FERTILITY AS A FEMINIST ISSUE AT WOW FESTIVAL 2018

by Carmina Masoliver

Part 1 of 2

Women of the World (WOW) Festival is always place for stimulating and challenging debate on important issues of the day. It was a privilege to be involved this year with my own segment with She Grrrowls as part of Gem’s Jam on the Sunday, featuring poets Bridget Minamore and Selina Nwulu, with live music from Roxanne Tatae and DJ sets from Born N Bread, Jamz Supernova, and host Gemma Cairney.

I also sat in on three very different panel discussions. I focus on only two panels, as the third, Testimony, included confidential accounts of women’s experiences of rape – an important and powerful space for their stories to be shared. I will dedicate this part one to the first panel I attended:

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REVIEW: THE MISANDRISTS BY BRUCE LABRUCE

by Carmina Masoliver

cw: mentions violence

Genesis Cinema, in London’s Whitechapel, is an independent cinema on the site of a pub-turned-music hall that first opened in 1848, and which housed a number of theatres before turning to the silver screen. As part of its Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest, it screened German film The Misandrists by Bruce LaBruce. Complemented by a moderated discussion about the film, it raised a range of questions on the importance of author intent, the role of sex and violence in film, and the issue of when satire becomes mockery.

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FEMINIST TOP PICKS – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2017: PART 3

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by Carmina Masoliver

Read part one of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

Read part two of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

 CW: rape, sexual assault, islamophobia, homophobia

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FUCK OFF, TERFS: DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERNET HATE MACHINE

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by Zoe Harding

Content warning: article contains strong language and mentions transphobia, rape, death threats, online harassment, homophobia, biphobia and bi erasure.

So this week a friend of mine said something on Twitter about accepting transgender people as people, regardless of genitalia. One of those reasonable discussions that occasionally ensue on the internet ensued, and ended with her getting dog-piled with sufficient angry, hateful messages to nearly crash her ageing iPhone and accusations ranging from homophobia to gaslighting and advocacy of corrective rape. While the barrage of tweets from a dozen accounts was polite by online discourse standards (for ‘polite’, read ‘no swearing but massively condescending, dismissive, pompous and worryingly intense’) the death threats and abuse that followed in private messages was significantly less so.

Once more, my friend had attracted the ire of the TERFs.Continue Reading

ROAR: RAISING FUNDS FOR WOMEN’S REFUGES

by Tim Forster

Content warning: mentions domestic violence and abuse. 

As we know the Tories’ so-called austerity has been an attack on the working class — the economics of class war if you like —but cuts in public sector jobs, benefits and social services have hit women particularly hard.Continue Reading

FINE ART IN CÓRDOBA

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by Carmina Masoliver

The past few weeks I have been acquainting myself with the visual art that the city of Córdoba has to offer. These included the Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba, the Museo Julio Romero De Torres, and the Centro de Creación Contemporánea. Whilst there is still more to see, my wanderings gave me a varied picture of fine art in this part of Spain. Continue Reading

RESISTANCE VOICES: THOSE WHO MARCHED FOR WOMEN

In the aftermath of the Women’s March — a worldwide protest in resistance to Donald Trump on Saturday January 21st 2017 that saw an estimated 4.6million people take to the streets in the US alone — The Norwich Radical’s Tara Debra G and Cadi Cliff put a call out.  This article is the product of that call out, which asked for thoughts from those who identified as women and who attended one of the many Women’s Marches on why they marched. These are just some voices, but they speak from across the UK and the US in an act of collaboration, solidarity, and resistance. Continue Reading

REVIEW: ROWENA KNIGHT’S ALL THE FOOTPRINTS I LEFT WERE RED

by Carmina Masoliver

Rowena Knight has been making waves both in terms of poetry on the page (including Magma, Cadaverine and The Rialto) and on the stage, being a regular at poetry nights across London, as well as a team member of She Grrrowls. Self-identifying ‘Feminist Killjoy’, the collection deals with becoming a woman and growing up as an immigrant from New Zealand as a teenager.Continue Reading

REVIEW – EMILY HARRISON’S ‘I CAN’T SLEEP ‘CAUSE MY BED’S ON FIRE’

by Carmina Masoliver

I have seen Emily Harrison share her work countless times at Burn After Reading events, and at my own night, She Grrrowls. She never fails to amaze me in the way she is able to articulate herself, speaking out about mental health issues – amongst other subjects – interwoven with links to gender and class. When I read lines about imaging someone loves you ‘when you simply asked/during a routine blood test, ‘Emily, how are you doing today?’ I sort of imagine she’s what I would be like if I were an extrovert.

The first couple of poems are familiar to me, and it’s hard not to picture Harrison on stage delivering these words, because as much as it’s incredible to be able to read the pieces, seeing them live is an important part of the way the text works, as it tends to be with Burning Eye Books – the go-to publisher for writers who refuse to remain on one side of the page/stage divide.Continue Reading

BEYONCÉ, HILLSBOROUGH AND UNITY THROUGH SONG

by Mike Vinti

It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks in the pop world. Prince died, Beyoncé pulled a well, a Beyoncé, and today (Friday April 29th) Drake has released his new album VIEWS. If ever there was a week to remind us of popular music’s impact on society and culture, this is the one.

While each of these moments are significant in their own right and worthy of articles of their own, of which there have been many, together they’ve demonstrated the power of music to unite people. Be it through, grief, shock or pure unadulterated hype, the three most significant cultural moments of the past eight days have used music to bring people together and for a few days at least, forget about those intent on tearing us apart.Continue Reading

BLAST FROM THE PAST – CHRISTINA AGUILERA: STRIPPED

by Carmina Masoliver

I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.

I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.Continue Reading

NO PLATFORM AND THE AMPLIFICATION OF THE STUDENT VOICE

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by Cherry Somersby

NUS’ ‘No-Platform’ policy is the refusal to allow ‘racists or fascists’ to speak at NUS events or alongside NUS representatives. Bearing in mind that this policy is often conflated with attempts by individual Students’ Unions to ban certain speakers from their campuses, it has been dubbed by many as an attack on free speech, and further confirmation that the ‘intolerant student left’ have become more concerned with hiding in their progressive echo-chambers than with serious, healthy debate.

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REVIEW: WOW FESTIVAL 2016, PART 1

by Carmina Masoliver

I have been going to Women Of the World festival at Southbank’s Royal festival Hall for years on my own. I sometimes feel tentative about talking about women’s rights with friends and family unless I know for sure someone will be on board. This has worked well it seems, as gradually, and through being vocal online instead, more and more friends have become interested in finding out more. This was the first year that I brought a friend along one day, and a family member (Feminist Gran).

I believe I could also do something different to get more friends on board, especially those who have been curious in the past, but remained relatively untouched by my ranting. In this piece, split into two parts to accommodate the weekend events, I will review and discuss some of my personal highlights of the festival, with the intention of raising more awareness and showing what WOW is about.Continue Reading

SERIOUSLY VIVACIOUS READING: A FEMINIST POETICS OF LITERARY INQUIRY

by Linda Russo

I wrote To Think of her Writing Awash in Light as a way to investigate aspects of literary women’s lives that tend to be overlooked. The questions that interested me – how do lived spaces (domestic, urban, or natural spaces or environments) effect women’s relationships to their materials and ideas and language? How do women navigate these spaces and their various prescriptions for what women should or can do? – suggested a geographic inquiry, one that required leaving my desk and books behind to wander about and write in various environments, literal and imaginary.Continue Reading

VICTIM BLAMING – NORFOLK CONSTABULARY AND CONSENT

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Content Warning:  discussions of sexual violence and victim blaming

By Jo Swo

Just like how a teacher is expected to have a clear understanding of the subject their teaching, police should have a clear understanding of the crimes they are fighting. How else can you identify the crime and help the victim? This is a very simple analogy to a very complicated issue: rape and sexual assault. The factors that protect rape and rapists are the same that perpetuate rape culture; victim blaming, lack of education, and the fallibility of consent. Over the last year I have been troubled with the Norfolk Constabulary’s attitudes towards consent and their continual victim blaming. During Fresher’s week a police officer took a photo of an incapacitated student who was slumped on Price of Wales Road, covered in vomit and unconscious, which was then uploaded onto Twitter with the hashtag ‘KnowYourLimits’ and @ing UEA and the Student’s Union.

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FEMINIST PICKS: EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL

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by Carmina Masoliver

After five days at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I’ve taken a pick of five Feminist pieces to review. Known for the extensive comedy programme, three of these are comedy acts, and then I’ve thrown in some poetry and theatre for good measure.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO ANOTHER ANGRY VOICE

by Robyn Banks

CW: Domestic violence

Like so many other politically engaged people I know, I follow the blog Another Angry Voice. A couple of days ago one of his articles appeared on my timeline, and it seemed to be about feminism. Yay, feminism, my favourite subject! I agree with about 90% of what is written on his blog, frequently share his infographics and articles and generally understand him to be a well meaning, intelligent and rational man who’s work I admire. Naïve, I clicked the article.

Over the next few days the article resurfaced on nearly every feminist group or page I follow, and I wish that was where I had first seen it because most of these groups use trigger warnings which could well have saved me from having to drive to work 20 minutes after reading, late, choking back angry tears and almost killing cyclists. But those tears will be useless if I don’t direct them in to something productive, so here is my open letter to Thomas G Clark, creator of Another Angry Voice.

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I’M PROUD TO BE A FEMINIST ‘BULLY’

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by Robyn Banks

Last week Nobel Prize winning scientist, Sir Tim Hunt, addressed an audience of senior female scientists at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls”, he said, “Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.” This was reportedly met with stony silence, which is hardly a surprise. He later clarified that, although the comments were intended as a “joke”, he meant what he said and was just trying to be “honest, actually”. Women present at the conference took to twitter to voice their discomfort, sparking a twitter storm of derision, humour and critique. The story made the national press and less than 48 hours later, Sir Tim Hunt had resigned from his faculty position at University College London.

This week, the Daily Mail published a story by Sarah Vine titled ‘March of the feminist bullies!’. In it she referred to the complaining women as humourless “feminazis”, as “stupid, pampered, spoilt” and lamented the fact that “men like [Tim Hunt] can’t be allowed to go around the place making giant scientific breakthroughs of the kind that may one day lead to, oh I don’t know, a cure for cancer, unless and until they have fully submitted to the will of the mob”. And, in true sisterly fashion, wrote that she despaired of her sex.Continue Reading

NEVER MIND THE SEX PISTOLS

by Mike Vinti

Earlier this week it was announced that Virgin Money will be putting out a series of credit cards bearing classic Sex Pistols iconography. The reaction to this has been pretty much universally horrified, as well it should — but really, what did everyone expect?

From the start the Sex Pistols were more about the image than integrity, they swapped Glen Matlock, the band’s only songwriter, for Sid Vicious because Matlock wasn’t punk enough; they let Malcolm McLaren run the show so long as they got paid, and last time anyone even thought about Johnny Rotten was when he did those fucking butter adverts. Virgin Records was the home of the ‘Pistols following their split from EMI and released the bands only studio album to date, the only thing shocking about the new credit cards is the fact it took them 30 years to come up with the idea.

Now this isn’t to say that the Sex Pistols are without merit. Or that you shouldn’t be disgusted by the prospect of some yuppie Richard-Branson-wannabe popping into his local branch of ‘Champagne and Fromage’ to buy some brie with his new ‘Anarchy for the UK’ credit card. But can we please let go of the idea that punk begins and ends with Johnny Rotten and co?Continue Reading

‘MY CHOICE’ AND WHETHER IT IS A BURDEN TO US ALL

by Srishti Dutta Chowdhury

Disclaimer: Mentions female foeticide, abortion, and domestic abuse.

As part of the Vogue Empower project, that was initiated in October 2014, to commemorate the seventh year for Vogue in India, Homi Adajania’s video ‘My Choice’ features some prominent faces in the country of India. Besides Deepika Padukone, there’s Adjania’s wife, actress Nimrat Kaur, film critic Anupama Chopra, and Director Zoya Akhtar, among others.

The video went viral on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in a matter of days — which is great news except it garnered negative criticisms everywhere. The reservation against the video by feminists and gender activists is understandable. According to a large number, while the video seeks to raise questions such as ‘If men can do what they want, why should women be deprived of the same right?’, it falls short of effectively addressing the question of women empowerment.

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THREE WOMEN POETS

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by Carmina Masoliver

This article reviews three books by writers who occupy both the page and the stage. My first experience of all three of these women was as poets on the stage, yet reading them was entirely different and allows time to mull over the words in a way you can’t necessarily with live performance.

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WOMEN OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL, 2015: PART 2

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by Carmina Masoliver

It was my third year of attending the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival, first envisaged and implemented by Artistic Director Jude Kelly, five years ago. The programme was full of interesting performances, discussions, and workshops. I’ll be focusing on some of the arts related events. Part 1 can be found here.

Sunday began with ‘Lips’ choir singing cover songs from artists such as Kelis, Sia, Destiny’s Child and Livin’ Joy’s Dreamer. They sparkled in a mix of sequins, shirts and bow ties, and drew a massive crowd. Poet Bridget Minamore began Who Owns Your Body? on the subject of street harassment, particularly highlighting the racial differences, reflecting on a trip to Peru.

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WOMEN OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL, 2015: PART 1

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by Carmina Masoliver

It was my third year of attending the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival, first envisaged and implemented by Artistic Director Jude Kelly, five years ago. The programme was full of interesting performances, discussions, and workshops. I’ll be focusing on some of the arts related events.

After work on the Friday, I caught Kelly’s discussion with radio DJ Lauren Laverne. It was refreshing to hear Laverne’s honesty about the music industry; when she started a band in the early 90s, they were asked who wrote their songs, and recently when interviewing an all-female band, they told her they were still being asked the same question. She emphasised the need for women to support other women, naming Jo Wiley as an important mentor, and how she has set up a new company with Sam Baker called The Pool, wanting to give other women opportunities they would not have otherwise.

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INTERNATIONAL WORKING WOMEN’S DAY — ERASING CLASS STRUGGLE FROM FEMINISM

by Robyn Banks

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March in 1975, but the day actually has its roots in a variety of strikes and class struggles across industrialised nations long before.

On March 8th in 1857 there was a strike at a New York City garment factory. Here women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25, mostly Jewish, Russian and Italian immigrants, worked 81 hours a week for three dollars, of which one and a quarter went for room and board. The strike was sparked when factory foremen, noticing that the women were less ‘energetic’ if they were allowed to eat before working, changed the factory opening time to 5AM. For a day the factory workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by police. Fifty one years later, on March 8th 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again in honour of the 1867 March, this time demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and child labour. And then, in November 1909, came the uprising of the 20,000.

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THE BECHDEL TEST FEST

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by Carmina Masoliver

Sunday 8th February saw the launch of The Bechdel Test Fest at Genesis Cinema in East London. The test itself emerged after Alison Bechdel published a comic strip, inspired by friend Liz Wallace, where one character has a set of rules for watching a film. The criteria for passing the test are whether the film has two named female characters who talk about something other than a man. It is widely acknowledged as an extremely low bar.

Set up 30 years ago now, it seeks to address the gender bias in works of fiction; it has been found that just around half of films pass this test. With such a low bar set, the figure should be closer to 100%. This festival, led by Corinna Antrobus, puts The Bechdel Test in the spotlight, and aims to provoke discussion on gender in the film industry. In an effect to ‘reclaim the rom-com’, the launch event featured 2014’s Obvious Child and classic The Philadelphia Story — though I couldn’t stay for this part. After the first screening there was a panel discussion, including a video statement from Chloe Angyal about a statement she made that there is “no such thing as a feminist rom-com”, arguing that this is largely because society is still sexist.

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FREEZE PEACH

by Robyn Sands

The narrative of free speech has become increasingly complicated. It would be easy to assume that only teenagers and the most reactionary bigots would be likely to claim their right to free speech had been violated after having their views disagreed with, protested against, or denied a prestigious platform. But as this misunderstanding was repeated time and time again — cries of censorship followed UEA union shops decision to stop buying a newspaper it couldn’t even sell, legitimate protest was written off as silencing and oppression — it seems to have seeped in to the public consciousness.

Today, even the most critical thinkers seem to forget that the right to free speech doesn’t grant them the right to say whatever they like, wherever they like, and to be granted whichever platform they consider themselves worthy of. I have no right to walk in to my local KFC and preach vegetarianism on their property, just as I have no right to claim I am being silenced because The Guardian refused to publish this article.Continue Reading

BE NON-COMPLIANT – A BITCH PLANET REVIEW

by Alex Valente

In February, the Image Comics/Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Inc. series Bitch Planet reaches its third issue in an ongoing series (tentatively, out of 30). Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly), drawn by Valentine De Landro (X-Factor), coloured by Cris Peter and lettered by Clayton Cowles, the book features a wonderful design by Rian Hughes (covers and title) and Lauren McCubbin (backmatter) and is tightly edited by Lauren Sankovitch. There will be no invisible labour here.

After three issues under its belt (depending on when this piece is published), it feels a little strange to write a review — so this is not a review, not exactly; this is an appreciation.

The Story

DeConnick uses her writing to build a dystopian setting in which patriarchal structures have reached such an overt manifestation of power that the rulers — the New Protectorate — are a bunch of old men who call themselves The Fathers. A society whose constant, obsessive message is ‘You are broken, you are fat, you must obey, you must comply’, a society that has rejected the idea of Mother Earth (‘Earth is the Father’) and created the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost — affectionately referred to as Bitch Planet – as a space (‘the Mother’) penitentiary for non-compliant women.Continue Reading

SOHO COMEDY: WOMEN, ‘IT’S LIKE THEY’RE REAL PEOPLE’

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by Carmina Masoliver

I could live at Soho Theatre at the moment. In the past two months I have seen three women in comedy: Shappi Khorsandi, Bridget Christie, and Josie Long. In a recent article on puns and women in comedy, it stated ‘women are funny. End of debate.’ Or, as Josie Long put it ‘it’s like they’re real people.’ To those that don’t think women can be funny, it’s very unfortunate that your partners, mothers, siblings, and all women in your life have no sense of humour. Life must be quite dull.

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SIRENS AT SOHO THEATRE

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by Carmina Masoliver

I stepped into the New Year by seeing a production at Soho Theatre by a theatre company, Belgian Ontroerend Goed (translated as Real Estate, according to Wikipedia), entitled ‘Sirens’. I knew it was to be experimental and that it would touch on Feminist issues.

It began in darkness. Six women came on stage, making noises that evoked the sound of the sea, alluding to the Greek myth where creatures portrayed as femme fatales would seduce sailors with their voice, leading them to crash against rocks and drown.

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AN UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH – MEN UNDER PATRIARCHY

by Mattie Carter.

The case of Elliot Rodger sent a shiver down the spine of people both inside and out of the feminist movement. This callous slaughter erupted from a mind so confident in its twisted perspective that the perpetrator seemed to view the act as entirely just. It’s not often that we get to see a detailed video of a murderer explaining his motives and the video Rodgers shot before taking innocent lives seemed to confirm the fears feminists have about male entitlement, slut-shaming and the patriarchy in general. In fact, news analysis seemed to, perhaps uniquely, speak with one voice: we live in a misogynistic society and this is what happens when young boys are brought up to believe that they are owed sex.Continue Reading