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A Guide to Feminist London

5 November 2017 Zoë Rose

London was recently ranked as the top megacity in the world for women, and honestly, it’s not surprising that some women are finding it difficult to celebrate this ‘victory’. Whilst women living in London are amongst the most advantaged when it comes to access to healthcare and economic opportunities, from time to time, hearing that they do live in a female-friendly city can be hard to grasp. Reminders in a city that women are respected can sometimes feel few and far between. However, London is a city with many places from which women can draw female inspiration and strength.

London projects female positivity and empowerment in a variety of ways to suit the women as diverse as the city they live in. It holds many places that cater to different interests, whilst at the same time connecting and empowering women with the same goal – to enjoy being a woman. This is only a flavour of the many female-focused areas London has to offer. Whilst these places might not cater to every woman’s interests, that’s the beauty of it – to find what inspires and empowers you, and to share it with people.

Tonight Josephine is a basement cocktail bar which gets its philosophy and name from one of history’s coolest women, Joséphine de Beauharnais. The mistress of several leading political figures and Napoleon’s first wife, she started as a nobody who climbed her way up through social circles to become the Empress of France. When she met Napoleon, he was a penniless soldier, and Joséphine hustled hard to get them both to be able to enter Parisian high society. When they married, she spent her time throwing huge parties and living it up. These entertained her whilst Napoleon was away at war, and when she finally joined him the night before battle, he rebuffed her advances with a simple, “Not Tonight, Joséphine”. This neon, glitter-covered cocktail bar wants to make it very clear that well behaved women don’t make history, and cocktails are forever (and they are delicious, too). A tribute to strong-willed women who also like to get down and party, this Instagram-worthy bar is often packed full, and you’re certain to meet a few women there who’ll inspire you – not including Joséphine.


Tonight Josephine
 
Founded in 1975, The Feminist Library is a volunteer-led charity created by women who have strived to ensure that the history of the women's liberation movement and the works surrounding it survive. Filled with fiction, non-fiction, articles, essays, and poetry, this little Library has something for everyone, and aims to keep curating and making material available to the public to inspire a new generation of female activists and campaigners. The library also runs film nights and book launches, and through 40 years of commitment by many women, has been able to create a calm and unique space for anyone who wants to talk about and research feminism and equality. Reading up on women who have battled for females to be where they are today with women’s suffrage and rights in all manners of speaking – reproductive, employment, and property – will re-emphasise just how important it is to feel proud to be female.


The Feminist Library
 
If you’d rather focus on drawing inspiration from just one woman at a time, a museum dedicated to a pretty badass woman who pioneered modern healthcare might be a good place to start. The Florence Nightingale Museum celebrates the life and work of the woman who strove to make huge changes in the field of modern nursing. Tucked away behind St. Thomas’ Hospital, the museum contains some of Florence Nightingale’s original personal items and focuses heavily on her early life and nursing days, as well as the legacy she left behind for the world of nursing. One of the most influential women in Victorian Britain and the first woman to receive the Order of Merit, Britain's highest civilian decoration, this museum commemorates both Nightingale’s personal life and work in perfect balance, making it inspirational for everyone.
 
If you’d like to approach feeling empowered in a more physical way, Legion is a female-only fitness group focusing on kickboxing. Developed from Muay Thai and Western-style boxing, the classes are run by Maria Carrera, eleven-time Martial Arts Spanish National Champion. Based in Walthamstow, Legion runs classes for all ages and levels, and aims to create a safe and friendly environment for women. Whether you’re looking to practice for self-defence or just for general fitness, these female-only classes promote a strong ideal of sisterhood and teamwork, and you’re bound to make a few friends from many different walks of life whilst you’re learning how to land the perfect punch.
 
If you’re into ink, Velvet Underground is London’s first female-only staffed tattoo parlour. Whilst the shop tattoos both men and women, it is run solely by women – in the words of Velvet Underground’s creator Roxy Velvet, “I wanted a shop full of hot, female tattooists”. In a largely male-dominated industry, Velvet Underground has created an intimate space that places female collaboration and communication at the forefront of its business, allowing for it’s (mostly female) clientele to enter an understanding and welcoming environment.
 

Velvet Underground
 
 

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