Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 18 June 2018, 4:04 pm


It’s a bumper round-up this week where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous fortnight. 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 couple of weeks, feel free to let us know.

The arts world sees working-class people as a problem to be solved (The Guardian)

From the article: “The arts world has turned working-class people into a problem to be solved rather than audience members or artists to be developed. Focusing on the poorest in society also dodges the main question we should be asking: why is it not only the super-exploited but the majority in this country who do not engage with subsidised theatre or arts? These are people who fill out football stadiums, comedy clubs, gigs and commercial theatres, often paying more for tickets than is charged by state-subsidised productions. Folk who can afford a big night out, but don’t want to spend it with us. ”

Abuse is daily reality for female garment workers for Gap and H&M, says report (The Guardian)

From the article: “Jennifer Rosenbaum, US director of Global Labour Justice, said: “We must understand gender-based violence as an outcome of the global supply chain structure. H&M and Gap’s fast fashion supply chain model creates unreasonable production targets and underbid contracts, resulting in women working unpaid overtime and working very fast under extreme pressure.”

The Wild Life of Suze Randall, Playboy’s Legendary Photographer (VICE)

From the article: “Staffers at Playboy’s Chicago office told her that photographing nudes is difficult, and a serious business – the implication being: leave it to the men. “So then I said, ‘Oh damn, then I’ll have to sell the pictures to Penthouse because I’m broke.’ Then they had to [buy the photos],” she laughs…At the Playboy Mansion, Suze photographed Lillian for the magazine’s cover, making it the first full-frontal Playboy spread to be shot by a woman.”

Samira being left until last on Love Island shows how the world perceives black women (iNews)

Scores of UK sexual offence cases stopped over evidence failings (The Guardian)

From the article: “The findings of the review, which only looked at one type of case – sexual assault – and from a small time period, triggered concerns that more errors may have occurred… Angela Rafferty QC, the chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “For the CPS to question the reliability of not just a few but dozens of live rape and sexual offence cases out of a limited sample size of a few thousand will inevitably cause great consternation that some innocent people are already in prisons and many guilty may be walking free.”

New Zealand Sex Work Activist Is Now an Official Goddamn Dame (Jezebel)

From the article: “So, she co-founded the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, a sex worker rights organization. The group was instrumental in passing the 2003 Prostitution Reform Act, which decriminalized sex work in the country. Research has shown that, post-decriminalization, the country’s sex workers feel more empowered to negotiate safer sex and refuse clients, and are better protected from violence.”

Film puts spotlight on Scotland’s female pop and rock stars (The Scotsman)

From the article: “The film will look at the obstacles faced by female musicians and singers, how they have been sexualised by the music industry over the years, and the difficulties faced in being in a band and bringing up a family at the same time. The documentary will focus on the acts to emerge during a number of key eras, including the early girl-group boom in the 1960s, post punk and new wave in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and “Riot Grrl” in the 1990s, including The Fizzbombs, Lungleg, Bis and The Shop Assistants.”

How feminism can help in the fight against transphobia (The Independent)

From the article: “Women have been fighting for their rights for centuries – and feminists are calling on others to add their voice to the struggle that transgender people are experiencing. Otherwise, it’s no feminism.”

The new ‘Male Pill’ is a reminder medicine is still a feminist issue (Huffington Post)

From the article: “For women everywhere the news of a male contraceptive will be encouraging, but marred with reminders of how significantly birth control options are currently lacking. Safe and reversible options for male contraception are not expected to be on the market anytime soon, and current trials bring into focus a lack of comparable concerns with the side-effects of oral contraceptives aimed at women.”

Women know the difference between bad sex and rape, sure Germaine Greer does too (The Guardian)

From the article: “When Greer talks of having got over her own rape, it seems the experiences of other women do not live up to her standard of femaleness. Trans women. Younger women. All other women. We all fail. The only woman who can scale the heights and dine on the lofty buffet of ideals that Greer generates appears to be Greer herself.”

This year is a significant moment for queer black women like me (The Pool)

Body Positivity is a Scam (Racked)

From the article: “The cultural narrative about women’s bodies was so bad that simply identifying the problem would get Dove full credit and move plenty of product, but the urge to talk about a broad cultural problem while refusing to name a bad actor left the blame squarely on the shoulders of the women who had the temerity not to love themselves sufficiently.”

Women being loud during sex doesn’t mean they like it (MEL via Medium)

‘I love what human voices do together’: An interview with with Neko Case (Longreads)

Evelinn Trouble uplifting new song ‘Hope Music’ (YouTube) [95% subtitled on YouTube. Just the first 30 secs or so isn’t]

The rage of the incels (The New Yorker)

From the article: “Incels aren’t really looking for sex; they’re looking for absolute male supremacy. Sex, defined to them as dominion over female bodies, is just their preferred sort of proof.

If what incels wanted was sex, they might, for instance, value sex workers and wish to legalize sex work. But incels, being violent misogynists, often express extreme disgust at the idea of “whores.” Incels tend to direct hatred at things they think they desire; they are obsessed with female beauty but despise makeup as a form of fraud.”

While women clashed over the issue of sex work, Stringfellow just thrived (Zoe Williams, The Guardian)

From the article: “All the moral and modesty arguments against lap dancing and nudity have disintegrated, and the 00s saw the first fully nude licences and sexual entertainment venue licences (of which Peter Stringfellow was the first UK beneficiary, in 2006). But feminists’ arguments have ossified into a stance where they cannot listen to, let alone accommodate the views of sex workers and strippers, because they’re still – in a 70s second-wave style – considered victims by definition, and therefore anything they say that doesn’t give expression to that victimhood is false consciousness.”

Jameela Jamil Calls Out Emile Hirsch’s Abusive Behavior Following Tarantino Announcement (Lisa Ryan, The Cut)

Björk, St. Vincent and more on the trailblazing women whose music you need to hear (Emily Mackay, BBC)

White Women Are Not Our Beauty Standard: Reporter Asks If Serena Is Intimidated By Maria Sharapova’s Looks (Veronica Wells, Madamenoire)

Anthony Bourdain, Celebrated Chef and TV Host Who Opposed Racism and Xenophobia, Dies at 61 (catherine lizette gonzalez, Colorlines)
[Standfirst: People of color remember the award-winning chef, tv host and author who advocated for immigrants, supported the #MeToo movement, and fiercely opposed racism and colonialism.]

Intersectional Suffrage: The Women Who Didn’t Get The Vote In 1918 (Google Arts & Culture)

I Dress Terribly on Purpose (Medium)

From the article: “As minor as it is, my ugly shoes and my spiteful jumpsuits feel that same pleasure center, that hungry furred-animal part of my brain that seeks sisterhood above all else. Passing me on the street, you wouldn’t know that my khaki romper contains such a complex message, but you don’t have to. Although on the surface, a pink velvet thong has little in common with a yellowish utilitarian garment, they are both items that speak to my evolving relationship with womanhood.”

It’s official: universal credit is a colossal, costly, hellish catastrophe (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

I’m queer and asexual. If that’s a problem, by all means, revoke my membership (Ray Finch, Let’s Queer Things Up!)

As a kid I only related to girl characters. But when you’re a boy, people think that’s weird or funny… (comic strip from Damian Alexander on Facebook)

Artificial concern for people in pain won’t stop suicide. Radical empathy might (Richard Morgan, Washington Post)

From the article: “Empathy is not a pro-forma answer to some social problem, to be dispensed in the appropriate dose but otherwise withheld. Amid all those permeating cliches of joy and woe, empathy is too discrete, too intentional. We perform empathy like a child learning to box-step for a school dance, one-two-three, one-two-three. It’s a performance we don’t really care about.”

Drawing women in post-apocalyptic world settings… (extract of wlwaffle Tumblr thread, collated by Vellum and Vinyl on Facebook)

In relation to the above Facebook post, also see: http://wlwaffle.tumblr.com/post/154936230182/draw-women-in-post-apocalyptic-world-settings-with

Quoted response: “I find it completely plausible that some women would go to incredible lengths to maintaining their appearance, because they’ve been socialized all their lives to caring about it, because it’s a part of their identity. So show me how that part gets negotiated with once the world has gone to hell.”

‘Why my daughter wants a hysterectomy at 15’ (BBC News)

Is an “Ungendered Fashion Utopia” possible? (The Mary Sue)

Carers Save Britains Billions Every Year. They Need More Support (Frances Ryan, The Guardian)

From the article:”No one ever talks about how we should be radically redistributing more resources to disabled people and their families. No one uses the important push for workers to get a living wage to ask why carers don’t need the same … Any of us may need to be cared for, or care, unexpectedly – be it for an elderly parent developing dementia or falling ill ourselves. The long-term undervaluing of caring labour – because it’s “women’s work”, in the home, and isn’t profit-driven – is hurting millions of families. If politicians wish to show they value carers, it’s going to take hard cash, not platitudes.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Tom on Flickr. It shows a person with long hair in shadow and with their back to the camera. They appear to be looking ahead at a scene that is not quite clear, but could be the beach. The sun appears to be setting and has bathed the scene in an orange light.

Don’t get swept into this Ocean

by Guest Blogger // 10 June 2018, 11:34 am

Tags: , ,

This is a guest post by Lauren Fraser, a 22-year-old journalism graduate originally from the Shetland Islands, now living and working in Scotland’s central belt. She is currently juggling working full time in further education with writing about feminist issues

Ocean’s Eleven is getting an all woman reboot, because apparently what Hollywood took from Ghostbusters (2016) was that it must remain palatable to fragile masculinities (more dresses!) if all is to be kept PR-positive. Ocean’s Eight, directed by Gary Ross and co-written by him and Olivia Milch, follows Debbie (Sandra Bullock), sister to previous lead Danny (George Clooney, attached as producer), because it makes sense (clearly) that they are con artists siblings who never work together. I’m not the first to conclude a Kim Kardashian cameo does not guarantee a fresh take, but the well-known Hollywood rebooting obsession of anything deemed profitable is not the (chief) source of ire. That goes to hailing the film as feminist, as has increasingly been the case. An insult to feminism and a progressive society currently out of grasp. Is it progress? In the weakest possible way, maybe. Is it enough? Not even close.

The headlines associating the film with feminism increased last year when the trailer dropped. Before, there was a sense not everyone agreed the film is a feat of feminist achievement, with opinion pieces from Thelma Adams and Daisy Buchanan. By the time Emma Teitel raised the sentiment in late 2017, the positive PR “fangirl parade” she was denouncing was in full flow. For example, W Magazine ran an online article titled ‘Anne Hathaway and Sandra Bullock think the filming of Ocean’s Eight was as feminist as the movie’. After #MeToo, the industry’s oppressive power structures unprecedentedly examined, are we still going to gush over women plotting how to steal a necklace?

The current wave of feminism keeps waging war on archaic ideas and institutions. Ideas and institutions, with the concept of intersectionality born from how oppression takes many forms. The so-called progress from the likes of Ocean’s Eight falls into the same trap as Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In movement, empowering few privileged women to operate within what is still an inherently unfair and apparently unchallenged system.

Yes, it’s great to see a heist plot from with an all-women ensemble who by all accounts had fun filming. Don’t forget it probably exists mainly because it is a male directed, male produced rehash of a profitable all-male trilogy. We’re out of casinos, over to the high fashion of the Met Gala, no longer targeting money vaults but jewellery. Somewhat less intense negative reaction than to Ghostbusters can probably be explained by the fact that the plot involving women trying to steal a necklace from a fashion event doesn’t encroach on what some fragile masculinities consider ‘their’ territory.

Feminism continues to cement itself into the mainstream, perhaps not always helpfully. Buzzword, t-shirt slogan, a brand packaged up and sold back to us, all great ideas as long as nobody rocks the boat too much. Late comedian and millennial prophet Bill Hicks comes to mind (“Stop putting a dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!”) as Hollywood jovially congratulates itself for making a “women’s film” and giving not just one, but eight “women actors” the chance to engage with a pre-established male narrative.

Of course it is possible to subvert canonical perceptions. Take casting Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger in 2016 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The film was widely praised but there was also the usual Daily Mail-style brand of “political correctness gone mad” hysteria. J.K Rowling tweeted: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair, very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.” Hollywood’s representation problem is not news. If film provides a mirror image of society, it should come as little surprise that what we’re getting is what bells hooks terms the “capitalist white supremacist patriarchy”. Not ignoring great strides made on screen (Black Panther, anyone?), it would be naive to suggest that this alone equals solution. Improved representation plays a role in empowerment that can’t and shouldn’t be denied, but it’s not enough.

While there is no shortage of women and non-binary creators of all kinds of media, their presence is sorely lacking in the sphere of blockbusters dominating our culture. Large distribution companies, focused on profit-making, are still disproportionately deciding what we see and by whom. It may be true there is not much change a single person can effect on the whole world, but to suggest we are powerless removes all responsibility. Resistance can be as minor as deciding not to pay your hard earned coin towards the escapism offered by Ocean’s Eight and using said money to make the little bit extra effort of investing instead in the original storytelling of a woman or non-binary creator. Hit that “capitalist white supremacist patriarchy” where it hurts, let your bank account do the talking – it won’t be enough, but it’s a start.

Note from the film editor:
Ocean’s Eight opens in cinemas on 18 June but obviously after reading this post you might not want to see it! If you’d rather see a film made by a woman director, check out this list of 52 films directed by women in 2017. If you live in London, the season dedicated to pioneering French filmmaker Agnès Varda is in full swing at BFI Southbank, details here.
Happy watching!

The picture was taken by The F-Word’s film editor Ania at Sheffield’s The Light Cinema. It shows a lifesize cardboard cutout promoting the film, with large red lettering “Ocean’s 8” and eight protagonists facing the viewer.

Woman alone staring
Helena Jackson is a freelance theatre director and producer who stumbles through life one instant coffee at a time

At some point in their lives, most menstruating women around the world have experienced period pain. And I’m willing to bet that a large portion, if not all of them, have been told some variation of: “Period pain is normal, put up with it.”

This idea of seeing pain – actual, physical pain – as something ‘normal’ would be bizarre when attached to any other part of the body; when it’s connected with an experience that’s considered uniquely female, society suddenly seems to turn a blind eye.

In fact, this attitude can be traced back to the biblical tale of apple-eating Eve, while the origins of ‘hysteria’ date back to Ancient Egypt, with the Kahun Papyrus, a 1900 BC collection of ancient Egyptian texts, describing causes of and treatment for hysterical disorders in women.

In the English standard version of the Christian Bible, God punishes Eve for eating the forbidden fruit: “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children,” (Genesis 3:16). Her “menstrual discharge” is labelled as “unclean” (Leviticus 15) and any sexual interaction with a woman who has her period is forbidden – “If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovered her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain (…) both of them shall be cut off from among their people” (Leviticus 20:18).

The idea that menstruation is ‘dirty’ is still seen in the stigma attached to it today. The above also posits pain as an inevitable part of being a woman; you’re atoning for the sin that Eve committed all those years ago and if you hurt, you hurt because you deserve it.

‘Hysteria’ comes from the Greek word hystera, which translates to ‘uterus’. A whole host of Grecian philosophers, including Plato and Hippocrates, believed that the uterus floated independently around the body and expelled certain poisonous humours if the woman had an unsatisfactory sex life. Over the years, this theory was displaced, but the medical idea of ‘humours’ persisted well into the 1800s – fluids around the body whose imbalance affected the mood of the patient. Modern medicine knows that these ‘humours’ do not, in fact, exist, but a worrying amount of accounts suggest that there are still many medical professionals who believe that female pain is imagined, ‘all in your head’, rather than anything physically wrong.

The influence of this pseudo-science is rife in modern society. The first time a woman has penetrative sex we’re taught to expect pain and just get through it. The saying “Lie back and think of England”, arising in the late 20th century, is a great example of how we tell women to deal with painful sex; don’t say anything, don’t complain, just lie down and do your duty. Pain is, apparently, something to be experienced, sucked up and never to be caused a fuss about.

This notion that pain comes with the territory of being female can contribute to the long diagnosis time of many gynaecological conditions. For example, endometriosis – which affects a whopping 10% of women in the UK – takes, on average, 7.5 years to be diagnosed. Women with endometriosis or other, similar conditions like adenomyosis are often told they are overreacting or even imagining the pain. Society doesn’t want to label female pain as abnormal but will happily label female responses to it as such.

It’s this discussion of what is normal, and what’s not, where it comes to female experiences of pain that led to the development of our new play, Nine Foot Nine by Alex Wood, premiering at the Bunker Theatre in June. Nine Foot Nine follows a family through an extraordinary event – every self-identifying woman in the world growing slowly, agonisingly, to nine foot tall – and looks at the way the experience of that pain affects gendered discussion, power plays and our relationships with our bodies. In our show, the pain is made physical as we see women grow, making them larger and more powerful than men; gloriously and unapologetically monstrous.

Nine Foot Nine by Alex Wood plays at the Bunker Theatre at 8:30pm on Mondays and Thursdays from the 11th of June until the 5th of July

Featured image by Alex Lambley, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence

Image is of a woman leaning against a wire fence and staring into the frame, with a worried or pensive expression. Her eyes are cropped out, drawing focus to her pursed lips

Introducing June’s monthly guest blogger

by Monica Karpinski // 6 June 2018, 7:05 pm

Monthly guest blogger June
It’s summer in Britain, and as we welcome the warmer weather, we welcome Sarah Burke as this month’s guest blogger.

In her own words:

“Sarah is, in her own words ‘just a girl from Rotherham.’ Dragged up in this small northern hemisphere of failed industry, failed community, and failed dreams, Sarah found feminism in the dark recesses of her local library when she stumbled on a long-forgotten volume of Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics at the tender age of seventeen. She promptly gave up her place at Hair and Beauty College and went on to forge a different kind of path.

Having lived in Rotherham for most of her life, Sarah has witnessed first-hand the effects of deprivation on a person’s experiences and expectations. She was told as an adolescent that a career in journalism would be beyond her grasp given her family background, but she continues to fight for that dream, studying an MA in Classical Studies with the Open University and writing in earnest every which way she can.

Sarah is happily defiant, living life on her own terms. After a career as a business analyst, she gave up the rat race and settled in for a few years of study. She has a love of the classical world, literature, learning and development, and a keen interest in equality.”

Featured image by Lubomyr Myronyuk, from Unsplash.

Image is of a notebook lying open on a large book, with a woman sitting at a desk behind it. The notebook has handwritten notes in it

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 4 June 2018, 10:43 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.

Wales Is Leading the Way in LGBT-Inclusive Sex Education (Gina Tonic, Vice)
From the article: “Thirty years ago, Section 28 was introduced into UK law, banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools. This month, on the 22nd of May, Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams introduced new legislation making LGBT relationship and sex education compulsory in the Welsh curriculum.”

Stop calling women hormonal (The New York Times)

Decolonizing against extinction, part III: white tears and mourning (Worldly)
From the article: “…White tears are a powerful move to innocence. They offer white folks confronted with injustices in which they’re implicated release, relief and a sense of having ‘responded’ to the suffering of others. However, they do not tend to translate into concrete action against racism or other forms of structural violence, which cause the harms in question. In some cases, they might detract from this kind of work by making white folks feel as though they have already ‘done something’ (see my story above). What’s more, this sense of having ‘responded meaningfully’ may be used to mask complicity and to disavow one’s responsibility to dismantle structural violence.”

Javid attacks Lush’s #spycops campaign but ignores victims like me (Alison [pseudonym], The Guardian)

From the article: “The Lush campaign is in partnership with Police Spies Out of Lives and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance. It makes three specific demands on the home secretary: to appoint a panel of experts – as has been done with the Grenfell inquiry – to assist the chair in investigating the wrongdoing; to extend the inquiry’s remit to Scotland where many of the officers exposed thus far were deployed; to disclose the cover names of officers, groups they spied on and to release the personal files of victims.”

#TERFsout, power, feminisms and coloniser mentalities (@flyingteacosy)

From the thread: “…If your society is one that has spent literal centuries gobbling up power-over and resources from as much of the world as you can, you’re likelier to be steeped in that concept. Your knee-jerk reaction is to take as much pie as you can.

“In that sense, it doesn’t surprise me at all that English feminism includes a cruel streak of TERFism. It makes sense. You want power-over? You build walls. Kick out everyone who doesn’t belong. Take the pie. Hoard the forks, cause you’re terrified of being the hungry one…”

Sex and gender on the Christian campus (New York Times)

I learnt to act “not poor” as an adult. But discrimination still hurts (The Pool)

From the article: “We live in a society that relentlessly feeds us a well-worn narrative about those living in poverty, but we do have choices. We can choose whether or not to try to find deeper meaning within that simplistic narrative. We can choose to acknowledge wider reasons, motivations and implications; choose to understand that there is always a context to decision-making and that we are all a part of, all contribute to, that wider context, too. I can choose what I feel about myself and about my life. I can write my own narrative.”

Queer women and the rise of passive online flirting (i-D)

From the article: “The way queer women flirt, according to Twitter, can include: silently liking each other’s selfies but never speaking to each other, openly flirting with each other while both misread it as friendliness, and literally just making eye contact.

The common factor is misunderstanding, seemingly because we either don’t believe the other person could possibly be interested, or we think they could be but are too afraid of coming across as creepy. A combo of internalised misogyny, homophobia and general anxiety are probably to blame for the uniquely bad brand of flirting that is associated with gay and bisexual women.”

Women in Football reports 400% rise in alleged discrimination and sexism (The Guardian)

From the article: “During the course of the 2017‑18 season, Women in Football claims to have received complaints from individuals across the football industry. Lewd comments of a sexual nature, racist, gendered remarks and threats of violence were reportedly made to a number of high‑profile female journalists, broadcasters, players and referees.

A total of 271 incidents were reported to Women in Football during the 2017‑18 season. These alleged incidents occurred across clubs, organisations and online. Reported incidents on match days were up by 133.3%, workplace incidents by 112.5% and attacks on social media rose by 285.4%.”

Who Can and Cannot be Feminine… Without Giving Up Their Safety? (Aiko Fuluchi, the body is not an apology)

On International Whores’ Day, Artists and Sex Workers Rally Against FOSTA-SESTA, Saying Sex-Trafficking Law Endangers Lives, Censors Art (Ana Finel Honigman, ArtNews)

Maya Angelou Is the Reason We Need International Whores’ Day (Allegra Ringo, Vice)

The hideous persistence of the “women in rock” issue (Medium)

From the article: “It is not just representation that should be the goal, obviously; representation without complexity and complication, diversity without reorganization of the power structure, is a hollow enterprise. What we can learn as journalists from what community DIY festival organizers are doing is not just that representation matters; it is that there is always more work to be done, and that we must listen to the margins about the stories those artists and listeners tell about themselves.”

10 Things I wish I’d known about Gaslighting (Medium)

From the article: “The ability to hear criticism and then to change yourself for the better based on that feedback is also a fucking superpower. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. My problem was not my willingness to change, but my willingness to change for the wrong reasons. Change should make you bigger, it should increase your tank of self love, it should make you stronger, clearer, more directed, more differentiated, and more compassionate. The pain of growth is different than the pain of destruction. One will fill you with love and pride, even when it is hard, and the other will fill you with shame and fear. No one should use shame or fear to try to get you to change. When they do this they are not asking for change, they are asking for control.”

EVENT: Precious Nights Network, British Library, 7 June (British Library)

From the article: “Join us for this groundbreaking new series of monthly PRECIOUS networking events for women of colour in business.”

Transgender identities in the past (British Library)

From the article: “Museums, archives and galleries have a responsibility to ensure that all its patrons are represented and included in the histories that they create. Language is a problem, as is the ability to find consensus and work in the middle ground where narratives are open and have multiple points of access. In the last 50 years the vocabulary available to identify sexuality and gender has undergone a huge expansion. These challenges are not insurmountable, and the reward of enquiry can have a profound effect on our understanding of the past, how far we have come, and the battles left to fight.”

17 Times Men “Tripped Into Sexual Harassment in TV & Movies (Bustle)

From the article: “The myth of the accidental predator is a common one. In fact, the idea that men seem to accidentally cross a line has been frequently pandered to in the recent wave of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against powerful men in the US government and in Hollywood…The myth here is that these men felt that what they were doing was completely appropriate, suggesting that they simply didn’t know that their behavior was bad (despite so much evidence to the contrary). And unfortunately, that myth has been perpetuated by movies and television. To be an accidental predator on the screen, characters must have a few things: they must be presented as protagonists, or people the audience is meant to root for, and their transgressions must be either forced by circumstance or with a pure-ish motive. In other words, the facts of the case are enough to have many outsiders conclude that it isn’t the perpetrator’s fault.”

Comedian Gina Yashere reveals she faced horrible misogyny and racism while working as an engineer : ‘It was a horrendous baptism of fire’ (Metro)

Neville Southall: ‘I’ve got a bit of flak because I stick up for sex workers’ (The Guardian)

The image is used with permission of L. Taylor. It is a photograph of the sea from a promenade (near South Shields, Newcastle) at sunset. The sea can just be seen over the top of the railings and there is a row of benches facing out from the promenade. The sun is setting and the sky is bright blue but pink on the horizon where it meets the sea.

I was sorely tempted to delay this by one day and just call it the June round-up, but maybe that’s cheating?!

You may have seen the news lately that just 11% of TV comedy shows are written by women. The research was commissioned by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. In response the satirical website Succubus has launched a hashtag campaign, #WriteWithHer, to highlight the sheer volume of female comedy writing talent in the UK. Check it out!

Smack That (a conversation) is an inventive and accessible dance/theatre exploration of domestic abuse from Rhiannon Faith. It features an all female cast of seven with non-performers alongside experienced dance artists, all with personal experience of abuse. It’s opening TONIGHT in Halifax before going to Ipswich (8 June), the Barbican Centre (12 – 16 June) and Doncaster (6 July).

Offside by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish which we reviewed here is soon to be performed at site-specific venues: the football grounds of Queen’s Park Rangers (1 – 3 June), Leighton Orient (4 June), Brighton and Hove Albion (21 – 22 June) and Lewes (23 – 24 June, the Sunday show will be at 11am followed by the 1pm England men’s World Cup match shown in the Lewes FC bar).

There will be an immersive performance of Orwell’s Down and Out, examining homelessness in both London and Paris happening here on 6 June at Senate House and in Paris in late September. The planned performance of readings from Orwell’s book and from other key works, including his essay The Spike and his novel A Clergyman’s Daughter, will be accompanied by modern testimony from refugees and rough sleepers and by poetry, musical performances and panel discussions.

The women’s mental health charity Wish are hosting a live music, poetry and comedy night Turn Up The Volume on 8 June in Camden to raise money for their latest project.

Violence by Glasgow-based performance artist FK Alexander will be at The Place in London on 9 June. FK identifies as living in recovery from drug addiction and mental collapse, and her work is concerned with issues of wounds, recovery, aggressive healing, radical wellness, industrialisation and noise music.

Manchester-based performance artist David Hoyle (who we reviewed here), who has been at the heart of the LGBT scene for decades, explores LGBT history spanning the 60-year period from 1957 to 2017 in Diamond at HOME Manchester from 11 until 13 June.

Also at HOME from 16 until 22 June is Refugee Week Arts Festival. Programmed in partnership with Community Arts North West, the festival aims to encourage a better understanding between communities across Greater
Manchester, and to showcase the culture and talent that refugee artists and creatives bring to the UK and to that city.

Cockamamy will be at the Hope Theatre in London from 12 until 30 June. The play examines companionship, caring and the reality of living with dementia.

The Roundhouse’s annual spoken word festival, The Last Word, will be happening from 13 June until 1 July and will include performances from Jade Anouka, Brigitte Aphrodite and Cecilia Knapp.

German-based choreographer Alexandra Waierstall makes her Sadler’s Wells debut with the UK premiere of And here we meet, in the Lilian Baylis Studio on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 June. She delves into hidden geographies, abandoned cities and no man’s lands in the piece, and investigates the relationship between man and woman, the environment and choreography.

US standup and author Jen Kirkman will be performing the brand new ‘I Don’t Give A F*ck Tour’ at Leicester Square Theatre on 22 June. Jen is established as a keen political voice and regularly discusses women’s rights in her standup as well as relationships, self-care and turning 43.

This year’s RADA Festival (reviewed last year here) takes place from 27 June until 7 July. Highlights of this year’s programme include murals, performances and forums celebrating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act plus tickets start at £5 and there will be a mix of accessible, captioned and BSL-interpreted performances.

And finally, on Sunday 10 June, women and girls from across the UK will come together to create a vast participatory artwork taking place for one day in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. There’s still time to sign up!

Image one is of Smack That (a conversation) and shows three women, seemingly caught in the moment of headbanging. All three are standing wide, with their hands on their knees and their heads moving downwards, with the hair of their long grey wigs flying behind them. They wear short grey or silver dresses and white trainers.

Image two is the flyer of Turn Up The Volume. It is a picture of a loudhailer on a yellow background and features the words: “A night of music, comedy and poetry in aid of women’s mental health. Turn Up The Volume. Friday 8th June, £21.50, Cecil Sharp House Camden, doors open from 7pm. womenatwish.org.uk/turn-up-the-volume/.

Image three is from Cockamamy and shows two women side by side. The woman on the right is younger and is pouring tea from a tall, dark green teapot into a teacup held by the other. She looks quizzically at the camera. The woman on the left is older and has a look of surprise. Behind them a sofa can just be seen in front of leafy-patterned wallpaper.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 29 May 2018, 4:27 pm


It’s time for another (slightly shorter than usual!) 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.

Revealed: Just how male-dominated TV comedy writing is (Chortle)

Freedom of speech at the University of Bristol (Open letter from feminist scholars to Hugh Brady)

From the article: “We believe that the disciplinary action against [Nic] Shall represents an attack on the democratic right to free expression, and that it is this action that brings the University of Bristol into disrepute. The student in question is, in effect, being threatened with expulsion for writing a petition. If the University of Bristol is to uphold the principle of free speech and encourage political debate, then students and staff must be afforded the right to openly express their principled opposition to bigotry and discrimination.”

Feminist activism has triumphed as Ireland votes to Repeal (Lynn Enright, The Pool)

Abortion in Ireland – what happens next? (Harriet Sherwood, Guardian)

Men Who Want Sex With Fat Women But Won’t Date Them (Ravishly)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Nana on Flickr. It is a photograph of delicate white blossom hanging from a tree branch. The blossom is very sharply in focus in comparison to the rest of the background, which is extremely blurred, but the green hues would suggest the backdrop is a wood or forest.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 21 May 2018, 4:24 pm


It’s a bumper round-up this week where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous fortnight. 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.

How my ex ruled my life (The Times)
CN: coercive control, physical, emotional & sexual abuse

Rita Ora’s “Girls” may be problematic, but it’s no excuse for biphobia (Medium)

From the article: “Whilst straight people’s experimentation can absolutely be harmful to the LGBT+ community, placing limits on what’s acceptable behaviour for bisexual people is not the answer.”

Three black teens are finalists in a NASA competition. Hackers spewing racism tried to ruin their odds (Perry Stein, Washington Post)

Racism has become more acceptable since Brexit vote, United Nations warns (Lizzie Dearden, Independent)

Criminalising my job as a sex worker threatens my livelihood and safety (Gala Vanting, Guardian)

Discrimination against fat people is so endemic, most of us don’t even realise it’s happening (Angela Meadows, The Conversation)

Meeting the diverse groups coming together for abortion rights in Ireland (Brian O’Flynn, Dazed and Confused)

Woman With Prosthetic Leg Couldn’t Find Any Maternity Photos Featuring Disabilities, So She Made Her Own (Huffington Post)

No more victim blaming: Preventing HIV in young women (Amy Green, Health-E News) [South Africa]

From the article: “Social media erupted in September last year when a billboard next to the N1 in Johannesburg was erected with the tagline: ‘Who says girls don’t want to be on top?’ In smaller letters underneath it reads: ‘Complete your matric, study hard and graduate!’

“While the DoH rejected claims that the message contained sexual innuendo and therefore failed to address the context of violence and lack of support in which girls are expected to ‘study hard and graduate’, many on social media felt the message to be insulting.

“Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition founder Marion Stevens said this kind of messaging fails to address the circumstances in which young women remain vulnerable and makes no mention of the challenges affecting their ability to stay in school or protect themselves from HIV. It also perpetuates the status quo: expecting girls themselves to rise above their trying circumstances, be resilient, and somehow succeed.

“’With the black girl emoji attached to it and the sexual innuendo, it reinforces the harmful tropes of black women as hyper-sexualised, and places the burden on young black women to overcome obstacles that are out of their control. How can a young woman stay in school when she has to choose between buying food or paying school fees? Girls drop out because of a range of factors, such as food, security and transport’…”

David Foster Wallace and the Dangerous Romance of Male Genius (Megan Garber, The Atlantic)

How we made TLC’s Waterfalls (TLC interview with Jenny Stevens, Guardian)

Meet the millennial women teaching CEOs how to do business and the CEOs being mentored (Georgina Fuller, Metro)

The bank of England’s view of menopausal women is demeaning (Ros Altmann, The Guardian)

Air Force by Day, YouTube by Night (Valeriya Safronova, New York Times)

From the article: “As the video continues, Ms. Smith, who is 21 and goes by Sailor J on YouTube, layers on more and more makeup, all while dispensing mock wisdom for living in a patriarchal society.

“On concealer: ‘If it rubs off on anything, they’re going to know you’re a witch.’

“On eyebrows: ‘If they are off-kilter by a centimeter, everyone will know that you’re a lying wench.’

“On the overall effect: ‘If you don’t look like a white beauty blogger, it’s over for you.'”

The high price of feminism in the ‘new’ Saudi Arabia (The Washington Post)

The image is used with permission of L. Taylor. It is a photograph of a green hilly landscape in Castle Combe, Wiltshire. The sky is bright but slightly overcast and there is a ‘break’ in the clouds where sunlight is filtering through onto the trees.

Recently, I wrote an article about a South African movement called #MenAreTrash. Following on from this, I created a video documenting the London Feminist Network’s Reclaim The Night March – a march against gender-based violence on women.

The #MenAreTrash piece was written for people who were already within the feminist community and familiar with the #MenAreTrash movement. Not to say that other people shouldn’t have read it, but the piece focused on the implications of #MenAreTrash for feminists, instead of offering information about or explaining the rationale behind the movement. The target audience generally received the piece how it was intended to be received – as a commentary on the developing dangers of this phrase in feminism.

The reaction I received from other people, from non-feminist men in particular, was along the lines of:

“You shouldn’t portray all men like that.”
“Why do you only write about bad men?”
“There are plenty of men who don’t behave like that.”
“I have men in my life who are nothing like that.”

When I first heard people saying these things to me or when I read similar comments on my other work, I instantly thought: “If I wrote about what these people want me to write about, wouldn’t that be more offensive to men?”
Asking me not to write about men who hurt women but to rather write about the men who don’t is conceding that the latter are the exception. It’s implying that not being abusive to women is so rare for a man, that it’s newsworthy.
One of the stylistic ‘rules’ in journalism is to write in an active voice. So: “The child kicked the ball” not “The ball was kicked by the child.”

There is no active way in which I could possibly write about men not hurting women because it isn’t an action. Non-actions don’t get cookie badges or articles written about them.

Matt Damon’s response to the #MeToo movement is a perfect, global example of what I’m talking about. After a disturbing amount of women in Hollywood are coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, Damon has responded stating that: “We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is there are a whole s***load of guys – the preponderance of men I’ve worked with – who don’t do this kind of thing and whose lives aren’t going to be affected.”

So what does Damon want us to speak and write about?

How can someone feel entitled to demand that attention be taken away from women who have been harassed and assaulted, away from their perpetrators who have already gone so long without being held accountable, and placed on men who who want a pat on the back for not hurting women?

It may be difficult for some men to unlearn the way society has taught them to treat women but they don’t get rewards for fulfilling that responsibility. Women have undergone oppression, rape, domestic violence, misogyny, internalised sexism, slut-shaming, victim-blaming and so much more for centuries, and we are still having to justify our simple right to speak about it.

By the end of November last year, almost two million #MeToo tweets had been made. According to Rape Crisis England and Wales, 11 adult women are raped every hour. The Office for National Statistics states that in the year ending March 2017, 1.2 million women had experienced domestic violence. And these are just the cases that are reported.

But if you need statistics like that to believe that there is a problem, then you’re not paying attention to the women around you and the experiences they have to share.

Which brings me to my next point: the radical notion that this isn’t about men. When we speak and write about the things women and non-binary people are forced to undergo every day, it’s about women and non-binary people. It’s about their suffering, their resistance, and their demand for men’s behaviour to change.

If your first reaction to stories about what has happened to women and non-binary people is, “Well there’s men who aren’t hurting women” you’re not listening and you don’t care. You’re simply proving that we’ve built and sustained a society where it is near impossible to hold men accountable for the trashy things they do.

I will not stop writing about what men do to women and non-binary people, because I want my writing to support and vindicate them. I’m not thinking about men’s feelings when I write because I don’t write for men, and the fact that this is such a radical idea is all the proof we need that society just doesn’t care enough about people who aren’t men. You do not get to erase women and non-binary people from my writing to protect a man’s feelings.

Photo is courtesy of Unsplash and was taken by Mihai Surdu. It is copy-right free and depicts a #MeToo sign being held by a white woman. Her face is covered by the sign, but you can see her red nail varnish and white polo neck.

A brief history of period shame

by Guest Blogger // 18 May 2018, 8:46 am

Tags: , ,

Consider for a moment that, Viagra is tax-free, but tampons are not.

My early memories of my period tend to include embarrassment. The worst was when a tampon fell out of my bag in a coffee shop and one of my ‘friends’ passed it back to me, barely bothering to conceal his laughter.

Previously, I would have done anything to brush over the incident, but now I think differently. Periods should never be thought of as funny or embarrassing, especially not by men. Humans literally exist because of them, and for many women, getting a period is just a part of their monthly routine. Periods have had a varied history, with some treating them as something to celebrate and some fearing them. This has an impact on how we view them today.

Periods were not always considered ‘dirty’ or experiences which needed to be censored. In ancient Rome, a philosopher wrote about how menstruation gave women power to prevent hail storms and lightning. The Cherokee people saw menstrual blood as a source of feminine power. But in the last hundred years or so, we have learned to become embarrassed of our periods, especially here in the UK.

In 1896, the first sanitary pads went on sale in America and Europe, but were poorly received because women were horrified at the thought of admitting they were menstruating, even to a shopkeeper. In the early 1920’s a solution was found; women were told to put money in a secret box on the shop counter, and they were passed an unmarked package containing pads, all without having to say a word.

Body Form’s Period Normal campaign has challenged these attitudes by promoting discussion around the realities of periods. It was only a few months ago that red blood was first used on their adverts, a metaphor for a future where it’s possible for women to live openly and confidently whilst bleeding without being silenced by period taboos.

Last December, hundreds of people marched in Westminster wearing red to demand that girls on free school meals be provided with free menstruation products. But today in the UK, girls are still missing school because they cannot afford sanitary protection or feel the thought of bleeding on their school uniform is unbearable.

In the UK, the ideal woman is ‘pure’, untouched and clean, and the reality of messy, bloody periods doesn’t fit into this fantasy. Unfortunately, many of us feel pressure to abide to these ideals, and being silent about our period is one of the criteria. Lots of women, including myself, still find themselves going to the toilet with a pad shoved up their sleeves, or waiting until being in the cubicle to root through their bag to find one.

Some women have challenged this stereotype. To many, Kiran Gandhi became a hero when she ran the London Marathon whilst free bleeding. But, the fact that this was considered controversial news shows how society ultimately denies women ownership of their periods, dictating to them what’s ‘normal’ and what isn’t.

Similarly, the removal of Rupi Kaur’s Instagram post of her lying down with period blood on her trousers and bed, shows us that periods are still something to be censored. On reflection, throughout my life, society has taught me to think of my period as something to be hidden and ashamed of.

Because we live in a patriarchal society, it is inevitable that gender is woven into how we perceive a person’s life experiences and choices. If the situation were flipped, and it was men who had periods, it is conceivable that they would be thought of differently and that they may be more accepted; even seen as a sign of masculinity. A recent survey by Plan International UK showed that almost half of girls aged 14-21 are embarrassed by their periods, this suggests that many women do not consider them a positive sign of their identity or femininity.

In Nepal, some women in rural areas are traditionally banished to menstrual huts for the duration of their periods. A few months ago, a woman died in a hut in a remote village from suspected smoke inhalation after lighting a fire in the freezing conditions trying to keep warm. She is one of the many who, despite a recent legislative bill, paidy the ultimate price for these traditions.

For the last few years, I have made a conscious effort to be open about how I feel and what I experience during my period. But still, I would never feel ashamed admitting I needed a day off work because I had a stomach bug —the thought of admitting that I have period pain fills me with embarrassment and guilt. Systemic change can only be affected when more women are made to feel comfortable and supported enough to share their experiences of menstruation.

Photo is courtesy of Unsplash and was taken by kiraikonni kova. It is copy-right free and depicts a white womans bare torso and tops of her legs. She is wearing brown tights and you can see her white lace knickers through the material. Her hands are lightly resting on the rim of her tights.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 8 May 2018, 11:58 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.

Edinburgh Comedy Awards ‘have a racial bias’ (Chortle)
You can listen to the podcast the above article is based on HERE.

No More Heroes (Exeunt Magazine)

From the article: “The cult of individual genius is both seductive (much easier to see talent as a sudden gift from the heavens then to confront the spectre of your own underused potential) and dangerous. How much do we really know about the people we decide to valorise, and who they trod on to succeed? I love history, and don’t want to retreat into some kind of soviet collectivist aesthetic, quite, but I’m more inspired by groups of people working together than single titans – not least the groups of people who are felling statues commemorating colonialists like Cecil Rhodes. I find Manchester People’s History Museum impossibly moving, and am just faintly depressed by the National Portrait Gallery’s parade of identikit royals. Theatre’s history is often told through names, but what if we celebrated whole teams, not figureheads? Processes, not products? Whole ensembles, not stars? And most of all, what if collaborative decision-making was seen as the arts industry default, rather than the ideal of a single charismatic leader?”

Three-year-old girl left crying after hairdressers refuse to cut her hair short (Sabrina Barr, Indy/Life)

Why I don’t blog anymore (Fat Heffalump)
From the article: “I gave a decade of my life to this, and people still show up on my social media demanding I perform for them, that I provide them a free service, that I step in front of them and square up to the bullies and get the black eye instead of them.
“Fuck that.”

When your fat role (roll) models hate being fat (Mariane Kirby, Medium)

Women of Colour Have Been Warning Us About MRAs for Years. It’s Time to (Finally) Listen (Sandy Hudson, Flare)

Why Incels Hate Women (Jennifer Wright, Harpers Bazaar)

Is ‘terrorism’ the right word? (Deborah Cameron, language: a feminist guide)

From the article: “Killings perpetrated by incels are intended as acts of revenge against the women who refuse to consider them as sexual or romantic partners. This is their signature feature, and it is generally taken as the expression of an extreme and deluded belief system. But many acts of violence committed by non-incel men have a similar rationale. The man who kills his wife or girlfriend because she has left him, or is planning to leave him, has the same grievance against her that the incel has against ‘Stacys’. He cannot tolerate being rejected: it is a slight that must be avenged. Men who stalk women–often women who either rejected or left them–feel the same. These are different expressions of the same impulse, rooted in what has been labelled ‘aggrieved male entitlement’.”

Sexual assault is a human issue (Medium)

“Before #​M​eT​oo, hardly any sexual assault stories were being covered. New York Magazine and Robin Roberts on Good Morning America took a huge risk in sharing a male sexual assault story from a black, gay male in the entertainment industry from a celebrity sports family. There​ were a lot of publications and media outlets who outright refused to cover my story because it was ‘too much’ for their audience.”

BBC journalist sets up scheme for unpaid interns to receive free accommodation in London from industry mentors (Press Gazette)

From the article: “Crellin told Press Gazette: “I thought, considering the housing crisis in London, considering that a lot of newsrooms are currently struggling with how to understand communities perhaps that are not in the media already and understand things that have happened recently, like Brexit, [there was] this need for a certain type of diversity that hadn’t really been called out – the invisible diversity of economic background as opposed to gender or race or disability.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Rita on Flickr. It shows two sunflowers against a blue sky which is slightly overcast with white clouds.

The title of this month’s playlist, Young (as opposed to youth) was chosen in homage to the excellent debut album of the same title by Overcoats, which was released last year. The playlist has an accidental theme in that it was only as I was editing and finalising tracks that I realised a theme was emerging at all, namely that of youth, of being young.

This theme manifests itself in a number of ways: We have some sun worshipping on the part of Femme Equation plus a re-interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s anthem ‘Woodstock’ by Miya Folick. There’s also some harmonious self destruction on the part of First Aid Kit (covering a Lorde song), protest songs by She Makes War and Gaptooth, what feels like a sly side swipe at Twitter and social media culture by Ardyn, minimalist electro from Kaleida, Angel Olsen at her stop-you-in-your-tracks best, and fragile idealism and introspection from Chvrches and The Sundays.

I’ve tried to include songs by artists at, or near, the start of their careers as this felt like a good way of getting a sense of freshness and, on occasion, rage, as well as innovation. I’d been doing this, to an extent, anyway in that I’d been trying out a lot of new songs by new artists, but I also realised that I’d been adding in songs from more established artists from the beginning of their careers, and that this worked well with the new stuff.

As such, the minimalist introspection of Kelly Lee Owens’ collaboration with Jenny Hval, ’Anxi’, from her debut album of last year is rubbing shoulders with a protest song by the legendary Selda Bağcan (subject of a brilliant interview and retrospective with Cerys Matthews on the World Service back in March), which was released before Owens was born. Similarly, Norwich geniuses Let’s Eat Grandma are positioned next to The Raincoats ‘No One’s Little Girl’ from 1984 which, admittedly, isn’t an early Raincoats track, but which fitted the ethos anyway.

There’s a lack of punk here, you may be disappointed to hear. I think that this is because the theme evolved accidentally, not deliberately, so I wasn’t necessarily seeking songs about rebellion. What you’ve got instead is something a bit more subtle and awkward. There are angry songs on here and there are definitely protest songs on here, but it all sort of creeps up on you. I was aiming to convey a range of experiences and takes on youth and being young and, in that respect, I think I’ve managed it. Quite by accident, by and large.

The playlist ends with Florence + The Machine’s second single, ‘Dog Days Are Over’, which felt very apt on a number of levels. For one thing, it’s always good to go for a big finish, for another, ‘Dog Days…’ is a set concluding song (encores aside). Then, on Thursday 3 May, the new single ‘Hunger’ was released and blew me away. I knew, after a few listens, that it would fit really well with the playlist, but I couldn’t get it to work musically.

The video made to accompany the song isn’t subtitled, but there is a lyric video you can watch. Similarly, I haven’t had chance to write a full description of the video, but I have found a really good live performance from the BBC’s Sounds Like Friday Night which has a great energy to it.

Image shows the word ‘Young’ written in black pen on a white piece of paper. Image by Cazz Blase, all rights reserved

Video is of Florence + The Machine performing ‘Hunger’ on the BBC’s Sounds Like Friday Night. Florence Welch can be seen crouching down and interacting with the audience at various points, as well as running across the stage in a very exuberant fashion

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 2 May 2018, 10:30 am


It’s time for (a slightly late!) 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.

Where are all the queer women on TV in 2018? (Sophie Jackson, Dazed)

From the article: “This is why queer people – queer women in particular – need their own shows. When queer characters only exist in the context of straight television, the reality of queer lives is often erased in the narrative. They follow a stringent formula: dating, engaged, married, babies. All their friends are straight. When queer characters aren’t protagonists, they’re often put on a heteronormative conveyer belt so as not to disrupt the status quo of the straight show they exist in.”

Sophie was previously an editor for The F-Word and has contributed to the site in the past. You can read more from her HERE.

‘I Feel Pretty’ and the Rise of Beauty-Standard Denialism (The New York Times)

Jealous of Kate Middletown’s post-pregnancy perfection (Grazia)

Aging Ghosts in the Skincare Machine (Medium)

What Fullness Is (Roxanne Gay on Medium)

From the article: “I had to face the extent of my unhappiness and how much of that unhappiness was connected to my body. I had to accept that I could change my fat body faster than this culture will change how it views, treats, and accommodates fat bodies. And I had to do so while recognizing that losing weight wasn’t actually going to make me happier — which may have been the bitterest part of all.”

“Stop ‘tat-calling’ women – our tattoos aren’t for you” (Stylist)

I became incontinent at the age of 30 (The Pool)

For the ‘But-But-But What About Harvey Weinstein?!’ Brigade When Bill Cosby Being Found Guilty Is Too Much (Kirsten West Savali, The Root)

From the article: “For the men defending Cosby, it’s about being free to be rapists without consequence like the rich white men they clearly want to be. As for the women defending Cosby? Get Out.

“No, Cosby can’t get away (anymore) with rape like police officers get away with raping and murdering black people. No, he can’t get away with rape and sexual assault like white men get away with raping and murdering black people. He should have remembered that—or, better yet, just not sexually assaulted anyone at all. While this may seem like a novel idea to some, it’s not without precedence.”

The truth about trans wars (Neil Mackay, The Herald)

Caster Semenya the obvious target in IAAF changes that only create a legal minefield (Hannah Mouncey, Guardian)

The Finkbeiner Test: A Tool For Writing About Women In Their Professions (Christie Aschwanden, The Last Word on Nothing)

Has Mumsnet become a hub of online transphobia? (Huck Magazine)

From the article: “The anti-trans community on Mumsnet is something of an open secret. It has been present for years, and it appears that there has, for a while, been a lax approach to tackling this particular form of hate speech.”

The image is used under a creative commons license and was found on Pixabay. It is a photograph of a blue flower covered in rain droplets.

Woman on laptop

We’re almost midway through the year and holding onto hope that we’ll see a few more sunny days. As we creep into May, we welcome Vanessa de Largie as this month’s guest blogger. In her own words:

“Vanessa de Largie is an Australian actor and writer who divides her time between London and Melbourne.

She is the monthly sex columnist for Maxim Magazine’s print issue and her words are regularly published in The Daily Telegraph and The Huffington Post.

In 2017, Vanessa performed her controversial one-woman-show in London’s West End called: ‘Every Orgasm I Have Is A Show of Defiance To My Rapist’.

Vanessa is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Don’t Hit Me! about her journey through domestic violence.

She is currently doing a post-graduate degree in communications (journalism) at Charles Sturt University. In her free time, she dabbles in art, film, poetry and music.”

Welcome, Vanessa!

Featured image by Brooke Cagle, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence.

Image is of a woman working on her laptop in a cafe. She is casually dressed, in a denim jacket and hoodie, and appears very focused on what she’s doing

Church of EnglandSharon Jagger is April’s monthly guest blogger

I am in the throes of writing up my research for my doctoral degree, which focuses on how ordained women negotiate their belonging in the Church of England.

The first female priests were ordained in 1994 and can still be barred from some churches; unlike secular organisations who may be obliged by law to promote gender equality, religious organisations are exempt, essentially allowing any parish not to accept female priests.

In my research, I have heard lots of stories of people refusing to take the sacraments (the bread and wine in Communion) from female priests. These priests are also wrestling with masculinised language and imagery in the Church and biblical texts that many consider sexist.

Having interviewed 27 amazing female priests, who talked about their experiences of gender and religion, I think their voices should be heard more widely, both in the Church and in society generally. As I write my thesis, I have the nagging thought: “Who is going to read this?”

There are creative ways of amplifying the voices of those we may not normally hear. Some academics have explored ways of using artistic practices to broadcast ideas arising from research. Art, music and drama have become ways of communicating important messages beyond the rarefied academic world. Sandra Faulkner’s book, Poetry as Method, is a good example of these techniques in action and Tiina Rosenberg’s Don’t Be Quiet, Start a Riot links them to feminist performance activism.

So, I have turned to ‘transcription poetry’ as a way of rescuing the words of the female priests I interviewed from languishing in the pages of my thesis. This means taking the women’s actual words and arranging them into a poem.

One of the most interesting topics we discussed was menstruating, particularly at the altar, which has all sorts of symbolic meanings for priests. This was the theme I chose for the poem.

Rosemary Radford Ruether in Through the Devil’s Gateway, edited by Alison Joseph, discusses how Christianity has seen menstruation as “the curse”— an inheritance from ancient purity laws and something which still lurks within the symbolic even now. Ruether says, because of the male monopoly on religious and public power, “Women come to think of themselves as debilitated and polluted, rather than magically powerful, because of their bleeding.”

Hearing stories of priests who menstruate during rituals and in religiously symbolic places is an important way of exploring how this patriarchal ‘curse’ of framing women as ‘polluting’ can be challenged.

In the interviews, these female priests were funny, rebellious, subversive and determined to challenge the negative taboos around menstrual blood. The poem that sprang from these stories shines a light on deeply embedded, gendered ideas that mean women are often alienated from sacred space and religious symbols.

There is humour in the poem but there is also an underlying poignancy in the way the women feel othered and portrayed as tainted and weak. Whilst the priests use religious language, their words will resonate with those of us who understand menstrual shame. These are the voices of real women describing their lived experience:

We all had the same experience the first time we had to preside* during our period

Oh. We shouldn’t be doing this
What they’re really scared about is you menstruating in the sanctuary
But I don’t go around saying, “Oh look at the diary, I’m going to wear my white alb and no pants”
Although sometimes, sometimes…What if?

Men produce stuff as well. Men bleed as well

We went to a mosque for Friday prayers, it was a huge deal
We wore our cassocks and scapulars
We covered up our hair and went into Friday prayers

And I had my period

I was so aware of it, thinking “I wonder if they know”
It was like we were smuggling in tampons
Right. I’m going to have to improvise here
I’ve got a used tampon in my pocket


I never thought about menstruation so much
That whole sense of taint comes out
The dirtiness
Impurity on ritual impurity


“Oh, have you got your period, love? Well, why don’t you just sit down
Because I know you’re going to cry”
They were saying, “Have you ever said communion while you were menstruating?”
Of course I have
It was a sort of shock for them to process this

Menstruation and blood and the sanctuary – a real stumbling point

They’d never had a woman before
She went into the vestry and found the churchwarden going through her handbag
“What do you think you’re doing?”
He said “Well, I was just checking to see if you were carrying tampons
because if you’re menstruating
I won’t be able to take communion from you”

Imagine I pulled out a used tampon

You just bring it and put it on the table at the Mass and just offer it all
It somehow becomes linked with Christ’s sacrifice
And there is something strange for me
Something meaningful to me celebrating Mass whilst I’m menstruating
The whole of sense of sacrifice, suffering, blood
There is something quite powerful and female about that

Mass as menstruation envy

Beginning of puberty and periods and things and flows of blood from women
asking how Jesus is reacting to all this
The symbolism of the Eucharist
“It’s my body” and there’s blood
You drink blood from the chalice

That Wise Wound

“Let’s all celebrate our menstrual cycle”
Let’s not do that. Let’s be glad that one day they’ll stop

*presiding at Mass, or Eucharist, or Communion, where the priest blesses the bread and the wine at the altar

Featured image by Michael D Beckwith, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence.

Image is of the interior of Chester Cathedral. The image looks down the Church’s main aisle, with the altar in the distance as the focal point. The pews face each other rather than the altar

Congratulations to Stephanie Lim and Sophie Cartman who will be writing for Chortle during this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Chortle specifically sought reviewers who were of colour or working class to diversify its critics and I’m looking forward to reading their reviews.

Bridget Christie is on tour with her new show, WHAT NOW?, at the moment. “Is rolling news affecting your ability to enjoy the simple things? Like baking, gardening and autoerotic asphyxiation? This new show from multi-award winning member of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite, and star of her own Netflix special, is for you.”

Norwich’s popular monthly storytelling event True Stories Live is taking part in the Women of the World Festival with an all female line up this Sunday 29 April. There’s a heap of other events taking place at Norwich Arts Centre and across Norwich over the weekend as part of WOW – I’ll be at Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould on the Friday so come and say hi if you are too!

At the end of this week on Sunday and on Monday there will be two performances of Are There Female Gorillas? at The Drayton Arms Theatre in London. Are There Female Gorillas? is created by experimental artist Grace Strickland de Souza and actor/writer Sophie Ablett and is inspired by female experience, focussing on the issue of body hair.

Damsel Productions’ Grotty runs at the Bunker Theatre in London from 1 until 26 May. Grotty is a dark, funny and provocative satire of East London’s lesbian subculture. The play explores themes including intergenerational tension in the lesbian community, struggles with mental health, identity and grief.

Tara Theatre in London will have a month-long season of events, I’ll Say It Again!, by women artists, celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK from 2 May until 2 June. There are a huge number of events, but the ones that really caught my eye were We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager, the remarkable true story of Jayaben Desai, leader of the 1976-78 Grunwick Film Processing Factory strike, Half-Breed, an energetic one-woman dark comedy about finding your voice, fearlessness and escape, The Secrets of the Bluestockings, a quirky new show from Tricity Vogue, Ginger Blush and Audacity Chutzpah providing an alternative history of literary ladies, derring-do and dangerous wandering wombs and Strange Fruit – A Tribute to Billie Holiday, a captivating cocktail of songs and stories from Billie Holiday’s life.

RashDash are ripping up Anton Chekhov’s revered 1900 play and reimagining Three Sisters with electric guitars. They’re at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre between 3 and 19 May before touring to the Yard Theatre (22 May – 9 June) and Tobacco Factory Theatres (12 – 16 June).

Anne Bertreau has put together a list of six shows by and with female theatre makers at this year’s Brighton Fringe which will be worth a read if you’re going.

Breakin’ Convention, the annual hip hop dance festival running at Sadler’s Wells in London between 5 and 7 May, features several key works by women this year including: Elsabet Yonas who has created a work for five women that looks at the dancers’ shared experience growing up in families with absent father figures and the way this has shaped their purpose and intention; House of Absolute, an all-female dance group who specialise in waacking, jazz dance and spoken word, and Myself UK Dance Company, an all-female collective who continue to examine the female identity through lyrical street dance and spoken word.

Inspired by Grace Jones and Afrofuturism, Rachael Young’s Nightclubbing imagines a different future for women of colour through striking intergalactic imagery and visceral live music. It opens at Camden People’s Theatre from 8 to 12 May before touring to Brighton, Cambridge and the Latitude Festival.

Before It Starts by Naked Frank is at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell between 8 and 10 May. They say: “If you are squeamish about staring the hard truth of teenage homophobia in the eye and laughing lavishly in its face, then this isn’t the show for you.”

The Bush Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush have put together the world’s first arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility, modern families and the science of making babies. Fertility Fest runs from 8 until 13 May with 150 artists and fertility experts in a week-long programme of events, entertainment, discussion, debate, support and solidarity.

There are a couple of good things coming up at the Omnibus in Clapham: Bicycles And Fish on 18 May which combines comedy, storytelling and original songs and The Yellow Wallpaper running from 5 until 24 June which is based on the cult short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

And finally, it’s my show and I’ll shill it if I want to: The Exploded Circus, a contemporary circus show with an all-female cast and creative team, goes on tour from next month. It’s what I’ve been organising for the last few months when I haven’t been here writing about theatre from a feminist perspective here. We’re in Worthing at the Pavilion Theatre from 18 – 20 May, at Curve in Leicester on 26 and 27 May, at The Lowry in Salford on 16 and 17 June, at the Imagine Luton festival on 23 and 24 June, at The Ffwrnes in Llanelli on 27 and 28 July and at Winchester Theatre Royal on 7 and 8 September with dates in Glasgow, Burton upon Trent, Lancaster and elsewhere still to be announced. If you happen to catch it I’d love to know what you think!

Until next month.

Image one is a promotional image for Mimbre’s show The Exploded Circus. Photo by Eric Richmond, design by Long Arm. It shows three women swinging diagonally on a trapeze, with an explosion of colour behind them. They look outwards as if they are seeking something.

Image two is a promotional image for We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager. It shows a woman with a bindi smiling with her fist raised. She is in colour. She is in front of ranks of British policeman in old fashioned police helmets who are all in black and white.

Image three is of Rachael Young in Nightclubbing and is by Marcu Hessenberg. Young looks forward powerfully, leaning on the rail behind her. She wears an enormous feather headdress in dark green and black, a gold dress slit to her navel, long thin plaits down to her waist and glitter under her eyes.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 23 April 2018, 4:00 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’ve lost our boy (Fat Gay Vegan)

From the article: “Morrissey saved my life with his music, but you have got to be fucking joking if you think that means I am going to sit around and not say anything about his outrageous statements laced with the language of the far-right. People who perpetuate racism by using hateful language need to be held accountable, not celebrated. Morrissey’s dedication to saving animals does not give him a free pass when it comes to the promotion of For Britain. His cultural legacy does not make space for him to perpetuate dangerous ideas without serious and determined critique.”

Are CGI models taking jobs away from real people of colour? (Dazed)

Ask Bodyposipanda: My ED Made My Sex Drive Disappear — Will It Ever Come Back? (The UnEdit)

From the article: “Of course it’s damn near impossible to view yourself as a sexual being when you’ve been so trapped in self-destruction. In order to feel your own sexuality you have to feel connected to your body, and you’ve just spent a long time trying to wipe your body out of existence pound by pound, punishing yourself, and denying yourself the most basic of bodily pleasures: nourishment. So how do you heal from that? I think you start by getting back in touch with your own body and re-acquainting yourself with the sensations of living.”

Woman’s bad mood CURED by random bloke telling her to ‘smile’ (The Rochdale Herald)

“Not technically beautiful, she has an engaging laugh”: 35 years of being described by men (Tracey Thorn writing in the New Statesman)

The week that took Windrush from low-profile investigation to national scandal (Amelia Gentleman, Guardian)

Diane Abbott calls for trans solidarity at fundraiser for London LGBT+ centre (Jake Hall, indy100)

As a trans woman of colour, my words are met with silence (Miss Blanks, Guardian)

From the article: “When we talk about #MeToo, we must always remember to honour the true origins of the campaign. Like many other social justice movements, it rose from the struggles of black women and was co-opted by white women.”

I Don’t Get Weighed at the Doctor’s Office—and You Don’t Have to, Either (Melissa A. Fabello, Self)

From the article: “There is undue respect for thin bodies in our culture, so the scale isn’t forced on me. My body, at first glance, isn’t inherently seen as a problem to be solved. But for people of size, requesting not to be weighed will likely be met with far more derision and suspicion.”

There Are No Winners in The Belfast Rugby Rape Trial (Ireland’s AdvoKate)

The image is used under a creative commons license and attributed to Siddharth Mallya (Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22440687). It shows a branch of cherry blossom against a setting sun.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 16 April 2018, 9:07 pm


It’s a bumper round-up this week due to staff holiday where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous fortnight. 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 to say when someone tries to mansplain away the gender pay gap (New Statesman)

From the article: ‘“Women have children so aren’t in the highest paid jobs.” There are many responses to this, if you can keep yourself calm enough. The easiest is that men also have children.’

A letter to Asian girls (Et Cetera)

From the article: “There is a lower beauty threshold for people like me. When my Asian friends tell me they don’t find Asians attractive, I am angry, but I also understand. I have hated my appearance for nearly all my life, and this hatred has defined attractiveness as always white and never Asian. Because it was my appearance that marked me as different, a body that never belonged in this country, a target for middle-aged white men.”

Sexually charged ‘Ogle-ins’ allowed 1970s feminists to humiliate catcalling men (Timeline News via Medium)

What About “The Breakfast Club”? Revisiting the movies of my youth in the age of #MeToo (Molly Ringwald, The New Yorker)

How Feminists in China Are Using Emoji to Avoid Censorship (Margaret Andersen, Wired)

Remembering the wit and wisdom of Maya Angelou (Moya Crockett, Stylist)

The Sanitized Words of Complicated Women (DIANCA LONDON POTTS, shondaland)

From the article: “In the wake of #BlackGirlMagic’s rise and the hunger for narratives penned by black women and women of color, the work of icons like Lorde, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison feels more accessible and abundant than ever. Yet the key word here is “feels.” It is so easy to find a plethora of popular quotes or sepia-toned photographs of your favorite author standing at a podium or seated at their desk with their fists resting beneath their chin, looking every bit the literary revolutionary you aspire to be. You can buy vintage copies of their books and drink from mugs emblazoned with their portraits.

“But how much of their personal truth is being fully represented in these quotes, in these photos? In our enthusiasm to uplift the women mainstream canon has historically overlooked, we flatten the topography of their lives. Their sharp edges are dulled in order to be palatable to the masses, and we celebrate what works — for us.”

‘Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would’ Is the Most Savage Twitter Thread in Ages (Electric Lit)

For Jewish Corbyn supporters, this antisemitism row feels like gaslighting (Rachel Shabi, Guardian)

Winnie Mandela was a hero. If she’d been white, there would be no debate (Afua Hirsch, Guardian)

From the article: “Our ambivalence about apartheid is the elephant in the room. As a nation, one of our techniques for glossing over this uncomfortable fact has been overly beatifying Nelson Mandela, whose posthumous glory has always struck me as coming at the cost of forgetting the others. Who now remembers the names of Robert Sobukwe – the profound pan-Africanist whose medical treatment for fatal lung cancer was obstructed by the apartheid government, or Elias Motsoaledi, convicted at Rivonia alongside Mandela and not released from Robben Island until 26 years later.”

“We consider Nelson Mandela to be safe because of his message of forgiveness, because of truth and reconciliation, because he accepted the Nobel peace prize with apartheid-regime president FW de Klerk – decisions to which Madikizela-Mandela was fundamentally opposed. She was a radical until the end. Each rejection of that radicalism is an endorsement of the tyranny she fought against.”

Roseanne’s Gender Nonconforming Character Seems Designed to Appease Anti-Trans Feminists (Brynn Tannehill, Slate)

From the article: “After Mark attempts to go to the first day of school in a skirt and a blouse, the character Roseanne asks him if he feels like a boy or a girl, and accepts him when he says he identifies as a boy. That’s nice, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go very far. In real life, if someone like Mark were to express a female gender identity, support from Barr and her followers would evaporate instantly.”

The Impact of FOSTA/SESTA on Online Sex Work Communities (Jessie Sage, Cyborgology, The Society Pages)

From the article: “My sense from being a part of the community is that clip producers who create and sell their own content and who use Google Drive in the process; escorts who advertise erotic services on Craigslist, Backpage, and RentBoy; and sex workers of all sorts who use Twitter and Reddit as a platform to discuss safety measures and build community with other sex workers and fans are, by and large, independently managing their own careers, making their own decisions, and, therefore, not trafficked. In fact, escorts describe sites like Backpage as having made their jobs safer by enabling them to solicit clients from the safety of their own homes rather than out in the streets. One result of FOSTA/SESTA is that independent escorts and trafficking victims alike will be pushed back into the streets to find clients. That is to say, those being affected by these bills are not the ones who the bill is ostensibly aiming to protect. Moreover, the bills do not come with any funding to help actual victims of sex trafficking (which, for the record, sex workers are probably most committed to and have the greatest stake in fighting).”

On (not) watching gendered violence on stage (Exeunt Magazine)

CN: One instance of disablist language

What’s the ​best way to get written out of history? Be a middle-aged woman (The Guardian)

Unruly, Adjective: The body that says ‘I am here’ (Carmen Maria Machado, Unruly Bodies, Medium)

Almost all violent extremists share one thing: their gender (Michael Kimmel, Guardian)

The Simpsons’ Apu Response Is What Happens When You’re on the Air for Too Long (Jen Chaney, Vulture)

From the article: “Many parents in America have found themselves in the position Marge does in this episode: excited to share some once-beloved book, film, or TV show, only to discover that it looks very dodgy in the light of 2018. At first I was delighted to see The Simpsons offer a take on this, but as written by Jeff Westbrook, ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’ — a title that has a defensive air about it from the get-go — just brings up a bunch of stuff and expects to win points for doing so without actually truly reckoning with any of it.”

The SWARM (Sex Worker and Advocacy Resistance Movement) Collective take over Neville Southall’s Twitter account and tweet to his 127,000 followers on 9 April 2018

7 Sex Workers on What It Means to Lose Backpage (Melissa Gira Grant, The Cut)

From the article: “Sex workers have used the internet over the last decade to carve out some independence, safety, and community in their work. For many, advertising online is a form of harm reduction — a way to choose how to work and whom to work with. To lose online ads means different things to different sex workers: For some, it means losing the equivalent of a paycheck, and for others, it will lead to losing control over their jobs, if not losing their jobs altogether.”

6 Sex Workers Explain How Sharing Client Lists Saves Lives (Kitty Stryker, Broadly)

Voiceless Again: FOSTA/SESTA and Online Censorship In the Age of #MeToo (Kitty Stryker, Bitch Media)

News groups ‘need to do more’ to help women journalists facing online harassment for doing their jobs, study finds (Press Gazette)

The image is used with permission of L. Taylor. It is a photograph of a windmill in the town of Leiden in the Netherlands on a very sunny day. The windmill is visible over the canal where a number of boats are out on the water.

Vanessa de Largie divides her time between the UK and Australia. She is a journalist, sex-columnist, blogger and author

I have lived with vaginismus for half of my life. It’s a condition where the vaginal muscles tighten when penetration is attempted; something the NHS describes as the body’s automatic reaction to fear.

It’s an unconscious muscular reflex that can happen during pap smears, sexual intercourse and while inserting a tampon.

Vaginismus is often associated with sexual assault or sexual abuse. I have experienced both and I strongly believe this is a key reason why I live with this condition.

The best way I can describe vaginismus from my own personal experience is that when it happens, my vagina shuts and goes into lockdown. It can be incredibly painful and traumatic.

But do you know what has been more traumatic? How men have reacted when faced with my condition.

In my experience, men have interpreted my condition to simply mean that I have a ‘tight’ vagina. They have loved the friction caused by vaginismus during initial penetration. I’ve even found myself tolerating pain during sex — knowing that it’s considered ‘an attribute’ to be a ‘tight vessel’.

Of course, the idea that a ‘tight’ vagina is appealing is tied to the fetishisation of Asian women as ‘small’ and ‘cute’, something a one-night stand reminded me of by telling me, post-coitum, that I had “a tight pussy like an Asian girl.”

There are not enough words to describe my repulsion and revulsion. What is worse, he believed he’d given me a compliment and seemed confused by the heavy silence which hung in the room.

But not only was his comment degrading to Asian women and to myself, he was putting down all women who didn’t possess ‘tight’ vaginas. His comment brought up a plethora of insecurities within me.

If I’m really honest with you, despite myself I have internalised the idea that having a ‘tight’ vagina is something to be proud of. I have prided myself on the fact that men I’ve slept with have told me I have a tight vagina; I have something that is considered ‘golden’ amongst them.

Do you want to hear something more revolting? In regards to the possibility of giving birth in the future, I have decided that I will have a caesarean, so I can hold on to my ‘prized possession’. Because what am I without the riches between my legs?

I am disgusted by this confession, which is why I thought it was important to share my story. I proudly identify as a woman who believes in gender equality yet I have a grubby little secret which I hold on to with immense guilt. I allow men to validate me by how ‘tight’ they perceive my vagina to be.

Internalised misogyny describes a state of being where women and girls believe, at least in part, that the gender stereotypes they are socialised into are true. If a woman with vaginismus is dismissed by doctors, exists in a world that doesn’t recognise her condition or receives social reward for it despite her pain, is it so hard to imagine that her sense of what’s real is warped?

More open discussion and recognition of vaginismus could work to make women living with the condition feel safer and perhaps more secure, and challenge the notion that we’ve been ‘gifted’ with ‘tight’ vaginas.

Vaginismus Awareness reports that 2 out of every 1000 women suffer from moderate vaginismus at some point in their life. But due to the secrecy and shame that surrounds female sexual health, the condition flies under the radar.

Today, I’ve come clean: for my own self-worth and for other women and girls who also suffer from this condition because of past sexual trauma, high anxiety or fear of penetration.

My vaginismus is not for male sexual pleasure. And I will no longer lay back in pain in exchange for it.

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

Image is of a woman lying on a bed, clutching the duvet and curled into foetal position. She is wearing a soft pink slip nightgown and lies against grey-blue sheets

#PayMeTooAmy works in digital communications and the only thing she loves as much as feminism is dogs

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past six months you can’t have failed to witness – or be part of – the transformative #MeToo campaign. Beginning in Hollywood but spreading rapidly to other countries and industries, it laid bare the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace. The shock was in how commonplace it was, as hundreds of thousands of (mainly) women shared their experiences.

Hot on the heels of this movement comes #PayMeToo, launched on Monday, April 2, by a cross-party group of MPs including Stella Creasey, Layla Moran and Nicky Morgan. Last year, Theresa May introduced gender pay gap regulations requiring all employers with over 250 staff to report the difference between their male and female employees’ average earnings or face enforcement action from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

#PayMeToo encourages women to find out what the pay gap is where they work, what their employer is doing about it, and – crucially – to talk to co-workers about what they earn.

Few things in life are as opaque as pay; it goes without saying that you just don’t discuss how much bacon you bring home. But how did we get to a place where discussing our salaries is so off-limits? Why is it that we feel able to talk with close friends about the most intimate details of our sexual relationships but many money-making women are deeply uncomfortable revealing what is in their monthly pay packet?

Part of the problem is the close association between money and success. It’s not surprising that a capitalist society would teach us to judge our own and others’ worth first and foremost by our wages. If we make more than others we’ll feel ‘braggy’ and that we’ll be resented; if we make less we might feel ‘whiny’ or worry that others will pity us. This is particularly true of women, who are taught not to be ‘showy’ if they are successful, or told they are ‘always dissatisfied’ if they think they aren’t being fairly rewarded.

This is coupled with an unspoken sense that there’s something terribly crass and impolite about discussing how much we make. Like we should all pretend that we exist purely in the realm of the spiritual and don’t need money to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Again, this is exacerbated for women, probably born of some Victorian-era sensibility that we should be far more concerned with family and godliness than the vulgar arena of business.

But is it really doing us any favours to keep schtum about pay? Six months ago, it was almost unthinkable that so many would speak out about sexual harassment. The silence only benefited those in power, and especially those who abused that power. By telling women they had ‘brought it on themselves’ or that it was just ‘banter’, or even that if they mentioned it they would lose their job, a culture of shame and fear was allowed to grow alongside a deliberately muddled sense of what was considered ‘acceptable’ behaviour.

Just as #MeToo gave a voice to those who had suffered sexual harassment at work, so perhaps #PayMeToo will empower women to talk about their income. At the moment, it’s possible that many women are unaware of their legal rights over pay. They might be aware of a large pay gap at their organisation or of an equal pay issue, but don’t want to be labelled a ‘troublemaker’ or see their career suffer if they raise it. A grassroots movement around sharing experiences could be just what is needed to give women the confidence to realise that they are being treated unfairly, demonstrate how far-reaching the problem is, and give them a sense of the reward to expect for their skills and experience.

But this is just one piece of the puzzle. Although companies are required by law to report on their gender pay gaps, the data is very top-level which makes it difficult to see what is causing the disparity – it won’t always be good old-fashioned discrimination. It is up to companies to analyse the data, work out what is contributing to their pay gaps and put an action plan in place to reduce them.

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission outlines many factors that contribute to gender pay gaps, some of which we can’t necessarily expect employers to be able to tackle. These range from the subjects men and women study at school and university, a lack of affordable childcare, lower statutory pay for fathers on paternity or shared parental leave, and the way that roles traditionally performed by women, such as social work, are chronically undervalued.

It is complex, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t roll up our sleeves and try to sort it out. According to research by The Fawcett Society, at the current pace of change, it will be another 100 years before women are earning as much as men. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t got that long to wait, and I’m excited to see what #PayMeToo will achieve.

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

Image is of a Muslim woman working in an office, wearing a colourful headscarf. She is in a meeting room and is clapping her hands as if she has just watched someone give a presentation.

Wonder Woman

Sharon Jagger is April’s monthly guest blogger

When Wonder Woman was reimagined on the silver screen last year, there was much for feminists to celebrate.

The sight of her dodging bullets in the most recent film gave me the same frisson I felt as a teenager watching the 1980s TV series. I almost bought some merchandise: a T-shirt with the words ‘strength, grace and love’ under an image of Wonder Woman looking gorgeous. I didn’t buy it; something was not quite right.

One of the reasons I enjoy Wonder Woman is her physicality: seeing a woman punch her way through feminine stereotypes is always gratifying.

Iris Young’s essay, ‘Throwing Like a Girl’, explores how women are conditioned not to take up space, use expansive gestures or exhibit muscular force, but to be delicate and passive in movement. When we see physically strong women breaking out of these patterns, it stirs something in us.

Ripley in Aliens, Trinity in The Matrix, Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, and Wonder Woman are physically strong women who have faced peril yet prevailed. It is exciting because they show us female bodies that are acting outside what Young calls “feminine modalities” – those constricted ways women are supposed to act. You can picture what ‘throwing like a girl’ looks like, I’m sure.

The creation of Wonder Woman in the 1940s, by William Marston, sprang from his own feminist agenda. As outlined in Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Marston loved women. He lived with two, both of whom bore his children. His wife agreed to this ‘thruple’ so she could continue her career while having childcare available at home. Marston transferred his unconventional attitude to sex, love and women on to Wonder Woman, believing women would one day rule the world.

During the interwar years, feminism and activism in the US were on the up. Charlotte Perkins Gilman had just written Herland; Margaret Sanger, a campaigner for birth control, was at the peak of her fame (incidentally, it was Margaret Sanger’s niece who was Marston’s lover); Lou Rogers, a female feminist cartoonist was popular and some were predicting that there would be a female US president before the end of the 1940s. It was here that Wonder Woman exploded onto the scene: feminism personified, with bullets ricocheting off her golden bracelets.

However, Wonder Woman’s feminist credentials are complicated by Marston’s penchant for bondage, believing that all women secretly want to be sexually dominated. The early storylines in DC comic books frequently saw Wonder Woman, showing as much flesh as possible, in chains and ropes, being gagged, spanked and whipped. Being chained by a man was Wonder Woman’s weakness, and though the imagery was overtly about patriarchal oppression, it was also about kinky sex in which the male was dominant. The fetishisation went hand-in-leather-studded glove with Marston’s idea of feminism.

Whilst the 1940s version of Wonder Woman had strong feminist messages, Marston believed that one of women’s real superpowers was ‘love’, mostly manifesting in maternal love. It is this essentialism and idealisation of women that sets alarm bells ringing.

In the 1950s, Wonder Woman was instead portrayed as fashion model, babysitter and movie star, as women were forced back into the domestic realm after the war. She was rescued from domestic drudgery by Ms., a feminist magazine launched by Gloria Steinem, which featured the words ‘Wonder Woman for President’ on its debut cover in 1972.

But there were divisions amongst feminists over what Wonder Woman really meant for women. Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique fell out with Gloria Steinem for telling women that they, too, ought to be ‘wonder women’. Betty had a point.

A friend of mine, fed up with the unrealistic expectations placed on her as a wife, mother, and full-time breadwinner, decided to divorce her husband. Explaining her feelings to her (ex) in-laws, she simply told them that she wasn’t Wonder Woman. Their reply was: “Oh, but we all thought you were!”

Here’s the rub: if we are not vigilant, Wonder Woman begins to morph into a model of the woman who carries the entire domestic burden whilst seeking, and possibly needing, to participate in the economic world while fighting the patriarchy in her spare time, if she has any energy left.

Wonder Woman has been used as a propaganda tool for feminism. But she has also been used by anti-feminists, as a model for a woman who serves patriarchal and capitalist ends. Whilst we eat popcorn, we can take from her fiction the feminist messages that are edifying (maybe the T-shirt should just say ‘strength’). But when we come out of the cinema, we need to resist being turned into patriarchal versions of Wonder Women along with the chains designed to keep us in our place.

Featured image by Creative Tail. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Image is a minimal cartoon avatar of Wonder Woman, with only her face and shoulders in the frame. She stands against a coral-coloured background.

Sophie McKay is a London based writer, playwright and performer

What constitutes a ‘woman’s story’? Well you’ve got the usual haven’t you: the first sexual experience in all its uncomfortable glory, the dress you can’t fit into any more and periods. Yes, they’re sure to crop up somewhere. The female experience: particular, domestic and pertaining almost exclusively to womankind. It’s an old stereotype that women tell stories that are “personal” or “introspective”, that are somehow lesser, that fall into the well-trodden tropes just mentioned. This is both patently untrue and marginalising. But why are women’s personal experiences deemed to be so worthless?

Here lies a deep problem: that one group (predominantly white, usually middle class, cis-gendered men) is perceived to tell stories that are universal while most other groups tell stories that are “niche” and pertain only to those of the same group. While some stories should only be told by those who experience them, does the logic follow that only those who have direct experience can find anything of enjoyment, inspiration or solace in those narratives? Even if an individual doesn’t have the same lived experience of an artist, this does not mean that they can’t find anything of interest in that artist’s work.

This bias against women’s stories and women’s art is reflected on UK stages. In 2017 the Royal Court was the only major London theatre that programmed a season of female-dominated writing with 10 of their 17 shows being written by women. At the National Theatre only seven of the 21 shows programmed there for 2017 were written by women. The Young Vic staged two out of 16, the Almeida only one out of six. And the Old Vic weighed in with a disappointing zero plays by women.

Regionally the picture is similar, Theatre Royal Bath’s 2017 summer season featured one play by a woman and Chichester Festival Theatre’s featured three out of 12. The situation becomes bleaker when we consider how few of these women are WOC, LGBTQ+ or older women.

Admittedly there are drivers for change, such as Tonic Theatre and Act For Change who are pushing arts organisations to scrutinise their approaches to gender equality and diversity. Theatres are starting to make public commitments to programme more diversely. But it doesn’t seem to be shifting quite fast enough.

The programming of major London venues reflects the fact that there is still reluctance to programme new or more experimental work in the UK with revivals and classics taking up a considerable amount of programming space and budgets. One could argue that this is indicative of the impact of government and cuts to the arts more broadly. While undoubtedly classics should hold a place in our theatrical experience, we should be driving for more diverse and new stories. And this doesn’t have to negate historical works either; there are plenty of forgotten works by women: Elizabeth Cary, Alice Childress and Augusta Gregory to name a few.

Theatre offers us a greater opportunity for sharing and understanding. It is, at its heart, a forum – a literal bringing together of people. With its intimacy, instant reaction and culture of post-show discussion, theatre puts us in a unique setting to reflect on shared or differing experiences. It is based around the notion that underneath it all there is probably more holding us together than pushing us apart.

A cold, temporary rehearsal studio in Dalston isn’t the most obvious of settings in which to have been reminded of this sentiment, but that’s exactly where I have found it lately. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the Arcola Theatre’s new Women’s Company, a collective open to women and non-binary people in East London. We’ve been developing a piece of devised theatre called Smile, Darling and it’s been empowering to hear so many different stories and approaches to both theatre and the world more broadly, from a range of women’s voices of differing ages and backgrounds. Stories ranging from the political through to the personal, stories about sickness and bodies, about anger, heartbreak or happiness. Stories dealing – essentially- with what it means to be a woman and a person in the world we live in today.

It’s a female and feminist perspective, a piece that puts women and women’s stories centre stage. As a group we’ve made work about our differing experiences, dealing with topics ranging from oppression, to sexuality and identity. Being part of this piece has for me been a reinforcer of the fact that women’s stories are powerful, provocative, funny and filled with empathy. But women’s stories doesn’t mean ‘just for women’, this is a show that will appeal to any other number of people. After all, those attributes are what make great storytelling and great theatre. Oh and there may be some references to periods, but don’t let that put you off.

Smile, Darling from the Arcola Theatre Women’s Company plays on 13 and 14 April as part of the Creative/Disruption Festival.

Arcola Theatre posts news about its community companies and training opportunities at its participation Twitter account @ArcolaPart.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 3 April 2018, 1:08 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.

Redefining the term “nude” in fashion (The Pool)

From the article: “The purpose of any business and/or industry is to serve those in need and, for far too long, the fashion industry has refused to do its job and serve all women of all races. By nude being defined as beige, it tells women who aren’t that complexion that they are invisible. But, thanks to women like Ade Hassan, Joanne Morales and Nadine Ndjoko Peisker, women are powerfully reclaiming the colour nude and illustrating that it can no longer be – and never should have been – defined as a single shade (or two) of beige.”

Who does she think she is? (Longreads)

From the article: “Let’s be daring for a minute and consider an alternative theory: The internet does not hate women. The internet doesn’t hate anyone, because the internet, being an inanimate network, lacks the capacity to hold any opinion whatsoever. People hate women, and the internet allows them to do it faster, harder, and with impunity. It’s developed into a form of relaxation after a hard day of being ground on the wheel of late-stage capitalism. Melvin Kranzberg’s statement that “technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral” holds true here: The internet lets us be whoever we were before, more efficiently, with fewer consequences.”

This Harlem Renaissance star dressed in drag, sang dirty songs, and hit the town with three ladies on her arm (Timeline News, Medium)

On The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, and hiring men who want women dead (Jessica Valenti, Medium)

EVENT: Cooking On A Bootstrap: Jack Monroe in Conversation (At the British Library)

Cross-dressing: a secret history (1843)

Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party (Jewish Socialists’ Group statement)

PE is hell: How to actually get kids enjoying physical activity (Another Angry Woman)

Housing benefit to be restored for 18- to 21-year-olds after fears young people will be made homeless (Rob Merrick, Independent)

Email Sign-Offs Employers Will Fire You For, Especially If You Happen to Be a Woman (VALERIE NIES, McSweeneys) [Satire]

Paris Lees: “Visibility Alone Isn’t Enough” (Vogue)
On Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31st), writer and campaigner Paris Lees explains why, despite society having woken up to trans people, she – and many others – still don’t feel safe.

White Out: Trans Visibility Must Extend to Women of Color (Samantha Riedel, Bitch Media)

The ‘Roseanne’ Reboot Is Funny. I’m Not Going to Keep Watching (Roxane Gay, New York Times)

From the article: “As I watched the first two episodes of the “Roseanne” reboot, I thought again about accountability. I laughed, yes, and enjoyed seeing the Conner family back on my screen. My first reaction was that the show was excellent. But I could not set aside what I know of Roseanne Barr and how toxic and dangerous her current public persona is. I could not overlook how the Conner family came together to support Mark as he was bullied at school for his gender presentation, after voting for a president who actively works against the transgender community. They voted for a president who doesn’t think the black life of their granddaughter matters. They act as if love can protect the most vulnerable members of their family from the repercussions of their political choices. It cannot.”

Decades Before Judy Chicago’s ‘The Dinner Party,’ Virginia Woolf’s Sister Made a Set of Dinner Plates Celebrating 50 Historic Women (Art Net News)

From the article: “The Famous Women Dinner Service is a 50-piece ceramic dish set featuring portraits of famous women from history, completed between 1932 and 1934. The subjects range from Hollywood star Greta Garbo to the Queen of Sheba to Marian Bergeron, who in 1933 became the youngest-ever Miss America at age 15.
“It’s a major proto-feminist work,” Matthew Travers, a director at London’s Piano Nobile gallery, told artnet News. “All of the women they depicted did something interesting and powerful, and often were quite scandalous—the Bloomsburys might have said ‘liberated’—in the way they lived their private lives, and often did not conform to the patriarchies they were living in.”

Trans visibility is greater than ever – but that’s a double-edged sword (Shon Faye, The Guardian)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Louise on Flickr. It is a photograph of a bird’s nest with speckled eggs and a row of delicate pink flowers resting on the side.

Introducing April’s guest blogger

by Monica Karpinski // 1 April 2018, 10:00 am

Tags: ,

Fountain pen nib

As we edge into warmer weather it’s time to introduce our next monthly blogger, Sharon Jagger.

In her own words:

“I am white, working class and middle-aged. Growing up in the north of England in the 70s and 80s, I remember having a strong feminist instinct and raging against the injustice of girls not being allowed to play football, resisting being channelled into sewing and cooking classes at school and arguing with the local vicar about why women were not allowed to be priests.

Decades later, I find myself in the final year of a PhD, studying how women did, in fact, become priests in the Church of England and how they have fared in what is, frankly, a sexist institution.

I am based at the Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of York and teach sociology and social policy ‘on the side’ whilst writing my (troublesome) thesis. I work at a resettlement hostel for women vulnerable to homelessness and, because we all need to enjoy a bit of limelight every now and then, I perform in a feminist musical duo called Union Jill. If I could get paid for the number of hobbies I begin and then discard, I would be a wealthy woman.

It is a privilege to be April’s guest blogger and I hope you will find my choice of subjects stimulating, informative and perhaps entertaining — I will try my best. My PhD may get a mention, as I am now banned from talking about it in my local pub. Above all, my hope is to get the feminist discussion going.”

Welcome, Sharon!

Featured image by MJ S, from Unsplash. Used under Creative Commons Zero licence.

Image is a close-up of the golden nib of a vintage fountain pen. The nib sits against a blank white background

It’s quite a short and sweet round-up this month. See you again in April!

Congratulations to Thanyia Moore who has won the 2017 Funny Women Award.

Black Theatre Live, a national consortium of companies touring BAME-led work, have loads of interesting stuff going on including a national tour of Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok which is currently running at Manchester Royal Exchange before going to London, Bury St Edmunds, Poole, Peterborough, Margate, Derby, Watford, Sheffield, Hexham and Coventry. Also check out this interview with Phoebe McIntosh whose play, Dominoes, is also touring now.

Grumpy Old Women Live are just about to embark on a brand-new 60-date nationwide tour with To The Rescue from 28 March to 24 June. They seem to be going literally everywhere so hopefully they’re going to a place near you!

International Burlesque Hall of Fame winner and LGBTQI+ icon Rubyyy Jones presents The Ruby Revue on 4 April at Hackney Showroom; a glittering showcase featuring neo-feminist burlesque, drag queens, queer performance, gender blending, provocative lip syncers and shameless strippers.

In Scotland, Dive Queer Party have announced a couple more dates, beginning with the Goddess Awards on Thursday 5 April, celebrating the divine feminine and the Goddess inside all of us and featuring a glittering line up of strong and powerful feminine energies. Homage will be on Thursday 7 June. Both events will be in the Gilded Balloon’s Basement Theatre and will raise money for Waverley Care, Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity.

Ahead of a UK tour, Coconut will open at Ovalhouse from Wednesday 11 until Saturday 28 April. Based on the writer’s own experiences, this production explores Guleraana Mir’s first-hand knowledge of interracial and intercultural relationships as she asks, do you ever feel like you’re constantly disappointing people?

Siberian Lights will bring their world premiere of Dames to Pleasance Theatre, London from Tuesday 17 April until Sunday 29 April. “Drowning in their own word-vomit, six drunk millennials collide in a Ladies and try to figure out the world beyond the club. This shambolic, kaleidoscopic, darkly comic production explores the primal needs of companionship and affirmation to get to the heart of female friendship.”

US “smart, brazen and straight talking” standup Iliza Shlesinger will be performing at the Lowry in Salford on 16 April, the Southbank Centre in London on 17 April, the Glee Club in Birmingham on 18 April followed by other European venues.

Tumble Tuck will headline the Who Runs the World? season at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington from Tuesday 24 April until Saturday 12 May. It’s described as a funny, brutal and heartfelt one-woman show that seeks to examine the self-worth of young women today and emphasis we place on winning when sometimes just taking part is the real achievement.

And lastly, I should have given them a shout out before but check out the Bechdel Theatre podcast. Hosts Beth Watson and Pippa Sa talk gender representation on stage and all things to do with women in theatre with a different special guest on each episode. They also feature discussion of current and upcoming Bechdel Test friendly theatre shows.

Image one is courtesy of Dive Queer Party. It shows a performer in dramatic clothing including a purple satin dress, a furry hat and white gloves holding up a Brussels sprout in their right hand. They purse their lips and look directly at the camera. They have a full face of make-up including painted on eyelashes, a lot of blusher and glittery lipstick.

Image two is courtesy of The Thelmas’ Coconut. It shows performer Guleraana Mir looking worriedly at the camera with both her hands held up. In her right hand is a tiny version of a white man in jeans and in her left hand is a tiny version of a British Pakistani man wearing a shalwar kameez. She herself wears a bright orange shirt and is in front of a blue background.

This post was edited on 20 April 2018 to remove incorrect information about the tour dates for Dominoes.

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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