Tag Archives: arts

Song Sisters: A free songwriting masterclass tour, just for women

Few emerging singer-songwriters can say that they co-wrote a global number 1 hit. Even fewer have been asked to support top acts such as Ed Sheeran on tour, notching up a staggering 51,000 views on just one of her songs, published on respected indie internet video channel, Ont’ Sofa. But judging by statistics it would seem that these singer-songwriters are in a shocking minority.

As a direct result these two extraordinarily talented acts, Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle, are embarking on Song Sisters, a groundbreaking double headline tour across the UK during July and August, organised and promoted by Folkstock Arts Foundation’s Helen Meissner, an emerging champion of acoustic music. Kal and Fiona are established and respected female singer songwriters in their own right but were appalled to learn at the recent Women in Music conference held at the Southbank in London that “only 13% of the songwriters registered on PRS for Music are women”, and so the successful soulful-folk-pop friends decided to join forces and do something about it.

The musicians, who met on the gigging circuit, are committed to making a difference and improving the statistics. Rather than sitting back and being smug that they are in the 13%. They want to encourage other female songwriters to get their songs finished and registered. By way of practical support, they are offering FREE ENTRY masterclasses for women only, on the afternoon of every date on the tour. The sessions will run ahead of each ticketed gig and incorporate a song surgery, as well as tips, advice, and a question & answer element with both Fiona and Kal on hand to help.

The exclusively female line-up tour takes them from Exeter to Ipswich, Manchester to Brighton over the summer; in addition, the girls are offering the opening spot on each leg of the tour to local budding female stars.

They are hoping that this tour captures the imagination of singer-songwriters across the country and really inspires them, especially the women, to take their songwriting more seriously.

Not surprisingly, this significant tour has already attracted some top level reactions, interviews and sessions from respected industry names, including Gaby Roslin, Ruth Barnes, The Daily Mirror, The Londonist, London Gig Guide, The Girls Are, M Magazine (for PRS for Music), and BBC 2’s Bob Harris.

Peggy Seeger said: “what a wonderful idea! Women songwriters have been around for a long time – the masterclasses will encourage us to work together and take our rightful place as writers and performers.”

Innovative, unique and accessible, if you are a budding female singer-songwriter, the Song Sisters tour is where it’s at this summer!

The only date in the capital is TONIGHT at Paper Dress Vintage in Shoreditch. Some tickets are still available for the gig and there are five places left on the free masterclass, running from 6.30 – 8.00, after which the gig starts.

To sign up for the masterclasses email songsistersmasterclass@gmail.com and state which of the 15 dates you are applying for. 

Details of the remaining Song Sisters gigs can be found here.

8th July, LONDON: Paper Dress Vintage with Stephanie O’Brien and Kal

27th July, IPSWICH: St Peter’s by the Waterfront

7th August, EXETER: Starz Bar

10th August, RETFORD: The Birches, ReVerb Project

15th August, CHELTENHAM: The Frog and Fiddle

17th August, BRIGHTON: The Marwood

18th August, CHICHESTER: The Chichester Inn

24th August, MANCHESTER: The Castle

27th August, NORWICH: The Bicycle Shop

28th August, SANDBACH: The Cycle Junction

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Feminist Events Listings: July 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in July!

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

19-20 July || 40th Anniversary of the ‘74 Women’s Liberation Conference @ Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow.

Women’s Liberation 2014 conference will be held in Glasgow on Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th of July but it will commemorate the 1974 women’s liberation conference held in Edinburgh. 40 years on, women will come together to reminisce, to celebrate their achievements and to look to the future. The organisers envision a return to a politics of women’s liberation – moving from single-issue campaigns drawing on feminist ideas to a women-centred revolutionary movement. There will be workshops, talks, exhibitions and an evening event with an open stage and then disco on one floor, and a quieter space to talk to one another on the other floor.

HOW TO REGISTER:  e-mail scotwomenslib@gmail.com for a registration form. There’s a suggested donation of £40 for the weekend for women earning over 25k and women who can claim expenses, £25 for low-waged women and £15 for unwaged women. Asylum-seekers can attend for free.

MORE INFO: http://scottishwomensliberation.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/how-to-register-2/

LONDON

15th July || London Comedy Forum @ Institute of Education, London.

The LCF is an interdisciplinary forum for comedy and humour research. The July meeting is themed: Feminist Humour, and artist/researcher Hannah Ballou has curated a top notch panel of feminist humour practitioners. Bryony Kimmings, Kate Smurthwaite and Vikki Stone.

MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/events/883257285024899/

16 July || Women in Leadership – What Needs to Change? @ St. Pauls Institute, London.

Creating greater opportunities for female empowerment has been designated as one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. It is clear that the tide is turning and large strides are being made to overcome problems of institutional inequality; many voices have joined together to call for our leaders to represent the diversity of the people they govern, but there is still work to be done to remove impediments that have restricted female advancement. How can we remove the institutional and cultural barriers preventing many women from reaching positions of leadership? What can different sectors learn from one another in the fight for true equality? What actions can we take to create lasting change? Join us at St Paul’s Cathedral for a public discussion led by: Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for Talent at EY, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, Ceri Goddard, Director of Gender at the Young Foundation, The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Chaired by: The Very Revd David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. 7pm, doors at 6.30pm.

MORE INFO: womenstpauls.eventbrite.co.uk

22 July || UNICEF host; Girl Summit @ Venue TBC, London.  

UNICEF and the UK Government co-host an event aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within our generation. Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and achieve their potential, but millions are being prevented from doing so by harmful practices such as FGM and CEFM, which are illegal in the UK. The Home Secretary Theresa May and Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening will host the event, alongside heads of state, practitioners, survivors, charities and community groups. This creative, positive and engaging event will bring together women, girls and community leaders from the UK and overseas, alongside governments, international organisations and the private sector to agree on action to end FGM and CEFM within a generation. Registration essential.

MORE INFO: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/girl-summit-2014

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog site for full feminist event listings for July 2014.

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Land of Smiles: exploring Thailand’s anti-trafficking movement

When people hear the word “trafficking” they often think of young women held in bondage, forced into prostitution against their will. This is certainly a circumstance that takes place around the globe—one that is real, and very serious. But often sex workers, many of whom are migrants seeking a better life in a country far from home, know what they are getting into when they enter the trade. The real problem they face comes from the industry working to “save” them.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), funded by private donors and the U.S. State Department, are working hard to fight trafficking. But the problem is that many do this by trying to eradicate prostitution and curb migration—resulting in policies that are harmful, rather than helpful, to women.

Recently, important revelations have come out about the anti-trafficking movement’s problematic policies. Last month, Newsweek broke a story about the Somaly Mam Foundation, a famous Cambodian-based anti-trafficking NGO that has been fabricating stories of sex trafficking to appeal to their donor base. The story was shocking, but to those who understand the contested terrain of the anti-trafficking movement, it wasn’t surprising.

The question of what role NGOs should play in “rescuing” women from the sex industry has been debated by feminists for years. Only now, these debates are heating up because the voices of migrant women, supposed trafficking “victims,” are finally coming out.

It was these women’s voices—voices that have been silenced and overshadowed by a movement supposedly intended to “help” them—that inspired me to travel to Thailand to research the issue of sex trafficking. I wanted to learn about the issue not only from the perspective of advocates working to stop it, but from migrant women themselves—women whose experiences can offer tremendous insight into creating policies that will better serve their needs.

Over the course of three years I conducted over 50 interviews with NGO employees, female migrants, sex workers rights advocates, members of government and others as part of my PhD at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The discoveries I made would ultimately lead me to write and compose Land of Smiles, a musical whose goal was to turn the narrative about trafficking on its head.

Land of Smiles is a fictional, full-length musical about the trafficking of women in Thailand, which dramatises what I call the “dominant trafficking narrative”: a story told by Western anti-trafficking advocates that reinforces our moralisms about intimacy, rights, women’s proper roles, as well as ideas about individualism, and a modernisation framework that is at the root of development thinking.

Taking issue with the assumptions Western advocates often make about women in the developing world, I created a story that I hoped would expose the flaws of these assumptions, and raise awareness about the problematic policies being enacted by members of the movement.

The story focuses on the aftermath of a brothel raid in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand. Lipoh, a young Kachin (ethnic minority) migrant from Burma, seems to be underage, making her an automatic “trafficking victim” in the eyes of the law. Emma Gable, an NGO case worker from Cedar Falls, Indiana, is sent to prepare Lipoh to be a witness in a trial to prosecute her trafficker. Emma must convince Lipoh to be the person everyone sees: a trafficking victim. But Lipoh is unwilling to cooperate. She insists that she is eighteen and was working in the brothel willingly. Not only that—she wants to go back.

What transpires is a journey into Thailand’s anti-trafficking movement—a world burdened with politics, morality and the rhetoric of human rights. Through hearing Lipoh’s story, Emma discovers that grave atrocities are being committed against the Kachin people of Burma. But these atrocities are overshadowed by a narrative about trafficking that serves the needs of the anti-trafficking movement, rather than the women it is trying to help.

In writing Land of Smiles I wanted to problematise the discourse on trafficking that circulates among feminist scholars studying trafficking. I sought to unpack the Western “gaze” that views female migrant sex workers as “victims,” and turn this trope around by shedding light on that gaze itself—the lens through which Western advocates see the issue of trafficking. I wanted to expose that the trafficking of women in Thailand is not an isolated human rights abuse that takes place in a separate sphere from Western behavior, structures and thoughts. Rather, the West is complicit in this human rights drama because of the way we objectify third world “victims.”

Land of Smiles is intended to be a platform for dialogue. As the audience makes their way out of the theatre, I hope the show will have caused questioning among those who have the power to change anti-trafficking policy and adopt a more holistic approach to implementing solutions.

Land of Smiles runs from July 31 to 25 August at Assembly, George Square, Edinburgh. For more details/booking visit: http://www.assemblyfestival.com or call 0131 623 3030

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Feminist Events Listings: May 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in May.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

May – June || The Punk Singer, a film about Kathleen Hanna | Screenings across the UK

Kathleen Hanna, will be in London for two very special Q&A screenings of The Punk Singer. If you are not London based, don’t fret- there are lots of events happening up and down the country coinciding with the cinema release- full listings below. The film will be released in cinemas nationwide on May 23rd, we are really excited to hear that Kathleen will be attending a Q&A session following special preview screenings of the film at the Curzon Soho on 13th May at 6.30pm, hosted by Lauren Laverne, or at the ICA cinema on 14th May at 6.45pm. Director- Siri Anderson will be doing a Skype Q&A for the screening at Rich Mix on Thursday 15th of May.

Synopsis:  Through 20 years of archival footage and intimate interviews, The Punk Singer tells the story of Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill and dance-punk trio Le Tigre. Kathleen Hanna rose to national attention as the reluctant but never shy voice of the Riot Grrrl movement. She became the most famously outspoken feminist icons in music.

BOOK TICKETS: Dogwoof.com/thepunksinger

MORE INFO:  Dogwoof.com/thepunksinger

National screenings;

Friday 09 May

Derby – Derby Quad – Derby Film Festival

Tuesday 13 May

London – Curzon Soho

Sheffield – Showroom – Preview

Wednesday 14 May

London – ICA

Thursday 15 May

London – Rich Mix – DocHouse Preview

Friday 23 May

London – ICA

Bristol – Cube Cinema

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Saturday 24 May

London – ICA

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Sunday 25 May

London – ICA

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Monday 26 May

Bristol – Cube Cinema

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Tuesday 27 May

Bristol – Cube Cinema

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Wednesday 28 May

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Thursday 29 May

Dublin – Ifi

Glasgow – Glasgow Film Theatre

Nottingham – Broadway Cinema

Friday 30 May

Cardiff – Chapter

Saturday 31 May

London – Rio Cinema

Cardiff – Chapter

Monday 02 June

Cardiff – Chapter

Tuesday 03 June

Cardiff – Chapter

Wednesday 04 June

Cardiff – Chapter

Thursday 05 June

Cardiff – Chapter

Leeds – Hyde Park Picture House

Monday 16 June

London – Riverside Studios

Thursday 26 June

Staffordshire – Stoke Film Theatre

16 May || What the Frock! 2nd Birthday Party @ The Maurentania, Bristol.

Join Bristol’s award-winning all-female comedy night as they celebrate their second birthday, with a night of fabulous comedy. With Cerys Nelmes at the helm all night, the team welcome back the return of the larger than life Jayde Adams to the headline spot, as well as cabaret from Ada Campe and stand-up from Hatty Ashdown. There is also a star prize raffle. Tickets: £12 adv, £15 on door.

TICKETS:http://goo.gl/iZAgqq

22 May || HOMETRUTHS Conference 2014 ‘Womb to Womanhood’ @ The Meadow, Swindon, Wiltshire.

HOMETRUTHS is an independent, community based specialist service for survivors of domestic violence and abuse aged 16+ living in Swindon and Wiltshire, who have experienced domestic violence and abuse including stalking and harassment from partners or ex-partners. This is their 2nd Conference and they are pleased to welcome presentations from local and national speakers, looking at the impact of domestic abuse on women and their children

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/HpfBLx

25 May || Laughing Cows Comedy @ The Frog & Bucket, Manchester.

Laughing Cows hosted by Kerry Leigh with Jo Enright, (Lab Rats / Ideal / The Job Lot) Jenny Ross (The Sunday Show) and Hawkeye & Windy. For more than a decade now the highly acclaimed comedienne Jo Enright has crafted a completely unique style of stand-up comedy. As well as performing it both on television and radio, Jo also thrives on live theatre performances, winning several comedy awards including the 2002 Chortle Award for ‘The Best Female Circuit Comic’ and the 2001 ‘Best Female on the Jongleurs Comedy Circuit’ award.7.00pm.

FACEBOOK EVENT: http://goo.gl/gxGkNK

LONDON

12 May || Fans of Feminism @ Cass School of Art and Architecture.

Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design Fans of Feminism invite you to discuss: Fighting the art establishment or creating a new one: How can we achieve equality?’ The art establishment in Britain is a hostile environment for under represented artists. Despite encouraging statistics showing a gradual rise in the number of women artists showing in galleries, we are by no means near achieving equality. This panel seeks to tackle some of the issues that women and other under represented artists face, and discuss what we can do to drive change. An interactive discussion With Panelists: Dr Mo Throp, Helena Reckitt, Martina Mullaney, Phoebe Collings-James and Maria Kheirkhah. 17:30 -21:00pm

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/30gzEg

12-19 May || Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring her Pussy and little else! @ Soho Theatre, Dean Street.

Time Out recommends: In 2013 Adrienne Truscott’s Foster’s Panel Prize-winning political, satirical and experimental solo show got the Fringe set talking. Now she’s taking over Soho Theatre for a 19-date run of her acclaimed part-stand-up, part-performance and part lecture. Rape culture apologists Todd Aiken and Daniel Tosh don’t escape Truscott’s logical and belly achingly funny social commentary on laws surrounding date rape and the controversial ‘what were you wearing’ argument. Truscott is fearless in her commentary on the prevalence of rape joke culture, it’s set to pop music, and oh yeah, she’s starkers from the waist down and ankles up. £10-£17.50

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/hDJDCU

16 May || Women’s Spaces and Feminist Politics- Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow @ Queen Mary University of London.

This one-day conference will explore the role of women’s spaces in feminist politics, focusing on women’s centres and other women’s spaces in the past, present and future. During the past decade a new generation of feminists has started to campaign against the objectification of women in the media, the expansion of pornography, sexism in the workplace and on the street, the lack of representation of women in public life and the sexualisation of young children. This new generation of feminists is largely organized via social media rather than in physical spaces. Admission: £38.00. 9.30am-5.00pm.

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/dWeHpg

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for May.

Feminist Times is 100% crowdfunded, with no advertising, so we only survive if people join as Members or donate. If you enjoyed this article and want to support this site, become a member by clicking the badge below…

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More info here.

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Feminist Events Listings: April 2014

Verity FlecknellWelcome to my feminist event highlight blog for Feminist Times. Storm in a Teacup are thrilled to be highlighting all the best feminist events from London and beyond.

Whether you are an armchair activist or a full time activist, into your international politics, or personal politics, feminist artist, or radical feminist – there are just so many events happening up and down the country – there is bound to be something to tickle your fancy/get your teeth into.

Arguably there are more feminist events popping up more than ever and so many opportunities for you to get involved, meet like minded people, share skills and be a part of the movement.

We will be bringing you highlights of some of the feminist events not to be missed in April.

Verity Flecknell, Storm in a Teacup

NATIONAL

30 March – 5 April || International Anti-Street Harassment Week @ Worldwide.

Organised by Rape Crisis South London. As part of International Anti-Street Harassment Week (30th March – 5th of April 2014), we are asking anyone who wants to help end street harassment to take a photo of one of London’s many stunning landmarks alongside a message of support for loving London streets but hating street harassment.

You can post your photos on the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/1405046029753784/

MORE INFO: http://www.meetusonthestreet.org/

11 April || What the Frock! Comedy Awards @ Maurentania, 9 Park Street, Bristol.

The all-female What The Frock! Award returns for a second year. Last year, all the places were filled within 24 hours of the competition being announced, and this year they were filled within 10 hours! This is one of only two all-female comedy awards in the UK, and is free to enter. The compere for the evening will be Cerys Nelmes, and we will have a performance from Annabel O’Connell, who was a finalist in 2013. Tickets £10.00

MORE INFO: http://www.wegottickets.com/whatthefrockcomedy

25-27th April || Pussy Whipped Festival @ The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh.

Pussy Whipped presents a full weekend of queer/LGBTI+ and feminist underground shenanigans in the form of live music, dancing, films, workshops, poetry and performances. For full listings please see the Facebook event. All designed to stick a finger up at queer-phobias and sexism with great big smiles on our faces. People of all genders and sexualities welcome. Funded by Awards for All Scotland.  Weekend tickets are just £6, available from or £8 on the door. Day tickets are also available at £3 advance or £4 on the door.

TICKETS: http://www.wegottickets.com/f/7129

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/502028353250998/

LONDON

8-13 April || Birds Eye View Film Festival 2014 @ Various venues including; Barbican, BFI Southbank and ICA.

The Festival will feature UK premieres, cutting edge features, insightful personal documentaries, live music, silent film and special events featuring some of the world’s leading female filmmakers and rising new talents. There will also be industry training opportunities supported by the British Council and Creative Skillset. For full programme information please follow link below.

MORE INFO: http://goo.gl/JlHZUH

16 April || The Fawcett Society present; Story Tellers: Why Women’s fiction deserves a price @ Holt International Business School, London.

A special evening event in Central London on 16 April, as part of our Fawcett+ scheme, which you can read about by clicking here. Renowned and inspirational writers will discuss the contribution of women’s fiction to writing and wider social change, and the importance of continuing to celebrate and profile this. To speak and lead the debate will be Kate Mosse OBE (international bestselling author of novels Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel and founder of the Orange Prize, now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction); and writer and campaigner Lisa Appignanesi OBE (author of several novels and works of non-fiction, including Trials of Passion to be published in April, and editor of 50 Shades of Feminism).  6.15-9.30pm. Tickets: £20

TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fawcett-story-tellers-tickets-7311772709

17 April || Feminist Whores? Exploring Feminist Debates Around Violence, Sex Work & Porn @ Middlesex University, London.

The Crime and Conflict Research Centre at Middlesex University is delighted to present this year’s annual conference theme with Dr Erin Sanders-McDonagh and Dr Lucy Nevill. Feminism has traditionally had an uncomfortable relationship with pornography and sex work, often positioning women in these industries as hapless victims, and men as perpetrators and criminals. In the face of increasing criminalisation of sex work and censorship of pornography, this conference will aim to look at the ways in which both porn and the sex industry have been construed as violence towards women in the popular imaginary. The conference will have academic speakers, sex worker activists, and third sector practitioners speaking about these issues – we welcome everyone who is interested in exploring these issues in a respectful and engaging setting. 10:00am to 17:00pm. FREE

TICKETS: http://goo.gl/SE1Lp3

26 April || Let’s Start a Pussy Riot @ The Feminist Library, London.

Let’s Start a Pussy Riot is a creative response founded by Free Pussy Riot, Girls Get Busy, Not So Popular and Storm In A Teacup. A collective of collectives whose aim was to bring together voices from the arts in support of Pussy Riot. “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” was published in June 2013 by Rough Trade Records. At the Feminist Library we will be discussing the story of Pussy Riot (their motives, their influence and the future of Pussy Riot), exploring the context – Russian State and the Orthodox Church, the degradation of LGBT rights in Russia and encouraging all to use the idea of “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” to create their own forms of collective activism.

MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/FeministLibrary

30 April || Rights for Women training: The Asylum Process and Financial Support for Asylyum-seeking women, EC1, London.

With delivery in partnership with the Asylum Support Appeals Project, this course is a comprehensive examination of asylum support (Home Office financial subsistence and accommodation) options open to women who are seeking asylum and failed asylum seekers. Featuring practical exercises and discussion of actions support workers can take, book this course to compliment your asylum claim knowledge or as an introduction to supporting asylum-seeking women. 10am – 4pm. FREE.

MORE INFO: http://www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/training.php

Verity Flecknell is founder of Storm in a Teacup, a London based feminist arts collective set up in 2009 with the aim of promoting women in the arts. In 2010 Storm in a Teacup helped organise Ladyfest Ten festival, in 2011 were part of the first ever Women of the World festival at the Southbank and in 2012 joined forces with Girls Get Busy zine and Not So Popular to form Lets Start a Pussy Riot collective. In June this year, Rough Trade Records published “Lets Start a Pussy Riot” book, a collection of artistic responses created in collaboration with Pussy Riot. Storm in a Teacup also publishes monthly feminist event listings happening around London.

Please visit Storm in a Teacup’s blog for full feminist event listings for April.

Feminist Times is 100% crowdfunded, with no advertising, so we only survive if people join as Members or donate. If you enjoyed this article and want to support this site, become a member by clicking the badge below…

join-us

Or give a one off donation…

More info here.

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Preview: Birds Eye View Film Festival

Next Tuesday, 8 April, sees the start of Birds Eye View Film Festival, an annual celebration of women filmmakers at venues across London. We took a look at the jam-packed programme and picked out our top events not to be missed, listed by their festival category.

The Opening & Closing Nights

The festival opens at the BFI Southbank on Tuesday 8 April at 6.15pm with the UK premiere of a dramatic feature film set during the Georgian civil war. In Bloom, directed by Nana Ekvitimishvili and Simon Gross, follows two 14-year-old girls coming of age in the post-Soviet state. This multi-award winning, semi-autobiographical drama was hailed as a “major discovery of the 2013 Berlinale”. The screening is followed by a director Q&A.

Another UK premiere, Swim Little Fish Swim closes the festival on a lighter note on Sunday 13 April, 8.30pm, at the BFI. Described as an “irresistibly charming, bittersweet comedy-drama”, Swim Little Fish Swim looks at the struggle of living as an artist in New York City. Directed by Lola Bessis and Ruben Amar, this screening is also followed by a director Q&A.

Women on the edge

Set in the Casablanca slums, Bastards, a documentary directed by Deborah Perkin, follows a group of Moroccan single mothers fighting to legitimise their children. Followed by a director Q&A, the documentary premieres in the UK on Wednesday 9 April, 6.30pm, at the Hackney Picturehouse.

Norway’s official Foreign Language Oscar entry, I Am Yours, makes its UK debut on Thursday 10 April, 8.30pm, at the BFI Southbank. Described as a “delicate and courageous portrait of a woman trying to reconcile family, culture and desire”, I Am Yours is a feature film about a twentysomething single mother from the Pakistani community in Norway. The screening is followed by a Q&A with director Iram Haq.

How I live now

Showing at the Clapham Picturehouse at 6.30pm on Thursday 10 AprilGone Too Far is a “razor-sharp comedy” feature film on the Nigerian community in Peckham, based on Bola Agbaje’s Olivier Award-winning play. Directed by Destiny Ekaragha, this screening is followed by a Q&A.

Gabrielle is a feature film from Quebec about a woman living with Williams syndrome in a home for adults with learning disabilities. Staring Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, who suffers from Williams syndrome herself, the film sees Gabrielle fall in love with a member of her choir and struggle to gain independence. Directed by Louise Archambault, Gabrielle premieres in the UK as part of Birds Eye View on Saturday 12 April, 4.30pm, at the Barbican.

Fashion

A regular feature of Birds Eye View Film Festival, Fashion Loves Film returns on Friday 11 April, 6.45pm, at the ICA, with a look at how images of fashion reflect culture, heritage and identity for female filmmakers. Highlights include: Lena Dunham’s Best Friends, Kathryn Ferguson’s Mathair, and Maria Schiller (SHOWstudio Head of Fashion Film) exploring Asian Couture, followed by a panel discussion and filmmaker Q&A.

Classics

Saturday 12 April sees a special 20th anniversary presentation of 1993 film Bhaji on the Beach, at 8.20pm at the BFI Southbank. Described as a “landmark British comedy”, the feature film tells the story of a Birmingham Asian women’s group on a daytrip to Blackpool, starring a ‘who’s who’ of British Asian acting talent. The screening is followed by a Q&A with multi-award-winning director Gurinder Chadha and special guests.

Girlfriends is described by Time Out as “the missing link between Woody Allen and Lena Dunham”. Directed by Claudia Weill in 1978, decades before Dunham’s Girls, the film is a comedy exploration of young single life in New York. A “woefully neglected gem”, Girlfriends was championed by Stanley Kubrick on its release and recently ‘re-discovered’ by Lena Dunham. Catch it at the BFI Southbank on Sunday 13 April, 6.30pm, and see below for your chance to win a pair of tickets.

Bright & British

Our final pick of the programme is Small Talk, a talk featuring women from the world of film. Producer-director Amy Hardie discusses neurocinematics and how the brain processes creative information, and Melissa Silverstein, author of renowned IndieWire blog ‘Women & Hollywood’, looks at female representation in film. Small Talk is at the BFI Southbank on Saturday 12 April at 6.15pm. One Feminist Times member could win a pair of tickets for the discussion, or film buffs can buy a Saturday Day Pass for £32, giving access to Bhaji on The Beach, Small Talk, a selection of British short films, and Welcome To The Audience, a discussion on the filmmaking process with a panel of British filmmakers.

Competition

We’re offering Feminist Times members the chance to win a pair of tickets for the screening of Girlfriends or a pair of tickets to Small Talk. Enter your details here for Girlfriends and here for Small Talk, and we’ll select two winners at random at 5pm on Monday 7 April. Please enter the email address you used to sign up as a member; only entries made by current Feminist Times members will be counted. If you are not yet a member, or your membership has expired, click here to join us.

Find out more about Birds Eye View Film Festival and view the full programme here, or follow @BirdsEyeViewFF.

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Profile: Hamburger Queen

Burgers, Queens and a lot of Ham

Ever since Gok Wan and Dr Christian hit our screens we’ve been subjected to endless anti-fat light entertainment dressed up as life-changing, hard-hitting documentaries. In 2014, making fat women cry in front of mirrors is Channel 4’s idea of empowering.

Fat people are under attack, but why? Apparently the “obesity time bomb” that The Express famously reported on back in 2009 – and which is still waiting to go off – meant our beloved NHS was under threat from those partial to a donut. Our apparent gluttony is all that is wrong with this Tory-led country.

This culture of ‘sad fat’ or ‘fat is the enemy’ angers me. In my adult life I’ve never felt ashamed about my body or size, due to my shy mum’s determination to make me and brother have confidence – or what some might call an inflated sense of self.

Four years ago, on the back of the 24 bus, I dreamt up my response – a beauty pageant / talent show / cook-off sort of thing celebrating the lives and bodies of fat people. It was a pedantic, counter culture, knee jerk, poke in the eye idea that fought against the portrayal of chubsters and particularly the scrutiny of fat women on the television.

I missed my stop, booked a month of shows at Royal Vauxhall Tavern and went to my friend’s seaside shack to invent (fanfare) Burger Queen. I told my chubby friend Amy Lamé about the project and her response read: “if you don’t include me I’ll sit on your face.”

After opening night of season one I knew we were on to something when I received a tweet calling me a hypocrite for wearing Spanx. The irony of a fat man wearing Spanx, still looking fat, talking about fat liberation was obviously lost on the poor soul.

What followed next was a rollercoaster of monumental weirdness: Vanessa Feltz pulling me off air after I told her she should be talking about female empowerment instead of scrutinising women’s bodies on International Women’s Day; Amy receiving death threats after being on 10 O’Clock Live talking about the pasty tax; June Brown turning up to do a monologue about the joys of smoking; Diabetes UK refusing to accept a charitable donation from the profits of our burger sales; and Lisa Stansfield demanding I sing a duet with her.

The Wright Stuff pulled me at the last minute because they didn’t want to “promote obesity”; Nancy Del’lolio had a go at our then DJ, Sami Knight, for not liking her hair; and a court case meant we had to change our name because some man in Scotland held a copyright and wanted to extract money from me. Cue the rebrand: ‘Hamburger Queen’.

After four years of morris dancing and tribal birthing ceremonies I feel I have said what I needed to – I am putting it to bed and this season’s run will be the last. It takes six months to plan and costs £20k; I no longer have the time or money, but this doesn’t mean fat is off the agenda. I recently received some fan mail that read “you’ve covered the fat thing now, move on, it’s a bit tired dear.” As soon as my body isn’t politicised by the world, I will stop politicising it.

For our final season I’m throwing everything I’ve got at it – a fat tap troupe, a short film about fat sex and shame, regional heats, a blow out final in the West End, some of the best judges we’ve ever had and burgers served in donuts, obviously.

I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Hamburger Queen and do so with a heavy, high cholesterol heart – it’s the place I came to terms with my eating disorder, where I learnt how to be a better performer. It’s made my practice political and community engaged. It’s encouraged me to speak my mind and tell the world what I think, no matter how much that goes against the grain.

But its successes and legacies are not accountable to me. Hamburger Queen is brilliant because it’s made by everyday folk who work in call centres, by those who feel this project speaks to them. It’s about the groups of people who contribute to the project, the die-hard fans that run for their table each week, and the audiences who take the ideas of fat liberation into the outside world. It’s about the emails from people in Sydney and New York angry I haven’t put videos up quick enough. It’s about an international community of queer, fat, trans, feminists that stick two fingers up to anyone who takes umbrage with anyone who is apart of our gang.

Scottee is a performer, artist, broadcaster and director. Hamburger Queen is on from 3-24 April. For more details see: hamburgerqueen.co.uk or follow @ScotteeScottee

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