Friday, 30 March 2012

Walking through Walthamstow, or the cultural semiotics of street harrassment


Posted by Goblin

Not quite sure how to start this. Maybe with a story.

It was the Lashings half-AGM on  Saturday, and one member arrived slightly discombobulated due to various street harassment incidents on the way from the station. We commiserated with them, raged a bit, discussed a bit, carried on with the meeting/rehearsal, and then I left to go to a friend's party in Walthamstow. I've never really been to Walthamstow, but I made the foolish assumption that it wouldn't be much different in terms of sartorial expectation than the rest of London on the first warmish sunny Saturday in the year, and so that I was dressed in a little black playsuity thing and thigh socks wdn't be a problem. Foolish, foolish assumption.

I was yelled at pretty much continuously from the time I left the station to arriving at my friend's house, which I did in a state somewhat analogous to a melting jelly. It was awful. Mostly groups of men, alternately and indiscriminately commenting approvingly on various parts of my anatomy and telling me to 'get dressed', alongside a fair smattering of other ephiphets and complete depersonalisation ('Hey, x, get a look at *that*!') God it was awful. I'm shuddering just writing this. Bear in mind that I am 5"2, osteoporotic, tiny-boned and unskilled in any form of self defence bar screaming; also, at this point I had no clue where the hell I was or was going. It could have been scarier, but not by much. And what did I do, in my self-assertive, culturally aware, articulate way? Absolutely fucking nothing, that's what. Kept my eyes down and tried to fold myself into myself, as if I was running away and leaving my body behind me to be stared at. No reaction, no confrontation, no reprimand: just the furtive, fervent prayer for getting through this without injury.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Links roundup

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

 Joyce B at Racism Review on the murder of Trayvon Martin [TW for mention of racism, racist violence and murder]:
Most of the parents of black children I know have had that conversation with their children. “You’re black, honey…and that means certain things to certain people.” We do it to protect them, to give them a lens so that when they’re treated out of line they don’t think they’re crazy, or that something is wrong with them. We do it so they can survive this world that encodes crime and drugs and lust and danger on their bodies. And yet, there’s Trayvon, there’s Jordan, and hundreds of others beaten and killed because they wear the ‘suspect’ suit as their birthright. It’s not new—of course. It’s old. It’s Emmett Till old. It’s slavery old. 
H. Samy Alim: #WeAreTrayvonMartin: Breaking the Silence Around Racist Abuse. A brilliant and powerful essay on an aspect of experience that people are often discouraged from sharing [TW for mention of racism, racist violence and murder]:
... it is clear that the murder of Trayvon Martin provides us with a moment to deal with the personal and collective trauma of racial abuse. Very rarely are our narratives of racial abuse and racial violence heard in the public sphere. And while the following narratives are personal  — thus exposing my vulnerability — I believe sharing them is necessary in order to help break the silence around racial abuse.
Kath from Fat Heffalump on lived realities of body policing:
In my own case, I’m told that people sneer and stare because of my brightly coloured hair, tattoos and clothing. As if that is somehow a suitable excuse for their behaviour. But I can assure you that I got the stares and sneers back when I was a fat brown mouse, doing everything I could to be invisible to the world. The truth is, in this “anti-obesity” culture, people are taught to sneer, stare and ridicule. They are taught that people like me are a scourge on society, that we are burden. 

Alex Gabriel analyses rape culture, street harrassment and the Home Office's problematic anti-rape ad campaign [TW for depictions of rape and accounts of misogynist harrassment].

An older essay, but since the film came out in the UK this week, it's relevant again: Shannon Riffe at Racialicious on why The Casting of The Hunger Games matters.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Alternative Sex Education


Posted by Sebastienne

So, the OxFringe programme is out, and it's official - Lashings are performing a show called "Alternative Sex Education" on the 8th and 10th of June. It's at the Old Fire Station, an incredibly central & accessible venue which we are totally chuffed to have secured - ten minutes from Oxford train station and one minute from Oxford bus station. (Londoners: by train you can get from Paddington to Oxford quicker than you can get from Ealing to Barking.) See more details & book tickets here.

Development is well underway for the show that we're calling "" - bouncing off from a review we got which said "if only Lashings could end up on the national curriculum", and also the desire that many of us have to do a schools' tour one day, we're developing a show that's based around the types of sex & relationship education that we wish we'd received.

We're super-excited about some of the things that this is going to let us talk about! Titles are being thrown around like "The Consent Song", "Bad Romance", "Professor Galatea's History of Eurocentric Queerdom"... (by the by, Professor Galatea would love to hear your suggestions for historical figures to be included on this list, particularly in the 1550-1850 bracket).

But it's also tough.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Links round up

Lashings of Ginger Beer
Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Government consultation on proposals for same-sex marriage. Let them know what you think!

An open letter on including people of colour in the fat activist movement:

BiCon 2012 and BiReCon
BiCon is an annual conference/convention on bisexuality, including discussion groups, workshops and activities.  Every other year it also incorporates BiReCon, a day exploring research relating to bisexuality. This year the theme is bisexuality and mental health.

A Vagina Dialog: A Transgender Vagina Talks Back. [Link is to a video]
"My masculinity and my vagina live together in harmony. Yes, sometimes they fight; sometimes they get along fine; but regardless, they always do and always will cohabit as me."

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Academic round-up

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Information that may be of interest to students and researchers in the fields of gender and sexuality.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Lashings origins: Annalytica

AnnalyticaPosted by Annalytica

 I'm doing something a bit different for my post this week. I want to tell you the story of how I joined Lashings - and just for a change, I'm presenting it in comic strip form. Sebastienne has written about Lashings' beginnings from her perspective here, and you can read yet another version of our history here. Below are my memories of how we got started.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Fundraising is a Feminist Issue


Posted by Sebastienne

Being a member of Lashings of Ginger Beer Time is great fun. Sometimes, we get to stand up in front of a room full of politically-minded feminists and queers, and we get to be ourselves and sing silly songs and somehow we get applause for it.

Being a member of Lashings of Ginger Beer Time is frantic. At the Oxford panto gig, I'd invited a bunch of awesome poets & comics to come and perform in the bar, and I didn't get a chance to see any of them because I was running around trying to get the sound desk set up and making sure that the stage didn't fall off its breeze-blocks.

Links roundup

Lashings of Ginger Beer

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Ragen Chastain posts a deconstruction of Tara Parker-Pope's article 'The Fat Trap' [TW/content note: all  links cited in this recommendation deal with weight loss and dieting]. I (Galatea) actually think that these are both well worth reading, although for different reasons -- Parker-Pope's article remains heavily invested in what Kate Harding calls 'The Fantasy of Being Thin', but her first-hand profiles of exactly how difficult life is for a small sample of people who manage to maintain serious weight loss are incredibly illuminating, particularly for people who enjoy the privileges associated with being normatively-embodied.

The Onion reports satirical 'news' that tends to range from mildly offensive to bang-on hilarious -- but sadly, this story (Best Part Of Gay 12-Year-Old’s Day Half Hour Spent Eating Lunch Alone On Staircase) doesn't actually read as fictional at all. [TW for discussion of homophobia, transphobia, bullying]

The Encyclopedia of Feminism (according to Harry Potter) - this brilliant (and sadly fictional) set of essays uses Harry Potter characters as the subjects for feminist & intersectionalist case studies, eg,
"Hufflepuff and the “Virtue of the Working Class”: The Silent Majority"
"Flitwick and Hagrid: Ethnic Minorities Will Always Clean Up After You, or Uncle Tom in Hogwarts"

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Curious Case of the Multiplicity of Watsons


Posted by Sebastienne

The internets have been roused, and they are very angry.

What can have caused this, you might think - has the US senate passed SOPA, legislation which could destroy the World Wide Web as we know it?

No - the unthinkable has happened.

Some TV execs in the US have decided that what the world needs now is another take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos... and they've cast an Asian-American woman in the role of Watson.

So obviously, the comments under every news article are full of the vilest kinds of misogyny and racism. It's even been summed up in Impact font:

Ah, Doctor Watson. Sherlock Holmes' "one fixed point in a changing age". A solid and stoic counterpart, sometimes mistakenly represented as unintelligent, but always as devotedly faithful. As the narrator of most of Conan-Doyle's stories, he is the audience identification figure, the "everyman" who provides us with a window on Holmes' unique world.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Links round up

Lashings of Ginger Beer
Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

 Lucy Liu to play (Jane?) Watson in new US TV adaptation of 'Sherlock Holmes'! Hooray! Possibility that the gender-switch is because CBS is afraid of running a show with gay subtext... boo? Internet fanboys commence with the inevitable sexist and racist put-downs of Liu (TW for the obvious)... BOO! (Bonus fun game: Count the number of comments on that last link that begin with 'I'm not racist/sexist, but...')

China MiƩville brings ALL OF THE RIGHTNESS on 'Tintin au Congo' and the racism therein:
It is [upsetting] to have to point out, yet again, that there is a distinction between having the legal right to say something & having the moral right not to be held accountable for what you say. Being asked to apologise for saying something unconscionable is not the same as being stripped of the legal right to say it. It’s really not very fucking complicated. Cry Free Speech in such contexts, you are demanding the right to speak any bilge you wish without apology or fear of comeback. You are demanding not legal rights but an end to debate about & criticism of what you say. When did bigotry get so needy?
EMBODIMENT: A Portrait of Queer Life in America is a beautiful set of photographs and stories profiling various members of various queer communities throughout the USA. It will make you feel warm and happy and It-Gets-Better-ish.
This is an image of Cooper, 2009, Oakland CA from this entry in the EMBODIMENT archives.

Friday, 2 March 2012

DANGEROUS INDEED (spoilers for 'A Dangerous Method"; TW for consensual kink and references to child abuse)


Posted by Goblin

So. I have a staggering, shocking announcement, people. I AM GOING TO DISCUSS A FILM I LIKE. This isn’t quite as unusual as it may appear. It’s more that usually films I love come with caveats: see Dragon Tattoo, for example, which I was terribly excited about. The vast majority of contemporary cultural output, particularly American cultural output, comes with problematic ideologies as standard. So I’ve become the person that comes out of what friends consider a perfectly enjoyable film (Stardust, say, or Up) and writes the kind of review that loses one friends, acquaintances, and to date at least one lover.


Oxford: Events in March

Lashings of Ginger Beer

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

March is a great month for queer-feminist events in Oxford!

Oxford International Women's Festival kicks off today with a performance of The Vagina Monologues at the OFS. It's also on tomorrow (Saturday 3 March), and it stars all sorts of Lash-people, including erstwhile techie Shev. Not only will this event be great fun, they're also raising money for Oxford Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre.

Sunday 4 March - Laugh Out Proud, featuring our very own Sally Outen, will be raising laughs and money for all sorts of great local charities.

Sunday 11 March - Gender Rebels: A Queer and Feminist Cabaret - strictly speaking, this is part of the Oxford International Women's Festival, but I draw particular attention to it because everyone's favourite Queer Feminist Burlesque Collections LASHINGS OF GINGER BEER TIME are doing a couple of short sets there. As are Lash-favourites Lucy Ayrton & Liztopia. We think it will be a great event, and would love to see you there.

Sunday 25 March - the deeply homophobic organisation "Christian Concern" will be arriving in Oxford for their "controversial" conference. There will be some exciting actions taking place to show them - and the world at large - that Oxford does NOT welcome homophobes.