This is how Manchester does feminism in 2014: With deeds, not words – & with a month of art, music & more

Susie Stubbs

Wonder Women, the city’s annual, creative celebration of feminism, returns next March, and we’d like you to join us.

Feminism. It’s a thing, isn’t it? It causes Twitter storms and campaigns, and it draws attention to a pay gap so wide you could (fingers crossed) lose Jeremy Clarkson in it. And occasionally, it leads to some surprising, creative acts of protest. Like, crochet masks drawn tight over the heads of the Town Hall statuary to illustrate the fact that Manchester doesn’t have a single statue dedicated to its many women of note. Or three “respectable” women running into Manchester Art Gallery one afternoon, each raising a hammer and smashing the glass that covered some of its most famous paintings – part of a nationwide campaign designed to draw attention to women’s rights.

The fact that those two events occurred 100 years apart (the crochet masks this year, the glass smashing in 1913) speaks volumes: as in, here in Manchester, the birthplace of the suffragette movement, we are not done yet. Or as Jeanette Winterson, writing in the Guardian on the centenary of the art gallery protest, put it: “the suffragettes believed that a woman who could vote was a woman who could change the way society operated. That hasn’t happened. We are not equal.”

It speaks volumes. As in, here in Manchester, the birthplace of the suffragettes, we are not done yet

Jeanette Winterson is the supporter of Wonder Women, our annual series of events that runs for four weeks every March. Wonder Women looks at the feminist debate in the only way we know how: culturally. Through exhibitions, art and music, film and an annual academic conference, via after hours events in galleries, writing and debate, and taking in International Women’s Day, it is our contribution to a debate that just keeps on running.

Wonder Women returns in March 2015 and we are planning it now. It has the support of the city’s museums and galleries – in particular the People’s History Museum – but we’d like you to support it, too. It relies on clever, creative people coming up with clever, creative ideas that collectively we can make happen. And we can make great things happen: previous years have seen everything from a Pussy Riot-inspired music and art event at Manchester Art Gallery, to an international conference on the suffragette movement.

Interested in taking part? Join us at our open meeting on Thursday 18 September at Gorilla to find out more. We’re holding it upstairs in the Gin Bar (appropriately, we thought; mother’s ruin and all that) from 4.30pm until around 7pm. All are welcome. Feminism might be a thing right now, but it still needs fuel. Come along and help us feed the flames.

actor with pig puppets The Three Little Pigs at Waterside Arts
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