By Syirah Ami, Third Year Aerospace Engineering
The Reclaim photo series aims to showcase different women from LGBT+, BME, migrant backgrounds to bring personal stories to the forefront of Reclaim. Because in reality, different women are empowered differently. They experience things differently. They challenge misogyny differently. And personal experiences matter just as much as statistics.
Reclaim is a celebration of women's liberation and bodily autonomy. It started as a protest against sexual harassment, especially at night, which is where the term 'Reclaim The Night' came from. But modern Reclaim movements have grown to be more inclusive. Gendered violence relates to a bigger culture of misogyny, which manifests in many circles. Whether it's from women constantly being silenced, or people making sexist 'jokes', it's a problem that sometimes goes under the radar.
Reclaim Month ends with the Reclaim The Night march on 24 November, organised by the Bristol SU Women's Network. Women and allies march together to take a stand against gendered violence and misogyny. It's a yearly show of solidarity - perhaps the one night where women can feel safe, walking among friends.
'I want our safety. But safety doesn't encapsulate what I truly mean. I would like to feel whole again, unburdened by fear, not a visitor in my own body - like there is someone sitting in the space where my soul should be. I want not to expect the worst of a night out and be pleasantly surprised when I am only groped once. My fear is such a waste of time. I do not want it.'
'Reclaiming the power to assert myself is all about the ability to hold power and authority in spaces where I am trivialised, dismissed and silenced. Asserting myself is about being able to own my voice, own my identity as a black woman and own my truth, and not conform to the form of myself that is palatable to what society wants me to be. I am empowered to be the boldest, more confident version of myself.'
'Growing up in a conservative Muslim household, the ‘ideal Muslim woman’ was always based on purity and complacency. But my Muslim icons are strong and proud, like LGBT+ activist Blair Imani or Sisters In Islam. It took years to consolidate my bisexual identity with my Muslim background and apply feminism to Islam (and vice versa). It’s difficult to participate in Western feminism and be Muslim, or in Muslim spaces and be a feminist. But I’m reclaiming my identity above the preconceptions of a Muslim woman; because none of those is fully me.'
'I first came into the world of alternative music when I was about 14 years old. Ever since then, it’s been a massive part of my life. Being a regular gig attendee and dipping my foot into the industry has made me realise how male-dominated the metal world is, with women still being overshadowed in almost every sector within it, not only at live events but also behind the scenes. My goal would be to see more powerful women be given the voice they deserve, there’s too many talented individuals out there that need to be recognised and celebrated.'
'Language is power... so we need to actively challenge and change language that has been used to oppress women. I think that remembering the history and meaning that words carry is crucial so that our generation and future ones can reclaim and change the narrative around derogatory language. Language is one of the core ways that we communicate with each other, so challenging the origin of stereotypes and associations is really important for achieving change.'
'90 years since Virginia Woolf fought for a room of our own. The criticism of her financial biases aside, as a woman in the arts I feel indebted to Virginia Woolf’s idiosyncratic thought whenever I write.'
Featured Image: Syirah Ami
Will you be joining the Reclaim the Night march?