Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Fear of a Black President: Coates discusses the ways in which President Obama has had to work around the dynamic whereby members of a historically-oppressing group fear the anger of the historically-oppressed. This is a powerful and important essay, particularly as the world begins gearing up for the 2012 election. We advise against reading the comments.

This is very saddening, and also very, very accurate: How To Succeed in Journalism When You Can't Afford An Internship. (Spoilers -- the answer involves inheriting family money).

Via the magic of Tumblr, we stumbled across an excellent example of providing role models for our kids: a father who wears a skirt to help his son feel okay about wearing the clothes he wants to nursery school. (Kaberett has translated the article on their own blog.)

Diary of a Goldfish offers some practical advice on ways of dismantling rape culture in your own social circles.

Miranda at Bad Reputation puts together a dream dinner party of funny women - including our very own Sally Outen!

YMMV, but several Lashers have been laughing at this all weekend: the Exotic White Girls tumblr pokes hilarious fun at Othering/commodification of WoC and non-European cultures. Particularly recommended: 'The Goddess, Princess' and 'American Suburb: A Study in Blanc'.

Adorable vintage photos of men demonstrating affection to each other: platonic, bromantic, or homoromantic? You decide!

Ruth at Trans Activist offers an insightful, personal two-part analysis of what "riot grrrl" means to her as a trans feminist musician, and why she is eager to "reclaim a version of riot grrrl for here and now".

Brighton Feminist Collective interviews Hel Gurney about feminism, fundraising, and The Cutlery Drawer's events (at which Lashings regularly play)!

Scientist Ben Barres. a trans man, discusses his experiences with sexism in a field which suddenly took him much more seriously when he was presenting as male.

Asexualitea brings an enlightening discussion of what the overlap between asexuality and kink can look like.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Trans*, queer, disabled: pick one (1) only

kaberettPosted by kaberett

CONTENT WARNINGS: cissexism, misogyny, suicide

... or that's what This Is Cabaret seem to think, anyway.

At least according to a review in which they misgender me and assume that my participation in a song about LGBT+ youth suicide... means that it's a song about sexuality and disability.

Well, let me just tell you, it gets better.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Links round-up

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Criticism of sexism in video games flares up again: this time, its Borderlands 2 and their 'girlfriend mode' (read: 'newbie mode').

[TW: graphic first-hand descriptions of rape] A thread on Reddit asking rapists about their motivations and whether they feel regret has sparked some interesting discussion: Stavvers examines some extracts, Katie Baker advocates listening and widening the discussion of rape culture, Meredith Bennet-Smith asks if the law should get involved, and Megan Carpentier points out how strongly this shows you can't tell a rapist by looking.

[TW: discussions of rape in all five of the following as well] Following Todd Akin's ridiculous 'legitimate rape' remark the other day, we have Jezebel's official guide to 'legitimate rape'. Also it turns out that unlike humans take note, Todd Akin, ducks really do have a 'vagina dentata' of sorts. (Lucky ducks! Get it?! Hah!) Relatedly, not news per se but the CPS Legal Guidance on societal myths about rape.

The Edinburgh Festival, as some of us were unfortunate enough to find first-hand, was pretty full of rape jokes and Tanya Gold discusses this a bit further.

Friday, 17 August 2012

In praise of fanworks (or: GAH, sexist sci fi, GALATEA SMASH!)

Today is Lashings' last day in Edinburgh! BOO! It's been an amazing ride, and we can't wait to write all about the good (99%!), the bad (one incident in particular) and the downright ridiculous (pudding, anyone?). But while we're all packing away our Thatcher costumes and preparing to put on our very final Edinburgh show (8.30pm tonight, so you've still got one more chance!) here's a post cunningly written the weekend before we left...

GalateaPosted by Galatea

This post was inspired by an epic chat thread that ended up eating most of Sunday July 29 for quite a few Lashers! Many of you who've seen Lashings perform have probably seen our 'Sci-Fi Skits': basically, a set of gleefully shambolic two-minute mini-plays where we act out some of our favourite science fiction and fantasy films, TV shows and books, but with the gender ratios reversed (Nigel gets to wear the lovely pink dress and pretend to be Hermione, Kristine Kochanski, multiple Dr Who companions, etc., the rest of us get to wave swords around and shoot laser blasters at each other. It's glorious).

(Almost, but not quite, as glorious as this picture:)

 [Image descripton: Twelve people are lined up on a staircase, dressed in costume as the characters from DC Comics' Justice League -- but all male characters are played by female cosplayers, and vice versa]

The chat on Sunday started because I got furiously angry after taking a silly internet 'Which book character would you be?' quiz that asked me to state my gender as the opening question. When I put 'female', I got Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. When I went back and changed my answer to 'male', I got Superman. (There was, quelle suprise, no non-binary or 'other' option). Well, put me in a silly-looking helmet and call me a shieldmaiden if that doesn't really sum up the reason that I wrote the Sci-Fi Skits in the first place! The exact same set of answers with one gender box ticked will score you an iconic, globally-recognised hero, the star of any number of versions of his own story, who always wins through and saves the day. Tick the other, you'll get a minor character, a failed love interest who gets to do some cool things (but only while concealing who she really is), and then finally gets her big Crowning Moment of Awesome upstaged by Legolas bullying an oliphaunt (yes, I know that's not how it happens in the books. No, I don't care). I've posted about this kind of thing before, I know -- but sulking about gender-based obnoxiousness in fictional texts isn't something I intend to quit any time soon.

So to relieve my feelings, I stomped off and wrote a new Avengers Sci Fi Skit and happiness was restored (I have a feeling that Cleopatra being the Hulk and SMASHING stuff is going to be the highlight of my Edinburgh experience this year!).

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Links round up: Special Alt.Sex.Ed edition #2!

Lashings of Ginger Bee Timer

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Special Alt.Sex.Ed edition #2! BUMPER SIZE!

More shameless blaggery -- Adam Carver at ScotsGay has a Lashings-induced epiphany:

Through song, readings, enactment, and several very personal life accounts Alternative Sex Education is an irreverent, humorous and impassioned campaign for an all encompassing queer embracive curriculum. The performance is littered with contemporary pop culture references including a wonderful ten minutes devoted to deconstructing gender roles and LGBT characters in The Lord of The Rings, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Buffy, and an unexpectedly brilliant ‘Bad Romance’ parody of Twilight. What is clear to the audience is that each person on that stage has suffered and is contagiously passionate about changing the lives of future generations of LGBT children in the UK.

Fuck Yeah, Sex Positivity is an AWESOME tumblr blog that does exactly what it says on the tin, making excellent posts on well, sex positivity. Highlights include their topical [and most recent at time of writing] post on...drum roll, please, sex education!

Over at The Pervocracy, Cliff writes about "the way society tries to simultaneously micromanage and deny teenage sexuality," and how adults following non-traditional relationship narratives become collateral damage. Another recent-ish post on how "kinky philosophy" and consent culture are valuable for all relationships, kinky or vanilla, could have been written by one of our own Kink Scouts!

Rookie - an amazing online magazine for teens which we namecheck in the show - has so many awesome posts it's hard to pick just one! One theme that resounds across their pieces as an amazing antidote to the disempowering messages of so many mags aimed at teenage girls is that of confidence: in one's body and sexuality, in one's body and eating habits, and in one's take on feminism.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in teen-zine-land, RUNT Press are looking for contributors for 'The Einhorn', a magazine to "fill in the gaps" of LGBTQ+ sex and relationship education, which they aim to distribute for free in schools and youth groups!

Isobel Gutteridge highlights the complexity of pre-teen girls' ideas of celebrity, body image, and self in a sociological analysis of two focus groups, showing these girls cannot be considered as simply passive receptacles of media.

A surprisingly sensitive article in the New York Times (although TW for a binary-erasing definition of 'transgender') on gender-fluid and gender-variant children.

Moya at the Crunk Feminist Collective talks about the ways in which society privileges sexual relationships, and what that means for people who are classed as 'single' in society.

Melissa at Shakesville on racism, exceptionalism and the recent temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin [TW for racism, discussion of violence and muder]

In some versions of our Edinburgh show, we discuss the well-meaning but problematic It Gets Better Project. A similar project - with less emphasis on exhorting queer youth to wait until school is over, and more on just being visibly trans and happy - is the Seven Questions Project at We Happy Trans.

With another spurious 'extreme porn' trial concluded, fisting (and queer sex) are back under the microscope: Krissie at No More Lost delivers context and analysis of the homophobic undercurrents of the case, and makes a call to action.

[TW: rape, sexual assault, coerced consent] Two letters to advice blogger Captain Awkward about 'creepy dudes' in their friendship group meet with some fantastic advice and an outpouring of comments about rape culture, harrowing personal experiences, and the blindness of even our best allies. The entry now has two follow-ups: "My friend, the rapist" (seriously, TW) and "The C-Word" where the Captain forms a detailed response to all the men who wrote in to complain about being creep-shamed.

And finally... Familiar as we (and anyone who's seen our Sci Fi Skits!) are with the endemic sexism and heteronormativity of science fiction and fantasy - Orlando has recently been revisiting Pern and realising [TW: rape] just how incredibly messed up it was - it's good to remember that both genres have a history of queerness and feminism too (courtesy of Alexis of Queer Geek Theory and Maria of The Hathor Legacy)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Why is it damaging to define 'sex' in reproductive terms?

AnonymousPosted by Valentina

Content warning: coerced sexuality. Originally published in a less structured form here.

In the UK, it has generally been mandatory for sex education classes in state schools to include information on anatomy, puberty, hormonal control of fertility, and the biological aspects of sexual reproduction: namely, penile-vaginal intercourse. (Source: FPA) Information on other forms of sex, on safer sex, on relationships and queer identities and consent and negotiation - all of that is optional. Outside of the school curriculum, 'sex' everywhere seems to be defined primarily in terms of penile-vaginal penetration (I'll just call it 'intercourse' here.) It is called 'real sex', 'full sex' or something else meaning 'the pinnacle of sexual experience.' It is fourth base, it is the only way to really lose one's virginity. This definition is heteronormative, phallocentric, and harmful to most of the population. Why?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Links round-up: Special Alt.Sex.Ed edition #1!

Lashings of Ginger Bee Timer
Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Special Sex Ed edition #1!

Lashings is at the Fringe from now until August 17th! First - and shamelessly - if you haven't checked out this lovely interview/profile of Lashings from Last Year's Girl, now's the time!
Having done our best to avoid spoilers during our conversation, later that night at the Bongo Club I turn into one of those obnoxious spectators down the front who thinks she’s in the show herself. I laugh, I cry, I sing along when I can; I shudder as performance poet Sally Outen recalls how she learned about sex accompanied by disturbingly graphic readings from a children’s book supposedly about cute, cuddly moles. If you go along and manage not to, well, you’d have to have a heart of stone.

From Positive Juice, a (probably NSFW) post on "The nitty-gritty of using condoms: a conversation we don’t have nearly often enough".

Reprinted from "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape", Heather Corinna's An Immodest Proposal at Scarleteen remains a revolutionary call to arms on the subject of normative sexual narratives and enthusiastic consent. (Scarleteen are currently having a fundraising drive - please consider donating!)

Lashings' own Goblin on sex, music, misogyny, hope, and desire.

Awesome photo project about transmasculinity at thetestshot.tumblr.com/

Exciting news from TransActivist: as Scotland hands unprecedented power to trans patients, England's draft protocol for gender dysphoria comes under analysis.

Uzbek: "the penguin of Turkic languages"  is relevant because of our current obsession with penguins.

LGBT histories of video games - a number of different angles!

Harrods have made history by opening their first gender-neutral toy department!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night....

Lashings of Ginger Bee Timer

Posted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Tonight, our Edinburgh Fringe show - Alternative Sex Education - opens at the Bongo Club. This is the culmination of a lot of work for us - a chance to package up our politics, honed with sympathetic audiences and friendly bloggers, and take it to the general public. A quick plug, in case you, or anyone you know, are going to be in Edinburgh this month:

3-17 August, 8.30pm (1h)
(if you're a blogger, and fancy writing about us, please check out our press page at http://lashings.org/press/)

What Edinburgh means to me:



I still can't believe that this is going to be my third Edinburgh with Lashings! Even though I'm only coming up for a little while this year, I'm so, so excited to be bringing the QUILTBAG joy to a whole new audience for another year. In celebration, I present to you, in no particular order, some of Galatea's favourite Memories of Edinburghs Past:

  • Sitting backstage at the late lamented underground Carlton Cabaret Bar, crushing ridiculously on the exquisitely beautiful and talented Rachael Sage and trying to find places in the overcrowded dressing room/cupboard to stash all the costume bits and ballet shoes.
  • Late-night performance readings of very bad vampire fanfic conducted by Florestan and Lil!
  • [TW: Fictional character death, suicide] Not exactly a favourite memory, but... of all the shows I went to in the 2010 Fringe (including our own), all of them except one featured at least one dead or deeply, permanently unhappy queer character. The one that didn't? Was a children's production of The Wind in the Willows. My own fault for choosing to prioritise attending queer-themed shows, I guess... but it was then that I resolved that we needed to start making a special effort to tell happy queer stories too.
  • Getting apocalyptically drunk on the last night of the Fringe with Dr Carmilla, Rachael's band and sundry assorted Mechanisms, and wandering the streets at 3am singing 'Vagina Dentata'.
  • Performing Lashings classic 'You're the Top' with Sebastienne at the Midnight Kabarett and having the audience near-about take the roof off!
  • Flyering on the Royal Mile dressed in full-on Victorian Goth mode, and performing flag dances with giant rainbow flags while perched on top of bollards.
  • Appearing on Gareth Vile's late-night Edinburgh radio show and having the guests that were supposed to appear after Lashings not turn up... leading to a 1.5-hour long rambling Lashings interview of JOY!
  • Hiding out from flyering with Rob in a chocolate/coffee shop and cooking up the idea for Cinderella: A Queer Sort of Pantomime in a burst of sugar-addled creativity. 
  • Carlotta's trademark early-morning porridge with peanut butter, brown sugar and strawberry jam... better (for me) than some types of sex, and every bit as sticky. 
I can't wait to make some new Edinburgh memories to go alongside these... if you're at one of the shows between the 9th and the 13th, I'll be the small ginger-blonde blur hovering six inches above the stage in excitement!



I suppose that I now count as an Edinburgh veteran. This is my third year co-producing a Lashings show, and my sixth year performing. To start with, it was just an excuse to show off - to find myself a fabulous costume and strut around as a panto villain or a high-school goth. I couldn't afford much at all, so mostly went to free shows or just took in all the free street theatre on the royal mile. It was almost like a package holiday - the show's producer(s) would take care of my accommodation, my food, and tell me where I had to be when. All I had to do was just show up and sing...

These days, it's a lot more involved. Lashings operates as a collective, so no-one is just "along for the ride" any more. We've all written and rehearsed acts, planned setlists, built costumes, and once we get here we're contributing by flyering or networking or cooking. We're all much more invested in the show going well - not only have we all had a lot of creative input, but we have a lot of political engagement as well, and a bigger audience means a larger number of people who've heard our message.

Also, this year, we're attempting something new - to stop treating Lashings as a hobby. Our WeFund campaign was part of this, and a corollary of that is that, for the first time, performers aren't being expected to pay rent out of their own pockets. If all goes well, we should make enough money this year to cover our costs for the first time (thank you, so much, to the people whose donations have contributed to this). This is so, so important to the ethos of Lashings - our kind of activism should never be for just those people who can afford to pay.

So, what does this Edinburgh mean to me? It's about getting a chance to really finesse some of our acts by performing them every night for two weeks. It's about getting the chance to bring our message to a much more diverse audience than we might attract outside the adventurous fringe festival context. But, most of all, it's about spending two weeks in a political utopia, where we eat communal vegan food and respect each other's identities and work to make the world better.


I write this sitting at the kitchen sink.

All right, no, I don't, but I DO write it AT OUR VENUE. (We're doing our tech rehearsal and I'm an extremely last-minute multi-tasker.)

I am somewhat on the fence writing this blog post (as I am in most of life, generally, natch) because on the one hand, this is my first Lashings Fringe experience, and I am so so unspeakably excited. On the other hand, I went to Edinburgh University and have also been a member of the audience, performed in shows and worked Box Office at the Fringe on several different occasions, so I feel like I'm coming home. This also means I feel like I'm coming at the Festival itself from two different angles, both as a local and as a visitor/performer.

Most Edinburgh locals hate the Festival: it's kind of a measure of your cache as an Edinburgher. Unsurprisingly, this isn't an attitude I have a ton of patience with. I love the Fringe, and could fill an entire blog post with all my reasons why. In short, I think it's a wonderful opportunity to level the playing field, we get to perform alongside much more well known and established performers such as Miriam Margolyes, Susan Calman and Sandi Toksvig. As Sebastienne said, it's an opportunity to get what we're saying heard by a much larger audience. I love going back to London in September and seeing which shows are now being performed at the West End (at massively inflated prices). I love that the city explodes with people for a month, that the Royal Mile is jammed with audience and performers alike. I know I'm in the minority but I actually quite like both flyering and being flyered. (I love that flyering is a verb.)

I actually originally first saw Lashings here at the Fringe, because of one of their flyers. My best friend, her girlfriend and I hid out from the rain at the Starbucks on the Royal Mile at the 2010 Festival to go through the flyers we'd been handed and thought Lashings sounded awesome. We loved them so much they were on our 'must see' list the following year.

Even though I've performed at the Fringe before, I've never put this much into a show, both in terms of my time and energy, but also myself and my beliefs. It really does feel like coming full circle somehow. Did I mention the unspeakably excited? I guess I found some words after all.


This is my first time at the Fringe, ever, and it's fabulous to be here helping make a show happen. Yesterday was spent ambling the streets, giving wide smiles to shopkeepers and hoping I could persuade them to add just one more poster to their overflowing walls. Today, we're passing the laptop around between sets in our tech rehearsal, and we open this evening. I'm excited! The number of shows happening here is overwhelming, and I'm so glad to be here as a performer, rather than 'just' a consumer of the festival. If nothing else, it simplifies things.

Having done my good share of activism involving serious, negatives-focused consciousness-raising, taking part in something involving song, dance and silly costumes instead feels like a much-needed break. As queer feminist activists, we seem to spend a lot of time living in spaces that are not our own and trying to justify our existence to others. I feel like Lashings doesn't primarily exist to try and get right-wingers on side: we're here to create the shows and the spaces that our communities need. We're here to make shows about us. And with that, I feel like there's an acknowledgement that we don't need to be serious or debatey to get our point across: cheesy musical numbers are a great form of activism for us as performers and marginalised people, they're great for our QUILTBAG audiences, and the logic that dismisses us based on our frivolity is the same one that would brand us as unreasonably angry from the other direction. We may as well have an excellent time singing about carnivorous vaginas.  

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee-we're-back-at-the-Fringe-we're-back-at-the-Fringe-this-is-so-awesome! – and also, also, there was banana and golden syrup porridge for breakfast, and we have squid soap. *Squid soap*! And we're in the middle of our tech run and there are people singing songs I've never heard them sing before, but they're only singing snippets right now because, well, it's just a tech run, and the whole thing's *so* teasery. Teasery? Yes, that can be a word. This is all very joyous! :D