Feminism encompasses various experiences. To emphasize and focus on this unity, “Feminist workshop” keeps organizing events focusing on women’s rights. These include educational lectures, English-speaking clubs, stand-up comedy shows, board game tournaments, etc. Feminist Workshop coordinator Yaryna is responsible for working with the community.
Each event of Feminist Workshop focuses on women’s experiences. These initiatives aspire to help the participants to self-organize, find friends, and share their experiences. Participation is open to women and non-binary people that share our values. We organize one event of every kind once a month or a month and a half. For instance, in July we discussed body positivity and body neutrality at the speaking club, gathered at the meeting of the consciousness-raising group “Venerating Lilith”, held a workshop “Witness intervention: why it is important to stop the violence and how to do it”, and joked about patriarchy at the stand-up comedy night “Woman’s place is on the stage”.
Feminist stand-up comedy
“Stand-up shows are our most popular events,” – Yaryna says. – “If at other events we have a solid 15 participants on average, 40-60 viewers come to see the stand-up shows.” Activists came up with this format to create a safe, friendly environment where women can joke, free of misogyny or gender prejudice. “When I came to other stand-up shows, each time someone told sexist jokes about rape, homosexuality, or domestic violence. That’s why we decided to create our own space for humor. We called it “Woman’s place is on the stage”. Most popular performance topics include gender normativity, and war. We don’t censor the performances and don’t ask to proofread the texts, as we trust community members to share our values”.
Comedian Sasha who has already performed three times at stand-up shows by “Feminist workshop” says that on the stage she feels at ease. “When I thought about other stand-up communities, I realized that I will need to thoroughly filter out my text, to the point where it will not be my text anymore. We are not afraid of the silence from the audience – we are afraid of mockery and disapproval. Once I learned about the stand-up show by Feminist Workshop, I started to write the text. I felt safe, comfortable, and warm. Still, each performance is my leap of faith. I never know how it will end, what will happen in the middle. This sense of the unexpected brings excitement and drive. During my first performance, I felt anxious and wanted to control everything. At my third performance I managed to relax and to feel the performance together with the audience”.
Organizers invite announcers-moderators at every stand-up show. We advertise the events in advance on our social media and on the website, and people willing to participate may DM Yaryna. “We don’t post videos from stand-up shows to maintain the atmosphere of originality and intimacy, but we do post reels and Tiktok-highlights from the performances on the channel of Feminist Workshop.” Tickets cost from 100 UAH. We donate funds raised from the tickets to the needs of women in the Armed Forces, for instance, we send money to the fund “Zemlyachky” which sews military uniforms for women.
Lectures, speaking clubs, and street demonstrations
Feminist Workshop also organizes street protests. Unlike intimate meetings among allies, coming to the streets implies changing the “information bubble”. “On March 8 we made a street action for Women’s rights day. We distributed leaflets. Contrary to our expectations, passers-by mainly reacted positively. We approached them, saying “Congratulations on Women’s rights day”, and women responded “Finally! Thank you”. Some said about March 8 being a Soviet holiday, but that was a minority. “We explained that it was a myth, debunked in the leaflet,” Yaryna says. Another protest was held to express our outrage at the sentences passed in several rape cases. We came to the protest with legs covered in blood and with the dollar bills taping the mouth. “Due to martial law, we can’t organize mass protests or demonstrations. We are missing the feeling of sisterhood that these events bring. Still, we can organize small-scale demonstrations – and that is exactly what we do”, – the activist explains. Yaryna says that such demonstrations gain more support and that proves that society is getting more accepting, and more attention is getting brought to human rights.
The consciousness-raising group “Venerating Lilith” creates a space where participants can share their observations, insights on relationships and sex. That’s an old feminist format that was popular in the USA in the 60s. During a conversation, women notice many patterns and systemic problems related to the status of women. Speaking clubs both teach English and provide women with the opportunity to practice and improve their skills. Our events in English are usually moderated by the teacher. We post the topic of the club and a list of questions for discussion in advance. We limit the number of participants to 10, that’s why we ask to try and hurry up with signing up for it. Another format of ours is educational lectures held live or online.
Our most close-knit events are board games tournaments. Participants invite their friends, bring games and snacks. You can also come alone and get to know others at the event. We post all the announcements on our website and on Instagram. “The majority of participants are women that already identify as feminists but weren’t part of the community,” – Yaryna says. – “Feminist Workshop provides them with a safe space and community of like-minded people.”
On May 3, we announced the award of 3500 UAH for aspiring feminist activists. That’s our way to express our gratitude and inspire them for new achievements. “We decided that activists can nominate themselves or someone else can. We selected the winners among activists who provide humanitarian and/or psychological aid for women, organize feminist events, and have a feminist blog. Eventually we awarded 14 activists. Among nominees there were people with prominent portfolios and even heads of big feminist organizations, but we specifically wanted to support the beginners,” Yaryna says. Our winners include activist of the initiative Bilkis Yana, author of the feminist education blog Sofia, author of the resource “Women” Victoriya, volunteers of the NGO Insight Veronika and Natalya who provide humanitarian assistance to women in Kyiv, etc.
Sofia says that the timing was perfect: she received the award, when she needed support and reassurance that her contribution to the feminist movement is valuable.
Each format of the Feminist Workshop has its goal and brings its results. Thanks to the stand-up show we became a safe space for making humor free of prejudice. Street protests brought public and media attention to the rape culture. Consciousness-raising groups and board game sessions help us to maintain the space of friendship and sisterhood. At the same time, what all these events have in common is their common goal – to create the space for the building of the feminist community in Lviv and Ukraine.