by Holly Combe // 21 January 2015, 20:40
Neneh Cherry's fourth studio release Blank Project continues to have resonance in today's political climate. David Wilkinson listens again.
We did not have to wait long in 2014 before being graced with one of the standout albums of the year. Largely positive reviews of Neneh Cherry's first solo material for 18 years have usually portrayed it as a 'personal' record. Cherry herself has stated that her return to releasing music that began with 2012's avant-jazz covers collaboration The Cherry Thing was a cathartic response to the death of her mother. Blank Project, furthermore, is baldly, boldly frank about the supercharged emotions and difficulties of coupledom and motherhood.
However, one of the many captivating aspects of this album is how well it captures a feeling, intimately connected to the times we're living through, shared by more and more people now. As hopes and chances of security in employment, romance, domestic arrangements and even basic human rights recede ever further for what's becoming known as the 'precariat', one song title on Blank Project that seems to particularly encapsulate the collective mood is 'Weightless'. The combined talents of musical duo RocketNumberNine and producer Kieran Hebden kick it off with a sound that suggests being fired out of a cannon and finding yourself flailing in mid-air. Just at the moment when vertigo is starting to set in, you're locked into a tight, dirty synth and drum combo. Its shadowboxing repetition perfectly complements Cherry's evocations of putting your all into clinging to the merry-go-round as it spins ever faster, threatening to hurl you off: "Moving in circles, but I'm wasting away..."
Cover of Blank Project. This shows a slightly over-exposed left-facing profile shot of Neneh Cherry against a greyish background. She is wearing a white top with a glittery stripy patch on her left shoulder and her left hand is raised up to that side of her face. "Neneh Cherry" is written in white at the top. There is a round blue sticker in the top right corner with the following written on it in white: "THE NEW SOLO ALBUM, PRODUCED BY KIERAN HEBDEN, INCLUDES 'OUT OF THE BLACK (FEAT ROBYN), *VINYL INCLUDES CD*."
by Megan Stodel // 19 January 2015, 14:37
Welcome to this week's round up and open thread! This is our regular digest of links we've come across recently - whether they involve inspiring success stories, heart-warming blogs, concerning new research, exasperating news or anything else F-Word relevant, we thought you might be interested.
Of course, we didn't write these things and we don't all agree with everything that all of them say. We also try to indicate where content might need a warning but please exercise caution when clicking on any external links.
Want to debate some of the points made? Think we missed something important? The comments are your oysters!
Also, remember that there are lots of opportunities to get involved with us at the moment. Recruitment for regular content, guest content and social media editors is ongoing until the end of the month, and you have until tomorrow to express interest in being one of our monthly guest bloggers. Any questions about any of that? Email me at email@example.com.
CBB's Chloe Slut Shamed for Glamour Modeling (Huffington Post)
How Women Are Pressured into Being Sexy, But Punished for Being Sexual (Everyday Feminism)
Channel 4's diversity policy won't work (Another Angry Woman)
More Surveillance Won't Protect Free Speech (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
I am Charlie, but I am Baga too: On Nigeria's forgotten massacre (Daily Maverick)
Women Make Music funding opportunity (PRS for Music Foundation)
The image of two pink dice is by Amy the Nurse and is used under a creative commons licence. It shows two pink translucent plastic dice next to each other on a grainy wooden surface. The light is behind them and can be seen shining through them, with their shadows in front of them. Both show 6s on top, with 3s facing us; the left one also has a 2 visible, whereas the right one also reveals a 5. Chosen for this week because I've been immersed in various board games over the weekend!
by D H Kelly // 18 January 2015, 11:16
The Broken Rainbow Helpline is set to become the latest in a long list of domestic violence services facing government cuts. Broken Rainbow provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* victims of domestic abuse as well as training to other organisations. The announcement that funding would be cut comes in the same week as the news that the only refuge for gay and bisexual men in London may also have to close.
There are no reliable statistics about domestic abuse as experienced by lesbian, bisexual and trans* women in the UK. The United States Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, finding that 43.8% lesbians and 61.1% bisexual women would experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, next to 35% heterosexual women.
Levels of domestic abuse vary between countries and cultures, as do levels of discrimination, so UK numbers might be quite different. However, it is a near certainty that lesbian, bisexual and trans* women experience domestic abuse at higher levels than our straight cisgender sisters.
Everything about our culture that makes queer people isolated, secretive and self-doubting makes us more vulnerable to abuse. The high rates of parental abuse and schoolyard bullying that LGBT children experience creates adults who find ill-treatment unremarkable.
All this puts tremendous pressure on queer communities and couples; it's very much harder to rock the boat when you were drowning at sea before you came on-board. As happens within immigrant and religious communities, an LGBT victim of domestic violence can fear betraying - and losing - their entire support network if they speak up about one of its members. Then there's the threat of exposure, of being outed, of having previous identities, surgical and sexual histories disclosed to others.
Even without extreme bullying and social isolation, having loving parents who are nevertheless grossed out by the way your heart works, or having friends who use homophobic or transphobic slurs to describe the things and people they hate, can get you used to the idea that love always comes with sharp spiky edges. With equal marriage still regarded as a social experiment by some, even same-sex couples in the most comfortable circumstances face a lot more pressure to seem contented and committed than their straight peers.
Gender provides a vast arsenal of insults, caricature and humiliation for any abuser with any victim and sexuality almost doubles this. Bullies are inconsistent and hypocritical creatures and being queer or gender non-conforming themselves won't stop them using every conceivable slur and stereotype to abuse a partner, to question and denigrate their sexuality and gender identity. Transgender women are particularly vulnerable to this, often being abused as both inadequate men and inadequate women.
Then there's the fact that we have gendered domestic violence narratives to such a great extent that it's difficult to perceive of an abusive relationship which doesn't feature a straight cisgender man abusing a straight cisgender woman. Obviously, this cliche represents both the most common dynamic and the one where the greatest physical harm is likely to take place, but our culture sees both violence towards men and violence perpetrated by women as trivial, even comical. Stereotypes about gay men being volatile slaves to their passions and lesbians being angry and aggressive promote the idea that violence within these relationships is natural. Given our internal and external battles to establish that same-gender sexual activity is not disgusting or wrong, and that there's nothing predatory about fancying people of the same gender, it can be hard to acknowledge that sexual abuse and rape can occur among us.
Most victims of intimate partner violence in straight relationships will be assured that their experience is normal, that this is just what men and women are like together. Gay and bisexual people have far fewer counter-examples when they are told that abuse is a normal part of a relationship like theirs.
All this make it much harder for LGBT people to recognise situations of abuse, let alone seek help and get to safety. These factors, being social and cultural, also mean that LGBT victims of domestic abuse are less likely to find appropriate support with police, mental and physical health services and even some domestic violence charities.
As with arguments around supporting male victims of domestic violence, different victims should never be seen in competition with one another. Domestic violence services have long been inadequately funded and the coalition government has demonstrated its contempt towards victims through repeated cuts, as well as the benefit cap, bedroom tax and cuts to legal aid which make it harder to leave abusive relationships. I don't know exactly how much it costs to run a helpline, but I'm guessing the House of Lords champagne budget would stop the gap for a short while.
If we are to tackle domestic violence, we need to recognise that it can happen to anyone at all, but that anyone who is marginalised for any reason will be more vulnerable; disabled people, people of colour, religious minorities and poor people as well as LGBT folks. This is another example of how greater social equality not only improves people's lives, but it can help prevent violence and save lives.
Note: In this post I have used the term trans* with an asterisk, as Broken Rainbow does (they provide a trans* specific service). This term represents all those who identify as transgender as well as others with a minority gender identities such as non-binary or genderqueer.
[The image is a photograph taken of a broken window or pane of glass against a blue, almost cloudless sky. The glass is dramatically cracked, with the sun shining beyond it. This image was taken by Humusak and is used under a Creative Commons License.]
by Holly Combe // 16 January 2015, 08:37
Joanna Tocher checks out Hanne Kolstø's forthcoming album (released 19 January) and discovers a poppier sound than in her previous work, despite the sometimes gloomy themes.
Forever Maybe is Norwegian singer and multi-instrumentalist Hanne Kolstø's fourth solo release and it's a slightly poppier affair than her previous three excellent solo albums. This aspect has its good and its bad sides in that several of her more pop oriented tracks work very well and it's interesting to see her experiment, but, for me, a few of the songs veer a little too close to mainstream pop.
Opening track 'BlankO', with its dark synths and refrain of "I don't wanna feel anything, I don't wanna think anything" sets the tone for an album with repeated references to solitude, leaving and moving on. At the 01:30 mark, the beat becomes a little more up-tempo and, as Kolstø's wistful vocals glide over the music, the track achieves the paradox of being joyfully bleak. The occasional whoops that follow "Is it in me or outside" towards the end of the track could be euphoria, anguish or both. It's a triumphant album opener.
The album continues with the more melancholy and dreamlike 'Synnecrosis' and, again, the theme is focused on the act of leaving. Kolstø sings the line: "I am leaving you 'cause I'm lost and found" almost breezily, as if leaving is an inevitability she has learned to cheerfully accept. However, as the song progresses, uncertainty creeps into the lyrics: "...and if I choose to stay behind, would you come look for me later?" As the song closes, the music falls away and the way Kolstø sings "I will never never never, never never ever be alone" sounds so assured, it seems like a threat...
Head and shoulders shot of a winking Hanne Kolstø in a black cap and off-the-shoulders black top made from T-shirt style cotton and black lace. She stands in front of a light blue wall, throwing a small shadow behind her neck area. Her right cheek is slightly puffed out by what appears to be a piece of orange behind her lips and in front of her teeth.
Publicity shot supplied by Prescription PR.
by Ania Ostrowska // 12 January 2015, 22:35
Happy New Film Year!
My first offering for you in 2015 is a hilarious lesbian comedy Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?, a debut feature by Anna Margarita Albelo, director of shorts and documentaries, including 2010 Hooters, behind-the-scenes piece accompanying the collectively made The Owls.
As another debut, I am also introducing my 'little' sister Agata (personally, I don't think 'little sisters' should be allowed to age beyond 16...) as The F-Word reviewer.
I have edited her text for major spoilers but if you prefer, you can watch the film first (available in various formats on the Peccadillo Pictures website) and then read what she thought of it.
by Shiha Kaur // 12 January 2015, 11:08
Welcome to this week's round-up and open thread. The following are links that we have found that might interest you. If you have found anything that you think other readers will enjoy, please add links in the comments section below. As usual, please note that a link here doesn't imply endorsement or agreement, and some links might be triggering.
Is the NHS failing women with autism? (The Guardian)
2014 Movie Releases Directed by Women (The Cinema Girl)(From last week, but still quite current)
Hiring Cis Actors for Trans Roles Isn't Progressive (this ain't livin')
Interview: Neneh Cherry on a New Brand of Feminism in Pop Culture (The Village Voice)
For Feminists Who Resort To Racism When Slut Shaming Is Not Enough (Batty Mamzelle)
'Ched Evans has served his time' - and other common misconceptions about the convicted rapist footballer: A handy rebuttal guide (Independent)
Porn Star Mia Khalifa and the Sexual Fetish of Hijab (Muslim Girl)
We must tolerate the tyranny of jesters #charliehebdo (Diary of a Goldfish)
What's Up With Dudes Not Being Able to Give Compliments? (Crunk Feminist Collective)
Feldman, Leah 1899-1993 (libcom.org)
Why is society's idea of beauty so often either 'white or light'? (Media Diversified)
Image shows a back and white poster attached to a grey brick wall. There is a drawing of a megaphone on the poster. The words read "Hey Girl make all the noise you want." Picture by Flickr user retrokatz, used under a Creative Commons Licence.
by Josephine Tsui // 11 January 2015, 12:22
Hope your new year has had a great start.
We're putting out an open call for new monthly guest bloggers. You get one month to say what you want to say here on the F-word.
Please check our "How to contribute" page if you're unsure if you're the right fit. Blog posts are usually about 800 words long.
If you're interested leave me a comment down below before January 20th 2015 and I'll get back to you!
Happy new year!
The woman in the photo above is holding a megaphone. Thanks Carl Johan Heickendorf for the photo!
by Holly Combe // 10 January 2015, 20:59
Emily Hoyle reports on the slow progress made regarding women's representation on TV panel shows generally, nearly a year after the BBC acted on recommendations to boost women's presence on screen.
"...Outnumbered. Just to be clear that's a sitcom about a modern family not about a female comedian on a TV panel show..."
- Damian Lewis, Have I Got News for You, Series 48: Episode 5. Aired 31 October 2014
In February last year, BBC 2's comedy panel show Mock The Week installed a quota for female comedians, stipulating that at least one woman must appear on the panel per week. Danny Cohen, the director of the BBC, put this quota in place following advice from the BBC trust to urgently address the problem of the underrepresentation of women on television. This was sparked by a report commissioned by the Cultural Diversity Network that put the spotlight on panel shows such as Mock The Week and QI for only rarely representing women.
It is not just the BBC that is guilty of this; across British broadcasting, comedy panel shows are heavily dominated by white heterosexual cis men. In an article on the blog for this site in 2011, Vicky Brewster posted research demonstrating the lack of women on British panel shows more widely, particularly focusing on Mock the Week and how the number of female guest panellists on the programme actually declined in number from the first series to the tenth. In that same year, Helen Lewis of The New Statesman expressed her frustration of all-male comedy shows:
Turn on the television and it's a familiar sight. Five, or sometimes seven, men making jokes about Kerry Katona, mother-in-laws and breasts. Occasionally, a woman creeps on -- but when did you last see more than two?
Not much has changed since then. When women manage to secure a seat, there never seems to be more than two and only rarely more than one. On the comedy review and listings site, Chortle, there are (by my own estimate) approximately 256 female comedians listed under their heading and many more working various circuits who aren't listed. So why are they not filtering through to television? As Lewis says, "Unless you accept the premise that women aren't funny, there must be something stopping them from being funny on TV"...
Some of the presenters and panellists from 8 Out of 10 Cats in various positions around a black sofa in front of a large white clock on a blue wall. Top, left to right: Rachel Riley (black dress, standing in front of the sofa), Jimmy Carr (grey suit, white shirt and blue tie, also standing in front of the sofa) and Susie Dent (black/white collarless shirt, leaning on the sofa from behind). Front, left to right (with a vacant middle space in front of Jimmy): Sean Lock (pink shirt, sitting in a black chair in front of the back row and sofa) and Jon Richardson (red T-shirt, possibly also in a chair). All are smiling.
by Editor // 6 January 2015, 00:26
Happy New Year! The F-Word's first 2015 news is here. To bring you more of the exciting feminist content you like as well as provide more UK feminists with a platform, we are looking for UK-based volunteers to join our team as editors. If something of this sort has made it to your list of NY Resolutions, please read on!
We are currently looking for a social media editor, a guest content editor and a regular content editor. The duties involved in three roles vary (please see below if you're interested) but all appointed editors will be part of our editorial team, contributing to the site's operation and having a say in discussions over its shape and future.
It is frequently reported that women do not put themselves forward for leadership roles as often as men do, despite extensive qualifications and experience. It is also reported by women who attain positions of power that they did not feel entitled to them until they "gave themselves permission" or were given an opportunity by a more privileged male counterpart.
Therefore we have taken the decision collectively to invite editor applications from self-identified women/genderqueer people/anyone who doesn't define as male.
Please note that The F-Word is run entirely online by unpaid volunteers. We are aware of current discussions around the politics and ethics of expecting people to work for free but alas at this point we can offer permanent volunteer roles only. We are not paid for our work either so there is no hierarchy or differentiation between paid and unpaid positions.
Please read on if you want to find out more about the roles.
* * *
Social media editor:
promotes blog posts, reviews and features on Facebook and Twitter; forwards requests from social media to relevant team member(s); tactfully deals with questions and comments on social media; promotes feminist events, as shared by regular content editor, on Facebook and Twitter; keeps social media updated with relevant content from other blogs/sites; considers the use of other social media (Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.); works with the rest of The F-Word team where necessary.
What you will bring:
True enthusiasm about the role and the possibilities to publish always more of relevant and exciting content; Some time, energy and regular internet access; You must commit to the role for at least 6 months (with a minimum period of one month's notice); Social media experience, ideally a prior experience of promoting organisation/event/initiative on social media; Ideally some editing experience (as an editor/subeditor/proofreader), particularly experience of working with a set style guide; Familiarity with blogging platforms is an advantage here, as is at least basic HTML;
Guest content editor:
manages pitches and submissions coming in from potential one-off guest bloggers; edits and posts appropriate guest content on a regular basis (ideally posting at least three times a month); takes an active role in seeking guest content from a wide variety of people on a wide range of topics; works with the rest of The F-Word team where necessary, particularly the existing guest content editor who focuses on monthly guest bloggers.
What you will bring:
True enthusiasm about the role and the possibilities to find and publish exciting feminist content; A keen understanding of intersectionality; Sensitivity and an ability to give constructive feedback to potential writers; Some time, energy and regular internet access; You must commit to the role for at least 6 months (with a minimum period of one month's notice); Ideally some editing experience (as an editor/subeditor/proofreader), particularly experience of working with a set style guide; Familiarity with blogging platforms is an advantage here, as is at least basic HTML.
Regular content editor:
edits and posts regular content for The F-Word, including the weekly round-up of web-wide news and F-Word's feature/review round-ups; manages and updates the 'Events' section of the website, working closely with social media editor to ensure their biggest exposure; contributes to second edits on a rota basis; works with the rest of The F-Word team where necessary.
What you will bring:
True enthusiasm about the role and excitement about regularly contributing to the site; Some time, energy and regular internet access; You must commit to the role for at least 6 months (with a minimum period of one month's notice); Ideally some editing experience (as an editor/subeditor/proofreader), particularly experience of working with a set style guide; Familiarity with blogging platforms is an advantage here, as is at least basic HTML.
The F-Word is an online magazine dedicated to talking about and sharing ideas on contemporary feminisms from the UK and elsewhere. The collective goal for the site is primarily to provide a platform which welcomes and shares perspectives from writers representing intersectional feminisms through contributions from people who identify along all parts of the gender and sexuality continuums. This could be older women, sex workers, women of minority ethnicities (including Black, Asian, migrant or refugee women and women of dual or multiple ethnic heritage), disabled women, trans* women, lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer women, socialist feminists. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list - please don't be put off from applying if you're interested but don't identify with the perspectives above; particularly if you feel your perspective is currently under-represented in the feminist blogosphere.
To apply for any of the roles: please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a brief message setting out why you want to take on the role and any prior experience. Please also briefly explain how you would like to see the relevant aspect of The F-Word's activity change/ develop.
I am also asking for two references: editors need to have access to and maintain our database of contributors, which includes sensitive information such as full names and addresses. For that reason, this additional step is needed for those who are going to be dealing with this confidential data (particularly for those writing about sensitive issues under pseudonyms). Please include the contact details of two references - feel free to email me if you have questions on who would be a suitable reference - this doesn't necessarily have to be a work-type reference.
If you have any questions about the roles or working for The F-Word, please comment here or email me (email@example.com).
The deadline for applications is 31 January 2015.
The image shown is by Hannah Swithinbank and is used under a creative commons licence. It shows the top of an open ink pot with a silver pen resting on it. The nib is splashed with dark ink. The background is orange.
by Chella Quint // 5 January 2015, 23:09
Hello, F Word readers, and Happy 2015! Welcome to the first weekly round-up and open thread of the year. Below are some recent news stories that caught the attention of The F Word Collective this week (linking does not necessarily imply endorsement or agreement by members of the collective or the author of this post).
Please note that these links range from "ooh yay!" to "oy vey" and some articles may be triggering. Want to discuss these topics or add your own? Please share this post, and comment below!
The first round up of the year begins with tales from Online Dating that cannot be ignored - today...
This Woman Schooled A Man On OkCupid After He Accused Her Of Lying In Her Bio: Natalie Guest is a writer from London who recently had an exchange on OkCupid with a man who thought she was lying in her bio. He literally didn't believe she could type 100 words per minute. BuzzFeed News spoke to the woman who proved him wrong. (Buzzfeed)
And speaking of detailed online dating profile questions...
No Thanks, Cupid: 'Does Your Partner Have to Be An Active Reader?'
(That Pesky Feminist)
Here is a triptych of recent stories about media representation:
Awesome Images of Queer Women in History (Tagg Magazine, via Everyday Feminism)
Doctor Who: how Ace set the template for modern companions
Sophie Aldred's Ace was a Doctor Who companion ahead of her time. We look back at the girl from Perivale's time in the TARDIS... (Den of Geek)
Some intersectional discrimination in academia:
'Philosophy is for posh, white boys with trust funds' - why are there so few women? Over 70% of philosophers in UK universities are men. We speak to academics about how institutions can become more inclusive (The Guardian)
It's been particularly hard to read and talk about Leelah Alcorn's story at a time of year when a lot of friends and family are reluctantly having to spend time with (or having to choose to avoid) unsupportive or unsafe relatives at the holidays.
Stavvers has done an excellent link round up on her blog: Remembering Leelah Alcorn: a round-up of links This post includes a content note, which I echo: "Content warning: This post mentions and links to content discussing transmisogyny and suicide." - Stavvers (Another Angry Woman)
And here are three additional and insightful links
Your Sympathies Are Misplaced
Leelah Alcorn's death was a suicide. Her suicide note along with her account were scrubbed from Tumblr, but the note and other posts have been preserved thanks to the blessed powers of the Internet. Look in the comments on any story about Leelah Alcorn and you'll see poorly directed sympathy. (Jezebel)
Religious Abuse I've tried to write this post many, many times and I never manage it because there are parts of my past I still find too desperately painful to write about. But right now I'm seeing both atheists blaming Christianity (or more often "religion") as a whole for the tragic and avoidable death of Leelah Alcorn and Christians insisting Leelah and others like her could be saved if they only found a different (but still Christian) church or community to be part of, that they ones they are in aren't "real" Christians and real Christians will love and accept trans youth for who they are... And I need to say something. (Yet Another Lefty)
Three further notable obituaries posted last week:
Christine Buckley: a 21st century Irish hero State child abuse campaigner rose above the grim hand fate dealt her to become an icon (Irish Times)
Here are two articles that focus on body image:
Why I'm giving up the razor I have an almost 12 year old daughter, she is reaching the age where the usual puberty changes are happening, there are boobs and hormonal mood swings and there is the hair... Sprouting from armpits, legs and you know, everywhere. (So Bad Ass)
This is a great article all about accessibility in public spaces and online spaces:
Why Do You Fight Accessibility? When issues of accessibility are raised -- in physical environments, online, in the design of homes, restaurants, public spaces, websites, books, classrooms -- the response is often defensive. Justifications for inaccessibility spill out of endlessly running mouths, there's always a good reason (or seven), there's a sense of needing to swat down any request, of triumph when the list of reasons is trotted out and presented. You see, it's simply impossible. (This Ain't Livin')
Breaking: Congrats to Kate Saunders for winning the Costa Children's Book of the Year with a sequel to E Nesbit's Five Children and It. The new book is called Five Children on the Western Front, and it looks excellent:
Costa Prize Winner Kate Saunders: 'I couldn't have written this book if I hadn't lost my own boy' Kate Saunders's son Felix committed suicide in 2012. A year later she began to write Five Children on the Western Front, a children's book about the First World War (The Telegraph)
If one of your new year's resolutions is to reclaim space, check out:
I Spread My Legs on the Subway to Prove An Important Point (Identities Mic)
If another resolution is NOT anything to do with wasting hours on the internet staring at pictures of kittens, then this related (and admittedly older and well travelled) link is for you: http://savingroomforcats.tumblr.com.
some news in science to start the year off right:
New fanged frog 'gives birth to tadpoles' Best quote: "They're relatively dull frogs, actually," Mr Tapley told BBC News. "To find out something totally surprising about a frog you would barely notice in the forest is really cool." (BBC NEWS)
Hope 2015 evolves into a good year for everyone.
Photo description: The photo is by Chella Quint and has been used with permission: all rights reserved. It depicts tall orange flowers of the Bird of Paradise variety in bloom in the Sheffield Winter Gardens. They really do look like a flock of birds in a puppetry sort of way - it is uncanny - and they are quite lovely.