February Newsletter

Happy February!

Here at GA, we’ve had a busy month. You may feel that we say this every month but believe us, HQ is buzzing with new and exciting stuff that we’re working on for 2018 and beyond.

ARE YOU ALL CAUGHT UP ON THE BLOG?

We’ve uploaded a load of new stuff on our blog last month. Alice has been working hard on the book club (more on that later), she also wrote a piece on a great Anteros show she went to. Our rep Conor reviewed Rae Morris’ album, ‘Someone Out There’ and gave it full praise. A beautiful piece of art is up on our blog by Edith Gervin featuring Ellie Roswell, Alana Haim, Dua Lipa and Becky Blomfield. Our rep Megan wrote a great piece on the importance of intersectional feminism and its relation to Rose McGowan’s transphobic comments. Our rep Ellen Peirson-Hagger wrote her monthly piece about what we should be reading this month. It includes really important articles from many different outlets and she gives us a great soundcloud link to the amazing Ruby Tandoh on Dolly Alderton’s podcast.

DREAM NAILS x GIRLS TO THE FRONT 

    

Meet Dream Nails new initiative. Their flyer explains it so well but we love it because it is empowering. We and they want girls to have a safe time but also more importantly, to have a good time. Their bandcamp link is here.

They’re amazing girls and deserve every bit of success. More information can be found on their twitter @yourdreamnails.

BOOK CLUB

‘The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same that that she is caught in the tripartite of crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.’

 

This month at the Girls Against Book Club we have been reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. This autobiography is heartbreaking and genuinely shocking. It’s hard to believe that the events of the first 17 years of Angelou’s life really took place and harrowing to hear her describe them first-hand. But the fact that this incredible woman has been through so much really just makes the things she achieved in this part of her life and later on even more incredible and admirable. The quote I’ve included above taken from the text summarizes the events of it in many ways. You can read more of my views on the book by scrolling down to read the full post.

 

During March we will be reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The novel follows the story of three Nigerian teenagers who, as they grow up, follow different paths, with one moving to America, one to London and the final remaining in Nigeria. I’d love it if you joined us in reading it and if you do be sure to join our GoodReads group (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/230714-girls-against-book-club) to keep up to date and contribute to the discussion of this text! The next book club post discussing this novel will go up on Sunday 1st April.

WHAT’S NEW?

We’re starting a film club! The club is in the works, a post about it will be up on our blog shortly. We hope this is something you can get involved in and there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss your views on the films we choose each month. They will either all have female leads or LGBT leads and all themes in the films chosen will be relevant to our campaign (feminism, fighting homophobia, transphobia etc.) If you have any film suggestions, tweet us!

Thank you for your continued support, any questions send them to our suggestions/ask page on our blog! There is a newsletter email to if your enquiry is more newsletter focused! girlsagainstnewsletter@gmail.com

GA x

Contributors for February: Alice @aliceporterX, Dream Nails band @yourdreamnails

Editor: Ellen, @ellcharlotte

FIND US:

twitter: @girlsagainst

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

instagram: @girls.against

email: girlsagainstgiggroping@gmail.com

 

‘War on Women’ -Nicole Junkin

“To the man who made me think that saying ‘no’ meant consequences. The man who made me grow up far too fast at 13- I am so much more than just your victim.”

My project ‘War on Women’ explores how we can challenge the stigma against cases of sexual assault through visual advocacy and how we can spread awareness through the truth.

The #MeToo campaign has brought incredible and harrowing clarity to the scale of sexual assault as well as providing a platform for all to share their experiences. The response to this campaign was widespread; however, this made me question how many of these cases had actually been reported compared to how many of these women were left to pick up the pieces of a crime that had gone unheard of.

I questioned why as women we are silenced. Michelle Obama’s words struck a chord with me; “all of us are doing what women have always done: Trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us. Maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his.” In this speech, Michelle discussed Trump, a powerful individual, boasting about having groped women during the election campaign. Trump’s degrading, lewd language used to describe his predatory behaviour as a powerful individual left me with a sour feeling in my stomach.

This project is about taking power and control back into the hands of victims and giving their voices another platform from which to be heard.  A lot of my research has been based on interviews with victims of assault and harassment. Their stories, while difficult to hear- were incredibly powerful and I am so grateful that these women were comfortable enough to share such personal and distressing events.

A small number of hand stitched zines containing photography and quotes from these interviews will be available to buy for £4, with half of the proceeds going to Girls Against and the other half going to Rape Crisis Scotland. In making these, I hope to spread the word and let it be known that ‘enough is enough’. Our bodies are not a hotel room for your quick getaway. We will not be silenced.

Art and words by Nicole Junkin.

You can follow Nicole on Instagram here and send her a message if you want to buy one of her Zines. Girls Against would like to thank Nicole for donating some of the proceeds to our campaign and we hope to put this money towards creating some new merchandise. We’d also like to thank Nicole for using her art and her voice to raise awareness of the issues of sexual harassment and assault!

GA Book Club #8: ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou

Credit: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/maya-angelous-life-in-photos

February was a short month- I can’t quite believe how quickly it’s come and gone. I really felt the missing 2/3 days (along with it being a busy month generally) when it came to reading this months book for the Girls Against Book Club and it was the first time I’ve had to consider delaying the book club post.

But here we are- on time! I finished Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings only a few days ago but I know for sure that it taking me the best part of the month to read it had nothing to do with the quality of the book itself. In fact, I was looking for a spare moment all the time so I could read it. This autobiography is heartbreaking and genuinely shocking. It’s hard to believe that the events of the first 17 years of Angelou’s life really took place and harrowing to hear her describe them first-hand. But the fact that this incredible woman has been through so much really just makes the things she achieved in this part of her life and later on even more incredible and admirable.

Maya Angelou was an American author, poet, singer, dancer and civil rights activist- clearly a woman of many talents. She was born in 1928 and died in 2014 and has lived through some of the most significant changes for both women and people of colour. She has championed the rights of these two groups of people all her life and is a women I truly look up to and this autobiography only increased the admiration I have for her.

As mentioned, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings deals with the first 17 years of Angelou’s life and in these years it seems that she went through more difficulties than most people do in their whole life. Many of these difficulties were imposed on her because of her race and/or her gender. As always, I’m going to discuss some of the most interesting, shocking and touching parts of the book although it’s going to be seriously hard to narrow them down as I have bookmarked quite a few pages…

A particularly harrowing moment towards the beginning of the text is Angelou’s remembrance of her uncle having to hide in a bin from the KKK. An ex-sherrif warns her ‘Momma’ (grandma) of this by telling her that ‘the boys’ will be coming to town. Angelou depicts the sense of fear she felt at hearing this statement as a child but also her bewilderment that those who were capable of such cruelty and hatred were referred to so nonchalantly. The really harrowing thing about this memory is that for me, Maya Angelou is a modern woman and the fact that she lived and can remember when the KKK were still casually terrorising people of colour really emphasises the fact that this didn’t occur so long ago. It’s easy to distance ourselves from past events but hearing them described first-hand makes them seem very real. It’s a reminder of the necessity of intersectional feminism as we consider how astoundingly differently white woman and people of colour were treated in the lifetime of Angelou and many other people who are still alive today and have these memories.

Undoubtedly though, the most disturbing, shocking and upsetting part of this text is when Marguerite (as Angelou describes her younger self in the novel) is sexually assaulted and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. I don’t want to discuss this section of the text too much as I feel that no one should try and tell this story but Angelou herself. However I feel that it is important to mention how truly upsetting this part of the text is as the reader sees how emotionally and physically affected Marguerite becomes by this experience, something that she never really forgets or seems to recover from throughout her childhood.

Another part of the novel I want to discuss is Marguerite’s visit to the house of a white woman who calls her a different name to her own because ‘That’s too long. She’s Mary from now on.’ The sense of ultimatum in this statement seems to symbolise how white people during this period, and often still today, attempt to rewrite the narratives of people of colour, defining them by their terms and not their own. Marguerite’s decision to ‘accidentally’ drop her favourite casserole dish and smash it really made me smile (and laugh) and it felt like such an empowering moment in the text.

There are many sections of the text that seem to summarise Angelou’s experience of a child but the one that I think does so the best is this- ‘It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense.’ Not only is Marguerite going through all the inevitable changes and difficulties of childhood but she is doing so as a black girl in Southern America. Everything seems to be more difficult for her because of this. The fact that she grew up to be such a successful woman despite these difficulties (and maybe because of the determination she gained through these experiences) is truly inspiring.

Another great quote from the novel is this: ‘The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same that that she is caught in the tripartite of crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.’  Again, this seems to highlight the importance of intersectional feminism as it portrays how deeper the struggles go for WOC compared to white women, especially those who are navigating their childhood.

I really can’t recommend this autobiography enough. Even if you’re not a big fan of autobiography (its not usually my genre of choice either) this one is not only engaging but important. Maya Angelou is ‘a truly phenomenal woman’ as Barack Obama describes her, as is printed on the cover of my copy, and I feel like we all owe it to her to read this book to see just how true this statement is.

For the month of March the Girls Against Book Club will be reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This will be the second book we’ve read by Adichie (we read We Should All Be Feminists in September) but the first work of fiction. It follows the story of three Nigerian teenagers who, as they grow up, follow different paths, with one moving to America, one to London and the final remaining in Nigeria. It deals with themes of love, race and identity and I’m hoping it will be a really interesting and enlightening read, as We Should All Be Feminists was.

I’d love it if you joined us in reading Americanaand if you do, be sure to join our GoodReads group to stay updated on where we’re up to and join in on the discussion. If you’d rather contribute your views privately/anonymously feel free to send us an email at girlsagainstbookclub@gmail.com. Any views contributed will be, with your permission, included in next months post which will go up on Sunday 1st April.

I hope you’ll join us in reading this novel and I’ll see you back here in April!

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter).

Women In Rock- A Response To The Exclusion Of Those Who Are Shaping The Genre

Here we have the second post of a two-part instalment responding to a pub who banned female fronted bands. The first post portrays how ridiculous this is by considering the history of woman in rock music and this post does the same thing but by considering current women within the music industry…

http://girlsagainst.org.uk/2018/02/12/women-of-modern-rock-edith-gervin/

A pub in Glasgow that made the headlines recently. The pub has banned female fronted bands from performing there, their simple reason being that, ‘women can’t sing rock’ and the pub’s regular clientele will not give the band a chance if there is a female singer. Upon reading comments surrounding this incident I am surprised to see many opinions in favour of this sexism.

This attitude is one I see frequently littered across my social media. “It’s not sexist that Leeds Fest/Reading/T etc have no female artists on the line-up. It’s because there are NO good female artists!” The music industry is always seen as a ‘man’s world’. In classic rock we have The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. In soul and Motown we have James Brown and Marvin Gaye. In indie rock we have Oasis, Blur, The Smiths, New Order and Joy Division. We have icons like Elvis and Prince and Bowie to name but a few. Even in modern times we have Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and The Libertines. I can understand the ease in which people are able to forget about female performers, as men are at the forefront of the industry.

However, looking back in history, some of the greatest musicians of all time were female. Women like Billie Holiday, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Joan Jett Stevie Nicks, Amy Winehouse, Siouxsie Sioux, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett and Tina Turner (to name a small few) are key in the history of music and are seen as icons of their field.

Currently, females in the music industry are on their way to do the same. The rock scene is thriving, with groups like HAIM, The Big Moon, Black Honey and Wolf Alice showing that there is a place for women in the industry. These women play instruments, write their own music and attract fans of both genders. Artists like Dua Lipa, Charli XCX and Lily Allen are the same, releasing music with messages of female empowerment, discussing issues that we women face. Their music is relatable and refreshing yet still technical and complex musically.

The 1975’s Matty Healy spoke of how inspired he was by 60s girl groups, like The Crystals. Boy George discussed in an article of Kate Bush’s influence on punk and how she changed the music industry forever. The sounds of Blondie can be heard in the music of R.E.M, John Legend’s soul is influenced by the great Nina Simone. We see the influence of women in so much of the male-fronted music we know and love.

The balance is slowly shifting in the music industry with the arrival of new female artists and rock bands. In the meantime, it is vital we look back at female musicians and give them the appreciation and recognition they deserve.

And to that pub, in the words of Lily Allen, “F you very, very much”.

References:

  1. http://teamrock.com/news/2017-12-08/anger-as-english-pub-bans-female-fronted-bands
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/21/pops-glass-ceiling-why-new-female-stars-cant-break-through
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLEC839ar3A
  4. https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/music/why-we-love-kate-bush-by-the-musicians-shes-influenced-9670978.html
  5. https://www.gigwise.com/photos/101433/debbie-harry-70th-birthday—artists-inspired-by-blondie—garbage

 

Written by Madeline Rose Healey.