Wednesday 31 October 2012

Links round-up: winter warmers

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

The nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter. Much, much shorter. We don't know about you, but over here in the LashLair we're feeling pretty worn out. This week's round-up is correspondingly largely warm- (if not light-) hearted.

A recipe for instant hot-honey-and-lemon. Even more instant than that. Give or take thirty minutes of prep time.

Speaking of, Smitten Kitchen has put out some absolutely amazing recipes this week: roast pear & chocolate scones, and warm roasted squash & wholegrains salad.

A GeekFeminism post on meritocracies is not terribly cheerful, but well worth a read.

The Secret Histories Project is now underway - a series of very short introductions to 'fifty people you never met in Year Nine History'.

Kendra James on race and fandom, and when Defaulting to White Isn't An Option. Link contains images of Avengers cosplay and kindergarten students that may lead to dangerous levels of squee. 

Friday 26 October 2012

Trans identities and essentialism

Posted by OrlandoOrlando

“Gender is socially constructed.”

“Trans identities are real and valid.”

So. I’m a feminist and a trans person, and I believe both of the above statements. These two positions are sometimes held to be in opposition, whether by feminists who believe trans people are buying into patriarchal gender roles or trans people who denounce non-binary trans identities as ‘transtrenders’ (have a look at the ‘transtrender’ tag on Tumblr if you want to see examples - I’m not linking because some of the stuff on there is really hateful). In this post, I’d like to show how an understanding of gender as socially constructed and a recognition of trans identities are not mutually exclusive, starting with some analogies.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Taster session reminders

Lashings of Ginger Bee Timer

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

A couple of weeks ago we made a post mentioning that we're looking for people who are interested in joining our group.

We've now finalised the details for the venues.

Oxford - West Oxford Community Centre. It's around 0.6 miles from Oxford bus station, and 0.3 miles from Oxford train station. The room we're using (Seminar Room One - round to the right as you approach the centre) has flat access all the way in. The only potential access issue we're aware of is that you need to go outside and in through another door to reach the toilets; but please get in touch if you have any other access concerns. The room has automatic lock, so if it is closed just knock to be let in.

London - from 7pm in a venue in north-west London, near Queens' Park. The venue is free, there are gender-neutral toilets, tea will be provided and there's step-free access. There's a tube and train station with step-free access ten minutes away, and a bus stop five minutes away. We'll send full details to proto-Lashers who email and tell us they're coming to the London session.

Cambridge - Meeting in Caffè Nero on Market Street between 11am and 12pm, before travelling to the nearby venue together. (We can't put the venue details online, but it's close and has step-free access). kaberett will be downstairs in a blue wheelchair with a blue toy penguin on the table for identification.

Please remember to email us on if you're planning on coming to one of these sessions, and to bring a two-minute rant (on any topic) if that's your thing.

Oxford taster session
Saturday 27 October, 2.15pm
West Oxford Community Centre
(enter through metal gates at the right-hand-side of the centre)

London taster session
Monday 29 October, evening
7pm in north-west London, near Queens' Park

Cambridge taster session
Saturday 3 November, 12pm (meeting from 11am)
Caffè Nero on Market Street (actual session elsewhere)

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Links round-up: art, language, medicine

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

The Backbone Zone's 2012 campaign materials include a fantastic set of posters calling out sexist and heterosexist language - in a way designed to make you laugh, then make you think. They're bright, engaging, and beautiful.

"Your Veil is a Battleground examines the lives of young Iranians, with a strong focus on women. The project explores the 'veil' in the literal sense of the word, the Hijab, as well as the curtain that delicately separates public and private lives of Iranians." Adapted, very gently, from her bio: Kiana was born in Tehran in 1988; aged 17, she moved to Toronto, where she studied photography. Her art tells stories with a social message: focussing on young women, she works to document her culture - in Iran and abroad.

Greener Grazing crunches the numbers to explain why living on benefits is not an attractive prospect, despite all the rhetoric around 'benefit scrounging'.

Sex Scribbled on my Skin: body politics and sexuality, on intersectional experiences of being treated as sexual or asexual beings.

This week, there's been an awful lot of debate on the depathologisation of transsexualism - specifically, whether we as a community should be working to get Gender Identity Disorder removed from mental illness classifications. Against removal, we have for example transmedic, Zoe O'Connell and Sarah Brown [1|2], who argue that (a) the already-immense difficulty in accessing appropriate treatment will be worsened if we are not recognised as ill, and (b) that while being trans* isn't a mental illness, experiencing severe gender dysphoria is. On the other hand is the argument that one doesn't have to be ill to require medical assistance - parallels are being drawn with pregnancy - and that that's a better way to frame trans* issues: for more detail, see Consider the Tea Cosy, Jane Fae in HuffPo, and Maxwell Zachs in the Independent (please consider Zoe's concerns about the petition linked from Zachs' article when deciding whether to sign). Unfortunately, this second line of argument frequently veers into Othering people who identify as having mental illnesses. In summary: what's easy on an individual level turns really, really difficult the moment you try to generalise, and especially once you get bureaucracy involved.

The Offbeat Empire started a conversation on liberal bullying - specifically, on privilege-checking and language-policing as "sport", used to score points and show off how progressive the complainant is. The discussion has spread and become more nuanced: Boldly Go, Consider the Tea Cosy and CN Lester have all written essays on the same theme, taking explicit looks at problems in the original essay and at "the perfect ally", among other points.

Friday 19 October 2012

What's in a name?

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

This week's blog post is something a little different - below, a number of Lashers share the story behind their Lashings names! We figure that regular readers might find it interesting, and that potential new Lashers might be find it useful when it comes to thinking of their own stage names...


When I’m feeling particularly dangerous, I perform under the full stage name ‘Galatea Gorgon’. I acquired the first part of the name from an appallingly creepy story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which we’ve performed as a dance piece from time to time -- the sculptor Pygmalion, disgusted by the lewdness and crudeness of human women, decides to make himself a perfect girlfriend out of ivory and sleep with that instead: a bit like an Ancient Greek version of a RealDoll. He ends up falling in love with this beautiful inanimate statue which never talks back, and eventually the goddess Venus makes it come alive so it can marry him. Bleargh. I think that in 21st century culture, a lot of women are encouraged to be our own Pygmalions, shaping ourselves into perfection for other people’s benefit while keeping as quiet as possible; shoving any inconvenient messiness or imperfection out of view. The Gorgons, meanwhile, were completely the opposite -- they’re female monsters from very early Greek mythology, and so outrageously fierce and ugly that one look at them will turn you into stone! Put together, I think these two names speak to a really interesting tension, particularly since most of my performance is dance-based and I rarely speak directly to the audience. I like the idea of playing around with the gaze, looking and transfixion -- when I dance for you, is it about beauty or about horror? Who is being brought to life, and who is being turned to stone?


This is a name I’ve been using for at least ten years, now. It’s a feminised form of Sebastian, as in Saint Sebastian, who’s been a site of deeply queer and kinky imagery for some centuries. He’s generally portrayed bound at the wrists and bleeding, pierced by phallic objects. Ahem. Anyway. After leaving prison, Oscar Wilde used the name ‘Sebastian Melmoth’, in what I’ve always considered to be a nod to posterity - to the idea that he might be (as he now is) considered a queer martyr. “Sebastienne” was only ever meant to be one half of my psyche, the other part being designated “Alia”.. but we don’t hear from her much, any more. (That’s not quite true; I’d say there’s been a reintegration. Alia’s still around in my gender identity and my politics; but I have Sebastienne’s sexuality and sense of style.) The divide was a necessary consequence of my adolescent inability to reconcile my belief in social justice and the importance of truth (Alia) with my Wildean conviction that “pleasure is the only thing one should live for” and the importance of artifice (Sebastienne). Lashings is where I learnt that it is entirely possible to embody both these things.


at some point in my anorexic early 2000s, i dropped to 2 1/2 stone and ended up in hospital, in starvation psychosis. seeing my reflection in a hospital mirror in my delirious state, i thought i was a goblin. And then, as i recovered, it kinda stuck - still, a significant proportion of my friends call me Goblin. Like a number of anorexic girls, i used to adore the symbolism and images of angels and elves, their effortless perfection - for me, referring to myself as Goblin, implying all my skinny gawky pudgy glory, is part of embracing my many imperfections instead of striving for impossible perfection. Also, it suits me, and i think the ears are cool. ;-) 

I’m a singer; my first language is German; and I’m decidedly political. And the deliberate misspelling of the German “Kabarett” - a word that is suggestive of cabaret as political satire? Well, that’s for reasons to do with my wallet name & a slightly unhealthy love of anagrams: so my stage name comes from the handle I invented for commenting on political blogs. In news that will surprise no-one who’s ever met me, I am indeed entirely too delighted by my own cleverness, at least when it comes to multilingual puns.


I took my stage name from the eponymous hero of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando. It was actually CN who suggested I use it, after reading an essay I wrote about the novel, but it fit so perfectly that I now can’t imagine using anything else. The character Orlando is born a boy in the Elizabethan era: the book follows them through a surreal and dreamlike version of history, during which they age very little over several hundred years, undergo a mysterious change of sexed morphology, and begin presenting as female, male, and neuter in different contexts. Orlando is openly gender-fluid and bisexual - they ‘changed far more frequently than those who have worn only one set of clothing can conceive… and enjoyed the love of both sexes equally’. The book has a lot to say about the cultural construction of gender, and I feel that the gender-fluidity of the main character speaks a lot to my experiences, despite the fantastical nature of the story.


I turned my surname, Valentine, into my stage name! Valentine came from my looking for something that sounded awesome that also went with my blog’s name, Silicone Valley, and is extra-excellent because it’s also the name of the villain in Mortal Engines, which is basically one of the greatest books ever. Yay! My name rocks.


This is my full real-life name. Natch. I’ve almost never used it in English-speaking day to day life, it feels a lot like a best Sunday dress, too much for everyday use. Plus, it’s a mouthful. (In GREEK it sounds fine.) I’ve wanted to be on stage for basically for ever and at some point my best friend and I coined the idea of keeping my full name for a stage name, so when people started telling me to pick a Lashings name there was never really any other choice. (Plus, I am a Classics nerd so it has that going for it too. Galatea was rooting for Patroklos based on this. ;))

Nigel Newt
I'm a
Nigel - that friend, relative, partner or other close acquaintance, who seems to understand enough of the principles of feminism to not be completely unbearable.  I make some contribution for the easy stuff, like the housework, or generally progressive causes.  But I also get something of a free pass - I'm shown more patience when I inevitably show my privilege. Newt is a female character in "Aliens", who gets to talk to Ripley (another female character) about monsters - fulfilling all three requirements in Dykes To Watch Out For's "The Rule" .  As my first role in Lashings was the increasingly grumpy recipient of all the token female roles from popular sci-fi & fantasy, this seemed an appropriate aspiration.


   It has two famous uses as a name for characters in classical music. First, it is the surname of heroine, Leonore, and her imprisoned, starved husband, in Beethoven's opera Fidelio. She disguises as a man (called Fidelio) and rescues her husband from political prison. I like having a name that belongs to both male and female, being somewhat genderqueer, with the female displaying strength. 
   It is also a name used by Robert Schumann, a brilliant composer who experienced quite complex mental health issues in his short life. He often wrote words and music signed with the names Florestan and Eusebius, who represented contrasting aspects of his personality. Florestan was the exuberant, passionate and - in my imagination - slightly out of his own control side.
  So we have a heroine/boi, a man she saved (both all-singing), a fictitious wisp of borderline personality disorder and a source of wild, imaginative music and musical philosophy; Florestan.

... so there you have it! Readers who have chosen their own names, whether for the stage, the internet, as a new legal name, or in any other venue: is there a story behind yours? We'd love to hear it!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Links round-up: Ada Lovelace Day edition

 Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

In honour of Ada Lovelace Day, this week's linkspam has a general focus on awesome women in science, technology, engineering and medicine! In no particular order...

 An international wikithon aims to improve Wikipedia's documentation of women in STEM: Professor Uta Frith, who'll be leading a panel discussion at the Royal Society in London after the edit-a-thon, says "Can you immediately come up with a handful of names of female staff in technology? Is that because there aren't any or because they're sort of invisible? It's a catch-22 - if you can't find them easily in a place like Wikipedia, you won't know anything about them. You'll think they are not important."

Gertrude Elles and Ethel Wood lie close to kaberett's heart: they are responsible for the magnificent tome A Monograph of British Graptolites, published between 1901 and 1918, which remains the definitive work for identification of this extremely important but incredibly dull class of fossils, as most graptolite researchers have minimal interest in making it easy for other people to work out what on Earth they're looking at! This is a pity, because lots of them have been reclassified in the last 100 years. Sadly there isn't much information available about either of these researchers, but we did manage to dredge up a few paragraphs on Gertrude Elles via Google Books.

Relatedly, the British Geological Society have a page entitled Women in Geology, starting in 1770 and continuing to the present day in steps of a decade!

Lise Meitner's story is incredible: an Austrian (and later Swedish) Jew (born 1878), she escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 with 10 Marks and a diamond ring given her by her head-of-group. She was a stunningly capable nuclear physicist, and part of the research team that discovered nuclear fission.

Julia Serano, probably best known around here for writing Whipping Girl, is also a very well-regarded biochemist and biophysicist at University of California, Berkeley. Here's her research page!

Paramjit Khurana's research includes work on the genetics of heat- and drought-tolerance along with insect- and herbicide-resistance in crop plants; Charusita Chakravarty is a theoretical chemist and physicist, working on phase transitions and energy landscapes with particular application to protein folding and aggregation, in the context of water - a truly bizarre fluid. Both have been named among the top 25 scientists in India (sadly, the rest of the article lists a bunch of dudes). See also the page for Women in Science & Engineering India!

Jane Marcet (1769-1858) wrote a book entitled Conversations on Chemistry published anonymously in 1805 - one of the earliest books on elementary science!

Denise Paolucci is the co-founder of journalling site Dreamwidth, excellently profiled as part of's Geek Women series. Her commitment to a safe and supportive environment where non-coders are encouraged to learn if they want to, and non-code contributions to the project aren't considered any less valuable, is pretty much the reason that Dreamwidth's contributors are skewed massively towards the female-identified - unlike pretty much every other software project ever. kaberett's favourite fact about Denise: she sometimes weaves glow-sticks into her wheelchair spokes to make her more visible at night.

In 2010 Under The Microscope compiled a list of notable black female scientists and innovators. Brown University's programme aiming to retain female scientists have made a similar list with some overlap, again highlighting the role of black women.

Sossina Haile is a materials scientist (Why You Don't Fall Through The Floor and all that!) focussing on ionic conduction in solids - she invented an entirely new kind of fuel cell!

In an awesome video, Dr Maggie Anderin, rocket scientist & educator, explains how the South African Large Telescope (SALT) works.

Monisha Kaltenborn has just become the world's first female Formula 1 team principal!

Mary Anning (1799-1847) - the inspiration for she sells seashells on the sea shore... - was a working-class woman whose scientific contributions ended up credited to others for the majority of her lifetime. She found the first complete icthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified; the first two pleiosaurs ever found; the first pterosaur outside of Germany; and a multitude of other fossils, including belemnite chamber containing preserved ink. Her finds formed key evidence for the process of extinction; she also co-developed the study of coprolites (fossil poo!), which allows us to work out how ancient ecosystems worked.

And to close, we leave you with Rosalind Franklin, a Jewish woman featured in Hark! A Vagrant! and in the image below by Quentin Blake. Her painstakingly-acquired X-ray diffraction data - and her equally painstaking interpretation! - lead her to independently unravel the structure of DNA... but Crick & Watson, who'd used her data without either her knowledge or her permission, managed to get away with barely acknowledging her and still being covered in all the glory. Thanks, dudes. Franklin went on, though, to do a whole bunch more amazing work with XRD. She & her group carried out pioneering research on RNA, the type of molecule that is to most viruses what DNA is to us. How's that?!

And who are your favourites?

Friday 12 October 2012

Transformative works

kaberettPosted by kaberett

this is my skeleton
this is the skin it's in
that is, according to light
and gravity
i'll take off my disguise
the mask you met me in
'cuz i got something
for you to see
– Ani DiFranco, Shameless

Every day of my life is a transformative work.

“She”, they call me, or “What's wrong with your legs?”, they ask, or “We don't really need to tell the extended family this, do we?”

I was assigned female at birth. I started binding in 2009. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2010: I'd been symptomatic for six years. In 2011, I changed my name and started using a walking stick (and that's Ani's fault – but a story for another time). In 2012, I started using a wheelchair.

One way or another, I seem to spend an awful lot of my time transitioning: between gender roles, between modes of apparent ability. As I become more visibly trans*, as I become more visibly disabled – as I remake myself into something to live with, rather than something to live through with gritted teeth – parallels become more and more obvious to me.

That I am using a walking stick today, and was using my wheelchair yesterday, doesn't mean I'm “better”: it means that the awkwardness of the chair outweighed its benefits. That I use feminine pronouns in some situations instead of my generally preferred neuter ones does not, for me, mean that I'm not genderqueer; definitely doesn't mean I'm not trans*.

It just means that sometimes I get tired: of needing to go an extra half mile to get to dropped kerbs; of the Victorian prescriptivist arguments over the epicene pronoun; of needing to remember that car drivers behave strangely when you are in a chair; of the looks on people's faces at my long hair, or when I stand up to fetch something from a shelf.

Sometimes it is easier to wear a mask and play pretend than it is to patrol my borders.

One way or another, I spend a lot of time performing my identities. In public, in my chair, I have the choice of being authentically me – of standing, of lifting my chair up stairs, of not allowing society's assumptions to disable me further – or I can let the fear keep me sitting, keep me smiling, keep me asking for help, keep me from slamming on the brakes whenever anyone touches my chair without permission. I can dutifully bind every day, facing down the chronic fatigue to make sure laundry happens when it needs to for that to not be kinda unpleasant... or I could listen to and respect my body and get misgendered more frequently.

In my experience? The “oh dear it's a wheelchair how do we deal with that” face has an awful lot in common with the “oh god they're going to demand gender-neutral markers in the records aren't they” face. The overbearing concern and the overwriting of my autonomy are common to both: “Well, if you're sure...”

And so I end up performing my identity. I suppose, at least, I'm not without choice in which role to play: like I say, I can be exaggeratedly a good crip, a good genderqueer person, and fit people's expectations; or I can be aggressively and ostentatiously myself and stare down the world with it.

But neither of those are easy options.

And yet. There is – as ever, as in cliché – a third option. And that is to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and make a public space for my private self – to do out loud the work I've been doing inside my head for years.

I was a field geologist. I was a hiker. Recognising that those aren't things I can do any more – that I'll likely never do fieldwork on Mount Erebus, Antarctica; that it's going to be a long time before I get up to a 3000m peak under my own steam again, if it ever happens; that the Hangerer, Austria is going to remain on my list of Unfinished Business – is, yes, a loss. Saying goodbye to my childhood nicknames and to ticking “F” on forms without compunction wasn't all that much easier, honestly.

did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage...

But I couldn't keep it up. A major part of fieldwork is knowing when you're hitting your limits – and how to avoid getting yourself killed. There is only so hard I can push myself, so far I can go, before I have to face up to the fact that I need to stop: this far and no further, or, more often, that far and no further, the line way out of sight behind me. (And I want to note here that a major part of the trans* experience, though thankfully not part of my trans* experience so far, is also how to avoid getting killed.)

Here is what I am learning: how to recognise my boundaries. How to enforce them. How to treat myself with kindness. When to fight, and when I'm better off saving the energy for another day.

Have my body's limits – in terms of physical activity; in terms of tolerating recognition as female – shifted? Yes, they have. But this is not limitation and it is not weakness: I am listening to myself, and I am learning myself.

And in that there is strength.

We are a work in progress, my body and myself, but I refuse to regard myself as defective, as a failure, as a cosmic error to be struggled against and overcome. I'm reframing myself for myself, and for my audience: this is the only body I get, and for some things it works marvellously and for others it doesn't, and that is not a failing.

All it is is variation.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

So, you wanna be a Lasher?

Lashings of Ginger Bee Timer

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Now you can! Lashings is currently looking to recruit new members, for roles both on and off the stage. We'll be holding taster sessions for people thinking of getting involved in the next few weeks:

Oxford taster session
Saturday 27 October, 2.15pm
West Oxford Community Centre

London taster session
Monday 29 October, evening
Exact time & location TBC

Cambridge taster session
Saturday 3 November, daytime
Exact time & location TBC

What will be in these taster sessions? That's partly up to you! They'll include a 'Lashings 101' – who we are, how we work, why we do what we do – some drama games for those so inclined, and some 'getting to know you' group discussions. Taster sessions will be run according to Lashings' general safe space policy.

Who we're looking for:

You! There's no one type of person who can be a Lasher, although you will need a certain amount of free time & commitment. Lashings is not a profit-making organisation, although we can usually cover our costs, but really we all do it for the love. Maybe you could be a:

Performer - any level of skill and stage experience

Writer - writers of acts and bloggers equally welcome

Musician - especially accompanists

Techie - particularly people familiar with backstage tech such as lighting and sound mixing, but if you're a sound recorder, camera operator or some other kind of tech wizard, we'd still like to meet you!

Facilitator/organiser - as Lashings grows, there's more and more "producer" type admin that's needed to make rehearsals and gigs run smoothly

Costume/make-up artist

Graphic designer/artist


Web designer

Or an awesome person of any other kind! If none of these roles sound like you but you'd like to participate in Lashings some other way, please do come along - we'd love to meet you and there are lots and lots of ways to get involved.

It's really important to us that we are as representative as we can be of all the different types of feminists out there, because of our focus on intersectionality. As it stands, Lashings is primarily (but not entirely) composed of white people, and people with academic backgrounds. We would really like to address both of these things, and as such, would particularly welcome hearing from people of colour and people who have followed life paths other than going straight from school to university. (We don't expect you to do our work for us, but as an intersectional feminist group, we really want to be able to speak to/from a diversity of experiences and oppressions.)

Who we're not looking for:

Potential new Lashers must be 18 or over. (Sorry, awesome teenaged Lashfans. We hope we're still around when you're old enough to join!)

Lashings is a feminist, left-wing group, and we're not looking to change our political leanings. We're pro-queer and trans* inclusive. If any of this makes it sound like Lashings is not your scene, it probably isn't.

What you should do if you want to come:

Pick the taster session most convenient for you.

Write a short bio of yourself, including a little bit on why you might want to be a Lasher. (Nothing scary - this isn't about us judging you, it's about us getting to know each other. There's no right or wrong way to do it!) If you're able to, please email your bio to with the subject line 'Proto-Lasher bio', mentioning which taster session you're planning to attend - otherwise, please just bring it with you on the day.

If ranting is your thing, please bring a ~2 minute rant on the subject of your choice. Rants are great icebreakers - from 'why I became a feminist' to 'what's annoying me in pop culture this week', we want to hear it all! (This isn't a performance test, so don't worry about being polished - we're just looking to learn about the things that get you animated.)

Turn up and have fun – we hope lots of you will!

(If you can't make any of these sessions, but are still interested in getting involved - email us a bio anyway, especially if you're thinking of a writing-type role.)

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

[TW for discussion of sexual assault.] The story behind 'The Kissing Sailor', AKA 'The Blindness of Rape Culture'.

Over at The Pervocracy there's been a discussion about The Worst Thing In The World and the amount of power fear of it has over us. [Content notes: discusses abuse, including threats of self-harm and suicide]

One Angry Panda's post Beyond "kinky" and "vanilla" [content notes: discusses kink, dysphoria, sexual assault] talks about rethinking our models of sex - not so that kink is treated as casually as penis-in-vagina intercourse sometimes is, but so that PIV is treated as seriously as kink, in terms of the importance of enthusiastic consent and not making assumptions about what your partner(s) will be into. "... having things inserted into you is a big deal. Putting bits of yourself into another person is also a big deal. Having any part of you touched is a fucking big deal."

kaberett notes in passing & with great excitement that the Cambridge ADC Theatre does access info right: The ADC Theatre is fully accessible to wheelchairs, including backstage areas. A disabled toilet is located on the ground floor, and disabled parking is available in the [nearby multistorey carpark]. Please take note, everywhere else!

"Your women are oppressed, but ours are awesome": how Nikolas Kristof and Half The Sky use women against each other at Racialicious: a look at ways in which misogyny feeds into racism, and all things are intersectional. (This, right here? This is a glib 2am summary. Go read the post instead.)

Revisiting Theresa May's changes to immigration policy back in July, a young academic who has both a job and a married UK-citizen partner is now being denied a visa because the UKBA deems that the couple do not earn enough. This policy -- which states that a couple must earn more than £18,600 per annum to qualify for a married or civil-partner visa -- particularly discriminates against couples where one or both members is in low-paid employment (such as nursing, academia, the creative professions...), has childcare responsibilities, or has a disability that prevents them from taking highly-paid full-time work. It's also really problematic for those in long-term poly relationships. The right for a couple to live together in the same country should NOT be determined by income -- courtesy of the awesome Jenny and Georgia, here are some resources you can use to tell your MPs so!

Friday 5 October 2012

Genderqueer, dress codes, and the world beyond the bubble

OrlandoPosted by Orlando

It's ten minutes before the taxi leaves. My guest room is a mess of unfamiliarity. A figure-hugging red dress with a plunging neckline. Leather high heels I've never worn before. Accessories I don't know how to use - gel inserts for my shoes, 'tit tape' to keep my dress straight. My face, tear-streaked and puffy in the mirror, bare of make-up with bushy eyebrows that haven't seen tweezers in years - and even less acceptable, the pelt of dark hair on my legs and under my arms. "I can't do this," I sob down the phone at a friend. "They'll know I'm a fake."

"So you're a fake? Be a drag queen. Femme fatale from a film noir. Femininity as artifice. Calculated masquerade. Ice queen." My friend rattles off the words she knows help make sense of this.

I am heading out to a very formal party, and I am learning - once again - that gendered dress codes are really fucking difficult.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

You, me and Yuletide

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

So, Yuletide is almost upon us - for those not aware, Yuletide is an annual fanfic exchange specialising in rare fandoms. You can find their FAQ here. And for the first time, Lashings has been nominated as a fandom! Several of us are current or former Yuletide writers and highly excited at this prospect - there was some squeeing at the AGM last week!  We thought it would be good to let you know some of our thoughts on fic being written about us and our stage personae.

Nominations will be open until October 3rd, so if you'd like click through and add another nomination for us (or for any fandom of your choice) there's still -- just! -- time.

More info may be added to this post later as more Lashers have fanficcy thoughts...

AnnalyticaI'm Annalytica. In real life my pronouns are she/her, but I'd be intrigued to read about a fictional gender-swapped version of myself if anyone felt like writing that. I'm bisexual and happy to be shipped with anyone but I'd be really uncomfortable if my character was in explicit sex scenes. In real life I am vanilla and monogamous. In fiction I'd be happy to be portrayed as poly, less happy to be portrayed as kinky. If Lashings were in the Worst Witch universe, I'd be Ethel Hallow.

Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else, I'm Galatea. My pronouns are she/her, although I'd be very pleased to be gender-swapped or otherwise messed around with gender-wise, and frequently perform in a Tipping-the-Velvet-type masculine drag persona. I'm happy to be shipped with anyone or anything (except possibly Dave and Boris!) and to be written into just about any scenario unless it's under-age or non-consensual sex (both of which are Big Noes). If Lashings were an adventuring party in a ludicrous fantasy epic, I'd be a half-elf half-halfling wizard with a couple of levels in Eldritch Sarcasm.

I'm Sebastienne. My pronouns are she/her. I am a fat woman and would be uncomfortable with being portrayed as thin, but anything else you care to write is fine by me! Sexual things are fine, I'm queer/pansexual, poly, kinky, and shippable with most sentient beings to be honest. If Lashings existed in a dystopian future, I'd be a Valerie Solanas style gender terrorist.


I'm kaberett; my pronouns are they/them (or Spivak pronouns if you prefer). I'm queer, trans*, living with chronic mental & physical illness, and a vegetarian - I'd be uncomfortable with being written nomming cheerfully onna hamburger, for example, but otherwise am prretty relaxed. :-)

  Well hello there! I'm Orlando. My pronouns are they/them. I'm genderfluid and have long fabulous hair to which I am very attached. I'm queer and poly and don't mind being shipped with people of any gender; I'm fine with implied sexual relationships but please no specific acts! If I could choose a superpower, it would be teleportation (to stop me being late all the time) or shapeshifting (because GOODBYE DYSPHORIA!). My plan for life involves making as much art as possible, and smashing as much kyriarchy as possible. Also, cuddles. I am excited about the chance of being in utterly surreal fic, but for fans of accuracy I am also happy to answer burning research questions on at gmail dot com.

AnonymousHey! I'm Valentina, I use a mixture of she/her and they/them, and I'm really excited about Yuletide : ) Please don't go for violent stuff when writing about me, and while I'm down with shippings and explicit sex, please stay away from under-age stuff, non-consensuality, and men. Otherwise, go for it! I'm queer and poly, and if Lashings was a cheesy superhero film, I'd be the one flying around spreading glitter.

I'm Lilka. I use she/her but am equally happy to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns. I'm queer and poly. As a longtime Yuletider, I'm ridiculously excited about potentially being in an actualfax Yuletide fandom this year. Feel free to write me however you like, in any situation you like :) If Lashings were crossed over with the Redwall books, I'd be a hare.

Hello, I'm Cleopatra! I use she/her but am also pretty happy with gender-neutral pronouns. I'm queer but erm, it would be WILDLY out of character to write me as into dude-shaped types. I mean, there might be exceptions and I'm open-minded but it's not looking that way so far. Much like Lilka I'm also a longtime Yuletider and am wildly curious to see where this goes, and am pretty happy to see most anything people would care to write about me. I couldn't decide whether to describe myself as Mary Poppins, Polyanna or a My Little Pony. If I had a cutie-mark, it'd be some musical notes or a book.

Florestan is happy with anything fictional.

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Acceptance has no exceptions: a beautiful set of poster designs doing what it says on the tin. [content note: lots of *ist tropes quoted]

There are some things I need to tell you: a list in eight parts. "It is okay to be afraid. Once you're ready -- not necessarily sure, or prepared, or confident, but ready --, you'll do what you need to do."

An Open Letter To Caitlin Moran, on the theme that any feminism that is not intersectional is bullshit.

Body Shame Hurts [content notes: body shaming, disordered eating], an essay on parenting and one way to avoid getting it drastically wrong when it comes to acceptance.

Fat People: You Don't Have To Justify Your Existence, a letter affirming that people's opinions about your body are not your responsibility, and that educating others is likewise not your responsibility.

This keynote by Andrea Zanin is the best thing Valentina's read about Fifty Shades Of Grey: it's a long one, taking in Gayle Rubin's charmed circle and the ways in which some forms of kink become acceptable at the expense of shutting out other kinds, and portraying some kinky people as 'crazy and criminal' to keep the boundaries. Essentially, it's about assimilation!

Feminist Performers reviews a Bristol womens' comedy night.

Who loves surveys? We love surveys! If any of these are relevant to you, please consider filling them in to help shape the services and resources available to your communities:
"With Consent?" is 'a survey about how sex is used, abused, and confused in LGBT communities' organised by Mankind UK.
"UK LGBT - Is It A Good Idea?" is a survey gathering opinions for a proposed UK-wide online campaigning platform for LGBTQ issues, organised by some activists of our acquaintance. It's had several hundred responses so far - please add your voice!
The follow three are for those living in and around Brighton, and are on: sexual health for women who sleep with women, improving outreach for sexual health services, and how the the City Council can improve trans equality.

English PEN has put together the collection "Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot", including work from awesome feminist poets like Sophie Mayer, Chella Quint, Hel Gurney, and Maria Jastrzebska. You can download it for free, but any funds raised will go to Pussy Riot's legal fund or to PEN's Writers At Risk programme. Loads of poems and videos are also available on the PEN website!