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?