WRN street stalls are a lot of fun. They’re a little bit scary too, starting with the trepidation as we set the stall up – especially in a town we’ve not been to before. Will we be asked to move on? Will people be angry at us or at our message? Is it really legal to just set up a stall on the pavement and start engaging with passers-by?
We Know What We Are Doing Now
We know what we’re doing now, though. We have our Women’s Rights Network placards and leaflets, our Standing for Women tablecloth, our suffragette flag (always green at the top) and our WRN and Keep Prisons Single Sex literature. We’ve printed out articles on men in women’s prisons, the trauma of a women attacked on a hospital ward that should have been female only, and examples of men competing in women’s sports.
A Big Bag Of Pebbles
We have a big bag of pebbles too. To stop the leaflets from blowing off the table, of course! They didn’t do much to keep off the drizzle yesterday morning, but we toughed it out until the sun made an appearance.
Yesterday’s stall was excellent. After the first two or three passers-by hurrying to appointments people began to stop and chat for a few minutes, and everyone relaxed. Overwhelmingly, people are interested, astonished and dismayed by what is going on, and overwhelmingly, the general public do not believe that anyone has ever changed sex, nor ever will.
All Types Of People
The great thing about talking to the Great British public, though, is their openness and acceptance of all types of people. Everyone we spoke to had sympathy for anyone struggling with gender dysphoria, and not a single person was rude or aggressive either to us or about those people who find life difficult living and presenting as their biological sex.
As we talked, we heard some interesting stories – one lady told me of her very harrowing marriage to an abusive man, about how hard it was to leave him, and how she valued the help of other women as she got her life back together.
Amazingly, an elderly lady Charlotte spoke to had known April Ashley back in the day when they had worked at the same modelling agency together! They chatted as she waited for her taxi, and Charlotte helped her in with her groceries.
An Unenthusiastic Reporter
When BBC Radio Devon turned up (it’s true – they really did!), Charlotte and Emma did a quick interview with a very unenthusiastic young reporter. I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t fully on board with the idea that men can’t ever be women no matter how much they want to be, and I’m not putting any money on that interview being broadcast.
I spoke to a lovely lady police officer on her lunch break who was under the impression that people could be born in the wrong body. She had been on a training course that explained it all, apparently. We had a nice chat, though. She told me about her job, and I asked what happened to all the bodies that people should have been born in.
One man was a bit cross and said very firmly that it was sexist to prevent men from joining the Women’s Institute. We pointed out that men are allowed to join the Women’s Institute as long as they identify as women – and that’s precisely the problem we’re talking about.
Start Up A Mens Group!
Another man marched up to the stall to let us know in no uncertain terms that he’d join our group if we started up a men’s group for him. He was gone before we had a chance to explain that he wasn’t being invited to join anything. Oh well. Maybe he’ll start his own men’s group.
But all the other men I spoke to were very interested and needed no persuasion. They know exactly what is at stake for women and why we need our single sex spaces, sports and protections.
Most of the women, too, were worried about what it means for them, and for their daughters and granddaughters. One young mother was of the opinion that “transgender women are women” but she didn’t want to hang around and chat about what that means.
After 3 hours, 2 coffees and a bite to eat it was time to pack up. We’d given away a ton of leaflets, spoken to dozens of people and Charlotte and Emma had surprised a few people who had no idea of the threat to women’s rights. We’ll be doing another WRN street stall very soon.
Tips for a successful street stall:
A decorating table is ideal – light and portable, but plenty of space to display everything. Make sure it’s fairly sturdy though (ours has 6 legs).
You’ll need leaflets, and posters at a minimum. A flag or banner makes the stall more eye-catching and professional looking. (Makes sure to hang a Suffragette flag with the green at the top though, as the other way up has been “appropriated”).
It’s really useful to have printouts of newspaper articles to back up claims of men in women’s prisons and on women’s hospital wards for those who want to engage and either dispute your claims or find out more. You’ll probably end up giving a few away, so have several copies.
Check the weather! If there’s any doubt, assume it will rain and be windy. Large pebbles keep leaflets on the table and look really good if you paint them.
Take some string and scissors. We always seem to need it.
Make sure you can carry everything from the car park to where the stall will be
Three people is a good number because you don’t want one person to be left alone during coffee and comfort breaks. More is better.
Don’t set up on private property, such as car parks or in shopping malls, or you will be moved on.