this could be a problem (I’m going to investigate this)

It is possible for non-students to be signed in. It is not possible for people who can't climb stairs to climb stairs. Who's being alienated?

So we need to find somewhere free, but we would also, ideally like to find somewhere with a more relaxed atmosphere as we have found that this results in more welcoming and relaxed meetings, which is important to us. Particularly when we have new members or are discussing sensitive issues we have found that atmosphere is important and sterile meetings rooms can be rather intimidating. Equally we do need a private room. For a while we met in the downstairs bar area of the University Arms and found that we weren’t able to have open discussions and debate or even hear each other half the time!

How great is an excluding, exclusive atmosphere? How relaxed is that?

This is an issue that is discussed fairly regularly in meetings but one we are yet to resolve! Trying to find the balance of a venue that is accesible and welcoming to all and will not take all our money is really not as easy as it should be. Please let us know if you have suggestions either through the website or through email (I shall apologies in a advance if I forget to the reply to emails, I have a mind like a sieve! I do read all the emails and all points are taken on board, but sometimes I forget to reply. *Sorry*) and feel free to contact the University Arms and tell them to hurry up with the disabled access!

I don't know whether to be reassured that it is discussed regularly. It is virtually never on the agenda or in the minutes. What does that say about the discussion? And if it's discussed that regularly, why hasn't something been done?

You can't put all the blame on the venue you choose to use. You choose to use it!

I am beyond being diplomatic about this. I think it's shit, frankly.

And then tonight I got an email from them with the following sentence in it:

We talked extensively about the pros and cons of all the suggestions made and tried to find the most inclusive solution that meets the needs of as many as possible

Sounds promising? Nope. They're talking about men. You've got to be inclusive of non-students (of which I am one), and men. But disabled women, nope. No hope.