The Ones To Read: January 2018

(TW: frequent mention of sexual assault, harassment).

From the Grammys to the #MeToo movement, and Vogue to Wireless, talk of sexism and sexual harassment continue to saturate media observations. Business and political leaders swan around at men-only parties where hostesses are assaulted, prominent media figures continue to be publicly and disgustingly sexist, and festival organisers still think it’s acceptable to announce line-ups with little to no non-male performers. Welcome to 2018.

But everyone is speaking out and listening up a little more than ever before, and particular corners of the internet are excelling as places to shut down sexism, give voices to those often marginalised, and become treasure chests full of feminist thought and solidarity.

Here’s a list of January’s best writing on music, the arts, sexism, and feminism:

  • Charli XCX’s ‘Pop 2’ Subverts Everything About Music for the Masses

Lauren O’Neill, Noisey, 4 January 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/vby33m/charli-xcx-pop-2-ag-cook-adorno-cultural-industry

 

  • Paris Lees: What it feels like to be the first openly trans woman featured in British Vogue

Paris Lees, The i, 5 January 2018

https://inews.co.uk/opinion/paris-lees-feels-like-first-openly-trans-woman-featured-british-vogue/

 

  • Women Open Up About Wearing Black on the Golden Globes Red Carpet

Erica Gonzales, Harpers Bazaar, 8 January 2018

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/red-carpet-dresses/a14773793/celebrities-wearing-black-golden-globes-quotes-2018/

 

  • Magic and Echoes: How Music Helps Me Write

Hermione Hoby, Catapult, 9 January 2018

https://catapult.co/stories/magic-and-echoes-how-music-helps-me-write

 

  • A Definitive List of Sexist Things John Humphrys has Said

Media Mole, New Statesman, 12 January 2018

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/media/2018/01/definitive-list-sexist-things-john-humphrys-has-said

 

  • The poorly reported Aziz Ansari exposé was a missed opportunity

Jill Filipovic, The Guardian, 16 January 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/16/aziz-ansari-story-missed-opportunity?CMP=twt_gu&__twitter_impression=true

 

  • From Blurred Lines to New Rules: how sex in pop has changed for ever

Laura Snapes, The Guardian, 18 January 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/18/from-blurred-lines-to-new-rules-how-sex-in-pop-has-changed-for-ever

 

  • Lorde on the Historic 2018 Grammys, the #MeToo Movement & Loving Cardi B

Brooke Mazurek, Billboard, 19 January 2018

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/grammys/8094826/lorde-billboard-cover-story-grammy-2018

 

  • An Oprah candidacy is not the change we need.

Henna Shah, Gal Dem, 20 January 2018

http://www.gal-dem.com/oprah-candidacy-not-change-need/

 

  • Men Only: Inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses are put on show.

Madison Marriage, The Financial Times, 23 January 2018

https://www.ft.com/content/075d679e-0033-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5

 

  • Seven women that should be on the Wireless lineup.

Kemi Alemoru and Selim Bulut, Dazed, 24 January 2018

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/38781/1/seven-women-that-should-be-on-the-wireless-lineup

 

  • After the suffragettes: how women stormed Westminster.

Helen Lewis, New Statesman, 25 January 2018

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/01/after-suffragettes-how-women-stormed-westminster

 

  • The 2018 Grammys Shut Women Out.

Lauren O’Neill, Noisey, 29 January 2018

https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/3k5g9b/the-2018-grammys-shut-women-out

 

  • Kesha’s cathartic performance was the purest Grammys moment ever.

Aimee Cliff, Dazed, 29 January 2018

http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/38823/1/kesha-praying-performance-grammys-2018

 

  • We’re Not Done Here.

Laurie Penny, Long Reads, January 2018

https://longreads.com/2018/01/18/were-not-done-here/

Written by Ellen Peirson-Hagger (@ellen_cph on Twitter).

‘Dream Wife’ – Dream Wife Album Review

 

Dream Wife’s debut album is a perfectly executed meditation on what it means to be a woman in a modern age and an exploration of the complexity of that. The London based trio are favourites at Girls Against for a reason and their long awaited first album proves precisely why- at its heart it is a phenomenal love-letter to powerful, strong women and a direct challenge to patriarchal restrictions, and proves that, as they express on ‘F.U.U’, Dream Wife are indeed for life.

‘Dream Wife’ as an album is difficult to define- it transcends genre boundaries in its seamless combination of the best parts of pop with unapologetic punk attitudes. Citing influences as disparate as The Cribs and The Spice Girls, it’s clear to see how they’ve crafted their eclecticism. The band have commented on how in making the album, they attempted to ‘capture what we do onstage’, and this shines through each of the 11 tracks; they put on a spectacularly engaging live performance, and it is definitely reflected in their recorded tracks, which possess a lot of obvious pent-up emotion which encompasses the album entirely.

Though there’s a distinct Dream Wife feel to the album as a whole, it definitely develops down different avenues and many of the songs are sonically worlds apart, whilst still capturing that effortless cool vibe and the self-exploration which is quintessentially Dream Wife. Some standout tracks include my personal favourite, ‘Love Without Reason’, which is a dreamlike ode to falling head over heels with someone. The song encapsulates a yearning for innocence, particularly in the line ‘let’s be kids and fall in love’, and unearths a softer side to the band.

The opening song of the album, ‘Let’s Make Out’, epitomises Dream Wife: setting frontwoman Rakel Mjöll’s distinguishing vocals against a backdrop of some incredible thrashing guitar riffs from the dream team that is Alice Go on guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass, turning the song into a perfect representation of both their sound and ethos. Perhaps the most important song on their album, ‘Somebody’ presents a really powerful message in its repetition of ‘I am not my body, I am somebody’.  Taking a furious stance against victim blaming and rape culture, Dream Wife provide an ultra-empowering theme that carries on throughout. It’s fiery and old school, and the kind of music that is essential right now.

Dream Wife have proven in their debut album that they are undoubtedly a really important band- their music evokes a sense of sisterly solidarity that is nothing less than vital given the current political climate, and their unashamed embrace of femininity and womanhood is really refreshing and powerful. There’s a lot of pressure around perfecting a debut album, and it is inarguable that Dream Wife have done just that, combining all the far-flung influences possible to create an album that delves into so many different genres and emotions. There’s the infectious glee that ‘Fire’ evokes, and the angsty intensity of ‘Act My Age’- such musical diversity is a feat few bands could successfully pull off, but ‘Dream Wife’ definitely does. Ambitious, it definitely is, but rightfully so. It’s evidence that they have the strength and chemistry to achieve big things.

On a whole, ‘Dream Wife’ is a heart on your sleeve collection of songs with a raging undercurrent that sets the band in a perfect position to start sprinkling their magic everywhere. The phrase ’empowered women empower women’ is more than applicable to Dream Wife- through all the uplifting moments and the most fury-ridden ones, the main thing that the album remains is relentlessly empowering. This empowerment is evident through the band’s encouragement of women in rock and punk rock- their fervent use of the idea of ‘bad bitches’ and the way in which they urge them to come dance around at the front at their gigs shows in their music and it’s invigorating.

I also love that the album is one for many occasions because of its diversity- it’s an album to dance to, laugh to, get emotional to, and it is a complete celebration of what it means to be a girl which is really special. It’s the perfect album to listen to and get you feeling all exhilarated and giddy or alternately quite introspective, and the amalgamation of emotions it presents makes it a versatile and intriguing offering. Despite the band initially forming as a bit of a joke at art university, their debut album irrevocably shows that Dream Wife are a band that deserve to be taken seriously, and will continue making a storm on the music scene for a lot longer yet. It is definitely one to be added to every ‘girl power’ playlist you can, so I would highly recommend giving it a listen and letting yourself feel like the ‘bad bitch’ Dream Wife want you to.

Written by Neive McCarthy (@neiveeee on Twitter.)

Why Wireless Is Wrong To Overlook Women

Photo by James Bridle.

The under-representation of women in the music industry is something which has been the centre of recent debate. Strong female musicians are constantly fighting for the appreciation they deserve. Just this week, Halsey’s moving poem at the anniversary of the Women’s March in New York sent out a clear message that women should not be overlooked in any aspect of life. Despite this, the release of the Wireless festival line up has illustrated that female artists are still being swept under the rug.

Lilly Allen took to twitter to criticise the festival, creating her own new version of the line-up, which removed all of the male artists. The results were shocking, as just three female artists feature on the list of 39 acts: Mabel on the Friday, Cardi B and Lisa Mercedez on the Sunday, and none on the Saturday. The disappointing representation sadly mirrors last year’s first announcement, where out of the 42 acts announced, just 5 of them were female: Zara Larsson, Noname, Stefflon Don, Yuna and Daniella Thomas in The Age of L.U.N.A Fans; musicians alike have taken to social media to articulate their frustration with the line-up for its lack of diversity.

Photo taken from Lily Allen’s Twitter account.

A common counter-argument floating around is: Perhaps female artists in the R&B and Hip-Hop genre have not had the same relative success experienced by males in 2017.

But it is easy to find a plethora of female artists who would be worthy of a slot at Wireless, and who are all absolutely killing it with their music right now. These include, SZA, Jorja Smith, H.E.R, Kehlani, NAO, Stefflon Don and Ray BLK to name a few. The latter of whom was awarded BBC Music’s Sound of 2017; and was the first unsigned artist to do so. There are women making waves throughout the industry, across all genres, who deserve the recognition and exposure which comes from playing major festivals. The lack of diversity therefore points to a wider problem across festivals, rather than the underachievement or lack of female artists, or a specific festival.

Earlier in January, Halsey took to Twitter to criticise Firefly festival, Delaware, USA. She rightly slammed the festival for not including more female acts on its line-up: “This was one of my favourite festivals I’ve ever played and it’s a shame there’s not more females on the bill. With the exception of (the amazing) SZA, the first like 20 acts on the bill are men. It’s 2018, do better!!!” She spoke about her wishes to play festivals such as Firefly, but articulated that women just aren’t being approached by festivals to play. This, it seems, is experienced by many female artists and from many festivals, not just Wireless.

Halsey is an extraordinary example of a strong woman in the industry. Her incredibly emotive poem at the Women’s March was an inspiring message to all women. “A Story Like Mine” included moving anecdotes of continual sexual assault, and the harrowing experience of her miscarriage in Chicago. What was perhaps most striking about it, was the determination: “There is work to be done, there are songs to be sung, Lord knows there’s a war to be won.” Her rallying cry at the end of the poem is evidence of her positive message, and proves that the continual fight for equality, in all aspects of life, should be respected.

Many positive and influential ambassadors like Halsey are not equally represented in such festival line-ups as Wireless and Firefly. The lack of diversity continues with the popular rock festival Download. The UK version of the festival features a disappointing number of just three female acts on the main stage in this year’s line-up. It’s easy to see a pattern emerging across all genres, which is frustrating because there are so many women, in bands or solo artists, that are working their hardest to gain exposure. Many of them include important and empowering messages that link to the wider goal of equality.

Although there are just three music festivals mentioned here, it is clear that women are being ignored by music festivals. The example set by Wireless is reflected in many genres and festivals across the country and beyond. The strong, passionate, and hard-working female talent in the industry is not being equally represented at the level it should be. Just three female artists does not illustrate the talent which is going on in the R&B and hip-hop genre, in the same way that the lack of diversity in other festivals and other genres is something to be questioned.

It is important that we constantly support female musicisians, and in the future we can hope to see more inclusive festival line-ups.

Some of my favourite female solo artists/bands:

Marmozets, Black Honey, Wolf Alice, Paramore, Fickle Friends, Jorja Smith, Dream Wife, Dua Lipa, Lorde, Halsey, Haim, Honey Blood and Pale Waves.

Also, check out the Girls Against playlist featuring a small selection of the artists we believe are deserving of a slot at Wireless:

https://open.spotify.com/user/girlsagainst/playlist/3ACpNMuQZmHllHZ5GyLzJd

Written by Emily Sweeney (@emily_sweeney28 on Twitter).

a poem by Halsey

I hope you’ve seen the video, seen the reaction and read her words. Halsey, an incredible, powerful woman, told her story on stage in front of thousands. You could tell how personal it was to her. Telling her experience and the experiences of people she was close to, the heartbreaking tales of people who should never have to go through what they did. It tugs on so many strings and breaks all our hearts. I want to post the poem in full. It deserves to be shared. The poem contains themes of rape and sexual assault and can be triggering.

 It’s 2009 and I’m 14 and I’m crying
Not really sure where I am but I’m holding the hand of my best friend Sam
In the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood
The air is sterile and clean, and the walls are that not gray, but green
And the lights are so bright they could burn a hole through the seam of my jeans
My phone is buzzing in the pocket
My mom is asking me if I remembered my keys ’cause she’s closing the door and she needs to lock it
But I can’t tell my mom where I’ve gone
I can’t tell anyone at all
You see, my best friend Sam was raped by a man that we knew ’cause he worked in the after-school program
And he held her down with her textbook beside her
And he covered her mouth and he came inside her
So now I’m with Sam, at the place with a plan, waiting for the results of a medical exam
And she’s praying she doesn’t need an abortion, she couldn’t afford it
And her parents would, like, totally kill her
It’s 2002 and my family just moved and the only people I know are my mom’s friends, too, and her son
He’s got a case of Matchbox cars and he says that he’ll teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quiet
And the stairwell beside apartment 1245 will haunt me in my sleep for as long as I am alive
And I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lie
It’s 2012 and I’m dating a guy and I sleep in his bed and I just learned how to drive
And he’s older than me and he drinks whiskey neat and he’s paying for everything
This adult thing is not cheap
We’ve been fighting a lot, almost 10 times a week
And he wants to have sex, and I just want to sleep
He says I can’t say no to him
This much I owe to him
He buys my dinner, so I have to blow him
He’s taken to forcing me down on my knees
And I’m confused ’cause he’s hurting me while he says please
And he’s only a man, and these things he just needs
He’s my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?
It’s 2017 and I live like a queen
And I’ve followed damn near every one of my dreams
I’m invincible and I’m so f***ing naive
I believe I’m protected ’cause I live on a screen
Nobody would dare act that way around me
I’ve earned my protection, eternally clean
Until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants
But I don’t want none of that, I just wanted to dance
And I wake up the next morning like I’m in a trance and there’s blood
Is that my blood?
Hold on a minute
You see I’ve worked every day since I was 18
I’ve toured everywhere from Japan to Mar-a-Lago
I even went on stage that night in Chicago when I was having a miscarriage
I mean, I pied the piper, I put on a diaper
And sang out my spleen to a room full of teens
What do you mean this happened to me?
You can’t put your hands on me
You don’t know what my body has been through
I’m supposed to be safe now
I earned it
It’s 2018 and I’ve realized nobody is safe long as she is alive
And every friend that I know has a story like mine
And the world tells me we should take it as a compliment
But then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly
Remind me this is the beginning, it is not the finale
And that’s why we’re here
And that’s why we rally
It’s Olympians and a medical resident and not one f***ing word from the man who is President
It’s about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos from the Hollywood hills to the projects in ghettos
When babies are ripped from the arms of teen mothers and child brides cry globally under the covers
Who don’t have a voice on the magazine covers
They tell us take cover
But we are not free until all of us are free
So love your neighbor, please treat her kindly
Ask her story and then shut up and listen
Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian
Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues
For the people who had to grow up way too young
There is work to be done
There are songs to be sung
Lord knows there’s a war to be won
– ‘a story like mine’
It struck a chord with me. I knew Halsey had suffered, especially with her miscarriage and struggled a lot with issues that came with it. Miscarrying is devastating and I cannot begin to imagine how she felt. Her words resonate. You feel them deep. The poem is a journey. She names women that have recently spoken out against their abusers, taken them to court or simply given a statement discussing how disgusting their treatment by these men was. She also talks about her past relationships. ‘Every friend that I know has a story like mine’. It is eye opening. ‘He says I can’t say no to him’. A toxic relationship. A relationship without consent, your boyfriend expecting things because he is your boyfriend.

We are not free, until all of us are free. Keep intersectionality in mind, always. Halsey is inspirational. A beautiful, gifted poet. Time is up. We come together in marches, crowds and all over the world. Halsey you moved me to tears but you also changed me. This is a thank you as well as an appreciation. I hope it resonates with you just as much as it did with me.

 

 

 

Written by El,

@ellcharlotte_

 

Our Everyday Heroes: Helen Ryder

As 2017 drew to a close, one of the GA reps, Samantha Hall, introduced Our Everyday Heroes: a new blog feature to recognise and celebrate everyday female/trans women who have done something worth talking about. As Samantha mentioned, any contributions or ideas of who you think is worthy of celebration can be tweeted or emailed to us! We aspire to celebrate women from all walks of life.

I’m going to be talking about a woman who has shaped her local community, aided vulnerability to recovery and changed people’s lifestyles for the better.

Helen Ryder, from Bournemouth, Dorset, is my everyday hero. It wasn’t until she was around 40 years old that she found her love of exercise spontaneously leading to  running taking over her extra time. I interviewed her for this post:

How did your passion for an active lifestyle arise?

“I was always reasonably active growing up, but I got into exercise seriously when I was about 39. After a break up, I decided I could either go back to 20 cigarettes a day and feel sorry for myself or do something more positive! A health visitor told me about a local ‘legs, bums and tums’ class for people on low incomes so I decided to go. I also wanted to aim for something and around the same time my sister was diagnosed with cancer so I decided to run the race for life. I did that 3 miles without stopping and felt so proud. When I eventually completed my first marathon in memory of my family friend, Nigel, it gave me an overwhelming sense of achievement and gave me the confidence that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.”

Can you give a brief overview of how you started and the workthat you do now?  

“After that first marathon, I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives too. I also wanted my two daughters to see me doing these things as a good example. I started as a volunteer in 2002 when I did my first qualification in fitness. I built up my project from then doing more courses. I did two classes a week to 16 hours. Now, I also do talks and workshops in recovery centres and children centres, outings and outdoor activities whilst offering advice when needed”.

Why did you want to get involved with this kind of work?

“I wanted to promote physical, mental and social wellbeing, making exercise accessible for everyone regardless of their social, personal or financial issues e.g. past substance and/or alcohol abuse, low self-esteem and/or confidence, those suffering from depression, single parents, isolated individuals etc.”

Helen is self-employed, which allows her to have an individualised commitment to work. Yet, it is evident that she goes above and beyond to make the participants of her class feel connected, inspired and motivated:

I have so much to say about her – such a strong and empathetic woman who endlessly helps others through her exercise classes in more ways than ‘just exercise’”

“She is always there for a listening ear, organising lots of activities which for me has kept me motivated and busy!” 

“Helen encourages and has inspired me throughout. I am very lucky to have her as an instructor and as a friend. I admire her and if I could ever be as half as strong as she is in mind and body then I’ve achieved”

Throughout the years, I have met numerous amounts of people who have been inspired by Helen. From experiencing her classes myself, I know that she will push her participants to be the best they can be, which gives a sense of ultimate achievement and fulfilment after an activity – just like she felt after that first running event she partook in.

Exercise is a wonderful tool to combat difficulties. Releasing endorphins, feeling social and part of a supportive team are just a few of the attributes of Helen’s activities. I could not recommend it more to anyone and I cannot put into words the wonders of the programme Helen has created.

Now, the reason that I am writing about this particular woman is because I know truly that she puts her life into her job and making others feel worthy. Alongside her numerous efforts within her community, she has single-handily raised two daughters, one of which received a First-Class Honours degree in Events Management whilst I am currently studying at one of the country’s top Drama Schools.

She has also run over one hundred marathons, including extreme events such as

a 24 Hour running festival! More recently, she has used her love of running to fundraise (mostly in fancy dress!) for The Bike Experience – a non-profit organisation that helps injured victims of bike accidents to get back on theirbikes.

However, Helen never asks for any recognition, praise or reward for doing this. She is truly an unsung hero and deserves to be recognised.

Mum, this one’s for you. From your daughter, Meg x

 

Written by Megan Ryder-Maki (@ixxmcmxl on Twitter).

‘Untitled’- Megan Thundercliffe

“My piece is about the injustice of rape culture, and how many women suffer alone and in silence when it comes to sexual abuse.The whole point of the piece was to get across the frustration and isolation victims feel towards audiences, as there’s such a passive aggressive stigma that surrounds it, and it is a subject that people don’t really want to discuss.
   I decided to write a post about my ideas, and asked if anyone who was a victim of sexual assault to get in touch if they were comfortable. Surprisingly, a lot of young women got in touch.
    Every woman’s story was different, some were young girls, some were involved in gangs, some were in relationships and some were also abused, but the one thing they all shared  is how they had all felt extremely alone in this conversation.
    I wanted to get their anger across to those who may not understand, so I realised it was best to look at and explore with language. It started with re-writing out the conversations I had with the victims, making some words bigger, some words in different colours, some words scribbled out, some words removed. I decided to focus on the words that became more striking and shocking, such as “rape, child, gang, abuse, alone” etc. This was to have more impact on viewers, and create this overwhelming montage of words that victims feel all at once, constantly.
   I eventually started making my pieces smaller and smaller, until they were post card size. I wanted the piece to be more intimate, and wanted viewers to have to look for what it meant and figure it out, as it’s not such a simple subject or a black and white one.” – Megan Thundercliffe

GA Book Club #6: ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ by Jeanette Winterson

Welcome back to the Girls Against Book Club and Happy New Year! I’m really excited to continue with the book club in 2018 with, hopefully, more and more people getting involved. Throughout the last month, we’ve been reading Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, a novel which I will discuss in this post.

I really enjoyed reading this novel throughout December; it’s engrossing and relatively easy to read.  The issues that it brings to light are also an important aspect, for me the most important aspect, of the novel and it’s therefore a book that I would recommend to everyone.

The novel tells the story of Jeanette, loosely based on Winteron’s own experience but not autobiographical as she stresses in the introduction which I will touch on soon. Jeanette is adopted by a woman who is determined to make her a Christian missionary and her entire childhood is dedicated to this purpose. However, when Jeanette comes out as a lesbian, she is completely isolated by the Christian community she has grown up around and is forced to reconsider everything she has been taught by them.

In the introduction of the novel Winterson criticises those who have described her novel as autobiographical, stating that male writers use their own names and experiences in fiction frequently without this being called autobiography. ‘Is this assumption about gender? Something to do with creative authority? Why shouldn’t a woman be her own experiment?’ These are some of the questions she asks on this topic in her introduction.

Another interesting part of the introduction is Winterson’s exploration of why it took so long for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit to have been viewed as ‘literature’. She states that if she had been a straight white male, it would have been given that title from the beginning. Roxane Gay discusses a similar subject in Bad Feminist, the first book club text, in reference to the disregard of women’s literature and it’s something that has stuck in my mind ever since reading the book and writing the post about it. The fact that this has now been brought up by more than one female author shows that this issue is pervasive, affecting female authors around the world.

I love reading introductions of books and I cannot understand why anyone skips them; they often shape my understanding of the context of the entire novel and can often change my opinion of the entire novel. The introduction to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit was no exception. But on to the actual novel and some of my favourite moments!

There are lots of humorous moments in the novel and they are often produced from the many eccentric ways of Jeanette’s mother. A part that I found particularly entertaining was Jeanette’s discovery that her mother had been lying to her about the ending of Jane Eyre (WARNING: Jane Eyre spoilers ahead- although I don’t know if you can spoil a novel that’s been in print for nearly 200 years); Jeanette’s mother’s version of the story sees Jane end up with St John, an evangelist, rather than Mr Rochester, which particularly upsets young Jeanette when she finds out. Although this was a humorous moment of the novel, it portrays the importance of  literature and popular culture for children growing up as it really does have the ability to help shape us as humans. It also shows the extent to which Jeanette’s life has been shaped by Christianity, making the church’s abandonment of her later on in the novel because of her sexuality even more devastating.

The end of the novel was the most powerful part for me. The writing becomes less about narrative and more about meaning I think and there are some really important extracts. The pastor explains that Jeanette’s sexuality is a result of the church’s ‘going against the teachings of St Paul, and allowing women power in the church’ because ‘having taken on a man’s world in other ways’ Jeanette had also done it sexually. This reasoning is clearly utterly ridiculous but not shocking. Men blaming women for things that have nothing to do with them is a frequent theme in books, films and life and the sarcastic and mocking tone Winterson creates in describing the pastor’s thoughts on why women are to blame for absolutely everything was the perfect satire of this issue.

Honestly this next section doesn’t have any sort of theme but I just want to discuss two of my favourite quotes from the novel that I couldn’t help re-reading and going back to.

The first is ‘my mother had painted the white roses red and now she claimed they grew that way.’ How beautiful! This metaphor summarises the events of the novel so perfectly and the phrasing is stunning- I love it! It was also a really important moment in the novel as Jeanette realises that her mother and her community have given her a mould for her identity that is wrong, and she is glad she doesn’t fit into it.

Another brilliant and important quote from the novel is ‘But not all dark places need light, I have to remember that.’ Jeanette’s childhood in this novel is extremely difficult and unlike anything I know of and, again, Jeanette’s acceptance that she can move on from it as herself was such an important and inspiring moment.

This was a really important read for me. It reinforces how difficult many LGBTQ people’s upbringings can be and portrays the importance of acceptance in allowing people to form their own identities.

For the first month of 2018, the book club will be reading Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard. It’s a non-fiction book that traces the origins of the misogyny within our society to it’s ancient roots, examining the ways in which history has mistreated strong women. I think this is going to be a really interesting and educational read and I’ll hope you’ll join me in reading and discussing it!

I’ve also released a list of the first 6 books the book club will be reading in 2018 that you can view here. I’m hoping this will allow more people to get involved with the book club as it means you can start reading the books that excite you a little bit earlier if a month isn’t enough OR if you have any leftover Christmas money left you can treat yourself to copies of some of them now!

As always, don’t forget to join our GoodReads group here and contribute to the monthly discussion. Or email us with your thoughts on Women & Power at girlsagainstbookclub@gmail.com.

I hope you all have a great 2018 and are looking forward to reading some brilliant feminist texts by strong and inspiring women, as I am!

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter).

Book Club 2018

Hi everyone! Here’s a list of books the Girls Against Book Club will be reading during the first 6 months of 2018. I’m hoping releasing this list will encourage more people to get involved as it means that people can pick the books they think they’ll be most interested in and start reading them early if a month isn’t enough. I’ve included the dates we will be reading them from too and will release the rest of the books for 2018 later in the year. I really hope you’ll get involved with the Book Club throughout 2018 and don’t forget to join our GoodReads group here!

Sunday 7th January- Sunday 4th February:

Mary Beard- Women & Power

Sunday 4th February- Sunday 4th March:

Maya Angelou- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Sunday 4th March-Sunday 1st April:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Americanah 

Sunday 1st April-Sunday 6th May:

Audre Lorde- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Sunday 6th May- Sunday 3rd June:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman- Herland

Sunday 3rd June-Sunday 1st July:

Carrie Brownstein: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

December Newsletter

Happy new year!

This edition of the newsletter will be a little shorter than usual but that is due to our amazing new website being created and we believe that should be your main focus this month. We want you to visit it if you ever have any questions, concerns or enquiries as these can now be dealt with much quicker and we hope this is a better way of contacting us! All our blog posts can now be seen on here too, under easy to find headings, as well as this newsletter and the book club. Speaking of the book club, Alice has written us a piece to introduce us to this months book. This issue also contains a music piece by our rep Sophia and some rep’s picks of who we should be listening to in 2018.  Our next issue, out in Feb but all about January, will be bigger and better (and also sent to your inboxes!).

Book Club

During December (and a little bit of January) the Girls Against Book Club have been reading Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. The novel is semi-autobiographical and tells the story of a girl growing up in a community of Christian missionaries who becomes isolated when she comes out as a lesbian. The blog post discussing the novel is going up this Sunday so keep an eye out for that to hear my thoughts on why the novel is so important and a must-read for everyone! I will also be releasing a list of books that the GA Book Club will be reading during the first 6 months of 2018 so keep an eye out for that too so you can give yourself time to read them if you need longer than a month or pick your favourite ones to invest in! – Alice Porter

What should we be listening to in 2018?

We asked our reps to tell us their top artists from 2017 and who we should be looking out for in 2018.

“I’d say I’m most excited for what Grimes is going to release this year, producing/engineering/writing/performing everything on her own has meant she’s kept everyone waiting since her last release Art Angels in 2015 which arguably inspired the wave of new alternative yet accessible pop which artists such as Charli XCX are now making. As someone who consistently pushes pop boundaries it’s exciting to see what she’ll release next!” – Iona Macwhirter-Harley 

“My top artist of 2017 would be Dua Lipa; she had a really incredible year with the release of her self titled debut album and her single ‘New Rules’, which is inarguably one of the biggest songs of last year. Distinctive and empowering, her music is saturated in confidence that’s more than just a little bit infectious; it’s hard to listen to her music without feeling powerful and motivated in my opinion and it’s because of this that I think 2017 was the year of Dua Lipa. In terms of 2018, I think Dream Wife are essentially destined to be on everyone’s radar, especially with the release of their debut album this month. Their music is so embracing of what it means to be a woman in this society and celebrates this completely and it’s so uplifting because of this! If the trio doesn’t take 2018 by storm, I’ll be really surprised.” – Neive Mccarthy

“Miley Cyrus was a huge inspiration for so many people throughout 2017. Along with a beautifully crafted new album ‘Younger Now’, they consistently spoke out for what they believed in. Women’s Rights, Trump, Sexuality, Gender and the Music Industry to name a few. Miley’s appearance at Ariana Grande’s benefit concert in Manchester was respectful, open and full of love. The Happy Hippie Foundation, which Miley has founded, aims to rally young people to “fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations” and never fails to make the world a better place whilst restoring faith in humanity” – Megan Ryder-Maki

“Top artist of 2017: Pvris. Their album “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell” was one of the best of 2017 and the activist work they do is inspiring, like giving away free gig tickets to fans who volunteered their time to LGBTQ charities. One for 2018: Pale Waves. The singles they’ve released so far have been beautiful and their album is going to make them massive!” – Shannon McGarrity

Our Spotify 

We’ve had few additions to our Spotify this month, hoping to appeal to a wide range of music tastes!

Our ‘Crossing Borders’ playlist – curated by international GA rep Sophia Farroukh.

This playlist focusses on non-english lyrics, crossing the borders of nations and genres. Find it here:
Crossing Borders

Here are Sophia’s thoughts on what to look out for this year:

We are excited that so much wonderful music is set to be coming out, music made by wonderful people! Tonight Alive are releasing their 4th studio album VERY VERY SOON. I feel like I’ve waiting for this for decades, even though Limitless came out less than two years ago… This is set to be the band’s most honest and emotionally intense record yet, and I am beyond excited. Personally, I find their music always grounds me, and always manages to be exactly what I need at that point in time. Welcome to the Underworld, friends…

Architects may or may not be releasing new stuff this year. My bet is on at least another new song, but an album is possibly on the horizon. Honestly, I’m still reeling from Doomsday, and am still surprised we seem to be getting new stuff from them any time soon. Not complaining though, I’ll take it all. It’s going to be immensely brilliant, by the way – I’ve not heard a single second of it, but I’m 100% sure anyway.

Other releases I’m looking forward to:
Entertainment – Waterparks
Knowing What You Know Now – Marmozets
Hold Onto Your Heart – The Xcerts
Could It Be Different? – The Spook School

– Sophia Simon-Bashall
Check out these playlists! 

Sophias Playlist

We have started a playlist for our #wcw / women creating waves spotlights – although not all of our chosen women are musicians. Those who are, however, can be found in this playlist.

WCW

In addition to this, we’re continuously working on a playlist which shows you most of the artists + bands we’ve worked with, been in contact with, or supported by. It’s a nice, condensed way for us to look and be reminded of what we’ve achieved, and also to serve as a mini-guide to some artists you can feel safe listening to. It’s a good place to discover new music – and not have to worry about who you’re supporting!

Friends of GA 

Thank you for your continued support. Bea recently put up a post detailing all we got up to last year and what to look forward to this year! You can read that here.

 

We’ll be back next month with a bumper issue! Thanks to our reps and the regular contributors.

love from GA xxx

Contributors for this issue: Alice (@aliceporterX), Sophia (@hurricane_phi), Neive (@neiveeee), Iona, Shannon (@shannondarko), Megan (@ixxmcmxl).

Editor: Ellen (@ellcharlotte_)

FIND US:

twitter: @girlsagainst

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girlsagainstgroping/ 

instagram: @girls.against

email: girlsagainstgiggroping@gmail.com

Welcome To Our New Website!

Hi everyone,
It’s been an incredible 2 and a bit years for GA, and we are celebrating the new year with a new website (cliché I know..)

2017 has been a particularly exciting year, starting with our work with Declan Mckenna in Jan as well as a feature on BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ programme about sexual assault in Feb. We worked with Dance Like I’ve Got Diamonds for IWD in March, and spread our awareness with Dr Martens in April. We joined AIF’s safer space campaign in May – helping to spread the message against sexual assault to the major festivals, as well as being able to donate any money we had by June to other sexual assault charities such as My Body Back and EVAW. July saw our lovely rep Alice develop the Book Club – where we have been able to discuss a range of important issues whilst amplifying the voices of people whose values are in alignment with the campaign’s. Our posters hit the big screens at Reading & Leeds in August, and our rep Ellen started our incredible monthly newsletter in Sept. We promoted some of our reps in October and started our own #wcw (women creating waves) over on our instagram, celebrating inspiring women in the music industry. Our Washington DC rep Andrew made an appearance on Chunky Glasses’ podcast, AND we started to work closely with the wonderful band Dream Wife, who collaborated with us on their October tour. Anna was invited to WOWperth as a mentor young women about our campaign towards the end of the month, and we also opened up applications for new UK reps (a busy month!) November gave us exciting opportunities with building bridges with Spotify, as well as recruiting 30 new wonderful reps to help us in 2018. Now, as December is ending, we celebrate our new blue tick on twitter and have been counting down the year with our 25DaysOfGA challenges.

The website is the first step to a whirlwind of exciting plans for 2018, and we can’t thank you enough for sticking by us through these 2 years. This website will become our main point of contact, and we are aiming to improve our victim support facilities in the next few months. With help from our new reps, we are working to improve every area of GA’s aims ready for 2018.

Lots of love to you all. We are ready to start the new year with some big ideas and even more determination to make as big of a change as we can, and we hope you all join us in doing so.

GA x