Womb Fury@ The Crescent

WOMB FURY-

‘A term of historic interest for the presence (or absence) of the hymen in a woman, which was once regarded as symptom of physical disease that, if not cured, might result in death.’

Being a woman=dangerous. Sarah Grace Logan and myself create joint poems that aim to explore this, how women are marked out as other, as bad. Extract from one of our first pieces:
Womb Fury

We are skin travellers:
manipulators of bodily order,
fingers shaped for moulding men,

we slough the flesh with our nails.
wear them like masks; they taste
of skin cells, regret and the fake

voices they use to describe us.

The latest piece we created used extracted lines from John Donne‘s romantic metaphysical poetry mixed with chat up lines when we googled: sex phone lines, shaping a found poem out of this created dialogue. We performed this at The Sixth Spoken Word at the Crescent:

This ties into the latest campaign of For Books’ Sake, which addresses the under representation of women in set texts in English classrooms:

‘With English writers now being priotised over American voices, women writers previously favoured by exam boards, such as Harper Lee, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker are set to be excluded.’

#BalanceTheBooks: commit to gender equality and better diversity in terms of class, race and sexuality in set texts for GCSE English Literature.

Here is the link, please do sign the petition!

See here for the other poems of Womb Fury!

Feminism in a small package

I was very excited to discover the articles on Feminist Media Studies, with titles like:

  • ”Your a Ugly, Whorish, Slut”: Understanding E-bile.
  • (Mis)Perceptions Around Intimate Partner Violence in the Music Video and Lyrics for “Love the Way You Lie”

It was brilliant to see these issues addressed in researched articles that built up a body of knowledge. They did a call out for short articles on twitter hashtags and feminist activism, which I wrote a short piece in response to. It’s not going to be in their published issue which will have many other articles on this, so I thought I’d put it up here for interest!

Hashtag Narratives and Shouting Back: Jada’s Pose

The stories we hear on social media are the stories humankind has always dealt with, but now, a larger, louder platform has been provided. It feels like we are hearing these stories for the first time. And there’s nowhere better to be heard than on twitter, using 140 characters to sum up what you’re thinking, producing your own narrative. If you add #(phrase/word), you can take part in an online conversation and archive, the tweeter’s grand narrative.

Twitter is spoken of by Gay, Adelman, Kaba, Smith (2014) as democratic, a fishbowl, a tool. Hashtags are ways of tagging your twitter post, they are a way of showing solidarity and arguing back.

If you were to search #Jadapose on twitter, you would find a trial waiting to happen. #Jadapose was used to tag posts showing a photo of a young girl, naked, unconscious, posted online in June 2014. People tagged mocking posts, arranging their bodies into the same position as Jada. Jada herself knew nothing of what had happened to her till she saw the photo, with her alleged rapist also mocking her on this public forum.

This initial photo and hashtag went viral, the media world turned to look. This in itself is one of the ways social media challenges dominant discourses, interjecting narratives that have been silenced and shut down. An old example that childhood sexual abuse was originally studied as a family’s dysfunction which allowed abuse to happen, rather than the wider view of society’s construction within which this behaviour existed (Krane, 2000). The reaction of people was horror at the joke attitude of the tweets, which tipped over into ‘‘e-bile’’ (Jane, 2012). People used language such as, ‘’hit that’’, around her vulnerable state.

Jada waived her right to anonymity and gave an interview to KHOU news (2014), ‘‘everybody has already seen…my body’’. She goes onto claim back ownership of herself, ‘‘that’s not what I am and who I am’’.

Narrative produces knowledge, and Jada has added her story. This adds to our knowledge of how we might redesign these narratives. She says, ‘’reputation, that’s over’’, but I would hope rather that her reputation has added to a strong cohort of survivors who are beginning to speak out. In a society where media coverage by women is still underrepresented (Harp, Bachmann, Loke, 2013) and an estimated 90% of rape survivors never report (Burrowes, 2013), her choice to speak out is important.

Jada has created her own pose #IamJada with one arm raised in a fist, a position of strength. This has linked into campaigns to speak out against sexual violence. There are a string of hashtags that express solidarity with Jada: #StandWithJada, #JusticeforJada and #Jadacounterpose.

There are many issues with hashtag activism and narratives that #Jadapose illustrates, the role it plays in creating awareness and publicity being useful to both feminism and empowerment, but the use of e-bile to silence and shut down is also acknowledged.

 

References

Adelman. L., Gay. R., Kaba. M., Smith. A., April 17th, 2014. What role should the social platform play as the feminist movement continues to grow? http://www.thenation.com/article/178883/where-twitter-and-feminism-meet

 

Jane. A. E., online 19th December 2012. “Your a Ugly, Whorish, Slut” Understanding E-bile. Feminist Media Studies. 14(4): 531-546. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2012.741073#.U-0E9vldXEw

 

Burrowes, N., 2013. Responding to the challenge of rape myths in court. NB Research: London. [Online]. Available: http://www.nb-research.co.uk/index.php/projects-2/

 

Harp, D., Bachmann. I., Loke. J., June 2014. Where Are the Women? The Presence of Female Columnists in U.S. Opinion Pages. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. 91: 2289-307.

 

Krane. J., 2000. child sexual abuse. p.82 in Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories Ed. by Code. L (2000) Routledge: London.

Online article: 16-year-old girl says her rape went viral: ‘I’m just angry’. Accessed: 4:12 p.m. August 3rd , 2014. KHOU Staff, KHOU.com. http://www.khou.com/story/news/crime/2014/07/29/12664610/

 

NMP3: Rose Queens

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“If we all helped carry the weight of injustice, we could not bear it, and so we would finally stop tolerating what we’ve been content to force others to carry alone.”- Emma Sulkowicz

Coming together through craftivism to discuss what we want changed with the representation of women was a really powerful experience. Putting the discussion into what we would put onto the wedding dress meant that we moved from pure white, to colours, to feathers, to ripping into the dress and pulling its netting out of the slitted skirt, and adding blood!

Here’s the team working on the attack:

We also did a group exercise where we added to a gingerbread person, on the inside how women are represented now, and on the outside, how we would like to see them represented in the future.

Representation of Women

Representation of Women

To list off a couple of quotes about how women are represented now:

  • Role model=Katie Price!
  • Judged on effort put into appearance.
  • Media comments on motherhood/lack of children on totally unrelated areas, eg ”Mother of 3 head of BBC’
  • Extra dehumanised in media stories, ie ‘Monster’ like the coverage focused on Myra Hindley.
  • Thin/slim=good vs fat=bad

And how we would like to see women represented:

  • To be seen as a human first and a woman second
  • Older age women more visible, respected and cherished.
  • Getting rid of idea of ‘normal’ women’s bodies and identities.
  • To be represented as something not other!
  • As individuals rather than types and labels
  • To value logic, to value humour, NOT APPEARANCE!

If you wanted to see the prompts we worked with, here is a downloadable pdf of them: News in Briefs Prompts

We used random words from news in briefs to create our own messages for the world.

Working with everyone on this event was an inspiring experience. The dress by the end of the event had the additions of: period blood, pubic hair, a tie, a scarf, feminist badges, a NMP3 tote, rewritten and recycled words taken from News in Briefs, plus all the other junk and glitter that are what we have to create a new version of what women can be.

Photo by Sara Ellis

Photo by Sara Ellis

Many thanks to People’s History Museum for hosting us. See their album of the event here. And it was great as ever, to work with Camilla RØstvik, Helen Mather and Anne Louise Kershaw on this event.

NoMorePage3 Mcr will also be working with Warp and Weft at their event Big Up Female Boffins in October!

NMP3: Wollstonecraftivism: This Sat!

Hello all,

This Saturday 13th it’s Wollstonecraftivism! 12-3. Defo try and come for 12 because after we’ve kicked off there will be breaks and a relaxed workshop, but at 12 there will be the most context. But it’d be great to see you at 1pm/2pm as well if you can’t make it that early! This time the event is with the People’s History Museum, a brilliant venue. Really looking forward to seeing who comes and sharing thoughts with the group about how women have been represented across history, from Mary Wollstonecraft to the Rose Queens of Manchester.

Wollstonecraftivism 1

Click for facebook event!

 

I think maybe I should talk a bit about why I support NoMorePage3?

When I first saw the campaign I did not think it was important. I remember dismissing it and thinking, it’s just page three, it’s always been there, why shouldn’t it be? Conversations with other people made me think more about the campaign, and why it might be important. One of the main things that changed my mind on it was the frequently asked questions. I think I read that page through a few times! There was a lot to think about. For example:

Q. Nobody is forcing these women to model for Page Three. Aren’t you going to put glamour models out of a job when they are only trying to make a living?

A. There are generally very few page 3 models at one time and most of them do other work as well as page 3, working free-lance in the industry for many publications and websites.

This campaign is not about the models on the page, but society as a whole…We think that it might be nice to promote some other career choices that showcase women’s talents and abilities.

This is only an extract, but for me reading these answers was a bit of a wake up call that actually, even if I’ve convinced myself Page Three has always been there, and it doesn’t matter, actually, maybe it does matter.

Then I went to some of the NoMorePage3 Manchester meetings and it started to make more and more sense, that Page 3 actually is a reflection of many of the ways I feel uncomfortable about myself, and about the representation of women. It started fitting in with street harassment I had experienced, and my attempt to make Page Three reasonable by saying, it had always existed, trying to make it okay, was not helping, and was just me telling myself not to be worried, when actually I think I am worried!

So that’s a bit about my slow realisation that I supported the campaign. I’m really pleased and excited to be a part of NoMorePage3 in Manchester, and the event this Saturday will be a glorious mix of an old wedding dress, cut up words from News in Briefs and a portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Thank you very much to People’s History Museum for hosting us! You can find more information about how to find the event here on their site. 

 

NMP3 Run #1

NMP3 Run #1

 

Rebecca Audra Smith and Anna Percy

Featured Image -- 1394

beccaaudra:

Anna P and me perform some joint poetry….

Originally posted on First Draft:

Greetings, #FirstDraftFridays followers!

This week we’re sharing some poetry from Rebecca Audra Smith and Anna Percy, who have been working and writing together for a long time, and are the brains behind Manchester-based poetry group, Stirred Poetry. They performed a brilliant set at our 2nd birthday event, Two’s Company, sharing some of the poems that they’ve worked on together for another excellent double act.

They’re only little, so we’ve got TWO of them for you today, you lucky… things…

We’ll share the other poems from Rebecca and Anna’s set in due course.

We want more!

Do you? My goodness. Alright, calm down… Well, for starters, you can watch the videos from Two’s Company that we’ve shared so far here.

Find out more about Stirred Poetry, and go along to one of their brilliant events.

Follow Stirred Poetry, Rebecca, Anna and First Draft on Twitter

View original 12 more words

Always allways ekphrasis workshop

Today as part of Quimperfect Tense’s season of workshops I came up with some ways of responding to the MMU degree show, you can download the prompts here: Allways Ekphrasis Workshop

The first artwork we responded to was a cascading fall of black paper chains, we later switched our two line responses and free wrote from each other’s words, but here they are put together:

Ringlets tumbling from the sky, why? heaps of curls drawn from a giant plug hole (plug hole not included in exhibition). Black oil cadences from my throat, dripping simmering onto my flesh warping the skin It’s a factory churning out smoke, here it comes, unhinged at the neck and the throat is open, wide, a cigarette’s hope.

IMG_0546

 

We used the photographs in the Link Gallery to find an artwork to fit with Esther Morgan’s poem titles. The starlings were really good for the titles:

The promise of snow/ Things left out all night/The China-mender’s daughter

A murmuration by Angharad Hughes

A murmuration by Angharad Hughes

Here’s a part of my piece inspired by that:

Her palms are cracked, black lined with the grime of a furnace and the taste of her own tongue wakes her up when the nights feel hot enough to fire china-she wakes, crawls to the window to watch starlings gather. Like thunder, they start up a murder of birds, a parliament of song, they dip and dive right through her. She is the ash that is never swept up.

The exhibition is on till next Wednesday, and it’s definitely worth checking out the variety of work, you can see online profiles of some of the work on the website here: http://degreeshow.mmu.ac.uk/

NoMorePage3Mcr: Stunner

 

NoMorePage3Mcr ran the first event today, Back in Time, at Manchester Art Gallery. We looked at Joana Vasconcelos and her artworks Big Booby #2 and Bond Girl, and explored what they meant to us in the context of society’s rhetoric partly symbolised by Page 3 and its placement in a popular high profile newspaper, The Sun.

Myself and Camilla Rostvik ran an activity around Bond Girl exploring her context in terms of art history and what our own reactions to the work were. Camilla explored further Pre-Raphaelite art and the term ‘Stunner’, used for the models of the artworks.

There is a lack of recognition of female artists in the Pre-Raphaelite movement which people are trying to address.

‘Likewise Jane Morris gets virtually no credit for leading the revival in needlework skills that became such an integral component of the arts and crafts movement of the 1870s and beyond.’

Famous model, not well known as an artist in her own right, is Jane Morris. A work of her (of her rather than by her) was directly next to Bond Girl which offered a great opportunity to discuss Stunners and representations of women.

Rossetti's painting of Jane Morris

Rossetti’s painting of Jane Morris

As a group we came up with a definition of ‘Stunner':

sexy, someone who is going to bash your brains in, heterosexual, white, plastic surgery, individual, limiting, shallow, landscape, bang knocked out, immediately good looking, gratifying, instant gratification, grotesque, phwoar, no further explanation or investigation needed. 

The finality of the last statement suggests the acceptance of these ideals of female beauty that society engineers. This acceptance is something NoMorePage3 resists, and the event today led to some really interesting discussions where we got to challenge these discourses, it was a real pleasure to work with everyone!

Here’s a short extract of me and Jane Bradley talking about Joana Vasconcelos and her work. I am still uploading the first half of the intro also!