How to run your own Feminist Swearing Night? Presidents of feminist think-tank Hattu, Johanna Vehkoo and Rosa Meriläinen will share their insights in a workshop on Friday. They gave us a little taster.
What happens in the workshop?
R: It will be very hands-on. The participants get a chance to start plan their own Feminist Swearing Nights in small groups with the resources available for them.
J: We’ll share our experiences on what works and what typically doesn’t. The concept allows a lot of freedom.
R: We’ll also give examples about scalability. We’ve organised a Feminist Swearing Night at the biggest rock club in Finland and in a small local pub in a town with 10 000 inhabitants.
J: There were mosquitos inside that pub!
What makes a Feminist Swearing Night a Feminist Swearing Night?
R: The name is essential. If you have a problem with feminism, you shouldn’t organise a feminist event. The target audience are not women but feminists of all genders. We don’t define feminism on behalf of anyone, they can be any kind of feminists. We welcome everyone and ask them if they’d like swear, and what pisses them off as feminists. When they speak they might just say fuck, read a poem or tell a story from their lives, it’s up to them. It’s important to have a low threshold. The idea is not to have prepared material. In the workshop we’ll tell how to create an atmosphere that empowers people to speak into mic possibly for the first time in their lives.
You have organised Feminist Swearing Nights for four years now. What have you learnt?
R: At first we didn’t define end times, so one event went on for six hours. Towards the end people were totally shitfaced, sharing their rape stories. It got very heavy. As evenings progress, more people find the courage to swear, so it’s tempting to keep going, but the audience also needs to have the energy to listen and celebrate each speaker. We don’t limit the time one can speak though. In first Feminist Swearing Nigths we also didn’t have breaks during the evening, but then we realised they are needed to keep the audience focused.
What does the host do if someone doesn’t want to swear?
J: Feminist swearing doesn’t mean using swear words, but sharing with others what you find annoying in society. The choice of words as well as topic is free.
What kind of future would you like to see for Feminist Swearing Nights?
J: We hope it would spread to as many countries as possible. The wider it travels, the happier we are.
R: Feminist Swearing Nights give feminists power to change the world. They are shared warm embraces that charge feminists with the energy to keep going.
Text: Ninni Lehtniemi
Feminist Swearing Night + workshop, Knowledge Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, Fri 3 May 2019.
Workshop 6pm, free admission, booking required. https://www.bl.uk/events/feminist-swearing-night-run-your-own.
Feminist Swearing Night 7.30 -–9.30pm, £7–£10.