The Norwich Radical: My One Year Anniversary

The other week I wanted to show Bande de Filles aka Girlhood, to 6th Form students in order to get them to come along to the Feminist Club. They had been keen after having Feminista UK coming in to run a workshop with them. Sadly, my efforts at putting colour-posters up, guying popcorn and even buying the DVD specifically to show the film were wasted at this time. It was rather depressing to hear the music at the start repeat in an empty classroom. I guess they’re overworked. And as an English Mentor, I keep giving them extra reading to do as it is!

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I’ve been writing for The Norwich Radical for a year now, where I look at the arts through a feminist lens. Girlhood was a film I highlighted for its Feminist credentials. So, I thought this would be an opportune time to highlight the articles I’ve written thus far. You can get a whole list by clicking here.

In order of appearance:

I’m Sorry You’re Offended

Sirens at Soho Theatre

Soho Comedy: Women, ‘It’s Like They’re Real People’

Emmy the Great: Oslo, Hackney

The Bechdel Test Fest

Women of the World Festival 2015: Part 1 and Part 2

Three Women Poets

Women Fashion Power: Not a Multiple Choice Question

Woman Verses World

The Place for Poetry: Fragment and Process, Visual Culture and Performance

The Last Word

Soon Every House Will Have One

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To Kill a Mockingbird – Is it Just Me?

In Defence of Telling Girls They Can

Let’s Talk About Sex: The Institute of Sexology and Sex in the Afternoon

Feminist Picks: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Homework: Molly Naylor and Katie Bonna

Arts Funding: Young People, Women and Intersectionality

Suffragette: The Fight is Not Over

The Hollow of The Hand

Hannah Silva’s ‘Shlock!’

The World Goes Pop

Warsan Shire’s Her Blue Body

Richard Yates: An Accidental Feminist?

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Feminism in London: Engaging Men in Feminism

Last year at the FiL conference I went to a similar workshop about men and Feminism. This year, The Great Initiative came to deliver the workshop, which went through a some of the activities they would do with school children as a way of engaging them within discussions on gender and equality. Although the focus is on men and boys here, it is a far cry from the misogynist MRAs one can get used to trolling online. The men who are serious about addressing gender do so in a pro-Feminist way. Through ‘Great Men’, they aim to disrupt gender stereotypes and engage participants in the movement towards gender equality. The diagram below shows how they go about this.

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In the workshop, we started with word associations on big pieces of paper connected to men and women. The main bulk was in groups, where we discussed pros and cons men being engaged with Feminism. Our initial reaction to the task was that there simply aren’t any cons to men being engaged with Feminism. We then thought more about it in terms of either the act of engaging men itself and what are essentially maybe teething issues, so things like feeling men are to blame rather than it being about a system of power, but arguably paradoxically having to think about being in a position privilege and how that can be used for making the movement stronger. Yet, in terms of men who are engaged in Feminism, there may be a resistance to, in some ways, giving up power, and in turn a danger to dominate rather than listen and try to understand how life is coloured with experiences of being a woman. I managed to take a photograph of our notes on the topic. When the discussion was opened up, we managed to summarise, and there were moments where it descented into debate, but at the end we were left with this list to keep in mind, and some tools and approaches to engaging men and boys in Feminism.

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bell hooks: Outlaw Culture

When reading Feminist texts, it is usually unlikely that you will agree with 100% of what they write. It’s hard to be right about everything, and Feminists are human and it’s natural to disagree. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a pretty impossible feat to solve the world’s problems. But, you know, we try. And when it comes to bell hooks, she gets pretty close to that 100% for me. This notion of a perfect kind of Feminism is also something bell hooks addresses.

In conversation with Caitlin Moran, Bridget Christie and Shazia Mirza at Southbank Centre, they asserted that there’s no such thing as a perfect Feminist, and that they shouldn’t have to face a backlash for saying things others had issues with. Whilst I agree that the vile abuse that can come out of this through such “Twitterstorms” is bad (goodbye sisterhood), I think it’s important to be critical and create a dialogue rather than stick your fingers in your ears and say ‘la la la, I’m not listening’. bell hooks states her books ‘rigorously critique and interrogate aspects of feminist thoughts, they also insist on the primacy of a fierce feminist commitment to ending sexism and sexist oppression.’ She goes on to say that ‘a progressive, revolutionary feminist movement must welcome and create a context for constructive conflict, confrontation, and dissent. Through that dialectical exchange of ideas, thought, and visions, we affirm the transformative power of power politics.’ Maybe a utopian vision, but something we do have the power to achieve.

I have a copy of ‘Feminism is for Everybody’ still on my shelf, and bought my boyfriend a copy of ‘The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love’ after a recommendation from a male colleague, but I started with ‘Outlaw Culture’. It’s a collection of essays and interviews which focuses on pop culture, weaving in perfectly placed profanities within an academic discourse that gives legitimacy to engage critically with the kinds of things that surround a majority of people’s everyday lives.

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I have folded down SO MANY CORNERS. I cannot recommend this book enough, even if it isn’t the one that most people would typically go for. Although bell hooks has been questioned on her academic style, I still think it’s somewhat accessible. Coming from an academic background myself, it may be hard to assess that concern properly, but I was actually gripped when reading it. And to get that from a non-fiction feminist text is pretty impressive.

One of the big things I liked about the book, is the amount of times the ‘white supremacist capitalist, patriarchy’ is referenced, as well as comments on heteronormativity and imperialism. I think it’s so important to see the ways these systems of power intersect and to find strength in that, as well to see what part you have to play in the struggle against these multiple oppressions. Although there are some references to films I’d not seen, it made me want to watch and re-read, and these were just as interesting as those I was familiar with, or the more broad essays, such as the fantastic ‘Gangsta Culture – Sexism and Misogyny: Who will take the rap?’ This was the one that made me rush to my bag in a debate with my Dad to slam the book down at the table, opened at one of the turned-down corners.

Published in 2006, Outlaw Culture is available from Routledge Classics and you can buy it here.

Body Hair: Armpit Alert

Dr. Breanne Fahs has been quoted to say that when a woman shows her armpit hair it “becomes an act of political resistance because it highlights the presence of an otherwise silent or erased aspect of women’s bodies.” It’s winter, so it’s been an act of political resistance that has been easy to embrace. The picture below is probably the closest I’ll get to exposing my hairy armpits to the world. When not on show, I’m happy to grow! But if I’m honest, there’s a deep-seated attitude ingrained in me that probably underlies just why I will continue to shave in the summer months, despite the fact the hair grows back within what seems like minutes, and with such sensitive skin, it’s near impossible for it to be smooth unless the optimum amount of time is left in between shaves.

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How more hippie can you get?

It’s not complex to work out why I’m embarrassed to bare my hair on the beach. I think it’s around 90% of women who remove armpit hair. It even feels a little silly that messages that are so obviously articulated are still able to influence me so powerfully. I remember when I was about seven years old, in Italy, I thought I saw the armpit hair of an older, American girl. It seemed like such a shock to me. I remember telling my Mum, who has, of course, handed down body-hair shame to me like a precious heirloom.

When I started to grow hair there myself, I was still at primary school. A girl saw that I had hair there. It was almost like I hadn’t noticed it myself. I don’t remember thinking anything of it growing there until it was pointed out to me by another girl. This was obviously accompanied by an “urgh!” All it took was these two experienced, strong enough for them to stand out in mind mind all these years later, to form this idea that I’m not presentable in my natural state.

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Maybe one day, I’ll become brave enough to step out in the real world like this. But for now, this is as Feminist as my armpits get. Meow. Just had a massive curry and going to have a bath, eat chocolate in front of telly, half wishing I was dancing to Beyonce (but only half, because I’m like 26 now, getting old, staying in for NYE etc). #Iwokeuplikethis #flawless

Feminism in London: Suppressed Histories

I wanted to start blogging, like, actually properly. I often plan so that I blog for a specific reason and by the time I get round to it, I end up writing so much that I would be surprised if anyone bothered to read it! Blogging is meant to be short and frequent, right? Maybe it’s some subconscious fear about putting y writing out there, that part of me is scared that people will read it and so write so much to put them off!

Feminism in London was nearly two months ago. I could only attend on the Sunday, so the first talk I went to was by Max Dashu, who spoke about women’s suppressed histories. It was so eye-opening that I immediately noted down the website. I have also just signed up subscribed to the YouTube account. I’d highly recommend watching this extract from the Women’s Power DVD.

It is important when talking of empowerment from a position of historic oppression, that we don’t paint ourselves solely in a position of inferiority and victimhood. This connects very much to how power is perceived: in terms of ‘domination, force and supremacy… these systems are more than patriarchal; they are colonial and imperial’ Women’s oppression is one story, but, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stated in the video below, it is vital that we hear all stories. Here we can consider a global perspective: one that doesn’t necessarily align with the story we get told.

The video states that ‘in classic Eurocentric history, women end up as footnotes to the main story’ and this is a view so widely accepted that when watching The Apprentice on catch-up, one team decided to cut off the woman’s long hair in a silhouette in order to make the image look like a man, which they described as “gender neutral”. No, my friend, man is not neutral, but is often deemed so because of the patriarchy’s position of this as the default. Whilst Feminism becomes more and more about challenging gender as a social construct, it is still important to raise the voices of those who have been silent too long.

One-Liners: Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews

I’ve written more detailed reviews for The Norwich Radical on shows by the Kitten Killers, Luke Stephens, Kate Smurthwaite, Pole and Hannah Chutzpah. Here I’ve included some smaller reviews to give you a flavour of some of my other many highlights.

Megan Ford: Feminasty

Satirical, character sketches and comedic speeches on gender, Ford switches between characters to connect comedy to more serious issues. We get a cool, informative zine on the way out, and a badge.

Shazia Mirza: A Word In Progress

There were moments I wasn’t sure about: the mention of ‘political correctness’, jokes about fat people, and Jewish people, and the upset at the mention of the girls who left Bethnal Green Academy. I work at the school down the road, and it’s something that directly impacts on the students I teach, but perhaps the point was to create discomfort. The theory that they went “for dick” seemed sadly poignant once the laughter died down and we were told that “epilator, knickers and body lotion” were on the top of their packing list. This is a slightly longer review, because I’m interested to see where the show will go, because, although funny, the ending – a commentary on Islam and so-called “ISIS” was momentous and powerful.

Bridget Christie: A Book For Her

There were at least three acts who mentioned the tax on sanitary products, but Christie suggested the ingenious idea of sending bloody knickers with “END VAT’ on them to George Osborne. In this show, she gave an ironic definition of what being a Feminist means and turned to politics in the UK and USA, with an intersectional focus on race issues.

Katherine Ferns: Conscious Incompetent

I disagreed with points made about “manspreading”, which is simply indicative of patriarchy, and as much a part of it as anything else, I didn’t like jibes at Beyoncé, and I didn’t like the use of the word “retarded”. However, she also made the obligatory tampon tax joke, and her ability to touch on taboo subjects such as incest, rape and pedophilia was both clever and somehow funny (and not in an offensive way). She spoke frankly of what difficulties in her life, from depression to drugs, and weighed up whether decisions she’d made were brave or stupid. Well, I’d say the brave outweighs the stupid.

Jack Rooke: Good Grief

He probably won’t want his youth commenting on, but I left Rooke’s show in awe of what he is doing. Not only has he created this wonderful show, which has the perfect balance of comedy and more sombre moments, but he is symbolic of how the personal is political. What goes on with the government directly impacts on our lives, and through The Good Grief Project, he is challenging current changes to the Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

Harry Baker: The Sunshine Kid

You couldn’t help but smile throughout this show, as Baker took us through his life prior to university to now through his poetry, which can be found in the book of the same title by Burning Eye Books.

David Lee Morgan: Building God

An intense show about revolution and communism, Morgan’s voice kept audiences captivated through his ways with words and the beat of the music he played as a backdrop.

Stephanie Laing: Nincompoop

A show about shame that started with not letting an old lady sit down, and inevitably went on to talk about drunken behaviour, bad dreams and sexual antics. With songs and a flute, Chesney Hawks, and a serious note about shame and self-harm, what’s not to love?

Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn: Fake It ‘Til You Make It

I gave this show a standing ovation. I’ve never been made to cry from watching dancing before this. I bought the play text, but I wish I could relive the experience as I read. Bryony Kimmings and her real-life partner Tim Grayburn use comedy, dance, and spoken word to speak about mental health more honestly than I’ve ever seen before. It was incredibly touching and I wanted to cry a lot more than I actually did.

Sophia Walker: Can’t Care, Won’t Care

An insight into the care industry through a legal battle between the state and the carer. This shows as in with such jobs, there is minimal pay and agency for those who truly care about the individuals they work for, the service users. It was honest and passionate, and so heartbreaking.

The Kagools

No words and a whole lot of audience participation. I was thankful to do no more than eat a Hula Hoop. The best part was their use of pre-recorded material on the screen, and that whilst it felt like each part was a random act, it tied neatly together by the end.

Elf Lyons: Being Barbarella

I loved the Feminist angle of wanting to be this confident person, and wanting to be empowered sexually and otherwise. Lyon’s mis-matching accents was especially funny, as well as her use of costume.

Ben Norris: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Family

Ben Norris explores his relationship with his father through a hitchhike through all the places his dad had lived, proving an interesting story that explored masculinity as a whole and was sure to connect with many men in the audience.

Aisling Bea: Plan Bea

I loved this and was laughing constantly. She had good accents and I liked the reclaiming of ‘girl’ as a word of complexities, and there were slight political points, but worked in a subtle way. Again, this was about confidence and owning your own “shame” (her being in this heavy metal pirate video)

Mark Watson: Flaws

A show about flaws, obviously, and lacking self-esteem, mental health issues and turning to alcohol. Watson is such a warm character that you can’t help but warm to him (unless you were one of the three women who left after fifteen minutes).

Paula Varjack: How I Became Myself (By Becoming Someone Else)

A really interesting piece, as well as in terms of subject matter – the idea of changing your identity – but also in terms of how this was done visually – mixing front performance, through the camera and on screen. 

So It Goes

Another show with no words spoken aloud, but written on white boards, using props and dance to illustrate the story of Hannah’s dad, dealing with his death, and her friend David helping her to tell this story. There was laughter, and many, many tears.

Sara Hirsch: How Was It For You?

‘I can’t rhyme you,’ Hirsch proclaims, asserting why she can’t write a poem for her then-boyfriend, in the middle of what is almost a long love poem to the ex in question. But it was also a love poem to herself, and for everyone out there searching for love and the meaning of life.

Jemima Foxtrot: Melody

Beautifully intricate language, so poetic and mixed in, as the title would suggest, with a’cappella song. Foxtrot plays with humour and the unexpected in this wonderfully crafted piece.

Kirsten MacGregor: Hello Cruel World

I couldn’t believe this comedian was just 18 years old. It wasn’t only her grumpy persona that made her seem mature, but her confidence and comic timing.

Michael Burdett: Strange Face – Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording

Really interesting true story of… well, it does what it says on the tin. There’s a book with lots of people, including well-known people, photographed whilst listening to the a rare recording of ‘Cello Song’ with their stories.

Mark Stephenson: Amsterdam

A hilarious story about an absent father, a beautiful marriage and selective mutism. Or it is? Very much recommend.

Izzy Tennyson: Brute

I find it difficult to create characters that exist beyond binaries of good and bad, yet Izzy Tennyson managed to do this in the creation of ‘Brute’. In the classic conversational style of Tennyson, she embodies a teenage girl to tell a story that is familiar in the sense of going to a single-sex state school, but looking into why girls can be bullies, exploring the complexities of a psyche so often dismissed.

Dan Simpson: Nerdsmith

Reading poems from his Burning Eye Book, Applied Mathematics, Simpson attempts and admittedly fails to get to the heart of an emotional provocation. But at the end, it’s okay, as the audience enjoy his playing with language, from puns to extended metaphors. I bought his book in hope of some poetic inspiration!

Tim Renkow: Kim Jong-Un, Mohammed, Jesus and Other Power-Hungry Maniacs

Renkow was knowingly provocative in his comedy from the onset, warning the audience that his record number of walk-outs is nine people. However, I was most offended by the implication that, in telling an anecdote to illustrate negative attitudes to disability, his erection was due to the woman’s “fear”. There were certainly other moments where I questioned where he was going, but you didn’t have to wait for long to see that he was mocking injustices he sees in society.

So, it was pretty much all amazing…

There were some I enjoyed more than others, but the only show I was completely disappointed by was Tony Law. I’d seen him before, but a majority of this improvised show I didn’t find funny, and on top of that I was worried about him, especially when he started to drink a pint after telling the audience he’s quit drinking. I hope he’s okay…

News: She Grrrowls and Audio Book Radio

She Grrrowls is settled into its new home at Apples & Pears – it’s crazy to think that half a year has gone, and 16th July will be the last event before the summer break (all being well, returning in September). Check out what you missed last week:

In other news, I’m currently working on an anthology of ten poets from the She Grrrowls alumni after receiving funding from Ideas Tap to commission some new poems. I just need a publisher now! I’m hoping to get it out for December to have a launch event.

I’ve also been listening to this radio documentary, with poetry by Kate Tempest after having listened to lots of clips shared by Falling Tree. Again, you can listen to it here:

Speaking of radio, I’ll be having some poems featured on Audio Book Radio. Tune in on Friday 26th June at 2pm, 10pm and Saturday 27th at 6am.

How Not to Talk About Intersectionality

Changing Families and Feminist Blind Spots: Have female-friendly policies been captured by middle class feminists?

When giving up an evening to go to a talk on with the title above, you would probably be fair in making the assumption that this would be a discussion amongst identifying Feminists, with a focus on intersectionality, touching on issues of class and race. Or at least that is the assumption I made, when invited by a colleague. It is only now that I read it another way; ‘feminists’ here are The Other, separated from everyone else.

It began with a presentation by Professor Baroness Alison Wolf, yet throughout the evening, it seemed that she was most concerned with promoting her book ‘The XX Factor: How Working Women are Creating a New Society’. If Wolf was meant to be the spokesperson for Feminism, her voice was not strong enough, and she often put her foot in her mouth. For example, when making the assumption that the room is full of middle class people, what are you then saying about working class people? By making a sweeping generalisation on the audience appearance, Wolf was unable to address the complexities of class as it is now. She talked about 15-20% percentage of women being highly educated, and the rest being ignored by Feminism, which may be true of certain strands of mainstream Feminism, but within that she ignored the gap between herself and a lot of women who would be deemed middle class. The middle class is a wider demographic that Wolf presented.

When Wolf began her presentation, she was aware that it may be seen a controversial. At first I wondered if what she was saying was deliberately done to make us feel uncomfortable. That would have been a great tactic. However, as she went on, what she said seemed more illogical and simply not that well informed. She may know her economics, but she doesn’t know her Feminism. I’ve followed the work of The Crunk Feminist Collective for some time, but there are plenty of examples of intersectional Feminism and no mention of this aspect of Feminism today at the event. There are also writers such as Bridget Minamore and Chimene Suleyman writing for Poejazzi who touch on these topics. Here you can read articles such as ‘The “Fierce” Black Woman Inside You Desont’ Exist”  (Minamore) and ‘Fighting against the fetishisation of women, doesn’t work if you fetishise women’  (Suleyman), which are Feminist, and offer a valuable critique of the type of Feminism Wolf was attempting to address.

Wolf’s point about working class women was lost by ignoring the women she claimed to be speaking for. But why was she speaking for them at all? Would it not have been better to actually bring women who identified as working class and allowed them the space to get their voice heard? Instead, Wolf presented a case of topics that mainstream Feminists were concerned about and put them up against what was happening elsewhere in the world. However, there was only one example that actually included a gendered news story, and if we are talking on Feminism, this should have been the focus. What was also concerning was the way Wolf talked about rape, which was extremely dismissive. She even went on to say that people are interested in rape because society is obsessed with sex and violence. She seemed not to realise that rape is not about an obsession with sex, but more about power.

Furthermore, women are arguably more vulnerable to rape if they are from a lower economic background or if they are not white, with these factors also being an influence on what happens in the courtroom, should it be taken there. But there was no mention of this, no mention of rape as a weapon of war in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I’m not sure there was even mention of the 200 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped in April 2014. Four girls who escaped said they had been held in a camp in Cameroon and raped every day. And she claims that our concern about rape is so we can “feel victimised and superior at the same time.” . The media may have their own agenda, but to imply that we don’t care about these issues just doesn’t make sense.

Mainstream Feminism needs to take notice of how gender, class and race intersect, but this didn’t seem to be exactly what Wolf was saying. She didn’t engage with the role of the superrich 1%. She seemed to want to show that women’s progress has damaged women, and a lot of her argument was based around the idea that a childless woman is a “problem”. Whilst I agreed that more collectivist methods are needed in order to benefit working class women, she spoke of an “individualistic and career-orientated elite” and didn’t really consider who the elite actually are. She made the mistake of criticising others, whilst not looking at her own faults, and including herself in the problems of Feminism, and showing ways in which we all can listen to the voices of working class women.

In the audience, there were stifled noises of exasperation. But if we thought that was bad, we hadn’t seen anything yet! Belinda Brown was next to speak, and she certainly didn’t offer the critique we may have imagined. She spoke about gender trumping class, and didn’t seem to understand the point of intersectionality, that Wolf had touched on by stating that in terms of the pay gap, gender only becomes an issue for those who are from a lower economic background. Whilst this in itself is debatable, this widening gap is a concern; it is a Feminist issue. Brown spoke about women at the top damaging men’s jobs, but it was when she made a joke about women spending money shopping that I was sure that I wouldn’t agree with a word she said.

To be fair, she touched on one point of common ground. Women who have children are obviously biologically forced to take some time out of work to have children. We shared the view that part of the problem is that, where women are the main caregivers, this work is not valued as work. Because society doesn’t value a lot of the work women do, both at home and the type of positions women tend to take, this means that they also face the brunt of financial problems. Yet, because Brown was clearly anti-Feminism, she was also unable to see that men are also the fathers of their children. She repeatedly failed to acknowledge this, and therefore didn’t see a way of this changing. She didn’t see that a more equal distribution of childcare was needed. She didn’t see that this is an issue that runs deeper than class, that middle class families are also struggling to afford childcare, that this is a massive societal problem. Brown became flustered when confronted with the slightly bit of opposition (and believe me, a lot of people held back saying anything), and she brought her personal life as a carer for her partner. Whilst I couldn’t fail to feel sympathy for her situation, I also wanted to (metaphorically) shake her. It didn’t make sense that she could see how the value of her carework is seen as lower than her academic work, and yet couldn’t see that this view is due to the patriarchal structure of society. She couldn’t see that this also links to other power structures such as Capitalism and historic white supremacy.

The whole evening was such a mess that even the chair, Emma Barnett, had to step in to confront what was being said. Frankly, I would have rather listened to what Barnett had to say than either of the actual speakers.

Women and ‘Banter’: What are her choices?

Ellie Holland is a news reporter for series 7 of London360 – a show which uncovers the hidden voices of London’s communities. She came to She Grrrowls in the summer to feature some of the show and interview me. You can find me discussing my poem ‘Risk’ on her YouTube channel, and Rowena Knight, one of the loyal volunteers at She Grrrowls, performing her poem ‘Garlic’. At our meeting, I found out more about Holland’s specific interest in gender and burlesque, which you can find out about on this Huffington Post article.

“If a friend made a rape joke in your presence, what would you do? Carmina Masoliver, who runs spoken word and poetry event She Grrrowls, reveals her experience.”

Lastly, you can also hear me talk on October 6th show for London360, 8.38 minutes in.

Feminism in London Conference: Part 4

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At the end of the conference we gathered for the final speeches and the Emma Humphreys memorial prize giving. Much of it was very moving, as well as being informative on some of the work that is happening with regard to violence against women. I didn’t feel it packed a punch in the way that other moments of the day had for me, but this was probably just because the opening talk had been so important and eye-opening for me. Along with the talks on shadeism and men’s role in Feminism, I’m now looking to build upon areas where there are gaps in my knowledge and experience, as opposed to reinforcing what we already know. That said, it is always needed to rally up support with speeches like this where there is a resurgence of energy, to keep us going, to keep us fighting.

I also really enjoyed Sabrina Mahfouz’s poem, which incorporated different parts of the day that she had experienced. Possibly out of paranoia, I had been wondering why I was not seeing the successes of some other poets, and worried that maybe I have been to vocal about my views, that I was being labelled to extreme. In person, I have faced little opposition, but still some opposition, to She Grrrowls – I’ve been told that the logo is scary and off-putting, that I’m creating a problem in what is already an equal community, simply for featuring women in the arts at my event. So, it really helped me to see Sabrina Mahfouz up there, proud to be a Feminist, yet also managing to be an extremely successful poet, amongst other things. Since feeling this fear that I would be jeopardising my career by being so outwardly Feminist (a fear that was expressed in the conference to explain why women would not use the label), I cannot express fully my gratitude at seeing Mahfouz take to the stage and be involved in the Feminism in London conference.

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After the conference, we headed to the SU bar for the after party. I was joined by Rose Swainston and Maeve Scullion (pictured above) to represent Kid Glove. Kate Smurthwaite was also featuring; I mentioned something I found problematic in my earlier post, but other than that, she was the performer I most enjoyed that evening. I also enjoyed the other poetry act, Mabel, and the women who sang Spanish and English songs on her guitar. I felt proud after knowing ‘mujer’ meant ‘woman’ (sadly, due to Duo Lingo, not my Spanish heritage). Without wanting to dwell on negatives, I was really taken aback by a woman who, after a poem on personal experience of a rape-joke, called out ‘I’m not clapping to that, it was awful.’ And soon after, said to another woman ‘are we going?’ She was very near the stage and she didn’t try to hide what she was saying – quite the opposite. I felt close to tears, but as we were rotating poems between the three of us, I had to put it to the back of my mind and tell myself she must not have understood the poem. I stayed for a bit of the Stepney Sisters, but left early as I was tired and had a long journey to go back to the suburbs. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference and wonder where I will be on the journey of Feminism then.

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