Welcome new editors!

by Editor // 24 September 2016, 10:33 pm

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If you’ve looked at our About us page recently, you may have noticed there are seven new names and faces there.

This is the result of the recruitment drive we ran back in July. (We still have visuals arts to fill and – resources permitting – will be advertising for this position again at a later point.)

We were first of all joined by Harriet Kilikita, our new fiction editor, who I am introducing somewhat belatedly, as she has been with us since late August. Harriet has been followed by Yasha Gosrani (TV), Pooja Kawa and Aisling Twomey (features), along with Monica Karpinski, Dawn Robinson and Amy Grant (guest content on the blog).

Please join me in giving them all a warm welcome!

Here are some more details about our new editors, in their own words:

Harriet Kilikita (fiction editor)

As a bookworm and feminist, Harriet has a particular interest in feminism within the world of literature and theatre. She really hit her feminist stride at university, getting into rants about gender inequality over pizza and wine. She can often be found eating something new, musing on her PhD, cooking up a storm or facing the wrong way in a Pilates class. For more food, books and feminism follow her @HKilikita.

Contact Harriet with pitches for fiction book reviews and section-relevant features at fiction@thefword.org.uk

Yasha Gosrani (TV editor)

Yasha first realised she was a feminist when she did a school project on the Suffragettes at the age of 14, and has been fighting for women and girls ever since. She is passionate about the power of education and information in transforming the lives of women and girls everywhere. Until recently, she has been working as a corporate solicitor in the City. In her spare time, Yasha enjoys yelling at the TV, gin, buying vintage furniture for her home and making things.

Contact Yasha with pitches for TV reviews and section-relevant features at tv@thefword.org.uk

Pooja Kawa (features editor)

Pooja Kawa is an intersectional feminist, Londoner and lover of history. Having a British-Indian background, Pooja has tried to reconcile two entirely different identities and cultures, and has had differing experiences of feminism and perceptions of the woman between both communities. She has written on aspects of women’s history in India, Nigeria, Britain and the USA, which has triggered her interest in global feminism and long histories behind them. Pooja also loves theatre and has written reviews in this area for the F-Word. She makes a living working in universities. You can find her on Twitter @pooja_kawa.

Aisling Twomey (features editor)

Aisling was born and raised in Cork, Ireland, but now lives and works in London. She holds a BCl (Hons) and LLM (Criminal Justice) from University College Cork. She has worked in communications and media for politicians and human rights organisations. She has also been a freelance writer and editor for nine years.

Aisling loves fitness and reads many, many books. She is currently training to be a yoga teacher (but also loves cheeseburgers). You will never find her ironing, because she flat-out refuses.

Contact Pooja and Aisling with pitches for features at features@thefword.org.uk

Monica Karpinski (guest content editor)

Monica is a feminist writer and editor who loves nothing more than excellent conversation. A firm believer in the power of language and good media to make change, she is particularly interested in media representation and reportage of gender and sex. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Monica loves exploring East London’s nooks and crannies by bike and taking any chance possible to travel. By day, you’ll find her heading the content channel of a digital marketing company. She still isn’t used to English winter.

Dawn Robinson (guest content editor)

Dawn does things in fives: degrees, children, decades… and is currently the jam in the sandwich, like many other mid-years women. As a child, Dawn found page 3 in her father’s newspaper offensive and therein started a lifelong interest in women’s rights. She not only remembers second wave feminism, she lived it, doing the second shift while absorbing and teaching feminist theory and wondering why her own practice didn’t add up!

Having completed many years of the 9-5 (yeah, right) in education and publishing, she now spends her time writing, copy editing and occasionally playing with paint, by the sea in North Cornwall/Devon. Her interests are eclectic from football to politics, through literature to film, especially social realism. She feels that one day everything will make sense – but not yet.

Catch her on twitter @jeeznotuagain.

Amy Grant (guest content editor)

Amy is a publications editor for a national equality body where she produces guidance for people on their rights and blogs about the importance of diversity. She first identified as a feminist when a wonderful English teacher showed her how differently men and women use language. When she isn’t harnessing the mighty powers of writing and editing to tackle discrimination, Amy is obsessing over black holes and gravity, watching roller derby and looking at pictures of French Bulldogs. She tweets @amoirh.

Contact Monica, Dawn and Amy with pitches for one-off or occasional guest blog posts at guestposts@thefword.org.uk

For the full list of our section-related addresses, click here.

[Image description and credit:
Close up of a fountain pen’s nib, with an out of focus page in the background, showing typed words with handwritten annotations. By Nic McPhee, shared under a Creative Commons License.]

Looking for something feministly exciting to do this weekend in London?

reel_to_realAs part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the London Film-makers’ Co-op (LFMC), Tate Modern and LUX are hosting From Reel to Real: Women, Feminism and the London Film-makers’ Co-op, an unmissable weekend of film programmes and panel discussions showcasing the unique and under-explored histories of the women filmmakers associated with the LFMC in the years of its activity (1966-1999). This is the first comprehensive survey of those experimental and/or feminist filmmakers and many of them will be present to discuss their work.

Independent scholar and curator Maud Jacquin has programmed seven screenings with more than 40 films, both single screen and expanded, by 25 filmmakers. Her aim is to show the astonishing diversity of practice by women filmmakers, linking the personal, the political and the formal on film, video and via expanded cinema. Their sources of inspiration include the events of1968, left politics, the Women’s Liberation Movement, Greenham Common, feminist psychoanalytic theory, as well as structuralist, poststructuralist and postcolonial theories.

What is super-exciting about From Reel to Real weekend is that a great number of films will be experienced, for the first time in decades, in their original 16mm format. It is a rare opportunity to see these films projected in the way the filmmakers intended, especially at a time when the idea of showing film on film is holding on by a delicate thread in London.

Highlights include Sally Potter’s early experiments on Super 8, with a three-minute silent film Jerk (1969) exploring the shifts of power in the gendered gaze, interesting to watch as a precursor to her seminal radical feminist films Thriller (1979) and The Gold Diggers (1980). Gill Eatherley’s expanded 16mm cinema performances (Hand and Sea Film and Lens and Mirror Film) will be projected on double and triple screens. In the 1970s Eatherley was part of Filmaktion, a group of LMFC filmmakers including Annabel Nicolson (whose work is also being shown) whose expanded cinema performances showed across the UK. Expanded cinema involves the projector, the filmstrip, the screen, the auditorium and the spectator and is truly captivating to experience collectively live. Tina Keane’s rarely screened Faded Wallpaper(1988), inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s proto-feminist short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’(1892), finds Keane skilfully turn the screen into an analogue wallpaper, inserting fragments of female bodies trying to break free of the material – and patriarchy.

Keane is a co-founder of Circles, a women’s film and video distribution network that was set up in 1980 by some of the LFMC women filmmakers who broke away from the LFMC because of their growing engagement with feminism and especially ideas around language, literature and activism. This rift was made obvious in 1979 at the Hayward Gallery’s Film as Film exhibition, where the women curators/artists refused to show their work in the gallery because they felt that the history of women’s experimental film was being marginalised. No doubt, this particularly fractured time for the LFMC will come up in discussion over the weekend as history is contested and memory revisited.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s a feminist presence continued to flourish within LFMC and filmmakers such as Jeannette Iljon, Cordelia Swann, Anna Thew and Sarah Turner were actively involved as LFMC cinema programmers, workshop organisers and distribution officers, as well as making and distributing their own films through the LFMC. Sandra Lahire, another key LFMC filmmaker from this period, had a direct engagement with radical lesbian feminist politics and 80s anti-nuclear activism. She made astonishing 16mm films (using the LFMC’s optical printer) that reflected ideas on the vulnerability of the female body and its relationship to its social, psychic and material surroundings.

Other filmmakers whose work you can see include Sarah Pucill (who has a new film on Claude Cahun in the London Film Festival, Confessions to the Mirror), Tanya and Alia Syed, Lis Rhodes (co-founder of Circles) and Ruth Novaczek (also with a new film in the London Film Festival, A Woman Returns from a Journey). There will be key feminist curators, academics and programmers present, including Lucy Reynolds, Felicity Sparrow and Helen de Witt.

The weekend promises an explosion of film screenings, counter-histories and passionate debate. It will be a time to stop and explore London’s feminist cultural memory through which audiences, curators, programmers and practitioners can celebrate the rich history and contemporary relevance of LFMC and investigate how its moving image practice intersected with feminism.

Sarah Wood, co-founder of Club des Femmes, is participating in a panel after the programme ‘Woman Tiger, Woman Dove’(Sunday 25 September) exploring the legacies of Greenham and women’s direct political engagement and activism for peace and justice throughout the 1980s.

Selina Robertson is co-founder of Club des Femmes, a queer feminist film curating collective. Club des Femmes’ next project is with the Photographers Gallery: ‘Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s: Works from the Verbund Collection’ 7 Oct – 15 Jan 2017

The picture courtesy of Tate Modern.
It is a composition looking like a human face, with two blue eye-shaped holes and drawn red lips on the greenish oval background.

This article was amended on 23 September 4:53pm to say Tina Keane is a co-founder rather than founder of Circles and to add the titles of Gill Eatherley’s films.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 19 September 2016, 10:16 pm



Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links! There’s lots to read this week as we now have a fantastic bunch of new editors choosing their favourite links too :)

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.

Kurdish ‘Angelina Jolie’ devalued by media hype (BBC)

Teachers ignoring sexual harassment in schools (The Independent)

Jamie Oliver says Theresa May is behaving like a politician, not a parent (The Pool)

From the article: “There are people, Jamie, who don’t or can’t have five children named after English flowers. For reasons that life has thrown at us, or for decisions we have made, we are not all parents – but neither are we heartless politicians…”

Food Trauma, Gentrification, and Asian Food for White Folks (still in sirsasana)

From the article: “I’ll bet every Asian in America has been othered by their family foods, and has hidden it, been embarrassed by it, and internally experienced it as shame. But suddenly, it’s adopted by white people, who triple the price while halving the portion, top it with a sprig of cilantro, and serve it in a chic setting in a gentrifying neighborhood.”

Obama’s Female Staffers Came Up With a Genius Strategy to Make Sure Their Voices Were Heard (The Cut)

The Very Black Body (gal-dem)

From the article: “I’ve learned to sit very still in public, and limit my movements to make people comfortable and unafraid, but even then the fact that I can’t count how often I’ve been confused for a sculpture, even in the middle of a supermarket, means that people aren’t expecting a thing as black as me to be real and human.”

The Queer Poor Aesthetic (The Hye-Phen)

Why Dressing Your Age Is Bullshit (& Other Fashion Myths Debunked!) (Refinery29)

Where Is Mara Wilson Now? BUST Interview (Bust)

From the article: “Mara Wilson is used to people recognizing her — in fact, in college, she had a one-woman show called “Weren’t You That Girl?” As a child, she starred in classic ‘90s movies including Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, and, possibly best known of all, Matilda. But as a young teen, Mara quit acting — and went on with her life, attending boarding school, then NYU, then entering the world of professional writing and storytelling.”

The Long Read: Typecast as a Terrorist (The Guardian)

From the article: “As a minority, no sooner do you learn to polish and cherish one chip on your shoulder than it’s taken off you and swapped for another. The jewellery of your struggles is forever on loan, like the Koh-i-Noor diamond in the crown jewels. You are intermittently handed a necklace of labels to hang around your neck, neither of your choosing nor making, both constricting and decorative.”

“So, when are you going to have kids?”: an illustrated guide to the best comebacks from inspiring women (Stylist)

The Families Of 5 Child Rape Survivors In India Share Their Heartbreaking Stories (Huffington Post)
CN: rape/sexual assault/child sexual exploitation

Jeffrey Tambor calls on industry to hire more trans actors in Emmys speech (The Guardian)

The Body Stigma That’s Ignored by the Body Positive Movement (attn:)

4,000 benefit sanctions applied to care leavers in last two years: The Children’s Society (Family Law Week)

UK immigration and asylum tribunal fees to rise by 500% (The Guardian)

From the article: “”The government is to press ahead with increases of up to 500% in court fees for immigration and asylum cases, despite a consultation in which all but five of 147 responses opposed the move.”

Megan Stodel has recently written about immigration and asylum tribunal court fees for the F-Word: If they don’t listen, shout louder

Black girls shouldn’t have their hair policed (gal-dem)

‘You don’t fit the image’: Hillary Clinton’s decades-long push against a sexist press (The Guardian)

From the article: “From the beginning of her career in the public eye, Clinton has been dogged by questions about her interest in homemaking – despite her own successful career. The queries gradually became more subtle, but the concern of her interviewers was often the same: is this woman ‘womanly’ enough?”

It’s not only golf clubs that ban you for having a vagina (Stylist)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Manoj Damodaran. It is a striking photograph entitled ‘In the dark’ and shows a person with their face half in shadow, half in light. Their expression is reflective, perhaps slightly sad. They appear to have their eyes turned down to the ground and their mouth is turned down at the corners.

A few months ago, a consultation came out about new proposals to increase court fees for asylum and immigration tribunals by over 500%. At the time, I wrote about it, encouraging people to respond to the consultation to let the government know how outrageous and unjust it would be to increase fees from £140 to £800 for a full hearing in the first-tier tribunals, for example.

I was therefore delighted to read that the consultation received 150 responses, of which the vast majority opposed the fees. For example, 142 out of the 147 people who responded to the question about raising fees in the first tribunal opposed the proposition. That’s a phenomenal level of opposition! Considering how hostile attitudes towards migrants and asylum seekers can be, this really underlines how unjust these proposals are. This is a meaningful show of support to those struggling to gain recognition, safety and stability.

However, this delight is completely undermined by the fact that the government is paying approximately zero grams of attention to these responses. So if things go ahead as proposed, somebody going through the entire process could now be charged £2,115: an eye-watering increase from £140.

The one defence the government offers is that those who are “destitute” or entitled to legal aid are exempt from charges. Firstly, it’s incredibly likely that at least some people entitled to these exemptions will not be familiar enough with the details of the fees or have the support available to press for their rights. But it’s also disingenuous to suggest that £2,000 is an accessible amount for the large proportion of applicants who wouldn’t be eligible for these exemptions. Could you find £2,000 for court fees, on top of legal fees? How about if you had to miss work to see through your case? And what if you weren’t even allowed to work, which is the case for asylum seekers? It’s an outrageous and likely insurmountable barrier.

The government response really makes for incredible reading. I cannot work out what the point of holding a consultation was if they are prepared to so lightly ignore the stated concerns of the vast majority of people who responded.

It’s important that this isn’t overlooked. Do what you can to tell people that this has happened. Spread the word that the government has actively sought our opinion and then deemed it irrelevant.

And the next steps? Well, to start with, don’t let this put you off responding to consultations. What we have here is proof that we have been disregarded; this in itself is valuable.

But also be as active as you can as an advocate for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. If you are based in or near London, you could attend the Refugees Welcome Here march tomorrow (Saturday 17th September), organised by Solidarity With Refugees. Find other events or groups in your area that allow you to amplify your collective voices in support. Respond to negative portrayals of or attitudes towards migrants and asylum seekers, challenging prejudice and hate.

While the government has shown scant regard for our voices so far, it expects us to back down. Don’t.

The image is by Haeferl and is used under a creative commons licence. It shows a home-made placard reading “Refugees are human beings” in black paint on a white background; there is a red heart with a black outline in the bottom left corner. It is outside with buildings and a blue sky in the background. The back of a few people’s heads are at the bottom of the image. It was taken at a demonstration in Wien, Germany, called “Gleiche Rechte für alle” (Equal Rights For All).

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 13 September 2016, 8:59 pm


Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

Women seek pay rises as much as men – with less success (BBC)

These illustrations brilliantly summarise the double standards women face (The Pool)

Just to Be Clear, Saying You’re On the Pill Does Not Mean Consent (Vice)

Revenge porn: More than 200 prosecuted under new law (BBC)

Violent crimes against women in England and Wales reach record high (The Guardian)

Updated: The topless Yeezy protestor who crashed Kanye’s “Multiracial Women Only” casting call pens an essay (Paper)

The Harry Potter universe still can’t translate its gay subtext to text. It’s a problem (Vox)

17 Pictures That Prove British TV Is Diverse As Fuck (Buzzfeed)

Why I Decided To Change My Name (Ayo Akinwolere at Huffington Post)

This Labor Day, Let’s Recognize The Work Of Sex Workers (The Establishment)

Cher Calls Out Trans-Exclusionary Group Of So-Called ‘Feminists’ (Huffington Post)

As Lionel Shriver made light of identity, I had no choice but to walk out on her (The Guardian)

From the article: “It became about the fact that a white man should be able to write the experience of a young Nigerian woman and if he sells millions and does a “decent” job — in the eyes of a white woman — he should not be questioned or pilloried in any way. It became about mocking those who ask people to seek permission to use their stories. It became a celebration of the unfettered exploitation of the experiences of others, under the guise of fiction.”

On my own fat demise (Friend of Marilyn)

Being probbo: tfw ur friends are appropriating AAVE (Medium)

Girls’ quality of life shows huge variation in England and Wales (The Guardian)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to The ousted pretender on Flickr. It shows ‘toadstools’ or mushrooms which are very delicate, almost translucent, looking. Two of these toadstools stand in the forefront of the photo and another stands behind, slightly out of focus. The background is also out of focus but looks to be a woodland setting.

How to have a conversation about Keith Vaz

by Shoshana Devora // 7 September 2016, 9:31 pm

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Keith Vaz, Britain’s longest-serving Asian MP, resigned as the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, following a Sunday Mirror story alleging that he’s paid male sex workers and discussed the use of (legal) drugs.

There has been much discussion about whether Vaz should have resigned or not. As Vaz hasn’t done anything illegal, most of the controversy is focused on whether Vaz’ position equated to a conflict of interests. That’s an important conversation to have, but here I want to explore how the language some commentators have used while discussing Vaz is absolutely not OK.

Britain has more out LGB MPs than anywhere else in the world, but there’s still only 32 of them (4.9% of MPs). I say LGB because there are no out trans MPs. It was 2013 before an MP came out as bisexual. And of the 32 LGB MPs, only six are female. None are BME.

It’s not really surprising that we have so few out MPs given the reception they often receive. In 1976 Maureen Colquhoun, a Labour MP, was outed by the Daily Mail as a lesbian. She was deselected shortly afterwards. She was the first MP to be outed in the UK and it took eight years before an MP would actively choose to come out whilst in office, and a further ten years for an MP to come out as LGBT+ before being elected (Stephen Twigg, in 1997).

Candidates and MPs who have chosen to come out have faced deselection by their own parties, smear campaigns by rivals, and invasive scrutiny by the press. We’ll never know how many individuals have chosen not to seek public office because of their fears of homophobic attitudes from the public and press, nor how many ‘out’ candidates have not been selected or elected due to homophobia.

So what does this mean when we talk about Keith Vaz? Here’s a brief guide on how to have a conversation about Vaz, regardless of your opinion on his public ‘outing’ and subsequent resignation.

Language to avoid when talking about Keith Vaz:

‘Leading a double life’

There are two primary issues with this phrase. The first is that, while cheating on a partner without their consent is certainly unethical, we do not know for certain whether Vaz is guilty of doing so. He may not have been in a monogamous marriage, or his wife may have consented to his interactions with sex workers. The automatic assumption that any sexual activity outside of a primary relationship is cheating ignores the existence of polyamorous relationships and causes us to react disdainfully to those who practice ethical non-monogamy, judging their relationships as lesser.

The second issue with this expression when used specifically within an LGBT+ context is that it creates a false dichotomy between ‘true’ and ‘false’ lives. Language like this may influence LGBT+ individuals to remain closeted, in the belief that minority gender and sexual identities or behaviour belong in the ‘private’ rather than ‘public’ sphere.

‘Double standards’

It’s fine to talk about double standards and hypocrisy when they’ve been evidenced. For instance Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat MP who came out in 2006, led a homophobic smear campaign against gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election. Vaz, though, has been a long term supporter of LGBT+ rights. He backs the decriminalisation of sex work. And he asked for poppers to be removed from a list of substances banned by the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act. None of this is suggestive of double standards.

‘Family man’

The use of this phrase to defend an individual’s propriety is very often exclusionary. Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but when the press calls someone a ‘family man’ it is normally with the implied suggestion that there is only one ‘proper’ way to be a ‘family man’, and that’s to be a cis heterosexual man with a wife and children. Anything else is considered abnormal (see Owen Smith’s comment about lesbian MP Angela Eagle during the Labour Leadership race). Also note that we never call anyone a ‘family woman’, because we take it for granted that women are family-focused (whereas men get bonus points for being so).


We should refer to sex workers, not prostitutes, as this is the terminology chosen by sex workers themselves, due to the fact that there are harmful connotations attached to the word ‘prostitute’ which cause stigma and violence towards sex workers.


Okay, so we can definitely use the word gay to describe those who self-identify as gay. However we also need to recognise that there’s an important distinction to be made between someone’s sexual identity, their sexual history/current behaviour, and their sexual desires. As Vaz has not self-defined as gay or bisexual, we shouldn’t assume him to be either.

These are just a few pointers to keep in mind when discussing Vaz’ resignation. There are plenty of barriers to LGBT+ people becoming MPs, and being more mindful of our own language is one small way we can help to start breaking these down.

The image has been labelled for noncommercial reuse and was taken from Wikipedia. It is a black and white portrait image of Keith Vaz, MP. He is wearing glasses.

I hope you had a great August. The F-Word managed a fair bit of coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. We hope you found it useful if you were at the festival. Now we’re into September we’re getting into the swing of some autumn performances. If I’m missing your show, let me know in the comments.

Soho Theatre in London has a lot of interesting things coming up including some of the hits of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe such as Zoe Coombs Marr’s character Dave in Trigger Warning which runs until this Saturday, 10 September and RashDash in Two Man Show running until 1 October. I saw Zoe Coombs Marr last week and it’s a great show. Two Man Show has a captioned performance on Tuesday 27 September at 7pm.

Calm Down Dear, Camden People’s Theatre’s festival of feminist theatre, returns for a fourth year running from 22 September until 9 October. They’ll have 23 shows, talks and events over the three weeks, and this year for the first time the festival will transfer to the Bikeshed Theatre in Exeter too.

Of particular note this year is a one-on-one performance and exhibition running throughout the festival called PUBE from Eugenie Pastor. It’s a project about our relationship with pubic hair, and the politics and societal factors behind some women’s choice to remove their pubic hair. Audience members are invited to participate in a 45 minute one-on-one performance with Pastor, in which she creates a portrait of them using strands of their pubic hair – these then form part of a growing exhibition as she travels around the country with the show.

We gave Calm Down Dear a great review last year and this year looks to be as good or even better.

At Theatre N16 in Balham Torn Apart (Dissolution) from No Offence Theatre will run from 12 to 30 September (no Fridays or Saturdays). The play puts women centre stage and deals with issues such as feminism, immigration, male repression, fate, homosexuality and the most painful aspects of human conditioning. It got five star reviews when it was previously at N16 and at Brighton Fringe.

Rachel Mars is going to be touring the UK with her show Our Carnal Hearts. With original music that draws on the US Southern gospel tradition of sacred harp singing, where four singers perform in a square formation creating a wall of sound, Our Carnal Hearts reveals what lurks in the dark, exposes the monsters within and without and joyfully embraces our rage at the situation our political landscape has left us in. It starts at the Royal Exchange in Manchester on 16 September before touring to Theatre Royal Margate, Shoreditch Town Hall, JW3, Camden People’s Theatre, Norwich Arts Centre, Cambridge Junction and The House, Plymouth before finishing up at Harlow Playhouse in March next year.

Following her run in Edinburgh, Fiona Sagar is going to be performing her solo character-comedy show exploring entitlement on 17 September at The Lion and Unicorn in London, part of Laugh or Cry’s Cruel Britannia (a week of comedy, satire and dark entertainments). From the self-obsessed millennial who thinks she’s starring in her own ‘Truman Show’, the charlatan princess who’s a master of all trades, the celebrity fundraising for fellow struggling millionaires, the everyday sexist bro, the career politician who endorses tax avoiders, to the frustrated matriarchal granny who doesn’t recognise the world she lives in anymore. Entitlement asks are we all a little too entitled?

A little further afield, in Dublin, Bez Kinte Theatre Company who have roots in the UK, Ireland and Serbia will be presenting Breaks, an exploration of feminism past and present, challenging conventional gender roles through a collage of theatre, costume, movement and voice. This is an original show devised by Erin Gilgen, Emma Hughes, Naomi Faughnan, Louisa Sanfey and company. Developed through the Open Lab Scheme at Barbican Guildhall, London, with support from Fringe Lab and Arts Council England. It will be performed at Smock Alley Boys School in Dublin from 11 to the 18 September.

Breaks is part of Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016 which also features Hot Brown Honey, my favourite show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Go and see them both!

Lastly I saw Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the National Theatre a couple of weeks ago and it’s brilliant. Really well staged and acted, with an all-female team and believable three-dimensional characters. The only thing I didn’t like about it was closing with a Bob Marley song, which from a white cast felt like cultural appropriation. Tickets might be hard to come by, but it’s worth checking out if you can. It runs in rep until 1 October. There are captioned performances on Monday 12 September at 8pm and Wednesday 21 September at 8pm and audio-described performances on Friday 9 September, 5.30pm and Saturday 10 September, 5.30pm with a Touch Tour at 3pm.

Image 1 is of Zoe Coombs Marr by James Brown courtesy of Soho Theatre. It is a composite photo with Coombs Marr on both sides of the photograph, on the right she is being her male character Dave, with his hair in a ponytail and a fake beard. He is holding a banana in his left hand as it it is a telephone and is speaking into it. On the left hand side of the photograph Coombs Marr is herself as Zoe with her hair tied back. She is also holding a banana as if it is a telephone and has a bunch of bananas on her head. She looks unimpressed.

Image 2 is of Fiona Sagar in Entitled by Karla Gowlett. Sagar sits in front of ornate fleur-de-lis blue and gold wallpaper. She is wearing a dark pink dressing-gown and a tiara. She is holding a cup of tea. She sits sideways to the camera, looking into the lens with a small smile upon her face.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 5 September 2016, 10:18 pm


Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

How to actually talk to women wearing headphones (The Guardian)

How to Talk to a Woman Who Is Trying to Take a Dump (Jezebel)[Satire]

From the article: “…If she doesn’t understand (or, perhaps, won’t, because she’s recently heard the term ‘feminism’ and is confused), simply gesture that you want to court her for sex at your spare but frightening apartment that you share with a Craigslist goblin.

In most cases, you won’t have to go to that extreme because girls don’t feel whole unless a man is looking at them, so you’re actually doing her a favor, but some girls have real gastrointestinal disorders and will be hesitant to delay their explosive diarrhea because they are feeling nervous or excited about what is happening.

… Then, do what we call ‘Acknowledging the Awkwardness’ by quickly noting that you recognize that she’s probably prairie dogging right now, and that the entrance to a public restroom isn’t the sexiest place to pick up a girl, but also that your agenda is more important than hers, and also girls shouldn’t even be pooping outside the home anyway…”

Cracked Foundations: What happened to Kate Nash? (Noisey)

People Are Using Art To Start Important Conversations About Mental Health (Buzzfeed)

From the article: “However, the statistics and research specifically on black women living in the UK are scarce. Cal Strode, a spokesperson for the charity Mental Health Foundation, told BuzzFeed News there needs to be more research that focuses on the experiences of black women. She also said ‘inequality and discrimination are key drivers of mental health problems’ for black women living in the UK.”

In Conversation with Ken Loach [EXCLUSIVE] (Scisco Media)

From the article: “I ask Loach about his latest film, I Daniel Blake. Screened earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palme D’or, it is now being screened on general release. He tells me it’s ‘just a little story’ about a man approaching retirement who has a heart attack, and is told he can’t work, but is re-assessed and told to work by the job centre…”

From Bikinis to Burkinis, Regulating What Women Wear (New York Times)

Obese patients and smokers banned from routine surgery in ‘most severe ever’ rationing in the NHS (Telegraph)

18 Tweets About “Other Girls” That Will Make You Say “YES” (Buzzfeed)

Do You Want to be That Person? (Fat Heffalump)

Emmett Till, 61 Years Later: Let’s Stop Pretending We’ll Never Forget (Huffington Post) CN: Racist violence and murder

4 Anti-Feminist Things I’ve Heard In Church (Bustle)

Housing benefit cap may force 67% of women’s refuges to close – report (The Guardian)

How my White Mother Helped Me Find My Blackness (The Establishment)

White feminist Lena Dunham launches an attack on Odell Beckham Jr. & everyone is confused (Blavity)

How bell hooks taught me to choose truth over conformity (gal-dem)

Italy’s Fertility Day posters aren’t just sexist – they’re echoes of a fascist past (The Guardian)

Revealed: shocking rise in domestic abuse of women in London (Evening Standard)

Amy Schumer throws sexist heckler out of Stockholm show (The Guardian)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Andi Campbell-Jones. It is a very atmospheric shot and shows a jetty jutting out into the sea. It appears to be just before dark so the jetty is in shadow and the mountains beyond are black against the darkening sky.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 29 August 2016, 10:00 pm



We hope you’ve all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend. Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

One-Track Minds: Semenya, Chand & the Violence of Public Scrutiny (Medium)

Sexual harassment of students by university staff hidden by non-disclosure agreements (The Guardian)

France burkini: Highest court suspends ban (BBC)

First Lesbian TV Show In Kenya To Be Hosted By Two Popular Lesbian Celebrities (Kentv, via KESWA Kenya)

I’ve never drunk alcohol because I’ve never felt like it (The Pool)

Gold Medalist Caster Semenya Displays Grace Under Pressure (Advocate)

From the article: “…Semenya spoke up and pushed back on the invasive inquiry, saying, ‘Excuse me, my friend. Tonight is all about performance. We are not here to talk about IAAF and speculations. Tonight is all about performance. This press conference is all about the 800-meter we ran today. So, thank you.'”

This Irish Abortion Activist Has Been Fighting For Women’s Rights For Decades (Bustle)

Sarah Ahmed: resignation is a feminist issue (Feminist Killjoys)

Why I stopped following thin and beautiful white women on Instagram (The Pool)

Finally Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke are fronting a lingerie advert that we can actually relate to (The Independent)

Lena Dunham And Jemima Kirke Star In Unretouched Lingerie Campaign, Look Amazing — But There’s One Problem (Bust)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Jan Tik. It shows a landscape scene of the sea at sunset. Cliff faces are silhouetted against a stunning sky which runs from yellow at the horizon to dark blue further up. The sea below the cliffs shimmers with the light from the sky.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 23 August 2016, 4:58 pm


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Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

The case of Lee Salter: Why Sussex University still needs to say sorry (Medium)

You Won’t Believe How Some Doctors Talk To Fat Patients (Huffington Post)

Marina Abramović Shockingly Compares Aborigines to Dinosaurs (Art Net News)

Marina Abramović and the White Artist’s Gaze (The Atlantic)

White Male Privilege Is Why We Laugh At Lochte And Vilify Douglas (Huffington Post)

I’m a DWP call handler and have no time to care about your disability claim (The Guardian)

EastEnders spoilers: Leading charity Rape Crisis responds to shock Dean Wicks verdict (Metro)

Political Strategy and Buzzfeed’s analysis of “the Twitter problem” (Flavia Dodzen at Medium)

From the article: “The pedagogy of cruelty, then, part of the toolset to silence the dissenting voices who refuse to accept that “making a country great again” comes at the expense of their grief and uncontested exploitation. Buzzfeed’s article comes short in naming the ultimate price that the victims of the abuse pay: the toll it takes in their material realities. The price for being on the receiving end of the abuse is not merely an inconvenience, it’s also a constant chipping away at the victim’s mental health, capabilities to use the platform for their own work (and eventual economic profit) and their right to express their ideas without fear of retribution. The objective, in the end, fulfilled: the cowered, silent victim with less avenues of public participation and more vulnerable to exploitation.”

Black In The Day: creating an online archive of black British life through our own lens (gal-dem)

In Defense of Villainesses (tor.com)

From the article: “We look at female cartoon villains and we see what’s forbidden: ferocity. Never laugh with your head thrown back. Never apply your eyeshadow as a cut-crease. Never draw in your brows or dye your hair. Don’t wear nice clothes (unless they’ve been sewn for you by people or animals who love you, or delivered to you by magic). Don’t look in mirrors. Don’t want things. Don’t get old or fat or tall. Don’t make demands. Hope, maybe, but never expect. No, not even if you’ve dedicated your life to a goal—even then, don’t you dare expect. Work hard, but don’t grind for years and years building an empire because if you do, then you’ll get taken down and the audience will cheer at your suffering. Don’t carve your face into a mountainside, because that territory is reserved and your name is not on the list.”

Fela Kuti, a Glasgow nightclub and the drama of the ladies’ loos (The Guardian)
Check out Huma Munshi’s review of Expensive Shit for the F-Word HERE.

The Disturbing Trend of Vigilante Attacks on Sex Workers (Vice)

From the article: “Coupled with the fact that most sex workers are women, and many are migrants, people of colour, queer or trans, their chances of being subject to attack based on identity are high. Abusers know that sex workers, particularly the undocumented, are unlikely to go to the police.”

Dalian Atkinson: Police officers probed over footballer death (BBC)

Women on maternity leave face reduced hours and being made redundant, charity warns (The Independent)

From the article: “New and expectant mothers are reporting increasing levels of unfair treatment at work such as being made redundant or having their hours reduced when they take maternity leave, Citizens Advice has said. The charity said the number of women seeking its advice after experiencing a cut in hours, being put on a zero-hours contract or being forced out of their job after becoming pregnant had risen by nearly 60 per cent in the past year.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Lucia on Flickr. It shows a person with long dark hair standing against a blue wall. The person’s arms and chest are bare and they have their hand pressed to wall with their body drawn up against it. They are looking down towards the ground with a faint smile on their lips.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 16 August 2016, 8:05 am



Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

Women athletes are still put in second place at the Olympics – it’s time to sprint towards equality (The Conversation)

From the article: “London 2012 was lauded as a major triumph, as all sports were open to women. But you needed to read the small print to realise that “all sports” does not equate to “all events”. Men continue to compete in more events, and receive more medals, than women. This year, in Rio, athletes will compete in 306 events: 161 events for men, 136 events for women and nine mixed events.”

Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton and the trap of “fake feminism” (The Pool)

HBO still doesn’t have a good answer to its rape problem (Huffington Post)

The Disturbing Sexist Trend in Interfaith Work (Forward)

Seven questions the entertainment industry needs to answer about rape (Washington Post)

We paired feminist icon Gloria Steinem with Amandla Stenberg and this is what happened (Teen Vogue)

The Daily Beast’s article outing gay Olympians on Grindr wasn’t just gross. It was dangerous (Fusion)

Why It’s Important to See Women Smoking Weed (Vice)

From the article: “Men had always smoked weed. They knew how to do it. They always rolled the joints, they had bizarrely expensive grinders, they owned an unnecessary amount of paraphernalia. Men rapped about smoking weed, and men smoked weed onscreen in stoner comedies like Harold & Kumar and Pineapple Express. Men, like everything in my life, owned it. I could partake, but I would only ever be a guest in the bro-stoner house of bongs. Although women had been smoking weed as a natural painkiller in childbirth for hundreds of years, men had monopolized the culture around it.”

Caitlin Moran, I’ll support you after the cancellation of your sitcom – but we need to talk about white feminism (Independent)

Shoshana Devora recently wrote about Moran’s book, Moranifesto, for the F-Word. You can read her review HERE.

The “Perfect Victim” Mentality Has Shut Down Coverage Of Lindsay Lohan’s Assault (The Frisky)

The burkini ban is misogynistic – and Western feminists are turning a blind eye (Independent)

From the article: “The greatest causalities of Isis have been Muslims, and the banning of the burkini illustrates the extent to which France’s fundamentalist secularism is singling out the most visible and vulnerable group in society for blame.”

Life in Nauru detention: a dark, wretched Truman Show without the cameras (The Guardian)

I Married A Man Because I Was So Impressed That He Could Say ‘Ni Hao’ (Reductress) [Satire]

London blow job cafe or the lure of the normal (London Queers)

From the article: “There is no doubt that sex must have been a public, or little hidden activity, for much of human history, until somebody, somewhere, decided that it was something that only couples behind closed doors could take part on. But in modern history, gay and LGBTQ culture reinvented public sex as a fundamental part of its identity, with its tearooms, bath houses, cottaging in public toilets and parks and leather clubs. Judith/Jack Halberstam writes eloquently about them in In A Queer Time And Place. They are a fundamental historical and cultural sign of identity for non-hetronormative sexualities and much activism and awareness has started not just in them, but because of their mere existence, that challenges traditional notions of intimacy, sexual spaces and the less than clear line between leisure activity and sexual activity. The proposed Fellatio Cafè resembles superficially one of these places of public sex, but without the queer aspect…”

Being a black, British, queer, non-binary Muslim isn’t a contradiction (The Guardian)

Love wins: Rugby player accepts on-field Olympic marriage proposal (CNN)

Murray slaps down John Inverdale after presenter’s Olympic tennis gaffe (The Guardian)

Women Who Love Women Aren’t Tragic (NY Times)

I refuse to be your trophy doctor wife (The Tempest)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Niccolò Ubalducci on Flickr. It shows the Northern lights over a glacial looking landscape. The sky is lit up in purples and fluorescent greens, and above the lights, it is possible to make out thousands of stars.

Setting off the Home Office’s gaydar

by Megan Stodel // 10 August 2016, 7:22 am

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When it comes to judging asylum cases relating to sexual orientation, the Home Office has a long list of ways to know if an applicant isn’t actually gay. Bisexuality seems to be an alien concept, as indeed is any sexual or romantic orientation that differs from being attracted solely to men or women. But that’s ok – they only really need to know about gay and lesbian people, because everybody else will probably be fine. Or at least I’m guessing that’s the logic. If there’s logic.

However, caseworkers have now been banned from asking applicants for explicit details about their sex lives. That also means that caseworkers can’t accept sexually explicit materials (such as photos or videos of sexual encounters) as proof. To be clear, it was never official government policy to ask for these, but people being told they needed to somehow prove who they were resorted to submitting this sort of evidence, desperate to be believed.

So how do you prove you’re LGB? Luckily, Home Office guidance and previous case law gives us an insight into what might do it.

Go to gay clubs and join LGBT+ groups

Yes, you might not have been in the UK long. You might not be familiar with the area you’re living in or have any networks to show you around. Given that you can’t work as an asylum seeker, you may not have any spare money. Given that the asylum seeking process is incredibly stressful, you might not have much energy or time. Coming from a place where you have feared persecution because of your sexual orientation, you might not be comfortable being out. You might not identify at all with the specific culture or vibe of queer spaces in the UK. Hell, you might just not really enjoy clubbing.

But still. The guidance indicates this is an area caseworkers should explore, so presumably it makes your case more credible. Indeed, the absence of engagement with the LGBT+ community affects judgements; in Khan v SSHD, it is noted that when the applicant “was free, in the United Kingdom, to actively pursue lesbian or bisexual activities she had not done so.” From the context, this seems to mean attending gay clubs and being part of lesbian groups.

Don’t go to gay clubs or join LGBT+ groups

Or not. The trouble is that you don’t actually have to be LGB to do these things. In ND v SSHD, although the applicant had reached out to the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, and the group supported their claim and appeared on their behalf, the judge deemed that UKLGIG’s representative could have been deceived, with the applicant taking actions simply to appear more credible. Therefore engaging with the LGBT+ scene is a risk because it looks like you’re trying too hard.

Don’t have any opposite-sex relationships

After all, who would have a relationship with somebody of the opposite sex if they weren’t heterosexual? Apart from somebody who was bisexual. Or somebody who only realised they were gay after already being involved with somebody of the opposite sex. Or somebody in a forced marriage. Or somebody who’s been living in fear of persecution due to their sexual orientation so therefore has been living a lie, including in their romantic and sexual lives because not being married is in itself suspicious.

Apart from them, I mean.

Don’t have children

See above. Both of these are in the guidance as things to explore. And they certainly have been relevant in cases; one woman was told it was impossible for her to be a lesbian because she had two children.

Embody the stereotypes

In a landmark case a few years ago, it was ruled that LGB people should not be subjected to a discretion requirement, with the expectation that they live in their country of origin while keeping their sexual orientation hidden. This was a huge step. However, even in this ruling, the judge said the following:

To illustrate the point with trivial stereotypical examples from British society: just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates.

This seems to be an attempt to engage with the idea that sexual orientation is about more than sexual contact yet fails to acknowledge that the complexity arises from the individuality of identity, instead attempting to find another pigeonhole to use. If judges use stereotypes as touchstones, this implies that LGB men and women will have more difficulty in achieving success with their cases if they are not easily and visibly identifiable, in line with crude generalisations used in the UK.

Therefore it isn’t surprising that although the guidance warns against using stereotypes, cases include commentary on appearances of applicants. One unsuccessful applicant “agreed she did not dress mannishly: she was a pretty girl…who dressed like a girl” – and thus presumably was not credible enough as a lesbian or bisexual woman.

The photo is by Katja Hasselkus and is used under a creative commons licence. It shows an orange cocktail in a tall class, with a cherry and orange garnish and two blue and white striped straws. The background is sandy at the bottom and blue at the top, but out of focus.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 8 August 2016, 7:27 pm



Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

Why Aren’t Feminists Up in Arms About the Slut-Shaming of Nude Melania Trump? (The Daily Beast)

Calling all men! Five ways you can be a feminist at work (The Conversation)

You Can Keep Your Baddie Aesthetic, I Prefer Hood Girls (Medium)

So what if Malia Obama wants to dance and Melania Trump once posed nude? (The Guardian)

Treating honour-based violence as terrorism will only harm more women and girls (The Conversation)

Relationship Anarchy Takes The Judgment Out Of Love (The Establishment)

From the article: “‘Relationship anarchy means a lot of questioning, so it’s not necessarily going to default to some of the patriarchal fallbacks people have in relationships,’ she says. ‘You can question: Why are we doing this? Are we doing this because it’s in every romantic movie that tells us how to act? You’re breaking away from those ideas.'”

The Not-So-Mysterious Female Orgasm, Medieval Clitorises, and the Definition of Sex (Jeanne de Montbaston)

From the article: “This history places the contemporary ‘discovery’ of an evolutionary reason for the female orgasm back in its proper place. As a piece of scientific research, it is potentially interesting, but represented as a super-modern “solution” to something presumed to be a long-standing source of amazement and disbelief, it is part of the ongoing patriarchal narrative that insistently defamiliarises the female body and excludes female sexuality from consideration.”

Jeremy Corbyn Interview: On Owen Smith, Trident, Brexit, The Housing Crisis And A ‘Universal Basic Income’ (Huffington Post)

Capita suspends assessor after disablist, racist Facebook posts (Disability News Service)

White men running advertising only pay lip service to diversity (The Guardian)

100 Fat Activists #18: Off Our Backs letters page (Obesity Timebomb)

From the article: “The editorial collective [at Off Our Backs] ran a lively letters page, with discussions stretching across several issues or more if it was one of those intractable subjects that radical feminism could not figure out adequately, like SM. Through reading the letters page you get to see threads appear.The main one concerns the paper’s, and presumably feminism’s, struggle to comprehend fat feminist politics. From 1976-1991 they get it wrong again and again!”

Are we ranking our tragedies now? (Standard Issue)

From the article: “The only (crushing) conclusion I can make, is that the reason the world has not been screaming their anger and outrage from every rooftop, and sobbing their uncontrollable tears of grief in the streets, is because this was an attack on disabled people, and there is a (conscious or unconscious) global belief that ‘disabled people’s lives do not matter’. I mean, did you know between a third and half of the people killed by cops in America have a disability? Exactly.”

Is there a systemic gender bias in knowledge production? A look at UK Universities and Think Tanks (On Think Tanks)

This article is part eight of Women in Think Tanks and is written by Josephine Tsui, who has written for and worked with The F-Word.

From the article: “While there has been increasing number of research on women in academia, very little research has been done about women’s advancement in think tanks. Think tanks have similar advancement systems to the private sector and don’t have as much ambiguity in maternity leave policies as academia with regard to tenure. While not completely free of bias, think tanks follow more mainstream maternity leave policies and cannot penalize a woman’s career advancement based on her choice for a family. Could it be that because think tanks have more mainstreamed workplace policies, there is less of an institutional gender bias in think tanks? Does this explain why there appear to be more women in think tanks than in academia?”

This Response to Donald Trump’s Controversial Baby Comments Says It All (Cosmopolitan)

From the article: “‘[Trump] didn’t yell at a baby,’ Amadi Lovelace wrote on Facebook. ‘He yelled at a woman who had a baby. And more importantly, he didn’t just yell at her, he gaslighted her, telling her at first that it was OK that her baby was fussing, and then acting like she was nuts for taking him at his word and should have somehow divined magically that he actually wanted her to leave.'”

What to do when the book police arrive: read on (The Guardian)

From the article: “The detention of a woman reading a book about Syria shows the power of writing. Our ability to thrive together is limited only by our imagination …”

44% of people would be uncomfortable working with me (The Pool)

From the article: “… according to 2016’s NatCen British Social Attitudes survey, 44 per cent of people would be “uncomfortable” at the idea of working with me. This isn’t because of my admittedly slightly disgusting desk-eating habits, but because 44 per cent of people would be uncomfortable with the idea of working with people who have experienced symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Angel Hsu on Flickr. It shows a person lying down in dim lighting with their knees drawn up to their chest. They have their eyes closed and hold a light in their hand, which is projecting the image of thousands of stars over their body and the wall behind them.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 1 August 2016, 11:12 pm



Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

Theresa May must rally her furious women – it’s time to talk about sex (The Telegraph)

Marina Abramović says having children would have been ‘a disaster for my work’ (The Guardian)

Girls Talk About the First Time They Felt Powerless (Vice)

From the article: “It was at the beginning of secondary school when people started making fun of me for being smart. I started worrying about why they weren’t saying it to guys, so I began hiding being clever. I felt I wasn’t being what a girl was supposed to be like. I was even told by a family friend that girls being clever intimidated guys. Not being honest with myself or standing up for myself made me feel so powerless.”

The Clit List: a porn resource website with sexual assault survivors in mind (Feministing)

Examining the weird pressure on women to always celebrate weight loss (The Pool)

It’s not Muslims or people with mental health problems who are most likely to kill you in a terrorist attack – it’s men (The Independent)

Bill Clinton’s speech was sweet. But it put Hillary the ‘girl’ firmly in her place (The Guardian)

Burger chain holds fake training day to shop immigrant workers to the Home Office (The Canary)

Oldham’s ‘Chai ladies’ tackle racism after Brexit (Al Jazeera)
Content note: contains references to racism and racist language.

If you’re interested in the above article you might also like to read this F-Word piece: ‘“Go home!” The aftermath of Brexit’.

The Japan stabbing is not just terrorism – it’s a hate crime that disabled people like me live in fear of (Independent)

Disabled lives matter. We need to toughen the law on disability hate crime (The Guardian)

This Is What Disability Erasure Looks Like (Forbes)

From the article: “The suspect’s stated desire was to erase disabled people from the earth. I realize that’s the sudden cliff at the extreme end of the disability attitude spectrum. But that spectrum is a continuum…”

Searingly honest, bitingly funny: the female millennials changing comedy (The Guardian)

You can also read Lissy Lovett’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview for the F-Word HERE.

How to Fight a Fascist and Win (Gary Younge at The Nation)

Why, Despite Everything, Supporting Jeremy Corbyn Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense (Andrew Rilstone)

From the article: “Right now, The People would not elect a socialist prime minister. OK. But how would it be if the Left stopped fighting among themselves and started to make out a case for socialism. When did we last try that? This is the last throw of the dice. If we lose this one, then no-one will make the case for socialism again in my life time, and I and thousands like me will simply be excluded from the political discourse. Jeremy Corbyn is not the best standard bearer for socialism could possibly have. But he is the best one currently on offer.”

Hey Anime Fans: Stop making Excuses for FanService [NSFW] (The Mary Sue)

WikiLeaks Put Women in Turkey in Danger, for No Reason (UPDATE) (Huffington Post)

From the article: “It’s good to see at least one person take responsibility for his own part, learn from the incident and try to mitigate the damage. However, the role WikiLeaks has played remains unchanged. WikiLeaks never bothered to take down its Twitter and Facebook posts to millions of people, advertising the databases as “the full data for our Turkey AKP emails + more” and providing a direct link to a site where they could be downloaded easily.

I have tried to explain the situation to WikiLeaks directly, but I was immediately called an ‘Erdogan apologist.’ After I started showing WikiLeaks that leading Turkish anti-censorship activists and lawyers were saying these leaks were not of public interest and should not have been posted, WikiLeaks blocked me on Twitter. I’m afraid this will become an unfortunate talking point for pro-censorship forces in Turkey: the ignorance with which Western media and alleged activists met the publication of ordinary Turks’ private information.”

We Want Truth (We Want Truth, Goldsmiths)

From the article: “Sara Ahmed’s resignation from her position at Goldsmiths at the end of May 2016 shocked us. As a group of Goldsmiths students we were saddened and confused why a professor whose work is so important to us and many others would have to resign in protest ‘against the failure to address the problem of sexual harassment’. We read the letter by Goldsmiths Feminist Students and shared its sentiment, yet we wished we too had had the chance to have her as a teacher and mentor. We followed Sara’s further blog posts and reading ‘Speaking Out’ in the hope of being able to put together pieces of the puzzle. She asked, ‘How do these cases disappear without a trace?’ and she says ‘But we must still speak: the silence is what is damaging.’ For us, the silence is almost all that we have.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to YorkshirePhotoWalks on Flickr. It shows moorland; rows and row of pinkish-purple coloured heather.

img071The Edinburgh Festival Fringe starts in just under a week. The F-Word will be there with our reviewing team of Rosy Candlin, Rachel Cunningham, Flora Herberich, Lauren Hossack, Lissy Lovett and Megan Stodel, bringing you as much feminist-related comedy and theatre news as we can.

In the meantime, here are some of the shows and performers that The F-Word has previously reviewed, which might give you some ideas for acts to see if you’re visiting the Fringe this year. (Please note, not all shows are playing all dates, so do check the listings too.)

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel (Comedy) 5 – 21 August, 13:30, Underbelly, George Square. The F-Word wrote about Austentatious in 2013.

Bridget Christie: Mortal (Comedy) 5 – 29 August, 11:00, The Stand Comedy Club. We’ve reviewed Christie’s shows A Bic for Her (twice) and A Book For Her as well as her book.

Desiree Burch: This is Evolution (Comedy) 6 – 29 August, 21:30, Heroes @ Bob’s BlundaBus. We reviewed Burch in Tar Baby in Edinburgh in 2015.

Jayde Adams: 31 (Comedy) 6 – 28 August, 22:30, Voodoo Rooms. We reviewed an early preview of this show back in April.

Juliette Burton: Decision Time (Comedy) 3 – 28 August, 16:30 at Gilded Balloon Teviot. We wrote about one of Burton’s previous shows, When I Grow Up in 2015.

Katherine Ryan: Work in Progress (Comedy) 4 – 13 August, 16:05, The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6. We reviewed Ryan’s show Kathbum both at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and later on tour.

Kitten Killers: Stallions (Comedy) 3 – 29 August, 21:30, Underbelly, George Square. We reviewed the Kitten Killers in a previous show earlier this year.

Letters to Windsor House (Theatre) 3 – 28 August, 13:35, Summerhall. We reviewed Sh!t Theatre’s show Women’s Hour at Edinburgh in 2015.

Mae Martin: Work in Progress (Comedy) 4 – 28 August, 21:15, Laughing Horse @ City Cafe. We wrote about Martin in Slumber Party back in 2013.

Rachel Parris: Best Laid Plans (Comedy) 3 – 28 August, 18:50, Pleasance Dome. We wrote about Parris in 2013.

Savage (Comedy) 21 – 28 August, 12:30, Laughing Horse @ City Cafe. We reviewed this show last year.

Shazia Mirza (Comedy) 4 – 13 August, 18:15, The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6. We reviewed Mirza last year at Edinburgh.

Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter (Comedy) 6 – 28 August, 19:50, Liquid Room Annexe. We reviewed Hagen’s Foster’s Best Newcomer Award-winning show, Bubblewrap in Brighton at the end of last year.

Susan Calman: The Calman Before the Storm (Comedy) 3 – 28 August, 18:20, Pleasance Courtyard. We wrote about Calman in Edinburgh in 2013.

Two Man Show (Theatre) 6 – 27 August, 20:15, Northern Stage at Summerhall. We’ve reviewed RashDash twice before: The Ugly Sisters in 2013 and Oh I can’t be bothered in 2014.

Zoë Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning (Comedy) 4 – 28 August, 18:50. We reviewed Coombs Marr’s show Dave at Edinburgh last year.

Are you going up to the Fringe? Let us know if you’ve got any tips for great feminist comedy and theatre in the comments.

The photograph is © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. It shows three people standing on a windswept beach, all looking to the right of the photo and holding a copy of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Programme so it can be seen by the camera. They are wearing grey t-shirts and each one has an elaborate face decoration on the right hand side of their face. The woman in front has multicoloured polka dots across her cheek, forehead and hair. The woman in the middle has bird feathers around her right eye. The man at the back has three small spikes stuck to his right cheek and a piece of blue cloth across his right eye. The Fringe programme itself has a pink cover with the word “fringe” in white and a photograph of an owl in a full leather and spikes outfit on the front.

This is a guest post by Chelsey Lang, a writer and content marketer from Southampton, passionate about tech, fashion, feminism, and the Oxford comma. Tired of always being That One Feminist Friend, she took to the internet, where she occasionally takes time out from watching cat videos to write about feminism and pop culture, most recently for Fanny Pack

Whether you’ve seen it or not, it’s likely you’ve heard all about the new Ghostbusters film. It’s Ghostbusters…. but with women?!

Much in the same way certain areas of the internet were outraged over the newest Star Wars movie featuring both a female lead and a black man as a stormtrooper, there was an outcry over this sequel/reboot of the 1980s classic: “How dare they remake a classic film like that, with women now playing the main roles? Feminist agenda! Political correctness gone mad!”

For the record, despite the apparent sacrilege of an all-female Ghostbusters, the film has opened to both box office and critical success.

One of the arguments thrown about multiple times during protests was that a reboot with changed genders was wrong because it would never happen the other way around. You’d never see them remaking a female-led movie with male leads, right?

(Right. Maybe. But let’s face it, all other implications aside, they’d be limited in choice. Just 12% of protagonists in Hollywood films are women, and only 30% of speaking roles go to women.)

All of this horror culminated in this truly inspirational Tumblr post by vistakai:

People keep saying, “what if men did what you did to ghostbusters but the other way around!!!!!” but 1) You can’t. There isn’t one major blockbuster from the past 30 years with enough girls to do that with, and 2) Don’t assume that I wouldn’t completely support an all male cheetah girls reboot.

'A Bigger Splash' Cast At Villa Laguna - 72nd Venice Film FestivalAnd so, for all the Ghostbusters haters, here you go: Three movies that should get the “reverse-Ghostbusters” treatment.

Charlie’s Angels

Take three incredibly attractive, athletic men and make them complete excitingly dangerous missions in increasingly impractical outfits. Let’s nominate Chris Evans, Channing Tatum and Godfrey Gao as our angels. Their missions require a lot of undercover work, of course. They need to pose as strippers, probably, maybe firefighters. There are a lot of uniforms involved.

They’re led by a mysterious woman whose face we never see. Let’s say Tilda Swinton is our ‘Charlie’: there’s a woman who could inspire men to risk their lives on a daily basis for her!

Black Swan

We know that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton can do the mindfuck thing. Fight Club is a masterclass in how to portray a slow slide away from reality – as is Black Swan.

Let’s bring the two actors back. Only this time, we’d actually get the sex scene that Fight Club so inexplicably denied the world.

Coyote Ugly

Coyote Ugly is the story of a wannabe songwriter who ends up working at a bar where there’s just as much dirty dancing as there is drink serving. Friendships are made. Revelations are had. There’s a nice background relationship.

You could argue that, in a way, we already have this. Replace “bar” with “strip club” and you have something close to Magic Mike.

But why stop there? Magic Mike, while an enjoyable film, isn’t particularly renowned for its plot. Coyote Ugly, while not necessarily groundbreaking in its writing either, does bring the viewer a wider variety of relationships, as well as the conflict of a father-daughter relationship under the combined strain of a daughter moving away and a father with health problems.
In this case, both films could learn from each other. Specifically, though, that sexy dancing and emotional fulfillment aren’t mutually exclusive.

All those movies where a woman struggles to “have it all”

A career and a relationship? Wait, and a family? All together? At the same time?
Not if you’re a woman! There are countless films out there where the conflict revolves around the lead female character trying to juggle her work (always demanding), her husband (generally useless) and her kids (nightmares).

By this point it’s practically a genre in itself, with titles like I Don’t Know How She Does It built entirely on the premise that she shouldn’t do it, because that’s not the rightful order of things.

Not so for the male characters. Where’s I Don’t Know How He Does It, where our stylish leading man is balancing a career and a family, with the implication that at some point he’ll have to pick between the two? Come on, men. Stop tricking yourselves into believing you can have it all.

So there you go, Ghostbusters naysayers. There are some you can have for free.

Picture of Tilda Swinton by Annalisa Flori/Getty Images.
Tilda Swinton attends the Villa Laguna during the 72nd Venice Film Festival at Hotel Villa Laguna on September 7, 2015 in Venice, Italy. She has short blonde hair, sunglasses and is wearing an oversized offwhite suit jacket, her mouth is ajar. There are some people in the background.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 25 July 2016, 10:30 pm



Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

How ‘Political Correctness’ Went From Punch Line to Panic (The New York Times Magazine)

What The Housing Crisis Looks Like For These Women (Refinery)

I Am A Transwoman. I Am In The Closet. I Am Not Coming Out. (Medium)

What Lady Ghostbusters Have In Common With 17th-Century Nuns (The Establishment)

From the article: “The new female Ghostbusters have inspired outrage from the moment their movie was announced. To give women the power of exorcism is to give women agency without constraint or necessary subterfuge, to make them unequivocally the heroes in a story, maybe even to imply that it was always theirs to begin with. If women are no longer objects to be possessed by demons or by men, then maybe they belong to themselves.”

Corrina Antrobus has written a Ghostbusters’ review for the F-Word which you can read HERE.

The problem with Disney’s new Latina princess: one size doesn’t fit all (The Guardian)

Twenty-four hours inside Sisters Uncut’s East London occupation (Huck Magazine)

Why? Should I go see it? (Medium)

From the article: “From the article: “Wait, let me repeat this: she’s a main character, an action hero, AND there’s no sexy impossible back bending moves in the scene that show off a tight catsuit or cleavage or the silhouette of her toned butt. She is not leaping all over the screen just to fuel all the fanboy’s fantasies later at home. She is not wearing sexy make up and she does not even have long hair that blows in the wind, still curled, after she defeats the bad guys. Kate McKinnon’s character saves the world in a dirty, baggy MTA jumpsuit.”

Two white women launch ‘White Nonsense Roundup’ to unburden people of color (Egberto Willies)

I’m With The Banned (Laurie Penny at Medium)

We Must Not Become Clinton Apologists (The Establishment)

How technology disrupted the truth (The Guardian)

From the article: “Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs. When Eli Pariser, the co-founder of Upworthy, coined the term “filter bubble” in 2011, he was talking about how the personalised web – and in particular Google’s personalised search function, which means that no two people’s Google searches are the same – means that we are less likely to be exposed to information that challenges us or broadens our worldview, and less likely to encounter facts that disprove false information that others have shared.”

Why Everyone Can’t Be Queer (Slate)

From the article:
“Queer … always assumes a rejection of heteronormativity—the desire to assimilate and be like ‘normal’ heterosexuals—because that very normalcy requires that some people, somewhere, be judged for their consensual sexual practices. For some to be sexually ‘normal’, after all, others must be sexually deviant. Queer is the battle cry of deviancy.

When we remove the focus on stigmatization from the word queer, we evacuate it of the only thing that made it a coherent identity in the first place. By focusing instead on inclusivity, Wortham’s article actually does the very thing it worries about: It depoliticizes the word. Queer goes from being a label that allowed the development of community across sexual identities to one that disavows that community. It is the difference between ‘I am a lesbian who is against the oppression of sexuality generally, therefore I identify as queer,’ and ‘I identify as queer because it does not pin me down or connect me to any group of people or actions…'”

The Twitter hate Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones faces shows why representation matters (The Pool)

From the article: “In my view, and in many ways, Leslie Jones was the star of this film. And the recent attacks on her are because of this, not in spite of it. The world cannot see a black woman succeed. For when they do, they try to break her. To force her back into her shell, to make her invisible again. The world works to instil fear in us, so that we do not ever try again …”

Calypso Rose: ‘I’m fighting for everyone, regardless of sex’ (The Guardian)

The oldest library on Earth was started by a woman, and finally everyone can visit it (Quartz)

“Founded by a Muslim woman, the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morroco, opened its doors in 859. Its library has been restored during the last three years by another woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni. A wing will be open to the general public later this year…”

Sex workers continue call for decriminalisation at Aids conference (News24, South Africa)

From the article:
“A panel of delegates made up of Sex Workers Educational Advocacy Task Force (Sweat) director Sally Shackleton, South African National Aids Council director Dr Fareed Abdullah, Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery and others addressed a crowded hall of media, sex workers and activists on the issue of decriminalising sex work, the high HIV transmission rates and the laws surrounding the buying and selling of sex in SA and around the world.

Jeffery was booed by the crowd when he said there were some organisations and officials who thought sex work should not be decriminalised. The deputy minister demanded that he be allowed to talk, to which a sex worker in the crowd replied: ‘If you are allowed to talk, we should be allowed to work’.”

The time has come to #FaceHerFuture (Fawcett Society)

From the article: “The decision to leave the European Union was met with mixed emotions and arguably says as much about the disaffection many people feel with the political process, and how much they desire change as it does about the EU itself. The desire among leave voters for more control over their lives, more of a say on political issues has repeatedly come through. We can choose to respond negatively, to resist the decision or we can choose to positively engage with it and help to shape what comes. I always prefer the positive.”

Read Megan Stodel’s “next steps” for after Brexit on the F-Word HERE.

Jack Monroe: ‘I want to be treated as a person, not as a woman or a man (The Guardian)

My love affair with Foley (WFTHN)

Hunger Makes Me (Hazlitt)

From the article: “Women talk ourselves into needing less, because we’re not supposed to want more—or because we know we won’t get more, and we don’t want to feel unsatisfied. We reduce our needs for food, for space, for respect, for help, for love and affection, for being noticed, according to what we think we’re allowed to have. ”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to chicanerii on Flickr. It shows a night-time scene. Five bare trees are silhouetted against the sky, their branches twisted up into odd angles. The sky itself is scattered with stars. The far horizon is yellow, perhaps showing oncoming dawn or dusk. In the background is, what looks to be, a mountainous landscape.

This is a guest post by Osha Al-Mossallami, a British-Egyptian freelance journalist currently studying MSc International Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She tweets her feminist and political thoughts at @osha001

Theresa May visits Al Madina MosqueThe UK recently found itself with its second female Prime Minister. Since then, some have heralded this to be a feminist-coup-d’état of some sort. Perhaps, if you are an austerity-loving-white-feminist – but for everyone else, we’re waiting on Malala’s FaceTime to confirm this is one big failed ploy.

Before going any further – and mainly to stop the ‘Why are you feminists never happy with anything?’ comments – let us get one thing straight: Is it a success to see a woman in this position of power?

Well, yes and no. Yes, if what constitutes your definition of a “feminist success” is merely symbolic. Yes, if you want to celebrate this woman for her gender and not her politics (ironic). And yes, if you want evidence that a woman can inflict the same gendered and racist policies that disproportionately hit women, minorities, and the less advantaged in society as her male predecessors. (Yeah, I lied, it’s mainly no).

Since May has become Prime Minister, I have become concerned with how desperate we must be to celebrate women if we are to herald this as a success. True, in May’s first statement in the role, she appears to be more socially conscious but her track record as Home Secretary makes me sceptical. Let’s not forget that this is the same woman who fed into the UK’s anti-migrant sentiment by literally getting vans to drive around telling immigrants to “go home”. The same woman who wanted the UK to leave the European convention on Human Rights, which not only protects victims of domestic violence, but also protects individuals from abuses of state power. The same woman who is refusing to reveal the extent to which refugee women have been sexually abused by the staff at the inhuman women’s detention centre in Yarl’s Wood. And the same woman I am now to celebrate as a triumph for feminism? No thank you.

We need more than someone who just looks the part. It is no good to be a woman in power if you are not going to help the women out of power.

Let’s be clear, we do need more women in politics. On a national and international level, the lack of diversity is shocking. But it is no good having diversity if the policies are as unjust from a woman as they are from a man. Pretty sure being told to “go home” as an EU national post-Brexit is going to suck whether it’s Cameron or May who delivers the news (although, you don’t have the solace of making a pig related quip with the latter).

But the idea that May’s appointment will now signify that politics is open for all women is superficial and flawed. Just recently, Nicola Sturgeon proudly tweeted a picture of herself with Theresa May with the comment:

My initial reaction when I saw this was “Yes, if you’re white!” This is the issue with celebrating the mere image. It not only omits May’s track record for austerity, which disproportionately impacts women meaning that it’s at the very hand Sturgeon is shaking that many girls won’t be able to achieve their ambitions. More so, the idea that this photograph can act as a universal galvaniser of confidence for all women, to me, reeks of white feminism. If you want all women, including women of colour, to feel like politics is for them, you should make sure your cabinet reflects that. As it stands, there are more men called David in May’s cabinet than there are MPs who are not white (there are three Davids, in case you were wondering). The image is not enough.

I don’t blame May for this – well, not entirely anyway. Instead, this lack of diversity has to be understood as a consequence of the manner politics is currently conducted. What would be a true feminist success is to not only see more women in politics, but more types of women in politics.

As it currently stands, women are only let into this “boys club” once they have been checked and screened. And when I say checked and screened, I don’t mean after they’ve downed a pint in 10 seconds and are seen as worthy enough to join the lads (although I hear this is one of the more elementary Tory initiations). Rather, I mean women are only supported and allowed to excel within politics once they have been certified as someone who will not upset the status quo – a status quo that was crafted within a context where only those who could afford to be MPs were, as it wasn’t until 1911 that MPs received a salary. Yet, this image of privilege has pervaded politics through acquiring other characteristics, namely male, white, Eton/Oxbridge-educated etc. For women to be respected, then, it has meant embodying characteristics and “speaking” the language of masculinity – something that was quite literal for Margaret Thatcher who infamously undertook speech lessons to deepen her voice.

This is not to insinuate that May has not worked hard to get to where she is, but to point out that politics currently operates in a way that keeps women who aren’t like May away from reaching top jobs.

It’s important that we recognise that. If part of the reason for your success stems from the comfortable assurance that you will continue to privilege the privileged, then there really is nothing feminist about you.


[The first image is a photograph of Theresa May, a middle-aged white woman standing and speaking. Looking on beside her sit two younger women wearing headscarves and a bearded white man. This photograph was taken by Daniel Leal-Olivas, is the property of i-Images and can be found on the Home Office Flickr stream. It is used under a Creative Commons License.

The image featured in the embedded tweet is of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon, two white women, smiling and shaking hands on the doorstep of a grand looking building.]

This month, our guest blogger is Nicola; you can find her personal blog here and her Facebook community here

As a mixed race woman, whenever I come across articles by monoracial parents about their mixed race children, I tend to get a cold feeling of dread of inside. These articles seem to be in abundance these days in mixed race online communities. It’s very rare that I read one that doesn’t bring up numerous red flags, regardless of the race of the parent who is writing. I do seem to come across more articles written by white mothers, interestingly; however, this only increases my discomfort because as white people don’t experience racial oppression the scope for mistakes automatically broadens in these articles.

Parents of mixed race children tend to write as though they are authorities on mixed race identity, when in most cases it’s obvious they haven’t done any research outside of their own personal (often biased) observations of their children. They often feel they can speak on behalf of their children regarding experiences they simply haven’t had themselves and therefore don’t fully understand. These articles can be full of misplaced assumptions and ignorance wielded as wisdom and I can’t help but wonder why some parents are writing them, centring their own voices, when they are frequently uninformed from the perspective of mixed race readers. I’m not saying monoracial parents can never accumulate any useful knowledge about mixed race identity and experiences but they will always be on the periphery and limited in awareness because of this. I also think it’s great if parents of mixed race children want to get involved in discourse and share experiences. It just seems like there could be a little bit more humility in it. Maybe it’s hard for parents to admit that actually they have no idea about the issues they are dealing with and are not experts.

Alternatively, if they don’t play the expert, parents sometimes acknowledge that actually the child is the expert on what it means to be mixed race so they feel they can’t do anything but sit back and let their child figure things out for themselves. My parents tended more towards this attitude. They didn’t see themselves as experts so they left me and my siblings to fend for ourselves in navigating our mixed race identities. I learned about my black identity and my white identity but not about what it meant to exist successfully incorporating them both. As much as I love my parents I see this as negligent. Just because the child is the ultimately the expert it doesn’t mean parents get out of educating themselves and offering any guidance whatsoever to their children. And of course, there are the parents who neglect to think about mixed race identity in any meaningful way whatsoever.

For white parents the first thing they need to do is to acknowledge the racial privilege that they have in comparison to their child and learn about what white privilege means. They need to accept that their child will live a life outside of their own range of experience. They also need to develop a thorough understanding of white racial framing and how this plays out in the present day. I have met white parents who have done and are continuing to do this work but not many when considering the number of white parents of mixed race children I have met. Many mixed race children grow up in the face of continuous racial micro-aggressions from well-meaning white parents which can have impact on self-esteem and self-understanding. I love my mum but I have to admit that this was my own experience. In most cases this will be to some extent inevitable but white parents can help themselves by doing some reading and listening instead of writing about mixed race issues of which they know little. At the very least if they must insist on writing they would be better off writing about their own experiences rather than trying to speak for their mixed race children.

For parents of colour they may still have a lot to learn if they are not mixed race themselves (and maybe even if they are and haven’t thought much about their own identity). It’s still quite possible that they can bombard their mixed race offspring with racial micro-aggressions and misunderstanding. It’s also possible that they may not understand white racial framing and its impacts sufficiently. Again I would recommend reading articles and books by mixed race people about their experiences and listening to mixed race people talk. There are a lot of great resources out there for parents who are willing to look rather than simply relying on their own self-perceived expertise.

The image is by skyseeker and is used with permission. It shows two figures, one adult and one child, standing on what appears to be a slighlty pitched roof, looking out away from the camera. There are trees next to the building. Everything is silhouetted against a yellow/orange sky.

Ghostbusters reboot answers the call

by Corrina Antrobus // 19 July 2016, 11:56 am

Tags: , ,

Ghostbusters is here and praise be it’s not shit. Heaven forbid a female reboot of a big film cherished by the little boy in so many grown men be anything less than its current 75% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and drawn in $45m at the box office or director Paul Feig may have blown it for the female washes of so many more reimaginings to hopefully come.


In a world where little pity is given to the financial failure of women-centric films, the opening week’s box office is important in beating down the path. That is why, as transparent as the strategy may be, we should applaud the marketing tactic of a Monday, rather than Friday, release (the film opened last Monday, 11 July). Those four days extra box office will have no doubt helped stack up the chips and given them time to lodge a gristly giant Stay Puft marshmallow man into Waterloo station, making the lunchtime nip to M&S that bit more entertaining.

Need proof of the pathetic willingness for the movie to fail? Google “Ghostbusters 2016 is…” and the suggestions you get are: “going to fail”, “going to bomb” and “is bad”. Thankfully, a chorus of praise for this giddy gal gang blockbuster emerges through the snarky tired remarks, especially from women who have rated the film considerably higher than men.

Simply put, this is good old-fashioned candy-flossed fun. There’s eye-boggling action, fanny fart humour and a placating soundtrack that’s a notch too high and a trumpet too much. It’s like standing in line for an Alton Towers ride knowing the 90 minute wait will lead you to a fast and easy thrill. But gents, fear not. There are ample nods to Ivan Reitman’s 1980s Ghostbusters and each one of the original cast, including Sigourney Weaver, pop up in winking cameos.

These 80s references are respectful but there’s refreshment in the nuance. The film is self-aware enough to know that 30 years on, the price of a disused fire station would make you choke on your Marathon bar. Reverse sexism at the expense of airhead receptionist Kevin (played by good sport Chris Hemsworth) can and will be used as an ebb of comeuppance for Dr. Peter Venkman’s slimier than Slimer hounding of Dana Barrett in the 1984 version.

Once again Paul Feig and comrade writer Katie Dippold provide a cast of women who sparkle with silliness, imperfection and hilarity. They have brains and balls and refreshingly, there’s no romance lurking in the plot beyond the platonic love between old best friends. Kevin’s ridiculousness far outweighs how beautiful he is and unless you’re the kind of person who gets turned on by pugs, an actual romance with this guy is laughable; the fair assumption that Kate McKinnon’s mesmeric Tank Girl-esque Jillian Holtzmann character is a lesbian isn’t given plot prominence either as guess what: who cares when there are ghosts to bust out there?


Spice World it ain’t. Fist-pumping feminism is thankfully missing and instead we’ve got a sci-fi action romp with an underscore of a buddy movie that happens to have women as the leads. However, there are recognisable themes scattered within the narrative that women have often had to tackle: it’s exhausting watching how much time the team spend on trying to prove themselves – even after saving the city from a supernatural invasion. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wigg, who were once best friends united by their ghost geekdom, find themselves shrouding their beliefs in order to be accepted to the educational establishments they work in – and both of them have men as their superiors (played by Charles Dance and Steve Higgins).

They also eventually cave to their name of Ghostbusters (what self-respecting group of women would actually call themselves that?). They cringe at the name the media has slapped on them them but as the name sticks, they own it – something of a familiar turn for any group of people who’ve found empowerment in their derogatory monikers.

Gender politics aside (and can we please have a world where an all-female lineup doesn’t scream “OMG! Women Are Taking Over The World!”), the new oestrogen-pumped Ghostbusters is this summer’s blockbuster. And if summer only really starts when Hollywood’s tent pole biggie is plastered on the side of the 73 bus, then Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are standing by a picnic blanket stirring a jug of Pimm’s.

Ghostbusters is on general release now.

Both pictures courtesy of Bechdel Test Fest.
First picture shows four women in khaki-and-orange uniforms and sturdy boots standing in front of a white car with Ghostbusters logo on it. On the left there is a tall Black woman with cropped hair and a shorter white woman with glasses and her hair in a bun, on the right two more white women, first one with red hair and a fringe and the other with blonde hair and yellow tinted glasses. They look fierce and have some equipment on their backs.
Second picture is a portrait of a white blonde woman with yellow-tinted goggles pulled on top of her head, she’s drinking through a straw from a white patterned cup and smiling.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 18 July 2016, 2:47 pm



Welcome to another weekly round-up, where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles and essays from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in our chosen links!

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

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

I love how she shakes her booty (while looking for vinyl): some thoughts on sexism in music (Dummy Mag)

Popcorn With a Side of Racism & Sexism (Genevieve Richardson)

Sexual Assault Cases Are Our Modern-Day Witch Trials (The Establishment)
CN: violence

From the article: “To prevent women from rioting against rising costs of food, and in retaliation against their effects to organize together, men at that time might accuse them of witchcraft. If crops went bad, it was because an old beggar woman who was jealous of the wealthy cast a spell. If a woman did not have children, was a lesbian, or was unmarried, her punishment for not fitting into the heteronormative ideal was to be persecuted as a witch.”

So the U.K. has its second female prime minister. What policies put more women in power? (Washington Post)

Why I’m a Racist (Beyondtheglasswall)

From the article: “… While I am very uncomfortable when forced to confront a terrible reality that I can generally avoid, my friends and neighbors of color are forced to confront it every day. Consequently, they have formed a thicker skin to the subject and are more free to discuss it. This can easily be misunderstood as being rash or aggressive because it creates an uneasy feeling in me. Let me put it this way: we all have that person in our lives who always manages to say the one thing that makes everyone in the room uncomfortable. Maybe it’s a friend or coworker, maybe it’s your cousin or your sister-in-law; whoever it is, our attitude is generally that it is their problem. We feel like they are doing something to us, because we are feeling uncomfortable with what they are saying or doing, rather than taking responsibility for our own feelings. Until I can acknowledge that I feel more uncomfortable talking about racial inequality than people who have been forced to deal with it every single day of their lives, I will never be able to get over myself enough to be a part of the solution. And if I’m not a part of the solution, I’m a part of the problem.”

How receiving vile homophobic abuse on a Bristol bus changed me, a straight man (Bristol Evening Post)

Qandeel Baloch murdered by brother in Multan: police (Dawn)
CN: forced marriage, honour killing

Theresa May Might Become PM, But This is not Revolution (Media Diversified)

Teenagers disgusted by police giving out ‘RU asking 4 it?’ leaflets at sexual consent talk (Bristol Evening Post)

Why I’m Fed Up Of The Way TV Portrays Sex Workers (Refinery)

From the article: “When you work in an industry as stigmatised as the sex trade, jokes which dehumanise workers and normalise violence have a considerable impact. As long as the viewing public continues to get a kick out of tropes such as “dead hookers in the boot of a car”, the violence some of us encounter at work will be seen as inevitable, and, worse still, unchangeable.”

Time to change attitudes (Sarah Bronzite at JC.com)

From the article: “Chaya’s experience of being shamed for her childlessness is, unfortunately, not out of the ordinary. Being a Jewish woman without children is still considered unusual, and in some parts of the community virtually unacceptable. Society expects women to have children. And it’s hard for them if they don’t.”

Viv Albertine protests punk exhibition in the most punk way imaginable (The Pool)

Read Viv Albertine’s 2015 interview with Cazz Blase for the F-Word HERE.

Qandeel Baloch and the silencing of Desi Women (gal-dem)

The Sun struggles to understand why Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji covered some news (New Statesman)

From the article: “For someone so apparently concerned about Muslim women’s welfare, it seems strange that MacKenzie chose to attack a role model for visibly Muslim women in the media. Not only is Manji clearly not a ‘slave’ but a professional journalist with a track record of balanced coverage, she was a panellist at a conference on Breaking Into Journalism, where she noted, ‘male voices are often the ones that get heard’,and that, ‘there is a lack of confidence among women and minorities’.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Giorgio Violino on Flickr. It shows a dandelion ‘clock’, very sharply in focus and turned slightly away from the camera.


It seems like a really busy time in theatre and comedy at the moment, so this is a bumper blog post. Before I start, did anyone else see The Hamilton Complex at the Unicorn Theatre for LIFT? I’m still thinking about it. There are a couple of good reviews here and here.

Let’s begin with some comedy and the Funny Women Festival in London which has already been running for more than a week and goes on until 27 July; the festival features acts which will shortly be going up to the Edinburgh Fringe. Tomorrow, Saturday 16 July, Rosie Wilby will be performing her show, The Conscious Uncoupling at the Southbank Centre as part of their Festival of Love – however, if that’s just too short notice, don’t worry as it will also be at the Camden Fringe (see below).

Staying at the Southbank Centre, they’re midway through their run of KlangHaus: On Air, which deconstructs and reinvents the idea of a rock gig as a site specific promenade theatre/live art experience. It’s led by visual artist Sal Pittman and singer/musician Karen Reilly, and both production managers (Rosie Arnold and Alex Lingford) are also women. It runs until 29 July (There will be two Relaxed Performances at 3:00pm tomorrow, 16 July and 8:30pm on 21 July).

We’re also halfway through the run of Invisible Woman, a comedy which is part of Women and War, a multi-discipline festival that examines women’s experiences in war. It’s on at So and So Arts Club until 31 July. Keeping with the theme of things that are already running, one-woman show CUT is at the Vaults in London until 31 July; CUT is a Lynchian dream that transports an audience deep into the heart of 21st century fears.

It is about adults’ fear of talking about children and sex in the same breath. And it’s about sweating profusely and hurling bodies about to music

There are a couple of interesting theatre shows coming up in the next few weeks in London:

Watching Glory Die takes us on the riveting journey of three women bound together in impossible circumstances. Inspired by the real-life case of Ashley Smith, who was initially incarcerated at age 15 for throwing crabapples, the play takes a bold dramatic leap from the news headline. It’s at The Cockpit Theatre in London from 19 – 23 July.

Bitches runs at the Finborough Theatre between 16 – 20 August as part of the National Youth Theatre’s 60th anniversary season. Bitches focuses on the experience of being young, black and female, following two young female vloggers talking about racial, political and popular culture in a remorseless online world.

Hester Chillingworth has been announced as the recipient of Chisenhale Dance Space’s Small Spaces Commission. The description of her project sounds amazing: “The starting point for Chillingworth’s selected, and as yet untitled, Small Spaces Commissions project is to create a drag persona who is a child, gender unreadable. It is about adults’ fear of talking about children and sex in the same breath. And it’s about sweating profusely and hurling bodies about to music, like she did when she was young.” There will be public performances at Marlborough Theatre, Brighton on 8 September and Rich Mix, London on 2 October. Let me know if you’re planning to go, the description of the performance reminds me a little bit of The Hamilton Complex which I mention above.

Looking even further into the future, the Royal Court production Escaped Alone which we reviewed in February will be returning to the Royal Court in January (captioned performance 8 February, audio-described performance 11 February) and then will be going on tour to the Lowry, Cambridge Arts Theatre and Bristol Old Vic in the spring before going to New York.

Press Image 1I’ll be putting up an Edinburgh Fringe preview post in the next couple of weeks, and there are a couple of other really exciting festivals happening August (I’m sure there are others, let me know in the comments about what I’ve missed).

Theatre N16 in Balham in London are holding a Herstory Festival on 6 and 7 August. It will be a chance for up and coming playwrights and artists to tackle important issues surrounding feminism and by doing so creating a platform for discussion and an opportunity to instigate change. During the two days of the festival Theatre N16 will be full of varied acts, from new writing to devised theatre and performance art. The line-up has yet to be announced but you can find out more here.

The Camden Fringe is on 1 – 28 August. Of particular interest this year is:

  • RADIATOR which explores the line between reality and imagination and delves into the bizarre world of loneliness, friendship and… plumbing. It’s on at the Tristan Bates theatre in Covent Garden at 6pm from 2 – 6 August
  • Rosie Wilby’s The Conscious Uncoupling is on at Camden People’s Theatre at 7.15pm from 17 – 21 August
  • The Real Girl a new one woman comedy-cabaret-performance from Cherise Cross and it an examination of the things that some people consider important to their own identity. It’s on at the Tristan Bates theatre in Covent Garden at 6pm from 16 – 20 August
  • Syd: A one-woman drag show about street harassment with cheesy one-liners, gorilla impersonations and raps about street harassmet over classic karaoke backing tracks. It’s at the Canal Cafe Theatre at 9:30pm on 3 August and 17 August (not inclusive).
  • CTRL+ALT+DELETE, a play that examines domestic abuse and its reflection on our society, will be at Camden People’s Theatre from 8 – 16 August.

I think that’s enough for this month! I’ll probably be skipping this blog in August as we’ll have plenty of Edinburgh Fringe coverage, but I’ll be back in September.

In closing I’d like to pay tribute to Caroline Aherne who had the ability to make me laugh like a drain and then cry my eyes out, often in the same scene. The Royle Family was absolutely genius television and she will be sorely missed. You can read obituaries for Aherne here and here.

Image one is of Kate Cook in Invisible Woman. She holds a toy Spitfire plane up to the camera. The plane is in focus and the image of Cook is blurred behind. She has dark curly hair and her mouth is wide open.

Image two is of Claudia Jefferies in Syd. It is of a young woman in a sequinned top and false moustache staring sullenly at the camera. The image is blurred, with three or four images superimposed on each other.

The editor rotates, again

by Ania Ostrowska // , 8:25 am

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Bristol_graffitiTime flies.

As hard as I find it to believe it’s already been a year since Megan handed over The F-Word’s rotating editorship to me in July 2015, that is actually the case.

It’s been a busy year for the site: before I took over, our team grew by five new editors in March 2015 and then expanded even more with two additional members in June 2015. Since then, some left to pastures new while others changed focus to do what they feel most passionate about. Megan is now looking after our monthly bloggers and she was replaced as a theatre editor by Lissy, who also looks after comedy. One of our permanent bloggers D H Kelly has been doing a great job in the features section, alongside writing engaging blogs and features. As I’m vacating the rotating editor position, we are in the middle of another wave of recruitment: watch this space. You can always find out what The F-Word team members currently do on the About us page.

In July 2015 we migrated from our antiquated and no longer supported CMS to WordPress: thank you for bearing with us through all small bumps on that road. In related news, we would love to change the site’s look and feel in the near future: if you are a designer, developer or digital consultant with a feminist conscience, feel free to get in touch (editor[at]thefword.org.uk) to recommend people who could help us do it by giving advice and/or preferential quotes.

I am leaving The F-Word’s behind-the-scenes machinery in the capable hands of Holly, who has been involved with the site from as early as 2002. She will be the rotating editor for at least six months from now. All the best, Holly!

The picture was taken by Ania in Bristol on Saturday 9 July 2016.

It’s a piece of graffiti on Wilder Street, showing a person, probably a woman, with pinkish lips and a beauty spot above her lips, wearing a colourful party mask covering the upper half of her face. It’s green and blue and pink and is shaped perhaps after bird’s feathers. The person’s eyes are bulging and toxic green, she (?) has plug earrings with skulls and more reddish/yellow feathers/hair in the back of her head. There is a tag “Clandestine” in the bottom left corner, no copyright infringement intended.

This month, our guest blogger is Nicola; you can find her personal blog here and her Facebook community here

A New York Times article called ‘How Wall Street Bro Talk Keeps Women Down’ interested me recently because it’s the first time I’ve come across discussion of bro talk and its impacts. Bro talk is described as when men talk about women in objectifying and degrading ways. It is commonly viewed as a way for men to bond with one another. It got me thinking about my own brushes with it.

The effects of bro talk can be far-reaching and incredibly damaging for women, from making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome to creating cultures where women’s actual safety is threatened. The article argues that bro talk allows men to dehumanize women through conversation and that this opens a gateway for other kinds of dehumanization and objectification. The article explores how bro talk can also cost women particular opportunities and be harmful in terms of their careers. It’s hard for women to survive and be successful in environments where being degraded is the normal state of affairs. It would be interesting to know more about the psychological and emotional impacts of bro talk for women.

When I look at my own personal experience I was first exposed to bro talk at school but as I knew little about sex, I was more curious about it than offended. As I got older I began to find it more personally distressing. My first serious boyfriend when I was in my early twenties was terrible when it came to bro talk. Whenever I was with him and his friends the conversation would diminish into the routine objectification of women. Even when we were alone, he consistently talked about other women in objectifying ways. The conversation was usually about famous women rather than women that we knew but the impact on me was still negative. It made me feel uncomfortable and less like a human being myself hearing women constantly reduced to body parts and sex. I also felt that this objectification tipped over into our relationship and the way he treated me. Eventually the way he spoke about other women and objectified me personally resulted in me strongly disliking him and the end of our relationship. When I had challenged him about the way he spoke he tried to make out I was a prude or jealous. The problem wasn’t his misogyny, according to him, it was my attitude.

I have also had the unfortunate experience of dealing with bro talk at work. When I worked in the finance sector a few years ago I found myself mainly surrounded by men and one way my male boss used to try to bond with the guys in the team was by talking about women as sexual objects. I remember a particularly upsetting meeting where there was a discussion about how sexy Emma Watson was as a child in the Harry Potter movies. At the time I had just sat in stunned silence feeling sick to my stomach. When I had first started the role I had made a complaint about a colleague who was sexually harassing me and would not take no for an answer when he asked me out on dates. Although management took the complaint seriously and did speak to this colleague it soon became obvious that sexism was deeply entrenched in the office culture. Some of the women in the office complained about it constantly amongst themselves but really felt powerless to do anything about it. Some other women seemed to misunderstand the objectification as a form of flattery. Rather than fighting it eventually I found another role. Luckily it was not my personal goal to have a career in finance with the company I was employed by but what if it had been?

In my experience bro talk is seen as normal and just ‘boys being boys’. Both men and women need to start calling out bro talk for what it actually is – sexism. We also need to educate men and boys about the impacts it has on women. Men also need to stop waiting until they have daughters to have empathy for women. I was annoyed that the final line of the article I read on bro talk is the author saying we need to make a world where it’s not scary to have a daughter. He was completely thinking from his own position as a man and seeking us to empathise with him and make the world safer for him as a parent. How about empathising with women, not as anybody’s daughter but as people in their own right and creating a world where it’s not scary to be one of us.

The image is in the public domain. It shows the body of a person in a suit and tie from the neck to waist, facing the side, holding one hand in front of them with their thumb down.

Girls of summer

by Joanna Whitehead // 12 July 2016, 8:03 pm

Tags: , , , , ,


Searching for women talking about, making and playing tunes this summer? Look no further!

On Saturday 16 July, Scotland will host its very first female-positive music festival, Pandora Fest, which aims to celebrate women artists of all genres and give them a larger platform in the festival scene. Pandora Fest takes place at Duncarron Medieval Village near Stirling. To find out more, check out their website, Twitter or Facebook pages.

In London, gal-dem zine presents Bridging the Gap: Women in Music, which takes place at Rich Mix in Shoreditch on Friday 29 July. This is a free event incorporating a panel discussion, performance and networking which aims to celebrate the leading women in the music industry right now. Find out more here. I’m gutted to be missing this.

Some regular nights taking place in London and Brighton, as sourced by Cassandra Fox, are listed below:


Loud Women is a punk, pop and riot grrrl event, taking place on multiple dates at multiple venues. A festival featuring 25 acts is planned for September and the line-up so far includes Vodun, Desperate Journalist, Dream Nails, Louise Distras and Grace Petrie. Find out more at their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Blue Monday is a monthly acoustic night for LBQT women, taking place on the second Monday of the month at The Boogaloo in Archway, north London. The event is inclusive and those not identifying as LBQT are welcome. Find out more at their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

Girl Power London is a party night featuring R&B, hip-hop and pop music from the 1990s to the present day. It takes place on the last Saturday of every month at The Macbeth in Hoxton, east London. Find out more on their Facebook and Twitter pages.


FemFriday takes place on the first Friday of every month at Artista Studio in Brighton. An eclectic night featuring folk, rap, punk, blues, jazz and rock. Find out more at their Facebook page.

Girls of summer. Their love for you will still be strong.

Image one is a black and white shot of two women playing guitar, from the band Skinny Girl Diet. Picture by Akbar Ali.

Image two shows Tegan Christmas (what a name!), of the band The Ethical Debating Society, a woman with fabulous red hair singing into a mic, in front of an audience at Loud Women. © Keira Anee, 2015.

Image three shows a woman with fabulous purple hair on the decks at the Girl Power London club night. She is sticking her tongue out whilst a crowd shimmies before her. Woman and photographer unknown. Please get in touch for credit where it’s due!

Further Reading

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