Weekly round-up and open thread

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


It’s time for another (slightly late!) weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked. As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately. If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

BBC World Service appoints first specialist gender and identity reporter (Press Gazette)

We need to talk about Love Island’s Alex and how his treatment of women is actually quite dangerous (The Metro)

‘A huge win’: New Zealand brings in paid domestic violence leave (The Guardian)

Love Island’s Megan’s plastic surgery makes us uncomfortable because it shows beauty can be bought (The Independent)

From the article: “The artifice of acceptable Western femininity must always be hidden. It must be impeccable, but with no paper trail. Megan Barton-Hanson forgot the last part, and has been picked apart online as punishment. The message of patriarchy is clear: look good, or be criticised. But if you’re seen trying to look good or – god forbid – enjoying it, you’ll get savaged for that, too.”

What It’s Like Growing Up With the Belief that Tampons Take Virginity (Leila Ettachfini, Broadly)

From the article: “ […]I thought I was the only one navigating two cultures’ very different approaches to tampons. Later, I learned that the notion that tampons take virginity exists in numerous cultures throughout the world, and that plenty of other girls continue to go through the same thing I did.”

49 British Women Were Killed By Men They Previously Reported To The Police (Sirin Kale, Broadly)

From the article: “Exclusive data obtained by Broadly under British Freedom of Information laws reveal the shocking failures of police forces across the UK to protect victims of stalking and domestic abuse. Our data reveals that 49 women were killed in the three years between 2015 and 2017 despite reporting their killers to police for threatening behavior prior to their deaths.”

Recognition at last for Gentleman Jack, Britain’s ‘first modern lesbian’ (The Guardian)

Women’s rights under threat after Brexit, warns EHCR report (Alexandra Topping, Guardian)

Trans women discussed trans rights on the BBC 45 years ago—here’s what it looked like (Lydia Smith, Pink News)

‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’ Is Biased Junk Science (Brynn Tannehill, Advocate)

Swedish student who stopped Afghan asylum seeker’s deportation by refusing to sit down on plane could face prison (Independent)

Hugo Award-Winning Author N. K. Jemisin Explains Why Bigots Are Bad at Writing (Hornet)

Alienation proves fertile state of mind for Lauren Groff (Colleen Walsh, The Harvard Gazette)

From the article: “GAZETTE: You are a mother of two. In 10 years you have produced three novels and two short-story collections. Can you talk about your process and how you manage work and family?

GROFF: I understand that this is a question of vital importance to many people, particularly to other mothers who are artists trying to get their work done, and know that I feel for everyone in the struggle. But until I see a male writer asked this question, I’m going to respectfully decline to answer it.​”

To the writers of ”Insatiable”, from a fat high schooler who stayed fat (Your Fat Friend)

My father killed my mum and sister – yet media reports made him look like the victim (Metro)

What Happened When I Tried Talking to Twitter Abusers (The Everywhereist)

From the article: “We now are so disinclined to feed ‘trolls’ (a term that I reject in this instance – these are abusers, pure and simple, not trolls) that we’ve created a strange system where we don’t even acknowledge the pain of their victims, or, if we are the victims, where we fail to acknowledge the pain that they have caused us. But the root of the argument holds true: online abusers feed off attention and the knowledge that they’ve caused their victims pain.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to NelaKal on Flickr. It shows a person walking with an umbrella on what appears to be a seaside promenade.

As we come up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, you may have noticed the Home Safe Collective campaign, raising money to pay for cabs for female performers at the Fringe. I have such mixed feelings about such things: on the one hand it’s miserable that anyone should have to do this and the fewer folks there are out on the roads at night the more dangerous they get … on the other, of course no one should be in danger so what else are we meant to do? Here’s the link to the fundraising pool should you be so minded to donate.

Radical Acts, a bold, multi-disciplinary, multilingual experience asking: “what radical actions do women and girls need to make today?” has just begun in Bradford. Still to come are two more interventions and the project’s culmination: a site-specific, immersive performance at The Bradford Club, running from 19 until 23 September.

Also currently running is the Camden Fringe which is always worth a look. Of interest are these two shows:

Opening today and running until Friday at the Etcetera Theatre, Camden is S/he/it Happens, an original comedy about transgender dysphoria and gender identity. You can watch a trailer here (there is jaunty jazz music playing throughout but no dialogue).

BLUE is an abstract fairy tale for adults about a woman who lives on the Moon. Using poetry, clowning, cardboard and a lobster called Spock, BLUE is a one woman show that explores experiences with mental health and the importance of reaching out when you’re not OK. BLUE runs from 15 until 19 August also at the Etcetera Theatre.

New play Emilia will be playing at Shakespeare’s Globe from 10 August. It’s about a feminist in Shakespeare’s day called Emilia Bassano, who was the first published female poet and supposedly Shakespeare’s muse, who has been written out of history.

There won’t be a blog in August as I’ll be attempting to cover a bit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so here’s a few September shows for you:

A reimagined modern day version of celebrated Spanish dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding will be staged for three weeks from 4 – 23rd September at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham. This adaptation, told through a female lens, shines a light on London’s Spanish community and explores cultural divisions in response to the current socio-political climate.

Jasmin Vardimon’s twentieth anniversary new dance piece, Medusa will premiere at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury from 13 until 15 September and then tours to Exeter, Cambridge, Ipswich and London. Vardimon examines the gendered historical significance of Medusa; the myth, the symbolism and the philosophical idea of ‘reflection’.

Flo & Joan will be on tour from 19 September with their new show Alive On Stage, featuring darkly witty numbers on weddings, sex robots and Leslie Ash. They will be visiting Dublin, Belfast, Chelmsford, Corsham, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Norwich, Cambridge, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Salford, Maidstone, Dorking, Portsmouth and Colchester. Phew!

POT by Ambreen Razia will be at Stratford Circus Arts Centre from 26 until 29 September 2018 before touring to Hexham, Brighton, Taunton, London twice and Oxford until 26 October 2018. POT delves into the lives of Britain’s invisible children, adrift in the care system and inadvertently impacted by gang culture.

That’s all for July. See you next month in Edinburgh!

Image one is from Radical Acts. It shows two women, Latifa & Nasreen, standing on a stage. The one on the right is older, wears a pink sleeveless cardigan and a blue flowered dress and holds her right arm up in the air. She is closer to the camera. The one on the left is further back and wears a pink salwar kameez and beige headscarf. She has her right arm held up in front of her with her left hand on her hip and stands in a square taped out on the floor. To the left of both of them is a projector screen where the words “Put Yourself On A Plinth” can just be seen as well as a stick figure standing in a square.

Image two is from Emilia and is by Helen Murray. It is a black and white rehearsal photograph of two people laughing. The figure on the left has her hands on her hips and is smiling broadly. The figure on the right looks down slightly and is wearing a t-shirt which says (not all of the names can be seen but this can be extrapolated): “Angela& Gloria& Audre& Alice& bell.”

Image three is from Medusa. It shows a dancer squatting with her knees wide apart behind some barbed wire. She wears black boots and a black short jumpsuit. Her long hair is wound around the barbed wire in some places. Behind her there is a plume of smoke. She looks fiercely straight at the camera.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 23 July 2018, 4:57 pm


It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked. As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately. If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, feel free to let us know.

An MP on Maternity Leave has accused the government of “cheating” on Brexit vote (The Pool)

68% Rotten: Female critics outnumbered two to one by their male counterparts (The Guardian)

Miss Universe GB: First black winner Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers on “great achievement” (BBC)

The Digital Modelling Agency Fetishing Black Women (gal-dem)

From the article: “We have seen this abuse take place in colonisation, from birthing farms and Medical Aparthied, to using black bodies as scientific Guinea pigs – specifically the exploitation of Nigerians for Meningitis trials and other developing countries. We’ve also seen it as part of the LA drug scandal exposed by Gary Web, to the HeLa cell strain – developed from Henrietta Lacks’ cell tissue – being used to cure the entire world, but not allowing her family to receive financial compensation. This is not an opportunity, this is not a show of appreciation, this is new age fetishisation. This unhealthy obsession of black skin, but not black people, needs to be acknowledged and stopped.”

The Straight Male Sex Workers of Japan Who Sell Their Services to Gay Men (MEL, via Medium)

From the article: “Japanese men can’t traditionally live openly as homosexuals. Many carry with them a great deal of shame, self-hatred and other negative feelings. So a large portion of what these boys are doing is more than just a sex act, which may only last for five minutes. In these moments — bathing with someone, being held by someone, having them wash their back and stroke their hair — customers are made to feel like everything is okay. That’s a big part of the urisen experience.”

‘We’re more powerful together than alone’ says Buzzfeed reporter of UK scheme pairing 100 new women journalists with mentors (Press Gazette)

From the story: “The Second Source, founded in November last year by 20 women journalists, particularly encouraged journalists to apply to the scheme if they were from currently underrepresented communities in terms of race and class. Nguyen says The Second Source is ‘inclusive’, ‘diverse,’ and ‘does try to understand people’s backgrounds and give them a chance at life’. She says of diversity in the media: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ ”

When former Sex Workers become SWERFS (Kelly Palmer, Medium)

Twitter Drags Fanboys Crying Over New She-Ra (TRACY E. GILCHRIST, The Advocate)

The Trailer for Netflix’s “Insatiable” Is Being Criticized for Fat-Shaming Women (Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue)

Guidance – In the Event of an Anti-Trans Protest at Trans Pride Brighton (Trans Pride Brighton)

From the article: “We accept that some of this this may come across as extreme and tone-policing, however the anti-trans protestors have a clearly demonstrated desire to portray transgender people as violent and abusive – a characterisation we all know to be absurd, however their previous activities show this is a common tactic. They will attempt to obtain photography and video which portrays trans people (trans women and assigned-male-at-birth nonbinary people in particular) as dangerous. At previous protests they have been observed attempting to photograph people’s crotch areas, obtain upskirt images, to goad people into reacting so that they can film and edit the response. PLEASE DO NOT GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!”

Women’s Media Is a Scam (Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic)

From the article: “Once we had ads for shampoo—now we have sites pretending they aren’t secretly running a branding agency from inside their feminist publishing project. It’s like Coca-Cola trying to sell you self-care. Seen from its most depressing angle, the rise of these websites is part of a wider deterioration of choice, quality, and consciousness across the all media products branded ‘feminist’.”

Peterson’s Complaint (Longreads, Laurie Penny)

From the article: “There are plenty of reasons why society treats the pain of young white men as a public concern. A great many of us learned from an early age that bad things happen when white men have hurt feelings. Children of color learn, often painfully, the importance of making the white people around them feel comfortable. Little girls are taught not to “provoke” their male peers into attacking or harassing them. This can get confusing for white boys, bless their hearts: when everyone else treats your hurt feelings as immovable facts that have to be managed by those around you, some confusion is understandable. That’s how we got to a position where male pain is intolerable, but everyone else’s pain is par for the course. I’m throwing truth-bombs, but you’re crying victim. Fuck your feelings, but make gentle, empathetic love to mine.”

‘He moved within 200 feet of my house’: How the bail system fails victims of sexual assault (i, Sarah Learmonth)

An author broke down “thin privilege” on Twitter (The Pool)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Khánh Hmoong on Flickr. It shows a seated person, half in shadow with their face just out of shot. They are wearing laced-up boots, a patterned skirt, a patterned scarf and what appears to be a long-sleeved grey top. They are holding a Nikon camera in their lap with the lens facing outwards.

Team updates

by Joanna Whitehead // , 6:45 am

Tags: ,

In 2013, we began using a rotating editor system. Rather than having one person as constant editor at The F-Word, we decided to share the role within the team, with a new person coming into it every six to twelve months. This has given us a chance to share the admin load (there’s a lot!) and also gives different people the chance to inject new life into the site.

After 12 months as the site’s rotating editor, I’m delighted to pass on the baton to Lissy Lovett, our existing theatre and comedy editor, treasurer and spreadsheet wunderkind. Lissy is incredibly organised, passionate and an integral part of The F-Word team. I’m looking forward to the site growing under her leadership.

I’m also happy to announce some new additions to the team. Genevieve Richardson and Lucy Everitt are both joining Christina Carè as features editors, which is wonderful news. Features is a particularly busy area of the site, so we hope the not insignificant volume of work generated by this section can be shared between this new team. Christina has done a sterling job managing this alone since Sophie Jackson left features last autumn. Welcome, Genevieve and Lucy!

During my 12 month rotating editorship, Cazz Blase agreed to caretake the music section in my absence. I began editing the music section back in April 2014 and couldn’t focus on my rotating editor role in addition to music. I’m pleased to confirm that Cazz has agreed to stay on as the site’s music editor. As a previous editor of this section from 2011 – 2013, she has the experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to make this section of the site a stimulating one.

Despite undertaking an eye-watering six rounds of recruitment in my 12 months as rotating editor, we still have vacancies for a social media editor, arts editor and fiction editor. Keep an eye on the site for further updates on future recruitment drives!

I wrote my first piece for The F-Word back in 2007 (gulp). My continued involvement over the years has been both a joy and a privilege. The F-Word’s longevity is testament to its quality and the time and energy everyone involved in the site contributes (we are all unpaid volunteers) is indicative of the esteem in which it continues to be held. Long may it continue. I’ll still be involved with the site and look forward to being part of its future growth.

The picture at the top of the page is a black and white image of two white women running in a relay race in Brisbane in 1939. It’s an action shot and the women are passing a baton between them, with a look of concentration and determination on their faces. The image was shared under a Creative Commons licence.

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 16 July 2018, 5:55 pm


It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked. As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

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

Feminist Solidarity: Cis and Trans People Will Not be Divided!(Solidarity Statement)

From the statement: “Trans women are an essential part of an intersectional and successful feminist struggle. The astonishing campaign in Ireland to legalise abortion patently understood that abortion rights and trans rights go hand in hand. March 8th saw the meeting of sex workers, trans activists, ex-detainees, immigration activists and cinema ushers march through London together to show the beautiful intersecting frontline of radical organising today.”

The ableist fight over plastic straws (Bitchmedia)[Discusses this issue from a US perspective but same debate is happening here.]

It’s a bleeding shame: endometriosis, reproductive health and being believed (Global Comment)

A women’s place has never been in the home – the truth is far more complex than that (The Independent)

Sexual assault warnings increase victim blaming, study finds (Cosmos Magazine)

From the article: “At the heart of the blame arising from the sexual assault seminars, the researchers suggest, is the notion of control. Women can increase or decrease their chances of being assaulted – the logic runs – by adopting or ignoring certain protocols. Therefore, the chances of being assaulted is something that potential victims can control, and failure to do so therefore increases culpability.”

Skinny Shaming Is Not The Same As Fat Phobia (Melissa A. Fabello, Self)

The racist origins of ‘pro-life’ abortion movement they never talk about (Wagatwe Wanjuki, Daily Kos)

Henry Cavill criticised for #MeToo comments (Guardian)

Dude CEO of Feminist Apparel: Feminism Is Me Firing My Staff for Finding Out I Sexually Abused Women (Rebecca Fishbein, Jezebel)

What we learned from a delegation of disabled women activists (Linda Ochiel, Program Officer, Eastern Africa, Ford Foundation)

Women lead day of angry London protests against Donald Trump (Alexandra Topping, Guardian)

Open consultation: Reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (gov.uk)

Stop Asking Me If I ‘Saved Room’ for Dessert (Kate Willsky, Eater)

Putting sex workers’ rights at the centre (CHUS ÁLVAREZ, Open Democracy)

All Things Ill-Considered: NPR’s Sexist Blunder (Silke-Maria Weineck, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

From the article: “… I get a text from a colleague who is listening to the story. It starts with “O god,” and informs me that not only are there no quotes from me in the story, as I already know, but that the book is now attributed exclusively to Stefan…”

A Workspace of one’s own (CLAIRE ZULKEY, Lenny)

From the article: “Working at the island all day every day, I’m like the unpaid receptionist for the house. I keep the fridge stocked and sign for packages. My husband comes by and eats his lunch behind me — in my office — while I eat my Amy’s frozen meals and read Ohnotheydidnt and yearn for solitude. There is a plastic potty, sometimes full of forgotten urine, on the floor less than five feet away.”

How the psychology of the England football team could change your life (Emine Saner, Guardian)

From the article: “[Pippa Grange, England team psychologist] wrote in 2013 that being a woman in a male team environment ‘is a constant navigation, for everyone. I have no interest in being one of the lads and I don’t quite fit in the ‘nurturing mother figure’ category in terms of the leadership work I do. I would be professionally ineffective if I remained in the background, psychologically safe with minimal voice, and I am not here to be the centre of attention as some form of entertainment. I don’t want to be completely separate because that would make me inaccessible and probably be a lonely place to operate from.”


“The era of hard-talking, tyrannical managers is over – both on and off the pitch. ‘Football, which I love and work in, is really bad at talking,’ says [Michael] Caulfield [sports psychologist]. ‘It does instructing and telling off but it doesn’t do talking and listening and empathy that well’ … Southgate, he says, realised early in his coaching career that instilling fear wasn’t going to work. ‘We all need a telling-off now and then – and he’s good at that, by the way – but you’ll get far more from putting your faith in people than you will anything else. People had this lazy opinion that he’s too ‘nice’ and they see kindness as weakness, but it’s the most unbelievable strength if you use it in the right way.’”

Erin Aniker’s quietly radical, feminist illustrations remind us that activism doesn’t have to be loud (Kieran Yates, It’s Nice That)

From the article: “Her work features women in bright colour palettes, with beatific smiles, stern frowns; with an overarching theme of togetherness, the women are often depicted in clusters, filling our eye-line with squiggly but clean outlines of powerful women. Her illustrations picture women raising their mehndi-decorated hands together in unison; brains split, with the minutiae of life’s worries spilling out of them, or women crying soft tears with the pain of motherhood, alongside a group of other women mirroring the same emotions behind her.”

Erin was previously an editor for the F-Word and you can read her previous work for the site HERE.

“Why Education Will Never Stop Rape” (Jessica Eaton, Victim Focus)

From the article: “We started to sell packages of education to each other and to victims of abuse and rape (child and adult) that assume that the REASON the child or adult was raped or abused, was because they couldn’t identify abusive behaviours and grooming tactics. Some companies and individuals got fat off the profit – some still are. They sell programmes to schools and tell the school that their work is ‘preventative education’ – to ‘reduce the risk of being abused’. This is absolute bollocks.”

Trump’s visit to the UK highlights how even the most powerful women are still considered inferior to their male counterparts (The Independent)

From the article: “Yesterday the internet was awash with comments on Theresa May’s choice of outfit on Thursday evening for her state dinner with Trump at Blenheim palace. He wore a suit, and of course no one commented, but May’s dress was criticised for everything from its colour (red) and its cut (a slit at the back), to what she wore under it (not a good enough bra, apparently). She was shamed for her age, her body and her choice of outfit, and helpfully told what she should wear to be “age appropriate” and “flatter her figure”. While Trump is sometimes mocked for his appearance – namely his clear love for tanning beds – he is not judged on his ability to do his job on that basis.”

With high court in play, Democrats link abortion rights and health care (CS Monitor)

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to gaelx on Flickr. It shows a ‘Support for Pussy Riot party’ in Madrid. Three people with colourful balaclavas over their faces (or perhaps tights/stockings fashioned to look like balaclavas) pose for the camera. Only their eyes and mouths are visible. Two are wearing glasses which can be seen behind the balaclavas. One is grinning and the other two appear to be pouting, but it is difficult to tell. One has their arm raised in the air. Behind them there are shelves holding various bottles.

Lejla Damon
Lejla Damon is an activist who works with War Child and Remembering Srebrenica to raise awareness about sexual violence during conflict. Lejla will be speaking at number of events across the UK during Srebrenica Memorial Week (8th-15th July)

In the UK, some progress has been made toward gender equality. For example, discrimination legislation is slowly changing attitudes towards the role of women in society. Last year, the #Metoo campaign opened up a conversation about the lived experiences of women and girls that had been largely hidden before. But how long would it take for all this to unravel in a time of war?

I fear for the safety of women in future conflicts. In 2008, whilst on a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Major General Patrick Cammaert, a UN Commander, said “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern wars.” Certainly, this was true for the women of Bosnia, where an estimated 20,000 – 50,000 women, mostly Bosnian-Muslim, were subjected to sexual violence during the war in the 1990s.

Rape is a tool of humiliation used to destroy hope, happiness and a person’s sense of control over their future. I was the product of rape so I can only talk from my own personal experience. I am not a rape survivor, but I have seen first-hand the effects of rape on women such as my birth mum, whom I met for the first time since I was 9 days old last year.

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1992 after my birth mum was raped in a concentration camp. Nobody would wish for this start in life but this is the reality for some young people in Bosnia. I was adopted by two British journalists who were in Bosnia to report on the war. I was luckier than most of the children born of rape, who do not have a voice or receive anything near the amount of support I was given.

While so few of the perpetrators have ever faced punishment, rape is a life sentence for the victims. The children in Bosnia born of rape have been left behind and forgotten by their country. Well, they haven’t been forgotten by me and other organisations working towards trying to get them justice. As well as speaking to CBC Ottawa earlier this year, I spoke at a conference at the University of Ottawa, where the question was posed: how do we end sexual violence in war?

In this patriarchal world, rape is used as a weapon to break down the victim and her society. Women are raped because they symbolise a country as property and as the ‘source’ of a nation’s future. In the past, and in Bosnia today, the victims of wartime and genocidal rape were forced into silence. But I saw a lot of hope at the Ottawa conference; most of the people that were in attendance were women, speaking out and demanding attention.

This isn’t just a women’s issue. Women acting together in solidarity will force change as they have done on political rights, reproductive rights and economic equality. Men will hopefully join the discussion and we can’t achieve justice without everyone being involved. But women won’t say “Thank you”, just: “What took you so long?”

My special hope for the future of Bosnia is that its children who were born of rape will be recognised and will receive the help they need to achieve their hopes and dreams. Many are never told the truth about their origins; but they know, from the strain in their family relationships and from their own skills of deduction. Pretending bad things didn’t happen is no solution to putting things right.

This is true for Bosnia as it is for Myanmar and all the other places where rape has been weaponised. Governments and NGOs must go beyond pity and outrage and start information campaigns that provide encouragement to children born of rape, not secrets and shame.

We are the future. Our empowerment is the only future that matters for places where abusing and torturing women are weapons of war. Unless we are prioritised and recognised, there can be no peace. That’s why I am working closely with Remembering Srebrenica to make sure that the children of rape and the women forced to carry us, but unable to love us, are not forgotten.

Featured image courtesy of the author.

Featured image is of the piece’s author, Lejla Damon, holding up a chalkboard with the hashtag #TimeToAct, as part of the Remembering Srebrenica campaign

Hayley Miller
This is a guest post by Sophie Becker

Cardboard. Amongst the most innocuous of materials, right? Wrong, as it turns out. Over the past few weeks, I’ve transformed cardboard into an unexpected weapon against gender inequality.

Specifically, I’ve targeted the lack of diversity in many ‘male, stale and pale’ executive boards of FTSE 350 companies. Although it’s hardly a new issue, it’s one many believed was well on its way to repair following targets set by the Hampton-Alexander review, for boards to be at least 33% female by 2020.

Sadly, scarcity of females in leadership positions at these powerful companies has come to light again following the publication of the Investors Association Gender Equality report, which called out fourteen companies for having all-male executive committees. Of these fourteen, one, in particular, caught my eye: Smurfit Kappa.

Phathu Designs @phathudesignsImage by Phathu Designs, courtesy of the author. Image is of three woman in a boardroom, working together while surrounded by books

A couple of weeks prior to reading the report, I’d been looking back on my university days and thinking about my final year dissertation. I’d written about a cardboard box manufacturer called the Container Corporation of America that commissioned Bauhaus artists fleeing the war in the 1940s to create artworks for the company – subsequently becoming a pioneer both in modernist design and diversity. The company’s owner, Walter Paepke, created this alternative but wildly successful corporate culture following his wife’s advice – involving her in every decision and demonstrating that diverse leadership enables true innovation and progress. Curious to find out where the Container Corporation of America had ended up, I learnt they’d merged to become part of a bizarrely named company: Smurfit Kappa.

I immediately recognised this strange name again as it appeared in the FT as one of the fateful fourteen in the report. I was distraught to find that the Container Corporation’s legacy was lagging so dismally behind in gender diversity targets. What’s more, Smurfit Kappa had refused to comment, showing no engagement with the problem whatsoever. I felt determined to change this.

The one encouraging takeaway from the report was that some investors had already pledged to vote against companies with low female representation at leadership level in upcoming AGMs. It seems the only thing that inspires companies like Smurfit Kappa to take action is pressure and withdrawal from investors. The Women On Board project is raising awareness amongst the public to increase pressure and ask investors to think twice about how they vote with their money.

Hayley Miller @hayleylyn17Image by Hayley Miller, courtesy of the author. Image is of a woman, drawn in an illustrative style, staring at the camera with the words “Women on board” written next to her

Time and time again, research has shown that companies with diverse leadership report increased innovation, inclusivity and insight – and subsequently higher profitability. A 2012 study run by McKinsey reported that companies with diverse executive boards achieve significantly higher earnings and return on equity, whilst Credit Suisse confirmed the correlation between gender diversity and corporate performance, attributing this to improved leadership, better consumer awareness and an all-around healthier corporate culture.

By using Smurfit Kappa’s cardboard against them, Women On Board is highlighting the shocking findings of April’s gender equality report in a fun yet meaningful way. Starting by taking one company as an example and aiming for a ripple effect, we’re quite literally finding thought-provoking ways to ‘put women on (card)board’.

We’re curating an online gallery and Instagram, calling feminist artists and illustrators from all over the world to submit artworks that feature women on cardboard. So far, we’ve received such positive responses and intriguing submissions – it’s exciting to see people engaging so emphatically with the message, and this is only the beginning. We’ve also brought cardboard into the public sphere, placing sneaky guerrilla placards around London as well as interacting with the public by asking them in a tongue-in-cheek manner “How they like their boards”. Usually, with women on them, it turns out.

Sanne Thijs @full_of_freckles_illustrationsImage by Sanne Thijs, courtesy of the author. Image is of a submission to the Women on Board campaign, framed by art materials. The artwork features a woman standing proudly in corporate attire

Lack of female representation in the corporate sphere is symptomatic of deeper problems and has a trickle-down effect on many other aspects of life. Quotas are vitally important in highlighting the extent of the issue and ultimately prompting the change we so desperately need. If talent and hard work were judged blindly to gender — along with other systems of discrimination — in the first place, quotas would easily be met. But ultimately, the fight for representation of women on boards isn’t to appease numbers or statistics, it’s to strengthen the economy by championing gender diversity and challenging a status quo that holds everyone back.

If you’d like to learn more about the Women On Board project and get involved, visit our website www.womenonboard.net or e-mail us at hi@womeonboard.net. We also take submissions via our Instagram page @getwomenonboard with the hashtag #WomenOnBoard.

Featured image by Hayley Miller, courtesy of the author.

Image is one of the artworks submitted for the Women on Board campaign. It features a woman drawn in an illustrative style, wearing a suit and tie and staring confidently at the camera

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 9 July 2018, 4:31 pm


It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked. As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

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

Self-declaration would bring Britain into line with international best practice (The Economist)

From the article: “Campaigners against reforming the GRA also misrepresent why trans people want access to single-sex services. Often, they imply that we are predators who want access only to do harm. The truth is that if we are accessing a service it is because we need it. Anti-reform campaigners ignore the fact that for more than eight years single-sex services have been required to be inclusive of trans people unless there are exceptional circumstances, and that huge swathes of single-sex services are operating smoothly and successfully in a fully trans-inclusive manner. Sometimes hearing that single-sex services are already inclusive of trans people who do not have gender-recognition certificates surprises the general public. This is because our presence actually has very little impact on other users of services.”

What black women can learn from 39 of the most influential black women in Britain today (The Pool)

From the article: “I often say you cannot “slay your way” out of systemic racism. You simply can’t will yourself out of oppression. But the words of these women, who have achieved so much when facing the very same hurdles, is priceless. We hope they’ll validate many experiences, through their practical advice, words of encouragement or just the simple realisation that these things aren’t imagined or a ‘chip on a shoulder’.”

In Defence of Megan Barton-Hanson (Vice)

Former Nuts editor ’embarrassed’ by ‘lads’ mag’ past behind new Shortlist campaign ‘helping men escape outdated stereotypes’ (Press Gazette)

Op-Ed: Twitter Needs to Treat Misgendering Trans People as Hate Speech (Them)

Women RAF pilots ‘forgotten’ in centenary celebrations, say relatives (Telegraph)

We’re Calling On Labour To Back Full Decriminalisation Of Sex Work (Margaret Corvid, Alex Feis-Bryce and Aisling Gallagher, Labour List)
[On the parliamentary debate on ‘Tackling the Demand for Commercial Sexual Exploitation’ on 4 July]

From the article: “In any industry it is self-evident that workers should be the ones to determine how best to improve their working conditions. In every other industry besides sex work, we accept that a job is not something we do for enjoyment, it is something we do in order to survive. The case remains the same for sex workers. Most sex workers are women, often mothers, who do the work because of the results of brutal cuts to frontline services and social welfare systems as well as the upsurge in precarious zero-hours contracts. One does not have to find sex work appealing or tasteful to understand that sex workers are trying to make a living like anyone else in the context of the Conservative austerity agenda. If people wish to reduce demand for sex work, or to protect sex workers, the answer is the same as it is for every other type of worker in the UK and across the world: it is to end austerity, to provide real security for precarious workers, to welcome and respect migrants, to strengthen workers’ rights across the board.”

Pride in London transphobia (Ruth Hunt, Stonewall)

From the article: “As a cis lesbian I also want to condemn in the strongest terms the actions of the people yesterday who claim to represent me. These people have deserted the fight for LGBT equality, they have no place at Pride. I applaud the cis lesbians and all those who have also spoken of their disgust at yesterday’s action. Please continue to come out for trans equality. Be an active, fierce ally. Show up and we will win this fight. Together we are stronger.”

Why Trans Roles for Trans Actors? (Jackson Bird)
[On the casting of Scarlett Johansson to play trans man “Tex” Gill in Rub & Tug.]
NB: You can turn on captions for this video via the menu in the top right hand corner and then selecting ‘Captions’ (third item down).

Skyler Jay Reveals His True Feelings on Queer Eye’s Trans Makeover Episode (BJ Kaspar, Them)

Feminists against borders in the NHS (Feminist Fightback)
From the article: “On Sunday 1st July, Feminist Fightback joined the Patients Not Passports bloc as part of the NHS 70th birthday march. With comrades from Docs not Cops and The Hackney Migrant Centre, we wanted to draw attention to the fact that as well as being under threat from privatisation, the spirit of a national health service free at the point of need is being attacked by the enactment of brutal policies which see migrants charged unaffordable amounts of money to access basic healthcare. This includes prohibitive charges for access to abortion and pregnancy services.”

Women of the NHS explain why it’s one of the best organisations in the world (Sarah Biddlecombe, Stylist)

Schools fuel mental health crisis by isolating children in harsh ‘consequences booths’, ministers warned (Independent)

Making transitioning simpler would not usurp the rights of women (The Economist)

From the article: “Just as women have fought to challenge misogyny, trans people are seeking our place in society. And just as disabled people fought to move from a medical model to a social model, so transgender people are now.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to James Hill on Flickr. It shows the underside of what appears to be a rainbow-coloured umbrella.

Civil partnerships
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that civil partnerships should be available to all couples: different-sex and same-sex alike.

This is very welcome news for everyone who – like me – feels that marriage just isn’t right for them. Personally, and I know I’m not alone, I can’t get behind the institution’s uncomfortable legacy. Marriage has nearly always been a transaction – used for centuries in our culture to secure economic and political advantage. It’s only since the Victorian era that the concept of love has been part of the equation.

Initially introduced in 2004 as an alternative to marriage for same-sex couples, civil partnerships intended to allow them the same rights as married couples. Since same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014, gay couples have had the choice to either marry or form a civil partnership, while straight couples have only had the option to get wed.

All five judges who heard the case brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan agreed that this situation is incompatible with human rights law, and that the government’s decision to assess the demand for heterosexual civil partnerships before changing the law is not justifiable.

The way that we choose to structure our families and formalise our love for one another is constantly evolving. Even within my lifetime, marriage and the traditions around it have changed. Same-sex marriage was finally brought into law in 2014, while many women are breaking away from the age-old tenets of the ceremony – speaking up when it’s time for speeches or walking themselves down the aisle. Lots of people have a civil ceremony, writing their own vows and setting their own terms.

But it’s time to take the next step. There are 3.2 million unmarried cohabiting different-sex couples in the UK (double the number 15 years ago), for whom marriage may not be a good fit. Some may feel the same way I do, others might have been unhappily married before, or some may have lived through their parents’ divorces and decided the institution wasn’t for them. Others may object to the familial and social expectations that come with weddings.

Now there’s an opportunity for the government to finally get its ducks in a row and give people in long-term relationships who do not wish to marry the same legal protection as married couples. Many don’t realise that if they are not married they can’t inherit their partner’s pension or take advantage of tax benefits. A third of cohabiting couples have children and aren’t always aware that if the relationship ends, they can’t rely on their partner for financial support for the kids.

When the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2013 was going through parliament, there was cross-party support for simultaneously extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples and a consultation revealed that 61% of respondents were in favour of doing so. The fact that this didn’t happen – in no small part due to David Cameron’s concerns about ‘weakening’ marriage – would be easy to rectify.

The Supreme Court made it clear that this inequality is unlawful, and the ruling puts enormous pressure on the government to act. They could use fast-track legislation to remedy the inequality, or get MP Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill, currently sitting in their laps, back on track. The Bill was – frustratingly – all set to be passed by parliament in February until a reshuffle resulted in a new Minister for Equalities, Amber Rudd, who was not supportive.

Now it’s up to the current Minister, Penny Mordaunt, to take this forward. The solution isn’t to scrap civil partnerships for same-sex couples in order to ‘equalise’ rights. Stonewall’s CEO has already warned against this, and the number of LGBT couples getting civil partnerships rose in 2016, despite gay marriage being available. Added to this, according to Tim Laughton’s speech in Parliament, when same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014, only 4% of civil partnerships converted.

Civil partnerships may not be perfect – some see them as simply a stepping stone to gay marriage – but they are clearly valued. Rather than waiting another 14 years for a more revolutionary ‘third way’, the government should seize current legislation and make it work. The UK is already lagging behind in this respect, as civil unions for heterosexual couples are available in the Isle of Man, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand, to name just a few.

Celebrating the love and commitment between people is one of the most joyful things we humans do and I have been lucky enough to do so at many friends’ weddings over the last few years. But my six-year, committed and loving relationship has not been celebrated. We do not have legal protections and recognition. Opening up civil partnerships would immediately change this for us, and I suspect for many thousands more. It’s a no-brainer.

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

Featured image is of a man and woman in a different-sex couple, looking into each other’s eyes and smiling. The woman is standing behind the man and her head hangs upside-down so their faces meet

Weekly round-up and open thread

by Lusana Taylor // 2 July 2018, 4:55 pm


It’s a bumper round-up this week where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous fortnight, including everything from Love Island to veganism! We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

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

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

Study: male political reporters retweet other dudes 3 times more than their female colleagues (Vox)

From the article: “This is not about algorithms, but about the behaviour of journalists, especially male journalists, and structural inequalities in the journalistic profession.”

The age of patriarchy: how an unfashionable idea became a rallying cry for feminism today (The Guardian)

I Detransitioned. But Not Because I Wasn’t Trans (The Atlantic)

How much hostility is enough? | Windrush 70th Anniversary series (Media Diversified)

From the article: “Even for those who are unfamiliar with immigration law, it’s not difficult to see from the outset how people of colour and people without means will inevitably suffer in this environment. A landlord without a racist bone in his body will fear the consequences of getting something wrong and so will choose to play it safe, renting only to white tenants with Anglo-Saxon names and local accents. Conversely, a nurse who doesn’t have the time between a burst appendix and a compound fracture to check everybody’s paperwork will potentially end up singling out those who look or sound ‘like immigrants’.”

It’s Irrelevant Whether Sex Work is Empowering (Steph Farnsworth, Standup Mag)

Motion To Further Include The Trans Community In Women’s Council Of Ireland Unanimously Passes (Katie Donohoe, gcn)

Power tools for a revolution: the Woman with a Movie Camera Summit 2018 (Anna Coatman, Sight and Sound)

Single black female: Love Island and the problem with race and dating (The Guardian)

The next time you think about doing a bit of working class tourism and dressing up in ‘poorface’, read this (The Independent)

Research Shows Many Trans Folks’ Sexual Attractions Change After Transition (Them)

Love Island normalises emotional abuse – and we call it entertainment (The Guardian)

#DECOLONISINGCONTRACEPTION: How Reproductive Medicine Has Been Used to Oppress People of Colour (gal-dem)

‘This is huge’: black liberationist speaks out after her 40 years in prison (Ed Pilkington, The Guardian)

Standfirst: Debbie Sims Africa, the first freed member of a radical Philadelphia group many say were unjustly imprisoned, talks about reuniting with her son and defends the Move members still locked up: ‘We are peaceful people’.

BBC apologises to Carrie Gracie and admits ex-China editor was underpaid (Press Gazette)

From the article: “She has now received the money she was owed and has said she will donate the full amount to the Fawcett Society to set up a fund for women who need legal advice on equal pay claims. Gracie said: ‘I am glad to have been able to resolve this with the director-general – it shows that we can make progress. I’m also pleased that my work as China editor has now been properly recognised by the BBC and relieved that this difficult period is over. For me, this was always about the principle, rather than the money. I’m delighted to donate all the backdated pay from the BBC to help women striving for equality at work.’ In a tweet, she also thanked everyone who had supported her ‘on this long hard road’.”

Love Island’s Adam Collard accused of ‘gaslighting’ by domestic abuse charity (The Guardian)

I’m An Asexual Sex Worker — And It’s Not As Complex As It Seems (Kitty Stryker, Good)

17 real-life would-you-rathers I, a woman, have had to ask myself (Isabella Giovannini, McSweeneys)

Non-binary person trolled for appearing in lesbian magazine (Eve Hartley, Pink News)

Veganism has a serious race problem (Claire L. Heuchan, Media Diversified)

From the article: “The routine comparisons of animal abuse to the enslavement of Black people shows exactly how little value white members of the vegan community, generally considered a liberal breed, place on Black life. This racism, so casually delivered, is designed to add shock value – to trigger a dietary epiphany. In reality, the only message these campaign materials send to Black people is this: veganism isn’t for you. A quick search of ‘vegan’ images reveals rows of white people gagged, chained, and shackled in order to make a statement.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to Mike on Flickr. It is a photograph of a heart shape fashioned from pebbles on a sandy beach.

I’m going to open this blog by paying my respects to Eurydice Dixon, an Australian comedian who was killed walking home from a gig in Melbourne. That the world is sometimes an unsafe place for women to exist in makes me furious. Rest in peace, Eurydice.

Bechdel Theatre are hosting a one-off Drag Night on 4 July as a fundraiser for their Edinburgh Fringe campaigning. It’s at Styx bar in London and there will be step-free access and gender-neutral toilets.

Haste Theatre, an all-female ensemble, will be at the Blue Elephant in south London on 10 July with their physical piece Where the Hell is Bernard? Set in a Kafka-esque future, in a city where no one plays and no one ever leaves, a box of items bounces back to Lost and Found Office. Will the officers find its owner or something more?

Hive City Legacy, created and directed by Lisa Fa’alafi and Busty Beatz from Hot Brown Honey, will be at the Roundhouse in Camden from 10 until 21 July. Nine sensational female performers of colour, selected from over 250 applications, have been working with Lisa and Busty of Hot Brown Honey, plus Yami ‘Rowdy’ Lofvenberg to create Hive City Legacy, a unique new show all about the world’s greatest hive city: London. Plus the artwork for the show was designed by previous F-Word editor, Erin Aniker.

The Squirrel Plays, about the US reproductive rights debate, are at Theatre503 on 19 and 20 July ahead of going up the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Brighton’s Marlborough Theatre will be running an extensive year-long programme of performances and events under the title Growth Spurt. This will begin with Trans Pride Art Night on 19 July, Juno Dawson’s Lovely Trans Literary Salon on 26 July and If Britney Can Get Through 2007 We Can Get Through This, a loud and messy riot grrrl Britney tribute act and a love letter to that stubborn teenage queerdo, on 2 August. The whole thing looks really great so check it out!

And lastly I can avoid thinking about it no longer; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is all launched and I should start planning The F-Word’s coverage. If you are going to be in Edinburgh in August and might like to review some things for us, please email me at lissy.lovett@thefword.org.uk and we’ll see what we can sort out.

Image one is a collage of the performers of Hive City Legacy. Head and shoulders shots of nine performers of colour are in a three by three grid. Most of them are holding up the circular Hive City Legacy logo and wear black t-shirts which also feature the logo. They have a variety of energetic expressions on their faces.

Image two is of Jo Hague by Julia Brown. They look straight at the camera, unsmiling. They have dark smudged eyeliner around their eyes and their face is surrounded by blonde hair. Only their shoulders can be seen but they’re wearing a red pvc catsuit. They stand in front of a glittery gold background.

Weekly round-up and open thread

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


It’s a bumper round-up this week where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous fortnight. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Body Positivity is a Scam (Racked)

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

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

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

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

The rage of the incels (The New Yorker)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Dress Terribly on Purpose (Medium)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t get swept into this Ocean

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

Tags: , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing June’s monthly guest blogger

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

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

In her own words:

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

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

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

Featured image by Lubomyr Myronyuk, from Unsplash.

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

Weekly round-up and open thread

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


It’s time for another weekly round-up where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous seven days. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked. As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately.

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

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

Stop calling women hormonal (The New York Times)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transgender identities in the past (British Library)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly round-up and open thread

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly round-up and open thread

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


It’s a bumper round-up this week where we share (what we see as) the most interesting and important articles from the previous fortnight. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brief history of period shame

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

Tags: , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly round-up and open thread

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


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

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

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

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

No More Heroes (Exeunt Magazine)

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

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

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

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

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

Why Incels Hate Women (Jennifer Wright, Harpers Bazaar)

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

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

Sexual assault is a human issue (Medium)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly round-up and open thread

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aging Ghosts in the Skincare Machine (Medium)

What Fullness Is (Roxanne Gay on Medium)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman on laptop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome, Vanessa!

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

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

Further Reading

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

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