By Emma Foster, Community Newswire
ARTS Women London
07 Oct 2009
An exhibition to mark 40 years of the Women's Liberation Movement in
Britain will launch on Thursday at London Metropolitan University.
Ms Understood: Women's Liberation In 1970s Britain celebrates the
40th anniversary of the country's first national Women's Liberation
Conference at Ruskin College, Oxford, where 500 women came together
and lay the foundation for the movement's key demands.
Their demands included equal pay for equal work, equal educational
and job opportunities and free contraception and abortion on demand.
The exhibition reflects on this and the subsequent events which
helped to transform the lives of women.
Organisers said public understanding of the Women's Liberation
Movement has often been clouded by stereotype, misrepresentation and
a lack of information.
The exhibition aims to enhance public understanding of the social
movement using testimonies from women at the centre of it and
original documents and objects illustrating what it really stood for
and the context it emerged in.
Claire Henry, curator, said: "If you thought Women's Lib was all
about burning bras and wearing dungarees then think again.
"This intriguing exhibition exposes the diversity, dissent and
sisterhood of feminism in the 70s through first-hand accounts of the
women who lived it."
The exhibition will be interactive, inviting visitors to share their
own views and memories of how Women's Liberation has affected their
own lives, for better or worse.
This will provide a growing display throughout the course of the
exhibition, helping build a more in depth picture of the period.
Colourful posters, leaflets, badges and clothing will also be on
display, and a floor-to-ceiling map depicting the entire UK will give
visitors an overview of key moments in Women's Liberation History.
The movement's many campaigns, such as "YBA Wife?" (why be a wife?),
which amusingly asked women to question aspects of their lives they
had previously taken for granted, will also be explored.
Films including A Woman's Place by Sue Crockford, the first film made
about, by and for the women's liberation movement and a specially
commissioned film by Annis Joslin looking at contemporary opinions on
the position of women today will also be screened.
Speaking about her time as an active member of the movement,
film-maker Sue said: "It was an amazing buzz. I think it was one of
those rare times in your own history when you know you're there at an
occasion that's historically important."
Caroline Ellis, head of special collections, London Metropolitan
University, said: "The Women's Liberation Movement was perhaps the
major social movement of the past half-century, leading to changes
affecting us all, yet our understanding as a nation of what it stood
for remains cloudy at best.
"I am delighted that Ms Understood will make intriguing material
about this fascinating movement accessible at the Women's Library to
a whole new audience."
There will also be a series of events to accompany the exhibition,
including a study day, featuring leading activists, feminists and
researchers on October 17, and a fashion event, The Liberation Look,
recording fashion and feminism on December 5.
Ms Understood: Women's Liberation In 1970s Britain runs from Thursday
to March 31, 2010, at The Women's Library, London Metropolitan
University, Old Castle Street, London, E1 7NT. Opening times are
Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm, Thursday to 8pm and Saturday
10am-4pm. Entry is free. For more information visit www.thewomenslibrary.ac.uk.