It’s the 21st century. As women, we can vote, go to work and run the world. We’ve made big steps and that’s great. But what about small steps? Getting jeered at by male co-workers, being inappropriately groped on public transport or simply seeing your boyfriend being handed the bill every time you go out for dinner; these are all incidents the modern day woman still has to endure.
Making us aware of this is Laura Bates’ internet sensation The Everyday Sexism Project. On her site, Bates describes the ethos of the project: “It seems to be increasingly difficult to talk about sexism, equality and women’s rights in a modern society that perceives itself to have achieved gender equality. If you have experienced sexism, just everyday, small, so-used-to-it-you-almost-just-accept-it sexism, please share your story so we can prove how widespread the problem really is. And nobody will be able to say we can’t talk about it anymore.”
The site now has over 25,000 entries from women all over the world, ranging from extreme sexual abuse stories to recounts of humorous sexist remarks. The Everyday Sexism Project also features stories from men frustrated by the way their own gender views the opposite sex. “This time last year, I had an idea. Today, 25,000 women’s voices have turned it into so much more,” Bates says of the surprisingly large response to her site. With a potential book in the pipeline and the project receiving new reports every day, it seems we have a worldwide movement on our hands.
Share your story by visiting everydaysexism.com or tweeting @EverydaySexism today.
After yesterday’s O.C. x Spring Breakers collaboration post, we figured no coverage of Harmony Korine’s latest film would be complete without an official review.
Twin‘s Fashion Director Celestine Cooney decided to check out if this hedonistic flick lives up to its hype. Here her official verdict:
“Opening with an epic beach party, mosh pit montage, the film gives its audience a brief synopsis of what Spring Break actually involves, i.e. suntanned asses and tits being shook in the camera’s face by drunk, beer bong-guzzling teenagers. Basically you get the idea that American kids go absolutely ape-shit.
The casting of Disney teeny boppers like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens was a stroke of genius. It’s always nice to see someone throw all of their Barbies out of the pram and rack up a couple of lines of cocaine on the kitchen table. It’s not entirely original but turning something on its head and being irreverent to any kind of establishment — even if it is Disney — is always going to be cool.
The best thing about Spring Breakers is James Franco. One speech about his toiletries (“I got my Calvin Klein ‘be’, so I all be smelling nice”) was so entertaining, I thought for a minute that his character Alien could quite possibly be inducted into that revered trophy cabinet of places where The Dude from The Big Lebowski and Keyser Soze live. Alien is a corn-rowed, all up in your face golden grill-filled rapper that bails the girls out of jail and so the brief hedonistic Spring Break affair between him and our female quartet is born.
The girls are the real antagonists here, they care for their own but only when their own are rolling with them. You get off the boat and you will be left on the river bank, if you get eaten by a crocodile then it’s nobody’s fault but your own, you can leave at any time but no one is going with you. For all of his bravado, Franco has a vulnerability that makes the girls look heartless. He resembles more of an innocent that gets bundled along on their ride. It’s their world; he’s just living in it and there is much brutality in being a teenage girl.
Even though there were holes and gaps in the story, plus sometimes the repetitive voiceovers made me want put my face in my hands and pretend I was deaf, there were moments where this film was really funny. There was a twisted poignancy to Alien’s character and the girls’ journey that was actually quite moving.
The film can be broken down into a commentary on the way society has floundered, how youth is in revolt, the way the American dream comes crashing down and how we live in a world where the false love economy is king. On the other hand, underage girls running around in pink balaclavas and matching pink bikinis shooting things up and getting wasted is pretty entertaining in itself — and you always have Franco to make you forget any of the icky bits.”
For the past five years, London-based photographer Jo Metson Scott has been travelling back and forth to America, photographing and speaking with US marines who spoke out against the invasion of Iraq. The resulting project The Grey Line combines photographs and words in an attempt to examine the personal struggles of men and women grappling with doubt on the frontlines of the “War on Terror”.
Below are some exclusive previews taken from Jo’s scrapbook, where she’s documented the journeys, stories and testimonies of men and women who spoke out about their doubts at varying consequences.
The Grey Line will be published and exhibited in 2013 to coincide with the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq a decade ago.
Taking gloss to task, nothing seems to slip through the watching eye of the Vagenda team. Launched in February this year, Vagenda is made up of a collection of anonymous industry moles, as well as recent graduates.
Whether it’s hilariously showing the way stock photos reinforce gender stereotypes, or lampooning the predictability of women’s magazine features, Vagenda are a sharp and funny redress to the all too often complacent way what women want to read is construed in mainstream media.
Twin spoke to Vagenda’s editor about their work and world…
Who and what is the Vagenda?
The Vagenda takes a humorous look at the women’s magazine industry and how it perpetuates anti-feminist stereotypes. We feel that laughter is the best weapon. In terms of who, well, we are a group of girls in our twenties living in London. Holly and I edit it and came up with the concept but the others have been instrumental in providing hilarious and witty content for the blog and producing great ideas. Most of us went to uni together. However, since the blog launched and became so popular we’ve had contributors from all over the world- EVEN MEN!
What’s your earliest feminist memory?
Mine personally was being a toddler in London’s Dartmouth Park and a much older boy (he must have been about six) asking me, “Are you a boy or a girl?” My mum had just given me a pudding bowl haircut and I remember feeling outraged. I’m sure the others all have their own memories too.
What do you feel is wrong with modern women’s media, mags etc? It’s our feeling that the content alienates a lot of women. It’s very body focused and a lot of the time pretty stupid. The way female celebrities are portrayed, especially when they are going through some kind of crisis and trauma, is often cruel. There’s little to no focus on politics or art or music, or any of the fun stuff we like doing.
What makes the Vagenda team angry? We all vary. We try to steer away from polemic on the site as it can be alienating, but obviously women’s mags drive us crazy a lot of the time. We also had a really terrible night out in Soho not long ago where the DJ at Punk nightclub was urging women to flash their “gash for cash”. We were pretty angry about that, and one of us cried. The way rape cases are reported in the press is also incredibly anger inducing.
What three changes would make the world a better place? Only three? That’s a tough question as there are so many changes that need to be made and women in the developing world are being treated appallingly. For this country, however:
1/ A greater understanding on the part of men that the division of domestic labour is still pretty unequal. We’re the ones who are still, in the main part, having to scrub the toilet bowl, yet often this type of women’s “work” goes unrecognized. Equal pay and more flexible working hours would be nice, too.
2/ Better sex education in schools. It’s mostly crap and if young women are growing up with their only source of this information being women’s magazines, of course they are going to start subscribing to a manufactured version of female sexuality.
3/ We’d obviously like it if the media started giving a more balanced view of women and femininity. And we’re going to keep calling them out on it and laughing at them until they are embarrassed into doing it.
Who are Vagenda’s heroes?
We have so many. The UK is fortunate in that we have many incredible women journalists who are already out there giving the patriarchy hell. We love Eva Wiseman, Suzanne Moore, Caitlin Moran, Harriet Walker, Helen Lewis, Laurie Penny, Hadley Freeman, Rosamund Urwin. For every great woman journalist, however, there seem to be umpteen ones who don’t give a toss about female equality and instead write complete and utter drivel, which is sad.
What’s Vagenda’s approach to fashion?
Each of us has a different approach. I’d say a lot of us wear vintage and secondhand clothes, but some wear high street too. I personally have been boycotting Topshop for over a year now but I don’t know about the others. I used to have a bit of a shopping addiction and my house is so full I have no need to shop anymore. Fashion is great as a tool for personal expression, but that’s not to say that there aren’t aspects of the industry that make me feel a bit sick. Those flowery trousers, for example. We all have some pretty mental garments tucked away and that’s fine. But when a magazine is actively trying to get you to look mental, then there is a problem.
What does the future look like?
Not vagina-shaped, that’s for sure. At the moment, it’s a cross between Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, Orwell’s 1984 and the Handmaid’s Tale. In other words, pretty shit. But we’re staying chipper and fighting the power in our own small way.
Publisher and bookshop Persephone Books has a strict remit; female writers – mostly neglected ones – from the early Twentieth Century.
In 1983 Persephone founder Nicola Beauman wrote A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1914-39. Sixteen years later, many of the writers she had discussed were still out of print, so she decided to do something about it. In 1999 Persephone was born and thirteen years on and Beauman hasn’t wavered in her mission to retell old stories to new audiences.
With 96 books to choose from, Twin asks Persephone for their recommendations…
A book for Spring…
We think our upcoming titles Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins, and Virginia Woolf’s posthumously edited A Writer’s Diary will make great Spring reads – both out on the 19 April.
A book to make you laugh…
Without doubt Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – No. 21 -. This is a hilarious fairy-tale account of a dowdy governess’ accidental encounter with a glamorous night club singer. Although those with a dryer sense of humour might prefer Julia Strachey’s short novel, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.
A book to make you cry…
You’d have to have heart of stone not to cry at Still Missing – a book you wont be able to put down. William: An Englishman – No. 1 – is also extremely emotional, as it brings home the terrible human cost of the First World War through the fate of one very ordinary English couple.
A book that will shock you… Margarita Laski’s To Bed With Grand Music – No. 86 – follows the protagonist, Deborah, as she sleeps her way round London, completely debunking the cosy myth of women patiently keeping the home fires burning while their husbands were fighting on the front line.
A book about style… High Wages by Dorothy Whipple – No. 85 – is about a young woman who sets up her own dress shop in a northern town around the time of the First World War.
It includes some really interesting details about fashion and style in the period, and explores different women’s responses to the opening up of different opportunities both in terms of how they can dress and how they can make their mark on the world.
A book for living in the city…
Farewell Leicester Square by Betty Miller – No. 14 – or Helen Ashton’s Bricks and Mortar – No. 49 – are great books about London in the first half of the twentieth century.
A book to expand your mind… Round About a Pound a Week – No. 79 – and the suffragette novel No Surrender – No.94 -both explore different but equally important aspects of women’s lives before the First World War.
A book you won’t be able to put down… Still Missing – No. 88 – by Beth Gutcheon is literally impossible to put down. It is a beautifully written and extremely tense novel about a little boy who goes missing from his Boston home. We both cried when we read it. A lot.
Currently on show at the KK Outlet, Words of Wisdom is the second exhibition from the W Project. Launched to coincide with International Women’s Day with the noble aim of celebrating, connecting and inspiring women across the creative industries, Loren Platt and Teo Connor asked a mix of female talent to contribute an answer on a postcard to the question – what are your words of wisdom?
On Saturday night they also held a symposium dinner where filmmakers Quentin Jones and Kathryn Ferguson spoke about their work and Rhonda and Lulu of the Darkroom enlightened and inspired guests by telling the story of starting out and setting up their beautiful shop on Lamb’s Conduit Street. All round wise words and wisdom from creative women. Thank you W Project.
If you haven’t already, head down to the Southbank Centre and check out the Women of the World festival. For the second year running, Artistic Director Jude Kelly has put together a rich and inspiring schedule of readings, talks and performances.
“Throughout history, many women’s achievements have gone unnoticed or unsung,” says Kelly. “I created WOW to celebrate the formidable power of women to make change happen, to remind us of our history, to draw attention to injustice, to enjoy each other’s company and to encourage men to add their support as we set out to achieve a fairer world.”
With events featuring names such as Natasha Walter, Bidisha, Emeli Sande and Annie Lennox, we reckon it’ll be pretty difficult to ignore the female talent busting out of the Royal Festival Hall this weekend.
Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival is on until March 11th 2012. For the full schedule of events visit southbankcentre.co.uk/wow
Look at your calendar. Today is March 8th. For over 100 years, today is when women across the world come together to celebrate and shout about women and issues affecting women.
Author and journalist Kira Cochrane was the Guardian’s women’s editor from 2006 to 2010. She also edited an anthology of Guardian feminist writing, Women of the Revolution, which is out on paperback today.
Twin caught up with Kira to talk about how things have changed for women…
What did you discover about feminism and the way it’s changed from editing Women of the Revolution?
Looking at the history of feminism over the last forty years, what’s interesting is how many of the issues essentially remain the same, even if they’ve shifted and hopefully improved in the meantime. In the Seventies there was huge concern about sexual violence, abortion rights, equal pay, political representation, and there still is today. Also, the attitudes we have to challenge – in ourselves as much as anyone – stay similar, and there’s something powerful in realising that. One of the pieces I love in the anthology is by Jill Tweedie, from 1971, when she writes that women have to fight “the continual and largely unconscious compulsion to be nice”. I think that message is as relevant as ever!
Can you remember your first meaningful contact with feminism? When and what was it?
It was really the example of my mother. I grew up in a pretty non-political household in Essex – I don’t think my mother’s ever referred to herself as a feminist, and we didn’t have political conversations or anything like that – but it was a really political situation. My father died of a heart attack when I was two, my brother was run over and killed when he was eight and I was six, my younger brother was born with serious learning disabilities, which mean he’ll always have to be looked after, and my mother had a major rift with her family, and stopped talking to them almost thirty years ago.
She’d left school at sixteen, and I’ve watched her, throughout my life, work exceptionally hard to look after me and my brother, as a single mother, often working minimum wage jobs (in the days before there was a minimum wage – so we’re talking REALLY minimal!). That provided a pretty awe-inspiring example of female strength. It impressed on me just how powerful women can be, and also how important it is for us to have financial and emotional independence, and a society that values women’s work, while supporting people of both sexes, all backgrounds, when they’re hit by circumstances beyond their control.
What are the main issues affecting women’s rights today that particularly provoke you?
What still really shocks me is the high incidence of rape and sexual assault – and the low incidence of convictions on those charges. I’m as enraged as ever by that.
Have you perceived a change in the way women will identify as feminist in recent years?
Over the past five or ten years it seems the number of young women identifying as feminist has soared – there have been so many great feminist voices appearing online, and I think they’ve underlined how relevant, how current, all these issues still are. I think there was a moment, back in the Ninenties, when there was huge talk of us living in a ‘post-feminist’ age, and women were embarrassed to call themselves feminists, worried they’d be seen as hairy of armpit and dour of personality, but we seem to be beyond that backlash now. I think now too, when we ARE hairy, we’re hairy and proud!
Why is International Women’s Day important?
Obviously, in an ideal world, there would be no need to have a single day set aside for women, but given the issues still facing us, it’s a great opportunity for conversation, activism, performances, campaigning. I became women’s editor of the Guardian in 2006, and there seemed a lot of activity back then, but nothing compared with the explosion of events taking place this year.
What will you be doing on International Women’s Day?
I’ll be interviewing people for a feminist piece I’m writing, and then attending whatever events I can around that. On Friday and Sunday, I’m appearing on panels at the Women of the World festival on London’s Southbank, and I’ll be trying to see as much as I can there too, because it’s a great programme they’ve put together.
What artists/writers/musicians do you admire for promoting female creativity and issues?
So many! Not all of them would define themselves as feminist, but on the art side, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Yoko Ono, Susan Hiller, the Guerrilla Girls, Alice Neel, Louise Bourgeois, Gillian Wearing. I went to New York last year, and made a small pilgrimage to see Judy Chicago’s great feminist work, The Dinner Party, on long-term display at the Brooklyn Museum. That’s some proper Seventies feminist goodness!
In terms of writers, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott, Maya Angelou, Zadie Smith, Muriel Spark, and Paula Fox. I remember being profoundly moved by Andrea Dworkin’s memoir Heartbreak, and I had never really understood the true meaning of the phrase ‘mind-bending’ until I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House last year. That last book is extraordinary, as is Jackson’s short story The Lottery, and her final novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
When it comes to musicians, I’d say Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Bjork, Sinead O’Connor, The Breeders and Tina Turner. I love the way Beth Ditto has spoken about her feminism, and I still love the anger and energy of Liz Phair’s 1993 album Exile in Guyville all these years later.
And then there are the women filmmakers – too many good ones to mention them all, but Nicole Holofcener for making truly grown-up films, Kim Longinotto for making intensely powerful documentaries, and Claire Denis for making really startling, beautiful work.
Which writer would you point young women curious about feminism in the direction of?
I’ve spoken to a lot of women recently who had never really encountered feminism, who have absolutely loved Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman, and found it a brilliant introduction to all sorts of ideas. I also think it’s worth checking out Jessica Valenti’s books; Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy; and Living Dolls by Natasha Walter. And one of the reasons I had for putting Women of the Revolution together in the first place was to create a book full of serious ideas, and excellent writers, so that people could discover them and decide who they wanted to read more widely. So many women who have inspired me are in there: Susan Brownmiller, Nawal El Saadawi, bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Joan Smith, to name just a few.
What are you working on next?
I have about 1500 ideas for feminist articles, so I’m just working my way through those – also, plans for another feminist book, and a couple of novels, so it’s a question, as ever, of working out what there’s time for, and then seeing what sticks!
KIRA COCHRANE is the editor of Women of the Revolution (Guardian Books, £9.99) out today. She is a features writer for the Guardian and co-edited the anthology of women’s journalism, Cupcakes and Kalashnikovs. @KiraCochrane
For the relaunch of Vogue Paris’ website this week, editor Emmanuelle Alt took an approach Twin can’t imagine many other Vogue editors braving. Clearly unafraid to embrace her silly side, Alt has enlisted top models, Karmen Pedaru, Kendra Spears, Jasmine Tookes and Anja Rubik, as back-up dancers for her retake on Wham!’s Eighties classic, Wake Me Up, substituting slogan tees for Vogue t-shirts.
With the spotlight firmly online, it seems a fitting time to announce Twin’s own soon to be unveiled web redesign. While we can’t promise any George Michael, we know you’re going to love the newlook Twin website. Just watch this space…
For fashion students, photography lovers and art fanatics, Claire de Rouen’s bookshop, hidden away above a sex shop on Charing Cross Road, was an oasis of rare prints, signed editions and fledgling publications. A larger than life character, with her striking ageless style and ever present alsation pug Otis, Claire’s passing last week after a prolonged illness is a loss to all who prize independence and personality and to those resisting the creeping tide of a homogeneous culture.
There was room for everyone in her shop, all were free to browse or buy, and on her shelves young talent jostled happily alongside huge names. Twin can only thank and pay our respects to a woman who strove to deliver the best and allow the young to flourish.