#METOO IN TECH PART ONE

#METOO IN TECH PART ONE

Michael MacLeod, journalist and media producer, hits hard with this piece about sexism in the tech industry. Bitches, you will be shocked.

Most history books will document 2017 as the year women exposed sexual abuse in Hollywood. For the technology world, 2017 will go down as the year women exposed scandal after scandal on a truly world-changing scale.

Eight months before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, the tech industry was rocked by allegations that led to confessions exposing a culture of workplace sexual assaults, unequal pay, harassment and bullying.

It was the year the world woke up to the fact that men controlled the worst of the internet and women should fix it. There is undoubted male-bias behind the scenes of the web and the career ladders linking its architecture. The social media platforms that many people believe resulted in a Trump presidency were mostly built by men.

Evidence?

Billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his 2018 goal was to ‘fix’ Facebook, implying that even he regards it as broken.

To its credit, Facebook does do a lot to encourage and celebrate the women in its workforce. But that’s because it can afford to. Smaller companies point to a supply chain that doesn’t meet their ideal recruitment demands.

Despite some wonderful efforts, the likelihood – right now in 2018 – is that any employer seeking a software developer will end up hiring a man. Why?

Only seven percent of UK students taking computer science A level courses are female, according to careers advice group Women In Tech. Of those young women, only half landed a job in the same field.

That’s an absolute tragedy for equality.

As a result, women make up just eight percent of the UK’s technology engineering workforce according to the most recent ONS figures.

A huge 70 percent of startups have no women on their board of directors, according to Silicon Valley Bank’s SVB Startup Outlook Report 2017. The global survey reflects the answers of nearly 950 startup firms.

“We cannot be deceived by our seemingly large network of talented and successful female founders, investors, board members and innovators,” admits Claire Lee, the Managing Director and Head of SVB’s Early Stage Practice. “The data show us these women remain a lonely minority in the technology world.”

The disparity is cemented into the very building blocks of the internet. Brick by brick, those blocks need to be rebuilt, with women involved at every level: research, user experience, design, programming, testing, project management, analytics, marketing, team management, business development, thought leadership and boards of directors.

When you consider most of these roles are dominated by one gender, it’s no wonder we’ve got an unfair internet. Shutting out women, denies innovation, shuns valuable community links and misses out on clear ideas of what the internet can and should be. It lacks a true reflection of the world and humanity.

I almost submitted this blog post every week over the past six months. But every week brought another gender-related scandal within the tech world. This piece would be tens of thousands of words long if I listed them all. So, here’s a summary of 2017’s biggest gender-related tech sector scandals. Some of these stand-alone reports were the result of dozens of brave women uniting to share their stories.

February 2017: Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, blogged about a pattern of sexual harassment during her time there.  I strongly urge you to read that blog post and reconsider whether you want to have the Uber app on your phone. Her claims sparked internal investigations exposing a rampant workplace bullying and sexism culture. After many setbacks, Fowler was finally vindicated. Her strength to speak out ultimately resulted in the resignation of the multi-billion-dollar firm’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/21/technology/uber-ceo-travis-kalanick.html

June 2017: Four months before the Harvey Weinstein accusations surfaced: an avalanche. Dozens of female entrepreneurs told the New York Times that sexual harassment was rife in the technology industry.

Their bravery paid off. Venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck admitted making unwanted advances in the context of business deals. His company collapsed as investors withdrew. Read him groveling after-the-fact here. His apology warned that this was only the beginning. “It is outrageous and unethical for any person to leverage a position of power in exchange for sexual gain, it is clear to me now that that is exactly what I’ve done,” he said. “The dynamic of this industry makes it hard to speak up, but this is the type of action that leads to progress and change, starting with me.”

July 2017: A memo written by a now ex-Google engineer sent Silicon Valley into uproar. James Damore claimed ‘biological causes’ made women less suitable for intense jobs like his. He even moaned that ‘every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression.’ Google fired him , scrambling to distance itself from his comments, but the impact was huge. Among his controversial ‘solutions’ to tackling gender imbalance was a section titled ‘De-emphasize empathy.’ I’ll spare you the detail but here’s the link for transparency.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. James Damore’s diatribe rallied some in the alt-right, newly emboldened by Donald Trump’s defence of Charlottesville white nationalists as very fine people.’  They saw Damore as a martyr and called on people to boycott Google for firing him.

One of the most celebrated responses to Damore came from another former Google engineer, Yonatan Zunger, who said: “The conclusions of this manifesto are precisely backwards.

“It’s true that women are socialized to be better at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on — this is something that makes them better engineers, not worse ones.” Something odd happened in the summer of 2017. As the executives tumbled, their confessions began morphing into strange rallying cries for diversity and inclusion. In one case, an admission led to an apology followed by an almost never-ending essay of pitiful wealthy white male privilege masquerading as a manifesto to change the entire industry.

It’s rarely a good idea to read the comments, but the comments below this apology from investor and former Google executive Chris Sacca are a fascinating debate.

Sacca apologised after entrepreneur Susan Wu accused him of touching her without his consent

Ms Wu said: “There is such a massive imbalance of power that women in the industry often end up in distressing situations.” At one large firm, a working group had more men called Matt than women, according to this excellent New Yorker report published in November.

Did you realise it was this bad before? Truth is, it’s probably worse. These are the stories of the women who felt able to speak out. It’s certain there are others who haven’t and that these examples are the tip of the iceberg that women in tech have been up against. But there is a fightback. Next month on this blog, we’ll meet the women leading it.


EMILY MILLICHIP INTERVIEW

EMILY MILLICHIP INTERVIEW

REEK interview with textile queen Emily Millichip about what makes her such a creative and empowering bitch…

How would you describe your job?

Like a questionable mushroom trip in an abandoned theme park. Relentless. Also colourful, creative, exciting and empowering. But relentless. It’s like walking a knife edge between total excitement and mischief, and bottomless fear and despair. Not to sound too melodramatic, or illegal.

Do you feel that women are celebrated in your industry? Tell us about some of the women who have inspired your own career?

I would consider my industry to be young internet-based independent labels rather than the traditional/established fashion industry, so yes. I find it impossible to divorce my own personality and identity from my brand because I set it up to express myself, so I can relate to women that have created brands that are extensions of themselves. I love the way that Jen Gotch is a total business powerhouse, but still Instagram Stories herself having an existential crisis, then watching Dolly Parton. I also admire the way that Sophia Amoruso handled the bankruptcy of Nasty Gal, a brand which was built on her personality. She was just like, “Whatever. I’ve set up this media company now. Bye.”

Where do you find inspiration for your own style?

I used to be pretty experimental in my dress and would read a lot of style blogs and do a lot of vintage shopping. I guess these days it’s more Instagram and Pinterest, although the demands of my lifestyle are probably my biggest influence. As I get older and busier my tastes have changed, so now I am more minimal punk on a good day, grotty street-rat on a bad day. There are things I used to wear almost daily that I couldn’t bear to put on my body now. Full skirts, ruffles, sequins, bows, they are all dead to me. Give me a nice wipe-clean bit of pvc and a white ankle boot, thanks. Although, the other day I saw an elderly woman walking through Holyrood park with a can of Tennent’s and a Rottweiler and that was pretty fucking inspiring.

What gender equality causes mean the most to you personally and why?

Bodily autonomy is essential. I am so happy to see the way the narrative regarding consent has evolved over the years. My generation were taught that anything other than an active no is consent, whereas now consent is regarded as an enthusiastic YES. Sexual coercion can be damaging on a much deeper level than we realise.  There is an incredible amount of entitlement to woman’s bodies, both in and out of the bedroom. Leading on from this I also think it is vital to have access to free reproductive healthcare, safe abortion and aftercare.

What women do you identity with from history to the present day?

Probably all of those nameless women that got stuck in mental asylums for distemper / living an immoral life / reading novels, etc. It’s like, GUYS LEAVE US ALONE, WE ARE WRITING THE BUCKET LISTS OF THE FUTURE.

What changes do you think should be implemented to try and encourage more women to go into business and start up their own brands?

Parents of all genders should be banned from asking their adult offspring when they are getting ‘proper jobs’. Beyond that, give us cold hard cash.

From your travels what cultures inspire you the most?

The first place outside of books that really inspired me was Berlin. I hitchhiked there when I was 18 and got a lift with these old punks. I remember getting out of the car in Prenzlauer Berg (before they cleaned it up) and entering this other world. It was like being a kid in a candy store, there was so much chaos and fun, but these guys were smart. I think that was one of the first times I really saw the intersection between intellect and style. More recently I have been inspired by the colours and vibrancy of Mexico. I spent time there learning traditional Mexican embroidery, but the thing that ended up inspiring me the most were the tiny shops selling domestic products. I particularly loved the striped rolls of loosely woven cleaning cloth you could buy for about 40p a meter. I ended up making sack dresses out of the stuff with neon orange and neon green through it which obviously confused everyone because they were like, why are you wearing our floor rags?

What are your favourite smells and why?

The sea, because it the one constant in my life and the recipient of all of my hopes, woes, and darkest secrets. Nag Champa because it reminds me of moving to Edinburgh and creating an independent life for myself. I burn it at home all of the time and take it with me when I go travelling. I like heavy sweet scents like jasmine, honeysuckle and vanilla. I literally just remembered that my dad once told me that rapeseed flowers smell like decomposing bodies. That’s dark. Moving on, all food.  

Are you a bitch, a witch, or a bit of both?

Depends on if you’ve crossed me, muthafukkaaaa.

What makes you a damn rebel bitch?

My criminal record.

Want more? Of course you do. You can follow Emily’s work on her instagram and website

https://www.emilymillichip.com/

https://www.instagram.com/emilymillichip/

Photography, Caro Weiss 


RAPE CONSENT ALERT

RAPE CONSENT ALERT

Indian sex guru, Osho has written over 600 books some of which advocate rape. An undercover feminist investigates on REEK’s behalf.

You know when you can’t believe what you’ve just clicked on? I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled on this either – a respected sex guru advocating rape. Surely not. Don’t take my word for it: Type “osho rape” into a search bar and go over the results. Most of them won’t be blogs, but the writings of Osho (real name Chandra Mohan Jain, 1931 – 1990) an Indian spiritual icon and leader of the Rajneesh movement. He advocated a more open attitude towards human sexuality, earning him the tag line of “sex guru” in the media. In 1991, an influential Indian newspaper counted him, Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi among the ten people who had most changed India’s destiny. Osho’s entire works have been placed in the Library of India’s National Parliament in New Delhi – over 650 books are credited to him, in more than 60 languages, which makes him, by any standard, a major international writer. There are more than 600 Osho books on Amazon.

When you google Osho, the 2nd highest results points to his book, “The Secret of Secrets”, which retails at over £220 in hardcover. Here’s a quote from it:

As far as rape is concerned, look into your unconscious, look into your dreams. It is very rare to find a woman who has not dreamed of being raped . . . There is a certain attraction in it. The attraction is that you are so irresistible that a person is ready to go to jail for 10 years, or if it is a Mohammedan country, is ready to die.”  

The “Secret of Secrets” is available in full online and also for sale on sites like Amazon and GoodReads where it’s rated highly by dozens of readers. Osho’s pro-rape philosophy is also quoted on websites including the fan site http://oshosearch.net, which states: “The information on this site is of religious nature. It represents a mankind’s heritage, just as recognized by the government of India pronouncing the books of Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh or Chandra Mohan Jain) as heritage of India and placing all his books into the governmental library.

One of the most damning quotes used on this site reads:

“It is not certain that raping the woman is certainly bad. Perhaps she was also waiting for it. Perhaps she was getting frustrated that nobody is raping her. There is a deep desire in every woman to be longed for, and the more drastically you long for her the more satisfied she feels. And rape is the ultimate in longing for a woman. You are ready to commit a crime just to have her. You may be imprisoned for years in a jail, you don’t care.”

It reads on:

For example, the rape of a woman is certainly ugly. But who is responsible for it? The society, the culture, the religion – they have been trying to keep men and women apart. Your biology knows nothing of it, and when you see a beautiful woman on a dark night, alone, your biology takes over your so-called morality and religion. . . . In most of the cases you and the woman are both brought up by the same idiotic society. They have told the woman to remain away from men, they have given her a certain psychology to avoid men. Even if somebody is attractive to her, she has to say no.

All psychologists agree that a woman is raped because deep down she desires it. It gives her a great ego, that she is so beautiful, so lovable, that people are ready even to commit suicide – there are countries where for rape you will be sentenced for your whole life or you may be crucified; still the man wanted her. There is a great satisfaction – he risked his whole life!

Two major themes dominate Osho’s rape stance: The willingness, even complicity of the woman and the lack of any individual responsibility. The blame, it seems, belongs to a vague, un-punishable perpetrator.

“A man commits rape. A man commits robbery. A man commits murder. Certainly something has to be done. But not punishment. Because the man who commits rape simply means he is sexually unsatisfied. And your society has not given him a chance to be sexually satisfied. Mohammedans are allowed to marry four wives. In the world there is an equal proportion of men and women. Now if men are going to marry four wives, then what about those three men who will remain without wives? And if they start committing rape, is it a crime?” (From here)

Osho remains without a doubt, one of the world’s most popular spiritual leaders on a global scale. Just one of many Osho Facebook communities has 2.5 million people liking the page and 2.4 million following its posts. Dozens of others have hundreds of thousands of followers in search for enlightenment.

During the past few weeks, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the #metoo hashtag has highlighted numerous heart-breaking and infuriating personal stories of abuse against women (and men) – at the hands (quite literally) of powerful directors, actors, politicians, teachers and many others. At the moment of writing, there are over 93 million results on Google for something that barely existed a couple of months ago. To all the above-mentioned categories of powerful sex predators, it’s all the more exasperating to add yet another: Spiritual leaders, gurus offering guidance and comfort to people all over the world going through vulnerable times.

Who of us hasn’t wondered about enlightenment? Or meditation, or mindfulness, and how many people doing so must stumble over an Osho book or walk into one of the many mediation centres promoting his teachings? It takes a particularly cynical type of guru to use a genuine interest in self-betterment to advocate rape.

If you know any Osho followers in your circle of friends, publishers, meditation centre and Osho community leaders – share this with them. We have to take the power away from rape gurus, and strip them of their status, all-knowing aura and huge international followings, in order to stop them advocating for (and excusing) rape. If you’d like to do something act now.

Want to report an Osho site

to Google:

  1. Go to drive.google.com.
  2. To open the file, double-click.
  3. At the top, click More .
  4. Click Report abuse.
  5. Choose the type of abuse found in the file. Each abuse type has a description to help you determine if the file has violated our policies.
  6. Click Submit Abuse Report.

Or to Amazon on https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/reports/infringement


BRAVE THE SHAVE

BRAVE THE SHAVE BITCHES.

We spoke with Ashleigh about shaving her hair in support of her mum. What a brilliant bitch. Here are her words and how you can support Brave the Shave…

I shaved my head on Saturday 25th November 2017. The date wasn’t significant, it just happened to be a date a certain amount of time after my mum’s first chemo session when we knew she would likely need to get the clippers out too.

Sure as shit the chemo was really going for it and my mum’s hairloss was rapid in the two days before the shave.

My mum was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in October and to put it bluntly it has been really fucking shit. Her diagnosis came as a huge shock as she had only been feeling unwell for a few weeks.

From the get go she was assigned a Macmillan Nurse, someone who could not only advise her and assist with any worries but also someone that I could call if I had any questions. The shit thing about cancer is that nobody can actually tell you how someone will respond or what their prognosis is because it’s a really shitty waiting game. It’s really hard at times, but having access to support and assistance like this is comforting and necessary for people to cope and carry on.

Without charities like Macmillan, so many people would have further suffering. Supporting these charities is vital in ensuring everyone can have access to their care and encouragement – because that is sometimes all you need.

So far I’ve raised around £2150 in the 19 days my profile has been live, so much more than I had anticipated and I’m so grateful for everyone’s generosity and messages of support.

I fucking love my mum, she is a great gal.

Fuck cancer.

Support Ashleigh’s cause by donating to her Macmillan shave page. 

If you have a cause you’d like to share on BITCHES UNITE get in touch – info@reekperfume.com


DISSENT REVOLUTION POETRY

DISSENT REVOLUTION POETRY

Poet, performer and game-maker, Harry Josephine Giles, is lead singer of Fit to Work – a quasi-autonomous, non-governmental punk act. They talk to REEK about equality, dissent and the importance of words.

Who are you, Harry Josephine Giles?

I’m a writer and performer. I’m from Orkney and I live in Leith. I do poetry, theatre, games and now punk. I love it all. I never saw an art form I didn’t want to try.

What makes you a feminist?

Um… I desire the complete destruction of an oppressive global system of gender hierarchy? I think the practice is more important than the identity. People claim the identities they need, and that’s grand, but it’s what you do with it that’s most important. I’m always trying to do feminism better.

What equality campaign is most important to you? Why is dissent important?

You know, I don’t really like the word equality. There’s a site, againstequality.org, that I highly recommend. ”Equality” implies some authority certifying it, or legislating it, but I want something we can take. And I’m not interested in equality between groups of people within a system of oppression. I’m interested in the destruction of that oppression. I want the end of a gendered system of being.

As for dissent: well, freedom comes first through learning to say no and being able to say no to things. No, I don’t want that; no, you can’t have me. And once you’re good at that can you find freedom through saying Yes. Yes, please. Yes, do that. Yes means nothing if you don’t get to say No.

What does all that look like to you?

I wish I knew. It’s probably revolution. Let’s be revolutionaries. I guess it looks like mutual support and community and organising in a way that doesn’t rely on hierarchies of power. Trying to overturn power, and trying distribute resources equitably (not necessarily equally). And justice, justice is a more exciting word than equality. Justice, equity, transformation. It also looks like being accountable to our peers, lovers, communities – and them being accountable to us. Mutual accountability is revolutionary.

What has been your personal experience of gender equality?

I’m still figuring out what feels possible there, or even liveable within the system of gender we’re currently stuck with. I’m still in that process. I’m friends with a lot of trans people who find some kind of stable gender identity and others who welcome the instability. The trans umbrella encompasses a lot of different ways of living. It’s an adventure and it’s also hard – terrifying actually. I am quite public about that journey, but it’s fraught with risk and pain. All that means I’ve had different experiences. I’ve spent a chunk of life being seen as male and trying to live up to that, and then a chunk of life trying to understand the psychological wound of masculinity, what bell hooks calls “the first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males, psychic self-mutilation”, trying to critique and recover from that. Now I’m spending a chunk of life as something Other, and that’s different again.
In practical terms, that means that, while my wardrobe all comes off the “Women’s” rack, some days I pass as male, if a little queer, and some days I’m clearly something else. If I’m in a dress and leggings, or have done my full hair and make-up, I get a lot of sir-ma'ams (or, in Scotland, hen-pals), because people don't know where to place you. And then, if you go out with any obvious masculine features and, say, you’re wearing a dress, you will be harassed. I get that at least 50% of the time, just as all women face daily risks of harassment. So my current experience of the lack of gender equality is of being indeterminate and that being a source of both pleasure and danger. Sometimes I enjoy it, and other times the daily violence of that is impossible. And that’s just clothes and self and street harassment. We haven't even started on economics, social exclusion, mental health, border control, the carceral state…

What inspired you to create Fit for Work?

I didn’t! A couple of friends of mine who are professional musicians and who I went to school with asked me to do vocals for their punk side-project. I said yes immediately, obviously, cos it sounded fun. Thinking through what I wanted to do with that, I decided I wanted to put an aggressive femininity into that very masculine space of punk. I strut around in my thigh-high boots and my knee- high dress and bring to the stage a feminine energy into that the refuses to be boxed in. That is inspired by the long history of Riot Grrl – women’s punk music. Femininity can be furious, violent and resistant too.

Do you feel there are big changes happening right now? What words are important in that?

There are always big changes. In one way history moves really fast and it can be astonishing how quickly some things change and at the same time how slowly other things change. For example, I grew up and went to school under Section 28 (the most destructive imaginable law – the law that banned even discussion of anything LGBT in schools) and not only has that now gone, when I do workshops in school I see posters for trans youth groups – meeting at lunchtime. That took only 20 years. It’s an enormous change. But, on the other hand, it we had hundreds of years of feudalism, and now we’re only a 150 years or so into capitalism, and even though some of the dynamics have changed it’s still the same destructive and immiserating system it ever was.

What people do you most identify with from history?

Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Catullus and Sappho.

Is smell important to you? Which smells and why?

You’re in the best place to fight if you’re centred. So my favourite smell is the smell you get when you are halfway up a mountain and the wind is blowing and you get the freshness off the top of the trees and the freshness coming down off the snow. You can’t smell the city at all. That’s when I feel most calm.

Then there’s rotting seaweed and silage and manure – the overpowering smells of living on an
island. They take me right home.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch?

I’m damned – I’m definitely going to hell and I’d be disappointed if I weren’t. I grew up with hellfire sermons, so though I don’t actually believe in hell my gut is still convinced that’s where I’m headed. I’m a rebel cos it’s in my bones. I have never got past the stage when a two-year- old kid first learns to say No. I’m still there. And I don’t know if I’m a bitch yet – but I aspire to be.

Tell us what kind of bitch you’d be, then?

A problematic bitch.

Find out more about Harry’s work: www.harrygiles.org and more about Fit to Work: fittowork.band

All images by Void Works Photography.


DIVE QUEER PARTY

DIVE QUEER PARTY

REEK spoke to those Damn Rebel Bitches, Dive Queer Party’s’s creators Miss Annabel Sings (MAS) and Agent Cooper (AC). Credited for ‘redefining the Scottish queer club scene’ (The Skinny) and being Scotland’s best-loved and most notorious queer cabaret party mongers, they return to the Traverse Theatre with their outrageously queer Camp as Xmas Cabaret. The event will raise funds for Waverley Care, Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity, in recognition of World AIDS Day.

What makes you a feminist?

MAS: Feminism means equality and freedom to us, which form the bedrock of what Dive is all about. We live by our mantra – you can be whoever you want to be, however you want be, wherever you want to be – and promote the power of positive expression.

What equality campaign is most important to you? Why is dissent important?

The never ending campaign for LGBT equality. Dive recognises and cherishes the privilege of being born and based in Scotland, the country voted the best place in the world to live for trans* people and where at one point this year three out of four political party leaders openly identifying as gay. But these are all rights and privileges that were hard fought and could so easily be taken away. Only a short time ago it was a criminal offence to be gay in the UK and the stigma and brutality doled out by the powerful during the AIDS epidemic in he 80s was just yesterday, really. Our Xmas show will raise funds for Waverley Care, Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity, in recognition of World AIDS Day. World events are spurring both massive leaps forward and tragic steps back for LGBTIQ rights around the world, so we want to spread a message of expressive freedom and acceptance and rallies those on stage and in the audience to stand up and come together in celebration of difference, promoting a world where you can “be whoever you want to be, however you want be, wherever you want to be”.

What inspired you to create DIVE? Tell us about drag and how things are changing?

MAS: Our four eyes met across a sticky carpet during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011 when I was touring with notorious live art collective Eat Your Heart Out. I asked AC on a date but despite having lots in common we never made it to first base (thank goodness). We got scheming instead, joining forces to talk about our shared vision for a queer space to share, explore and show off their collective creativity, joy and madness in a safe, fun and inclusive environment. We take having fun very seriously and spend lots of time together being silly and making each other laugh.

AC: That space would eventually become Dive Queer Party, which started off as an eclectic, anything-goes queer party in the murky depths of a subterranean dive bar in Edinburgh in July 2013. This is where the foundations of the company and collective were rooted and from this early stage we were promoting a world where – through the power of positive expression – you can be whoever you want to be, however you want be, wherever you want to be. (By the way I still deny she ever asked me out on a date – there is no evidence and frankly, you would, wouldn’t you?!). I’m excited about the blossoming drag king scene in Scotland and the UK, which must be inspired by the profile of feminist campaigns and women’s rights and issues. Nights like The King’s Court (at The Rabbit Hole at CC Blooms) here in Edinburgh and places like Bar Wotever, Kingdom and The Glory down south are leading the way. We were so lucky to have the amazing internationally renowned artist and drag king Diane Torr based in Glasgow until she died this
year. Her stage appearances and Man For A Day workshops are legendary and Dive was lucky enough to work with her many times in the short time we knew each other.

What people do you most identify with from history?

MAS: Leigh Bowery, for being so out there and showing us anything is possible. My whole view of performance changed when I encountered his world. This was the inspiration for our ongoing show ‘Homage’ – a celebration of queer heroes from the past, present and future, resurrected or given life through the medium of performance and showcased in the unique, rainbow- adorned, glitter-streaked world that is Dive.

AC: The aforementioned gender activist, dancer and drag king Diane Torr. We became friends with Diane only 3 years ago but she made a massive impact on me before she sadly died earlier this year. For over thirty years she explored the theoretical, artistic, and practical aspects of gender identity and was so generous in sharing her knowledge and experience at the same time as being ruthlessly experimental and open to trying new things. I think she’d be excited and proud to see the blossoming drag king scene in Scotland and the UK.

Is smell important to you? Which smells and why?

MAS: Ooh, the whiff of a Dive Queer Party and the other queer spaces in the city like The Rabbit Hole, Pollyanna, Grrl Crush and Hot Mess, to name a few. Nothing quite like it.

AC: Smell is v important. I like hanging out in urinals, gym changing rooms, lorry sleeper compartments anywhere with the heady scent of a real man really.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are?

We are DAMN QUEER REBEL BITCHES!

Gender and sexuality is so threaded into the fabric of our society and how power is exerted over us. Being queer, being your true self (whoever you want to be…”) makes us hellu Damn Rebel Bitches by default. We feel we have a responsibility to be visible, loud and proud here in Scotland, where LGBT rights have been hard fought and we hope help make change possible in the
rest of the world.

We had a review recently which sort of sums that up:
”In a lot of ways, Dive’s Homage might be one of the best shows to really capture what Fringe is about. The radical, the alternative, the ‘fuck you’ of convention, the freedom of expression. We’re all different and we all fucking love each other is the message of a night with Dive.”

What treats are in store for audiences at The Miss Annabel Sings Show Camp as Xmas Cabaret?

MAS: Oooh well, it’ll be a proper festive feast of anarchic queer cabaret featuring some of the best bits of Dive’s triumphant year, with performances from the fairest drag kings and queens of the realm, as well as saucy sing-song-a-longs, riotous audience games, delicious festive cocktails and a very special (bio)Queen’s speech.

AC: We’re delighted to be raising funds for Waverley Care, Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity, in recognition of World AIDS Day. And there’s a special guest performance from transgurl cabaret singer SADIE GODIVA, one of the stars of Dive’s over 50’s cabaret project which was launched for LGBT History Month in February in partnership with Luminate – Scotland’s creative ageing organisation, and LGBT Health & Wellbeing.

MAS: The event kicks off with an atypical office xmas disco from 4-6pm with Dive’s resident DJ, DAVE FROM ACCOUNTS. The Miss Annabel Sings Shows opens straight after at 6pm, stuffed full of the best bits of 2017 and guest performances from drag queens FEDORA VERONICA HOMBURG,

DUCLEA REIGNS, GEORGIA TASDA and THE DUCHESS, and Drag Kings KING BIFF -,SIMON PATERSON of very own AGENT COOPER. Also starring LUKE PELL as the Angel Gay-briel and an alternative carol concert from the hilarious PORN CHOIR (they do exactly what it says on the tin).

Diva will be at Traverse Bar Café, Edinburgh on Sunday 3 December 2017,
4-9.30pm. Box Office: 0131 228 1404
www.traverse.co.uk www.dive-party.org.uk
@DiveQueerParty

Waverley Care is Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity. The organisation’s work is focused on prevention, education, testing and support throughout Scotland, reducing new HIV and Hepatitis C infections, getting people diagnosed and supporting those affected in whatever ways they need. Waverley Care challenge HIV and Hepatitis C related stigma, tackling health inequalities and promoting good sexual health. In all that Waverley Care do, they never give up on people and are always there to walk alongside anyone affected by HIV or Hepatitis C.

http://www.waverleycare.org


DOC N ROLL FESTIVAL

DOC N ROLL FESTIVAL

Doc n Roll Festival’s UK Premier of ‘Play Your Gender’

When considering gender equality in the music industry, to the naked eye, it would appear as if there isn’t much to worry about. ‘There are plenty of female artists in the charts, dressing how they want, and singing about what they want, there’s nothing to worry about!’ Well actually, yes there is. There is a shit load to worry about.

Doc n Roll is a festival that premiers documentary’s about the music industry across the nation. ‘Play Your Gender’ was premiered in the UK on the 9th of November. This documentary was created to show the shocking lack of women in the music industry. There was a particular focus on the careers behind the music, e.g. sound engineers, producers, tour managers and back of the house. It was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with Jess Partridge who is the founder of London in Stereo, Estella Adeyeri from Girls Rock UK, Fred MacPherson from the band Spector, Olga Fitzroy (Engineer and Mixer) and Catherine Marks (Engineer and Producer).

During the testimonials of women who currently work in the music industry, it was highlighted that less than 20% of songs are written by women. A majority of female artists are singing words written by men, so the experiences that we would imagine lie behind lyrics that we hold dear are dreamt up…by men. Whereas some may say that as long as you connect with lyrics, who cares who they were written by, the lack of female songwriters omits the pure, genuine female voice and narrative from the public sphere. Women also represent less than 5% of producers. This means that any female artist who wants their vision executed by a woman, will struggle- or simply find it impossible.

It was shown throughout the documentary that one of the massive deterrents and barriers to female participation in these roles is the genderization and socialization of instruments and activities, especially in rock. Instruments such as the drums and guitar are seen as loud, and therefore ‘masculine’. Women are still expected to adhere to outdated (and frankly, fucking infuriating) gender roles, the only time in which a woman is permitted to stray from stereotypes is if they are artists in the Hip Hop or RnB industry. Then they are allowed to have an ‘urban edge’, only for the sake of profit. Back of house roles are typically not given to women, due to the idea that a woman ‘would never be able to move equipment or tune a guitar’. Estella stated that she knew of women who had worked their way into music tech, only to be “pushed out by the machismo”.

“Society has this expectation for women, you have to be able to do everything. If you can’t do everything you’re an idiot”, Sara Quin (from Tegen and Sara).

Females have to do everything and look good while doing it, whereas the same is not expected from men. Women essentially have to work twice as hard as men to land the same role. When a man says that he can do something or has a certain experience, it is taken as fact. A woman, however, has to prove that she is not only capable but can go above and beyond.

Fred MacPherson also brought up the issue that women are still being over sexualized in the workplace:

“Someone might comment about a woman in a meeting, those things are so inherent and aren’t called out. It creates a gender imbalance. There are so many rock n roll clichés, it’s still a massive patriarchy which needs to be dismantled. That has to begin by men calling out other men, and not just in front of women to show off! It’s easy for me to come on this panel and say hey I’m a massive feminist! It’s much harder to say to a room of men who are my seniors. This is not just something that should be done in front of other women to show how ‘woke’ we are”.

Some say that disparities reflect the lack of female interest in the technical side of music production. However, when there are no role models and figures in these positions, it is not reflected to them that it is even an option they are capable of. It makes it seem like an impossible task- in which the onerous duty is too high. The lack of women does not encourage participation, which is further affected by society telling young girls that this is not the path for them. Representation is the only way to ensure participation.

I’ll leave you with Catherine Marks parting words of wisdom, “don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks, just keep doing it”.  Occupy the spaces, encourage other women to do the same and take no shit.

Rihana is a Researcher, Rebel Witch and is working forwards her life goal: fucking the patriarchy.


BODY SHAMING

BODY SHAMING

Lauren Turton is writing a dissertation on Body-Shaming in Contemporary Media and the Effects it has on Young Women.  She needs your help:

I am currently in my final year at the University of Portsmouth studying Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies. When I was in my second year and thinking about what I wanted to do for my dissertation research I struggled. Everybody else was interested in the police side of criminology, prisons, and rehabilitation, however I looked more to the social harm side of criminology. During one of my units, Crime, Media, and Culture (CMC), I was interested in stereotypes and why people make judgments about individuals and groups.
This is what started me looking into bullying and stereotypes within social media though I thought this was too generic. I wanted to take these ideas further and body shaming came to mind after looking at some research I was doing for the CMC unit. I knew it was a big issue in modern society, especially for young women. I started looking into the subject more and I didn’t realise how much of an effect body shaming had on young women, specifically the media’s involvement in it. Young women have to deal with the picture of the ‘ideal’ women everyday, from adverts on TV and in magazines to billboards at the side of the road to sponsors on their social media feed. After doing some research on body shaming, I started to notice it more and more from people around me, body shaming other people unintentionally and even body shaming themselves. I wanted to find out for myself how much of an impact body shaming had on young women. This led me to be doing the research I am today. I decided to make life hard for myself (well worth it though) and do two different types of research to gain as much data as I could to make an accurate judgment on how body shaming effects young women. The first part of the research is an online survey. This looks at how young women use different types of media including social media, other online media and print media. The survey asks if they have personally been body shamed, how this happened, how old they were and the effects it had/has on them. As well as looking at if they, themselves, have ever body shamed, how they did this and the reasons behind it. The second part of the research is looking at social media comments, specifically Twitter. This is to gain an idea of what people are saying to body shame young women and to see what young women have to view on a day to day basis on their social media feeds. As well as finding out how prevalent it is on one of the faster growing social media sites. Having both of these angles to analyze gives a full picture of body shaming and the effect it has on young women. It also gives us an understanding of how we as a society can make changes to reduce any impact that does have on young women. If you would like to help out with my research and you are female, living permanently in the UK and between the ages of 18-25 feel free to fill out my survey on the link below:

https://portsmouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/body-shaming-contemporary-media-and-the-effects-on-young

When I started my dissertation research on body shaming, I knew it was a big issue, but the response I am getting from it is mental and I am genuinely shocked. Makes me so proud to know it is so relevant in today’s society and that people really do want it to improve. I’d like to thank my dissertation supervisor Lisa Sugiura for helping me through this, as well as pushing me to go further with my ideas and research.


LET THEM EAT CAKE

LET THEM EAT CAKE

Writer and feminist, Naomi Frisby talks to REEK about cake as a patriarchal weapon.

Eating cake has become a national occupation. We talk about it, tweet about it, Instagram pictures of it, watch it being baked on TV. Cake is buttery, sugary goodness guaranteed to make us feel better about life. It is the British Dream: a whiff of nostalgia, green fields, a country fair, your nan’s kitchen. Life was good and you could still lick the spoon without fear of salmonella.

In America, when white supremacists protested the removal of a confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, comedian Tina Fey spent her SNL slot trying to comment on it while shovelling chunks of cake into her mouth. ‘Most of the women I know have been [eating cake] once a week since the election,’ she said. In doing so, she lampooned those of us who’ve bought into the idea that filling our mouths with sponge and cream is a valid response to the state of the world. You can’t protest while you have a mouthful and once you’re full you’ll be too tired to be angry. Or you’ll turn that anger on yourself because you shouldn’t have eaten the cake, it’s too many calories/points/syns. Now you’ll have to spend time and energy getting rid of it, you wouldn’t want anyone thinking you don’t have control over your own impulses, your own body, would you? If you can’t have control over yourself, how can you be rational enough to participate in national politics?

Cake is a feminist issue. How many times have you seen a man turn to cake to supress his emotions? We’re in a double bind: eat enough cake and your body will be unattractive; don’t eat any cake and the anger you’re failing to suppress will render you hideous. Here are some tips to help you get it right: You can allow yourself some cake if you’ve been good. Have you organised the household? Sorted the kids? Taken care of your partner’s emotional and physical needs? Been to work and ensured that everything ran smoothly for everyone else? Allowed the men to interrupt you? Steal your ideas? Did you do the school run? Supervise homework? Make dinner? Listen to your partner talk about their day? Then you can allow yourself some cake, if you can find the time to eat it.

You can allow yourself some cake if your body’s a size 10, streamlined, bikini ready. Mention repeatedly that this is a treat and don’t eat too much of it, you couldn’t possibly manage a whole slice to yourself. Share with a friend, with your kids, with someone you love. You don’t want to get to a point where you’re taking up space in the world; where would we fit all the men?

You can allow yourself some cake if you’re a comedian, a fat (size 12 or above) female comedian. In this instance, you’re allowed to shovel in the cake, to smear it across your face and body in an act of self-depreciation. You’re allowed to announce to the world that you know your size isn’t socially acceptable and you can laugh about it too. If you’re going to take up more space in the world, insert yourself into a male profession, have the audacity to insist that women can be funny, then you need to turn that laughter on yourself and your failings.

Now you’ve exerted some control, let’s talk politics. You can’t? You’re too busy? Your brain is filled with calorie counts and thoughts of food? Something must be done.

I propose a manifesto:

Let cake be just cake and equality a reality.

Naomi writes for The Writes of Women brilliant blog. Go find her work there.


ANARCHY, WITCHCRAFT AND ART

ANARCHY, WITCHCRAFT AND ART

Artist Karen Strang talks to REEK about her latest paintings,
The Scottish Witch Trials Testament Series and what
inspired her work.

Who are you, Karen Strang?

I’m a visual artist / painter / anarchist working from Alloa in the Forth Valley of Scotland. It isn’t always easy being a flaneuse in the Central Belt! I take obsession with my subject matter to heart. Previously it was Rimbaud in the latter half of 1874 that rocked my boat. Currently I’m obsessing with the local Witchcraft trials of Glendevon and the Forth Valley. I see feminism as a transitional position, I’d be heading for an agendered non-speciest world, if that could exist.

What makes you a feminist?

Experience. Simple as.

What equality campaign is most important to you and why?

Too often it seems being born with a cunt automatically puts you into a livestock category. I am continually horrified by the treatment of women around the world. One has to start somewhere in addressing these issues. I do it with my paintings in the hope that what I express physically provokes a change in thinking. A starting point is the female gaze on another female. It seems a gentle enough approach until one realises the strength of reaction. Self-possession and recovering ownership of one’s sexuality in one’s own terms.

What inspired you to create the Scottish Witch trials paintings?

Over decades I have been fascinated by aspects of female knowledge of nature, which has been seen through history as a threat to order. The outcome of this fear, envy and misogyny is the epidemic of witch-hunts and in Scotland this was a particularly aggressive and brutal period, known as the Killing Times. I seek to redress the balance between the forgotten victim and the torture and murder which until recently has been swept into indifference or quaint superstition. More and more facts and numbers of victims are being unearthed. We may never get to know how many people were murdered under the excuse of religion and superstition for what was ultimately a culling under the socio-economic needs of a patriarchal system.

Do you have a favourite painting from this series? Why?

I am in constant dialogue with each of them as they develop. I work with a number of pieces that seek out their own conversations, creating an energy force. For example, the series of five paintings, “Tides”, rely on each other to create a dynamic narrative. So possibly, just for this moment, I would select “Jetsam”. Tomorrow it might be another.

What has been your personal experience of gender equality?

I was the first female school pupil at my comprehensive school to be allowed to sit in a technical drawing class. I spent five years attempting this. Finally I got to sit in the class but not to take the O-Grade. A small early victory for me against the State! But I still couldn’t wear trousers to school.

How do you feel about the way images of women are represented in the media?

I am not convinced that the abundance of staged selfies expresses self-ownership. A lifetime of gazing into the eyes of others as an artist makes these “portraits” appear to meld into an algorithm which caricatures sexual commodification, objectifying rather than opening a genuine dialogue with the viewer.

Are you a witch or a bitch?

Witch never bitch.

So what makes you a DAMN REBEL WITCH?

Society doesn’t fit me, I don’t fit society. (Maybe it’s ‘cos I’m a left-handed sinister sorceress!)

Several of Karen Strang’s witchcraft paintings are currently exhibiting as part of a collaborative show called “Seasons of the Witch” at Front Room Galleryin Alloa. A large solo exhibition of her witchcraft works, called “The Burn and the Tide”, will follow at the Lillie Gallery in Milngavie in February 2018, exploring the psychological as well as the factual effects of women accused of witchcraft.