by Guest Blogger // 23 May 2013, 14:02
This is a guest post by @nomorehotties.
Breasts. Boobs. Knockers. Tits. If you happen to have a pair of fatty deposits attached to your chest, you're probably aware of the fact that many people really like this particular kind of fatty tissue. So much so, they sometimes just can't help themselves but stare at them, tell you to "get them out", shove their hands under your top, or give them a good squeeze, because apparently that's what they're there for.
The marketers of Pot Noodle seem to have noticed this fascination with breasts and, because Pot Noodles aren't already disgusting enough, decided to run a campaign that emphasises the status of female breasts as public property. The result is an advert that uses the image of two Pot Noodle pots, partially skin-coloured and placed next to each other to look like breasts in a low-cut top, alongside the slogan "Peel the top off a hottie". The promotional stall they're parading around the country makes the "pun" even more obvious by placing an image of a busty woman wearing a top with the Pot Noodle breasts on her breasts (Pot Noodle boob-ception!)
Using sexualised images to sell products is already irritating enough - but to be honest, I can just about live with images of scantily clad ladies randomly pasted into adverts to sell cars or electronic gadgets. The problem of this advert lies deeper, as this article by the editors of Vagenda explains: rather than simply using an image of an attractive woman, it actively encourages viewers to "peel the top off a hottie" - which can be easily translated into "pull the top off a woman", an invitation to nothing other than sexual assault. Women are not only objectified and degraded to faceless "hotties" in the form of bodyless, floating breasts, but they (or rather, their breasts) are likened to Pot Noodle pots. Instant food in plastic pots - quite possibly the lowest of all commodities, there to be consumed and thrown away. Think about that for a minute. In a world where (sexual) violence against women is being described as a "pandemic", we really don't need a producer of instant food to pour even more petrol onto the fire, fuelling lad culture and the sexually aggressive behaviour towards women that comes with it.
Pot Noodle are obviously aware that their campaign is problematic, as they responded to several critical comments on their Facebook page, awkwardly stating that they're just having a little fun. Other people's reactions to criticism, however, were far less diplomatic, telling the posters to "shut up", "get back into the kitchen", or calling them "feminist fuck". Pot Noodle did not bother to remove these rather vile comments from their page, but proudly declared in several posts that their promotional stalls now also feature some "male hotties" to cater for their female customers, which makes the campaign totally acceptable. Of course it does not, and the posters - including the Pot Noodle boobs - are still there, proudly telling all passers-bys, families and children, that pulling women's tops off is totally cool.
I have submitted a complaint about this campaign to the Advertising Standards Authority, and I hope others will do the same. Given that there have been several successful complaints in recent times, including the "Pussy" drink advert which, well, used the word "pussy", I am optimistic that the Pot Noodle campaign might come to an end soon. You can also email Pot Noodle directly to let them know what you think about this campaign.
Image is a photograph of a poster advertising Pot Noodles, as described in the article. Permission to use the photograph has been given by the photographer, @nomorehotties.
by Guest Blogger // 22 May 2013, 20:33
Beth Startin is disappointed with Disney's makeover of the Brave protagonist, but argues that the other princesses also have their merits and should not be dismissed by feminists. Beth is finishing her second year at King's College London, loves all things cute - especially dolphins - and tweets here.
I am a feminist and I love Disney, especially the princesses. As I was writing this in my head, I counted the images of Belle in my room - eight in about thirty seconds. Maybe you will read this and think, 'How can she possibly call herself a feminist when her bedroom bin and her washing basket have Snow White on?' I can though, and I will tell you why. I got butterflies in my stomach when I saw Tiana at Disneyland Paris, but it's not just because she's beautiful.
Disney's makeover of Merida for her princess inauguration saddened me. Merida is the perfect addition to the princess line up - she is fiercely independent, fighting for her own hand in marriage to prevent a suitor being chosen for her, as well as kind and funny. The animation style of Pixar does mean that she needed to be changed slightly to fit with the rest of the princesses, but Merida's overhaul went way too far. Her dress skimmed over her shoulders in a way that it definitely did not in the film and she seemingly had a whole new pair of eyes. Her breasts had magically grown and her waist had shrunk considerably. Disney had diminished the charm of their 'brave' princess, showing that it is her appearance rather than her spirit that they want to sell to us. Disney claim that their redesign was only intended to be part of a 'limited line of products', but I think there are important lessons for Disney to learn from their mistakes.
Commentators on the controversy have tarred the other princesses with the same brush, arguing that only Merida is a 'feminist princess' and that the rest are anti-feminist, subservient girls who nobody should look up to. For example, the Guardian called Belle a character limited to only being beautiful. This is simply not true. She is a bookworm, unsatisfied with what she calls her 'provincial life' and, just like Merida, independent, unafraid of standing up to the Beast or to Gaston or to anyone else who gets in her way. And what about Tiana and Rapunzel and Ariel? They all have a dream that they want to pursue and do so with ambition and courage, happening to find love along the way.
Tiana, the protagonist of 'The Princess and the Frog', is businesswoman first, princess second, not just waiting for her prince but working as hard as she can to get the restaurant she has dreamed of since she was tiny. She spends not one second of the film chasing her prince and it is exactly that, her determination and ambition, that makes Naveen fall in love with her. She is a frog for most of the film, hardly limiting her character to a just a beautiful exterior. The whole point of 'Mulan' is to show that anything boys can do, girls can do too. Mulan is a war hero, hardly a passive damsel in distress. It is more difficult to defend the likes of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, but the fact that they were made so many years ago ('Snow White' was released in 1937!) speaks for itself.
What really bothers me about the Merida controversy is that it proves that Disney have the materials to make something which parents do not despair over and girls can aspire to be without thinking solely about their 'prince', not just in Merida but in the other princesses too. We know that little girls (and, like me, lots of big girls too) do love the princesses and this does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.
The princesses have elements beyond their looks and their princes that little girls should and could look up to, if only Disney would give them the chance. The problem that Merida's makeover demonstrates is not one that reflects on the princesses as characters or the films themselves but a problem with marketing. Perhaps it would be nice to see some different combinations of princesses on the huge range of merchandise--Pocahontas and Belle and Mulan--rather than the endless Snow White and Cinderella. A focus on the newer, less traditional princesses could really change the way that the franchise is seen. Merchandise showing them interacting rather than staring blankly past one another could be effective too, suggesting friendship and sisterhood more than the current 'models at a photo shoot' look.
Disney should react to this controversy by using the princesses to their advantage, showing little girls that they should aspire to be kind and brave and strong and clever as well as that it is nice to wear sparkly dresses. Let's not push blame onto the princesses. Making Merida a princess is a great move by Disney and I only wish they would use their power wisely. There is something great to aspire to in the princesses' personalities, if only Disney would allow us to see past their unrealistically beautiful surfaces. I hope that the 230,000 plus signatures against Merida's makeover make Disney realise that their audience know that there's more to being a princess than having a skinny waist.
by Guest Blogger // 22 May 2013, 12:17
Millitoria describes the often negative reactions she has received as someone who speaks out about sexual violence, and offers advice on how to respond supportively when someone talks to you about the issue. Millitoria is a young woman attempting to achieve mental health while raising awareness of issues that get in the way of that goal. She blogs here.
As a person who's experienced sexual violence, the decision to open up and talk about my experiences didn't come easily. I was scared that I wouldn't be believed, or that I'd be blamed for what had happened me. I was lucky enough to be believed, but I hadn't expected some of the longer term repercussions of talking about what had happened to me.
The first thing I noticed was that other people had a tendency to want to share with me their own experiences of sexual violence. I was a bit startled at first but when I stopped to think about it, it made sense that this would be the case. By speaking out I was publicly acknowledging that sexual violence happened and that I thought it was OK to talk about it. Whilst this was sometimes difficult for me to deal with I still mostly view it as a positive thing.
The second thing I became aware of was much less positive, but I first experienced it as a direct offshoot of the first. A friend told me that she'd been sexually assaulted by a mutual acquaintance. She didn't want to report it to the police for various reasons, so we talked about how to handle the situation without getting them involved and decided to confront him, together.
Having previously experienced support and belief from these friends I was fully unprepared for what happened. Namely, that they didn't believe us. We told them that this man had an appalling attitude towards women, made several of us uncomfortable and had now assaulted someone. What they heard was apparently something entirely different. They heard the story of the girl who'd become ashamed of some pictures she'd had taken and used her naïve, victim of sexual violence friend to try and cover up what had really happened. I presented them with evidence to the contrary and they discounted it. Apparently, as a victim of sexual violence my opinion on sexual violence couldn't be trusted.
The theory goes a little something like this: When someone experiences sexual violence they become hyper vigilant to the possibility of sexual violence, therefore they see it everywhere so can't be trusted when they point it out. So then, experience of a situation or event apparently makes you worse at recognising similar situations or events than people with no experience? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it? This is just another horrible way to silence people, and it's dangerous.
By discounting my opinion by virtue of the fact that I'd previously suffered sexual violence, a nice message was sent out, one which made clear that I wouldn't be believed if I spoke out about this stuff again. That was a message which various people heard and it came back to hurt me later.
I've had friends tell me how improbable they find it that "I'd let the same thing happen again". Or that it doesn't seem believable I'd know or meet so many people who've also had experiences of sexual violence. Most often I am met with the suggestion that I'm just "a bit sensitive to these things". That I see abuse, sexism and sexual abuse everywhere, even when it's not present.
I'm not saying that hyper vigilance doesn't exist. It does, and believe me I'm very aware of the fact, but because I'm aware of it I don't speak out unless I'm really sure. It's a sad fact that someone who's been vulnerable to abuse or assault once doesn't stop being so. By subscribing to the view that someone who's experienced sexual violence is incapable of telling the difference between hyper vigilance and further incidents of abuse you are increasing their risk of suffering the same thing again.
The only advice I can offer to deal with this is simple. When someone talks to you about sexual violence, listen to what they have to say and take it on face value. When you find yourself thinking that it seems odd the same person has experienced sexual violence more than once, remind yourself that - sadly - it's not uncommon for this to happen. When they are supporting somebody else through a similar experience, try to remember that as someone who's outspoken about such things they're a likely prospect for someone seeking to disclose their own experience.
No one wants to accept that someone they know has experienced sexual violence, particularly not if they are accusing someone else you know and respect. Try to make sure that your own desire for it not to be the truth doesn't become just another way to silence those brave enough to speak out. It takes a lot of courage to speak up and having done so, the least you can do is listen to what we have to say.
Image of four different coloured speech bubbles by Marc Wathieu, shared under a Creative Commons licence.
by Philippa Willitts // 21 May 2013, 21:34
One day, when I was a small child, I asked my Grandma how old she was. A collective gasp arose in the room around me and somebody said, in hushed tones of vague outrage, "Philippa! You never ask a lady her age!".
Obviously this made no sense, so I asked why and was told that it because it was rude.
But hold on... I was big enough to know "rude": rude was barging in, interrupting, or not saying please and thank you. This made no sense. No sense at all. In fact, the more questions I asked, the more ridiculous it became.
I challenged the ruling, and I made an extra effort to be very polite. I definitely said both please and thank you when I re-asked the question, but to no avail. I left the room knowing the ages of my Dad, my Granddad and my Grandpa, but not my Mum or my Grandma.
I wondered how old you had to be when it started to be rude. People asked me how old I was all the time and that wasn't rude. I wondered why it wasn't rude to ask the men, but it was to ask the women. And I wondered what people supposed would happen if a lady's age was ever revealed.
Some 30+ years on I still wonder about many of the same things. While I can't describe myself as a lady, I do realise that this standard is supposed to apply to me now. But, despite turning 36 last week I still do not understand the desire to hide it.
I know plenty of women who lie about their age, but even this has seemed counter-intuitive to me. If I went round telling everyone I was 26, surely they'd just think, "Cor, she looks old for 26". Maybe I should tell people I'm 46 so they revel in my youthfulness?
While I had to actively train my mind to reject the "numbers" associated with weight and clothes sizing, for instance, the number that is my age never required any such determination. Once I looked old enough to be served in bars, it lost all significance really, save an important birthday or two since then.
What is this thing about women and age? Are we still supposed to keep quiet about this arbitrary number that rises once a year? I understand that ageism is still rife, and that it may actually be advisable for me to start showing some kind of discretion in this regard, but I just can't seem to find the energy that it would require.
[The image is a black and white photograph, taken in 1912 in San Francisco. It is of four generations of women and girls from one family, the Lipmans, and was made available by The Magnes Museum under a Creative Commons Licence]
by J Whitehead // 21 May 2013, 20:03
I'm a big fan of Pinterest. Stop your sniggering! It's not all "thinspiration" and wedding planning, I'll have you know. There's a significant feminist presence in them there hills. I also like to look at clothes, art, photography, find new recipes to try out, explore new places to go, books to read and things to make. Quit your whining.
There's a limit to the volume of Audre Lorde gifs, mind. Whilst browsing through 'Women's Fashion' this very afternoon, I was incredulous to discover not one, but two t-shirts with the following slogans. T shirt-A: "Brunettes. Because somebody has to be smart" [my punctuation]. T-shirt B: "Boys like blondes. Men like brunettes."
Aside from the obvious question of who the fuck would wear an item of clothing emblazoned with such nonsense, this concerns me. Not only is it anti-blonde sentiment, it's anti-female. And the two are more closely linked than you might think.
I'm aware that the Aryan archetype has and, sadly, continues to be in some unfortunate quarters, hailed as the zenith of aspiration and human progress and feel as uncomfortable and critical of this as you might expect. However, I don't believe my objection to these t-shirts lies in some repressed desire to defend the mistaken and ugly "master race" language of racism and ignorance. Rather, I feel this is an issue of sex, gender and that old chesnut: misogyny. This shit runs deeper than the mere hue of your highlights.
When you think about the "dumb" blonde stereotype - and let's be clear here: it is a stereotype - who do you think of? I'd argue that the image that springs to mind is a female. With the exception of 'Rocky' from the glorious Picture Show of Horror, I can think of very few "dumb" blondes who are male. I'd also argue that they're invariably "dumb" or "dizzy" - as inaccurate, incorrect and potentially insulting as these descriptions are. The stereotype of the blonde is of a female who lacks intelligence. And it's an image that has global and cultural resonance.
When women and girls talk about other women and girls in relation to them being "blonde", it's shorthand for "naïve", "stupid" or "childish". I interpret this as internalised misogyny. It's girl-on-girl hate and it's whack.
Being told that having fair hair makes you naïve, stupid and childish is another in a series of ways in which women and girls are told that they are inferior, insufficient and inadequate. It's yet another example of how the already narrow path of acceptability that women and girls tread is growing narrower.
The second slogan that confidently asserts that boys like blondes, whilst men like brunettes further reinforces this. Religion, magazines, politics, fashion, advertising and films proffer limited roles for women and girls, tell them who and how to be and still maintain that being a wife and mother is the ultimate in self-fulfilment and realised womanhood. This godforsaken t-shirt perpetuates this by establishing a status quo that encourages women to value approval and acceptance from males (note: men, not boys) above their own tastes and preferences.
My response to t-shirt A? Well, the full-stop in that slogan is my own. Case closed, your honour. In response to t-shirt B, I posited the radical idea that perhaps judging people based on the colour of their hair is a trifle superficial. Just a thought worth thinking about, maybe.
These are not just t-shirts. These are misogynistic t-shirts.
by Jess McCabe // 21 May 2013, 14:54
When Catherine Redfern, founder of The F-Word, called me up more than six years ago to ask to meet in a South London pub for a chat, I didn't know what she was going to ask. I was nervous about meeting one of my feminist heroines for the first time.
I'd already been blogging for The F-Word for a few years, and I thought: oh shit! What have I said? Is she going to kick me off the site?!
In fact, Catherine asked me to take over as editor. I still remember how nerve-wracking that was! I had never taken on anything like editing an online magazine. Seeing my name on The F-Word's olive green homepage (remember that?!), was still exciting.
That day was the start of a friendship with Catherine (and quickly with a lot of the other long-term F-Word contributors as well!)
And it was day one of an incredible journey for me as a person, as a new editor, and politically as a feminist. I know I've come a long way. And, to be honest, I feel like we have as a team at The F-Word, and perhaps even as a community of feminists.
It was the biggest opportunity anyone ever gave me and a massive responsibility.
But today I'm resigning as editor of The F-Word, and passing on the baton.
A couple of things are going on. I'm switching my focus to some new projects, and because I work full time as well as doing The F-Word, it's all a bit too much at the moment. And I feel like I've accomplished the things I wanted to when I took on editing this site. I plan to stay on the collective and will still be involved, just not running The F-Word day-to-day.
And there's another thing. When I took over from Catherine, we had regular bloggers and contributors. But basically she was doing everything. When I took over, I did all the editing.
Consciously and with the help of others, that started to change. First, the regular bloggers formed a collective, to make decisions about that part of the site. It has been a rocky road at times. We got better. We learnt while we did it, because almost none of us had ever been on a collective before, or tried consensus decision making.
We experimented. We launched a podcast, which was basically some F-Word regulars sat around my kitchen table talking for a few hours about whatever we were interested in right then (editing? schmediting.) I think that was more fun for those of us at the table than anyone who might have attempted to listen.
Other things stuck - we still have comments (it might surprise newer readers that we had a long debate over whether we should!) We solidified as a collective, while I carried on editing features and reviews. Then, more recently, I started to find our amazing team of section editors, who now do the heavy lifting on the long-form articles that we publish on The F-Word. Bringing more people into the process was the decision that most bolstered The F-Word of anything we have done.
We fundraised to get a professional redesign of the site, and had a hilarious party.
In the spirit of these changes, now I am stepping down, how the site is run will be different as well.
Helen G is stepping up as the first of us to take on editing the site on a rotating basis. Helen will edit the site for at least six months, and then the next person will take over.
A few words on how we believe this will work. All of the section editors and members of the collective can put themselves forward to be a rotating editor. From those who raise their hand, the next rotating editor is chosen at random. We will see how this system works for a while.
Here is a little bit more about Helen, if you don't already know her from her many wonderful contributions to The F-Word:
Having spent most of her life in rural North Wales where, in between working for architects, she was a three-chord merchant on a variety of musical instruments, Helen packed her spotted hanky on a stick and moved to London 10 years ago as part of a career change into IT work. Currently unemployed, she spends a couple of days a week tinkering with computers in a voluntary capacity at an international aid agency. Music remains an important part of her life and while her listening tastes are eclectic, she has a long-standing penchant for the music of women singer/songwriters across a range of genres.
Helen joined the bloggers' collective at The F-Word in 2008, taking on the role of events editor in 2011. She sees her stint as editor as akin to sharing the driving on a long road trip, rather than turbocharging the car, giving it a garish respray and taking it for a high-speed joyride through the feminist blogosphere.
At the same time, we have taken the opportunity to refresh the statement of principles of The F-Word, which underpins everything we do. All future editors will uphold these principles.
Finally, we wouldn't be here at all without Catherine, so I've saved the last word for her! (And I promise I didn't pay her to say any of this...!)
Well, it's the end of an era... but the beginning of a really exciting time for this website. I'm continually so grateful and amazed at the commitment of our contributors, collective and section editors to this joint project of ours. In 2001 I never would have imagined how far we would come together.
I'm pleased to welcome Helen G as the first of our rotating editors. Helen has been involved with the website for several years now and has put in a great deal of 'behind the scenes' work to make sure the site keeps running - crucial, time consuming work that readers wouldn't necessarily see and that doesn't get much recognition - as well as contributing great content of course. It's reassuring to know that continuity will be there as Jess hands over.
I'm excited about the new 'rotating editor' system too; it fits in really well to what I always hoped the site would do: promote new voices, and showcase different perspectives and diversity in feminism.
As I know only too well, being editor of The F-Word is incredibly hard work; and with everything Jess did in her time as editor (six YEARS, people!) she really raised the site onto a whole new level, reaching tens of thousands more people and really making the project a real collective, and sustainable, achievement in so many ways. And of course there were major projects like the re-design, as well as the daily work, and stresses and demands of the role as the site (and workload) got bigger and bigger. I have heard anecdotally of many people becoming feminists after encountering the website during Jess's watch.
(Should I mention, like all of us involved in the site, she did all of this in her 'spare' time?)
I was so pleased to hand over to her back then, grateful (and relieved) that she wanted do it, and I often commented to anyone who would listen on how great a job I thought she did.
I don't think it's an understatement to say that Jess has contributed massively to the UK feminist scene. What she has achieved is HUGE; she should be proud, and I'm sure anyone reading this can appreciate that. Do me a favour and let her know how awesome she is, yeah?
The F-Word: Our principles
Our aims and objectives:
- To showcase emerging and new feminist voices.
- To provide a platform for diverse contributors, actively seeking out those whose voices are not heard in commercial media.
- To publish thoughtful analysis of contemporary feminist issues.
- To be a safe, supportive environment for feminists and supporters of feminism.
- To be a place for disagreement and different opinions to be aired in a calm, constructive way.
- The F-Word is against ageism, classism, disablism, homophobia, racism, sexism, sizeism, transphobia and all forms of oppression.
Our editors aim to:
- Remain sensitive to different feminist viewpoints on contentious issues.
- Never publish ageism, classism, disablism, heterosexism, racism, sexism, sizeism or transphobia, or any other form of oppression.
- Never publish blatantly unsubstantiated or unreferenced statements as fact.
- Edit in an ethical way, guided by the code of conduct set down by the NUJ.
- Truly reflect the author's intended meaning while editing contributions for publication.
- Allow for a broad interpretation of feminism.
- Encourage a respectful, open-minded approach to seemingly different viewpoints.
- Produce content that is readable, engaging - sometimes enraging - and always accessible.
We will publish strongly held individual opinions, but The F-Word as a publication will not:
- Define what feminism is, to the exclusion of other interpretations of feminism.
- State that 'true' feminism is a certain thing.
- Provide a platform for trolls or anti-feminists.
- Be drawn into discussion about whether feminism is necessary or valid.
- Get involved in personal disputes within feminist circles.
- Claim to represent 'the' voice of feminism.
- Restrict contributions only to those who have academic qualifications or are widely read in feminist ideas.
- Be able to please all of the feminists all of the time!
by Holly Combe // 20 May 2013, 16:19
Welcome to this week's round-up of the articles and blog pieces we've been reading over the past week. If you have a link or comment that doesn't fit anywhere else and would like to share it, feel free to drop it in the comments here!
NB:A note will be added when the content is not adequately indicated in the title of an article. However, you are advised to use your discretion and approach the links with caution, as round-up posts contain links to external websites and blogs we have no control over. Along with this, we don't always agree with every viewpoint expressed in the items or the sites containing them. As with actual F-Word content, none of the material reflects any "official view from The F Word" because not all contributors to the site will necessarily hold the same opinions on the topics or pieces shared.
Rape and property theft: some obvious differences (Glosswitch)
Alicia Gali, Woman Who Spent 8 Months In UAE Jail After Being Raped, Tells Her Story (Huffington Post)
NB: I am unable to get the accompanying video to work on three different devices to check but the link came to me with a content note for sexual violence.
What Has Happened to Germaine Greer? (A Very Public Sociologist)
Brave director criticises Disney's 'sexualised' Princess Merida redesign (Guardian)
The Brave and the Bold (Matthew Boggart's Tumbr)
Disney retreats from Princess Merida makeover after widespread criticism (Guardian)
80% of homophobic attacks in Northern Ireland not reported - study (Guardian, World)
Chief commissioner Michael Wardlow said "The highest level of negativity was reserved for the smaller minority of people who struggle with their gender identity - trans people"
Angelina Jolie on her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy (The New York Times)
Ticking Timebomb (cartoon) (Megan Rosalarian Gedris)
'Disabled children should be put down': Cornwall councillor Collin Brewer to be investigated by police over controversial comments (Independent)
Also see Pippa's 'A story of hate in three parts' from Friday.
Pulling the Trigger on 269life (Baring Teeth)
Over the past few months 269life has gained a significant amount of attention from the animal rights movement, gaining many supporters but also attracting criticism of their use of racist, anti-choice and anti-human imagery/views, as well as their provocative publicity stunts.
Content note: Discussion of rape, sexual assault, self-harm, racism, abuse, assault.
Couple sues over sexual assignment surgery of child (Telegraph, World)
Just 18% of UK television presenters over 50 are women, study finds (Guardian, Media)
Oxford child sex ring: seven men found guilty (London Evening Standard)
How could so many years of horrendous abuse go unnoticed? In this case, the guilt extends way beyond Oxford sex traffickers (Grace Dent, Independent)
Oxford child sex abuse ring: senior officials will not resign over failings (Guardian)
The Oxford abuse case and the myth of the "good girl" victim (New Statesman)
Forced Into Prostitution -- and Denied a Lifeline (Florrie Burke, Huffington Post)
...Allowing condoms to continue to be used as evidence in trafficking cases would be detrimental to the health of the very people we are trying to help.
France vs. US - What Do Movie Stars Look Like? (Indiewire)
Black Women in Rock [PHOTOS] (Ebony/Black History)
Saudi woman makes history by reaching Everest summit (BBC News, World)
6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism (National Geographic)
Masculinity in crisis? 'There is a battle going on inside us that is never discussed' (Independent, Life and style)
Support a Rape Survivor's Legal Battle (Go Fund Me)
I'm Ruby - a sex worker of 7 years from Melbourne. I've been involved with Vixen as well as organising the inaugural Festival of Sex Work... About 3 years ago I was raped by a serial ugly mug. Due to his history I decided to report it to the police. The committal hearing happened in 2012 and the trial commences in July and will go for a week and a half. I will be cross examined for 1 - 2 days.
[Image description: Licorice Allsorts against a blank background. Left (top to bottom): one three layered white/black/brown square on top of one three layered white/black/orange square, two aniseed circles with balls of blue sugar on the outside, one black roll with white paste in the middle. Right (top to bottom): one pink licorice-middled coconut circle on top of a yellow licorice-middled coconut circle, one licorice roll with white paste in the middle. By Jo Munday, shared under a creative commons license.]
by Laura // 19 May 2013, 17:01
We were recently contacted by Firecracker Films, who are looking for 16- to 24-year-olds to take part in a documentary on sex and relationships. The F-Word is not involved in and does not endorse this project, but we thought some of you might be interested. If so, please read on!
Firecracker Films has recently been commissioned by MTV to make a ground-breaking documentary that will explore young peoples' experiences across the world with regards to sex and relationships in a way that has never been done before.
We will ask young people aged 16 to 24 from around the world to film their own experiences of relationships and what sex means to them on handheld cameras or camera phones, from their own unique perspectives. This really will be their story, in their own words.
Through this documentary we aim to offer a voice to people across the world to talk openly about the anxieties, emotions and the curiosities that young people may have regarding sex. We also hope that this film will help increase understanding of a range of issues and topics on sex such as relationships, contraception, stigmas and overall promote safe sex and education across the globe.
We have already made a highly acclaimed documentary in this style called 'Bullied' for MTV which was based on people across the globe filming themselves to discuss their different experiences with being bullied. We also produced 'We're Having a Baby' and 'I Want to Change My Body' for the BBC.
We're looking for as wide a variety of perspectives as possible and are very grateful to the F-Word for helping us to reach a feminist readership. If you'd like to be involved or would like more information please get in touch at email@example.com or on 0207 349 3481. Our Twitter is @worldsexproject and Facebook page is World Sex Project.
Photo of a pile of coloured condoms by Shawn Latta, shared under a Creative Commons licence.
by Holly Combe // 17 May 2013, 23:04
Cazz Blase listens to Laura Mvula's debut album, Sing to the Moon, and finds there is much more to her wider output than the upbeat single 'Green Garden' would suggest
Birmingham singer/songwriter Laura Mvula has a degree in composition from the Birmingham Conservatoire, learned the music composition app GarageBand while working as a supply teacher at a secondary school and had a job as a receptionist at the Birmingham Symphony orchestra. All of which would tell you that there is more to her musical talents than simply being a retro chanteuse. The more complex of her songs (and many of them do have complex arrangements) sound like songs from a Sondheim musical, whereas the easiest and most seemingly simple come across like Cole Porter or Rogers and Hart. Mvula's musical touchstones are acknowledged to be Amy Winehouse, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, but - Winehouse aside - you would struggle to hear them in her work.
Mvula's debut Sing to the Moon opens with the impressive 'Like the morning dew', which features gorgeous vocal harmonies, layered to perfection, which are vaguely reminiscent of The 5th Dimension. The vocal imagery is pastoral and picturesque; the phrasing is strictly jazz, in this instance Ella Fitzgerald rather than Billie Holliday. It is reassuring to know it wasn't just Amy Winehouse who grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald (see also Beatrice Eli). The marching band percussion towards the end of the song adds additional colour and texture, taking it to another level.
'Make Me Lovely', meanwhile, opens with gorgeous melancholic strings. It's very atmospheric and simultaneously sounds like something from the golden age of Broadway combined with a particularly innovative stab at modern R&B. The lyrical refrain of "I can't make me lovely" is assertive, but Mvula shows her skill as a vocalist by using subtleties in pitch and tone. The ambition and complexity of both her writing and arranging mark her out as someone special and it's a brilliantly realised piece. The choir at the end chime in beautifully with the strings.
The recent single 'Green Garden' is an upbeat soul stomper, albeit one that deploys unusual pastoral imagery in what is basically a wistful love song. The backing vocals are reminiscent of old 1970s vinyl and, as lovely as the song is, it's a little misleading as a single, in terms of signalling her wider output. It would be too easy to write her off as a straightforward soul revivalist on the basis of this and she can do so much more than that...
[Image description: Front cover of Laura Mvula's Sing to the Moon. This is a black and white head and shoulders shot of Laura Mvula in a high collared one-buttoned shirt, against a white background. She is looking pensively to her right.]
by Philippa Willitts // 17 May 2013, 21:12
A Cornish councillor who said that he thought that disabled babies should be "put down" got re-elected in the local Council elections. He went on to compare disabled children to deformed lambs who are smashed against a wall.
In a cafe on Wednesday, a woman was talking to me about her friend who had gone blind. She thought it was a travesty that, unlike dogs and horses and rabbits, nobody would put her friend "to sleep". Nobody should be expected to be able to live without vision. Nobody without vision could possibly have enough quality of life to justify maintaining them. The only kind move, apparently, would be to kill her friend.
In most cases, when somebody experiences suicidal depression, their friends, family and health professionals try to to give them hope, offer support and encourage them to rediscover the joy in their life. They may be offered anti-depressant medication, or mental health treatment, and people actively try to help them to live. Compare and contrast with when a disabled person feels suicidally depressed. Suddenly the tables are turned: they may be offered support, or their friends, family and doctors may instead support them to go to court in a bid to allow themselves to be killed. This has been happening in court this week.
The assumption with all three is huge: disabled lives are not worth living. This is also evidenced by a number of strangers who, over the past few years, have approached me with the express intention of telling me that if they ever became disabled they would instantly kill themselves. These microaggressions are tiring, depressing and full of negative assumptions.
Putting into legislation a rule that suicidal disabled people can legitimately be killed instead of treated for their depression is a really frightening prospect. If someone feels their life is unbearable because of indignity or uncontrolled pain then the first line of attack must be dignity and pain management. Not, "Oh she's disabled? Let's not dissuade her from killing herself - in fact, let's help her along".
I don't see anyone fighting for the rights of non-disabled people to be killed when they feel suicidal, even if they face unbearable racism or sexism or *anything*ism in their daily lives. If a non-disabled friend is suicidal I really try to help them to see a way through it, and I do the same for disabled friends. I don't see anyone being elected after advocating the death of gay children because their lives will be difficult, nor do I hear women in cafes tell me that their working class friends should be put down because their lives will always be harder than their richer friends'. And this is not about oppression Olympics, it is about the fact that there are other groups of people who face the same kinds of indignities and discrimination as disabled people, it's not unique to us. Yet they are not openly encouraged to commit suicide when it all gets too much.
[The image is a photograph of a group of wheelchair users, followed by people walking, with signs that read "Not dead yet" and "We're not better off dead". It was taken by Cathy Cole and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]