By David Fairhall
Whilst a small team of girls got down to march to Greenham one summer time day on the finish of August 1981, none of them can have imagined that this trip might switch their lives endlessly. Nor did they dream that their gesture that day may touch off a feminist protest circulate that might final for many years spreading its effect internationally. This hugely exciting and evocative background of the typical strains the improvement of the protests from the summer season of that 12 months throughout the climax of the chilly conflict to the current day. it's a quintessentially English story within which a disparate crew of devoted and infrequently fractious ladies confront the whole army may perhaps of the USA, not just to elevate their voices opposed to nuclear guns but additionally to protect the traditional customs and rights of universal flooring. As alive to the women's issues as to the broader political implications, Fairhall paints a vibrant photo of existence at Greenham, from the demanding situations and frustrations of the night raids and appearances in court docket to the exuberant self-expression of the camps on the a variety of rainbow-coloured Gates. extra lately, he indicates how the decent citizens of Newbury, the place the ladies have been frequently given the sort of opposed reception, have used a similar legislation exploited via the ladies of their personal struggle to revive the traditional rights of public entry to the typical and guard it as open heathland for destiny generations. The protests at Greenham universal are a strong image of the 20 th century which nonetheless arouse robust emotions this present day. there are numerous "Greenham ladies" nonetheless round. yet what did they truly in attaining? As public hindrance focuses either at the proliferation of contemporary guns of mass destruction and the necessity to safeguard the threatened British panorama, this can be a well timed second to contemplate their legacy.
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Extra info for Common Ground: The Story of Greenham
Such visions of a devastated future were not exactly the routine fare of Newbury magistrates’ court proceedings. Nor indeed was the Genocide Act , discovered by the women’s legal team, forbidding the destruction of any national, racial or ethnic group. The magistrates were courteously dismissive, ordering all eleven women to be bound over, under archaic legislation dating from , to keep the peace for a year. That was supposed to be the end of the matter. But the women, in true suffragette fashion, refused to be bound over (in their view they were al- Trying to be Heard / 39 ready trying to keep the peace), which, to the magistrates’ apparent dismay, meant automatic imprisonment.
Such courage was bound to be an inspiration to future feminist generations. The outbreak of the First World War in , and the resistance to it that later developed, divided the suffrage movement in dramatically new ways. It even split the Pankhurst family, with Emmeline loudly demanding conscription for men and munitions work for women, while Sylvia stuck to her paciﬁst, socialist principles. The moderate NUWSS was divided between internationalists and conventional national patriots, its president Mrs Millicent Fawcett – a non-militant in the suffrage context – declaring that it was almost treasonable to talk about peace until the Germans were defeated.
Trying to be Heard / 47 For some, these categories formed an obvious hierarchy: campers at the top, confronting the military day-in, day-out, in all weathers, while others swanned off on speaking tours or whatever, and at the bottom, casual visitors who only turned up when the sun was shining. For others, any hierarchy was – and still is – politically incorrect in a feminist community. And those who take this view often go further, arguing positively that every woman who joined the protest was a ‘Greenham woman’, whether she spent one day at the camp or ten years.