feminism

“I’m Not Interested In Moaning That All Men Are Hard Done By” – A Defence of Women Only Spaces

2000px-Williamsburg_restroom_sign_cropped.svgIt seems like one of those debates that never ends: are woman only spaces empowering or discriminatory? Are they valuable or dated and unnecessary? Do they build bonds, or build walls?

We hear a lot from men who are against the concept, but bi activist Grant Denkinson is not one of them.

I’m a bisexual cisgender man and if women choose women-only spaces that is their business and not mine.

However, some people might be interested in my opinions including other men processing how they feel:

The first thing I think of is feeling excluded; unwanted; not allowed in. I’m a bit sensitive to that sort of thing as many of us are. I might feel a bit frustrated or annoyed.  One of the things I’ve learned from polyamory is to stop a moment and take notice of feelings like jealousy; This might be a similar feeling. I… Continue reading

You Didn't Hear it from Us 13/6/15

Laverne_Cox_at_Paley_Fest_Orange_Is_The_New_BlackHere’s a round-up of some of the news, blogs posts and comment we missed this week.

 

Did we miss any other must-see stories? Let us know in comments…

Image:  “Actress Laverne Cox at The Paley Center For Media’s PaleyFest 2014 Honoring “Orange Is The New Black”” by Dominic D. Shared under CC BY 2.0. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Bessie Smith: Bisexual Icon

Besse posterHBO is in post-production on Bessie (dir Dee Rees, teleplay Christopher Cleveland), the Bessie Smith biopic and the LGBT community have fired up their pens to begin writing commentary. With Queen Latifah in the title role,  Mo’Nique playing Ma Rainey and Michael Kenneth Williams as Jack Gee there’s a lot to be excited about, especially as Bessie provides a fine opportunity to raise Bessie Smith to her rightful place as a keystone in our collective history. Autostraddle recently described her as a ‘queer pioneer’;  I say, that’s not good enough. She was not just queer. She was bisexual in every sense of the word. This is our opportunity as the bisexual community to speak up and claim her as our bisexual icon. She is a part of our legacy and in many ways was the original, bisexual, black feminist.

Bessie Smith was someone whose life and lyrics presented a challenge to the established order.  She was a rebel before rebelliousness became popular in mainstream America and she was most definitely bisexual.

Shiri Eisner tells us in Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, ‘bisexuality holds an enormous potential for subversion and disruption of the patriarchy’. Bessie Smith was the embodiment of this ‘enormous potential’. She performed songs about men, she married men, and still she chose to be with women as well. In her songs one can hear her deep distrust of the worst parts of normative in the early 20th century masculinity. Masculinity, as it has been defined in our patriarchal society, has always worked to uphold the dominance of men; Bessie Smith undermined that dominance both in her songs and in her personal life.
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You Didn't Hear it from us 11.04.15

Bessiesmith3Here’s a round-up of some of the news, blogs posts and comment we missed this week.

Did we miss any other must-see stories? Let us know in comments…

 

Image: “Bessiesmith3” by Carl Van Vechten… Continue reading

No laughing matter: Sexism on the comedy circuit

no-girls-allowedWhat do you call a woman at a comedy club? The waitress.

I recently experienced some old school, 50s-style sexism at the hands of an award-winning London comedy club. Don Draper didn’t pinch my bottom. I wasn’t thrown out of the board room. I was kept out of a less glamorous room – the upstairs of a north London pub.

A little bit of background – I’m not a professional comedian. I’m entirely new to the world of comedy, having just done a beginners course, and I’m trying to book a few London gigs and make performing a semi regular hobby. I’d heard that this club (which shall remain nameless) runs a well respected new acts night. When they told me that they were fully-booked for the foreseeable future it wasn’t particularly surprising – clearly lots of people want to get on the bill there. But then the surprising thing happened. Three male friends who had done the comedy course with me were given spots, despite having asked after I was told no.

So what does a girl do in this situation? Well firstly, I obsessed that I had somehow come across as an unfunny idiot in my initial email, and that’s why they’d said no. Then I went into detective mode. I set up a new email account under a male name, emailed the club pretending to be a completely new person, and waited. Lo and behold, my male alter ego was given a spot, no questions asked.
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"Risky changes": A coming out story – Part 2

RCchap7twowomen2Bisexual artist Norma Furman, 80, shares the second of a series of extracts from her memoirs. In Part 2, the cracks begin to show in Norma’s relationship with her first female lover, Audrey, when they embark on an action-packed road trip in Audrey’s husband’s car…

I joined Audrey’s consciousness raising group where women from different lifestyles met weekly to discuss and share feelings and experiences most women have in common. It opened my eyes and my mind. The unmarried women and the ones without children envied those of us who had the “traditional” family, while we longed for the freedom we had given up. We knew we had it better than any other generation of women in history (except for maybe the primitive matriarchal societies) but questioned why that was supposed to be good enough. Why were our rights not equal with the men? Why would a just, fair God or a just, fair society for that matter give one group of humans fewer opportunities than another group? Especially if that other group consisted of their own mothers, sisters, daughters and lovers.

Some of the rights that were denied to us in those days were important like “equal pay for equal work” and “equal physical activity programs”. Some of the rights that were denied to us were silly, seemed arbitrary and made no sense such as: we could smoke cigarettes but we could not inhale from cigars or pipes, we had to wear short skirts and shear stockings in the dead of winter when the winds blew our skirts and often revealed our frozen “tootsies” and we were called “immodest” if we wore slacks!
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