Tuesday, 20 July 2010


I was upset and disgusted to read about the 2 alleged rapes that occurred this weekend at Latitude festival. I went a few years ago, and had an incredible time. Ever since, I've said it's the only UK festival I would go to (other than ATP, which doesn't really count) because as a music-loving non-drinker, I felt entirely at ease, wandering about by myself.

I do a lot of that at festivals, because I'd rather be seeing as many bands as possible than getting trashed in a tent*. I've often headed back alone at night to my tent to join the campfire festivities. And who really wants to have to wake up their friends in the night so that they have an escort for the loo?

Obviously, the organisers of Latitude have expressed their dismay at these horrible events. Unfortunately, they have come up with a rather patronising solution, to ensure that nothing like this happens again:

"Festivals provide an element of outdoor freedom. That is integral but our ability to inform young girls in particular about the dangers of sexual predators is something we can do more on, and we will."

In this ineffectual, and frankly nonsensical, statement, Melvyn Benn, the chief executive of Festival Republic, heaps responsibility onto 'young girls'. Apparently, instead of enjoying the 'outdoor freedom', we should be worrying about rapists leading us off into the woods. It's not that I don't think that we should be concerned with personal safety at all, it's that I object to the burden of fear and trepidation that women are supposed to carry. Instead of telling men not to rape, instead of educating about the intricacies of consent, about respecting women's bodies and boundaries, women are simply told that we're never safe.

And, realistically, can we ever live like that? Can we live our whole lives never walking alone after dark, never going to see a band, or enjoying a festival on our own? I don't think we can, or nor should we have to. Making women invisible and afraid won't stop rapes or rapists. It'll only make women who have been raped feel responsible for not taking enough precautions.

How about, as well as tightening security and lighting the site more effectively, Latitude attempt to educate people about rape? How about they encourage potential rapists to take responsibility for themselves, and their actions.

How about something like this attached to every tree:


Now, I know it may be a little unorthodox, but it would definitely make me feel safer at a festival, instead of paranoid about personal safety. But maybe society doesn't women to feel safe, maybe it suits them that we remain scared and not too bold. But that's probably a post for another day...

*(Getting trashed in a tent is also totally fine, I just find alcohol yucky and boring.)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Enough hatin'

About a month ago, I went on an all-women bike ride called 'Revenge of the 50 Fixed Women' with the excellent Laura. We were pretty excited about it. The idea of a group of women riding together, most on fixed gear bikes, and then getting a drink afterwards, was brilliant. We'd wanted to do something similar for ages.

Sadly, it didn't live up to our expectations.

What we were hoping would be a supportive atmosphere, turned nasty fairly early on. Several girls on the ride were incredibly rude about Laura's bike. Later on, at the pub, we were left to sit pretty much alone. Needless to say, we didn't stay long. Neither of us appreciated being made to feel like the lonely unpopular kid at school (probably because we've both been there, done that!)

We've been trying to decide why we think this happened. Fixed gear cycling (and cycling in general) is dominated by men. Women are outnumbered and not properly catered for within the industry. Sadly, it seems like some of the women involved in this scene have a complex about this and are worried about seeming amateur, or unable to keep up with the boys. They feel like they have something to prove, to be the cool girl who's keeping up with the boys.

This creates a sense of rivalry, which isn't a good environment in which to create a sense of community.

I'm so tired of women being pitted against each other in every aspect of our lives. It's not that I think we should all be friends, or even that we have anything in common with each other just because we're (trans and cis) women. It would, however, be nice if we weren't encouraged to be jealous of each other or to see each other purely as rivals for the attention and respect of men. We shouldn't have to trample over each other to get that, it should be a given.

The media paints us as petty gossips and bitches. We even secretly hate our friends. It's considered cool to say that you don't really have any girl friends because you just don't get on with them. Or the classic, 'other girls just don't like me', which is code for 'I'm so attractive to men, that other girls are super jealous of me and don't want to be around me.'

We need to all be able to see through this bullshit. That this is a way for men to get things from us, to make us pander to them and put them first all of the time. It serves a patriarchal, capitalist society well to keep women divided. Heaven forbid we organise together, then we might be able to do smash their systematic oppression!

So let's chuck out the gossip rags and shout down the people who lie about who we are. They don't know us! Some of us are gossips, some of us bitch about others (I guess we all do sometimes) but we are a million other things too. Let's make sure 'supportive' is one of those things. Why? I turn here, as I always do, to the Riot Grrrl Manifesto:

BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.


Too tired for words.

It seems like I start every post with 'Wow, its been ages since I posted.'

For the last few months, I've been working 48 hours a week, often ten and a half hour days. When I get home, I'm exhausted. I don't need to use my brain at all when I'm there, and I feel like it's rotting away.

Feel free to send me inspiring things to help me to get my writing groove back. I don't know where it's gone.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Save The Boobies!

Wow, that was a long absence. I have been suffering from a prolonged case of writer's block and I had to dedicate a lot of time and energy to eating Christmas chocolate. Unsurprisingly, I was roused from this unproductive slump by anger and frustration. Because that's the type of gal I am.

This morning I began to notice that a lot of my female Facebook friends had random colours as their Facebook statuses. I didn't understand, so, after checking it wasn't some super-cool internet trend that I had missed, I decided to ask what it was all about.

It turns out, the colours weren't random. Women have been encouraged to update their statuses with the colour of their bra. Why? For breast cancer awareness, that's why. Apparently telling everybody on your friends list that you're wearing a red bra, is, like, totally a positive thing.

Except that it's not. It's creepy.

Practically, it's not useful because it's cryptic. It doesn't tell us anything about breast cancer, how to donate to a breast cancer charity, how to prevent the cancer or even how to check ourselves for it. We all know breast cancer exists, so it doesn't tell us anything new.

My other main problem with it is that it enforces the idea that breast cancer is bad because breasts are attractive and sexy, not because it kills women. It is hard to deny that describing your underwear in a public sphere is supposed to be a bit titillating. It reminds me of an this American breast cancer campaign:

I don't know about you, but this ad made me want to punch myself in the face. Reducing women to their body parts, removing their humanity, making them a piece of meat is NEVER acceptable, even for the cause of breast cancer awareness. Granted, the Facebook thing is not as bad as this, but I see it as part of the same sexist strategy.

What would have been positive, is if people, not just women, had been encouraged to post links to self-examination guides or websites where you can donate some money.

I want women's lives to be saved, not just their boobies.

(This is a good guide to self-exams and you can donate to Breakthrough breast cancer charity here.)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Normal service returns soon

I will update Swimsuit Issue soon when i cease being a useless human being. Which will hopefully be this week. In the meantime, here's my new, more personal blog: hey goo!! what's new?

The first post explains what I want to do with it. It isn't very interesting, but if you want to have a look then go ahead!!