Sunday, 25 October 2009

Weekly round-up

It's Sunday, so it's weekly round-up time! The first EVER one no less!

Response to transphobia in Seventeen magazine article

This is filed under, 'great response to a maddening article'. Seventeen magazine in the US recently ran a 'real life' story of a high school girl who boyfriend turned out the be a a female-to-male trans man. The boyfriend is branded a liar for not revealing his trans status and is repeatedly un-gendered. This blog post unpacks it (in all its transphobic glory) really clearly.

Street harassment in Egypt

I found this fascinating. I think it's striking that street harassment seems to happen for similar reasons in different countries and cultures. This article also looks at the Egyptian establishment's reluctance to take this issue seriously.

Jessica Valenti on her wedding

I'm not sure what I think about this blog post from Feministing, but I thought it made interesting reading whatever your views on marriage and weddings.

And because I feel like this blog is often depressing, I'm including this:

It's from this AMAZING blog which always inspires me and makes me smile.

New Swimsuit Issue features

It's time for me to face the truth: I am a bad blogger.

I am well aware that I don't blog enough, probably once every one to two weeks, which is a pretty poor show.

To counter my chronic idleness, I'm adding two weekly features to Swimsuit Issue.

The first is a weekly round-up of articles, from the news and other blogs. They'll be a mixture of things I enjoyed or was interested in or angered by. (Knowing me, it'll be mostly stuff that makes me angry.)

The second will be a profile of a well-known person who will usually be a feminist or somebody who is involved in other liberation movements. I'd really like some help with this one. I have a list of people I want to feature but I'd love some suggestions.

I'll also be doing at least one regular update a week.

Working (almost) full-time is a poor excuse for not doing something that I really enjoy.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Hollaback Grrrl

I was so excited to hear that the UK now has its own Hollaback blog. For people who haven't come across one of these blogs before, they're essentially accounts of street harassment from women in various US cities. It's a great way for women to vent their experiences, rather than just bottling up that impotent rage that many of us feel after dealing with sexual comments from strangers.

After all, how many of us feel up to confronting these swines after we've been humiliated and degraded? We often just slope off red-faced with our skin crawling, angry at them for daring to speak to us like that and angry at ourselves for saying nothing in return. And this is exactly the reaction they want. If you turned around and said, 'Yeah, I'll fuck you. Let's go back to your place', they simply wouldn't know what to do. A street harasser's aim is to make women feel powerless, not to compliment us or make us feel 'special'. I often feel that it's a way to keep us 'in our place'. Like we've got a bit above ourselves walking about in the world, living independent lives. We need reminding that we're are objects, only useful in the home and particularly in the bedroom. One of the most frustrating things about this is the fact that if you ignore them or tell them to fuck off, they shout that you're stuck up or you're a bitch.

I'm aware that none of this is particularly new or interesting so here are are a couple of my own memorable experiences with street harassment.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at uni to meet a friend and I was locking up by bike with a combination lock. I looked up and saw the postman heading in my direction. I smiled and prepared to say a cheery 'good morning'. Except that I didn't get a chance to say anything before he said, 'If I come back to yours, will you tie me up like that?' It took a second to register that that was what he said and I was still wearing my fixed grin. I was so angry that I hadn't managed a retort. I hated that he might have thought I was OK with his disgusting behaviour.

But whenever I feel like that, I remember the time that I did manage (just a little bit) to get my own back. I was walking past a tiling shop with my friend on my way home. We heard somebody behind us saying things as we walked away and turned around in time to hear, 'I love the way your ass looks in those jeans'. This schmuck was sitting outside the shop in his uniform, he clearly worked there!! We went in and spoke to his manager who assured us that he would be disciplined. As we were leaving he started saying, 'Oh I get it, you're shy. Can I get your number?' What did he think we'd done? Asked his manager for this guy's number so we could get a date with him?!

It was small but it made us feel a bit more powerful.

Anyway, you can find Hollaback UK here and you can tweet them at @hollabackuk. Congratulations to all involved, it's a brilliant idea.

(Picture from

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Girl Germs: The Aftermath

So it appears that all our shameless promotion for Girl Germs worked. We were at capacity and then some on Saturday night. 100 cupcakes were consumed, free zines were nabbed and we all thrashed about to some amazing grrrl music. In fact we thrashed so much that our cds kept skipping.

We had a brilliant time and met some fantastic people who want to help us out. Anyway, the upshot of it all is, Girl Germs is going to be bi-monthly at the Camden Head from February 13th when we're probably going to do an anti- Valentine's Day themed bash.

We plan to do lots of different themed nights to keep things interesting, so if you have any ideas or just want to help us out, you can email

Here are some photos that I didn't take:


The brilliant We Are Words And Pictures stall.

Me and Laura djing. We're so cool now.


There you have it. You can follow us on our new Twitter page here, and become a fan of us on Facebook here.

Hope to see you on February 13th.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Girl Germs club night October 17th

Shameless self-promotion here!! I'm putting on a club night this Saturday at the Camden Head with the radiant Laura Wilson Here's what it's all about and why we're doing it in the first place. (Cross-posted to the F Word and hopefully Subtext later on).

Girls Germs is a grrrl-tastic night of music, zines, cakes and dancing. Everybody who comes gets a free cupcake and a chance to buy zines from the fantastic We Are Words And Pictures zine stall. We’ll be playing le tigre, Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, The Slits, The Kills, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bikini Kill, M.I.A. and plenty of other amazing tunes by amazing grrrls. It’s going to be a celebration of women’s creativity, proof that girls making music is more than just a faddy trend.

More importantly, though Girl Germs is a grrrl-safe zone where we won’t have to listen to degrading song lyrics. Girl Germs was partly born out of frustration; we were sick of having to dance to songs all about male-angst, or that referred to women only as objects to be abused or put up on pedestal. We wanted to throw ourselves about to music that related our experiences, made by women who are like us. We know there are other women in London who feel the way we do but they’re hard to find. We’ve started Girl Germs in the hope that we’ll meet you, collaborate with you and dance with you. And eat some cake with you.

Date: Saturday 17th October

Location: Camden Head Pub, 100 Camden High Street

Time: 8 ‘til late

Price: £3/£2 with flyer

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Raincoats play the National Portrait Gallery

This is also posted at the F Word blog.

For just over three months, the National Portrait Gallery has been celebrating Gay Icons. This impressive exhibition features photographic portraits of people deemed iconic by some of the most famous and influential gay figures alive today. Alongside the main exhibition, the gallery has hosted a number of events designed to explore the meaning of the words ‘icon’ and ‘iconic’. On 25 of September, The Raincoats played as part of ‘Icon-i-coustic’, a series of concerts, held at the gallery, by iconic musicians and bands including Patrick Wolf and Beverley Knight.

Ana da Silva and Gina Birch formed The Raincoats in 1977, in the midst of the boy-dominated punk scene. By 1978, they were joined by Vicky Aspinall on violin and the legendary Palmolive, of The Slits, on drums. Their eponymous debut album, released in 1979, has rightly achieved iconic status. The Raincoats is the sound of women finding their own way of expressing themselves through music. Its off-kilter rhythms and feminist subject matter combined with Ana and Gina’s incredible vocals are like nothing else that came out of the macho punk scene. Their strictly DIY, lo-fi approach has been admired by other iconic musicians including Kim Gordon and Kurt Cobain, who wrote the liner notes for the 1994 re-release of their debut.

It’s easy to see why The Raincoats were chosen to perform at this event, then. But this was much more than a gig. All of the musicians in the ‘Icon-i-coustic’ series were invited to present their own icons before performing themselves.

Shirley O’Loughlin, the band’s manager, went first. There was a fantastically sinister reading of some choice passages from Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. Manifesto and an equally creepy performance of ‘Blue Moon’ as well as a poem about, well, shoes.

Next up was Ana who had decided to present her icons to us in the form of illustrations; there was one for every member of the audience to take home. Peeking over other people’s shoulders I saw drawings of Pure digital radios and Telecasters. I got Raincoats lyrics, “My feelings were killed by laws, The walls that surrounded my city”, with a picture of two love hearts and barbed-wire.

Gina showed us a film in which she talked candidly about her icons, from the hippy movement to Tracy Emin, Enid Blyton to Vivienne Westwood.

There were few surprises here, except maybe Enid Blyton, but their icons reflect absolutely who they are as a band; dedicated to music, art and punk aesthetics, as well as being openly and unapologetically feminist.

And then it was time for them to play. They rattled their way through a 10-song set, which included favourites like ‘No Side to Fall Into’ and ‘No Looking’.

One of the most charming things about The Raincoats is that Ana and Gina have never been technically brilliant guitarists or bassists. They’ve found their own way of playing, one which is far more interesting than the three-chord punks or air guitar inspiring rock gods.

More than 30 years after the release of their first album, The Raincoats are as vital as ever. Their vocals, which range from lush harmonies (‘No Side to Fall Into’), to yelps and barking (‘Babydog’), represent women empowered by their creative freedom.

Watching women collaborate in this honest way is an intoxicating experience. After their final song (their excellent, queer cover of The Kinks’ ‘Lola’) I left more desperate than ever to be in a band with other grrrls. The fact that they continue to inspire in this way makes them more than worthy of the accolade of ‘Icons’.