Tuesday 26 November 2013

Linkspam: snails, making friends with failure, and #ManicureMonday

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Bit of a gloomy question for a winter opener, but deconstructs some assumptions fairly well: what should I do with my life?

Via tumblr, a comic on making friends with failure. (No transcript or alt text - apologies.)

Two Colours In My Head writes about dressing up, gendering of colours, and parenting a toddler who loves snails.

Volunteering and meritocracy: the ethics of unpaid labour and the open source software community.

GeekFeminism has curated their top picks of what happens when scientists join in on teen-magazine hashtag #ManicureMonday.

... and finally, at 8pm on the 26th (today! Tuesday!), there will be a twitter club/conversation using the hashtag #NHSgenderID, focussing on gender as non-binary, and the experiences of people with "non-traditional" genders in the healthcare system. For all it'll be a hard conversation, we hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday 22 October 2013


Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Sorry for the hiatus, folk - it's been a busy month for lots of us. To make up for it, here's a bumper edition of all the links we've been saving up...

It's the start of term, and mixosaurus has written a fantastic guide on accessing mental health support as a student.

Labour has promised that if they are elected in 2015 they'll create a new offence of disability hate crime - and they've promised to sack Atos from carrying out Work Capability Assessments, a deeply flawed test to establish whether people are too ill to work.

[Content note: addiction] Revisiting a landmark establishment on addictive behaviour in rats shows it's not the morphine, it's the size of the cage - with serious implications for "wars on drugs" and medical gatekeeping surrounding "addictive" substances.

Also in science-and-animals news, tumblr wants you to have a review of non-reproductive and apparently-homosexual sex among animals. Fascinating but sweary! [Content note: rape.]

In the trans news corner, we've got:
Conference organisers various have been awful, including a staggeringly misogynistic sceptical "major science talk", and some difficult community conversations about Science Online [content note: sexual harassment, abuse of power].

In the arts, The Belle Jar wrote an open letter to David Gilmour; Bad Reputation is fed up with the salacious fascination with Jack the Ripper; and Sondheim is working on a revised, queerer version of the 1970 musical Company!

In awesome geek ladies news, Miss America holds a degree in Brain Behaviour and is a Star Wars cosplayer... and this doesn't seem to have been celebrated anywhere, because of the overwhelming interest in being staggeringly racist about her. Related reading at Sociological Images.

Raisa Kabir has written a solid article at the f-word about the horrible tack discourse in the UK is currently taking with respect to veiling.

And finally for this bumper edition, have some cheerful science stuff:

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Linkspam: nuns, football, and the idea of youth

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

On women in tech: An open letter to my daughter's high school programming teacher. It's rather grim, but just maybe this time the message will get through. (But probably it won't.) Content notes at the link.

For contrast, have a look at this Weird Future article: We Have Always Coded, using perfectly common-sense arguments to explain why it is that male participation in computer science has lagged well below female participation levels throughout the history of the subject.

Lots of queer news this week: Ireland's launched an attack on anti-"gay" bullying (kaberett would like to note that even their rural Catholic mother manages better than to use "gay" as shorthand for LGBT+, but there we go). A top Russian lawyer has come out as trans and bisexual in protest against the current legal situation for LGBT+ folk in Russia - we've found the story at GayStarNews and at PinkNews.

Meanwhile Stonewall is asking pro footballers to wear rainbow laces. Gentle readers, we'd love your thoughts on this one.

Janani at Black Girl Dangerous writes it's my birthday and I'll disrupt heteronormative time if I want to, an excellent article on provision of youth services:
I also want to offer that age frequently operates differently for queer people.  For example, I haven't spent a long time living as my current gender, compared to most cisgender people.  I'm still figuring out many of the ways I articulate and build the experience of being in my body.  Of course, this articulation looks very different for me, versus if I had been a gender-variant toddler, in that I have access to the language of the adult world and the income to curate my presentation.  There are trans* folks who self-determine their genders at much later stages of life, and ones who do so almost at infancy, but the common factor is that we're flipping the script on our lives in one way that cis people do not.  This makes the way I think about time, and memories, fundamentally different.
As if to illustrate the appalling mess that is the way the government of England & Wales is currently handling benefits, officials who caught benefits cheat found she was entitled to more than she stole.

And finally - and cheerfully - meet this BBC profile of Europe's best-known anti-capitalist-activist nun.

What have you been reading, writing and thinking this week?

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Linkspam: Dr Who, literary criticism, and convention accessibility

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

naamah_darling has hit it out of the park twice this week - once on tumblr, in a difficult conversation with Boggle the Owl [content note: depression], and once on Dreamwidth about learning to live with limitations of chronic illness.

Frith - occasional creator of this-world Mechanisms octokitties - talks about writing canonically gay characters as straight, or at least in relationships with members of different genders. Excellent - if difficult - conversation in comments.

Meanwhile at Amptoons, Grace gives us an anecdote about policework while trans [content notes: severe mental illness, bed shortages].

The principal conductor of the National Youth Orchestra (among his other job descriptions) made some hideously sexist comments. Sarah Connolly FRCM, a fantastic mezzo-soprano, lets him have it.

We've been seeing an article from solopoly.net doing the rounds: Riding the relationship escalator (or not). Good description of cultural expectations of relationships, and discussion of other ways it's possible to structure them.

Poet, editor and all-round rockstar Rose Lemberg has been writing about accessibility at conventions following some frankly appalling efforts at WorldCon. Part the first: Disability, Diversity, Dignity. Part the second: Disability access and being a bystander. Excellent suggestions for how to change culture, there.

Relatedly, here's an article about some of the ways the BBC is being shit to a disabled Dr Who fan [content note: jokes about addictive drugs] which are staggeringly disappointing - especially because they can and have done so much better.

In a much better but actually related vein, queer actress Heather Peace has announced her ambition to be the first female Doctor - and we're delighted that the reasoning she gives has made it to the mainstream (the BBC, no less!).

And let's continue pretending there's plausible segues: j4 takes down the phrase "having it all", and the way it's only ever applied to female parents.

Good news: preliminary results from the Queer in STEM study are in, and they made kaberett smile like anything.

Aaaaaaaand finally for this week, tansyrrr looks at the evolution of gender politics and portrayal of women in Pratchett's Discworld series.

Comments on any of the above? What have you been reading, thinking or writing this week?

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Linkspam: mixed martial arts, Postsecret, and Occupation of the BBC

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Yesterday, members of Disabled People Against the Cuts & other disability groups occupied the BBC, to draw attention to the way that the BBC is complicit in demonising people receiving disability-related benefits (and benefits in general). Unfortunately their press release seems to have gone offline, but here's a collection of tweets on the topic.

The Pervocracy talks about sex and respect and kindness [content notes: BDSM, including kidnap scene in context of consensual scene]: Everything you learned from Mister Rogers about how you treat other  people--that's how you treat other people when you're fucking them, too.   It's simple stuff, mostly, and you don't need some Sex Expert to  dispense Sex Wisdom to know it: Be honest. Ask permission before  touching things that aren't yours. Be safe.  Don't bully or make fun of  people.  Don't  throw tantrums when you don't get everything you want.   Keep your promises.  Use your words.  Brush your teeth.

Meanwhile at Rewriting the Rules, Meg Barker thinks about kindness & honesty, and the ways in which they're interdependent.

The current trans rep at Cambridge University has put together a linkspam about degendering the graduation dress codes [content note: disableist blog title].

[Content notes: domestic violence, victim-blaming, murder] This Sunday PostSecret included a murder confession - that Frank Warren had held onto for at least four years without reporting to the police, assuming it was a hoax. Activist EllieMurasaki has put together some links on the topic.

HuffPo has run an article brilliantly illustrating the ways in which before & after photographs are misleading -- even in the absence of photo manipulation!

... and finally, over at out.com, we've got a profile of the first out trans Mixed Martial Arts competitor. There is, unfortunately, a lot of predictable cissexism -- but it only appears in quotations, with the article itself being very respectful and largely focussed on just how amazing Fallon Fox is.

What have you been reading, writing, or thinking about this week?

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Linkspam: trans rights, food stamps, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Collapsed in a post-Edinburgh heap...

From the US, lydy has written an excellent article about why food stamps matter, along with fantastic discussion in comments [content notes: poverty, food scarcity, debt, abuse].

Closer to home for Lashings, the UK government removed explicit protection for trans kids from its guidelines on teaching the national curriculum, but rapidly reinstated it following petitions & other pressure. Natacha Kennedy has submitted a Freedom of Information request; watch this space...

Back across the pond - but remaining on the topic of trans people - have a linkspam on the theme of Chelsea Manning.

And kaberett has suddenly jumped on the BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH SO FANTASTIC bandwagon - having seen him using a crowd of photographers to send a political message to the UK government [images, no transcript].

What have you been reading, writing or thinking about this week?

Friday 23 August 2013

Reclaiming Physicality and Performance

 Posted by Astra

Before joining Lashings, I hadn't been on stage in five years. In the interim, my creativity had been channelled through a laptop in words and visuals. And a lot of it still is, and I love that. But performing on a stage again has given me back a mode of expression that I'd missed terribly -- using the whole of my body to tell a story.

For me, the best parts of any kind of creative process are the moments when it consumes me -- glancing at the clock and realising that hours have passed while I've been doing nothing but hammering out the next part of a story or storyboarding a video. With something like writing, that doesn't happen all the time, and that's okay. It's perfectly possible to get excellent work done without the lightning bolt of inspiration.

But the nature of performance is immersive. I don't know what other performers' experiences of their work are like, but for me, if I'm not wholly invested in the moment when I'm on stage, I'm not doing a good job. And there's something thrilling about that, the way that inhabiting a role or an act requires all of my mind and body.

I'm used to creativity being a mental activity, but performing with Lashings has brought the physical back, and it's wonderful. I have to think about my stance, my mannerisms, my voice and my facial expressions and use them all in combination to communicate to a live audience, a vastly different experience than sitting at a desk writing a story. It's terrifying and really quite exhilarating.

I'm used to the kinds of pursuits that require skills like talking and listening, not running and dancing. But acting requires me to find a physicality that I usually ignore. Here at the Fringe, as Fanny Whittington nears the end of its second week, every part of me from head to toe is involved in what I'm doing. Every night I am bounding onto stage and demanding that an audience looks at me, not just my face but my whole body. It's frightening, not just to accept but to demand that kind of attention, but it's rewarding too.

So many of us at Lashings are from groups who are constantly told that our physical appearance is not good enough, that it not does not conform enough to narrow standards set out by society at large. As members of marginalised and oppressed groups we are so often told that we should neither be seen nor heard. But all of us get up on stage and we charm and delight our audience and we are fantastic just as we are. It's a wonderful thing to be a part of. I get a huge amount from it, and I hope some of our audience does too.

In an hour I'm going to get into costume and breathe life into Ali Chapman for the penultimate time. I will sing, dance, laugh, shout and perform for an audience for an entire hour, just like I've been doing every night for two weeks, and I can't wait.

Damn, it's good to rip the label off.

Fanny Whittington is on tonight and tomorrow night, 20:15, Gryphon Venues, Bread Street, Edinburgh.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Linkspam: Germany introduces legal third gender!

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

As per the title, Germany has introduced a third legal gender - to be recognised on birth certificates, passports, and all other documentation. Thus far it's only to be permitted for intersex babies, but as the first country in the EU to legally recognise that gender isn't binary, this is a massive step. Though it does lead to the question: as one of the countries that requires babies' names to be approved by the local civil registry office, with particular reference to whether they indicate the gender of the child, and whether they are likely to negatively affect the kid's well-being, how precisely are they going to handle this...?

 In other overseas tenuously-medical news, the Lacks family -- descended from Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells, HeLa, have been staggeringly important to medicine since the fifties; they have a website -- has for the very first time been able to assert their right to choose whether to give consent for Henrietta's cells to be used in studies that are then made publically available. (Henrietta's life, what is known about it, is described in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Skloot is a white lady, but the book was written with the family's input and consent -- and the family read every single part of the manuscript & gave the go-ahead prior to publication. A percentage of the profits from book sales go to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, a charity helping to provide access to education and medical care for Henrietta's descendants, and the descendants of other individuals who suffered similar treatment at the hands of medical research.)

There has been a lot of conversation about the Russian Olympics recently, including an open letter from Stephen Fry calling for a boycott. It is legitimately appalling that the International Olympic Committee is contemplating banning athletes who "stand up to" the institutionalised homophobia -- but this doesn't change the fact that Russian activists are actually asking that people not boycott the Olympics, instead requesting that people show up being their queer protesty selves.

Tangentially related, Judith Flanders takes on Straight Pride UK (no, they're not a joke -- sorry) -- by publishing a press release they apparently didn't want going public. A seven-year-old has been banned from ever saying the word "fracking". And from a trans woman, let's have this: It Doesn't Get Better [content notes: cissexism, murder].

But I Do Not Want My Daughter To Be 'Nice', says a parent who gets it, and our very own Sasha Goblin discusses an experience of exactly how far 'nice' doesn't get us [content notes: harassment]. At Global Comment, an old question is asked once more: why do some feminist spaces tolerate male abusers? [content notes: Hugo Schywzer, murder, suicide, drugs, abuse] -- while Lundy Bancroft provides a checklist for assessing change in men who abuse women (with rather broader applicability, naturally) [content notes: abuse].

From a US perspective, Salon this week published an article entitled The Politics of Being Friends with White People [content notes: racism].

... and back on home turf, the BBC has published a surprisingly competent article about polyamory -- and 18-year-old Gabrielle Turnquest became the youngest-ever lawyer when she was called to the bar last week. This is one kickass young lady.

What have you been reading, writing or thinking about this week?

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Linkspam: lesbian baking, geek girls, and cis parents getting it right

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

[Content note: institutional racism.] The UKBA is performing spot-checks on people who look a bit foreign in stations and other public spaces across London. Know your rights [image-only]. Residents are understandably horrified. There is, naturally, a petition.

On the topic of sexism at conventions - we've seen a lot of conversations about "fake geek girls" and "cred checks" (see John Scalzi take this down) - have this: Michelle Rodriguez Made Me Cry At Comic-Con [content notes: misogyny, including reference to rape jokes].

Lisybabe discusses terminology: "ableism" vs "disableism". As a result, kaberett's spent this week trying to retrain themself to refer to the "accessible loo" rather than the "disabled loo" (at least when talking to people who are out-group enough not to get "crip loo" in the spirit it's intended...) Also on disability, this article: "The revolution starts in the ATOS smoking area" - on welfare, addiction and dependency.

We Think He Might Be A Boy: cis parents get it right. kaberett wants you to know that they started crying two paragraphs in and still haven't stopped.

Here is a cool project: Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism & beyond [link goes to Indiegogo], a speculative fiction anthology. Follow the link for more info on contributors and perks! Related reading: watching TV increases white boys' self-esteem, but has a negative impact on all other children [abstract; full text behind paywall].

A mouthy fat lesbian feminist writes: live and let pie: the political act of being a reality television contestant. Like Lashings? Liked the Great British Bake-Off? You'll like this.

What have you been reading, writing and thinking this week? Got anything to throw into the pot about anything we've linked to?

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Lashings of Afternoon Linkspam

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Sorry - kaberett is critically incapable of finding cheerful news at the moment, it turns out. On the plus side, lots to read this week...

Let's start out with "equal marriage": Zoe provides a trans-focussed critique at Complicity, while Meg Barker writes about opportunities opened up and shut down from a bi perspective. In international news that might well make you weep [content note: terminal illness], when DOMA was struck down in the USA, John Arthur and Jim Obergefell flew from Ohio to Maryland to get married. A federal judge has now ordered Ohio officials to recognise the marriage.

In disability and sickness news, we've got an analysis of DWP's slating of ATOS, the company responsible for carrying out the appalling Work Capability Assessments. Black Girl Dangerous writes that disease is not a metaphor - a cutting critique of ableist language. And from the history corner, let's take Suicide Is Not Beautiful, from Nursing Clio [content notes: specifics of individual suicides].

Lots has been happening in terms of politics this week - and one of the things we've seen most talked about is porn blocking. [CONTENT NOTES FOR THIS PARAGRAPH: child sexual abuse; rape and rape culture.] A CSA survivor gives their perspective on this proposal - with a lot of excellent onward links for further reading. Dave I/O covers the technical side of things in an article entitled the proposed UK porn filter is a threat, not a safeguard. The Open Rights Group has even more technical details, garnered from discussions with ISPs asked to implement this technology. There is a direct.gov.uk petition asking the government to drop these plans.

More: fees for employment tribunals begin - up to £1200 in cases of unfair dismissal. To be paid by the complainant. And the police are set to get sweeping new powers of dispersal.

[Content note: racism; Trayvon Martin case] postbourgie takes a look at black youth culture: In the Face of Respectability.

Turning to Zoe at Complicity again, let's have a critique of the Twitter abuse button - it's designed to be abused.

And finally, let's turn to some slightly less horrifying conversations:
What have you been reading, writing, or thinking this week?

Sunday 28 July 2013


Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time (but mostly Sasha Rocket)

Good afternoon lashfans!

In between all the learning lines, designing flyers and other Edinburgh-based preparations, five brave lashers set out on an adventure northwards last weekend to perform in the Newcastle Pride Trans Tent. We were super excited to be sharing a bill with Roz Kaveny and Bethany Black, and spreading lashings joy to a whole new city. 

Here's what happened when we stuck a carful of lashers in an enclosed space for five hours. Twice. 

Regular readers may be familiar with our very own Zim's alter ego, Ashes O'Reilly, and their band of immortal space pirates, the Mechanisms. If you're lucky enough, you may even have heard their new album, Ulysses Dies At Dawn. Having listened to it in the early part of our journey, we can confirm that you should definitely check it out - in fact, we liked it so much that we immediately shared this information with Mechanisms frontman, Jonny Sims - AKA Jonny D'Ville, AKA Jonny McBeard, AKA [REDACTED] - for fear that without a record of our enjoyment, it may vanish into the ether and we'd never enjoy anything ever again.

Thanks to a combination of several hours' worth of boredom, and the realization that Zim would transcribe anything said to them and send it in a neat little text message package, this quickly descended into us tormenting the aforementioned Mechanism with a barrage of messages to keep ourselves entertained on the long, open road.

And thus, LASHROADTRIPFEED was born.


It's impossible to share an entire 8+ hours' worth of messages from two phones with you, but the highlights included facts and jokes of the day, service updates and a prize draw. Over the course of the first night, lucky LashFan Jonny Sims was given a complimentary flank, to thank him for his support.

Lucky lashfan, Jonny Sims, with his complimentary flank

In order to keep things interesting, a Which Lasher Are You? Quiz was born, in which it was possible to find out which of the five travelling Lashers you are most like.

Obviously, you must all be itching to know which lasher you're most like as well so, because we're so good to you, we've included it below:

'Which Lasher Are You?' Quiz

1. Which mythical creature would you most want to eat?
(a) the cow that wants to be eaten
(b) a gryphon
(c) a chimera
(d) a poltergeist
(e) an ent

2. If you had a pet parrot, what is the first thing you would teach it to say to guests?
(a) 'Help! I've been turned into a parrot!'
(b) backhanded compliments
(c) 'Don't drink the tea! Whatever you do, don't drink the tea!' as soon as I left the room
(d) 'Awk'
(e) Its latin name

3. If you had to choose a single element to be entirely composed of, what would it be?
(a) plutonium
(b) fire
(c) the fifth one
(d) water)
(e) thallium

4. What would be your preferred method of murder?
(a) plutonium
(b) painting arsenic on my victim's walls then visiting them on their deathbed to deliver the final blow
(c) I can't tell you that in case of legal reasons
(d) giant octopus
(e) a carrot

5. It's 2073. the nuclear apocalypse has been and gone, taking everyone you know and love with it and you are struggling to survive. What colour shirt are you wearing?
(a) black
(b) purple
(c) the colour of the wasteland
(d) (robot voice) CHROME (/robot voice)
(e) teal

6. Which marine animal would be your familiar?
(a) otter penguin
(b) aquaman
(c) a cat that can swim
(d) japanese giant spider crab
(e) octopus

7. Would you rather live in an alternate reality where:
(a) the moon is made of double gloucester
(b) the board game 'Operation' is accurate training to be a surgeon
(c) hats are the hot topic of news stories and conversations at fancy parties; gossip magazines are devoted to their developments and love lives
(d) you can chew with your nose
(e) chlorophyll is blue

Mostly A: you are Patch
Mostly B: you are Zim
Mostly C: you are Sasha Rocket
Mostly D: you are Sally
Mostly E: you are Kabarett