The working group has completed it's task and submitted a report and recommendations to the Central Council for Church Bellringers.   This website is minimally maintained as an archive and a benchmark to measure future progress.


Social norms?

I learnt, and continue to ring, in a place that is dominated  by males and I feel they behave very differently to the female ringers. The male
ringers can be condescending with an element of elitism, which, for me (a female), does not make a comfortable environment to ring in. The experienced males are very happy to shout at and be condescending towards other male ringers who, they think, are not pulling their weight. The experienced ringers tease each other if they go wrong but less experienced males can expect a more patronising remark upon their efforts. Admittedly, the female ringers are rarely victims of this behaviour. It is not very often that individual constructive criticism is offered to either sex. Instead, there is a general remark at the end of a touch that people should know better, this isn't good enough, etc. I see in the story 'what bell would you like?' that the author discusses making mistakes. I agree with their points and it can be confusing that, at a practice, there is so little tolerance for errors. That, combined with witnessing shouting and condescension, does not make me confident to step outside my comfort zone and try something new.

Tasks such as ringing up and down and conducting are restricted to a limited number of people (predominantly males) and there is no effort to encourage less experienced ringers to do either of these things. Ringing up in peal is just a means of getting the bells up so you can practice methods and the same people lead up, so that it sounds neat and tidy. There is rarely the chance for someone to learn how to ring up and down, unless they are confident enough to ask, nor time put aside for it. I have only been asked to call something twice. Neither time was I warned ahead of the practice and never have I received advice or guidance about how to call. If you want to call something, it must be achieved through independent learning.

I notice there is already a story on women disappearing from ringing, which is something I wanted to raise and I agree with their remarks. I have seen many female ringers, who are married to male ringers, have children never to return but the male somehow has the time to come out and ring. I think this, and everything I have written above, is social norms creeping into ringing. This extends to the post practice pub session where, as a male, it is only acceptable to drink a pint of real ale. Females can get away with drinking alternative alcoholic drinks but there are a number who have, over time, joined this ale drinking culture. By not drinking ale and opting to drink non-alcoholic drinks, I definitely feel like the odd one out. It feels like the pub is an essential element to the world of ringing. Even if there was shouting and rudeness in the tower, it is forgotten in the pub and everyone is friends again.

I have no solutions for how to resolve any of what I have written as I feel that it is not unique to ringing but society in general. The expected behaviours of males and females trickles down into the ringing world. Less shouting and patronising behaviour would be welcome with individual constructive criticism and guidance on stepping into new territory such as conducting and ringing up and down.