August saw the five-year anniversary of Lauren Kaye’s ‘I’m All In’, a poetry collection described as a ‘seductive collection of romantic and sensual poems that speak on the inevitable episodes of love, sex and relationships’. The occasion was marked on social media – at a time where artists are forced to be more resourceful than ever when the stage is taken away. As Kaye outlines in the introduction, her poetry ‘is written much how I speak’, and it is best to have seen her live or see live videos so you can then hear her voice as you read coming through the pages.
Content warning: brief references to sexual assault
The Barging Buddhi and Other Poems takes us on a journey from human expectations that are created within a set culture, to more cosmic climbs, from which we are brought back to earth with the fragility of life, to then be connected to a wider sense of nature. Sunita Thind’s poetry is rich, sensual and visual. Although her numerous questions throughout the collection hint at self-doubt and uncertainty, she shows a strong sense of voice that is not easily contained, like the ‘pyrotechnical parrots’ she describes, how humans ‘clip their wings to capture the fury of their rainbow constellations / humans devouring them like black holes / sequestered in monster iron cages.’ The collection is strongest when assertive, using imperatives: ‘delete the tears’, ‘stain me’, maroon me.’
By Laura Potts
Take The Weight Off Your Mascara is Norwich’s up-and-coming drag night, run through The House of Daze drag house. I was lucky enough to interview four key members of The House of Daze: Sylvia Daze, Liv, Bishy Barnabee and Devil Child. Consisting of both regular performers and occasional guests, such as Dolores Deepthroat, The House of Daze are following in the footsteps of previous Norwich drag collectives like The Rose Bud Club and such local drag legends as Luna Howl.
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.
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.
Hollywood seems once again to be trying to prove that it is incapable of coming up with an original idea, while the ideas that they do have are disturbingly off base and fly in the face of prevailing winds. The latest is a forthcoming remake of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies featuring female characters playing the traditionally male roles. Predictably, it got the internet, usually known for its tempered and considered reactions, good and riled up.
Lord of the Flies is a complex and challenging piece of literature. As such, adapting it with such a major fundamental change, threatens the integrity of the original story. Having the story revolve around a group of girls, rather than boys, presents some hurdles but I think it doesn’t necessarily destroy the story’s function.
Whilst living in Spain – though I have missed my loved ones – what I have missed most is the abundance of poetry and arts nights you can find in London. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Córdoba that I went in search of events. I saw an old poster for a “Poetry Slam” at the Jazz Café, but it didn’t appear to exist any more. I then stumbled upon Mujeres Poetas Internacional. I contacted founder Jael Uribe, from the Dominican Republic, and she soon responded and contacted the organisers in Córdoba, and even translated four of my own poems into Spanish.
I corresponded with Sergio Perez Rodrigeuz and Maria Pizarro, organisers of the Grito de Mujer at which I was booked to read. I emailed in Spanish, which perhaps led them to believe I could speak Spanish, which is certainly not the case (writing =/=speaking). There were awkward moments, such as me not realising a group photograph included me and having it retaken, and me staring blankly when trying to discuss the proceedings (thankfully an audience member with some English skills stepped in). But for a night of poetry where I could only pick out a few words, it showed that poetry was well and truly alive in Spain.
By Ellen Musgrove
‘We call upon the Government to take direct responsibility for what is a violation of human rights. We believe a national strike is not only possible, but an incredible opportunity to show the sheer power of our movement, and to put pressure on the government to call a referendum. In the past 5 years, support for repeal has grown to a level that the government can no longer ignore.’
In October 2015, South Asian trans performer and activist Alok Vaid-Menon called for more visibility of folx that do not fit the man/woman binary. While various media outlets proclaim that we are at a ‘transgender tipping point’, an unprecedented period of visibility for trans-people, Vaid-Menon argues that those non-conforming don’t necessarily reap the benefits of this time. After all, this tipping point revolves around trans-celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox and Ian Harvie, who visibly fit into the archetypal aesthetics of either manhood, or womanhood.
by Nicholl Hardwick
Content warning: this article mentions sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
Here is a little snippet of the continuous thoughts and actions that are applicable to many women when walking alone as the night begins to descend.
- Multiple checks over her shoulder.
- Trying to cover up and make your self look as undesirable as possible (pulling down top, head down, arms covering torso).
- Weapon ready in hand (Keys slipped between enclosed fist, rape alarm, pepper spray etc.).
- Analysing what the quickest escape route is (Your mind works like a ninja e.g. what is the quickest way to exit the park? THROUGH THE TREES!)
- Being ultra responsive to sound (the snap of a twig = RUN YOU FOOL)
- The old ‘I’m talking on my phone so you can’t attack me’ trick, when in reality your phone died two hours ago.
- The ability to power walk like a trouper — thighs of steel — the quicker you get home the sooner you can stop shitting yourself that you’re not going to make it.
- The avoidance of headphones — If you’ve got Bey on full blast then you ain’t gonna hear the footsteps!
- The ability for women to have extensive knowledge of all ‘well lit’ routes in their area — THERE MUST BE LIGHT OTHERWISE IT’S MY FAULT — our minds work like twisted Satnavs.
- The continuous regret that you didn’t just save money and get a taxi.
by Hannah Rose
He is driving, she is hanging on his arm. Behind them a vista depicting a wide road disappears into desert upon a large screen. The cherry red of her lipstick matches her low-slung red dress, punctuated by a pair of cowgirl boots. Her dreamy expression says she’s completely at ease, hanging off her man; pleased as punch, because he is in control. But he has never seen the script before; he will be reading off an autocue. She is the one driving the show.
Performer-playwright, Louise Orwin, is touring the UK with her new theatre piece, A Girl and A Gun which was performed at Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Jean-Luc Godard’s adage “All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl,” is the springboard from which Orwin’s performance dives headfirst into a chilling reality which is anything but surface deep.
Disney’s 55th animated feature has been five years in the making, with a social commentary as relevant today as it was when the writers first put pen to paper. The film is an anthropomorphic crime caper following rabbit police officer Judy Hopps and con-man fox Nick Wilde. It’s full of laughs, but the lingering importance is in its more serious side.
by Emmanuel Agu
In the three years since the origin of Black Lives Matter campaigning- we as a people have plenty to be thankful for.
Amongst the continuous protests against non-indictments of cops who slaughter us; despite being refused entry to the venues that play our music and profit from our culture, we have made progress.
The movement only gains further ground each day: the suffering of our people is openly documented for all to see, and pioneering individuals in the movement are meeting with possible presidential candidates. The most important achievement of the movement lies in the renewed energy within a generation. Though it is often exhausting hearing the same harrowing accounts; to continuously explain valid theory and personal lived experiences to voices that will attempt to silence you- I am firm in the belief that the only way we can initiate radical change within structured oppression is through continuous and accessible discourse.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to ignore Milo. I know his type — I see them a lot in my line of work. The spoilt little boy who thinks he’s so clever, desperate to be noticed for all the dirty words he knows or the time he said “or what?” to a teacher. Milo seems to fancy himself an anti-authoritarian, but this is only true in the sense of a child screaming at his parents for only giving him one pack of sweets.
Once again, the perpetual adolescent has entered my inner sanctum with his ‘Privilege Grant’, a university fund only available to white men which Milo probably thinks is a Swiftian satire of social justice rhetoric. You know when people ask you to do something and you answer with no, shortly before doing what they asked? This joke works on about that level. Ah, you actually thought I was doing something to combat male privilege, but I’m arguing that MEN are the oppressed ones. Yeah, that’s the opposite of what you think, isn’t it? That must rile you up.
Over the past century women have made great strides towards gender equality in the Western world. From the Suffragette movement of the late 19th and early 20th century in Britain to the commonplace election of female MPs today, women’s rights in the West are increasingly becoming the norm. Feminism has even played a role in the world of science fiction, with prominent authors such as Margaret Atwood and Ursula LeGuin imagining hypothetical future societies in which gender barriers, and in some cases gender itself, have been removed completely for the betterment of the human race.
For my first article, I thought it would be fitting to explore the relationship between two neglected areas of society that I feel passionately about: the representation of women and mental health issues. Deep down, the thought of a connection existing between emotionality and the female sex might evoke those uncomfortable, backward cultural connotations – women as fragile, women as prone to hysteria, and on the softer side of it, women as the ‘gentler’ sex.
However, bringing Freud into the discussion in general might not be so wrong because the real problem, the ongoing obstacle for both those with depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder and the whole host of legitimate clinical disorders that I couldn’t possibly all list here, and the limitations that women still face day-to-day, is the wider, ideological practice of repression: namely society’s refusal to acknowledge the significance of psychology itself.
I went to see ‘Suffragette’ with a lot of mixed expectations. I’d heard the reviews weren’t that great, my mum described it as ‘slow’ and there’d been criticism for the lack of BME women in the film (zero). There were also issues of Carey Mulligan’s accent and the fact the film was advertised as having leading roles by herself, Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter. These may seem like minor points, but they reveal deeper issues beneath their surface.
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.
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.
Sunday morning, 14.09.2014, there’s a slight overcast dulling Bristol’s sky, the tea is brewing and on the other side of the North Sea history might be written.
Recently however, the utopian illusion has been dissolving in accordance with the suffocating right-wing wave that’s been ablaze throughout Europe. In 2010 the far right, anti-immigration party Sverigedemokraterna (SD) gained seats in the Swedish government for the first time, which made the past elections dismally historical. Due to the coalition based structure of the Swedish government, SD gained quite a significant position of power, because neither the left-wing nor the right-wing coalition secured sole majority; SD had the power to swing the vote left or right with their 5.7% of government seats. As the left was outraged the coalitions broke down and Miljöpartiet (MP – Sweden’s equivalent of the Green Party) announced that they would rather shift their position and collaborate with the right-wing coalition than give SD such a power privilege.
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.