Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.

CUNT TODAY

Why today is as much about Reeva Steenkamp as Oscar Pistorius

Posted 18 hours ago by in news

This morning the world is focusing on Oscar Pistorius and the outcome of his murder trial.But at stake is justice for Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he shot dead in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.

The day before she was killed, Ms Steenkamp, 29, posted her support for a campaign urging South Africans to wear black in honour of women raped and killed in the country by their partners.

In the week before her death, she publicly mourned the death of Anene Booysen, a 17-year-old who was gang raped and disembowelled.

And the day after she died, she was scheduled to deliver a speech about domestic abuse - including discussing an abusive relationship she had been in before moving to Johannesburg - to a group of teenage girls.

Null

As Vanity Fair reported in 2013: “It’s ironic that Reeva Steenkamp lost her life at the hands of a man with a gun. She and her mother were passionate, longtime advocates for women suffering from violence and abuse.”

Born in Cape Town in 1983, Ms Steenkamp’s childhood ambition was to be a lawyer and despite graduating in 2005 at the top of her class at law school, an serious accident when she was studying convinced her not to practise law.

Instead, she pursued modelling, moving to Johannesburg. But her friend Kerry Smith told theBBC, she believed that career would not last and the two planned to start a law firm to help abused women.

“She wanted to save everyone, wanted to protect everyone,” Ms Smith said.

Speaking last year, her mother June said Reeva “loved like no one else could love”.

She had so much of herself to give and now all of it is gone. Just like that, she is gone … in the blink of an eye and a single breath, the most beautiful person who ever lived is no longer here

  • June Steenkamp

But her family and friends have insisted her life should not be overshadowed by tragedy, with one telling Hello magazine:

She was not a pretty face or someone’s girlfriend, she was Reeva Steenkamp. She was never in someone’s shadow. She was her own person. That should not be forgotten not by anyone, not for anything.

Ms Steenkamp is survived by her parents Barry and June and older siblings Adam and Simone.


FGM: two young women who woke up world and forced politicians to act

Fahma Mohamed in UK and Jaha Dukureh in US have led global debate on female genital mutilation and movement to end it.
Jaha Dukureh
Jaha Dukureh at the Girl Summit, hosted in London by the UK and Unicef to mobilise international efforts to end female genital mutilation and child marriage. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

In February this year Fahma Mohamed was a 17-year-old student studying for her A-levels in Bristol. One of nine girls from a British Somali family she was, by her own account, not one for the spotlight. Over in Atlanta, Georgia, Jaha Dukureh, a 24-year-old woman originally from the Gambia, was juggling a full-time job in a bank with motherhood.

Six months later these two young women, who have led Guardian-backed campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic, have found themselves at the heart of the movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM) – a movement that in recent months has, astonishingly, put girls’ issues at the very top of the political agenda.

At the historic Girl Summit in London this week, the prime minister, David Cameron, announced that the government would legally oblige teachers, doctors and social workers to report FGM, train professionals and criminalise parents if they failed to protect their children. Ministers from Somalia to Burkina Faso vowed to stamp out FGM – a traditional practice that involves the removal of a girl’s outer sexual organs – while the Obama administration confirmed it would be carrying out the first study for 17 years into the number of girls and women living with FGM in the US.

So, how did the fight against FGM, described by Germaine Greer in the late 1990s as "an attack on cultural identity", become front page news, endorsed by the prime minister and acknowledged by the White House?

"I think there was a collective dawning that this was not a cultural issue to be tiptoed around – we were talking about girls having their genitals cut off," says Lib Dem international development minister Lynne Featherstone, a staunch campaigner in the government’s ranks. "The sisterhood marched, the media marched with them, and the men joined in behind."

Fahma MohamedFahma Mohamed became the face of the campaign against FGM in which the Guardian teamed up with Change.org. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

On the wall of the Orchid project, a London charity dedicated to ending FGM, is a series of newspaper cuttings that reveal how the movement to stamp out the practice – which affects more than 130,000 women in England and Wales, according to new figures – has gained momentum. “On the UN’s international day against FGM in 2011 we got one story in the Observer, and that was it,” says Ruthie Taylor. “This year, it was everywhere, including the front page of the Guardian. It’s unbelievable how things have changed.”

Mohamed, who found herself on that front page as the face of a ground-breaking campaign in which the Guardian teamed up with Change.org, says it took on a life of its own. The petition became Change.org’s fastest growing UK petition and within days had gathered more than 230,000 signatures. “I was just in awe of how many people supported us,” she says. “In the past it was such a slog fighting against something that people didn’t even know existed. Lots of people denied it was happening – they didn’t like girls speaking up for one another. Now finally people were listening.”

Within days of the launch the then education secretary Michael Gove had agreed to a meeting, and soon met demands to write to all teachers in England and Wales about FGM. Then Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who called Fahma her sister in a fight for girls’ rights, backed the petition, and Fahma received a call to meet UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who called her an inspiration.

Appearing this week with fellow members of Integrate Bristol at the Girl Summit was a “beautiful moment”, she adds. “It really made me feel like we are part of something, and together we can do it.”

Keen to enhance the success of the UK campaign, the Guardian contacted Dukureh, a survivor of FGM in Atlanta who had started her own petition in the US with Equality Now, calling for action on FGM from the Obama administration. When the petition was relaunched on May 12the impact was immediate.

"Before the Guardian got on board we were getting maybe 10 signatures a day, then suddenly it was 1,000, " says Dukureh. "It was exactly what we needed." Within a month more than 50 members of Congress joined the campaign and Dukureh met with officials at the departments of justice and education. This week, while Dukureh was in London for theGirl Summit, the Obama administration quietly announced that it would carry out a study into FGM and had set up a working group – a key demand of her campaign. Fellow campaigner Mohamed was one of the first to fly into her arms. “I went crazy with her,” says the teenager. “As soon as we met it was like there was a bond between us, like we were part of the same sisterhood.”

(Left - right) Prime Minister David Cameron, Chantal Compaore the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Sheikh Hasina the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and activist Malala Yousafzai during the Girl Summit 2014 at Walworth Academy, London.David Cameron, Burkina Faso’s first lady, Chantal Compaoré, PM of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and education activist Malala Yousafzai. Photograph: Oli Scarff/PA

That youthful energy – palpable at the Girl Summit when Malala was welcomed on stage like a rock star – has played a critical role in getting politicians to listen, said Equality Now's Efua Dorkenoo, a long-time campaigner. “A lot of strategic work has been done for many years behind the scenes,” she says. “But I think it is that second generation requesting to be protected that has pushed it on to a higher agenda and emboldened the politicians to take action.” News organisations that have campaigned on the issue, including the Guardian and the London Evening Standard, as well as broader media coverage, has also caught the attention of the public and politicians, she said.

One such second-generation campaigner is Nimko Ali, a co-founder of charity Daughters of Eve. She also credits female politicians, such asFeatherstone and Justine Greening at Dfid at DfID and Jane Ellison in the Department of Health, who have passionately taken up the cause. “Those gutsy women have made a difference,” she says. “At the Girl Summit Nick Clegg and David Cameron just came along and announced the policies they’d fought for. People said it was just a political move getting more women into the cabinet, but it does make a difference.”

While the push to end FGM has been welcomed by campaigners, some have urged caution at rushing through well-intentioned but potentially ill-thought out policies. The Royal College of General Practitioners wrote to the Guardian this week warning that legal sanctions against health professionals who fail to report FGM could be counterproductive, and may discourage women who have been cut from seeing a doctor. “FGM is a terrible crime, but we must think about the unintended consequences and whether this could be driven underground,” said Nigel Mathers, secretary of the RCGP. Sarah McCulloch, who runs a grassroots FGM support service in Sheffield, has already received worried calls from professionals. “What worries me is that after the hard work of encouraging young people to challenge the issues, they may be driven them back into silence if they feel that they may put their parents at risk or arrest,” she says.

But campaigners are confident that, while huge challenges remain – more than 130m women are living with FGM around the world and another three million every year are at risk – the global community as a whole is moving in the right direction. Campaigning from grassroots organisations, agencies such as Unicef, and larger NGOs such as Equality Now and Plan International are getting results throughout the world.

A UN resolution banned FGM in December 2012, and by the time of its Status of Women conference in March 2013, 25 African countries had outlawed cutting. Mohamed, who will continue to push for FGM awareness to be taught in UK schools, is optimistic about the future. “I know great things are going to come after this,” she says. “It’s like being on a rollercoaster, but we just keep on going up. There’s no going back down for us now.”

Fahma Mohamed

Fahma Mohamed was born in Bristol in 1996, the eldest of nine girls born to Somali parents. The 17-year-old student at City Academy Bristol (CAB) is a trustee of Integrate Bristol, a Bristol-based charity set up by teacher Lisa Zimmermann. She was not cut herself, but comes from an affected community. Fahma agreed to becoming the face of the Guardian’s campaign, because she wanted people to take more notice of FGM. “I don’t think any of us realised how big it would be,” she says. “We were just so happy that people were finally listening.” Since starting the campaign Mohamed has spoken to press around the world, has met Michael Gove and other senior politicians and was recently invited to Buckingham Palace to meet princes William and Harry. “A few months ago I would have fainted,” she says. “But now I’m not intimidated by anyone and, if it’s possible, I’m even more passionate than before.”

Jaha Dukureh

Jaha Dukureh was born in Gambia, and went through the most severe form of FGM as a baby. Her clitoris and labia were removed, and she was sewn up so that only a small hole remained. The 24-year-old mother of three was pushed into an arranged marriage at 15 and moved to New York, where she was “re-opened” so that her husband could have sex with her. She fled the marriage and moved to Atlanta, where she remarried, put herself through college, and set up her own NGO,Safe Hands for Girls. She recently gave up her job as a banking adviser, after receiving her first grant of $20,000, but does not yet receive enough funding to pay herself. “The day after the campaign launch I went home and blasted Beyoncé’s I Was Here,” she remembers. “I felt like my whole life was out there but it was worth it – suddenly people were talking about this. I could see the impact it was having, not only in the US but with people in Africa and back in Gambia. I felt fortunate to make a difference. You know – I was here.”

One night a few weeks ago, I sat at a beat-up table in Neukölln across from two friends and said to them in a subdued but resolute tone that if a man raped me, I would castrate him. The two men almost choked on their beers. No one laughed. If they can’t control their dicks, I continued, paraphrasing an essay by Sarah Nicole Prickett, they don’t deserve them. They looked at each other uneasily, thought fleetingly about arguing back, then quietly settled back into their chairs, albeit with a different posture, one more dormantly aware of a part that could be lost. Good, I thought, women have lost so much already.
There has always been an undertone of wild and unwieldy rage to feminism, a bra-burning, misandrous disquiet that alienates those not immediately within its purview. The primary feeling one gets reading SALT.’s recently launched Manifesto issue is of rage, at once focused and untamed, cleverly instrumental and yet unapologetically tempestuous. The thin book, less than 50 pages in total, reads like a punch to the face. Does my rage scare you? it seems to ask. It should.
‘let’s pretend he’s alive’ by Kay Law and Giulia Tommasi.

There is no revolution without free love, as Milena Dravic’s character yells from her courtyard in W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, but there is also no revolution without bloodshed, and sometimes the blood shed is of language itself. “What SALT. does, wants to do, and encourages, as a political project, is a wilful misreading of dominant culture to serve our own ends,” write its editors in a manifesto-like editorial letter that precedes the tangle of manifestos that follow. “To wilfully misread is to deliberately defy,” they continue, referring to the “writing out” of feminist work throughout history and at the same time to the very nucleus of revolution, which is nothing if not a wilful misreading of future possibility.
Abandoning the potential of physical violence, perhaps not so much ideologically as logistically, SALT.’sManifesto turns to language as the site of revolution. “In a climate where traditional modes of articulating refusal through physical action become criminalised or dangerous,” the editors write, “language, and furthermore what can be done with it, becomes the only potent weapon left.” Instead, SALT. turns (or returns) to José Muñoz’s conception of utopia as the acts of failed speech, as the incomprehensible speaking in tongues that epitomises all of history’s witches and all of pop culture’s women under the influence.
‘Tongue’ by Jala Wahid.

In ‘Notes on Wildness: Towards a Manifesto [1]‘, found in SALT.’s Manifesto, Jack Halberstam writes: “The Wild, in this manifesto, will stand for an unrestrained, un-civilised, disorderly, ferocious and anti-colonial relation to thought and to being.” If patriarchy subsists as structural violence, Halberstam continues, the first move, it follows, is to dismantle the structure, to upset the imagined order of language so that the “wild may arrive and touch you, wound you, find your core”.
The wild that Halberstam invokes knots its way through the poems of Vicki Tingle – a savage ode to castration called ‘i dare you to oppress me some more (a think-piece on dick-chopping)’, the quietly devastating ‘Play Pussy and Get Fucked’, and the brilliant ‘GPOY’, which brings the totally faultless line “um excuse me, would like some hetero sex with your oppression? – through Hannah Regel and Freya Field-Donovan’s ‘Parasite Manifesto’ and Eve Lacey’s ‘Manifesto Medusa’, and through the methodical absurdity of Villa Design Group’s ‘VDG Manifesto’.
Contributor Vicki Tingle reading at SALT. Manifesto issue launch.

It abandons the clear narrative structure of language, turning instead to the unrestrained glossalia of writers like Clarice Lispector. They are, as Mali Collins writes in her poem ‘On a Manifesto’, only responding to what the world gives them, which “isn’t that much”. When Field-Donovan and Regel write in Parasite Manifesto “the ways in which we…relate to our futurity resembles a performance of disclosure; a betrayal of good faith. We understand that this seems cruel, and it is,” it is a necessary cruelty of which they speak. It is a quiet, defying one in response to the deafening cruelty women live, echoing the sentiment of a post-it note found towards the end of Manifesto that simply reads: “Her work was to be but one long scream.” **
SALT. Issue 6: Manifesto, edited by Saira Harvey, Hannah Regel, Thea Smith and Jala Wahid, was published by Montez Press in August, 2014.

One night a few weeks ago, I sat at a beat-up table in Neukölln across from two friends and said to them in a subdued but resolute tone that if a man raped me, I would castrate him. The two men almost choked on their beers. No one laughed. If they can’t control their dicks, I continued, paraphrasing an essay by Sarah Nicole Prickett, they don’t deserve them. They looked at each other uneasily, thought fleetingly about arguing back, then quietly settled back into their chairs, albeit with a different posture, one more dormantly aware of a part that could be lost. Good, I thought, women have lost so much already.

There has always been an undertone of wild and unwieldy rage to feminism, a bra-burning, misandrous disquiet that alienates those not immediately within its purview. The primary feeling one gets reading SALT.’s recently launched Manifesto issue is of rage, at once focused and untamed, cleverly instrumental and yet unapologetically tempestuous. The thin book, less than 50 pages in total, reads like a punch to the face. Does my rage scare you? it seems to ask. It should.

'let's pretend he's alive' by Kay Law and Giulia Tommasi.

‘let’s pretend he’s alive’ by Kay Law and Giulia Tommasi.

There is no revolution without free love, as Milena Dravic’s character yells from her courtyard in W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, but there is also no revolution without bloodshed, and sometimes the blood shed is of language itself. “What SALT. does, wants to do, and encourages, as a political project, is a wilful misreading of dominant culture to serve our own ends,” write its editors in a manifesto-like editorial letter that precedes the tangle of manifestos that follow. “To wilfully misread is to deliberately defy,” they continue, referring to the “writing out” of feminist work throughout history and at the same time to the very nucleus of revolution, which is nothing if not a wilful misreading of future possibility.

Abandoning the potential of physical violence, perhaps not so much ideologically as logistically, SALT.’sManifesto turns to language as the site of revolution. “In a climate where traditional modes of articulating refusal through physical action become criminalised or dangerous,” the editors write, “language, and furthermore what can be done with it, becomes the only potent weapon left.” Instead, SALT. turns (or returns) to José Muñoz’s conception of utopia as the acts of failed speech, as the incomprehensible speaking in tongues that epitomises all of history’s witches and all of pop culture’s women under the influence.

'Tongue' by Jala Wahid.

‘Tongue’ by Jala Wahid.

In ‘Notes on Wildness: Towards a Manifesto [1]‘, found in SALT.’s Manifesto, Jack Halberstam writes: “The Wild, in this manifesto, will stand for an unrestrained, un-civilised, disorderly, ferocious and anti-colonial relation to thought and to being.” If patriarchy subsists as structural violence, Halberstam continues, the first move, it follows, is to dismantle the structure, to upset the imagined order of language so that the “wild may arrive and touch you, wound you, find your core”.

The wild that Halberstam invokes knots its way through the poems of Vicki Tingle – a savage ode to castration called ‘i dare you to oppress me some more (a think-piece on dick-chopping)’, the quietly devastating ‘Play Pussy and Get Fucked’, and the brilliant ‘GPOY’, which brings the totally faultless line “um excuse me, would like some hetero sex with your oppression? – through Hannah Regel and Freya Field-Donovan’s ‘Parasite Manifesto’ and Eve Lacey’s ‘Manifesto Medusa’, and through the methodical absurdity of Villa Design Group’s ‘VDG Manifesto’.

Contributor Vicki Tingle reading at Manifesto issue launch.

Contributor Vicki Tingle reading at SALT. Manifesto issue launch.

It abandons the clear narrative structure of language, turning instead to the unrestrained glossalia of writers like Clarice Lispector. They are, as Mali Collins writes in her poem ‘On a Manifesto’, only responding to what the world gives them, which “isn’t that much”. When Field-Donovan and Regel write in Parasite Manifesto “the ways in which we…relate to our futurity resembles a performance of disclosure; a betrayal of good faith. We understand that this seems cruel, and it is,” it is a necessary cruelty of which they speak. It is a quiet, defying one in response to the deafening cruelty women live, echoing the sentiment of a post-it note found towards the end of Manifesto that simply reads: “Her work was to be but one long scream.” **

SALT. Issue 6: Manifesto, edited by Saira Harvey, Hannah Regel, Thea Smith and Jala Wahid, was published by Montez Press in August, 2014.

Talk – Taking Up Space: Women Only Shows with the East London Fawcett Group

30 September 201419.00—21.00

Contemporary Art Society
59 Central Street
London EC1V 3AF

Free and open to all

The East London Fawcett Group’s latest audit found that though women make up 60% of art graduates they only account for 31% of gallery represented artists. With this in mind what are the cultural benefits of women only shows and alternative type of affirmative action? How does this type of approach impact artists? Do they affect them positively or negatively? Are potential fears of a backlash justified? Or would affirmative action in fact solve many of the current discriminatory practices in the art world? This panel will debate these questions, bringing together the voices of artists, curators and critics and opening up a space for a dialogical rather than conclusive exchange.

Speakers include: Iwona Blazwick – Director, The Whitechapel Gallery; Sonia Boyce – Artist;Caroline Douglas – Director, Contemporary Art Society; Ann Gallagher – Curator and Head of Collections, Tate; Professor Hilary Robinson – Dean of Art and Design, Middlesex University and author of Feminist-Art-Theory: An Anthology 1968-2000Vanessa Jackson – Artist, former head of The Royal Academy Schools; Elizabeth Neilson – Director of The Zabludowicz Collection and Jennifer Thatcher – Art Critic.

Curated and chaired by artist and activist, Rose Gibbs, on behalf of the East London Fawcett Group.

The East London Fawcett Group is a voluntary, self-organizing group that seeks to promote gender equality. For more on its art program please visit the website www.elf-audit.com, and for its other campaigns please see www.eastlondonfawcett.org.uk

This event is free and open to all but space is limited. To attend please RSVP to info@contemporaryartsociety.org

http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/event/talk-taking-up-space-women-only-shows-with-the-east-london-fawcett-group/

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown What Picture Would They Use’ Sparks A Vulnerable & Potent Discussion On Black Image Portrayal In The Media

gunned-down-belle

Social media has once again proven that when focused, our generation can pull together and launch an unofficial campaign that not only spreads awareness, but paints a picture strong enough to change the dialogue around the representation of Black people in the media–especially as it’s related to the trend of police brutality.

Michael Brown’s shooting not only sparked major outage from the sheer fact of him being gunned down by the police while unarmed, his story was also chopped and screwed by the media, who chose to paint Brown as a dangerous “gang-banging” teen, who perhaps deserved to die because he was a big Black “threat” to police.

The initial image released of Brown after his untimely death was of him in his cap and gown, but since the story picked up steam, media organizations and conservative bloggers are increasingly turning to a photo of Brown clad in a Nike Air jersey and throwing a “gang sign.”

Immediately, images of Trayvon Martin throwing up gang signs, showing off gold grills and smoking weed flooded my mind. The world was ready to see Martin as a dangerous hoodlum who may have deserved his fate. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown is not only a sad commentary on what it means to be Black in America, but also shows that in order to have our own stories correctly reported, we have to do the reporting ourselves. Check out this amazing Op-Ed from our Senior Editor, Nakisha Williams that explores what it means for Black people to be portrayed negatively in the media.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.01.02 AMScreen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.00.53 AMScreen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.00.43 AMScreen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.00.34 AM

Sir James Dyson: ‘It’s sexist to say that women and girls don’t ‘do’ engineering’

Britain is facing an enginering crisis and women - who make up just 8.5 per cent of the workforce - are central to that. Sir James Dyson says it’s critical that we show girls the excitement of a career in STEM from a young age (not just PVA glue and wood)

The future's so bright: from left; Morwenna Cory, Casey Brill, Sky Dennis, Chloe Yip, Samara Villion, Yemisi Osunsami and Sarah Purdy at the RIGB's L'Oreal Young Scientist Centre
We need to encourage more schoolgirls to get excited by engineering and science Photo: PAUL GROVER

Britain is gripped by an engineering skills crisis. In order to plug the yawning gap, we need to double the number of engineering graduates coming out of our universities each year, for the next twenty years. If we don’t? Our high-technology companies will be out-invented by the international competition. Our exports will virtually disappear and our wealth will plummet. We will have lost forever the ability to engineer and make things. It’s a problem that we can’t ignore, but we can’t begin to solve it if we discount half the population based on myth. It is simply not true that women don’t ‘do’ engineering.

Earlier this month Dr Gijsbert Stoet, from the University of Glasgow,claimed that women were biologically disinterested in science: science for the boys, arts for the girls. His view is that men enjoy “things”; while women’s strengths lie in “people”.

I’m sceptical of sweeping generalisations like this. Just as I know plenty of men who can multi-task, I employ scores of female engineers who can invent. Dr Stoet’s declaration is sexist and reinforces the gender stereotype. Women are not wired to dislike engineering.

Engineering has a ‘woman problem’

That stereotype is fuelled by a world obsessed with image, fame, endless celebrity magazines and reality TV shows. We are told that 32 per cent of teenage girls want to be models. Even more want to be ‘famous’. Just 8.5 per cent of the engineers in the UK are women.Research by Girlguiding UK has shown that 62 per cent of 11-21 year-old girls believe STEM is just for boys.

And yet, appearances can be deceiving. More people visit museums than watch football matches. We have an unfashionable latent curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Perhaps we want to be challenged and stimulated.

That’s why scientist Brian Cox’s popular radio series The Infinite Monkey Cageis so popular. He has done much to make science accessible (and has plenty of female admirers). While Countdown’s Rachel Reilly has made working with numbers more attractive. But they’re still heavily outweighed by pop singers, musicians and reality TV stars. Apparently engineering doesn’t have the ‘X Factor’.

Personally, I’m less interested in X-factor than X-projects. Dyson spends over £3m a week on research and development. It’s high tech and exciting, with not a dirty overall in sight. Perhaps that’s why our labs have more female engineers than ever - more than three times the national average. And we want more.

Women graduate engineers at Dyson

The reality of a career in engineering couldn’t be more different to the stereotype. Modern engineering blends creativity, ingenuity and science to solve problems – and create patentable, exportable goods. Not just headline grabbing technologies, but hospital equipment which saves lives, tools which make life easier for those in the developing world and the everyday technologies we take for granted but which keep society moving. It’s exciting to be on the edge of a discovery and iteratively developing it towards commercialisation. There are few professions where your ideas can have such vast impact - and there’s no shortage of problems to be solved.

Ignoring the bleak numbers for a moment, it’s surely obvious that we must do more to attract women into engineering. Female insights are critical to the design process – all sorts of unintended consequences emerge if it is left just to men.The all-male engineering team behind the humble airbag managed to overlook women altogether during development. The results were potentially disastrous. Whereas an airbag might hit a man in the chest, early versions hit a women or a child straight in the chin – they just hadn’t taken into account the smaller dimensions.

It’s a clear reminder that when male and female design engineers work together, the result is usually a superior product.

To encourage girls to get inventing, we need to do more reveal a true picture of engineering at a young age. Between the ages of seven and nine, children develop the key critical reasoning skills essential to engineering. It is during this time that they should be inspired and exposed to hands on making and doing, at school and home. Less Barbie, more building – and an inspiring, modern curriculum to match. As they progress through their education, we need to retain their interest and give them a glimpse into the varied, exciting and challenging life of an engineer.

Design and Technology is the only subject that combines science and math in a practical format and gives students an early insight into engineering. But teaching needs to move away from wooden blocks and PVA glue toward a curriculum that focuses on the latest industry techniques - alongside plenty of sketching, prototyping and creativity. It’s how engineers work in the real world, so teaching must reflect this.

Sir James Dyson

It’s a formula that works. The James Dyson Foundation has teamed-up with the Department for Education on a new curriculum. But it is also, separately, trialling a project with five schools in Bath. Each is provided with a suite of high technology equipment and five hands-on curriculums to work with. Students can sketch out ideas, jump on to a computer and moments later watch a 3D printer create their prototype. Scanners and laser cutters let them engineer individual parts that they can test, change and test again. Last term the students were designing self-propelled vehicles without using fossil fuels. They have tackled design briefs on delivering aid after natural disasters and making life easier for an ageing population.

We’ve seen a 200 per cent uptake in design and technology across these five schools. The pupils suddenly want to be engineers. Interestingly, gender seems irrelevant - this kind of curriculum is exciting whether you’re male or female and, ideally, we won’t have to differentiate in the future.

Hayesfield Girls’ School even had to add an additional GCSE Design and Technology class to the timetable, such was the enthusiasm. A new generation of female inventors is in development.

The results of our prototype curriculum in Bath give me hope. I can only hope that Dr Stoet will revise his view and perhaps visit the schools to see for himself. Given the right opportunities, young women (and men) make career choices based not on their gender, but on an inherent interest and passion.

History has shown time and again that our ingenuity through science and engineering solves problems. Why would young women not want to lead and take part in that exciting adventure?

NEW ART … AND STILL NO WOMEN ARTISTS FEATURED?
The latest show at the Saatchi Gallery has no female artists in its 15 person line up. Coco Mellor commented :
"Yes, very disappointed by the show yesterday. Felt as though they were saying we can only create a platform for one marginalised group at a time, so if the exhibition features mostly black and Latin male artists it precludes the need for female perspectives because the "minority" quotient is already is covered. Asinine."
http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/pangaea/

NEW ART … AND STILL NO WOMEN ARTISTS FEATURED?

The latest show at the Saatchi Gallery has no female artists in its 15 person line up. Coco Mellor commented :

"Yes, very disappointed by the show yesterday. Felt as though they were saying we can only create a platform for one marginalised group at a time, so if the exhibition features mostly black and Latin male artists it precludes the need for female perspectives because the "minority" quotient is already is covered. Asinine."

http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/pangaea/

Not Your Toy: Stop It With The Music Industry Misogyny, Already

Uh. Just uh…

You’d have thought, by now, really, that it didn’t matter what tackle you were or weren’t born with – if you’re feeling it, you can rock as hard as anyone, cock out or never there in the first place. Boy or girl, however you define yourself: it should be no obstacle to playing music to people, to enjoying music with people, to forging a career in this industry of ours.

And yet, there is merchandise like this on sale, by the (deathcore) bands Attila and I Declare War, which rather suggests: women, you’re not welcome (via Sexism And The Second City).

Those shirts mightn’t be fresh to each act’s store, and perhaps they regret them. (That doesn’t exonerate them from being beyond heinous, mind.) But the advert below from sE Electronics, as seen in Sound On Sound magazine earlier this month (July 2014), stirred Hookworms (whose MJ put the image on their Facebook page) into posting a passionate message:

“This is really important – companies need to be challenged on their sexism. The image in this advert of a woman without a head propagates the position of the female as an object in a man’s world to be written on and used to sell a product (a microphone?!).

“I (MJ) am lucky enough to make my living from recording and I want women and girls to also feel comfortable in what is currently a highly male-dominated industry. Images like this advert show we still have a long way to go.”

“A long way to go.” How very depressing. sE countered the various messages of displeasure they inevitably received with a little background on the offending advert for their Magneto microphone, as well as something a bit like an apology, sort of just another advert, but more further fuel for the fire. James Young, MD of sE, wrote: “We believed that by creating a piece of art, we were doing something different, something beautiful, that empowered woman and celebrated the beauty of the female form.”

The “art” that Young refers to, presumably, is the CGI that the image is made of. That’s not a real woman, see. If it was, just imagine! How very sexist that would be. It’s a 3D model – not a de-robed lady with Photoshop tats. Which, obviously, makes it okay. Hmm.

Most people did not agree.And some wrote even more words on the topic, like here and here. I popped the ad onto my Facebook wall to see if any of my friends agreed that it was, indeed, an “empowering” image. Said one comment, from someone born without a penis:

“It’s just exploiting the female form and ideals of feminine beauty to sell a microphone. They think they are being clever by trying to appeal to the alternative subculture by having the woman tattooed… but actually it’s blatant exploitation. This kind of stuff just pisses me off.”

Nutshell, pretty much. Others remarked on its exploitative nature, and how it’s just “low standards ad”. “How is it anything other than an arse to get people to look at the ad?” asked one friend who works in PR for major-label, A-listed artists. I find it hard to believe, after the widely publicized article penned last year by Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry – “Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not…” – and leading female artists like London Grammar’s Hannah ReidGrimes andJanelle Monáe speaking out about how they’ve each experienced sexism in their workplace, this industry of ours, that we are still finding fresh examples of discrimination where there’s no legitimate reason for there to be any – like there ever could be.

Of course, it’s one thing to be a brand selling microphones for the professional musician community, quite another for a musician themselves to promote the idea that women should be perceived as inferior, secondary, as nothing more than window dressing for the product that is their uniquely crafted brand of contemporary pop music.  

Then again, there was this.

In the March issue of HungerJake Bugg (the happy-go-lucky, chipper chap that he so effortlessly implies he is in every photo shoot he’s a part of) participated in a session with renowned snapper Rankin. The concept? Well, you can see for yourself. This shit is so next-level I can’t even begin to process it, it’s that far beyond me. I mean, on the surface, it looks like the team’s just gone, “Boob, yep, boobs… boobs,” and maybe mumbled something about Robert Palmer. But, surely, there is a greater meaning to it. Surely?

In the Hunger interview, beside the typos, Bugg is asked if the shoot was his idea. “Yeah, I’ve been listening to a bit of (Jimi) Hendrix, and it’s a reference to the ‘Electric Ladyland’ cover.” Now, I’m very aware that Bugg’s music is archaic in the extreme, and that in the 1960s, when ‘Electric Ladyland’ was released (in 1968), some guys had problems with women enjoying every right that they did themselves. The Women’s Liberation Movement had taken tremendous strides towards equality – feminism was taking root, and today it’s rightly embedded in a great many individual ideologies. But just because his music’s old, his snickering sexism could do with a boot into the present day.

And besides, Hendrix didn’t even like the ‘Electric Ladyland’ cover. He expressed great embarrassment about it. He found it disrespectful. Guess Bugg missed that part of the album’s story. And even if he didn’t have creative control on the Hunger shoot, which I have been told by other press types, surely he could have said something? Is he that much of a braindead puppet for people who we don’t see fronting these godawful songs? Almost makes you feel sorry for him. Nah.

What was amazing, to me, was that the Hunger shoot passed me (and others) by entirely at the time. It was not until just a few weeks ago that it appeared on my radar, shared by peers on social media. I tweeted about it, that was picked up byDorian Lynskey and soon enough many more journalists were expressing no little justified outrage about the whole thing.

Why bring this up now, at all, though, given the internet moves so fast that even images shared and collectively abhorred just a few weeks ago feel terrifically old? Mainly because I read this over the weekend just gone, and it turned my stomach. Writing for The Daily Dot, Samantha Allen mentioned the recent VidCon event, held for those who create YouTube content, both for a living and just for fun. She says that many female creators post one video and then never return as they are appalled, and understandably turned off, by the comments they see under their work.

This is nothing new. Look at this two-year-old post by Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian revealing the awful harassment she endured for daring to be a girl who had an opinion on videogames. “She needs a good dicking.” “LESBIANS: THE GAME is all this bitch wants.” “Back to the kitchen, c*nt.” Can you begin to imagine being called a c*nt for doing your work? And as Allen illustrates, this kind of cancerous hate persists into the present – it is no easier for women now. And this isn’t “just the internet”, is it? “Just the internet” implies that what you’re looking at right now is some sort of niche attraction in everyone’s everyday lives.

This internet being what 36 million Brits alone access every single day. That figure representing over half of the UK’s total population. Small, this internet. Tiny. Never going to take off.

I actually thought that the music industry was a better place for women than the games industry, or that which has established itself around free-publishing platforms like YouTube. I thought its longer history, its right now richer culture in the perceptions of a mainstream that sees games as the preserve of the geek, would separate it from newer forms of expression. Totally wrong, of course, as sE and Jake Bugg make wholly evident. And when Mayberry is reading comments about herself like, “I have your address and I will come round to your house and give u anal and you will love it you tw*t lol”, what kind of levelheaded, professional response can anyone have?

You are an artist and you make music and some people love it and others don’t (apply to other media as it fits): that’s the system as it’s pretty much always been. Any musician is okay with reading that someone on the internet isn’t enamored with their latest single. But to read that someone will come to your house to rape you?

sE Electronics have called their advert art. All it does, though, just like Bugg’s ill-advised Hunger shoot, is tell the prick minority out there that it’s just fine to treat women – and I don’t care if they’re flesh and bone or dreamed up in a computer, the effect is the same – like hunks of meat to slaver and drool over. Some weirdoes might even want to stick their dicks in meat. I doubt they’d put that on the internet, though. (Please, please, do not link me to anything that says I’m wrong about that.)

Sexism in the music industry goes deeper than a printed page and a few breasts in a shoot. It’s just that the further into the minefield you go, so the less visible these factors are to the public. I could write here about the males at the top of radio stations worldwide, or how so few music magazines and websites have female editors. But we would be here all dayLily Allen talks a lot of shit, usually solely to get a reaction, but when she bemoans the shortage of female executives at record labels, she makes a pertinent point: a lot of the attitude expressed by those working at the bottom of the pyramid could be affected by different decisions taken at the top.

I’m sure there will be a more even spread of top-level music industry players in the near future, between male and female executives and the like. There has to be, or we’re failing to progress an industry based on evolution, on the thrill to be found in the new. In the meantime, we can all benefit – artists and promoters, journalists and managers, fans and funders – from highlighting the completely needless sexist shitwhen we see it. Follow Hookworms’ example here with sE – let’s not ever confuse art with exploitation, creativity with misogyny. Call that shit out. I’ve spent the last decade and more seeing great female professionals in the music industry, people in PR and this side of the press, artist management and radio, rise up the ranks – not to the very top, yet, but knocking on the door. And should anyone, decaying old dinosaurs and barely-shaving commenters alike, stand in the way of the brightest and best, because of gender?

Well, perhaps I’ll show up at their house. With a copy of The Bell Jar and some canned ham, just in case.

- - -

Buy Clash Magazine

Japan ‘Vagina Artist’ Arrest Sparks Debate

This handout picture taken by Rokudenashiko and Marie Akatani on 19 October 2013 shows artist Megumi Igarashi paddling a kayak designed to be the shape of her own vagina in Tokyo.

BBC NEWS
The arrest on obscenity allegations of a woman who makes art based on her vagina has sparked debate in Japan.

Tokyo-based artist Megumi Igarashi, 42, was arrested on Saturday for sending data that could be used to create 3D models of her vagina.

She had sent it to people who had donated money for a project to make a vagina-shaped kayak using a 3D printer.

The arrest made headlines in national media and triggered discussion on Japan’s obscenity laws.

Ms Igarashi also goes by the moniker Rokudenashiko, which means “no-good girl” in Japanese.

A police spokesman told AFP news agency she had distributed data that could “create an obscene shape”.

On her website, Ms Igarashi says she has made several pieces of art based on her genitals using a silicone mould, saying she wants to make vaginas “more casual and pop”.

The vagina “has been such a taboo in Japanese society… (it) has been thought to be obscene”, while penises are regarded as “part of pop culture”, she said.

line

Mariko Oi, BBC News

Rokudenashiko, or Megumi Igarashi, was not a household name in Japan but her arrest has certainly made her one.

Major media outlets reported on her arrest and social media platforms like Twitter have since been flooded with comments.

Opinion is split but one debate is about whether the scanned 3D data can be categorised as obscene unless the recipients have printed it out.

Others have questioned why the image of a vagina is seen as obscene when images of penises are not seen as causing offence.

There are, for example, annual festivals in Japan where a huge wooden phallus is carried from a shrine or visitors can enjoy sweets shaped like penises.

Local media are also being criticised for labelling Ms Igarashi a “self-proclaimed” artist, with some suggesting that police and the media are trying to discredit her.

People on Twitter are contrasting their coverage with Western media, which has treated her as an artist.

line

According to Japan’s Asahi newspaper, Ms Igarashi told police she rejected the charges.

"I cannot agree with the police’s decision to label the data as obscene," she reportedly said. "To me, my vagina is like my arms and legs. It’s nothing obscene."

Japan’s obscenity laws ban the depiction of genitalia, which are blurred in broadcast media and images.

Ms Igarashi’s arrest comes a month after legislators voted to ban the possession of child pornography.

Japan was previously the only country in the 34-strong Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) without such a prohibition.

However the law does not apply to animation, known as anime, or comic art, known as manga.

Intensive Care/Hot New Track

**please watch with headphones**

"In the universal rape fantasy she paints her nails red white and blue
And says oh, honey, once is never
Then her head sprouts 100 new heads
Or was it just a dream
They attach electrodes and with terrible intimacy
Extract from you a legally meaningless shock confession
That what happens once can be repeated
The work of love in the age of its technological reproduction”

From the show Intensive Care at Legion TV Sept-Oct 2013 
legion-tv.com