We Are Doing it

March 3, 2018

Unauthorized Women’s Institute – Radical Chapter

we can do it

 The regular meeting of the Unauthorized Women’s Institute – Radical Chapter was held at Nootka Holler. The minutes from the previous meeting were read and accepted and the meeting began with members reciting Women of the World Take Over.

Convener of Hair and Fiber provided a report on the 2015 BBC Documentary Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers. Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers celebrates the 100 Year Anniversary of the Women’s Institute in the United Kingdom. Strongly asserting that Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers is essential viewing for all UWI members, the Convener of Hair and Fiber outlined how the documentary acknowledged the Canadian origins of the Women’s Institute with educational reformer Adelaide Hoodless’ start up work in Stoney Creek, Ontario in 1897. The documentary highlighted how the Suffrage Movement adopted Women’s Institute’s organizing methods to forward women’s issues after the freelance militant suffrage style typified by protests, marches, pranks, arson, firebombs, cat and mouse activities, prison and hunger strikes and Emily Wilding Davison’s infamous action at the 1913 Epson Derby, were eclipsed by World War I. Special acknowledgment was given to the Edith Rigby, closely associated with the Pankhurts, who set fire to one of Lord Leverhalme’s homes in 1913 and used her court appearance to speak about women’s issues and in 1918 went on to becoming a founding member and president of the Hutton and Horwick Women’s Institute. It was unanimously agreed that further discussion regarding how the Unauthorized Women’s Institute continues to deepen and forward this essential work will take place.

Convener of Minutes and Musings provided a report on the Fair Intellectual Club based in Edinburgh in 1720. A copy of the historical documentation and/ or written account of the Fair Intellectual Club was provided and a brief description of the club was provided. The Fair Intellectual Club was a group started by 3 young women in 1717 who were motivated to discover “what we might attain if we were as industrious to cultivate our minds as we are to adorn our bodies.” Predating both Olympe de Gouges‘, Declaration of the Rights of Women’s and of the Female Citizen, 1791 and Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792, the Fair Intellectual Club has received mixed opinions regarding their historical accuracy. Some historian’s assert that An Account of the Fair Intellectual Club would not have been possible for young women to pull off such a feat by writing an account of their self organizing. Some assert that An Account of the Fair Intellectual Club was actually written by men as a prank to mock women’s voice and issue. This stance is strongly refuted by playwright Lucy Porter. Porter in her 2014 adaption of An Account of the Fair Intellectual Club for the Edinburgh Fringe asserts that treating the Fair Intellectual Club as fraud is in it self belittling. She further asserts that the Edinburgh Enlightenment were exactly the kind of conditions where such an event would have been possible. Porter’s treatment of An Account of the Fair Intellectual Club as accurate, real and possible is as unique as it is riveting. A motion was made and accepted to bring forward the Fair Intellectual Club’s Rules and Constitution for review and possible adaptation for the Unauthorized Women’s Institute – Radical Chapter’s use. The use of Mistress Speaker at meetings holds particular appeal for UWI members and a motion was accepted to institute a rotating Mistress Speaker who will organize the the meetings.

The Convener of Pedagogy and Paranormal provided an update on the progress of the Unauthorized Women’s Institutes’ tartan construction. Colour scale swatches were reviewed and approved. A brief outline of James Miranda Stuart Brown, 1789 – 1857 who completely hoodwinked The University of Edinburgh’s Medical School as well as the British Army was then provided. A surgeon for the British Army and posted in Canada in 1857, James Miranda may be our first documented trans person. James Miranda was recorded as being seen driving a horse drawn red sleigh through the streets of Montreal with a small dog and a “manservant.” James Miranda is allegedly the first surgeon to perform a cesarean and was highly socially conscious of health conditions and fair treatment despite giving Florence Nightingale a professional and very public scolding when they both served in the Crimea. James Miranda was made a honourary UWI member and Convener of Hoodwinking. This presentation was followed by a rousing discussion of hysterectomies and dental work. Members in attendance felt strongly that despite the historical issues related to Hysteria they would likely chose a hysterectomy over dental work on any given occasion. The White Coat Black Arts podcast on Endometriosis: The painful search for answers was recommended. Mark Micale’s Approaching Hysteria and Elaine Showalter’s Hystories were also recommended readings.

Lastly it was observed by members that, Naomi Parker Fraley, more popularly known as Rosie the Riveter, passed away on January 20, 2018. Naomi was the model for the iconic image used during World War II to inspire women to join into non-traditional work to support the war effort. This image was picked up during the second wave of feminism because there were no copy write or royalty issues associated with it and became a galvanizing image for women’s work. In the wake of Naomi’s passing and in the face of the lack of recognition or payment for the use of her photograph, the Unauthorized Women’s Institute honours her for her contribution and being an enduring image of women’s strength, courage and power. In honour of Naomi, The Unauthorized Women’s Institute has made her a honourary member and Convener of Propaganda.

A reminder to all members that Pussy Riot will be performing at the Rickshaw on Sunday, March 25th. The next meeting will be again at Nootka Holler 2018. Vindication of the Rights of Women Bonnets and/ or Mad Hatters is the organizing/ exploratory theme. Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants: Female Gangs of London was recommended reading and Hot Brown Honey was recommended viewing. Rotisserie chicken, salad and cake were served during recess.


Convener of Minutes and Musings (CoMM)

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