Nottingham Women’s Conference Workshop
Having followed @EVB_Now since their beginnings on twitter, I was so delighted that they were doing workshops at Nottingham's women's conference.
The workshop leader - Jo - was clearly very knowledgeable and presented an overview of the campaign in a way that was both inspiring and informative.
It was clear from the fact that there were so many women present, that victim blaming is something we all had an interest in.
The workshop went through the different ways in which we receive messages which reinforce victim blaming. For example, we looked at gender; what messages did we receive as girls & women? To be ladylike, to be quiet, respectful, to not behave like a boy; don't be aggressive or loud.
The problem is, that when we behave in a way that defies our gender messages, we are blamed for what might happen.
With sexuality the same applies. If we, as women, express our sexuality, have sexual desires, how is that received?
There are so many messages to tell us how we should behave, and many more which imply that, if we don't adhere to the norms, we are then responsible for other people's reactions.
This applies to domestic and sexual violence in particular. How many times have you heard, "if only she hadnt...", "he can't help it," "what does she expect?"
The workshop helped us all identify our own internal messages, and how we applied them to ourselves and other women. It was a great space to be in and I felt very safe talking about such personal issues.
Jo was very mindful of potential triggers, and when one woman disclosed her experience & became upset, there was another volunteer on hand to step in and offer help away from the workshop.
It ended with a variety of different ways in which we can all challenge victim blaming. These ranged from challenging others' language and reflecting on our own, to contacting organisations that promote the victim blaming of women to question them.
For example, as we get near to Christmas I'm pretty sure there will be a number of adverts advising women about drinking. None of them are likely to be concentrating on the men who perpetrate crimes against us.
I for one will definitely be making sure I shout about this, and I would like to thank Jo and her team for being so inspiring.
NB: The only shame was that both the workshops were massively over subscribed. There were at least 40 women in each which meant that we did not have time & space to really get stuck into the exercises.
I would have liked more time to really explore the themes around victim blaming & the impact of messages on our lives.
Maybe this is something to consider for the next conference!