Wednesday 30 March 2011

Links roundup

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Welcome to the weekly Lashings links round up! Sorry it's a bit late this week -it's been a busy week! Feel free to add your own links in the comments, with a brief description and trigger warnings if appropriate.

Lesley at Two Whole Cakes advises on How Not To Be A Boorish, Body-Policing Jerk

Gender Differences and Casual Sex: The New Research. Discusses new findings re: straight women's vs. straight men's participation in casual sex:
And, for once the science reporting wasn’t awful, and the paper really did conclude what the press report says it does: that most of the gender difference in women’s and men’s propensity to agree to a broad-daylight, out-of-nowhere proposition for casual sex is driven by women’s perception that their risks are higher, and their likely enjoyment is lower from the proposer.
Mr Fry, I hope you're listening!

Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes A graphic representation of the most commonly used words in advertising directed at boys and girls.

Friday 25 March 2011

Watch Your Language

Posted by Sally Outen

I'm going to dedicate this post to various ideas that will probably be very familiar to many of you reading it. This isn't especially exciting or radical material, but I hope you won't mind too much... and, OK, I promise to try better next time. The thing is, I'm finding myself having to go over the same old ground lately, in current debates over 'political correctness' and problematic terminology, and because I'd like to have all my arguments ready in one place. So here, in a similar spirit to
Derailing for Dummies, is a quick summary of responses I've received recently after calling people out on the use of slurs directed at people from marginalised groups. I'll provide a quick rant about deconstruction of each of these responses in turn.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Academic Roundup

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Here is some information which may be of interest to students, academics and researchers in fields relating to feminism, gender and sexuality.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Femme? Subversive?

SebastiennePosted by Sebastienne

While Lashings were in York for the 'Carnival of Feminist Cultural Activism' (there will be a write-up coming, I've just been very busy!), we met lots of shiny people. One of them was Alexa Athelstan, who is doing some awesome work on queer feminities. She's looking for participants who identify as feminine in an
alternative, queer, or subversive way, to take part in her research project. There's a questionnaire, an artistic representation, and an interview - that's a chance to make pretty pictures and talk about yourself - so what are you waiting for? Drop her an email at

Links roundup

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Welcome to the weekly Lashings links round up! Feel free to add your own links in the comments, with a brief description and trigger warnings if appropriate.

Gay Marine's husband surprised at respect shown by Naval Academy. This is incredibly lovely, if also very sad.

Your Legs Came for Free, Why Don't My Wheels? An interesting article on the cost of obtaining a wheelchair in the UK.

On the webcomics front: Rooster Tales: Words and Pictures from a NZ Transboy

Fat People Art does what it says on the tin. Beautiful artwork featuring fat people.

An old essay, recently reposted at Shakesville: The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck.

There are the jokes about women, about wives, about mothers, about raising daughters, about female bosses. They are told in my presence by men who are meant to care about me, just to get a rise out of me, as though I am meant to find funny a reminder of my second-class status. I am meant to ignore that this is a bullying tactic, that the men telling these jokes derive their amusement specifically from knowing they upset me, piss me off, hurt me. They tell them and I can laugh, and they can thus feel superior, or I can not laugh, and they can thus feel superior. Heads they win, tails I lose. I am used as a prop in an ongoing game of patriarchal posturing, and then I am meant to believe it is true when some of the men who enjoy this sport, in which I am their pawn, tell me, "I love you."
It still rings incredibly, painfully true.

Both of these are quite US-centric, but:
* New York Times blog post on How to Help Japan
* Listing for InterAction members accepting donations for earthquake/tsunami relief [link updated 29/10/13 on request]

Friday 18 March 2011

Five Things I Wish I Hadn't Learned from Disney's 'The Lion King' (... and one thing I wish I had).

Posted by Galatea

Two things I’m not about to apologise for: being an enormous nerd, and caring about children’s film and literature.

In case you were wondering, mine is the geeky sensibility that animates a lot of the critiques of sci-fi and fantasy in Lashings, including our existing Lion King sketch (which was, if I say so myself, the breakaway hit of our Edinburgh 2010 run – if you haven’t yet had the chance to see twelve grown adults miming carnivorous vaginas for a paying audience, I recommend you rectify this ASAP).

I’ve spent most of my adult life struggling to balance an extremely sharp and pointy feminist nose with a love of all things animated and super-powered, hobbit-ridden and Hogwarts-bound (I draw the line, however, at psychic talking dragons). I love geeky shit enough to ask some really difficult questions about who it serves and what it does: feminists who want to know why I’m wasting my time with this trivial silliness and geeks who whine that I’m harshing their uncritical squee tend to be given equally short shrift.

I also think that there’s nothing less feminist than acting as though children’s literature isn’t important, or that popular children’s texts (such as Disney films) aren’t literature. These things, which are pushed on kids to a ridiculous extent in Western culture (see here and here for discussions, and here for a really interesting alternative take on The Little Mermaid), play a huge role in shaping their inner lives. I don’t mean ‘Oh, kids will watch Superman and then think that they can fly’ or anything so pointlessly reductive: what I mean is that the ranges of characters and situations shown will, in some very real ways, help to shape kids’ senses of what is possible, both within fantasy* and outside it**.

* Eg., a child (generally!) knows that flying is make believe and ze cannot really fly.

** But if flying = a make-believe symbol that stands in for ‘being strong and adventurous’, and child only ever sees a certain type of character getting to fly... well, you tell me.

I think Ursula le Guin puts it best:

As you read a book word by word and page by page, you participate in its creation, just as a cellist playing a Bach suite participates, note by note, in the creation, the coming-to-be, the existence, of the music. And, as you read and re-read, the book participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.
-- Ursula K. Le Guin

Disney Princesses are a rant for another day, or possibly even another lifetime. But this is what I have to say about the five things I really wish that ickle baby Galatea hadn’t learned from The Lion King:

1. Girls kick ass! For exactly as long as they need to until the Real Hero shows up.

This is the thing that got me angry enough to write the Lashings skit in the first place. When It All Goes Horribly Wrong at Pride Rock re: evil Machiavellian uncles, young lioness Nala courageously leaves her family and travels across the desert in order to find somebody who can come and put a stop to Scar. She’s the sole surviving hope of her people (mostly because they believe their prince to be dead, but hey, I’ll take my female heroes where I can find them), and gets sent off with a really touching duet in the stage-musical version*.

* Which interests me particularly because it's performed by two women (link is to a video, lyrics here), backed with a chorus of mostly women -- which is not something you see that often in mainstream pop culture, particularly when the song isn't about love or men. Hooray, Bechdel-test-passing on the West End!

But all of that immediately ceases to be important once Simba decides that hmmm, maybe he’ll wander back home and fulfil his patriarchal dest-- er, I mean, claim that pesky kingdom back after all. And answer me this, cats and kittens: if adult!Nala is demonstrably able to knock adult!Simba over and pin him to the ground just as she did when they were cubs... why is that he is able to fight Scar and she isn’t?

[Video description: Pumbaa the warthog and Timon the meerkat are stalked and chased by Nala. Pumbaa becomes stuck under a tree root, and they seem about to be eaten until Simba appears and attacks Nala. The two lions fight until Nala knocks Simba to the ground and pins him there, in a pose that echoes a moment when they played together as cubs at the beginning of the film. Simba recognises her, and gasps 'Nala?'. End clip.]

What really spins me out is that I’d never even noticed this as a wee’un. Because of course, no matter how strong or brave or clever Nala is, she isn’t The Hero. Of course, she isn’t there to be identified with, or loved in her own right, because she’s The Girl, and no matter how competent she is we’d better not forget that her real job is to look sexy in a disturbingly anthropomorphic fashion during the profoundly G-rated Disneyfied sex-scene.


2. Accents as narrative determinism:

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Standard USAmerican = Hero (Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Sarabi, all the good lionesses)

British RP = highly intelligent, whether for good (Zazu, played by Rowan Atkinson) or for evil (Scar, played by Jeremy Irons).

Working-class Bronx = the Comic Relief (Timon and Pumbaa)

Afro-American/Latino cadences = Comedy Villanous Henchmen (the hyenas, speaking parts voiced by Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin)

Swahili?* = Unfathomably Wise Elder (Rafiki).

It’s particularly worrying that the accents also seem to function as marker of species, and that the more class privilege your accent is associated with, the higher up the food chain you tend to be. Literally.

On the other hand, I do have to give massive props to Niketa Calame and Jason Weaver, who played Young Nala and the singing voice of Young Simba resepctively and were, to the best of my knowledge, the first Black actors to voice a Disney hero and heroine.

* Given that the character is named in Swahili, and speaks a couple of phrases of it, I’m going to assume that that’s what the voice-actor Robert Guillame, who is actually USAmerican, was going for. The racefail in that isn't mine to unpack, particularly as Guillame is African-American, but I do think it's that it's there.

3. Effeminacy Is Evil

Oh Scar, Scar, Scar. Much as you might be the favourite character of every gentleman-fancying person with whom I’ve ever watched this film as an adult, you are still decidedly problematic . Between the dramatic gestures, slinky walk, camp asides about being surrounded by IDIOTS!, and being physically slighter and less muscular than the other lions, it’s fairly easy to read the character as less conventionally-masculine, and I think this is intentional on the film-makers’ behalf. More troublingly, his gender performance seems to be directly linked to his evil nature, as in one scene the character admits that he resorts to conspiracy because he is less physically strong than his brother (‘at the shallow end of the gene pool’). Although in the stage version, part of Scar’s villiany is wanting to ‘marry’ Nala against her will, he shows no interest in her until the idea of a succession is suggested by Zazu – make of that what you will.

For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t really object to Disney fielding a queer villain as a once-off. But it happens with irritating regularity, and it tends to be the only portrayal of non-normative gender performance that gets into mainstream kids’ film. If the only images of gender-unconventionality you see growing up are irrevocably paired with evildom, what does that do to your perception of queers? If you’re a baby queerthing yourself, what does it do to your perception of you?

Well, aside from turn a lot of us into Goths, obviously.

(Full disclaimer: At the time The Lion King came out in cinemas, I was a freakishly tall, skinny pre-teen with an enormous mane of bushy black hair and a withering contempt for anyone not conversant with fractal geometry and the intricacies of the mythos of J.R.R. Tolkien. D’you think I got called ‘Uncle Scar’ every day for a week at break? Answers on a postcard. See also: my ongoing obsession with the bewilderingly high proportion of Disney villians who happen to have green eyes.)

Occasionally I think of the legions of soft-spoken, elegant, evil-intentioned but physically non-violent men who have been the antagonists in every Disney film I grew up with, from Robin Hood ’s Sir Hiss to Aladdin’s Jafar to The Frog Princess’s Dr Facilier. Then I place them alongside the legions of Disney lady-villains who have similarly broken the conventions of gender presentation by being conventionally-unattractive (Ursula the Sea Witch), loud and aggressive (The Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, Cruella de Ville) or unfemininely ambitious/determined/demanding (Cinderella and Snow White’s stepmothers, Madame Medusa from The Rescuers, the evil Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp). And then I dance around and around the room, singing at the top of my voice: ‘Thank G*d, thank g*d, thank g*d I’m queer!’.

(Full-on butch ladies, incidentally, don’t exist. Or at least they won’t until Disney makes Mulan, five years later, and that is another post for another day.)

4. Hierarchy Is Natural and Monarchy Is Awesome (particularly when the Royal Family is capable of eating you)

Say what you like about the Royal Wedding Hype that is already tying multiple knots in my organic anti-heteropatriarchy knickers... but not even Princess Anne at the peak of her fox-hunting career was ever known to chase down her subjects with a pack of corgis, rip out their carotid arteries and nom on their juicy still-twitching corpses. ‘Circle of life’, my free-range herbivorous arse.

5. ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’

... finally my most deeply-felt and serious objection to this film of all: like anyone else who was a teenager in the 90s, I had to listen to this being played at graduations, school dances, weddings, end-of-year choir numbers, etc until it came out my fucking nose. Eurgh. Sir Elton, I love you like the slightly embarassing Tory-leaning luvvie uncle I never had, but at times you have a lot to answer for.

... and one thing I wish I had:

[TW for discussion of kitty incest]

This has been bothering me for SIXTEEN YEARS now: Seriously, who the hell is Nala’s father?

Either it’s Mufasa, in which case she ends up having kids with her half-brother, or it’s Scar, in which case she ends up being almost pressured into having kids with her Dad (and still ends up having kids with her cousin). I’ve had enough cats in my life to be prepared to give points for animal-behaviour accuracy if turns out that either theory is true, but I think that both of them may cause Disney executives to spontaneously combust. For what it’s worth, a quick Google suggests that I am not the only person to have lost sleep over this. In the extremely unlikely event that I ever come into contact with anyone who worked on the film, I’m going to fix them with my best wide-eyed and innocent expression and ask about it.

Because I am, of course, chock-full of highly-intelligent green-eyed genderqueer evil.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Academic Roundup

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Here is some information which may be of interest to students, academics and researchers in fields relating to feminism, gender and sexuality.

On What Terms?: Re-Thinking Feminism and Radicalism

A Panel Discussion organized by The Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality (BIGS) Postgraduate Group, which aims to consider some of the complex intersections between feminism and radicality/radicalism

Who's it for?
Open to all

Birkbeck College, Room 151, Malet Street Building

5th April 2011, 6.30-8.30 pm

bigs.postgrads at


More info

Sexuality Summer School: Queer Temporalities

Four days of workshops, discussion panels, lectures and student-lead seminars to discuss and critique representations and understandings of gender, sexuality and queerness as they relate to concepts and constructions of the temporal.

Who's it for?
Postgraduates and researchers working in the broadly defined area of sexuality studies.

University of Manchester

May 17th - May 20th, 2011

SexualitySummerSchool at


More info

Sexualisation: A Cause for Concern?

One day seminar sponsored by the British Sociological Association, to explore sexualisation and sexual health from a sociological lens

Who's it for?
Postgraduate researchers, academics and practitioners working in the broad field of sexualities, health and illness

University of Sheffield, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)

Tuesday July 5th 2011, 9am - 5:30 pm

BSA members - FREE, Non members - £25

More info

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Dates for your diary

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Below are some events that may be of interest to Lashers. Please note that we are not responsible for these events: we are just passing on the information. Please contact the organisers of each event to find out more. The @ symbol in organisers' email addresses has been replaced with "at" to avoid attracting spambots.

Central America Women's Network 20th anniversary celebration

What: An evening of talks and discussion with guest speakers from Honduras followed by a drinks reception

When: Thursday 31st March 2011, 6:30-8:30pm

Where: Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA

Contact: info at

Find out more
This website also gives details of a speaker tour by Evelyn Cuellar and Mercedes Lainez, who are women's rights activists from Honduras. They will be speaking at various venues around the UK from 29th March - 12th April.

Oxford LGBT Book Club

What: A new Oxford book club for everyone interested in reading books with an LGBT theme. This month they are reading "Tipping the Velvet" by Sarah Waters

When: Monday 4th April, at 7pm

Where: The Jam Factory

Find out more

Lesbian History Group

What: The Oxford Lesbian History Group is a small, friendly and informal group which welcomes new members. The group has an interest in all
aspects of lesbian history and culture but members are not all experts
or academic historians.Meetings usually take the form of a talk
given by one of the members of the group but there are also sometimes
discussions and social activities.

When: Upcoming meetings (all at 8pm):

Tuesday 22 March - talk on Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday 12 April - talk: Feeling like a woman, looking like a man.
How lesbians, both real and fictional, have made space for themselves,
and how they move through the male city.

Tuesday 24 May - talk on Jane Rule

Tuesday 7 June - event for Pride: Butch and femme: current concept or
lesbian history?

Where: Basement of the Castle Tavern, Castle Street, Oxford

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Follow the Lashings Blog on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

If you use LiveJournal or Dreamwidth, you can sign up to a feed and have Lashings blog posts sent straight to your reading list or friends list.

The Dreamwidth feed is here:

The LiveJournal feed is here:

Links roundup

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Claire Durham, 'Help, Not Hinder, Haiti'
An enlightening discussion of the ways in which giving physical items to charity may not always be the most helpful thing to do, and how best to assist charities and NGOs in carrying out their work.

Riot Nrrd Comics. Geekery, foolishness, Star Wars and Firefly references, from an LGBT perspective and with a marked lack of the fail sometimes seen in other geek-oriented webcomics. Also features pretty much the best Joss Whedon takedown this side of 'Dead Girlfriend'.

Shakesville: Dan Savage Is Full of Fail [TW for fat hatred, misogyny and Dan Savage being Dan Savage]. This kind of behaviour is one of the reasons that Lashings has so far not chosen to participate in the It Gets Better Project, despite the fact that many awesome people have done so.

... An example of one such is Rebecca Drysdale, whose fantastic music video has been recreated at many a Lashings rehearsal!

Finally, this has been around for a while, but we love it so: Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber

Monday 14 March 2011

Note on comments

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Our spam filter is being a little over-enthusiastic, so if your comment doesn't appear immediately that's probably why. We'll check the spam folder as often as we can, so genuine comments that end up there by accident and are within the safe space policy should get published soon. Sorry about that!

On the theme of spam, have a look at this xkcd strip that I particularly like:

Friday 11 March 2011

Asexuality (or 'How I'm NOT an amoeba!')

Posted by Jenni

So, where to begin? I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Jenni, I'm 20, I study Philosophy and Theology, I enjoy writing, acting, reading, baking, sewing, generally crafting, I like dying my hair fun colours, I'm a geek, I love comics, and...oh - I'm asexual. That's right. Asexual. And not like a plant (awesome as that would be, it's not biologically possible for me. Sorry to disappoint you.) So what does it mean? Well, to summarise a label that's still coming into it's own as best I can - I am not sexually attracted to anyone. Yes, that's right - I don't experience sexual attraction. And just to answer some of the most common questions this gets me in a nice, easy to read list:

  • Yes, physically I am perfectly fine.

  • Yes, my hormones are all fine.

  • Yes, I can experience arousal.

  • Yes, I can have relationships (I am a romantic asexual)

  • No, I was never sexually abused.

  • No, I am not just 'celibate' - that is a choice, this is an orientation.

  • No, I am not frigid

  • No, I am not scared of sex

  • No, I don't need to meet 'the one', thank you.

  • No, having sex with you will not change my opinion.

There's probably more, but as you can see - asexuality is not something that's often understood. It took me until I was 18 to work out there was a word for what I was, and that I wasn't broken - all of my friends would talk about how 'hot' someone was, or how they would so 'do that'. And I just didn't get it. It wasn't until I found AVEN ( that I realised I wasn't the only one who didn't. Of course, it's now two years later, and I'm trying to get the word out there - I currently vlog for Hot Pieces of Ace ( who are a fantastic bunch.

I'm aware asexuality is a new idea for a lot of people, so I'm not going to go into too much detail this time round (leave me questions, I'll answer as many as I can on my next post or in the comments!) but I'll quickly tell you something important - we can be romantic! For me, romantic attraction and sexual attraction are separate things, and I only experience one. For some sexuals, they may be linked completely, but I'm sure you can imagine cases where you experience one apart from the other, right? That's basically how it works. Now, for me, this means that if I was in a romantic relationship with someone sexual, I would quite probably have sex. This is because I am indifferent to sex, and since I'm in physical working order, it'd probably be quite enjoyable. I just have no active desire to try it for it's own sake. For some aseuxals, this isn't the case - some are repulsed by the notion of sex, and others just don't fancy it. We're all different people after all.

So, that's my mini-introduction, more next time! I'll leave you with some of my fictional role models who can be read as asexual.

Sherlock Holmes - yes, yes, you slash fangirls, him and Watson are clearly meant to be. But you know, that doesn't exclude his asexuality. Since the Moffat and Gatiss BBC version came out, we've had an influx of younger aces (that's a common term for being asexual) being like "THAT'S WHAT IT IS." Sherlock has been very good for us as a community - people have looked up things about his orientation, stumbled across asexuality, and voila! Everything makes sense.

Sheldon Cooper - when asked "what's his deal?", the response was "I don't think he has a deal." You can't really get much more asexy than that, right? And, whilst there is the fact Sheldon is potentially Aspergers - you would not believe how often it's assumed that 'causes' asexuality, when in fact the two are separate things - the writers are good at never directly linking the two.

The 11th Doctor - Moffat seems to like his asexual characters (and we're not complaining!) Whilst different incarnations of the Doctor vary, Matt Smith's portrayal is particulary ace friendly - he is completely, wonderfully oblivious to sexual advances, and seems positively confused by them.

So, they're the big three - there's more, but I'm keeping this short and sweet and hoping for questions. Ask me anything you want!

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Academic Roundup

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Here is some information which may be of interest to students, academics and researchers in fields relating to feminism and other anti-oppression work.

Same Sex Marriage: Before and After

Free conference

University of Manchester

Friday 25th March, 9:45am - 4pm

More info

Women navigating hostility and making change in the academy

Call for experiences to be featured in a book about women academics in the USA who have experienced hostility in the workplace

Deadline 31st March

More info

‘Enduring Love? Understanding long term adult couple relationships in contemporary Britain ’

What: Job opportunity - Research Associate

When: From 1 May 2011 for 24 months

Where: Open University, Milton Keynes

Closing date: 31st March

More info

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Dates for your diary

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Below are some events that may be of interest to Lashers. Please note that we are not responsible for these events: we are just passing on the information. Please contact the organisers of each event to find out more. The @ symbol in organisers' email addresses has been replaced with "at" to avoid attracting spambots.

International Women's Day events a calendar of events happening around the UK over the next month to celebrate IWD.

Say no now!

What: A dramatic presentation of key issues relating to violence against girls, including an interactive session.

When: Thursday 10th March. 5.30pm

Where: National Bahá’í Centre, 27 Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD

The Equality Illusion

What: Drinks reception, book sale and discussion with Kat Banyard, author of The Equality Illusion

When: Thursday 10th March 4:30-6:00

Where: University of Warwick, Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, Ramphal Room R.003/4

Find out more

7th Images of Black Women Film Festival

What: Films, art and performances depicting the global black experience by focusing on women's talent and representation.

When: Throughout March and April

Where: London, various venues

Contact: info at

Find out more

Links roundup

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Welcome to the third weekly Lashings links round up! Feel free to add your own links in the comments, with a brief description and trigger warnings if appropriate.
El Tux by Paco Farias - really sweet short comedy film with a Fat Acceptance slant.

Interview with Wu Youjian, founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in China

Male-assigned child dresses as Daphne from Scooby-Doo for Hallowe’en
(via Shakesville)

Sady Doyle: Rant about Katy Perry.
It is possibly worth mentioning at this point that Galatea has been trying to write a Katy Perry song parody for the past six months, but is unable to on account of wanting to stab herself in the ear with a knitting needle after listening to more than three lines of any of her songs.

Friday 4 March 2011

I'm not a feminist, but..

SebastiennePosted by Sebastienne

It seems like "feminist" is a dirty word these days.

"As feminists in the twenty-first century, we spend a lot of time trying to reassure people about how we’re not the scary kind of evil, militant, hairy-legged feminsts you read about in the Daily Mail." (Vagina Dentata, Galatea Gorgon)
And I know it's important to let people self-define - they are best placed to know their own gender, race, or sexuality, after all. So if fewer and fewer people are comfortable calling themselves feminists..

Surely I should conclude that feminism is on its way out, as a term? Just as many Black women, sick of mainstream feminism's focus on Whiteness, embraced the term womanist, today girls and young women who believe in gender equality are rejecting "feminism" as too extreme to describe their concerns. They're turning to terms like "egalitarianist" or "equalist", or not even using terms - on a case-by-case basis they'll engage with an unequal world: "I'm not a feminist, but I find that sexist".

It feels as if it would be against my code of self-definitional ethics to tell these women that they are feminists, however they self-define - I wouldn't say it to a womanist, so how can I say it to these women? - but there's a difference, a core difference which means I think this is a special case: the cultural construction of feminism.

The popular media are taking feminism away from us. Media constructions like "Harriet Har-Woman" suggest that a conspiracy of second-wave radical-feminists are trying to privilege women over men. It's so easy, in a world which privileges maleness in almost every arena, to construe the redressing of the balance as unfair - to describe quotas or special funding, imperfect tools but the best we have yet found to address the problem, as "positive discrimination". As if, because we cannot create a gender-equal world overnight, it is not worth striving for; as if the tools we have to hand which occasionally give the appearance of disadvantaging men are somehow worse than the endemic oppression experienced by women.

The worst lie of all, the one the underlies all the above, is the idea that feminism's work is finished. That women and men are equal under law, therefore anyone still self-defining as a feminist or attempting further legislative change must be a female supremacist. This completely ignores the vital hearts-and-minds work yet to be done, not to mention facts like these:

I don't want to go around forcing this label on the young women who have rejected it. But what I do want to do, so desperately, is show them how they have been duped. How - even if the word feminism has had its day - we do not live in an equal society.

I'm not that keen on the word feminism myself - it has, perhaps, been too much tainted by its intertwining with the aims of white, middle-class, cisgendered women - and it's certainly not up to me to define the terminology of the future. But, given the ease with which a lack of language can lead to oppression - think of the discourse surrounding women's lack of appropriate terminology for their own sexual organs and experiences - I'm nonetheless concerned that "feminism" is being taken away from us. Without a named movement to give us solidarity, we're just individuals fighting a seemingly impossible burden of oppression.

If only "anti-oppression kyriarchy theorist" were catchier.. I've always wanted a term that centred intersectionality before any particular oppression. Maybe I'm just a Lasher?

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Bonus video links: Disney princesses

Lashings of Ginger BeerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

If you enjoyed the Lashings Disney Princess sketch you'll probably like these videos, which I found via Sociological Images. Embedded videos and transcripts below the cut.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Links roundup

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer

Welcome to the second weekly Lashings links round up! Feel free to add your own links in the comments, with a brief description and trigger warnings if appropriate.

Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month. This site gives details of events in London. See also
Oxford International Women's Festival for events in Oxford

Platform 51 mental health campaign
Oxford-based women's charity Platform 51 (previously YWCA England & Wales) have launched a new campaign about women and mental health.

The Spirella Corsetiere
A brief history of corset manufacture and sales in the 20th Century

Roll-call of genderswitched Harry Potter characters (one for the Sci Fi Skit fans!)

"Radical Act is a documentary on women in rock. Made in 1995 the film screened at Outfest in Los Angeles and appeared in 1999 as part of Miranda July’s “Break My Chainletter” collection.
The film is both a celebration of some of our favorite rockers and how they came to be that way, as well as snapshot of a specific time in political history. Each woman addresses how politicization of sexual and gender identity has impacted their life and work."

Tech support - via Bitch magazine
This is an absolutely adorable love story. Mildly NSFW.