Friday 5...Role Models
For its 40th anniversary edition the feminist magazine Ms. featured Wonder Woman on the cover and kicked off the Twitter hashtag #feministsuperhero power inviting their readers to tell them what their feminist superhero power would be. Thinking beyond invisible jets and lassos of truth the power to go outside without fear of harassment, a wish to implement equal rights and smash gender boundaries have been mentioned. We like to think we are already working towards this, both in Squeamish Bikini and beyond! So who are our role models or heroes that we turn to when we feel like we are flagging?
WWBD? Image: Edz'sta
I can't say it was inevitable, even in the heightened state of fear women are encouraged to endure you can't see all men as potential abusers. Potential allies, yes! Potential disappointments, maybe. Potentially never to be seen again? Sure. TV Presenter Justin Lee Collins was in court this week facing harassment claims from his former girlfriend Anna Larke.
St Albans Crown Court heard Collins had demanded explicit details of all his girlfriend's former lovers and sexual encounters which he documented in a notebook. His controlling behaviour apparently also took form in forcing her to sleep facing him in bed and causing her to close down all her social network accounts.
Naturally, considering the accused's celebrity(ish) status and the nature of the case this has been covered in nearly all UK news sites. The Daily Mail has even been so kind as to provide a busty photo of Anna Larke. For context.
Carrie on Mooncup
The man in the moon is concerned with your cycle. Image: Allier
Here's a quick word association game. Periods. Popular culture. Quick! What's the first thing that comes to your mind? Carrie? Yeah, me too. How old is that film anyway?
Plenty of women have sought to challenge this. I encountered the wonderful Adventures in Menstruation zine at a gig and loved it. Something in written form concerning menses and 'feminine hygiene' that sounded like the actual conversations I had with friends! No “do you ever...not feel so fresh – down there?” around here. (Not that we don't feel fresh, y'know, down there).
From my experiences I think that if you grew up gendered female and being told about menstruation, it's discussed as something that would then take up a significant portion of your life. Not to mention several conversations. Considering this the subject of periods is usually presented as a fact of life with very few options. If you take the pill continuously, have the injection, the coil or use another form of birth control you needn't even menstruate if you don't want to.
Walk, talk and be mentally healthy
Hackney Wick Image: Abigail Silvester
Hackney once would have been far from the madding crowd. It was farmland, which produced food for the Roman settlement of Londinium. Now it’s part of London and, like other boroughs, has a wealth of architectural history from medieval churches, Tudor manor houses, Georgian streets and even hidden rivers! I get excited about this kind of thing because I’m fascinated by buildings and subterranean cities. But most of all, I love the history of London. I also what you might call a people person; so when I saw an ad on Guardian Jobs looking for research and walk volunteers for the CoolTan Community Legacy Walks I signed up.
CoolTan Arts is a mental health and arts charity that, in their own words, “believes mental well-being is enhanced by the power of creativity.” These walks in Hackney are part of the national health kick inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic games and held a stone’s throw away in Stratford. For many years now CoolTan has been running a similar project in South London called Largactyl Shuffle. The name came from an anti-psychotic drug that actually makes it difficult to walk, therein lies the joke.
Friday 5...Pet Peeves
Last week we tried to cheer you all up with our favourite jokes. We are pretty sure it worked, so we think you should all be strong enough for today's Friday 5 subject. This week we have decided to indulge ourselves. No more looking on the bright side of life, we are knitting our brows, stamping our feet and generally being – well – really quite annoyed actually.
What has been annoying us so much? Not politics, not the patriarchy, not the destruction of the environment and not the media. It is just as they (whoever 'they' are) say. It's the little things. So this Friday here are our pet peeves...
Wipe the slate clean
Always fresh! Image: Curly Wurly
Women, what's your ultimate feminine wile? Is it flicking your hair? Giving birth? Acting dumb or wearing make up?
Tomorrow is No Make-up Day. OK Maybe not officially but the site MissRepresentation.org are holding a #FreshFace day thanks to a suggestion by 15 year old reader Shea Backes: “my friends [and I] are trying to spread the idea of wearing no make-up at least one day a week to school. I came up with this idea when I realized that most girls I know do not feel comfortable or beautiful without makeup on. I don’t hate makeup I just hate when it becomes a routine and something to cover yourself so you look more like the media’s projection of what beautiful is. I think makeup should be for fun and to make you feel beautiful but it should not feel like a hassle and you should not be self-conscious without it. I think girls my age should not feel like they have to wear makeup and feel controlled by it.”
Friday 5...Favourite Jokes
The laughing whale. It's laughing.
This week has been a little...disappointing hasn't it? Sometimes it seems like all the wrong people are being ignored, or being chastised for their actions. Meanwhile others tattoo hideous images onto their necks (really – joke's on him, that tattoo's rubbish!), become Health Secretary and add words such as frape, amazeballs and impactful to online dictionaries.
And what can you do? Sigh? Rend your clothing? Laugh? In a bid to cheer ourselves up we decided to put together our favourite jokes. We may or may not have spent time in front of the computer screen laughing at our own jokes. But hey, if we don't laugh...WHO WILL?!
So settle down, remember it's Friday and have a read of our favourite jokes. Most importantly of all don't let the bastards get you down.
Image: Melanie Tata
Recently I attended a workshop on non-binary gender identities where we were talking about agender identity. I identify strongly as agender and/or trans, because I feel that I don’t have a gender. I don’t feel any kind of innate gender, and genders as they apply to me personally feel like arbitrary social constructions. The whole thing feels irrelevant to me, and being referred to as a woman makes me feel dysphoric and sad.
At the workshop someone asked how agender people present, as most people’s gender expression stems from their gender identity. Some people answered that they tried to look as androgynous or as genderqueer as possible. I’ve taken a different approach by using the space where my gender expression would be to parody the construct of femininity and reveal it to be performative - created through collective repeated iterations, a copy without an original. I call this femme.
I have always been very proud to be a native English speaker. This is because as I understand it's a bugger to learn and we've made an impenetrable art of the understatement. I have my pedant moments, but I'm in no position to criticise other people's use of language. Certainly I shouldn't, considering my love of wordplay and portmanteaus, begrudge the constant evolution (some may quibble over the choice of word there) of the English language.
The idea that Collins Dictionary should invite people to tell it the new words they have been using is interesting. An unedited list of all the words submitted is no doubt going to contain some words of iffiness, of dubious meanings or etymology. Which is why Collins's “dictionary editors have been busy sorting through more than four thousand entries...and can now reveal a list of eighty-six new words and senses that have been added to CollinsDictionary.com.”
Aflame for the Tortured Soul
I will level with you. I am on 'oliday. [this is now a lie – consider it the writerly present tense] I am sitting on a balcony with my laptop plugged in via an adaptor, a glass of Prosecco at my side and a straw hat on my head that might possibly be more suited to a beach donkey. [Lies all lies]
Aside from capturing some late summer vitamin D with my family I tend to amuse myself with holiday reading. What do I pick? Bonk-busters? Chick-lit? Something from the Booker prize list I know I should read but just simply don't appeal? No, always always always I reveal my quarter Englishness and go for a biography.