Friday 30 November 2012

Lashings' Icons: Gail Simone

JenniPosted by Jenni

Welcome to the first post in a series of irregular Lashings posts about people we think are awesome. Whether they're an activist, an artist, or a little-known historical figure, we ove them, and we'd like to introduce them to you. So, without any further ado, let's take a look at our first icon - Gail Simone, a comic book writer.
This week, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite people. Gail Simone is a comic-book writer, who has worked for Marvel and DC, as well as helping out on smaller independent projects like Womanthology. Why is she an icon of mine? Well, let's take a look through the things she's done, shall we? (Most things discussed in this blog entry will have links at the bottom of the post for clarification).

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee Timer
Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Lashings will be performing outside The Women's Library in London at 7:30pm on Thursday as part of an event organised by Save The Women's Library.

In 'Transition as Transaction: 'Passing' and the Commodification of Womanhood', trans feminist Natalie Reed examines how "the primacy of 'passing' as the implicit goal of transition is hooked up to extremely narrow, culturally-rigid standards of female beauty and feminine dress, appearance and mannerism… which are each in turn inseparable from commerce, commodity, transaction and the beauty industry."

Katie Barker at Autostraddle presents a primer on appropriation vs appreciation, with a focus on Native / First Nations cultures in North America. (Some of the comments are also worth reading.)

Yolo Akili discusses how sexism and male privilege can play into interactions between women and gay men. (See also: our "How To Look Good Naked" parody).

Glosswitch at The New Statesman refutes James Dyson's derisive comments about studying "French lesbian poetry" at university instead of the sciences:
"We gain from having people who reshape our cultural landscape and put things in new contexts. People who don’t use “lesbian” as a shorthand for irrelevant. People who challenge bigotry rather than flippantly reinforce it. Engagement with feminism and queer theory – when it’s done properly (ie not as disastrously as I used to do it) – can change people’s lives far more than a modification to a vacuum cleaner and the fact that it’s made one person very rich. While I have never owned a Dyson, I still have feminism. And yes, one cannot live on feminism alone, but that’s why I’ve bought a cheap Tesco model, complete with bag."

Nadya Lev at Coilhouse profiles the growing visibility of people of colour (particularly women) in the goth and alt scene.

Sparky, guest-posting at Womanist Musings, outlines how the use of dictionary definitions can function as a silencing tactic in the context of social justice and marginalised people.

Chloe at Feministing outlines the differences in heart-attack symptoms (and outcomes) between men and women - while the symptoms of heart attacks in men (and presumably all AMAB people) such pains in the left arm and tightness in the chest are considered the 'classic' ones, common warning symptoms in women (/AFAB people) include pain in the back or jaw, lightheadedness, and nausea. Reading this article could save someone's life.

And finally, on a lighter note, a 72-year-old becomes an internet sensation by modelling the women's clothes made by his granddaughter.

Friday 23 November 2012

The Friend Zone

Posted by Jenni

The 'Friend Zone'. *cue dramatic music here*

Let's face it, most of us have heard of the friend zone. It's a big enough part of internet culture that it's hard to avoid. If you've been lucky enough to avoid it, take a quick look over at for a bit of background. But why write about it now, you may ask? Some of you may be aware that I did an article a while ago for the BBC on being asexual (find it here: Why's that relevant? Well, once again, this article has been used to make a meme, saying that being in an asexual/non-asexual relationship is 'the ultimate friend-zone'.*

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Links round-up

(Content note: All of the posts linked to in the section below contain discussion or depictions of violence against trans* people and/or medical gatekeeping)

Today is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. From Transrespect vs. Transphobia, here is the list of trans* people murdered from November 2011 - November 2012.

A number of remembrance events are taking place this evening: ones in the UK and Ireland include Belfast, Brighton (unlisted but here) Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Croydon, Cumbria, Dublin, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, and Southampton. If you are able to attend one, please consider doing so - the details are in the link above.

Natacha Kennedy on the problems of organising the 2011 TDoR.

Since the first Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1998, the violent deaths of trans women of color, have unfortunately come to dominate the yearly event designed to remember and celebrate the lives of those that are victims of transphobic murders. This year is no different as events around the country are set out to mourn recently deceased trans women of color, such as Brandy Martell, Coko Williams, Paige Clay and Deoni Jones–all black women whose only crime was daring to live openly.
Monica Maldonado offers an impassioned critique of the 'political grand standing' around TDoR and a vision of real change:
It’s a day where trans women of colour have greater value dead than we do alive... We should gather to mourn the dead, not conscript them into a battle they never had the privilege to fight while living. It pains me to stand here and remind you that these deaths, of our brothers and sisters and wives and husbands and daughters and sons, that these deaths are senseless tragedies that remain a black mark on society. These deaths are signs of a systemic, institutional, social, economic, and political failure to care for our most vulnerable and marginalized populations. But what may be worse, is the crude politicising of these deaths serves no cause more than that of the same vanity we decry. The currency of liberty, civil rights, and equality does not reside in death, but in our lives, our histories, our bodies, and our spirit. [...] Remember trans people today…but remember us tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. And never forget that fighting for trans justice is fighting for social justice. And just the same, fighting for economic justice, disability justice, and racial justice are fighting for trans justice.

(end content note)

In happier news:

On the webcomic Questionable Content, a character models one way of being a good friend to a person who's coming out as trans*. (QC has a mixed but largely positive history in its treatment of LGBT characters, disabled characters, and women - so we're cautiously optimistic!)

Andy Marra: 'The Beautiful Daughter: How My Korean Mother Gave Me The Courage to Transition'. This made most of Lashings cry -- in the good way.

In very fluffy news indeed, Horselizard has written "Enlightened 23rd Century Guy":  a fix-it fic for the trans-fail in a recent episode of Red Dwarf.

Friday 16 November 2012

The Beauty Debt


Posted by Galatea

Horrible joke I remember from high school: 

Q: Why do women wear perfume and make-up?
A: Because they stink and they're ugly. 

Why don't men wear perfume and make-up?
A: Because they stink and they're ugly and they don't care. 

I've been noodling around this idea in my head for quite some time now – in fact, this is a version of a post I wrote lo these many years ago, about the time of the Great Fuss Over Susan Boyle Being On National TV in 2009. It’s about a concept that I think I want to call ‘the beauty debt'.

Essentially, what I’m thinking of when I say ‘beauty debt’ is the idea floating around in modern culture that women owe a certain standard of attractiveness to those who 'have' to look at them, and that if a woman's 'natural' beauty is not sufficient (and it very rarely is), she must perform a certain amount of beauty work in order to rectify the problem, to 'pay the debt' as it were. This work might involve shaving, waxing, dyeing, surgery, food restriction, exercise, straightening, lightening, tanning, all according to individual situation, sub/culture, race, class etc. It almost always involves paying money, and quite often involves physical discomfort or pain. I probably don't need to list here what happens if she fails to perform this work or fails to perform it to a sufficient standard, but what's interesting is that often the undercurrent is we don't want to see that!; she's hurting my eyes!, how dare she make us HAVE to see that!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

A TV series about a trans dude's experiences of life has been greenlit. The press release itself is kind of skeevy, but given that the producer is also responsible for Transgeneration we have tentative hopes.

"mental illness is a tower. or a well. or an island. or an ocean." A very short piece of writing on living with mental illness. [Content note: discusses death]

Forgiveness is a luxury, and some of us can't afford it. [Content note: references to abuse in many forms.]

"She knelt to the ground and she pulled out a ring..." Literally seconds after the passing of same-sex marriage in Maryland is announced on the night of the US election, couple Keesha Patterson and Rowan Ha provide the best-ever re-enactment of the Lashings version of 'Love Story'. All the <3s.

Kate Hart offers a series of infographics on the representation of non-white ethnicities on the covers of Young Adult fiction published in 2011 - which, surprise surprise, were white-dominated.

On a more positive note, Renee Watson discusses her new picture book "Harlem's Little Blackbird" - based on the forgotten story of singer Florence Mills, a daughter of former slaves who became an internationally-acclaimed performer during the 1920's.

With Remembrance Day just passed, the Secret Histories project reminds us that some are remembered more than others.

Fantasy artist/author Ursula Vernon - eternally beloved by Orlando for "Elf vs Orc" (and accompanying art) - offers up some thoughts on C. S. Lewis, the didactic narrative voice and the "problem of Susan" and follows it up with "Elegant and Fine" - a fanwork that shows the cracks and cruelty in Aslan's world.

Friday 9 November 2012

How Visual Kei taught me to Be a Man

Posted by Zim

Hello all! It's me, Zim!


Hello mystery parenthesis person who I almost certainly didn't make up! Now, you may be thinking, "oh gee, it sure has been a while since Zim posted anything. I wonder what they have to talk about today?"

(No, I really wasn--)

Don't sass me, you.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I'm here to talk about my feelings and whatnot. You see, I'm a dysfunctional human being who only seems to be able to talk about their feelings when putting them on display on the internet for millions to see as if somehow this were a remotely private affair, and I've been thinking a lot lately (read: since my last post,) about the labels I use to describe myself and how I feel about them. Recently I've come especially to think about a term I previously shied away from: Transmasculine.

I previously came across this term and avoided reading anything about it because - for a number of reasons - I don't think I could bring myself to ever medically transition. I won't go into my reasons here, but let's all just accept that that is a thing that will never happen and move on. It'll be better for all of us.

BUT. Having read up a bit on it recently, I realised it's pretty much a perfect term. It's - as I understand it - all about identifying with 'masculine' traits and expressions without fully identifying as male! It's perfect. It's exactly how I've always felt, but...

Let's put a cut here and then you can do that clicky thing if you want to read more and if not then you can just move along and get on with your day.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

What else should we be reading? Leave your own links in the comments! :-)

Give Sexy Actors Sexy Wheelchairs: one awesome meta-essay (image-heavy, with some video) on the ways in which Hollywood representations of wheelchair use are terribly, terribly wrong, and some advice on how they can be better.

Street Harrassment Fashion (TW for harrassment!) is a new tumblr that's been set up, where people document what they were wearing - and what harrassers said or did to them.

A conversation on Google+ between hearing people about ASL and BSL as methods of communication includes this fantastic anecdote: ... I did a scuba course once, and one of my instructors told me that he had once taken a group of deaf children down. He had never felt so inadequate in his life, he said. Standard scuba sign language could say 'go up', 'go down', 'I am running out of air'. They could say 'look at that fish over there, no not that one, the red one'. The Atlantic has a more detailed explanation of exactly what Lydia Callis' "animated" translation into ASL (which started this whole conversation off!) means.

In New York City, the Ali Forney Drop-in Centre, which provides housing for homeless LGBT+ youth, was completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. They are requesting donations to help them get back up and running as quickly as possible. Less specifically, the Red Cross is holding an appeal which actually mentions Sandy's effects in the Caribbean.

In response to some truly astonishing fail on the part of the BBC, The Women's Room has been set up as a database of women with experience and expertise. The excuse that it's "too hard" to find female experts is old, tired and sorry, and we all know that, but once again it seems to fall to the oppressed group to do the hard work. It will be "interesting" to watch resistance to use of this resource...

littlebutfierce brings us a linkspam all about self-care, from looking at self-care as a vital part of activism to suggestions for ways to do it.

Friday 2 November 2012

Tales of Being an Apprentice Lasher

Posted by Sasha Rocket

As you may have noticed, Lashings are currently on a recruitment drive to swell our ranks with awesome people who enjoy dismantling the kyriarchy through the medium of songs and the occasional bad pun. As the very newest full Lasher, I wanted to write about my experience of joining Lashings to give potential apprentices an idea of what to expect.1

Let's get the technical stuff out of the way first: currently, the process starts with a trial period to give you a chance to get to know the collective, and current Lashers a chance to get to know you. During this time, you'll be known as an 'apprentice Lasher' and will come along to rehearsals, learn acts and basically be involved in the community until there's a general agreement that you've spent enough time2 on probation and move on to the next step. At this point, you'll pick one or more Lashers to lead a 'feedback chat', who will ask other Lashers if they have any comments or issues arising from your probation and will then discuss them with you (along with any comments or issues you have about Lashings in general). After your chat, you'll put together a document, possible along with whoever was in charge of your feedback, about your thoughts on your apprenticeship and full Lashers will then vote on whether you should become a full Lasher, your probation should be extended (rare) or you should be asked to leave Lashings (rarer still).

Well, that's that taken care of, so here's my Lash-story.

A long time ago3, in a galaxy far, far away4....


Oh, no, sorry, got carried away a bit there. What actually happened was that, wide-eyed and innocent, I entered my first ever Lashings rehearsal. I knew quite a few of the Lashers through student drama (and I use that term in the loosest sense) and had been complaining to Robette that I wanted to do something a bit less...frivolous. But still fun. And definitely still silly. Something that was silly AND serious at the same time. Something that could be an outlet for my Opinions On Things. Incredibly, such a thing did indeed exist, and right there in that far, far away galaxy we call Oxford! I was somewhat nervous the first time I went along (what if people don't like me? What if I can't sing well? What if I'm not 'activisty' enough? What if Lashings is secretly a cult of alien-monsters in radical-queer-feminist-skinsuits just waiting to pounce and consume my brain?) but everyone was very friendly and welcoming and really made me feel like it was lovely to have me there. Sebastienne told me a bit about how Lashings works and explained that they were currently in the middle of putting together their Alt Sex Ed show for Edinburgh and really needed someone to do the music for it. After much reassurance that all I'd need to do was push a button at the right time, I agreed to do it with a warning that I would most probably screw it up somehow. I'd always considered anything involving sound and electricity to be pretty much beyond me but I actually found myself working the sound desk by the end of it, and saying things like “the levels aren't quite right” and “maybe if I lower channel 4...” and “here, I have some gaffa tape!”

Getting to know the ins and outs of the show was actually really helpful because I was able to learn the acts by osmosis (not that I didn't have to spend quite a while properly learning lyrics and choreography). My very first performance in a Lashings show was incredibly last minute, due to other Lashfolk being ill and I actually had to learn some of my lines on the night! I've performed in two other Lashings shows since then (both with some actual rehearsing beforehand!) but that first one is still probably my favourite, simply for the excitement of Not Forgetting The Words the first time I went on stage! Performing with Lashings is awesome, partly because the acts are great, partly because performing is fun but largely because the audiences and the rest of Lashings are so fantastic. What I've seen Lashings do, both as an audience member and during my apprenticeship, is create safe spaces with a real sense of community which makes getting up on stage a really positive experience – it really does feel like you're up there with family. Plus, being able to make people laugh and think at the same time is brilliant.

As great as the performing aspect of Lashings has been, probably the best bit of my apprenticeship has been getting to know so many wonderful people and becoming a part of the Lash-community. I've felt really welcomed and lucky to be able to do this stuff with so many awesome, kind, funny people. So, at the risk of getting too mushy, to my fellow Lashers, thankyou, and to the new apprentice Lashers, congratulations! You're about to enter one of the best communities I've ever been a part of and have loads of fun!

1Also, check out kabarett's post about a Lashings rehearsal
2This is dependent on lots of things and so will probably be different for everyone (ish)
3About last May.
4Well, in East Oxford Community Centre. Probably.