Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 19 February 2018, 3:24 pm


It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

Trolls are lying about assaults at ‘Black Panther’ showings (Nicole Bitette, Daily News)

Migration & marriage: women of colour and the politics of surnames (Shahnaz Ahsan, Media Diversified)

Meet The Dominatrix Who Requires The Men Who Hire Her To Read Black Feminist Theory (Amanda Duberman, Huffpost Personal)

From the article: “Mistress Velvet is a dominatrix with a syllabus: ‘…I am now given this platform to make white, cis men think about things in certain ways. Just allowing them to be submissive doesn’t always allow for the more drastic shift in the framework and thinking that I want. So I have to bring in my girls, like Audre Lorde and Patricia Hill Collins, and make these men actually read about black feminism. Then, it’s moving from them simply fetishizing black women, to realizing: This is a systemic issue I’m contributing to by the virtue of being a white man and being rich.'”

Their ‘cute’ ad is the tip of the iceberg—this is how the DWP damages real relationships (Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, Prospect)

From the article: “Nobody expects to be given financial help from the state without some conditions. But are the conditions proportionate to the help? 14 million people are living in poverty, many in work. And their benefits have been frozen while the price of rent and travel and food continues to soar. And yet, from sanctions to Universal Credit, the government continues to demand ever-increasing compliance, and meekness, and loss of privacy, in exchange for so little money that you’ll need to use a food bank anyway.”

The Many Lives of Pauli Murray (Kathryn Schulz, New Yorker)

From the article: “Murray herself felt she didn’t accomplish all that she might have in a more egalitarian society. ‘If anyone should ask a Negro woman in America what has been her greatest achievement,’ she wrote in 1970, ‘her honest answer would be, “I survived!”‘
[From April last year, but shared by Kee Hinckley and Dan Weese via Facebook in connection with Black History month.]

Ruby Tandoh: ‘Food fads are toxic – they erode the faith you have in your appetite’ (thejournal.ie)

From the article: “Often the ‘body positive’ movement is used to just bolster the supremacy of slim just-a-tiny-bit-wobbly bodies, but that leaves behind so many people whose bodies are bigger, fatter, disabled, whatever.

“So I want to book to not only be body positive, but fat positive, supportive of people with eating disorders and mental health problems, inclusive of people of all sexualities and genders… all of this stuff plays into a meaningful kind of body positivity that benefits everyone, not just a select few.”

My Ready Meal Is None Of Your Fucking Business (Cooking on a Bootstrap)

From the article: “Many of the families I have worked with over the years are living in temporary accommodation, usually a bed and breakfast paid for by their local council due to a shortage of available social housing, or private landlords ‘willing’ to take on a tenant on benefits. These generally have no cooking facilities whatsoever, for insurance purposes and safety reasons, as cramming a hob next to a single bed that is usually pressed against the wall poses a risk to fire and health. After the Grenfell tower tragedy, dozens if not hundreds of residents were living in hotel rooms nearby, for weeks and months, with no cooking facilities available. They lived off ready meals, microwaved in their contraband microwaves, and takeaways. Ain’t nobody on earth, not even me, who can turn that into a cheap option. I dare you to tell someone who has been the victim of a house fire, is living with PTSD and anxiety, has lost their home and their job and doesn’t even have a saucepan, to pop along to the shop and pick up some spices because it’ll work out cheaper.”

It’s not just men who abuse power in the workplace. Women do, too (The Pool)

From the article: “After the #MeToo movement takes a pause and we’ve had all the conversations we need to (which could be some time), I think we need to consider women in the workplace, not as vulnerable to men, but as aggressors themselves. I’ve had too many friends with appallingly behaved female bosses and, as unsisterly as it sounds, I don’t believe that women can’t abuse power, either (I promise I have no affiliations with Philip Davies). When I’ve interviewed women who have experienced maternity discrimination, their bosses have been women, as well as men.”

Rape culture and the duet (Nora Research)

Response to Mary Beard by Priyamvada Gopal (Medium)

From the article: “But I will urge you to rethink the problematic concept of a ‘disaster zone’ (Trump was more upfront — he called them ‘shitholes’) and what that really means in geopolitical terms in terms of who does what and who is responsible for their appearance as spaces of catastrophe. Still more troubling is your notion that moral bearings (‘civilised values’!) understandably disappear in spaces where people struggle with the worst things that can happen to human beings. We know that, in fact, some of the most courageous human actions, borne of deep decency, manifest themselves in these situations and not on the part of white saviours but those at the sharp end of misery. We also know that in zones like Hollywood, or indeed, academia, that have very little truck with ‘disaster’, notwithstanding the copious amounts of mediocrity they put out, we have seen depraved behaviour and enormous amounts of misconduct.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Matthias on Flickr. It is a black and white, close-up image of a knife and fork. The image is so detailed that droplets of moisture can be seen on the cutlery.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 14 February 2018, 2:18 pm


It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. Apologies that this is going up slightly late so it’s more of a ‘mid-week’ round-up! We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

What would the world look like if we taught girls to rage? (Mona Eltahawy at NBC News)

It’s time for Crystal Palace to embrace the 21st century and ditch their ‘Crystals’ cheerleaders (iNews)

The suffragettes only got us half way. Marginalised women remain locked out of our democracy (iNews)

From the article: “It’s not just dead women who can’t vote. Thousands of women and non-binary people are still shut out of our voting systems today. If you live in a refuge, your address cannot be publicly accessible on documents like the electoral roll – it would endanger your life. You could try and register to vote anonymously, but the burden of proof is so high that most women in refuges do not qualify. Women’s Aid has been pushing for this to change, but it’s unclear when this may happen. More than 4,000 women are currently in prison, and hundreds more are in immigration detention centres. These women are disproportionately working class, BME, and struggling with mental health issues, and they are also denied the right to vote. Are they not women too?”

Suffragettes needed? The women still struggling to vote (BBC)

Let’s not forget the working class suffragettes (New Statesman)

‘The Suffragettes were proper women, not like these mouthy tarts today’ (The Daily Mash) [Satire]

Rest In Power, Laura Lee (SWARM Collective)

From the article: “Laura was passionate that sex workers should be able to work in safety and her fearless pursuit of this goal brought her into conflict with the establishment in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. Laura endured shocking levels of harassment, scrutiny and public humiliation from politicians, pro-criminalisation feminists and religious fundamentalists.”

Bristol feminists protest against ‘transphobic’ event branded ‘discriminatory’ and ‘scaremongering’ (Esme Ashcroft, Bristol Evening Post)[Via Josephine Tsui]

Why black women are still a minority in the grime scene (The Guardian)

“TV comedy is still sexist” (Chortle)

2018 Depression Olympics (revamped for Winter) (Slackjaw via Medium)

The Fight For Decriminalisation – Honouring Laura Lee (KVA Legal)

From the article: “One of the most powerful things often said by Laura Lee was this (with words to the following effect):- ‘you do not have to like what sex work is, but you should at least want sex workers to be safe.’ My job, like Laura’s, has never been to convince anyone that sex work is everyone’s cup of tea. We are all guided by our own morals, ethics and background, some of which say that sex work is not acceptable. However, we should all believe in one thing on a universal basis – that anyone who goes to work, should not have to die as a result of their work choice. It will never be okay that a woman or man’s safety is placed at risk by laws developed by our own governments.”

Brexit: Official document raises prospect of tampering with workers’ rights to boost economy (Benjamin Kentish , Independent)

Why it’s not okay for police to quietly roll out on-the-spot fingerprint scanning (Emma Norton, Liberty)

I kept my maiden name. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (Zoe Fenson, The Week)

‘Lady Doritos’: a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist (Emine Saner, The Guardian)

Stop Using the Label ‘Struggling Reader,’ Author Jacqueline Woodson Advises (Brenda Iasevoli, Education Week)

From the article: “…One of the first steps is to give young people access to relevant literature. If they don’t have access to books that speak to them, then we are already failing them. Young people are diverse, and I’m not just talking about racially or economically, or in terms of gender or gender preference. There are just so many ways that young people are different from one another.”

Review: ’50 Shades Freed’ Is an Ignorant, Poisonous Anti-Feminist Hate Anthem (Pajiba)

From the article: “Fifty Shades markets itself as a swirling Cinderella romance with a dash of kink, with a mousy nobody who is swept off her feet by a charming billionaire with a penchant for handcuffs and rough play. But the union between Christian and Anastasia is so unbelievably toxic and awful that it becomes an endurance test to sit through. Anastasia, at least in this entry’s iteration of the character, is a reasonably well-adjusted human. She is now an editor at a publishing company, and she seems to have her shit together. Except that her husband is absolute fucking trash.”

The dire realities of being a trans woman in a men’s prison (Them)

Our Relationships Keep Us Alive: Let’s Prioritize Them in 2018 (Ejeris Dixon, Truthout)

What Is ‘Sexual Bereavement’? (Alice Radosh, Modern Loss)

Uma deserves better (Anne Helen Peterson, Tinyletter)

Up for debate: reflections from the TERF wars about dismantling bigotry on the left (Kylie Benton-Connell, The New Inquiry)

The Gender Recognition Act Discussion (February 2018) (Gires)

From the article: “…So where is the evidence that society as we know it is headed for chaotic decline? There is none. Objections being raised now can have nothing to do with adverse behaviours arising from the current GRC process, because there have been none. The fear is that the administrative changes to the GRC will trigger such behaviours. Yet the evidence that we have, is that the dire outcomes predicted have not materialised in the growing number of countries where self-determination is in place. For trans people, life will become a little easier; for everyone else it will be status quo – business as usual.”

I Didn’t Think There Were Many African Women Scientists. Then I Checked Twitter (Esther Ngumbi, NPR)

From the article: “Like much of the world, the African continent has yet to achieve gender parity for science researchers. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, women comprise only 30 percent of professionals in the sciences in sub-Saharan Africa.

“This under-representation in STEM puts a brake on progress toward sustainable development. Africa needs the skills and perspective of women scientists to address challenges such as climate change, food insecurity and water scarcity. Women are key players in developing science-based solutions to improve lives and generate inclusive economic growth that benefits society as a whole.

“Knowing there are so many African women scientists raises the question: What can we do to make sure Africa, and the rest of the world, knows about them, too?”

Cool Cynicism: Pulp Fiction by bell hooks (1996) (shared at lackadaisical penetration)

From the article: “Tarantino has the real nihilism of times down. He represents the ultimate in “white cool”: a hard-core cynical vision that would have everyone see racism, sexism, homophobia but behave as though none of that shit really matters, or if it does it means nothing ‘cause none of tit’s gonna change, ’cause the real deal is that domination is here to stay- going nowhere and everybody is in on the act. Mind you, dominations is always and only patriarhal -a dick thing.”
[Via So Mayer]

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to nosha on Flickr. It shows a pink flower turned away from the camera. Other flowers can be seen, slightly blurred, in the background.

Frances Bushe
Fran Bushe is an award-nominated comedian and a prizewinning playwright. You can follow her on Twitter @franbushe

“Have you ever thought about just not having sex?”

These words were said to me by a doctor a few weeks before I turned 30. I’d been sexually active for 14 years and the truth is that I just didn’t ‘get’ sex. I had sex and I wanted to want sex, but for the most part, I participated (giving appropriate “ooh” and “aah” noises at what felt like reasonable intervals) and hoped that the next time would be better. Often, it hurt.

Before this doctor’s appointment, I’d decided that enough was enough. I was tired of feeling underwhelmed and wanted to become a multi-orgasmic-tantric-come-with-ease-never-painful-sexual-goddess. Or, at least, learn to enjoy — a bit — the sex I was having. I sought medical help, tried supplements and alternative therapies. I ended up writing Ad Libido, a show about my experience.

I’d been honest with partners about my lack of enjoyment but once they knew about it, sex became a mission to ‘fix me’.

Partners would kindly say “What about that time?”, “Did that special move work?”, or “This always worked on my ex”. Communication is essential during sex, but it ended up feeling like sex was taking place under exam conditions; your hour to make Fran have a good time starts now.

Often, as a partner fell asleep next to me, I would tell myself that I was difficult, broken or not wired up right. Mostly, it was enough for me that my partner was having a good time. But with long-term and casual lovers alike I’d inevitably feel like I was missing out. I once slept with a man who practiced non-ejaculatory sex and came seven times during one session; I challenge anyone in my place not to feel left out.

It is estimated that around a third of young and middle-aged women suffer from a form of sexual dysfunction, along with around half of older women. This can include problems with desire, orgasm and pain during sex. I have experienced all three at some point.

While for some women, being diagnosed with female sexual dysfunction can help them seek treatment, there are also the dangers that come with medically labelling someone a ‘dysfunction’. Personally, I found it difficult to feel both sexy and dysfunctional.

It is also worth noting that the symptoms of female sexual dysfunction are not necessarily problems unless the woman feels they are affecting her happiness. Women all have different sex drives, levels of sexual response and sexual preferences, so there is a danger of medicalising something that is just one woman’s norm.

Sitting in the doctor’s surgery with my medical history up on the screen, I could see my sex life mapped out; appointments spanning 14 years marked the times I’d felt brave, desperate or supported enough to ask for help. After each appointment, I’d left feeling unheard, unimportant and untreated.

Between those times were years of thinking that not enjoying sex wasn’t life-threatening and so I shouldn’t waste a doctor’s time. I mean, someone could be dying in the waiting room whilst I was complaining about not having a good time between the sheets! Not enjoying sex felt like a ‘luxury’ problem.

This severely affected my happiness. Sex can be a natural way to cure pain, relieve stress, sleep well, or even to boost creativity. More than that, in my experience, not enjoying sex can make you feel passive and adds undue pressure to relationships.

It can be lonely: I felt overlooked by the doctor, partners often took it very personally and friends’ well-meaning advice of “When you meet the right guy it will be different!” just isn’t true — I’ve met lots of lovely ‘right guys’.

So, when the doctor said, “Have you ever thought about just not having sex?”, I felt very alone. For some people, not having sex is the life choice that works for them. I tried abstinence, but it wasn’t for me. For many with sexual difficulties — and their partners — there is not enough support out there. Plus, there’s what feels like an enormous taboo in even discussing it.

After watching my show, many women and men in the audience have told me their stories of sexual pain, loss of libido, the disparity in sex drives between them and their partner, worries about size and the sense of failure these experiences often bring.

But many people actively want to talk about it. Talking about it is scary for me as it means admitting I often feel intimately broken. Making a comedy theatre show about what it means to have a healthy, happy sex life tackles some of those taboos and gives me back the voice I so often lose in bed.

Ad Libido runs at VAULT Festival 21-25 February, 9.15pm. Matinee on the 24th February 4.45pm.
Visit the VAULT Festival website for more information

Featured image courtesy of the author. Image is of Fran Bushe, the article’s author, lying on a bed and staring straight up at the camera, with a quizzical expression on her face. She lies on a grey and red striped pillowcase, with packets of condoms lying on the pillow around her head

“I won’t do a political playlist for February” I thought, “I’ll try to do something a bit more ethereal and spiritual, and love based, possibly combining winter weather imagery and allegories”.

Then I got sidetracked by Bristol based artist Gaptooth (aka Hannah Lucy) and her fabulous collaboration with Sisters Uncut, ‘They Cut, We Bleed’.

As such, while the slightly more ethereal and love based elements have survived, we do begin the playlist in what is becoming the habitual agit prop fashion.

But then, this is 2018. It is one year on from the Women’s Marches and one hundred years on from the partial enfranchisement of women in the UK. It is, ooh, weeks since Oprah Winfrey wowed the Golden Globes with a speech situated very much in the context of #MeToo and the year has begun with a great sense of expectation, a sort of ‘What next?’

But the UK is still a country under the cosh of austerity, which directly impacts on women’s rights, women’s freedoms and women’s safety. As Sisters Uncut proclaim: In the UK, two women a week on average are murdered at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. Cuts to women’s centres, domestic violence charities, social care and the NHS do not do anything to reduce this statistic.

The YouTube video is partially subtitled, but not fully. As such, Theatre editor Lissy Lovett and I have created a fully subtitled version of the video over on Amara. A visual summary of the video can be found at the end of this post.

And, as Carrie Gracie (my personal heroine of 2018 so far) has shown, the fight for equal pay is another battle that women are still having to fight over and over again.

So, in the end, it seemed a bit frivolous to compile a list of love songs just because it’s February.

There are songs themed around love and relationships in this playlist, but they aren’t the straightforward ones. There is the subtley sinister ‘Polished’ by Prince Innocence, Florence + The Machine’s ‘Various Storms & Saints’, which, along with being one of my favourite tracks from the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album, also combines both elements of my original idea (love and storm based imagery) and Laura Nyro’s heartbreaking ‘You Don’t Love Me When I Cry’. On the other hand, there’s the salute to a heroine of Bat For Lashes’ ‘Laura’, the teenage hormones of The Corin Tucker Bands’ ‘Neskowin’ and the evangelical urgency of Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’, amongst other things.

There is also the optimism of Ibeyi’s ‘I Wanna Be Like You’, Beth Orton’s ‘Moon’ and Rose Elinor Dougall’s ‘Colour of Water’. And there’s the debut appearance of a band I feel are very much worth watching this year, Mint Field, and their single ‘Ojos En El Carro’, a beguiling mix of post rock and ethereal soundscape with a suitably dreamy video. Perfect for February.

Image is a sketchpad showing a montage depicting a female figure standing in a slightly misted woodland landscape surrounded by oversized butterflies. The sketchpad has been laid on a beige carpet to be photographed. Montage and image by Cazz Blase, all rights reserved

Video is of the Gaptooth/Sisters Uncut collaboration ‘They Cut, We Bleed’. Footage of young women at a variety of protests around the UK, plus a ‘carpet bombing’ of a red carpet event in 2017, are intercut with images of young women holding up placards with statistics relating to women and violence and feminist slogans.

speaking out against transphobia

“Betty Friedan spoke from the floor in its support, marking the end of a decade-long stand that includes lesbians. At last, a majority agreed that feminism meant all females as a cast, and that anti-lesbian bias could be used to stop any woman until it could stop no woman.” Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road (2015).

There was a time when lesbians were not invited into the women’s movement and it divided feminists of the early 1960s, spurring large debates. Back then, these women asked: what did lesbians contribute to the movement? Happily, we now know that lesbians contribute quite a lot, and we cannot imagine a women’s movement without them.

It seems we are doomed to repeat history.

I have lived in Bristol for almost ten years. I am proud of my adoptive home because it has demonstrated open-mindedness, acceptance and liberal thinking. You can see why I was surprised to see a public meeting to “discuss” the Gender Recognition Act hosted by A Woman’s Place. They are asking for a respectful, evidence-based discussion about the impact of the Gender Recognition Act and call for five policy changes that they say will protect women’s rights. Some of these are great, such as having respectful evidence-based discussions. Other recommendations might require a bit more thought: for example, as the Office of the National Statistics is already monitoring the gender pay gap, a more specific call-to-action may be useful.

Sadly, based on the remaining recommendations, I cannot support their launch statement as it is not inclusive of the trans community, nor have A Woman’s Place consulted a wider base of evidence in putting it together. I fear that the recommendations may do more harm than good.

Having a public event about transgender people, but discussing topics that are hostile to trans people makes it a difficult environment for them to attend. Making events antagonistic is not in the spirit of Bristol, nor in the spirit of my feminism.

A Woman’s Place has not made efforts to be trans inclusive. While they do not say they are trans exclusive, their policies suggest otherwise. For example, recommendations two, three and four focus primarily on reinforcing single-sex occupations or services for people whose gender match those that are assigned at birth. Concerning ourselves with “women only” spaces perpetuates the belief that trans women are not women and prompts us to focus on differences rather than similarities.

A Woman’s Place and others have cited women’s protection as the reason to reinforce single-sex occupations or services, yet women’s safety should not be used as an excuse for transphobia. Any solutions that focus on gender-exclusionary spaces only provide a thin analysis of the circumstances that do not necessarily help cis women, but rather hurt trans women.

Studies have shown that excluding transgender individuals from single-sex services do not make them any safer for cisgender people, transgender people or gender non-conforming people. These policies have been shown to make it more dangerous for women and for trans women. If we were to follow this false logic, we would discover that more Republican politicians than trans people in the United States have been arrested for sex acts in bathrooms. Perhaps we should have one bathroom for Republicans and another bathroom for everyone else?

A Woman’s Place have asked for policies on self-declaration to be respectful and evidence-informed. However, their launch statement only selected one piece of anecdotal evidence of a possible risk to women’s safety, regarding prison services, from the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists (BAGIS). Cherry-picking examples is not the essence of good policy-making; instead, we need to look at overall trends and ensure a broad consultation.

If we look in detail at the evidence provided by BAGIS, we can see that it was used for the Transgender Equality Inquiry, which was completed in 2016. Over 200 other pieces of evidence were also submitted for consultation, many of which did not advocate for single-sex occupations, spaces or services. Furthermore, if we are really concerned about women in the prison system, there are many more important issues to address: the most prevalent risk faced by women in prison systems is prison officers and staff.

The recommendations advocating for single-sex services has made the event unfriendly for trans people. While not barring anyone from entering, their focus on “single sex” spaces implies that trans women are not women, and therefore not welcomed. It unnecessarily pits women’s rights against trans women’s rights.

Feminists can and should work together with the trans community to find ways for all of us to work together. In Scotland, a public consultation on Gender Recognition has already begun, and Engender has released a statement affirming trans equality: “We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to contradict or be in competition with each other.” Trans women have been using women’s services, and single-sex spaces without any problems. We should be advocating for more services for all women, trans and cis alike.

As research conducted in Bristol demonstrates, trans individuals do not threaten the cisgender population in single-gender services. I look forward to the day when we can say that we cannot have a woman’s movement without trans women as our fellow sisters. An intersectional feminism that includes trans women will only strengthen our work together. As a researcher, as a social scientist, and as a Bristolian, I do not support this event. Please consider signing this petition.

As Gloria Steinem beautifully describes: “As a feminist, I want my feminism to always be inclusive. This means welcoming self-defining women into our spaces; our safe spaces. It means mutual respect, while also recognising people’s different journeys and experiences. But, ultimately, it’s about support and solidarity in a culture that still sees the ‘female’ as weak, shameful and lesser.”

Note: Any comments to this post will be moderated by collective members in accordance with The F-Word’s own guidelines and specific reference to The F-Word bloggers’ position on transphobia and cissexism. Comments which breach these guidelines will not be published.

Featured image by Clem Onojeghuo, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence.

Featured image is of a woman at a protest. She is holding a large, red megaphone to her mouth and appears to be talking through it. She has long, wavy red hair that hangs over her face and shoulders.

It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the pas week. Today’s round-up is actually more of a ‘fortnightly’ round-up as last week’s wasn’t posted due to technical difficulties! Apologies to anyone who missed it last Monday.

As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

How protests can affect elections – Fighting the power (The Economist)

From the article: “Ms Chenoweth’s most conservative estimate of participants in the 2017 Women’s Marches (the biggest such rally that year) is five times Mr Veuger’s midpoint estimate of participants in the Tea Party rallies of 2009. If a similar relationship applied nationwide to Democratic Party vote share in the mid-terms after the women’s marches as to the Republican mid-term vote share after the Tea Party rally it would imply a Democratic landslide. The impact is unlikely to be so dramatic, however. The Washington, DC metropolitan area and Los Angeles (home to the largest such march in 2018) are Democratic Party redoubts where improved margins might not translate into more seats. The Tea Party, moreover, promoted small government nativism that easily translated into support for particular primary and general election candidates. The Women’s March and #MeToo are less straightforwardly ideological.”

MP’s hear of ‘veiled threats’ to BBC women over equal pay and a ‘bunker mentality’ in evidence submissions (Press Gazette)

From the article: “Among submissions from individual BBC women was one from an experienced national radio broadcaster who said that when being offered a contract to present a “flagship arts programme” she found out that she would be paid half the salary of the existing male presenter. She said: ‘When I asked for pay gap to be corrected the line manager told me “the BBC doesn’t do equal pay”, and that in raising the issue I was being “aggressive”. I refused to back down and eventually was given the same rate as my male colleague and it was backdated.’ The group also said that while individual BBC managers have been ‘supportive’ there remained a ‘bunker mentality in some quarters’ and that women have experienced ‘veiled threats made against them when they raised the subject of equal pay’.”

Flight Or Fight: Michaela Coel On Why We Need To Talk About Race (Vogue)

From the article: “But perhaps he’ll grow up in a different bubble – one in which inherited privilege isn’t to be safeguarded against perceived external threats, but exposed as a randomly dealt card that only exists by disempowering and holding back the opportunities and growth of others.”

Thoughts about transphobia, TERFs, and TUMFs (Julie Serrano, Medium)

Why We Applaud Woody Allen’s Misogyny (The Cut)

From the article: “The AFI tribute to Diane Keaton was covered by five or six industry publications, but none of them commented on Allen’s use of the word fellatrix in his speech. In general, most of them characterized it as a comedy routine or a roast that ended in a loving tribute. Which isn’t at all what it’s actually like. What you miss on the page are the mannerisms, the fake pauses and stammers, the gestures (Allen bringing his hand to his face, fingering his lip, playing with his ring) that made it seem like he was nervous or considering what to say, creating a patina of spontaneity…The speech relies heavily on a combination of aposiopesis (breaking off from speech and not finish a thought), paralepsis (drawing attention to something by seeming to ignore it), and a kind of non sequitur (sometimes called anacoluthon), where you purposely start a thought in a way that creates a false expectation as to how it will finish, then change direction.”

The Big Brother house – an unlikely source for an LGBT history lesson (The Guardian)

From the article: “It has always struck me as ironic that trans women and lesbians of colour lead the landmark moment in gay history, given that now, whenever LGBT history is discussed it tends to focus on histories of white gay men. Lesbians have reason to be aggrieved at the erasure of their history. Last year, in media coverage of the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation, we heard that “lesbians were never criminalised”, with no discussion of the tortures gay women were forced to endure in psychiatric institutions, inescapable marriages (including “corrective” rape) and at the hands the state – which would use removal of their children to punish them. In a patriarchal society, where women’s bodies are already subject to men, there’s no need for a statute.”

Giving up the food of my family: life as a vegan in diaspora (Erica Em, Media Diversified)

On “Swipe Culture” And Dating While Fat (Jen Kettle, Bust)

Tasers used 58 times in mental health settings (BBC News)

London fire chief tells of sexist abuse over ‘firefighters’ campaign (The Guardian)

50 Ways People Expect Constant Emotional Labor from Women and Femmes (Suzannah Weiss, The Body is not an Apology [originally published at Everyday Feminism])

From the article: “These are just fifty of the countless ways we’re expected to exert emotional energy on a regular basis. And when that much is demanded of you, it’s impossible for it not to compromise other areas of your life.”

Why We Must Protect Sex Workers At All Costs During The #MeToo Era (Neesha Powell, The Establishment)

From the article: “Sex workers use their bodies to make money like any other worker but aren’t afforded the same rights and protections. I believe the first step to ending sexual violence against sex workers is acknowledging their labor as valuable.”

In Haringey the people have taken over, not the hard left (Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian)

This Woman Created The #SaggyBoobsMatter Movement And People Are Here For It (BuzzFeed)

From the article: “Most of the responses have been horrible and disappointing, but I’ve learnt to not take them so personally. Men are socialised to see women as vaginas that think, sometimes. Because of this, women’s bodies are picked apart as if we only exist to satisfy.”

This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry (The New York Times)

Sex and the South Asian blame game (Medium)

From the article: “I waited a long time to have sex. When I was finally ready, I struggled with crippling bouts of guilt and shame, even though I was in a long-term, monogamous, loving relationship. But the fact that I felt the need to qualify this just now, is the exact problem. This pervasive culture of blame that I, too, find myself falling into complicates our relationships to our own bodies and, if we aren’t careful, can lead to something altogether more dangerous: shame.”

Afua Hirsch On Why It’s Damaging When People Claim Not To See Race (Refinery 29)

From the article: “Genuinely, one of the things I value about being British is our interest in history. Look at how many people visit National Trust properties on the weekend! And yet, what we teach our children is propaganda – it’s an incredibly selective and biased version of the facts. And for me, I think that really jars with what we profess to be as a nation. I think it’s really important that we accept we’re not really being honest with our young people. It’s not about – and this is something people sometimes accuse me of doing – indoctrinating people to think Britain is this terrible place. It’s about equipping people to understand that this is a country that has been infinitely interconnected with Africa and Asia for hundreds of years.”

LGBT Memoirs Written by Women (For Book’s Sake)

When you’re a working-class woman from the North and you go to university in London, nowhere feels like home any more (Independent)

‘Lady Bird’ Was Influenced by ‘Real Women Have Curves’ and No One Outside the Latinx Community Is Acknowledging It (Yolanda Machado, Marie Claire) [Via Tanez Ahmed]

How did “boy meets girl” become “boy stalks girl”? (The Pool)

Germaine Greer says women ‘spread legs’ for Weinstein movie roles (Independent)

A Gentler Kind of Veganism: Don’t Sacrifice Yourself (gal-dem)

From article: “I think being vegan can be a wonderful and positive action to take. But it’s important to remember that it is still an arbitrary line to draw. And to take that line and declare one side of it ‘ethical’ and the other ‘unethical’ creates an unnecessary and flawed binary. To me, being vegan is about being kind and thinking about others’ welfare as well as my own. Those others are not just animals, but other humans. And, as with any act of kindness, I believe you need to look after yourself first. It’s not something I always manage to do, but when I do, it has made any positive action I’ve taken far more sustainable and fulfilling.”

Men Only: Inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses are put on show (Financial Times)

Social media companies trusted by less than quarter of UK population who also back tougher regulation, study finds (Press Gazette)

From the article: “But, trust in media on the whole is at 32 per cent and a third of the population admit to consuming less news than they used to, with one in five saying they avoid the news completely, the study said. ‘Those most likely to be news rejecters are highly educated professionals, over the age of 40, with children, and living in London. They come from across the political spectrum and are evenly split male/female,’ it said. The three most common reasons for rejecting the news were that it is ‘too depressing’ (40 per cent), ‘too biased’ (33 per cent), and ‘controlled by “hidden agendas”‘ (27 per cent). The study found for the first time that the proportion of the UK population who describe themselves as ‘informed’ – those people who read business and political news ‘several times a week or more’ – has dropped to 6 per cent. It has never before fallen lower than 11 per cent.”

It’s Not (All) the Second Wave’s Fault (Sady Doyle, Elle)

From the article: “By asking young women to devour their predecessors in order to feel empowered and unique, we’ve created a culture where feminist narratives are rolled up behind us like a carpet, rendered invisible the moment we’re able to build on them. This has left many older women wounded, believing (not unjustly) that they’re being blamed for not understanding the ideas they originally contributed to the conversation. But it also does no great service to young women—the ones at work now or the ones who will come after us—who can only feel that they constantly have to reinvent the wheel.”

I thought I was one of the good guys. Then I read the Aziz Ansari story (Vox)

When Men Won’t Actually Give up Their Time (Imran Siddiquee, Bitch Media)

The Husband Stitch Isn’t Just a Horrifying Childbirth Myth (Carrie Murphy, Healthline)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Susanne Nilsson on Flickr. It is a photograph of a sunset over what appears to be a field or farmland. Trees and, what appear to be wind turbines way off in the distance, are silhouetted against a pink, purple and blue sky.

This is a guest post by Joanne-Aśka Popińska, a PhD student at the Polish National Film School who moved to Canada to pursue filmmaking and activism. With a Master’s Degree in sociology, she dedicates her creative vision to exploring the similarities between us, homo sapiens, and all other life forms we share this planet with: “rights” don’t just end with human rights. She is the former Artistic Director of the 3D IMAGE Film Festival in Łódź, Poland and is at the forefront of the bleeding edge of cinema and technology. She is the recipient of Toronto Arts Foundation The RBC Arts Access Fund Awards for newcomer artists

The Choice is a Virtual Reality experience inviting you to enter the digital consciousness of a virtual woman dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. It features holographic video interviews with women who share what shaped their decision to have an abortion. The main goal of the project is to influence empathy and understanding in a positive and constructive manner and to change how we talk about abortion.

As abortion rights in the United States are under attack from the current Trump administration, once again access to abortion has become a pressing public issue. Last weekend’s Women’s Marches that took place in major US cities gave us an idea of how people feel. I was motivated to make the movie due to situation in my home country, Poland, where the government is actively seeking to further restrict the already incredible limited access to abortion. Me and my team work in Canada where abortion also remains a complicated and controversial subject.

I want to create compassion. Not everyone can feel how it is to be pregnant: cis men are the obvious example but there are also women who cannot or don’t want to get pregnant. I want them all to be equal and supportive partners in this debate so I need them to understand even just a fraction of what it would feel like to be in this situation. I want The Choice to be the tool that gives them the opportunity to gain this perspective and I am using the newest cutting-edge technology to do it.

When you put on the VR headset, you “wake up” to realize that you are in someone else’s body – a woman’s body. You hear a voice inside your head: “How could this happen? What should I do?” These words float through the air around you, making you feel as though the thoughts are yours – that this panic is yours. As your mind searches for answers, real women appear in this space with you. They speak to you about what shaped their decision to terminate their pregnancy and the emotions they experienced. I interview women with different stories, diverse backgrounds and unique situations.

We’ve been working hard for the past year. Creating the technology to show those stories in an engaging way involved not only building the prototypes of the cameras, but also doing detailed research. The Choice is built inside a 3D game engine, combining video recordings with live rendered graphics so when the viewer enters the virtual world, they feel presence in it. Unlike in case of a traditional video, your natural movements are reflected in how your eyes and ears perceive the virtual world, allowing you to feel totally immersed in the fictional woman’s consciousness. Your mind feels as though the objects and people that appear before you are real, and the women you meet are also present with you in this virtual space.

VR gives us the opportunity to put viewers into situations they could not experience in real life. We do not know how we’d behave – we do not have a social script – most of us can never know how it feels to be a refugee, a blind person or a prisoner. Similarly, many of us will never know how it feels to consider having an abortion. Creating that situational empathy is the biggest goal of this project. The important aspect of using VR is also that with a headset on you are entering a unique, private space. There are no glances across the room from strangers, hushed whispers or nearby friends reading your face. Whatever your opinion on the topic of abortion, when you immerse yourself in The Choice you are free to share as much or as little about its impact as you want.

We’ve launched the Kickstarter campaign because we need support to move forward with the production. VR production is more expensive than traditional documentary. To produce the whole experience, we need around CA $100,000, and we’re looking to Kickstarter for the first CA $15,000 (£8,602). This jumpstart funds will allow us to build the pipeline and architecture that underpins The Choice as an application and to give it a solid framework for the documentary to be built upon.

We feel strongly about this subject and we believe that our creative concept and use of the newest VR technology offers an interesting approach to thinking about the right to choose. Contribute to our project and help us create this valuable tool for discussion, understanding and empathy.

Go to Kickstarter page to donate.

Images description:
1. Home screen of a VR project, lettering: “The Choice. A VR documentary about women’s right to choose”. It features five pixelated silhouettes of women against burgundy background.
2. A person with cropped blueish hair, blurred in the background, is being interviewed by someone with their back to us. The interviewer’s back and the preview of the recording are sharp in the foreground. It’s the director interviewing one of the contributors.
3.Black & white portrait of director Joanne-Aśka Popińska wearing a white Nike baseball cap, holding a camera.

Where has January gone? I have just about saved my blushes by posting this in the nick of time but it was a close-run thing!

I’m a huge fan of the RSC for lots of reasons but this month I am slightly scratching my head that it’s announcing “its first full-length Shakespeare play to feature a gender-balanced cast”. It’s 2018 and Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet in 1899; has it really taken them this long? And I’m guessing it means that the rest of their season won’t be “gender-balanced” but this is apparently still unremarkable.

The Royal Court however continue to do an amazing job. They’re currently on a four-week secondary schools tour with Cuttin’ It which tackles the urgent issue of Female Genital Mutilation in the UK. Each schools visit will involve a pre-show workshop followed by a post-show Q&A with the pupils led by Young Court. They have worked with the organisation Solace Women’s Aid for training sessions on FGM and have also been supported by Louise Williams, Clinical Nurse Specialist at the women’s division of University College Hospital, in order to fully prepare for the workshops.

US comedian, author, and podcaster Jen Kirkman opens at Soho Theatre tonight with her latest standup show The All New Material, Girl Tour which runs until 3 February. Musical comedy duo Flo & Joan will perform their latest show The Kindness of Stranglers also at the Soho Theatre from 12 until 14 February. And later in the month Rose Matafeo will bring her latest show Sassy Best Friend, which I reviewed in August, to the same venue for a week long run from Monday 19 February.

The Vault Festival is underway in London. Half of the shows are by women. Here are just a few of them:

  • Double Infemnity, a stylish and gender-flipped crime noir, runs from 31 January until 4 February at 6pm, with a matinee on 3 February at 3pm
  • Bad Luck Cabaret showcases the best in alternative cabaret on 31 January at 6.10pm
  • WHITE by Koko Brown (who we interviewed), about identity, blending spoken word and vocal looping, is on 4 February at 3.15pm and 6.15pm
  • Mission Abort by Therese Ramstedt tells the story of one woman’s actual experience of abortion on 7 and 8 February at 6.15pm
  • Assmonkey: In Conversation, an honest, interactive and upfront comedy about anxiety, depression and wanking, runs from 7 until 11 February at 7.45pm
  • Elsa, a musical comedy that asks why we seek happiness elsewhere runs from 14 until 18 February at 6.15pm
  • The Vagina Dialogues, “feminist, humorous, grotesque and a bit nude in its approach”, runs from 14 until 18 February at 7.45pm
  • Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World, that explores, through the prism of gaming, what depression is like and what it is like to fight it, runs from 21 until 25 February at 6pm
  • ZINA, a radical exploration of female sexuality in its myriad forms, and the relationship between sex and religion, lust and convention, runs from 21 to 25 February at 9.30pm with a matinee on 24 February
  • Good Girl, a bold, provocative and darkly comic coming-of-age tale that interrogates the experience of a young girl growing up in the 90s, runs from 28 February to 4 March at 9.30pm, with a matinee on 3 March at 5pm
  • Foreign Body by Imogen Butler-Cole, about hope, healing and forgiveness after sexual assault, runs from 7 until 11 March at 6pm
  • Unburied by Hermetic Arts, a folk horror mystery, unearthed from our cultural past, runs from 7 to 11 March at 6.05pm
  • Pecho Mama‘s are presenting a gig-theatre show, Medea Electronica, at the Ovalhouse from this Tuesday until 10 February and are offering a 241 discount code for the first two nights to our readers with the code ELECTROFWORD. Medea Electronica is a compassionate and feminist re-telling of Medea, set in the 1980s, to a live soundtrack.

    The Host, which tells the story of a Syrian refugee who has recently moved to the UK and the impact of his arrival on a local family will be running at St James’ Church, Piccadilly from 1 until 3 February alongside a major art installation from artist Arabella Dorman.

    A new musical will be at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 February as part of Queer Contact Festival 2018. Dancing Bear is a celebration and exploration of the joys and struggles between faith, sexuality and gender identity. The show will have integrated audio description and BSL interpretation but as far as I’m aware no captioning – it’s great that there are some accessible elements; there should be more of this kind of thing.

    It’s Not Cute Anymore runs from 6 until 10 February at Theatre503 in London. The one-hour long play explores themes of loss, entitlement and friendship as well as the dignity and relief that can come from giving up on your dreams.

    HOME in Manchester will be hosting a three-part large-scale fiction film installation, The Scar, by Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler from 10 February until 2 April. It weaves together conspiracy, gangster, noir, politics, crash theory, fantasy and documentary into a disrupted narrative and genre exploration that ignites a gender revolution. Noor Afshan Mirza comments: “Inhaling patriarchy and exhaling wo(fem)inism, The Scar has definitely been the most ambitious, challenging and inspiring project for me as an artist.”

    Hear Me Raw will be at Arcola Theatre from 12 to 24 February. In an autobiographical story, Daniella Isaacs peels back the Instagram filter to reveal the dirty truth behind clean living.

    Duckie Family Legacy is at Rich Mix in London on Saturday 17 February from 8pm until 3am. It will be exploring the roots of Queer People of Colour and the legacy they have left and continue to leave, behind. Redressing the misconception that People of Colour have no LGBTQ+ history of their own. Family is a QTIPOC centred event originated and co-curated by Kayza Rose and Campbell X.

    BeautifuL is a new dance theatre work by Sweetshop Revolution encompassing movement and text, exploring love and sexuality from the point of view of women and will be at Hackney Showroom on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February.

    And lastly, Funny Women have announced the Top 10 comedy shows as seen and voted for by the public in 2017. Three shows will go forward to the final which is in London on Monday 12 March.

    Image one is of Flo & Joan. Their faces are side-by-side and they both look seriously straight into the camera. There is a pink background behind them.

    Image two is of Symoné who will be performing at Duckie Family Legacy. She lies on her back with both legs up in the air. She twirls a hula hoop around one foot. Her eyes are closed and she’s smiling. She wears pink hot pants, fishnet tights, sparkly socks and a gold bra top.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 22 January 2018, 3:12 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    The YouTube star who fought back against revenge porn – and won (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Revenge porn – private sexual images or videos posted online in order to humiliate, degrade and discredit another person, often titled with their full name for maximum exposure – is a particularly modern form of shaming. But for Chambers, it was also a cruel inversion of the medium that had given her a career and a platform. Online videos had been the making of Chrissy Chambers. Now her image was going viral in a disgusting video over which she had no control.”

    Editor closed weekly Wales paper after conviction over article identifying sex offence victim (Press Gazette)

    “It’s not a criminal record, it’s a catalogue of abuse” (BuzzFeed)

    Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis tells of stalker’s effect on her work and family as he is jailed (Press Gazette)

    Babe, What Are You Doing? (Jezebel)

    From the article: “Because Babe did not have the range or depth to present Grace’s story for what it is—a starting point to discuss the ways consent can feel blurring, no matter how clear we might wish it were, and our lack of language to describe this—we all ended up opening up a conversation that did us no good at all. The story had the unfortunate effect of leaving the door a little wider for self-righteousness, allowing detractors to reiterate their shitty assumptions about millennial women and their motivations instead of questioning a set of injustices so commonplace that many people seem not to register them as injustices at all. And while Babe screwed up its execution of the story, it’s the grotesque priorities of the echo chamber that are really wronging Grace: once again, the comfort of the powerful remains, and the woman telling her story is reduced to a vessel.”

    #MeToo isn’t enough. Now women need to get ugly (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Now, all at once, women are refusing to accept sexual aggression as any kind of award, and men are getting fired from their jobs. It feels like an earthquake. Men and women alike find ourselves disoriented, wondering what the rules are. Women know perfectly well that we hate unsolicited sexual attention, but navigate a minefield of male thinking on what “solicit” might mean. We’ve spent so much life-force on looking good but not too good, being professional but not unapproachable, while the guys just got on with life. And what of the massive costs of permanent vigilance, the tense smiles, declined work assignments and lost chances that are our daily job of trying to avoid assault? Can we get some backpay?”

    The Black Woman’s Tale: Why Margaret Atwood’s Espousal of White Feminist Beliefs Shouldn’t Surprise You (Clarkisha Kent, The Root)

    The resistance is full of prudes: The Stormy Daniels scandal highlights how we still fail sex workers (Arabelle Raphael, The Outline)

    Last post…for now (Obesity Timebomb)

    Butch Women and Trans Men (A New Man)

    ‘This is a witch hunt’ says man who would have happily burnt women at stake 400 years ago (Daily Mash) [Satire]

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Mobilus In Mobili on Flickr. It is a photograph from the most recent Women’s March in Washington (according to information provided). It shows two people, in profile, holding placards. One of the people has long, curly hair and has a placard held high over their head and their mouth is open as if they are chanting or shouting. Their placard reads ‘Resist’. The other person has shorter hair, is wearing a pink sweater and appears determined. They have their arm held up as if they are also holding a placard which is just out of shot.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 17 January 2018, 12:49 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. Apologies that this is going up slightly late so it’s more of a ‘mid-week’ round-up! We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    What the Men Didn’t Say (The Atlantic)

    From the article: “At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, not one male award winner used their platform to mention the biggest story of the night.”

    Romance is not universal, nor is it necessary (Wear Your Voice Mag)

    From the article: “This belief that romantic relationships hold the highest social significance of all relationships, coupled with the pressure to get married—and the pressure to want to get married—allows for men to critique women who fall outside of their respectability politics. They attempt to scare us with threats of “no man will marry you” in efforts to police our emotionality, appearance, and sexual expression.”

    Catherine Deneuve, let me explain why #metoo is nothing like a witch-hunt (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Should it really have to be stated that – unlike the perpetrators exposed by #metoo – society’s ‘witches’ are never the powerful men with the property, status and advantages of a social order that protects, hides and excuses their crimes?”

    I Started the Media Men List My name is Moira Donegan (The Cut)

    I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life (Babe.net)

    From the article: “But Aziz Ansari isn’t an 18-year-old. He’s a 34-year-old actor and comedian of global renown who’s probably done more thinking about the nuances of dating and sex in the digital age than practically anyone else. He wrote a book about it, “Modern Romance”, and it was a New York Times bestseller. Ansari built his career on being cute and nice and parsing the signals women send to men and the male emotions that result and turning them into award-winning, Madison Square Garden-filling comedy.”

    Can the Concept of Foreplay Just Die in a Fucking Fire? (Coffee and Kink)

    Content note: NSFW

    From the article: “Let’s break this down. ‘Foreplay’ implies that it comes before something – namely, of course, penis-in-vagina (hereafter PIV) sex. And this is problematic on a number of levels.”

    “First of all it’s heteronormative as fuck. Not everyone is straight and cisgender. Not every sexual pairing consists of one penis and one vagina. The implication here is that only heterosexual, cisgender people have Real Sex (TM) and everything else is ‘merely’ foreplay.”

    “Secondly, and this may come as a shock – not all straight, cisgender people like PIV sex! Even pairings of one penis-owner with one vagina-owner does not necessarily imply that PIV will be their favourite sexual activity or even part of their sexual repertoire at all.”

    Jokes About Being Trans — By Actual Trans People (Katelyn Burns, Them)

    From the article: “Look, some of my best friends are cis, but their trans jokes just aren’t funny. They’re at least 60 years old and play off the same tired tropes over and over and over again. From Ace Ventura to Naked Gun 33 ⅓ to NCIS to How I Met Your Mother, to Dave Chappelle, the joke isn’t new. So in the spirit of good comedy, I created the #translol hashtag to give my fellow trans people a chance to tell the trans jokes for a change. You know, the only jokes about us that are actually funny…”

    No place like home: raising children in unsuitable temporary housing (Jess McCabe, Inside Housing)

    From the article: “Ms Williams, a governor of a nearby children’s centre, started the Magpie Project after noticing so few of the mums in temporary accommodation locally were accessing their services. They weren’t able to engage with the children’s centre because their most basic needs weren’t being met, Ms Williams says. Among these needs, she says, are ‘having somewhere to cook, being able to keep themselves and their children clean, feeling safe, and also just having the information or being mentally and emotionally well enough to be able to get through the door at this children’s centre’.

    The Lefty Critique of #TimesUp Is Tired and Self-Defeating (Rinku Sen, The Nation)

    From the article: “#TimesUp is grounded in a progressive movement where racial justice, feminism, and workers’ rights meet. For years, organizations have worked to change the national narrative around work, violence, immigration, policing, and many other issues. Understanding that policy and politics were inadequate to the transformational task at hand, they added cultural change to their toolkit. Through praxis, they’ve developed a theory of how to create cultural flash points and forged strong relationships with artists. The National Domestic Workers Alliance, for example, has been doing Golden Globes watch parties for several years and has made a big investment in giving women entertainers like Amy Poehler a chance to support domestic workers. The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United has connected with foodies and celebrity chefs. Tarana Burke, who created the #MeToo hashtag a decade ago, took advantage of the current moment, to historic effect.”

    This Bristol restaurant’s tipping policy forces waiting staff to ‘pay to work’ (Bronwen Weatherby, Bristol Evening Post)

    From the article: “In Milton Keynes I saw a girl in tears at the end of the shift because she hadn’t made enough in tips to pay her three per cent and the manager was making her walk to the cash point to withdraw money to pay it.”
    [Aqua has restaurants in six UK locations.]

    Twitter thread: “Something I wish more people would realise is how alienating it is to be poor/broke when you have financially stable/comfortable friends” (Moist Towelette, @MamaGhoulette)

    People accept that I’m gay, but not that I’m disabled (Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, talking to Joan McFadden, Guardian)

    From the article: “I definitely feel that there is a desexualisation of disabled people. When I was still dating, I could see the moment in my date’s eyes when I explained my condition and suddenly stopped being an interesting potential prospect. I think disabled people are not just taboo when it comes to sex, but also dating, relationships and life in general. My wife is often told that she is a saint for marrying me or that she must be such a good person – as if I am a terrible burden and not the woman she loves. Businesses, the media and politicians need to start seeing disabled people for what we are: useful members of society who have something to bring to others.”

    You Made It Unsafe For Us To Say No And Leave (Medium)

    From the article: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve simply had sex because it was safer than pushing the person away and saying no, or I was too tired to keep saying no, or I felt like I owed them for being kind, or I thought I was supposed to always say yes because we were in a relationship. You simultaneously teach us to trust men and distrust men all together and expect us to be able to survive when you teach cis men that non-men aren’t their equals, that we aren’t really even human.”

    Cheating and manipulation: Confessions of a gaslighter (BBC News)

    From the article: “From my experience it’s not true that it is vulnerable or insecure women who are susceptible to gaslighting. These were successful women but that came with a perception of what they thought a ‘successful’ relationship should look like and they shared that. They gave me a blueprint to what they were looking for in a man.”

    The poorly reported Aziz Ansari exposé was a missed opportunity (The Guardian)

    From the article: “The language of “a bad hookup” fails to capture the unequal power dynamics and the deep sense of disorientation and betrayal that comes when someone treats you as a hole rather than a person. Nor does it adequately measure the weight of centuries of misogyny that have shaped our most intimate moments.”

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Anita on Flickr. It is a photograph of a ‘winter landscape’ and shows a field covered in softly fallen snow.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 9 January 2018, 3:23 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    We need a domestic violence offenders’ register. Theodore Johnson is proof (The Guardian)

    From the article: “A register would add a “right to know” to the current “right to ask”. Like convicted sex offenders, men convicted of domestic violence would have to inform the police of their current address, making it much harder for them to drop off the radar. Crucially, they would also have to tell the police if they have formed new relationships. Officers would then have a duty to warn the women concerned about the offenders’ criminal records.”

    Former Mail Online columnist Katie Hopkins signed up by right-wing Canadian website The Rebel Media (Press Gazette)

    From the article: “Hopkins will be writing a weekly column for the website under the banner of her new HopkinsWorld website. The Rebel Media says Hopkins will also be writing investigative reports and producing video content for the company. She’s on a roster of contributors for the website which include former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.”

    This man says he was sexually abused by Jann Wenner. Then he got an amazing job offer at Rolling Stone (Buzzfeed)

    From the article: “Wells said his wife believes he was so traumatized by his experience with Wenner and working at Rolling Stone that he never fulfilled the career he could have had. ‘I could have become an agent, an editor,’ he said. ‘I turned my back, though. I didn’t want to see any of those people.’

    ‘He was a much more confident person when he was working there,’ Wells’ wife Jane said of her husband. ‘He was pretty confident and happy and it was all cool and fun when I started dating him [in 1985]. Immediately when he got fired and sued things got very heavy for him.’

    Wells shared his experience with a few people at the time he felt wouldn’t judge him or make assumptions about him. He didn’t want people in the book publishing world to find out and think his encounter with Wenner was the reason he was hired to work at Rolling Stone.

    Three longtime friends, his sister Alice, and his lawyer from the time all told BuzzFeed News that Wells discussed the events with them around the time they happened — from the night at Wenner’s apartment to when he was fired. He later told his wife Jane about them before they married in 1986.”

    Remember Obiamaka (Medium)

    From the article: “To work in media is to accept that every job, work function or networking event will be peppered with some supremely shitty men, their offenses all different and of varying degrees but all centered on one central fact: They deeply disrespect — and probably even hate — their female colleagues. To make matters worse, many of these men publicly brand themselves as male feminists, and most dangerously, serve as true gatekeepers for the women who work for them, able to either help make their careers or steal their ideas to make their own.”

    Vice UK staff warn that sexual harassment has overshadowed journalism careers of young women at the media brand (Press Gazette)

    From the article: “Full-time and freelance staff in the UK and other markets are also now required to take part in sexual harassment training which is run by third-party providers. The ramping up of its HR capabilities comes amid Vice Media launching a probe into sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct, after revelations in the US. It has suspended two senior executives – president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano – following a New York Times report detailing sexual harassment allegations against them.”

    2017’s best writing by sex workers (Tits and Sass)

    On Liking Women (Andrea Long Chu, n+1)

    From the article: “What’s striking here is not Solanas’s revolutionary extremism per se, but the flippancy with which she justifies it. Life under male supremacy isn’t oppressive, exploitative, or unjust: it’s just fucking boring.”

    Women Are Being Left To “Bleed Out” When They Have Their Periods In Police Cells, A Watchdog Says (Hazel Shearing, Buzzfeed News)

    From the article: “BuzzFeed News can reveal the ICVA has today written an open letter to the Home Office, calling for it to conduct a review of the situation and introduce minimum standards of sanitary provision for women in police custody, after shocking reports from unannounced visits. The situation violates “basic human rights” and could be in breach of the Human Rights Act, according to lawyers working with the group who spoke to BuzzFeed News.”

    This YouTube Series Explains Almost Everything Wrong With “The Big Bang Theory” (Gianna Folz, Bust)

    From the article: “Over 11 seasons, The Big Bang Theory has repeatedly reinforced the idea of #YesAllMen. The main men of the show are albeit unusual to mainstream television as they are all dorky, well-educated and lack social skills and conventional male beauty standards, such as being physically fit or above a certain height. But these “lovable nerds” still somehow aggressively objectify women. That objectification is the crux of the jokes on the show. Nerds can sexualize women to the same extent as jocks.”

    Speaking to media can be ‘distressing’ and ‘daunting’ – public should consider using lawyers or PR company, government guidelines say (Press Gazette)

    “While the guidance offers details of the remit of IPSO, which most newspaper have signed up to, the only details it discloses about Impress, the state-approved press regulator, is its address and a link to its website.

    Times writer David Brown wrote on Twitter: ‘When we were reporting the awful disaster at Grenfell Tower the survivors and families of missing were desperate to speak with journalists. Many were highly critical of the authorities who are now seem to be advising them not to speak to the media.'”

    Carrie Gracie’s dispute with the BBC isn’t about money – it’s about integrity (The Guardian)

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Eugene on Flickr. It is a black and white photograph of a person with short hair wearing a jacket and jeans. They are sitting with their face turned away from the camera and one hand brought up to their temple as if easing a headache or thinking. Their facial expression appears sombre.

    Welcome to our new fiction editor

    by Joanna Whitehead // 8 January 2018, 5:58 pm


    While Lusana has been doing excellent work on our non-fiction section, our fiction editor role has remained vacant for a number of months. I am, therefore, delighted to announce that we now have a new fiction editor: Sarah Kiddle! Please join me in giving her a warm welcome. Here is some more information about Sarah, in her own words:

    Sarah Kiddle is an intersectional feminist and is particularly interested in stereotyping in popular culture (especially in fiction and children’s books), the pornification of society, language, education, mental health and feminist parenting. In between studying for an MA in Creative Writing and nurturing a love of books and nature in her toddler, Sarah is a freelance copywriter, copy-editor and proofreader. She also worked for nine years as an English teacher and believes that innovative educational initiatives could help tackle many feminist issues. In any spare moments, Sarah can be found either eating cheese, daydreaming about travel, enjoying the great outdoors or escaping into a book – which may or may not be particularly literary. She is humbled by the wit and wisdom of other feminists on a daily basis, and is thoroughly thrilled to be working at The F-Word. She can be found on Twitter at @sckiddle

    You can pitch Sarah with ideas for the section at sarah@thefword.org.uk You can also find out more about pitches and other fiction-related info in The F-Word fiction Facebook group.

    Sarah elaborates on the kind of themes she is particularly interesting in hearing about below:


    I’m very excited – and honoured – to be The F-Word’s new fiction editor. As a lifelong reader and feminist (before I even knew the word!), I believe that fiction is a vital window onto the world we live in: it gives us access to lives we might have had, or aspire to have, or imagine having, increasing our knowledge and empathy and wisdom as it does so.

    Fiction is also a tool for inspiring, educating and simply entertaining us. I’d like the F-Word’s fiction section to reflect the many roles that stories play in our lives – from comforter to catalyst – and what they tell us about women as they are and as they are perceived, particularly the experiences of marginalised groups whose voices often go unheard elsewhere.

    With that in mind, I’d love to hear your ideas, so if you have something you’re burning to say or explore about books – reviewing a particular author, series or seminal work; looking at issues women face in the publishing world; or exploring an aspect of women’s lives in fiction.

    While I have many ideas for a broad and dynamic section, two areas I’d love submissions for in the first instance are:

    * Feminist and intersectional critiques of well-known books of any genre – perhaps looking at how the women portrayed reflect the society of their time, or surprising role models (or the opposite!) in literature. Can a feminist reader justify enjoyment of certain books? Does the book hold a particular relevance to your feminist life?

    * Reviews of children’s and young adult (YA) books from a feminist standpoint, and explorations of feminist and intersectional issues within them. What lessons and assumptions do young children absorb from the books we read to them? Should we continue to read childhood ‘favourites’ with gender stereotypes to our children? What books provide children from marginalised groups with inspiring role models they can relate to?

    I’m also keen on hearing from women from minority or marginalised groups – and pitches about books which reflect those experiences.

    Finally, it would be great to keep up with current releases. You may want to focus your review on how female characters are represented, how a male author writes women, or a relevant feminist or intersectional theme that has been explored – or something else! But these should be books from 2018, to give us bookworms a priority list for great new books (or a warning for those to avoid!).

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    The picture at the top of the page is a close-up shot of the right-hand side of a red typewriter. The brand ‘Royal’ can be seen on the top of the typewriter and the keys on the far right-hand side are somewhat blurred, which is an intentional stylistic choice by the photographer. Image shared under a Creative Commons licence.

    Language matters, Virgin

    by Joanna Whitehead // 3 January 2018, 4:18 pm

    Tags: , , ,

    Earlier this week, it was reported that a woman using the Virgin East Coast mainline train service had been called “honey” by a male member of train staff in response to a grievance she had. The passenger, who was understandably disgruntled after being given misinformation on a busy train service, complained to an “older male train manager”, who she said dismissed her “with that hideously patronising word that women shudder at in contexts such as this: “honey””. Dissatisfied, the passenger took to Twitter to highlight her frustration, tagging the Virgin Trains account.

    Virgin Trains’ response?

    There are two corresponding elements to this remarkable fail. Firstly, that a woman looking to resolve a grievance was referred to as “honey” and, secondly, the subsequent response to this by the Virgin Trains employee in charge of their Twitter account. The actual details of the incident are almost irrelevant.

    Being referred to as “honey”, “sweetheart” or “darling” is something many women and femme-presenting folk are familiar with. What’s important to note is that these terms are context dependent. A close friend or lover referring to us in this way will most likely get a very different response to a stranger shouting this at us in the street. And, for many of us on the receiving end of this, we know what that latter experience feels like and what it intends to do.

    In the wrong context, these words can be used to undermine and belittle women. They’re the verbal equivalent of a pat on the head. They serve to remind women that they are lesser – that their roles are those of eye-candy or playthings. They are not words to use when you want to denote respect.

    Words are powerful. They can soothe, reassure and inspire, but they can also harm, humiliate and wound. Civilisation has progressed far enough for almost everyone to recognise this. When a person speaks up to say that they are offended by a word being used to refer to them, we should listen, rather than shouting them down or telling them that they’re being oversensitive.

    Would a man raising a complaint with a male train manager expect to be called “honey”? I very much doubt it

    Virgin is one of the world’s most profitable companies. Figures on their website indicate that they make £16.6 billion globally in revenue (“and growing”). They employ over 69,000 people worldwide. The Twitter account that published the post above has 149,000 followers. That someone thought it was amusing or appropriate to respond to customer feedback with the above response is baffling.

    A further post was then published by the company:

    Comments in response to this exchange have been predictable, with some stating that using terms such as “honey” to refer to other people is characteristic in some northern parts of the country. This may be true but, again, I would argue that context is key. Would a man raising a complaint with a male train manager expect to be called “honey”? I very much doubt it and suspect that the train manager may be at risk of a black eye if this occurred. As someone born and bred in Yorkshire, I can also safely say that I have never witnessed a cis, heterosexual man seriously refer to another cis heterosexual man as “honey”.

    For those commentators who believe that it’s impossible to focus on an incident like this when they are other “more important” issues to concentrate on, I would direct them to this excellent video by Riley J Dennis. Focusing on incidences perceived as “smaller” in the grand scheme of things does not mean we are unable or incapable of also paying attention to society’s larger issues. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    And, if you’re struggling to know what the appropriate context is to use such words, I suggest using the person’s name. It’s really that simple.

    Do better, Virgin.

    The picture at the top of the page shows a upper-body shot of a white, stone statue of a man with his head in his hands against a perfect blue sky. It’s meant to represent the face-palm moment I felt when I first read the report in relation to this story. Image taken by Alex Proimos and shared under a a Creative Commons licence.

    The first Virgin Trains Twitter screenshot reads, in response to the woman’s complaint about being referred to as “honey”: “Sorry for the mess up Emily, would you prefer “pet” or “love” next time?^MS” The second Virgin Trains Twitter screenshot reads: “We apologise unreservedly for this tweet and for the offence caused. To avoid causing more offence we have deleted the original post^SH

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 2 January 2018, 1:32 pm

    Tags: ,

    Happy New Year to all F-Word readers. The weekly round-up has been on hiatus over Christmas but it’s back now with (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous couple of weeks. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    #WokeCharlotte: the meme clapping back at dated Sex and the City moments (Dazed)

    Young women ‘almost invisible’ from Government strategy on mental health, report claims (i News)

    Who Gets to Identify as ‘Femme’? (Vice)
    From the article: “While not everyone in queer circles believes “femme” should be a term used exclusively by queer people, to some, using it outside queer contexts feels like an erasure of contributions femmes have made to queer liberation movements. “To use the term without resonating with that longer history could be seen as […] potentially doing a disservice to queer identified people,” said Gomez-Barris. Others contend that when the term is used by straight people, they contribute to femme invisibility—the idea that femme queer women are often mistaken as straight by society, thus perpetuating an erasure of their identities.”

    At Vice, Cutting-Edge Media and Allegations of Old-School Sexual Harassment (New York Times)

    From the article: “The settlements and the many episodes of harassment the women described depict a top-down ethos of male entitlement at Vice, where women said they felt like just another party favor at an organization where partying often was an extension of the job.”

    Noel Gallagher thinks that the music industry is less misogynistic than film (NME)

    From the article: “‘You know you can’t afford to be a misogynist in the music business,’ said Gallagher. ‘I mean, I write songs about the glory of women all the time, you know what I mean? I’ve gotten my career out of that. I love being around women, and not to objectify them, they’re funnier than most men half the time … I’ve never understood misogyny.’”

    In response to this article, the music writer Lucy O’Brien, tweeted “What about those festival bills then?” (https://twitter.com/LucyOBrienTweet/status/945616460801560576) a comment which relates, amongst other things, to a report the BBC did in June 2017 revealing the lack of female festival headliners: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-40273193.

    Lorde called a bigot in Washington Post ad over cancelled Israel concert (The Guardian)

    From the article: “The decision also came after an open letter written by two New Zealanders argued the concert would show support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

    ‘I have had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show,’ Lorde wrote at the time. ‘I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.’

    The ad says Lorde’s decision showed how a ‘growing prejudice against the Jewish state’ in New Zealand was ‘trickling down to its youth’.

    It cites New Zealand’s choice in December to vote, along with 127 countries, in favour of a UN resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

    Music has ‘gotten very girly’ says Bono from U2 (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Bono cited streaming as a factor in the supposed feminisation of music. ‘Right now, streaming is on the ad-based model,’ he told Rolling Stone. ‘And that is very, very young, and it’s very, very pop. It’s dominated by frequency of plays, but that is not actually a measure of the weight of an artist … If you are a teenager and you are listening to whatever the pop act is, you’re probably listening to them 100 times a day. It’s a teenage crush, but in a year’s time you won’t care about that.'”

    The Year of Hurricane Harvey (The Economist)

    From the article: “The signs are that the #MeToo movement has reached a delicate stage. The buffeting of the past few months has certainly been cathartic. It has also brought abusers in a bewildering range of industries kicking and screaming into the open. But the novelty of seeing famous men brought down will soon fade. Before that happens, both men and women need to come to a shared understanding of what sexual harassment is and what to do about it. If too many of them conclude that complaints are being exaggerated or exploited, they will not stop in to stop backsliders. Minor transgressions will be allowed to carry on. That will make it more likely that rape and sexual assault will go unpunished too.”

    Erica Garner, Black Lives Matter activist, dies aged 27 (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Erica Garner became an activist and writer, including for the Guardian. In July 2016, she met privately with Barack Obama, after protesting during a town hall event on race. She also campaigned on behalf of Sanders in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. In his statement, Sanders said: ‘Erica Garner was an exceptional young woman. She was a loving daughter, sister, mother, friend.’ He added: ‘I had the honor of getting to know Erica and I was inspired by the commitment she made working towards a more just world for her children and future generations. She was a fighter for justice and will not be forgotten.'”

    My vagina was badly injured after giving birth. Why was getting help so hard? (Christen Clifford, Guardian)

    Black Women and Femmes Will Lose Visibility If Net Neutrality Goes (Liz Brazile, Reclaiming My Time)

    From the article: “Black women have been the driving force behind social justice movements for many decades—centuries even. But the reach of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter has afforded us a much larger platform than we’ve ever had access to in the mainstream media. As a grossly underrepresented demographic, many of us rely on social media to bring awareness to our experiences, causes, talents, and businesses.”

    The real story behind the “drunk women” headlines (Zoë Beaty, The Pool)

    Milo Yiannopoulos’s draft and the role of editors in dealing with the far-right (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Such comments do not constitute a rejection of the Yiannopoulos agenda. Rather, they’re efforts by a professional editor trying to make that agenda more palatable for the book’s perceived readership.”

    Some mental health services are telling patients: ‘If you really wanted to kill yourself, you would have done it’ (Jay Watts, Independent)

    From the article: “I am writing this article in awareness that most mental health services do a fantastic job, and with the wish that people continue to seek help. I cannot emphasise enough how many people I have met who have made multiple attempts on their life, often over many decades, and come to thrive.”

    “But I write too with a desperate request that we not only fund crisis services better, that we not only skill mental health staff to be able to contain suicidal despair, but that we change attitudes around suicide within psychiatric services which block people from care. It is inexcusable that mental health services make people feel like a burden for continuing to struggle, that we take away from them the possibility of help and therefore hope.”

    Dear journalists, as an A&E consultant I am writing to ask for your help (Rob Galloway, Facebook)

    Palestinian girl filmed slapping Israeli solider is charged with assault (The Guardian)

    From the article: “The case has raised complex questions over the prominent role of minors in Palestinian activism, not least in violent confrontations with Israeli security forces. Concerns have also been raised over the treatment of minors in the Israeli military court system, and how the media – both local and international – interpret such images from the conflict.”

    ‘We’re extremely sorry’: Murdered Iranian refugee Bijan Ebrahimi failed by police and council’s ‘institutional racism’ (Independent)

    Blue passports could send UK citizens to back of queue, EU officials say (The Guardian)

    From the article: “David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, said Brexit was ‘turning us into a laughing stock’. ‘We’re swapping the right to live and work in 27 countries for new passports,’ he said. ‘But don’t worry, when we’re all stood in the airport for four hours we can stand in the queue and look at just how blue they are.'”

    George Michael’s Goring neighbours share memories one year on (BBC)

    Bono Is Sad Men Have No Outlet For Their Anger Now That They Let Women Make Music (Rebecca Fishbein, The Muse, Jezebel)

    Time’s Up: Hollywood women launch campaign to fight sexual harassment (The Guardian)

    From the article: “In a sense, Time’s Up is being launched as a companion to the #MeToo movement that grew out of the spontaneous response to revelations about Hollywood’s ‘casting-couch’ system of sexual predation and enduring gender-pay disparities.

    While attention has largely focused on show business and the media, Time’s Up seeks to include the plight of working-class women.

    The organization arose from informal gatherings of female talent agents in Los Angeles who starting meeting after the issue of sexual harassment landed like a bombshell on the entertainment industry in October. The group rapidly expanded and now includes meetings and workshops for participants in New York and London.”

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Sandrine on Flickr. It shows a lake surrounded by trees at sunset; the low hanging sun is reflected in the water.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 19 December 2017, 1:53 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    For everyone celebrating Christmas, have a good one! We’ll be back with another round-up in the new year.

    Sexual harassment ‘rife’ in schools but largely unreported, study says (The Guardian)

    From the article: “More than one in three girls (37%) in mixed secondary schools told a survey they have been sexually harassed while at school and 24% have been subjected to unwanted physical touching of a sexual nature.

    The use of sexist, misogynist language is also widespread with 66% of female sixth-form students complaining they have either experienced or witnessed the use of sexist language in schools.”

    ‘Harvey Weinstein is my monster too’ (NY Times)

    Alarm over restraint of NHS mental health patients (The Guardian)

    Dad’s hilarious letter to daughter’s school perfectly sums up modern-day sexism (Stylist)

    From the article: “According to Stephen Callaghan (otherwise known as, amazingly, @Grumplestiltskin), his 12-year-old daughter, Ruby, was recently ushered into the school library with all the other girls in her class to get a makeover. The boys, meanwhile, went on a field trip to their local hardware store, Bunnings. Yes, really.”

    ‘Chinese burn? We just say burn’: comics on joking about race and immigration (The Guardian)

    Why Debbie McGee’s Strictly success is so important for women everywhere (Stylist)

    From the article: “When I started comedy I didn’t want to talk about being Chinese. I thought the only way to make jokes about it was to reinforce stereotypes, because those were the only jokes that I heard growing up. Chinese people are good at maths, they are martial arts experts with broken English, or they’re running laundromats and have no real depth of character, and sometimes they are portrayed in a racist way by Mickey Rooney.
    But on stage you end up talking about what frustrates you. It has been a struggle to find a way to talk about being Chinese in a meaningful way.”

    It’s Time to Embrace Feminism’s Anger. Let’s Use it Even More in 2018 (Bitch Media)

    Under Irish law, a woman who seeks an abortion after rape can face a longer prison sentence than her rapist – but this could be about to change (The Guardian)

    “Bad Sex,” Or The Sex We Don’t Want But Have Anyway (Ella Dawson)

    From the article: “Bad sex isn’t even necessarily coercive. I’m talking about having a sexual encounter you don’t want to have because in the moment it seems easier to get it over with than it would be to extricate yourself.”

    More work to be done in fight for gender equality: Aware’s Jolene Tan (TNP) [Singapore]

    From the article: “These women thought they were alone, that it was shameful to talk about their experiences or maybe it was partly their fault, and they could not receive help. Many of these ideas are being overturned because they are seeing others say, ‘It is not my shame, it is his shame.'”

    Jolene Tan used to write for the F-Word. You can read more of her work HERE.

    On 17th December it was International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW). We have chosen some relevant links on the subject:

    MPs, we urgently need to talk about – and to help protect – Britain’s sex workers (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Decriminalisation of sex work will not undo centuries of stigma any more than the criminalisation of marital rape in 1991 instantly redressed gender inequality or ended sexual violence. The world doesn’t work like this. What legislation can do is offer recourse, the backing of the criminal justice system; it makes a crime visible by drawing a line between what is and is not morally acceptable.”

    Stop ignoring the evidence: client criminalisation endangers sex workers’ (International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)

    What unites sex workers’ rights and abortion rights movements? (Abortion Rights Campaign and Sex Workers’ Alliance Ireland)

    Everyone has the right to work without fear of violence, so why should sex workers be any different? (Laura Connelly, Independent)

    MPs, we urgently need to talk about – and to help protect – Britain’s sex workers (Frankie Mullin, Guardian)

    From the article: “Sunday 17 December is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW) and, worldwide, sex workers will gather to mourn and to call for change. In London, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) and the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) will hold a vigil outside parliament on 18 December. We will build a memorial for the sex workers who’ve lost their lives, and have invited MPs to come out and speak to us. We are calling for full decriminalisation of working with another person for safety, and acknowledgment that the UK’s piecemeal legislation, which criminalises such working, contributes to violence.”

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to PokemonaDeChroma on Flickr. It shows the branch of a rather bare looking pine or ‘Christmas’ tree. The branch is sharply in focus and jutting out onto what appears to be a residential street; a road, traffic lights, houses and a person walking can be seen in the background.

    Austerity and mental health

    The mood in the room is serious yet upbeat; well-dressed delegates take their seats around tastefully laid-out breakfast tables, exchanging polite networking chat. The people in this room are senior decision makers, and they are about to be debriefed on what the 2017 Autumn budget means for health and social care.

    I am also in this room and seem to be one of the few members of press. But I don’t need to be here to know that things are dire.

    Health services, particularly the NHS, have borne significant and damaging budget cuts beneath Tory austerity. From 2015-2016, the public health budget was cut by £200m, a gap set to grow to £331m by 2021.

    The Care Quality Commission reports that while the quality of care has been maintained in the NHS, the system faces unprecedented pressure. There are increasing numbers of older patients and those with more complex conditions, which can translate into longer waits in A&E and more planned operations being cancelled. The amount of NHS hospital beds in England has more than halved over the last 30 years.

    Back in the room, the speaker notes that realistically, there won’t be anything substantial done to improve social care until the end of the decade.

    Meanwhile, it is women — especially working class, disabled and BAME women — who are most affected by austerity. And they have felt, and will feel, the sting of cuts to public health and social care the most.

    The growing shortage of beds relies on the idea that people will seek the care they need from the community, a King’s Fund report notes. This means that more people will be required to take on caring roles, the burden of which chiefly falls on women. The latest ONS data shows that nearly 60% of carers are women, with women taking on a higher share of the unpaid care burden in a similar proportion across England and Wales. The general health of unpaid carers was found to deteriorate incrementally as the amount of unpaid care provided increased.

    A 2015 Carers UK policy briefing notes that BAME carers are less likely to receive practical and financial support and to receive support for longer periods of time. This, they suggest, is down to difficulties accessing culturally appropriate services and a general lack of available advice and information. The same report references a previous analysis by the University of Leeds that suggests that BAME families are more likely to provide care for older or disabled loved ones.

    And the disproportionate effects of austerity itself compounds the strain on families, creating a vicious circle of increased need and demand versus increasing access barriers.

    “In terms of losses to income, mothers are particularly badly hit,” Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, co-director of the Women’s Budget group, told The Femedic. “This is because of freezes to benefits and tax credits, cuts to child benefits, and cuts to the child element of tax credits. Additional payments after the first child are cut, and from April this year there’s the two child cap.”

    This will particularly affect larger families and those who rely on benefits. As Shirley Cramer, RSPH chief executive notes, health access and outcomes in the UK are ultimately tied to socioeconomic status. And it is women who lose out both individually where it comes to net income and on behalf of a family for whom they have become the shock absorber.

    Then, there’s the impact poverty has on maternal mental health, creating a catch-22 when it comes to austerity, explains Dr Stephenson. “Where mothers do develop mental health problems as a result of cuts, the services aren’t in place to support them,” she said. Women living in poverty are four times more likely to develop postnatal depression than those within the highest income bracket, according to Psychologists Against Austerity.

    Back in the room, the speaker reminds us that austerity is due to continue into the next two parliaments. For the most part, the following discussion is earnest, and considers how to boost productivity and try to remedy some of the strain felt by both the sector and the people that work within it.

    Ultimately though, it’s clear that the root of all these problems are the structures of discrimination that austerity has exacerbated.

    “This is the consequence of the failure of austerity and the lowest productivity since Napoleon invaded Russia,” the speaker says. The room is silent.

    Featured image by Jonas Kakaroto, from Unsplash. Used under creative commons zero licence.

    Image is of a pregnant woman lying on a bed. Her face is not visible in the frame. She wears a cropped, white top that allows her belly to stick out and white leggings. The bed sheets are candy pink.

    Mother and daughter

    Laura Cooke is December’s monthly guest blogger

    Amal Clooney, Georgina Rodriguez, Ferne McCann, Danielle Lloyd, Serena Williams, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Binky Felstead, Beyonce and Cheryl — what do these nine women all have in common?

    The answer is that within the last three months they have all shown off/flaunted their incredible/sensational post-baby bodies. At least, that is, according to the Daily Mail.

    But in amongst the seemingly endless celebrity baby-body stories on the Mail website, there is a feature about six women who talk candidly about their postpartum bodies, from stretch marks to saggy boobs. The headline reads: ‘What pregnancy did to our bodies: Six brave mothers reveal the toll having a baby has taken on their figures’.

    I take issue with one word in particular in that headline — brave.

    The use of the word brave in this context is so patronising it may as well be accompanied by a pat on the head.

    I’m a stone and a half heavier than I was pre-pregnancy; I can’t pull my old jeans up much past my knees. Bits of me wobble that never used to wobble before. I am not brave. I have only done what hundreds of thousands of other women around the world do on a daily basis. I have had a baby.

    And it’s not just the Daily Mail telling me what a brave little soldier I am. The mums recently featured in The Sun have been branded brave because they have dared to show their postpartum stomachs in a national publication. Meanwhile, The Metro had a good stab at a positive article about postpartum bodies, until the ‘b word’ rears its head a few paragraphs down and spoils things.

    In comparison, none of the women mentioned in the list above are branded brave. The Mail enthuses over them, calling them sensational, a vision of beauty, ravishing, sizzling and so on. While this language sexualises and objectifies the celebrity mums, it’s a sharp contrast to us mere mortals being told that we are brave; our postpartum bodies are ‘nothing to be ashamed of’. It feels like participating in a school sports day and receiving a certificate for taking part.

    Rather than empowering mothers by reassuring us that we are all normal, all these ‘positive’ postpartum articles do is provide yet another opportunity for people to pass judgement on women’s bodies. Having a body is something that really isn’t newsworthy. Or, at least in a perfect world, it shouldn’t be.

    These two types of articles invite unfair comparisons. You cannot compare most women with someone like Serena Williams, one of the finest athletes of her generation. Most of us mums have never had the body of a grand slam winner pre-pregnancy, so we’re hardly likely to have one postpartum.

    Comparisons like this create ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ post-baby bodies: the former of which some women might not ever have, for no reason of their own failing. Why should they be made to feel bad or guilty about it?

    Right from the off, The Sun invites the reader to compare its group of mothers to one new celebrity mum with the headline: ‘We speak to four brave mums who proudly show off their post-baby tum just like Cheryl’. What follows is an image of a postpartum Cheryl, followed by a series of pictures of the ‘normal’ mums in the same outfit, recreating the same pose. It is impossible not to compare the two, which begs the question: what was the real point of this article if not to judge the women featured?

    After giving birth, it can be difficult to get your head around what has happened to your body. Not only the obvious physical changes, but it can also feel like your body doesn’t belong to you anymore because your baby calls the shots. For nine months your body has been devoted to keeping your baby alive. Once they enter the world, your body is left with physical reminders of what happened that, in most cases, stay with you for the rest of your life. And if you are able to breastfeed, your relationship with your breasts changes because they suddenly serve a new purpose.

    When a mother is possibly at a low ebb following the birth of her child, celebrity baby-body articles are great at feeding insecurities and have the potential to be particularly harmful if she is suffering from a mental health illness, such as postnatal depression.

    But a ‘positive’ postpartum story, peppered with condescending language, can also be harmful as it implies that the average woman’s post-birth body is something out of the ordinary which needs highlighting and is worthy of comment. It isn’t. It’s just a body.

    All women who have given birth — vaginally or by c-section — have done an amazing thing which will have affected their bodies to various degrees.

    We do not need to be told we are brave for bearing the physical effects of childbirth and existing within those bodies afterwards.

    Featured image by London Scout, from Unsplash. Used under a creative commons zero licence.

    Image is of a mother and daughter on a city street. The mother crouches down to her child’s height and has her arms around her in a loose embrace. The child looks at the camera. Mother and daughter are both wearing smart white shirts and black skirts.

    Inadequate pay and exploitation at work disproportionately affect migrant women. In the last 10 years, numerous stories have been uncovered about groups of migrant women being exploited to benefit large companies. In 2015, for example, groups of Polish women were found working at the rate of £6.50 a day for hospitality giant Hotelcare who required them to clean 13 rooms in eight hours, every day, five days a week.

    Migrant women face difficulties such as feeding their families and are prevented from reaching their professional potential due to inadequate pay, excessive work hours and often difficult working conditions.

    In 2016, Virginia Mantouvalou, reader in Human Rights and Labour Law and Co-Director of the UCL Institute for Human Rights, conducted an empirical study which included a series of interviews with 24 migrant women who arrived in the UK on a domestic worker visa. She found that “The workers interviewed recounted shocking stories of abuse and exploitation, fear and isolation”.

    When being interviewed for Hidden Hope, a project by the charity Home Alone which fights to end domestic slavery, a migrant woman said that “There was a time I was about to kill myself because it really was too much stress and everything”.

    Social mobility is on the decline in the UK, which means that escaping poverty is becoming increasingly difficult. If you are being exposed to multiple oppressions — i.e. gender, race, nationality — the opportunities to elevate yourself are even harder, especially when considering the negative attitudes the UK seems to be adopting towards migrants, refugees and people of colour. After Brexit, hate crimes spiked to 41%. Prejudice is growing and migrant women in the UK need legal protection now more than ever.

    Poor pay is a huge part of this exploitation and traps many migrant women into poverty. Officially, on the UK government website, the national minimum wage and national living wage are set at £7.05 per hour for 21-24-year-olds and £7.50 per hour for over 25’s. Even in cases where migrant women are being paid these wages, neither can cover the actual costs of living when considering the rising costs of rent, food, household goods, services, transportation and any additional fees immigrants may have to pay the UK government or their employers.

    At the beginning of November, the charity Living Wage Foundation set the real living wage at £8.75 per hour for anyone over 18-years-old, which rises to £10.20 for those living in London. This was independently calculated by both the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK, based on what people need to reasonably get by. This is the only wage rate that is based on what people need to live above the poverty line, dependent on the average cost of a basket of household goods and services. When compared to the government’s minimum and living wage, this makes a massive difference to someone’s quality of life.

    Over 3,500 businesses around the UK are accredited real living wage employers, yet this positive engagement and respect for employees are not being given enough attention.

    The state is effectively subsidising industries, enabling big business to provide low pay to increase profits whilst the taxpayer makes up the difference by contributing to benefit payments. Earlier this year, there were 360 businesses which failed to pay either the national minimum or living wage. Offenders included Subway, Debenhams and Lloyds Pharmacy.

    The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) warns that Western governments are not doing nearly enough to protect migrant women from employment abuses, especially when, “more women are migrating on their own than ever before. Women now constitute almost half the international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 or 80 per cent”.

    Through encouraging businesses and organisations to adopt the real living wage, we can work towards ending poverty for those who are already being treated unfairly by society. I believe that if people were paid the real living wage the demand for benefits would undoubtedly decline.

    A fair wage affords women the opportunity to provide for themselves and their family, and rely less on benefits, pay-day lenders or working excessive hours in bad establishments. It has been found to reduce absenteeism and brings a significant improvement in staff morale and the quality of work being produced.

    Everyone deserves the chance to live with economic stability, no matter what our background. A person’s immigration status should not be something which businesses and governments use as a way to maintain cheap labour.

    Featured image was found on the BBC Radio Five Live website and is used here under fair dealing.

    Featured image is a pile of pound coins overlapping each other.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 11 December 2017, 4:14 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    Six-week consultation starts on new rules which allow UK state to spy on journalists and their sources (Press Gazette)

    The afro is a great symbol. It speaks volumes but it doesn’t and can’t say everything about who you are and what you think. (gal-dem)

    Transphobia is the latest weapon in a raging culture war (Red Pepper)

    JK Rowling is complicit in domestic abuse (Another angry woman)

    UK universities accused of complacency over sexual misconduct (The Guardian)

    Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffatt on Why He Never Cast a Woman as the Doctor (The Mary Sue)

    From the article: “This isn’t a show exclusively for progressive liberals.”

    The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie (Pitchfork)

    From the article: “Whiteness is the very ideal for which art is made in Western culture, be it the cinema of Wes Anderson or, say, the artists on Merge Records.”

    Why You Should Think Again About Workless Young Women (Huff Post)

    Douchebag Decree Kate Winslet, WYD? (Bitch Media)

    From the article: “Winslet’s complicity is the worst kind: It’s the selfish and uncaring kind. In her choosing to do what’s right for her (work with an acclaimed film maker who is also a sexual predator), she is supporting Allen and his work. Winslet wants to be the self-protecting, ignorance-is-bliss star—the one who gets to separate the art from the artist, the work from the worker, the brilliance from the abuse. For survivors, no such separation is possible.”

    A women’s refuge saved my family. Would we be given that chance today? (The Pool)

    Ferris Bueller Confronts His White Privilege (Alison Lowenstein, McSweeney’s) [Satire]

    Inequalities among older people, especially women, ‘shameful’ (The Guardian)

    The Spirited Debate About Ghosting (Kitty Stryker, Medium)

    This Co-Founder Walked Away From Her Conferences At Their Peak. Here’s Why (Girlboss)

    Article standfirst:” If you’re a woman/non-binary writer, chances are you’ve heard of The Binders Facebook group. But growing it from a 40,000-strong online community to a nationwide conference and nonprofit? It wasn’t as easy as hitting “like,” that’s for sure…”

    The woman behind ‘Me Too’ knew the power of the phrase when she created it — 10 years ago (Washington Post)

    From the article: “Tarana Burke was watching as #MeToo became an Internet phenomenon Sunday. Soon, she started to panic. By the time celebrities were tweeting #MeToo, encouraging every woman who had survived sexual harassment or assault to do the same, Burke knew she had to do something. She didn’t know where to start.

    “’If this grows big’, she recalled thinking at the time, ‘this is going to completely overshadow my work’.”

    Most women in prison victims of domestic abuse (Russell Webster)

    The Mail Online is asking if a six-year-old is “the most beautiful girl in the world” (The Pool)

    The image is used under a creative license commons and was sourced through Flickr. It shows snow-laden tree branches.

    Pregnancy should be about birth, not body hair

    by Guest Blogger // 9 December 2017, 10:29 am

    Tags: , , , ,

    Pregnancy and body hair
    Laura Cooke is December’s monthly guest blogger

    “I’m thinking about getting waxed beforehand — how about you?”

    My friend was talking about pubic hair, but she wasn’t thinking about de-fuzzing in preparation for a holiday. She was considering whether to wax her pubic hair just before she was due to give birth a few months later.

    As the weeks of my own pregnancy ticked by, I had constantly worried about the labour and mine and my baby’s health, but concerns about the state of my own hair had never entered my mind.

    A woman’s choice to have or remove her pubic hair is entirely hers, but becomes political and potentially problematic when removal is done to appease others. In this case, my friend didn’t want to appear ‘unkempt’.

    For some time now, there has been an expectation that Western women, particularly younger women, should remove their pubic hair in order to be seen as sexually desirable.

    Of course, types of mainstream pornography have a lot to answer for, with unnaturally hairless stars teaching a generation of men to expect minimum hair on their real-life partners, heaping pressure on said sexual partners to conform to these ideals.

    Some cultures also have particular beliefs and practices where it comes to body hair that enforce certain codes of conduct. Writing for Vice, Busra Erkara describes her experiences growing up in Turkey, where women waxing their body hair is deeply entrenched within tradition. This throws Western society’s obsession with Brazilians and Hollywoods into sharp relief.

    While the preoccupation with waxing for bedroom purposes is now fairly commonplace in the West, the fact that this has spilled over into the delivery suite is pretty depressing.

    How has it got to the stage where some women feel they have to be immaculately groomed at a time when getting a razor anywhere near your vulva requires some serious bodily contortions?

    Female body hair has become something that some people view as unnatural, ugly or disgusting. We feel obliged to be perfectly groomed when our bits are given a new ‘audience’ (in this case the midwives and doctors) to avoid evoking these feelings in others.

    An extreme example of this is the case of Swedish model and artist Arvida Byström. Byström appeared in the recent Adidas Superstar campaign with visibly hairy legs and was met with a barrage of negative comments, including rape threats.

    Model Amber Rose posted a semi-nude photo of herself on social media earlier this year to promote The Amber Rose Slutwalk, a festival dedicated to addressing and raising awareness of slut shaming, sexual violence, victim blaming, and more.

    The image was censored by Instagram, as well as the various media outlets which reported on the ‘Rose bush’ story. This included The Sun, which, in a spectacular display of double standards considering its dogged defence of page three, pixelated Rose’s groin. However, it wasn’t just The Sun which chose to edit Rose’s picture. Even publications aimed specifically at women, like Cosmpolitan and Elle, didn’t feature the uncensored picture, despite writing glowing editorials about it.

    The mainstream media’s reluctance to carry the uncensored image helps to reinforce the message that pubic hair is not just unsightly, it’s affronting to the point where people may feel entitled to threaten or harass others.

    But with Rose’s rallying cry and other celebrities opening up about their personal grooming regimes, perhaps the tide is turning.

    One can only hope this filters down to the delivery room, a place where birthing women often feel as if they have little or no ownership over their own bodies.

    Pregnant women are put under enormous amounts of pressure to achieve the ‘perfect birth’ and often find themselves judged on everything from their choice of painkillers to method of delivery. Not to mention the huge amount of self-inflicted pressure to produce a healthy baby.

    None of this pressure supports a woman’s health, happiness, or enhances her birthing ability. It attacks her sense of self and worth, telling her which is the ‘correct’ way to bring a child into the world. And worrying whether her pubic hair is unkempt can only add to this stress.

    Featured image by Omar Lopez, from Unsplash. Used under creative commons zero licence.

    Image is of a visibly pregnant woman holding her belly while standing in a park. Her eyes and below her knees are not visible in the frame, focusing the picture on her torso. She wears a pale blue and white striped dress and has thick brown hair.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 5 December 2017, 6:24 am


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    Graham Norton’s rehabilitation of Mel Gibson is impossible to watch (The Pool)

    From the article: “Mel Gibson’s prime-time appearance says a lot about who we’re willing to laugh with right now – and who we’re prepared to disregard in the process. Over the last fortnight, Graham Norton’s show has amplified certain voices at a time when women are still asking to be heard. For viewers like me, the symbolism isn’t just uncomfortable – it’s actually impossible to watch.”

    “I’ve run out of tears”: inside London’s temporary housing crisis (The Guardian)

    Where are the Female Music Producers? (Cuepoint, via Medium)

    From the article:”Performer, writer, and producer Grimes went down a similar path, producing all her own music, after coming up against industry sexism. In an interview with Fader, she recounts how she had been infantilized by male producers who instantly doubted her chops. ‘Going into studios, there’s all these engineers there, and they don’t let you touch the equipment. I was like, “Well, can I just edit my vocals?” And they’d be like “No, just tell us what to do, and we’ll do it.” And then a male producer would come in, and he’d be allowed to do it. It was so sexist. I was, like, aghast.’ Like Lazar, Grimes decided to take control of her music by learning and undertaking every step of production herself.”

    The ‘arm vagina’ – Hollywood’s latest form of female self-flagellation (The Guardian)

    Cultural Appropriation in Alternative Subculture: Does it Matter? (Medium)

    From the article: “Like the mohawk, some cultural elements have become associated with alternative people. In fact, subcultures form through cultural borrowing. European Lolitas followed the Japanese, who themselves were inspired by the 18th century European Rococo movement and the Victorian era. Where music is concerned, several metal bands name African American R&B musicians as their primary inspiration. Exchange is a natural part of growth. Without it, alternative culture would have no flow.”

    Why is the #MeToo movement sending shockwaves through Sweden? (SBS)

    I’m working on a new startup… for the 100 million women like me (Medium)

    From the article: “Dammit — I used to be a punk rocker! I had purple hair and wore Doc Martens and raged against the machine! I used to have an entire “costume night” wardrobe that included vintage cocktail dresses, a Russian fur hat, gogo boots and a full dominatrix outfit with working utility belt! I will NOT go silently into the night…at Chicos…but finding my new and authentic ‘mature’ style is apparently not easy to do.”

    Despite What You May Have Heard, “Believe Women” Has Never Meant “Ignore Facts” (Elle [This is a response piece to a New York Times piece entitled ‘The Limits of “Believe All Women”‘]

    tove lo opens up about the culture of sexual abuse in the swedish music industry (Vice)

    From the article: “Like most women, female artists, and most of my friends, I’ve been put into a situation or backed into a corner and had to make a choice. I’ve had to deal with the the consequences of not wanting to sleep with someone, or of how you reacted to someone putting their hand on your ass. It’s something that we’re taught how to avoid, but it’s not supposed be part of the job.”

    Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women?​ (The Independent)​

    “The body positive movement is being commodified. It’s time to fight back” (Stylist)

    From the article: “And like feminism, any approach to body positivity that refuses to acknowledge hierarchies of privilege – that refuses to learn from those who are more oppressed, and that neglects to fight for those more marginalised – is missing something crucial.”

    Has Hollywood changed? Mel Gibson’s bulletproof career would suggest not (The Guardian)

    From the article: “Alcohol and drugs are seen by many, still, as incriminatory in a woman but exculpatory in a man: a woman who was drunk can’t be trusted if she says she was raped; but a man on the lash can’t possibly be held responsible for his actions. This partly explains the bizarre double standards [Winona] Ryder has endured in her career… It takes a hell of a lot for a straight white man to destroy his own career. And to be honest, it somewhat undermines all the promises I’ve read about the new no-tolerance attitude towards assault, claiming that men have “learned their lesson”, when Gibson is there, grinning unapologetically from my local multiplex.”

    I Want A Wife – why a 46-year-old essay is still shockingly relevant (Daisy Buchanan, The Pool)

    8 Things That Happened to my Body After I Stopped Shaving (Ella Mendoza, the body is not an apology)

    Hey, It’s Me, a Woke Misogynist Sliding Right on into Your DMS (McSweeney’s) [Satire]

    What I need from the men I love (Your Fat Friend, Medium)

    From the article: “I need you to bear witness. I know this is nowhere in your training. I know no one has taught you to sit quietly, feel the texture and fullness of someone else’s pain. I know the itching impulse to argue, to debate, take the issues of the day head on. But this isn’t an issue debate. This is grief — slippery, messy, wily. Half the world is reliving wounds and losses. Offer us condolences. Don’t play devil’s advocate when there are devils all around us.”

    Stop Demanding Women Fit Into a Feminazi/Forgiveness Binary (The Mary Sue)

    From the article: “Ijeoma Oluo, editor-at-large at The Establishment, shared a Twitter thread earlier this week detailing a troubling conversation with a major newspaper, later revealed to be USA Today. Read through the whole thread here, but in short, the newspaper, with whom she had never worked, contacted her to write a ‘rebuttal’ to a piece they were planning to write. Their piece (now published here) argued that ‘it’s great that women are coming forward, but that we need to treat each case individually and remember due process’…”

    Beam Is Like Kickstarter, for Homeless People (Vice)

    From the article: “Years of austerity have stripped away the safeguards meant to protect society’s most vulnerable. Local authority budgets have been slashed, homeless hostels have closed and the benefits cap has plunged thousands into poverty and precarious housing situations … Now, crowdfunding is put forward as part of the solution. The state has failed and the people most savagely affected are invited to post the tragic details of their personal histories online, in an attempt to secure the help to which they should be entitled. Is this the future we want? A future where state support is non-existent and homeless people must compete for assistance like X-Factor contestants?”

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Alexey Kljatov on Flickr. It is a close-up image of a snow flake.

    F-Word monthly guest bloggers

    The F-Word is recruiting a new crop of monthly guest bloggers for 2018. Each of our bloggers will have a monthly residency on our site, during which they will work with our team of editors and blog to their feminist heart’s content on any feminist-related things they like.

    Ideally, we would love to receive one blog post a week, but understand that as this is a labour of love for all involved that isn’t always possible. The idea is more that each month, we welcome a new voice to share their views, thoughts, and perspectives.

    We are particularly interested in views and positions that are under-represented on the blog. This could be older women, disabled women, working-class women, sex workers, women of minority ethnicities (including Black, Asian, migrant or refugee women and women of dual or multiple ethnic heritage), trans* women, lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer women, male feminists and/or socialist feminists or just someone keen to write about a topic that you think we should feature more frequently.

    We are also especially interested in reactive content that offers a feminist perspective to things happening in the news and popular culture.

    This is not intended to be an exhaustive list – please don’t be put off from emailing us if you’re interested but don’t identify with the perspectives above, particularly if you feel your perspective is currently under-represented in the feminist blogosphere.

    Please note that The F-Word is run entirely online by unpaid volunteers. We are aware of current discussions around the politics and ethics of expecting people to work for free but at this point, we can offer permanent volunteer roles only. We are not paid for our work either so there is no hierarchy or differentiation between paid and unpaid positions.

    To apply please email guestposts@thefword.org.uk with a short introduction and some article ideas. Send along any examples of your writing if you’ve got them, but please note that this is not essential for you to be considered.

    The deadline for applications is December 23rd, 2016.

    The F-Word is an online magazine about and for contemporary UK feminism so we are concentrating on contributions relating to this. Contributions are encouraged from UK feminists, people living in the UK, or UK feminists currently living elsewhere. If you are unsure about this you can email us to check.

    Featured image by rawpixel.com, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence

    Image is of a woman working on a laptop from a cafe. Her eyes are not visible in the shot. She wears a smart grey blazer, white blouse and a long, golden, beaded necklace

    December monthly guest blogger The F-Word

    As we race towards the end of 2017, it’s time to welcome Laura Cooke as this year’s final monthly blogger.

    In her own words:

    “Laura is a journalist, writer and blogger based in the south of England. Laura has been writing for local newspapers for 15 years and has developed a special interest in writing about women’s health, fertility, parenting and autism, particularly the issues faced by the parents of autistic children. Her work has featured in a number of national publications.

    When Laura was chosen as a monthly blogger for The F-Word, she was coming to terms with her own infertility and the impact it had on her mental and physical health. Twelve months later, she is mother to a bouncing baby feminist and life has been turned on its head.

    When she is not writing or changing nappies, Laura sits on the management committee at her local branch of Samaritans where she is responsible for fundraising. During her maternity leave, as well as discovering a renewed love of reading thanks to late night breastfeeding, Laura has also developed an obsession with Stranger Things on Netflix and she has yet to fully come to terms with the ending of feminist sci-fi drama Orphan Black. Laura loves going to gigs and travelling around Europe, and fully intends to continue doing so with baby in tow. Follow Laura on Twitter at @lauracooke21″

    Welcome, Laura!

    Featured image by All Bong, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence.

    Image is of three stacks of books that are leaning against each other for support, with an overall artistic effect. They appear to be in the display window of a shop

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 27 November 2017, 5:59 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    My Life as a Little Brown Girl Growing up in Scarborough, UK (Dawn)

    Trans women need access to rape and domestic violence services. Here’s why (The Guardian)

    From the article: “But the reason I want to be able to access women’s spaces is because I now exist as a woman and I am treated as one in a misogynist society. Trans women are at least at the same risk as many other women from gendered violence. The tone of recent media coverage has erased this, suggesting that we simply want affirmation of our identity. I don’t care about affirmation of my identity – I care about whether I could go to a rape crisis centre if I had been raped. Or a domestic violence shelter if a boyfriend beat me up.”

    The young women who refuse to stay quiet (BBC)

    From the article: “It’s very similar to being a woman in any other industry. You have to push twice as hard for people to just listen to you, instead of looking for the man they assume is standing behind you. It maybe lonely at the start, you may annoy some people who don’t like to hear the word ‘no’ come out of a woman’s mouth, but you will find people who don’t just accept your independence but who support it and are motivated by it.”

    Katie Hopkins leaves Mail Online by ‘mutual consent’ as column is axed after two years (Press Gazette)

    Rape and no periods in North Korea’s army (BBC)

    From the article: “Juliette Morillot and Jieun Baek say Lee So Yeon’s testimony accords with other accounts they have heard, but warn that defectors have to be treated with caution. ‘There is such a high demand for knowledge from North Korea,’ says Baek. ‘It almost incentivises people to tell exaggerated tales to the media, especially if that comes with nice pay cheque. A lot of defectors who don’t want to be in the media are very critical of “career defectors”. It’s worth keeping this in mind.’ Information from official North Korean sources, on the other hand, is liable to be pure propaganda. Lee So Yeon was not paid for her interview with the BBC.”

    The Fragility of Body Positivity: How a Radical Movement Lost its Way (Bitch Media)

    From the article: “Slapping a body-positive sticker on a capitalistic venture does not it make body positive if it’s not about upending the dieting industry or protecting fat, trans, and disabled people from discrimination, and instead recenters the very people who have always been centered. Body positivity can’t focus on thin, white women and simultaneously tackle discrimination against fat, trans, and disabled people. Expanding legal protections must be the focus, otherwise the outcomes of our lives will continue to be determined by fatphobia, transphobia, and ableism.”

    ‘You’ll never work again’: women tell how sexual harassment broke their careers (The Guardian)

    From the article: “By removing talented, capable, willing people from the workforce, we are hindering our ability to capitalize on the full potential of our entire society. When large portions of the population feel unsafe or completely remove themselves or they’re involuntarily removed from the workforce, we’re limiting our potential. On a large scale.”

    Historically, men translated the Odyssey. Here’s what happened when a woman took the job (Vox)

    From the article: “Recent events have led to a widespread debate over how audiences should consume the work of people we know to be abusers of women. This is intertwined with the question of how we should consume art that has racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted elements. Often elided from this conversation is the fact that people of color and women of all races have been consuming racist and sexist art in America for generations (in many classes on Western literature, for instance, they have had little choice), and developing their own responses to it, responses that are often deeply nuanced.”

    “Middlemarch” is now a queer coming-of-age web series (i-D Vice)

    From the article: “I think that a lot of my work stems from my frustration with the absence of or erasure of LGBTQ+ histories – pages torn out of diaries, poems destroyed before publication, sexualities conveniently left out of history textbooks, etc. I often find myself wishing for that whole world of LGBTQ+ images and stories and poems and films that should exist. When I catch myself feeling this way, I try to channel that frustration into making these films that, bit by bit, try to help fill up that gap.”

    I wore a dress for the first time in 20 years (Buzzfeed) [Video]

    From the video: Tan tries wearing a dress for the first time in 20 years: “It just reminded me how much of a performance clothing is.”

    What do we do with the art of monstrous men? (The Paris Review)

    Watch out, manspreaders: the womanspreading fightback starts now (The Guardian)

    From the article: “It is something that I’ve been doing for years. After spending my childhood and teenage years being told to “sit properly, for God’s sake”, I decided to rebel by reclining in as unladylike a manner as possible. Ever since I left home, I’ve been sitting how I want to: legs wide apart, feet pointing out, and hands resting on my knees. It’s comfortable, it’s stabilising, and it makes me feel powerful in a way that crossing my legs never does.”

    Former GQ reporter Rupert Myers writes in ES of help from Samaritans after media interest around his actions towards women (Press Gazette)

    What I learned from a year of dumpster diving in Australia (Medium)

    Girl Scouts Issues Bold Warning to Parents to Not Force Girls to Show Affection (Advocate)

    From the article: “’Telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life,’ the piece reads.”

    I work with women facing domestic and sexual violence: it’s devastating to see how much progress is unravelling (The Guardian)

    Nazis Are Just Like You and Me, Except They’re Nazis (The Atlantic) [Satirical response piece to an article appearing in the New York Times entitled ‘A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland’]

    From the article: “Steve Stevenson dispenses wisdom freely, though he is not a chef. He is 32 years old, and he drinks whole milk, and his tattoos are nonviolent. The kitchen spice rack contains only garlic powder. He wears jeans made of denim. The t-shirt on his back has a tag sticking out, and I read it as he leans in to eye the pot of water: ‘100 percent cotton.’
    ‘What can I say,’ jokes Stevenson, as he sees me taking note of the spice rack. ‘I like garlic powder.'”

    Have we reached peak mansplaining? (Emily Baker, The Pool)

    Now it’s official: the less you have, the more austerity will take from you (Frances Ryan, Guardian)

    From the article: “I can’t decide what’s worse. That for the best part of a decade, this government and its predecessor have brought in a relentless string of cuts, and lined up the most marginalised members of society to take the burden; or that they are doing so while deliberately failing to monitor the damage it’s causing.”

    Fuck that (The Overtake)

    From the article: “For every teenage boy who is freely allowed to go about their daily business by society, there’s a teenage girl who gets pulled up every time she says ‘shit’, ‘fuck’ or in Millie Bobby Brown’s case ‘bitchin’. When she tweeted that word last week she was publically called out by Netflix’s official US Twitter account.”

    We have another music video to include this week! Check out ‘Et2YT’ by Giant Kitty (YouTube via Amara)

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Julien on Flickr. It shows small green shoots of a plant growing through wooden slats of what could be a bridge or a pathway. The background is out of focus but mountains and blue sky are visible.

    Weekly round-up and open thread

    by Lusana Taylor // 20 November 2017, 6:38 pm


    It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

    As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

    If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

    Saffiyah Khan: anger is an energy (Dazed)

    Lady justice: is the judiciary ready for Brenda Hale? (Prospect Magazine)

    How mid-2000s emo groomed underage girls and poisoned teen boys (Medium)

    Lena Dunham & weaponised white feminism (Danielle Dash)

    From the article: “The truth is Lena Dunham’s feminism is exclusively for white women and white men. When she tweeted back in August ‘things women don’t lie about: rape.’ she meant white women don’t lie about rape and furthermore white men don’t lie about not raping women of colour. Why else would she tweet so thoughtfully then, but today fix her Becky fingers to tweet ‘I believe in a lot of things but the first tenet of my politics is to hold up the people who have held me up…’? This sentiment would be all well and good if in upholding Miller, she didn’t shit all over Aurora Perrineau and expose her glaring hypocrisy. Murray Miller doesn’t need Lena Dunham’s support. Murray Miller doesn’t need Jenni Konner’s support. These two women thought so little of the wellbeing of Aurora Perrineau they weaponised their white feminism and targeted a woman who at this time requires either your support or for you to shut the entire fuck up. An opportunity to be quiet and mind her motherfucking business never passes Lena Dunham by without her failing to grasp them, and more often than not the least represented in society are the victims when her unseasoned, unfettered hot takes hit the fan.”

    Women are happier being single than men because relationships are hard work (Rachel Hosie, Independent)

    The Culture of Alcoholics Anonymous Perpetuates Sexual Abuse (Elizabeth Brown, Tonic, Vice)

    The Production of Ignorance (CN Lester, A gentleman and a scholar)

    Taking to Task Left Liberal Opposition to Greening’s Gender Recognition Reforms (Alex Shar, Inherently Human)

    From the article: “In decades to come we will look back on this Governor George Wallace type moment and we will ask after those who opposed reform, including those on the liberal and libertarian left. What we now have is an opportunity to help history unfold in ways which contribute to human flourishing.”

    Maeve Higgins 2016 Unedited – interview from Des Bishop [podcast]

    Irish-American comedian, Des Bishop, interviews another comedian Maeve Higgins. During the interview he first of all disagrees with her view of the comedy world, and then becomes very defensive when she reminds him of a sexist thing he once said to her. It’s a very uncomfortable listen and includes him talking over her, gaslighting her and suggesting that she just didn’t get the joke. There’s no transcription.

    Why Men Aren’t Funny (Lindy West for the New York Times)

    From the article: “In his ‘apology’ he mentions his anatomy multiple times, but the words ‘I’m sorry’ not once. On the surface, he convincingly telegraphs contrition and a deep disgust at his own weaknesses, but disarming self flagellation has always been his art. The careful message is ‘I, one man, made one mistake,’ not ‘I, among many others, preyed upon vulnerable women in my industry, on purpose, because I am both a defender and a beneficiary of an entrenched system of oppression.’ It’s easier to get your old job back if the power structure that gave it to you in the first place stays intact.”

    And to finish off our weekly round-up for this week, here’s a song by Dream Nails which feels particularly timely.

    Dream Nails – Tourist (YouTube)

    Lyrics to ‘Tourist’:
    You’re just a tourist
    Take your pictures and leave
    You want somewhere to stay?
    Stay away from me!

    I’m not your story
    I’m not your novelty
    I’m not here for you to be a hero

    I’m not your story
    I’m not your novelty
    I’m not here for you to be a hero

    You’re just a tourist
    Take your camera and leave
    You only want

    I’m not your story
    I’m not your novelty
    I’m not here for you to be a hero

    I’m not your story
    I’m not your novelty
    I’m not here for you to be a hero

    You’re just a tourist
    You’re just a tourist
    You’re just a tourist
    I hope you had a nice trip!

    You’re just a tourist
    You’re just a touri-ist
    You’re just a tourist
    You’re just a tourist!

    I’m not your story
    I’m not your novelty
    I’m not here for you to be a hero

    I’m not your story
    I’m not your novelty
    I’m not here for you to be a hero

    The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Richard Walker on Flickr. It is a photograph of a small fishing boat out at sea, silhouetted against a beautiful golden sunrise.

    Further Reading

    Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

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