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.
By Lewis Martin
Once again, an array of academics have signed a letter complaining about the increased efforts by universities to recognise and support Trans* and Non-Binary students on their campuses. Their reasons for doing so aren’t worth exploring, as they are based on the same logic, or lack thereof, as many transphobes about the realities of gender, sex and identity. The problem we should focus on is that the academics who have signed this letter, and the ones before it, hide behind the claim of ‘Academic Freedom’ in order to try and justify their views.
Female sexual dysfunction is a topic rarely spoken about, and according to Fran Bushe’s show Ad Libido, it’s also something that is light years away in terms of medical research when compared with male sexual dysfunction. Hello patriarchy! This show presents us with projected images of what “solutions” she has come across to dealing with pain during sex, all of which are both hilarious and hideous at once. It is clear that this is not the same for male sexual issues, where there are actual solutions which are often available to buy over the counter.
Vault Festival, consisting of eight weeks of London-based arts and entertainment shows, had opened again last week and this year I’ve decided to go all out. I’ve got a spreadsheet of the seventeen shows I’ve narrowed it down to seeing after scouring the programme, and a membership card to get discounts on the food and drink I’ll undoubtedly be consuming throughout the next few months. So far, I have seen two shows and tried the ‘Spanish’ dish from the EU-inspired menu – deliciously sweet yet spicy chorizo. I’d recommend both the food and the shows: Isa Bonachera’s The Great Emptiness; a one-woman comedy about her love of space, and Snapper Theatre’s Thomas; a play centered around two cousins and ideas of masculinity and neurodivergence. As the festival kicks off, I’m going to focus here on five of my top feminist picks that I’m looking forward to seeing.
by Stu Lucy
Professional sport is possibly one of the most challenging and competitive ways to earn a living these days. With national fame and glory as rewards, many dream of representing their country on the international stage and bringing home a medal, earning their place in their country’s sporting history. Imagine then that you were one of the lucky few that made it to the top, that had that chance to take gold and did so, multiple times, earning a revered reputation in the field as the one to beat, then imagine you were told it could all be taken away because you were too much like the opposite sex. Where would you start?!
by Beth Saward
Have you heard the news? America has solved sex trafficking. With the passage of SESTA/FOSTA, it will become a thing of the past, the internet will be safer and Freedom™ wins again. What’s that? You haven’t heard of this miraculous new law? Here’s how it works.
cw: sexual assault, PTSD
There’s something weirdly intimate about being curled up in a corner of a bed, completely naked and sobbing uncontrollably, unable to catch your breath and being very conscious of the wet space between your legs where a warm body was just seconds ago. The face belonging to this body is now centimetres away from my face, asking too many questions, and panicking more than I am.
by Laura Potts
Salò Press is a Norwich-based independent publisher of poetry, prose and experimental writing. The surreal nature of much of the work by the imprint allows a new ground for experimental writing, and the eventual outcomes that follow. Their most recent book – MILK: an anthology of eroticism – has just been published and I have the pleasure of reviewing the work.
The first thing evident within MILK is the importance of independent publishing as an arena to allow a multitude of voices, as there is a very broad range of writers with varied backgrounds and circumstances included. It shows a much wider cross section of society, and the creative work embodies that greatly: we find a freedom to pen emotions so strong that you wouldn’t initially think literary testimony could do them justice. Writers such as Jessica Rhodes, Rosie Quattromini, and Jane Jacobs have done just that.
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.
by Alex Powell
CW: mentions homophobia and homophobic abuse
Last week marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 entered into law, in the first step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There’s been a great deal of coverage of this milestone in British media, including some brilliant, informative TV programming (I highly recommend the BBC’s drama ‘Against the Law’). But it is Owen Jones’s recent Guardian column ‘Hatred of LGBTQ people still infects society. It’s no time to celebrate’ that seems to have been most prominent. Jones’ arguments are certainly justified, but commentary like his risks misrepresenting the situation that now faces LGBT+ people in this country. It’s not all bad.
By Zoe Harding
Content warning – STIs
A quick reminder/PSA to the sex-having and potential-future-sex-having community: use protection, folks. The World Health Organisation released a factsheet last week describing the rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae worldwide, with resistance to third-generation drugs reported in multiple countries including Japan and Norway.
by Hannah Rose
Finding the right home for his pictures was a feature of Larry Sultan’s early career. Museums and galleries dismissed his satirical images—which played out an ironic commentary on modern American life—and found themselves on billboards scattered across America instead. Striking and immediate, perhaps they made more of an impact outside gallery walls.
Now Sultan’s photographs can be viewed in galleries including the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and SFMOMA, where his collection Here and Home is on view until July 23rd.
by Hannah Rose
CW: mentions of sexual assault
Think of your best friend, I bet they spin a good yarn. No doubt they think the same about you. The exchange of life stories is how the finest, most novel human bonds are made. It’s within these intimate, warm spaces where the stories of our lives unfold; cementing who we are, rooting memory, making kaleidoscopes of our imaginations.
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.
One of the bands appearing at ROAR on April 28th in aid of Norwich’s local Women’s Refuge, Leeway, is London based all girl H/C punks Kill Bitches To Dress Foxes.
I first came across KBTDF on one of those meandering journeys through the internet.. Previously known as Medication Time, this London based three piece is comprised of Ale on bass, Itxi on drums and Turko on guitar. With a variety of musical backgrounds and citing influences as wide as Municipal Waste, Emma Goldman and Andy Stanton, they kindly agreed to an interview about punk, politics and other stuff.
Content warning: mentions of rape and non-consensual touching.
British schoolchildren aged 11 and up who attend local authority-run schools will soon not be the only students whose schools are required to provide sexual education classes. Currently, sex ed is only compulsory for secondary schools that are run by their local authority. This is about to change.
by Lewis Buxton
Moonrise’s publisher, As Yet Untitled, is an ‘independent press that specialises in limited edition, handmade works that embrace the breadth of possibility in the book’s form’. The book is beautifully made, a fragile thing one worries about reading with a cup of tea too close. Interesting then to consider the fragility of the book’s form with the robustness of the poems. Moonrise, by Ella Chappell, is a book about sex and love and flowers and moons and stones and good nights and bad nights and scientific theories and the gravity that pulls at us all. These aren’t new themes. But that’s what I like about this book; there is at once a familiarity to it but still a newness in the words, a fresh light on the scene.
(Content warning: mention of sexual assault)
I’m sure you’ve all noticed the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Like Christmas, it’s almost impossible to avoid. When I got outside I can barely move for all the soppy rom-coms, chocolates and flowers that are being bandied about. And all of them carry connotations of sex.
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.
TW: sexual assault, rape.
It’s time we talked about sex. Or, actually – it’s time we talked about how we talk about sex. For people who put sex in every conceivable form of media, we get awfully squeamish when it comes to talking about it like grown-ups. We’d rather let ways of talking about sex remain unchanged for decades than update them to be less 1950s and a lot more healthy.
Let’s get to the point: how is it that the same species that can build spaceships and write masterpieces such as Hamilton came up with the phrase “the right to mate?” And why is it still in common use?
It’s not news to know that we live in a hypersexual world, where the adage ‘sex sells’ is used to excuse a lot of the overtly sensual imagery thrown at us in day-to-day life. Sex is everywhere, even in adverts for things as mundane as sandwiches. It’s this steamy atmosphere that asexuals are facing as they finally begin to attain recognition in society, and there’s a distinct sense of what an uphill struggle it is.
Asexuality’s simplest definition is the lack of sexual attraction to any and all genders. Unfortunately, most allosexuals (people who aren’t asexual, and do experience sexual attraction) tend to get all amused and patronising when the words “I’m not interested in sex” are spoken in their vicinity. This is further exacerbated by the fact that this simplest definition is typically for the benefit of allosexuals, and does little to explain just how complex asexuality is.
by Jess Howard
Content warning: the article mentions menstruation and physical discomfort.
In 2013, performance artist Casey Jenkins from Melbourne, Australia, caused a storm on the internet by knitting for 28 days in a gallery space using wool she had inserted into her vagina. The piece was titled Casting Off My Womb, but was christened Vaginal Knitting by the press. Almost 3 years later, Jenkins is knitting from her vagina once more, producing a commentary on the abuse she received when her original piece went viral.
by Rebecca Tamás
This man is an angel
he is not a man
I reject the penis as my chosen ontology
even when his penis is in my hand
even when his mouth is open like a sodden
by Beth Saward
Bringing in a staggering $132.7million, Deadpool had the biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie, beating The Matrix Reloaded’s previous 2003 record. It’s safe to say that the Merc with a Mouth has been a success. Tim Miller’s direction combined with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay manage to stay true to the comic’s sense of humour.
Those fans who were worried about how Deadpool’s infamous fourth-wall smashing would translate to the screen weren’t disappointed (even if a beautiful opportunity was missed during Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo). Reynolds, who’s said in interviews that he’s waited 11 years to make Deadpool, plays Wade Wilson with an infectious glee that you can’t help but enjoy. Despite all of this, the film leaves a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.
“You’re not going to like that,” my partner said, when I told him I was going to see The Book of Mormon. Made by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, I was aware it was a controversial production. I had also seen Avenue Q, which shared the same musical composer/lyricist, Robert Lopez. I knew there might be “offensive jokes”, despite South Park always being on after my bedtime when I was at primary school; I was relatively unfamiliar with the programme beyond 10-year-olds singing about chocolate salty balls in the playground… But I had heard good things, so I asked my Gran for us to see it as my Christmas present.
by Jess Howard
The majority of us will have seen articles featuring ‘Disney princesses redesigned as’. They’ve been tattooed, hungover and turned into pin ups. This time, however, writer and illustrator combo Danielle Sepulveres and Maritza Lugo have teamed up to produce a cartoon featuring Disney princesses visiting the gynaecologist, to promote sexual health awareness and cervical cancer. I have previously discussed why I disagree with cartoons being used to highlight sensitive issues, and this example is no exception.
by Jess Howard
You would think that consent is a straightforward issue. If someone does not want to have sex with you, or is not able to tell you they want to have sex with you, then don’t have sex with them. Period. But, sadly, this is not always the case, and there is often a haze and grey area around the issue. So, to clear up any confusion, a number of artists have taken to drawing step by step analogies about the issue, in attempts to make it as clear as possible. But my question is: are we reducing a dangerous issue to nothing more than a doodle?
by Jess Howard
The Kardashian/Jenner family are rarely far from the press. From Caitlyn Jenner’s sensational Vanity Fair cover early this year, to the recent birth of Saint West, they are seldom out of the news. Recently, it has been model and the youngest of the Kardashian sisters, Kylie Jenner, who has been in the limelight.
Causing controversy by taking part in a photoshoot in which she posed passive and sexually in a gold wheelchair, Jenner’s photoshoot, directed by photographer Steven Klein, and accompanying interview, were part of a feature in Interview magazine, and it is explicitly clear why the internet has reacted in such a passionate and infuriated way.
by Jess Howard
Earlier on this month, Playboy magazine announced that their publication will no longer be featuring nudity as of March 2016. Citing the rise of easy access to internet pornography, the company has decided to pull their famous images from the publication in a bid to reconcile their disintegrating readership with their increasing online audience, which went nudity free at the end of last year.
Playboy made a name for itself during the 1950s, when sex and nudity where far less mainstream and far more taboo. Having previously worked for Esquire, after leaving due to a financial disagreement (when he was denied a raise of $5) founder Hugh Hefner set up the publication from his home in Chicago, Illinois. Unsure as to whether or not the publication would thrive, the first magazine was undated in case a second issue was not produced. Having purchased a nude image of film star Marilyn Monroe, taken before she had found success in the entertainment industry, Hefner placed it on the cover. As we now know, the magazine was to be a huge success.
by Alex Valente
In the beginning, there were giant evil gods. Then we arrived, and started telling stories of things that go bump in the dark, of what lies between the cracks, of what lurks under the bed. Fears began to take shapes, looking more like tales of caution and of danger. They took the shape of bogeymen and chainsaw wielding killers, nightmare creatures and monsters from the deep. Afraid of sexuality? Vampires, werefolk and secluded cabins will tell you not to. Alcohol and drugs also covered. Religious terrors? We have possessions, exorcists, ghosts and devils aplenty. Coulrophobia, arachnophobia, nyctophobia? Here’s a clown-looking spider that waits for you at night.
Whatever new things we discover scare us, we create a monster for them. We try to impose order, and keep it under control. We give it a recognisable, if unsettling and still scary, frame. Then, at some point, we pushed too far.
I didn’t know what to expect from The Institute of Sexology, exhibited at the Wellcome Collection, but it was probably not the mass of phallic and explicit penis-shaped trinkets, supposedly associated with power. What would have been nice is the inclusion of similar vagina-inspired adornments. Nevertheless, it was bound to be that an exhibition about sex would highlight patriarchal power and women’s submissive role throughout history.
I have recently come across a lot of backlash against the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, including this article from The Guardian. Whilst I’ve read arguments that Sport England would do well to challenge the massive pay gap between men and women in sports, I reject the notion that it should be in spite of this campaign, claiming that it’s not needed, that it’s patronising, or that it’s actually about sex.
The taglines on the website that sums up the campaign is that ‘fear of judgement is stopping many of us from taking part in exercise. But as thousands of women up and down the country are proving, it really doesn’t have to’; ‘It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.’
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?
This conversation starts in Norwich. The fault is mine, of course, as I start doubting my place within the Norwich Radical, and the role that I, as a translator of poetry, could possibly play in a radical, progressive, critical publication. Enter Cadi Cliff, editor and co-founder, green radical, and a mountain range of humanity.
This conversation, then, is a dialogue of sorts; a voicing of those doubts, translator to editor, reader to reader, uncertain radical to radical, on the place of translation, and poetry, within these virtual walls.
by Alex Valente.
Original Italian by Jolanda Insana (1937-2016)
am a puppeteer
and do shows with two puppets only
her and her