Saturday, June 27, 2009

Once More With Feeling

I made the best of my Saturday by popping over to the Tate Modern in London to see some of the performances for Once More With Feeling. Unfortunately we couldn't get tickets to the evening events (if anyone did, do let us know!) but we did catch two of the daytime events, the 7000 year old woman performed by Lucy Thane and Tea for Thought, Davina Drummond and Nadine Jarvis's participatory rosettes of feminist meaning.

The rosettes were a great opportunity to get down a few words which define your relationship with feminism, what it means to you and what not. There were a huge range of answers 30 minutes into a 2 hour affair so I can only imagine the scope of the project! There's a lot of back and forth about what feminism is, who owns it, what's "real" and what's not allowed and on and on, and to a certain extent finding the words to describe it is important. However I'm intensely interested in what it is to people, how they define their needs and how that plays into feminism, this seems like a project that will start to pry into that (probably not as deeply as Catherine and Kristin though)

The full set will be available online some time, do look out for them on Davina and Nadine's websites.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Colouring Outside The Lines: The Exhibition

Gallery II at the University of Bradford hosts a new collaborative exhibition of female artists working beyond the bounds of the cultural mainstream, which opens tonight.

Is sewing art? Do you see the ‘best’ art in galleries? Whose interpretation is more valid: the artist or the critic? Is having an exhibition of all female artists exclusionary or important? What’s stopping you from being an artist?

This exhibition is the first collaborative curatorial venture of two young women, Rachel Kaye (Gallery II, University of Bradford) and Melanie Maddison (Colouring Outside The Lines zine), and seeks to open the discussion of who has access to art – in terms of both curators and artists.

Colouring Outside the Lines: The Exhibition will feature artwork and installations by Abigail Brown, Heidi Burton, Morwenna Catt, Naseem Darbey, Carolyn Mendelsohn and Helen Musselwhite.

Colouring Outside The Lines started life in 2003 as a self-produced zine. The publication interviewed female artists and included reproductions of their art giving the women featured a voice over their own productivity beyond traditional art criticism and the meta-narratives of the art world. The zine focused on artists working in less-conventional forms. Based on the philosophy of the Colouring Outside the Lines zine the curators worked together to select work which departed from the 'traditional canvas' and conventional mediums of creation and production - quite literally, work which coloured outside the lines. Visitors are invited to actively participate in contemporary debates on galleries and power, the differences between DIY and applied art, feminist art discourses and the possibilities of subverting institutional spaces.

Opening times.
Mon – Fri, 10am-5pm,
Thursdays ‘til 6pm.
Free entry

Special opening, Sat 4 July 11 – 4pm.
To coincide with the University of Bradford open day. At midday there will be a picnic and story-telling session with the opportunity to discuss the exhibition with the artists and curators
involved in the project in a relaxed setting. Meet up at 12 noon in the gallery.

Let us know if you make it along to the exhibition - we'd love to have your reviews in the comments.

Contributions reminder Issue 8

Bright ideas, burning issues, big love for a band/artist/entrepreneur?
Have you heard about a 'wonder of the world' that we should be promoting?

There's still 3 days to get your contribution together for issue 8 of Subtext.
We'd love to hear from you - the more voices in the magazine, all the better.

Here's looking forward to a burgeoning inbox come deadline day, Monday 29th June.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cervical Cancer Screening

The government yesterday announced its decision not to lower the screening age for cervical cancer to 20 in England (which it is elsewhere) as it would do "more harm than good". Yes, you did read that right. More harm to who exactly? More harm for the women involved or more harm to the government's pockets?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shake Your Art Maker

Some days you realise that there are things, groups, organisations that you didn't know about and that you really should.

One of those little discoveries today is The Women's Art Library (Make) a specialist library housed in London's Goldsmiths University.

The Women's Art Library began as an artists' initiative which eventually published catalogues and books as well as a magazine from the early 1980s to 2002. During this time women artists deposited unique documentation on their work and created personal files that functioned together as an alternative public space. Thousands of artists from around the world are represented in some form in this collection.

They have an interesting looking event coming up on Saturday featuring a tonne of female/feminist performance, open to the public 3-6pm Thameside and then guest list only (which is already fully subscribed) in the evening.

Carolee Schneeman was one of the first feminist performers I saw and her work really struck a chord while at university, needless to say I'm really looking forward to see what people are doing - expect a review.

“Once More with Feeling”

Once More With Feeling:
Performing the WAL/Make archive

East Room Tate Modern on 27 June 2009 7.30pm
(doors open 7pm )
RSVP make ( essential by 16 June
Admittance by guest list only

The Women’s Art Library/Make and Feminist Review presents an evening of rediscovery and new feminist performance art organised by Oriana Fox recipient of the Art in the Archive: Living with Make Bursary 2009.

Oriana was invited to engage with the unique Women's Art Library/Make, based at Goldsmiths, University of London. The result is an evening of new work and a series of tableaux vivant illustrating an oral history of feminist performance art that will include artists as diverse as Carolee Schneemann, Vanessa Beecroft, Marina Abramović, VALIE EXPORT, Shirley Cameron and Evelyn Silver, Annie Sprinkle and Linda Montano.

This evening will also feature invited artists:

Katherine Araniello who will respond to Martha Rosler’s ‘Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained' (1975), re-vitalising it from the perspective of contemporary disability politics.

Oreet Ashery
who will apply human hair to her face and body as she explores a compulsion that drove a number of early performances, such as Ana Mendieta’s ‘Facial Hair Transplant’ (1972) and Eleanor Antin’s painstaking beard application for her alter-ego The King (1972).

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen who will perform 'Never Mind Pollock' in which she re-enacts works by Janine Antoni, Ana Mendieta, Orlan, Yayoi Kusama and others who used their bodies as expressive and painterly tools.

Caroline Smith
who will perform as her alter-ego Mertle (a 50s-era housewife) paying homage to Bobby Baker’s, ‘Drawing on a Mother’s Experience’ (1988) and draws on her experience, “spilling” a selection of eating secrets collected from the public.

“Appropriating gestures, language and concepts from the history of feminist performance art I want to highlight the legacy of the field’s forerunners and to comment on how their work has been reinterpreted, subverted or perhaps ignored by contemporary women’s performance practice.”
Oriana Fox 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The You Magazine today (supplement in the Sunday Mail) has snippets from the forthcoming The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism by Ellie Levenson. The book itself is released 1st July but you can pre-order it from Amazon. Personally I wasn't sure what to expect but judging from the excerpts I saw today I have a horrible feeling I'm not going to be that impressed. Awful of me to say I know!


Friday, June 19, 2009

Song lyrics I'm currently hating...

...and keep on having to hear on the radio

and the best is no one knows who you are
just another girl alone at the bar

don't trust a hoe never trust a hoe wont trust a hoe wont trust me

shush girl shut your lips do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips
i said shush girl shut your lips do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips

From 'Don't Trust Me' by 303

I know how I read into this and it's not good! What about you?


Bradford ZIne fest this weekend

On Sunday 21st June The Treehouse Café, Bradford [map link] , will become host to a glorious celebration of all things DIY and papery.

Three rooms will be full to the brim with lots of incredible zines from all over the UK. Feminism, queer issues, anarchism, music, personal experiences, crafts, art, photography, history, comics, illustration… zines can and do cover everything; you’ll have a chance to peruse through these lovely self-published tomes of joy and meet the creators too! Manifesta, Lola and the Cartwheels, BD7 Punx, Branches Distro, Subtext, Mobile Menstrual Zine Library, Claptrap, Beep! and ZNA Distro will all be there for your enjoyment, plus a load more.

Then there are the special workshops! --

All day
Footprint [yay, Subtext printers] , a lovely printing co-op from leeds, will be making a ‘Zine on the Day’ – bring A5 submissions and see it come together through the hours.

All day
Bradford Zine Library- The Beginning. Ellie, general legend, hive housing co-op resident and publisher of one of the best new zines in ages ‘Every Text My Girlfriend Ever Sent Me’ will be taking submissions for a new Zine Library, to be based at the Café and 1in12 Club. Everyone has spare zines lying around at home, so bring yours in to be part of this!

All day
Claptrap 4 Launch- We’ll be unveiling the new Claptrap Zine to the world, as well as the results of our special ‘Photos of Bradford’ map and display.

All day-
Children’s peace library / Commonweal collection. This is a great chance to look through all the ace books in the library already at our centre… kids can enjoy the world’s only children’s peace library, whilst also contributing to a ‘Toddler Zine’, which will be made up on the day from contributors of a smaller age.

All Day-
Treehouse Café – we’ll be serving the usual fantastic vegan / vege soups, cakes, main meals, salads, teas and coffees. With the best fair trade, organic, local and volunteer-made credentials around.

2pm till 3pm
Adam and Cat- the dynamic parenting and craft duo- will be going through their legendary ‘Knitting for Beginners’ zine- with wool and needles provided.

3pm till 4pm
Adventures in Menstruating
‘Sanitary Disposal Units and you!’ Plus ‘Period Euphemisms- the colouring book!’

4pm till 5pm
An open discussion with people from mono, Beep!, Good Form Club, Claptrap and more-
‘Music Zines in Bradford- What is the importance? What are the challenges?’

5pm till 6 there will be a little bit of a rest bite for dinner and swapping tables around as we move into a poetry and music after party!

6pm – 7 – Zine readings.

7pm – 10 Poetry + Music evening.
Featuring: Sarah Thomasin, Doc Martin Quiver, Pete Williams, Garfunkle and Simon, Ben Allison, Katie Hyatt and Saul Williams 'Slam' excerpts. Open mic slots aplenty too, so bring your own words or songs to perform.

Jess & Gill will be tabling the Subtext stall, hope to see you there, come an say hi.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Persephone, 10 this year!


is a rather good publishing house which reprints much neglected books by 20th century authors, a huge amount of which are written by women.

Not only are the books marvelously well chosen super reads, they are the most beautiful dove grey packages of joy with delicious linings. I'm in love, I truely am. And have been for about 2 years and I would readily recommend everyone making use of their fabulous birthday deal of buy two get one free!

Not to worry if you can't make it to one of their London based shops as they have a highly efficient online shop and subscription package, see more here.

Incidentally, if you are in London they're celebrating in the Lambs Conduit shop until 9 tonight, I've already popped in for a chat and a glass of wine, they're an extremely welcoming bunch.

More pics from today


Political Parity

I've been hanging around the periphery of The Downing Street project of late, and I must say it's all interesting stuff - new political structures, new ideas, tonnes of enthusiasm.

So what a little treat that Meryl Roberts, 22, was tracked down by to talk about her political ambitions.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Reflection without the mirror

I just thought I'd share the book/online resource list that Rosa, the body image charity, published today on their facebook page


Sarah Grogan
Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children [2nd edition] (2008)

Susan Bordo
Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body (1993)

Susie Orbach
Fat Is A Feminist Issue (1978)

Susie Orbach
Bodies (2009)

Sandra-Lee Bartky
Foucault, Femininity and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power (1988) [taken from I. Diamond & L. Quinby, Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance]

Naomi Wolf
The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women (1991)

Caroline Knapp
Appetites: Why Women Want (2003)

Margo Maine & Joe Kelly
The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to be Perfect (2005)



Pink Stinks

The Illusionists

About Face

You can add to the list here, in the comments, or back over with Rosa on facebook.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday's Stop Porn Culture Fun

Rebecca Whisnant, prolific anti porn activist and author, lead an Object organised 'Stop Porn Culture' workshop on Saturday.

Rebecca flew all the way from the USA to lend us the combined experiences and information gathered over time working against the ever pervasive porn culture in main stream society. It was an excellent session with activists, students, those working against porn for almost forever and those new to the concept that it might not be the most fun industry in the world, there were even men in attendance.

Amongst the conversations we looked at the new Stop Porn Culture slideshow - It’s Easy Out Here for a Pimp: How a Porn Culture Grooms Kids for Sexual Exploitation - which can be used by any anti porn activists, with friends and family to a whole rooms of interested strangers. We also looked at the semantics of patriarchy, opression, porn and choice and role played putting our best thoughts forward in a Q&A session - which sounds awful, but is really always awfully fun.

Interested but didn't make it? Check out the following materials
London Feminist Network
Anti-Porn Activist Network

Drop your own links in the comments.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Edwina Currie on the pay gap...

As evil as the lure of procrasination might be, it did mean I stumbled across a gem of an interview with Edwina Currie on The One Show concerning the continuing pay gap between women and men. Such discrepencies don't seem to cause any alarm in Currie; her responses implying that this is the way it is and even, this is the way it should be. The justification behind this? The matter of choice. Edwina Currie talks about the choices women make during their careers, choices involving children (think taking a 'break' in employment when you decide to start a family*). Of course, we women make such choices so it is only right that women's pay reflects di da da. The point at which Currie starts throwing around this buzzword of choice I am reminded of Catherine Hakim and her Preference Theory (basically the notion that patterns in women's employment reflect the lifestyle preferences of women rather than patriarchal structures in society). Do we see the problem here? We can talk about 'choice' and 'preference' and doll this situation up as women being active decision makers of their life, their roles, their careers because that's the easiest option isn't? It's just merely an attempt to mask the fact that despite equal pay legislation and work by the women's movement, our society, to put it simply, still sucks on this. Why pretend that this is what women want because clearly it really isn't. And of course Edwina will talk about 'choice' because it can, to an extent, be a matter of choice for women like her because of their background affording them more opportunities than perhaps the rest of us.

And all of this from day-time tv.


*Feeling the sarcasm?...

Disclaimer: I don't particularly like The One Show and I feel the fact I found myself watching this episode on demand this morning was purely a reflection of my avoiding work...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

HerStoria, History With Visible Women

Despite David Starkey's pompous accusation that history is becoming "feminised" it is actually becoming equalised - in that it is no longer the mirror with which white men can see themselves as main players, but one which shows all of the nuanced characters of our times.

, the recently launched history magazine giving voice and visibility to the lives and lifestyles of women through history, is papery proof of this change.

Covering Victorian Lady travellers, women's workhouse experiences, reactions to great changes in society and a look at women missing from the retelling of history, it is a bastion of academia and general interest and I recommend you check it out.


Lady GaGa..Postmodern Feminist?

So yes, firstly I do find it strange that a new 'out-there' female singer enters the fold and we're clambering over their stance, if any, on feminism - but hey, I'm guilty as the rest of us. Lady GaGa...the epitome of post-modern feminism? Some articles suggest that LGG isn't a feminist (and in one she is quoted as saying this) yet she states her music is about "sexually empowering women" and:

I think it's great to be a sexy, beautiful woman who can f--- her man after she makes him dinner...There's a stigma around feminism that's a little bit man-hating. And I don't promote hatred, ever. That's not to say that I don't appreciate women who feel that way.


Young women equate feminism with man hating and not embracing any tradition as a woman, and I think it’s okay to embrace tradition. Look after your man and take care of your father; be good to your mom and dad; cook sometimes at home.

Perhaps LGG herself suffers from the "I'm not a feminist but..." syndrome or, on the other hand, this is all part of a post-modern identity creation - defying definitions of concepts such as 'feminist, feminism' or even 'woman' which the gender-bending aspects of some songs might suggest. Perhaps this is just all part of the performance.

Some bloggers' thoughts below:

Another Resolution: Lady GaGa is not a feminist
Rosemary Mac Cabe: this video makes me want to...
Feminist Music Geek: Lady Gaga - not buying it
We Are the Wave: Lady Gaga


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Secret Daughter

As much as I enjoyed making issue 7 I'm already working on my stuff for issue 8 including a spread on women in film, behind the camera, calling shots, changing lives and all that jazz.

As part of this I've interviewed June Cross, amazing journalist, documentary maker and now author, here's a link to her site for "Secret Daughter" her new book, based on her life growing up as the secret of her white mother.

I was lucky enough to see her read from the book, then read the book myself which I thoroughly enjoyed - if you want a review ask for one, otherwise the ruminations are my own!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Boris Keep Your Promise - Save London's Last Rape Crisis Centre Launch Night

The joys of being back in London mean I'm getting the opportunity to pop about the city seeing what's going on; last night it was the launch of the North London Fawcett pressure group to make sure Boris keeps his promise to increase rape crisis services for the 3.9 million women of the city.

The event was held in an art space in Bethnal Green and featured comedy, music acts and cabaret. I was a bit worried that there was too much Boris hate and not enough constructive information and action taking place but that was evened out when Matty, the organiser, and a spokesperson from Croyden Rape Crisis centre, the last Rape Crisis centre in the city, took to the stage.

It's alright to draw attention to a problem, but if your audience aren't going away knowing the systematic lack of services for women is due to the fact that government is always over represented by men and sees issues concerning women as fringe issues then what can you achieve?

Get involved with Boris Keep Your Promise, but also be aware of your local situation, be proactive and support your local rape crisis services in any way you can.

Pics on Flickr


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fay Weldon - The F Word

The July issue of Easy Living Magazine features The F Word: an introduction by Fay Weldon. Whilst Weldon acknowledges a New Feminism which isn't anti-man or anti-sex; the fact our feminist actions need not focus merely on our experiences as Western women and the persisting negative connotation of the term 'feminism', there is one thing which troubled me very early in the piece:

"But then feminists committed the worst sin of all - they became boring. They will go on being seen as boring, I fear, until they acknowledge what everyone accepts except them - that men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically, and that sex is important. It's a Freud thing".

Coming from a sociology, rather than psychology, background I just can't get my head around this assertion. I also cannot envision that this is the key issue 'holding back feminism' or that it is what has made us "boring" (though I can't even imagine us being accused of being boring!). Why is sex important? What if sex itself is a construction? (and there are those who would argue just that!) How can we completely disregard the differences society creates of us in favor of such apparent innate ones*?

Aside from this niggling bit for me, the article was an enjoyable read; particularly Fay Weldon's brief charting of the feminist movement with tidbits from her own life. Has anyone else had the chance to see this? Or does anyone else have any thoughts on this?


*strangely enough I picked up a book from Waterstones today about gender and schooling/careers which actually speaks from a psychological, rather than sociological, perspective. Expect thoughts also on that to follow!