by Carmina Masoliver
Inspired by my experience of Being a Man Festival, I attended an evening in appreciation of poet and educator, Jacob Sam-La Rose. The night consisted of speeches and moving poetry in tribute to his teachings. The energy was reminiscent of the Burn After Reading nights, and despite this occasion being a one-off, it captured what I love about live literature events. Often, it can seem that poetry is such a niche medium, that outsiders can struggle to find their place. However, these spaces provide a place where people can share both pain and joy, and connect with others through words. Sam-La Rose is mostly known for the incredible work he does with young people. He has tremendous influence on poetry today, and on the opportunities that many young people have to be exposed to, and enveloped by, this art form. It comes as no surprise then to read on the back cover of Breaking Silence, that his work ‘is grounded in a belief that poetry can be a powerful force within a community’.
It felt right to return to the well-thumbed pages of my copy of Sam-La Rose’s debut book-length collection from Bloodaxe, one of the most reputable poetry publishers in the UK. Breaking Silence was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, but many feel it has not had the recognition it deserves. Linking with themes from Being a Man Festival, the collection explores issues of manhood and masculinity, and how these intersect with race and dual heritage, as well as broader issues of identity.
by Carmina Masoliver
cw: mentions of rape and addiction
For this second part on the Being a Man (BAM) Festival, I’ll be looking at the various panels that addressed men’s body image, different kinds of addiction, and the concept of masculinity – looking beyond gender as something binary, and taking sexuality into account.Continue Reading
by Carmina Masoliver
cw: mentions suicide, rape, abuse, domestic violence, sexual violence
I left this year’s Being a Man Festival with over fifty pages of notes and a hopeful feeling – inspired by the coming together of people of all genders to take part in a dialogue on gender and its many intersections. Events like this show just how much there is to gain from men addressing gender from a feminist perspective, as opposed to the toxic perspective of the MRA groups. Below are a few highlights from the weekend focusing, in this first part, on mental health and the role of violence in men’s lives.
Content warning: mentions sexual violence, abuse, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse and violence
Last week saw the hashtag #MeToo achieve viral success, following the accusations multiple women made again Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag started when actress Alyssa Milano, tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
The next week, social media was bombarded with personal account of sexual harassment, abuse, rape, assault and domestic violence. Famous celebrities talked about their experiences and within 24 hours, Facebook reported that 4.7 million people engaged with the #MeToo hashtag with over 12 million posts and comments. Most of the media’s reaction has been positive – finally we are acknowledging that sexual violence is a pervasive problem rather than a few isolated incidents, they say.Continue Reading
by Kenny Priestley
Content warning: article mentions abuse and domestic violence
This is an article submitted in response to Flashmob Dancers Demand an End to Violence Against Women.
The term domestic violence, for most of us brings to mind the image of a woman being beaten or in some way abused by a man. Rarely do we stop to think that domestic violence is also a crime committed against men. The unfortunate truth is that both sexes can be abusive and violent and even murderous toward each other.
Despite it being a fact that men also suffer domestic violence at the hands of women, it seems that this is a taboo subject. Even a search of the internet will reveal little, in comparison to a similar search regarding woman as the victims of domestic violence. When stories of the abuse of men by women are found the numbers of men that are subject to domestic violence vary wildly from site to site and report to report. The one thing that does stand out among these figures is that when abuse committed against men by women is found, the numbers of men being abused is often quoted as being lower on the sites that are almost exclusively for women, as opposed to the sites for male sufferers of domestic violence. Continue Reading
by Alex Valente
I moved back to Prato, Italy, last March. I thought I’d left behind the UK poetry scene, so very different in Italy in so many ways. Then, my own hometown organises a whole series of free events, including poetry nights – and invites Inua Ellams to perform his An Evening with an Immigrant show. Did you really think I wouldn’t attend, notebook in hand?Continue Reading
by Alex Valente
Content Warning: body issues, body shaming
In recent weeks, people with access to the internet on a regular basis have probably not been able to avoid reading news about a new application for smart phones, featuring a trendy geek icon that never really went away: Pokémon GO. As revealed in a totally legit super serious study by artist Justin Hall on Dorkly, the Niantic game is, in fact, part of a ploy to create superstrong, superbuff supernerds. True story.
To actually stray on the side of serious, though, the application has indeed helped some players (we will be discussing this in terms of people with disabilities, looking at positives and negatives — such as the gaping flaws for physical disabilities, or Playing While Black — in an article soon) to engage with others, and spend time outdoors (plus, this). Both results, in the most generalised way possible, are healthy habits and attitudes, and being hailed as the best thing to happen to nerds since Dungeons & Dragons.
by Sunetra Senior
The story of Noamh Baumbach’s 2012 film ‘Frances Ha’ focuses on the drifting friendship between two women in their late twenties. There is a particularly poignant scene where Frances (Greta Gerwig) awakes to find that her best friend, Sophie, (Mickey Sumner) has left without saying goodbye after spending the night sleeping over when they haven’t seen each other in a long time. As Sophie’s car pulls away, Frances runs after her screaming her name. This boldly illustrates the highly sentimental nature of many women’s friendships and the pain that inevitably results because, we as a society, do not respect it. Indeed, through all the big life changes Frances explicitly undergoes — moving between different apartments, facing financial troubles, and trying to launch a tentative dancing career —what remains as palpably constant are the unrequited affections for her ever elusive friend.
Unfortunately, this is very much reflective of what happens in ordinary life.Continue Reading
by Sam Naylor
Disclaimer: mentions body dysmorphia, body shaming
Type into Google images “attractive men” or “attractive male body” and see what pops up. I’ll just give you a moment to scan over some of those photos. Done? Good. In both searches a grossly disproportionate number of these men are celebrities but more importantly they’re white. Switch tabs to “attractive male body” and you are met with a sea of torsos and chests sculpted by the media gods. Chiselled jaw lines, blue or green eyes and ‘designer’ stubble appear to be just three of the ingredients to get you on your way to being an attractive male.
At first glance (and second and third) you might wonder why this representation of the male form is a problem for anyone. I’ve spoken to male friends before that don’t see anything wrong with wanting to keep their bodies healthy and in shape. I agree, I’m not saying that exercise and a good diet are things to be raged against, quite the opposite. It is an issue though when this idealised version of a muscular physique, which is predominately portrayed as white, is paraded as our default-sexy setting.Continue Reading