5 min read

This Ends Now

This Ends Now co-founder and director Nikki Owen introduces the first of a new series of articles from the campaign group in partnership with amplify stroud
This Ends Now
Sydney McAllister and Nikki Owen with megaphones at the This Ends Now rally in Stroud 2022

by Nikki Owen | Co-founder & Director of This Ends Now

AS THE CO-FOUNDER OF THIS ENDS NOW, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of grassroots activism. What began as a response to the horrific sexual assaults in our local Stroud community has grown into a national movement advocating for an inclusive brand of feminism that dismantles patriarchal oppression.

When my co-founder Sydney McAllister and I took to the streets in outrage over the violence being perpetrated against all who identify as women, we had no idea the fire we were about to ignite. From those humble protest beginnings, This Ends Now has swelled into a formidable force with 24 impassioned volunteers working tirelessly across the globe. Uplifted by the mutual support of our local Stroud Sisterhood, Ryse, Amplify Stroud, Stroud Town Council and bipartisan allies, we've seen firsthand how when we lift each other up, we all rise.

Our rallying cry? True progress cannot be achieved until men join women as engaged partners in the feminist struggle. For too long, rigidly defined gender roles have confined both sexes within a mutually oppressive dynamic. It's time to break free from this gilded cage together.

We stand on the cusp of a momentous wave in the feminist movement, a surge that demands the shattering of gendered constraints and the dismantling of patriarchal oppression that has cast a shadow across societies for far too long. From the courageous uprisings against sexual violence and misogyny on the streets of Stroud to the vibrant activism of the town entire, we are a rising tide advocating for an all-encompassing brand of feminism that embraces all voices.

It goes beyond us, beyond now. We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave Suffragette foremothers whose defiant fight for the fundamental right to vote sparked a ripple effect, leading to subsequent waves of feminist progress. Their courage paved the way for the Second Wave, chronicled in works like Laura Bates' "Rebel Rebel," whose activists stormed the barricades of entrenched sexism within institutions. Yet, despite their valiant efforts, the struggle remained fragmented, leaving too many marginalised voices unheard and excluded.

No Surrender
Constance Maud was at the heart of the British campaign for women’s votes.

Learning from these past missteps, we cannot allow such divisions to weaken our collective power. The Third Wave, brilliantly explored in Rebecca Walker's "To Be Real," championed diversity and intersectionality. It celebrated the kaleidoscope of female experiences across race, class, sexuality, and beyond, amplifying voices previously silenced. However, even this progress wasn't entirely immune to the undercurrents of rigid gender norms and harmful biases that threatened to pull even the most "inclusive" feminism under.

That’s why we believe that to foster lasting change, the next wave of feminism must involve men.  The crucial evolution demands an expansion of the narrative, moving beyond the notion of men as mere bystanders on the sidelines. We must extend a hand, inviting men as active partners and fellow travellers in the shared struggle to dismantle patriarchy's oppressive grip. As Gail Dines and Robert Jensen argued in "Feminisms, Masculinities, Sexualities," we must dismantle the gilded cages of gender conformity that have confined and dehumanised both sexes for far too long.

This call for inclusivity extends far beyond mere words. Look to the paradigm-shifting power of This Ends Now's Words Matter campaign, born from outrage over the silencing language surrounding sexual violence witnessed on the streets of Stroud.

Our audacious Red Pen activism directly confronts the insidious issue of victim/survivor-blaming and misogynistic media portrayals.

By symbolically rewriting these harmful narratives through an intersectional feminist lens, we reclaim language as a powerful tool for dismantling rape culture and fostering critical social progress.

This movement has already translated into tangible results. We've created and secured new policing guidelines that ensure sex crimes are described through the lens of perpetrator accountability, not sensationalised portrayals that shift the blame onto victim-survivors.

Further amplifying this message of inclusivity, International Women's Day will witness the launch of a powerful new exhibition, "Words Matter," by Laura Harris at Gallery 57 in Newport, Wales. This initiative coincides with the Stroud Sisterhood's "Reclaiming All That We Are" events, celebrating womanhood's boundless diversity.

Stroud Sisterhood Weekend
Event by Stroud Sisterhood on Friday, March 8 2024

Additionally, I will be sharing This Ends Now's vision of an inclusive revolution at the Stroud Imagines speaker series, where we will collectively envision an equitable Stroud 15 years into the future - planting seeds of lasting cultural change.

Stroud Imagines @ Trinity Rooms: Inspiring Women
In support of International Women’s Week, Stroud Imagines is back, this time at the Trinity Rooms in Stroud, with food and inspiring women!

However, showcasing this vital ethos through art is merely the first step. The rising tide demands a comprehensive dismantling of patriarchal structures woven into the very fabric of our governing institutions, economic systems, cultural narratives, and psyches. This necessitates a sweeping re-education, starting from the youngest ages. We must nurture new generations of global citizens free from the ties of harmful gender stereotypes, toxic masculinity and rape myths that perpetuate and enable violence. We must empower all individuals to explore and embrace their authentic selves, free from the constraints of outdated scripts dictated by rigid societal expectations.

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We stand at the cusp of a new era of intersectional feminism. The tide is turning. Let's ride this wave of inclusive activism together.