Women Stand Up in Manchester! Protest at the Five Clouds Tap and Bottle
Updated: Jul 6, 2019
A group of women from direct action feminist group Manchester ReSisters staged a protest last Saturday night about the decision of Macclesfield bar Five Clouds Tap and Bottle to allegedly bar a woman for wearing a T shirt containing the dictionary definition of a woman.
Two weeks ago Manchester mum and Five Clouds regular, Rebekah Wershbale, was playing board games with her girlfriend when bar woman, Heather, approached her to say another regular, Mika Johnson, was offended by her T shirt. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ms Wershbale said:
Heather said I’d been upsetting people and Mika was crying, She told me that the way I talk about radical feminism was a problem and said: 'The T-shirt you’re wearing is upsetting and not inclusive.' I replied that it simply said the dictionary definition of being a woman – how can it be offensive? She mumbled a bit about it being transphobic and that I had been transphobic previously. She then said I was barred and that she had been nominated by the other bar staff to come to tell me that.
The owner, Tom Lewis denied claims she had been barred for wearing a T shirt, insisting it was due to a history of behaving in a transphobic manner - upsetting staff and customers by challenging them about their views on men identifying as female. Ms Wershbale admitted that while at the Five Clouds she had promoted a feminist campaign by Fair Play For Women, opposing government plans to allow people to change their legal sex without medical treatment or medical oversight. Ms Wershbale explained more on Patrick Christys Love Sport Radio show.
On hearing of the incident, many patrons reacted strongly, with one local saying ‘If it is who I think you mean, she left a stack of awful transphobic flyers Five Clouds not long ago. I threw them in the bin as she wasn’t there for me to throw them in her stupid face.’ Another person said they would come to the bar to ‘piss in her beer and shit on her Monster Munch.’
The Five Clouds Tap and Bottle is not the first venue in Greater Manchester to ban women for their political beliefs. In October 2018 it was alleged women had been distributing anti-trans material in the gay village after flyers were discovered which contained the dictionary definition of a woman. Businesses responded with a show of solidarity, displaying posters saying ‘No Terfs on our Turf,’ and threatening to remove anyone who used ‘transphobic language.’ Terf is an acronym which stands for ‘trans exclusionary radical feminist.
The GMP Pride Network endorsed the message, angering many feminists and lesbian activists who allege ‘terf’ is a misogynistic slur with strong lesbophobic undertones.
The GMP Chief Inspector, Cherie Buttle, agreed with the activists and told the bars to remove the posters, although they remained in place for many weeks afterwards.
This time around women decided to take matters into their own hands. They reacted quickly after hearing about Ms Wershbale’s treatment, organising a protest online for the following Saturday. The Manchester ReSisters are the latest branch of a national network of activists who have sprung up in recent months to protect women’s sex-based rights. The ReSister network currently has branches in Ireland, Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds.
They were assisted in their endeavours by controversial campaigner Posie Parker – the woman who designed the T shirts and runs the organization Standing up for Women. Critics accuse her of transphobia and say she has re-appropriated the dictionary definition of woman to exclude transwomen.
Enraged at the bars decision Ms Parker drove nearly 200 miles from her home in Wiltshire to hand deliver a stash of Woman: Adult Human Female T-shirts. Speaking to MMN! she said she was ‘saddened to read that this establishment had such a disgusting attitude toward women expressing themselves and that they felt they could police women's attire. We are living in a time in which women are watching their rights evaporate, whereby men feel they can control what we say and what we think.’
The demonstration took place peacefully with fifteen women from the Manchester ReSisters attended the bar wearing Adult Human Female T shirts. According to spokesperson Miriam Jacobson, they sat there for an hour or so talking about feminism and their plans for further action.
According to Manchester ReSisters, the staff ‘could not have been nicer’, helping them get more chairs when needed, taking feminist materia to display at the bar. They talked to a few customers, handing a leaflet to an older customer who showed it to his friends. Ms Jacobson spoke to the bar staff who said wearing the T shirts was fine, reiterating the point that Ms Wershbale had been barred for historic behaviour.
The Manchester ReSisters issued a statement saying:
Last Saturday, our grass roots feminist collective, now known as Manchester Resisters, descended on Macclesfield in a defiant show of support for one of our sisters. After being barred from her local, simply for wearing a dictionary definition, and after having her character defamed, we wanted to stand in solidarity with her. We wanted a peaceful yet poignant protest, as in these times, simply stating the truth is a revolutionary act.
We demonstrated that when you try to silence one of us, all of us will come together and we will not be silenced. Despite the bar staff then claiming that they have no issue with the t-shirts, nor the ideas associated with them, it was clear the point was made – 15 women all in the same bold, identifiable and now infamous image, stating simply WOMAN: ADULT HUMAN FEMALE.
By DJ Lippy
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