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Ledbury U3A Feminist and Shakespeare Groups

U3As have been sharing ways they have kept learning and connected during this period of limited face to face activity.

Jayne Wright of Ledbury U3A has been sharing how their Feminist group and Shakespeare group have stayed active.

Feminist Group

The feminist group have met twice in the last month in a socially distanced setting in gardens. It has been a great opportunity to catch up with each other and also to review some of the emerging national and international issues impacting women.

It is galling to realise that COVID has resulted in a significant setback in terms of feminism (some say back to the 1950’s) and consequently womens’ equal role in society. Women have been impacted at every level, particularly as a consequence of the changing work patterns – women stepping back from their careers, to fulfil childcare responsibilities, doing the lion’s share of domestic chores as well as a dramatic increase in domestic abuse.

With the multitude of ongoing and emerging issues being highlighted across many continents, “Black Lives Matters” has become a global “rallying call”, highlighting racism, and in many sectors further compounded for women, by the fact that the majority of workers are female eg healthcare.

The BLM movement has effectively unified a multitude of groups across continents – the USA, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and the Far East. Many big corporations including Microsoft and Apple have joined “the cause”, donating huge sums of money. It now remains to be seen how how this support will be used, and if will help to effect change?

In the discourse around BLM the group reflected upon their own prejudices.

Shakespeare Group

The Shakespeare group has maintained consistent email dialogue during the U3A hiatus, and has attracted a very welcome new member. Discussions about a variety of the bard’s plays have proved to be both engaging and stimulating, as well as those around different productions.. A number of the group have kindly shared their very scholarly thoughts, which have been both thought provoking and diverse.

We also shared and enjoyed various illustrations from an interesting exhibition about the RSC (2017) of political cartoons with Shakespearian references, spanning two hundred and fifty years. The cartoons are both engaging and humorous, an art form which conveys so much with so few words.

Exploring the role of women in Shakespeare, Margaret Atwood’s Gertrude Talks Back was alluded to – in Hamlet, Gertrude is Hamlet’s mother and Queen of Denmark. Her relationship with Hamlet is somewhat turbulent, since he resents her marrying her husband’s brother Claudius after he murdered the king (young Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet). Atwood rewrites Gertrude by building on the standard reading of the character. However, unlike some feminist critics, she does not vindicate Gertrude by recasting her as a humble, soft, dependent woman She asserts Gertrude’s right to be lustful, and denies Hamlet/Shakespeare the power to pass judgement on her.

What have your U3A groups been doing over the last few months? Let us know by emailing communications@u3a.org.uk