and here is your Tuesday twat…

feminist awesomeness

via Reclaim the Cunt

Maybe we should make this Tuesday twat thing a trend?! Everyone can submit their favourite pictures of feminist vaginas. What do you guys think? (dreaming of world domination…)

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!Women Art Revolution

your Saturday short

And while we’re talking about the devaluation of traditionally female art forms, I wanted to draw you guys’ attention (yes, I did just use that grammar) to this awesome film I saw at the Berlinale last year. Sadly, I was too late to get any film tickets for this year. Boo! It’s essential viewing for feminists interested in the arts (isn’t that everyone?).

Innocent(ea)se and the Rise of the Cupcake

The rise of domesticity in feminist culture: are crotcheting and cunt cupcakes really that innocent?

Earlier this week, The Quietus published an article that criticised the rise of so-called “cupcake feminism”. It suggested that all these cute young women with their scarlet lipstick and intricate cupcakes had become the acceptable face of feminism, an image which leaves the feminist stereotype of the “angry, hairy dyke” well out of the picture. The writer, Meryl Trussler, argues that this acceptable image of contemporary feminism unintentionally affirms the facile dismissal of feminists who are not young, white and traditionally feminine.

To some extent I agree with this article. At a lesbian cake picnic in Hyde Park, London, a good friend of mine criticised cupcake chic. They said that they now felt obliged to cook delicious cakes for social occasions at the same time as being a mother and somehow having a life. Domestic work, they said, was not glamorous. Having seen first hand the unimaginable amount of work my friend has to do as a single parent to two children, I agree that, no matter how much Nancy Sinatra you play and fake pearls you wear, cleaning the toilet or hoovering the apartment is never going to be that sexy, or fun. Perhaps the fact that I am now expected to bring delicious creations to potlucks after working all day, writing, and my many other commitments, is limiting rather than ironic. Is the rise of crotcheting and cunt cupcakes really that innocent? Or does it play into the hands of sexist stereotypes?

When I stand there, in a fluffy cardigan, holding a cupcake in one hand and feminist tract in the other, I am exploding stereotypes of femininity”

a leftover from my table at Zinefest Berlin

There is something to be said for, “no I can’t smash the patriarchy with feminist cupcakes right now, I need to go to work so I can feed my children and send them to school.” Even if, like me, you don’t have kids, it’s OK to not have time to bake. I mean, us ladies often have better things to do with our time, like working towards our respective careers or going to demonstrations. Maybe my Mum got it right after all. She always hated cooking and the obligation she felt to feed the whole family. Coming back from a long day’s work, she would often feed us frozen food or reheat leftovers. And do I blame her? No. To expect her to work 9-5, while bringing up two children, and running a household, was a bit much. I mean, without frozen food, would she really have had the time to pursue her own high-flying career? In fact, pre-packaged food became popular in the 1950s. It was marketed as the housewife’s time saver (has anyone seen Betty’s cooking in Mad Men?), so this nostalgic obsession with home cooking is actually an imaginative recreation.

“no matter how much Nancy Sinatra you play, cleaning the toilet is never going to be that fun”

I imagine that, as readers of this blog, you probably know what social phenomenon I am talking about here. You are probably young-ish, feminist and familiar with queer and alternative cultures. However, if you’re not, welcome! I hope you enjoy your stay here. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, let me give you a few examples. It has now become commonplace for feminist and queer events to use cakes as a kind of sales technique and extra cutesy factor. Tabling at Zinefest Berlin, I cunningly used sugary vulvas (otherwise known as vagina cupcakes) to draw the attention of passerby to the zine I was promoting. I wasn’t the only person there who was using icing to lure people into purchasing art. Visiting London in December, I went to the Ducky Christmas Fair. Ducky is a weekly queer night in South London and the craft fair had a whole atrium devoted to homemade niceties. The fair was a veritable mecca for crafty feminists who like to embroider ice-cream brooches and craft swallow necklaces in-between demonstrations. This bonanza made clear to me the extent to which the cute has become a part of queer and feminist culture.

source: A girl's guide to taking over the world (click image)

Make no mistake, this is exactly my cup of tea. I love dressing up, being pretty and presenting a stereotype of femininity while sweetly shoving my cunt cupcakes in people’s faces and mouthing off about sexism. Actually, this is my point, which I think Trussler kinda missed. When I stand there in a pink fluffy jumper and lipstick, holding a cupcake in one hand and feminist tract in the other, I am exploding stereotypes of femininity. My softly spoken feminist arguments give the lie to my apparent reproduction of 1950s femininity. It proves the whole show to be exactly that, a masquerade.

Although Trussler does acknowledge the fuck-you drag queening of this moment, her overall argument dismisses it as somehow ‘not enough.’ Not obvious enough, not feminist enough. She says that, by avoiding the feminist stereotype of the big hairy dyke, this image is kind of a cop out. That it’s an easier alternative to really getting stuck into the stereotypes perpetuated by the mainstream media. It is here that I find a big feminist black hole in Trussler’s argument. Never mind that she appropriates high femme, a queer trope, to describe a group of (presumably straight?) feminists who are rejecting the image of the big, hairy dyke. (Hello? As a butch loving femme I LOVE big hairy dykes!) Trussler also seems to forget just how much guts it takes to walk down the streets as a feminine woman. As I said in my interview with Transgender Radio, presenting in a feminine way makes you a target for sexual harassment and assault. Femininity is read by many fucked-up folks as an invitation to sexual advances and hate. Haven’t you heard of the Slutwalks Trussler? Isn’t this exactly their message?

To stand up and demand to be counted while wearing a gingham dress and cardy is a pretty darn brave thing to do. It shows that, femininity, too, can be strong and loud and brave. Darn it, femininity is powerful! In a world in which so much hate is directed towards this gender, and sexism against women is justified through the idea of femininity as weak, passive and artificial, to rant in the form of a crotchet patch is pretty radical. We have to be careful not to reject older art forms, such as sewing, knitting, and, yes, baking (an art form too!), just because they are traditionally female. The art world has always devalued personal, ‘domestic’ crafts (female) in favour of large, ‘universal’ abstract art (male). This is one thing I love about British artist Tracey Emin. Her massive quilts, which catalogue  the sexist slurs she has had directed at her, as well as her thoughts, love affairs and travels, challenge the idea that domestic art forms are irrelevant. She shows that her personal experiences apply to every woman and that crafts can carry political messages. Heck, you could even say that the idea “the personal is political” is a foundation of contemporary queer culture! In the arts, Confessional poetsfrom the 50s & 60s like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton are now celebrated as mistresses of their art form.

Tracey Emin 'I do not expect to be a mother' 2002

I am not sure I agree with this search for an “acceptable face of feminism”. Feminism can’t be reduced to a catchphrase. It is too multifaceted, too large, for it to be represented by one image, one social group. Even the most awesome feminist is not going to understand or be able to represent the experiences of everyone. As a white, young feminist without children, there is a tonne I don’t know about the feminist needs of women of colour, older  women and parents. I don’t think this means I am a bad feminist, but rather that it is my social responsibility to acknowledge my blind spots. What does this mean? It means that each individual feminist needs to do what they can, what is right for them, to create change. And this politics needs to be enacted with awareness of one’s own short sightedness; that is, with humility and compassion. Besides, as a movement that challenges the social structure of, like, the whole world, feminism will always be distinctly unpalatable to the status quo.

I find Tressler’s piece useful as it addresses concerns that have been boinging around the back of my mind for some while now, and I think it’s a good conversation to have. But some things in her article just set my teeth on edge. What do you guys think? As feminist, queers or women, do you feel the pressure to be domesticated? Do you think this cutesy craftsy feminism is too young and too white? And what do you think people would say if you turned up to a potluck, shock horror, with a shop-bought dessert?!

Oh yeah, and here’s your feminist cute of the day. Well, not really feminist, more just cute:

Berlin Femme Show 2012: the Line-Up!

I’m back in town and overwhelmed to see how well party preparation has been going along without me! We now have OVER 15 amazing femme performers joining us to celebrate femmes in Berlin on Thursday 15th March. This is a fundraiser for my zine project about sexism within the queer community. Check out the deets below folks! And catch the updates via Facebook. Thanks so much to Trent for designing and Robekkah for contributing the artwork for the beautiful poster:

**ENGLISH VERSION BELOW**

Fem(me)inista productions präsentieren zusammen mit der Berlin Femme Mafia: The Berlin Femme Show 2012

Es dauerte zwar etwas, aber jetzt können wir zu unser großen Freude die zweite Berlin Femme Show präsentieren!
Wir laden dich_euch herzlich ins Lido ein, auf einen fabulösen Abend voll der Crème de la Crème der queeren femme Kreativtalente. Der Abend fängt entspannt und elegant an mit einem spoken word salon und deliziösen femme Catering von Ohlàlà Tartes-shop, dicht gefolgt von atemberaubendem und sexy Cabaret! Danach werden DJ_anes euch bis in die Nacht am tanzen halten.

Dieses Event ist auch eine Soli und launch Party für Dressed Like That zine: femme_inine Stimmen über Sexismus in der queeren Szene.
http://dressedlikethatzine.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/dressed.like.that.zine

performers: Alexander Alvina Chamberland, Annie Good, Margaret Steenblock, Lady Gaby, Marsmaedchen, Mimi Monstroe, Rosebutt, Sarah Martinus, Hedi Mohr, Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Goldie Dartmouth, Laura Lipstick, Mademoiselle Kla, Yvette Bathory, Kay P. Rinha, Glittertrash, Lyndsey Cockwell, Femme Fraktionen und mehr!

dj_anes:
Marsmaedchen http://www.myspace.com/marsmddchen
Too Serious
Lisalotta P

Wo? Lido, Cuvrystraße 7, Ubahn: Schlesisches Tor
Spoken Word Show: 7pm
Cabaret Show: 10pm
DJ_anes: 00.30
Eintritt: 4€ bis 8€ nach eigenem ermessen, bitte gibt was ihr könnt!

http://sarahmartinus.com/
http://margretsteenblock.com/en/who.html
http://www.myspace.com/liadland
https://lipstickterrorist.wordpress.com/

**ENGLISH VERSION**

Fem(me)inista productions, in association with the Berlin Femme Mafia present: The Berlin Femme Show 2012

At long last, it is our great pleasure to present the second Berlin Femme Show!

You are invited to Lido for a fabulous evening showcasing the very best of queer femme creative talent! The evening begins in a relaxed and elegant way with a spoken word salon complete with delicious femme catering by Ohlàlà Tartes-shop, followed by a breathtaking & sexy cabaret! After the cabaret will be DJs and dancing late into the night.

This event is also a fundraiser & launch party for Dressed Like That zine: feminine voices on sexism in the queer community.
http://dressedlikethatzine.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/dressed.like.that.zine

Performances by: Alexander Alvina Chamberland, Annie Good, Margaret Steenblock, Lady Gaby, Marsmaedchen, Mimi Monstroe, Rosebutt, Hedi Mohr, Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Sarah Martinus, Goldie Dartmouth, Ms Laura Lipstick, Mademoiselle Kla, Yvette Bathory, Kay P. Rinha, Glittertrash, Lyndsey Cockwell, Femme Fraktionen and more!

Plus djs:
Marsmaedchen http://www.myspace.com/marsmddchen
Too Serious
Lisalotta P

Where: Lido, Cuvrystraße 7, Ubahn: Schlesisches Tor
Spoken word show: 7pm
Cabaret Show: 10pm
DJs & Dancing: 00.30
Cost: Sliding scale €4-€8 (Please give what you can!)

http://sarahmartinus.com/
http://margretsteenblock.com/en/who.html
http://www.myspace.com/liadland
https://lipstickterrorist.wordpress.com/