#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.


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.


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.


WOMEN IN THE MEDIA

WOMEN IN THE MEDIA

Tori West, Editor of Bricks magazine, spoke to the bitches about women in the media and her vision of how to do things differently ie better

Tell us a bit about what you do?

I always find this question difficult because it always turns into a long-winded answer, but I’ve recently settled for the terms publisher, writer or editor. I started BRICKS magazine three years ago and I just launched the platform Neighbourhood.tv for Village, a fashion communications agency in London. Both of them, although different, support emerging talent. I want to share the voices of people, regardless of their social following, those who I think deserve to be heard. I make content that I think needs to be made. I hate this entire ‘journalism needs to be click-bait’ attitude, screw the stats, I want a more honest media. I’ve also started organising day events outside of London, where I bring editors/writers from titles like Vogue and Dazed to network with creatives outside of London. I want to make the publishing/magazine industry less exclusive – there’s an entire world of artists and creators out there, outside this bubble and I’m determined to find them all!

How was it shooting with the REEK team and knowing the images have no retouching? You work a lot with the curation of editorials, was it strange being on the other side?

Yeah, it is actually, I get asked to model for things quite a bit but I’ll only do it if it’s a brand I truly relate to or if I love the photographer. I appreciate REEK because I know you won’t manipulate my body in any way. It must feel awful being a model and receiving the images back and you’re looking at an unrealistic version of yourself in the photograph.

Do you think it’s important for more campaigns and editorials to step away from retouching?

Yes, definitely! At the end of the day, if there was no retouching, we’d have a much healthier vision of our own bodies. What’s the point in marketing society’s – well I may as well just say it – man’s ideals and unrealistic expectations of how a woman should look? I don’t understand it. I relate much more to companies like yourself, you’re working with real people to promote your product, you’re not trying to represent them in your way – you give it back to them and allow them to choose how they’d like to be portrayed. That’s my idea of empowerment.

Tell us about what gender equality causes mean the most to you and why?

At the moment, what’s bothers me most is the gender segregation of sex education in schools. People are still confused on the differences between the terms gender and sex. I was taught issues and the logistics of hetero-sex only, but I grew up so confused about my sexuality because of it. I’m 24 now and I’m still not sure how I identify, but it wasn’t until a few years ago I realised that was ok, I didn’t need to be placed in a box, I still don’t need to answer yes or no to whether I’m straight or not. I think if kids were being taught same-sex education and the emotional relationship we have to our own bodies rather than labelling us ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ and sex is for straight people to make a baby, we’d be a lot less confused and more open to having conversations about it growing up. And also, same-sex marriage being legal in every single country, it’s still shocking that only around 25 have legalised it.

Do you feel women are represented well in your industry? Is there more work to be done?

No, not at all. We’re still valued on our outward appearances way more than our inward qualities.

What women have inspired you both in your personal life, career and style?

I’m so grateful that I’ve been surrounded by such inspirational, phenomenal women throughout my life. Every single one of them has motivated me in some way and made me feel more human.

What are your favourite smells and why?

The smell of a new book or a printed page, because it means new content.

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

WITCHES UNITE!


WITCHES BREW, BITCHES BREW BY RACHEL VETTE

WITCHES BREW, BITCHES BREW BY RACHEL VETTE

Beer is now considered the quintessential masculine drink, with some men even eschewing wine or cocktails for fear of their feminine connotations. So, it may come as a surprise to know that beer and brewing were once considered the sole domain of women.

Due to its low alcohol content and high concentration of nutrients (such as carbohydrates and proteins), which could be readily-absorbed in liquid form, beer was the drink of choice for centuries when clean water and nutrient-dense foods were scarce. Relished by parents and children alike, it was a staple of most meals and  since the home and everything associated with it were considered the responsibility of women—it was also their duty to brew beer for the family. As historian Marianne Hester notes, ‘women did the brewing of ale needed for immediate consumption by the household, and prior to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, women also brewed ale for sale’ (Hester, 303). Women who needed additional income commonly sold any excess at local markets and the occupation of ‘brewer’ was, consequently, considered as an exclusively female one.

The formation of the guilds in Middle Ages Europe, however, saw the swift decline of female crafts and trades: removing women’s role in production and inserting men in their place. It was the dawn of a new economic system—capitalism—which created a struggle between men and women for the ability to make a living. Men were concerned with retaining dominance in the developing society, and excluding women from production was a good way of ensuring their economic dependence on men. Foremost amongst the trades taken from women was brewing, removing it from the household and placing it in the hands of male factory owners.

In order to ensure the complete transition of brewing from the hands of women to those of men, it was paramount to depict women as incapable of brewing; or worse, as doing so with malicious intent.

Enter, the witch-hunts. Witch-hunting was already well underway in Europe, and it became an easy way to denounce women who dared to subvert emerging gender roles. Soon, it was popular to depict the alewife negatively, and this theme occurs in a variety of literature, music and art of the period, showing her as a grotesque old crone of dubious virtue. These representations ‘undermined the position of the alewife by questioning her general trustworthiness, while at the same time allowing men to be seen in a much more popular light’ (Hester, 304). Fermentation had previously been thought of as a kind of magic, and now this association took on a much more sinister tone.

Interestingly, much of our current imagery concerning witches comes from these unsavoury depictions of alewives. Black cats, broomsticks, bubbling cauldrons and pointy hats: all were traditional tools of brewing that were turned against women to denounce them as witches and discredit their trade. Cats had long been used as pest-control, preventing mice and other rodents from spoiling the wheat, but now they became ‘familiars’: animals the woman could use to converse with the Devil and carry out her sadistic work. Broomsticks, used both to clean and to denote the location of an alehouse (a bundle of wheat tied around a stick on a building was a sign used since Roman Britain to display that beer was for sale inside—especially important in a society where only the aristocracy could read), now became marks of debauchery and women’s supposedly insatiable sexual urges. The image of a bubbling cauldron, used to boil the malt and hops for ale, was turned into a vessel where all manner of grotesque ingredients were combined to create potions of evil intent—notably included in Shakespeare’s Macbeth: ‘double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble’ (Act 4, Scene 1). The pointy hat, too, was co-opted. Previously used by alewives in the market as a practical way of making themselves seen in a crowd, its reputation soured, becoming something reputedly worn by women during their Satanic rituals.

Indeed, nearly every symbol we now associate with the ‘wicked old witch’ comes from this era and men’s frenzied attempt to discredit women and their economic independence. Gradually, women’s involvement in ale-making dwindled, and, by the beginning of the 19th century, brewing was almost exclusively done by men in large-scale factories for widespread consumption by a predominantly male workforce. Women’s contributions to the art of beer-making were forgotten but their image as sinful crones endured, relegating them to the pages of spooky children’s stories rather than history books, and beer drinking became synonymous with masculinity and the disavowal of all things feminine.

This modern conception, however, could not be further from the truth, and a crucial change is needed to reassert women’s their involvement in brewing to its rightful place. So, this Halloween, as you pass storefronts and houses riddled with cartoons of witches with broomsticks, cats and cauldrons, remember where they came from, and lift a pint with your sisters to commemorate the long-lost and much maligned alewives who gave us this eminent drink.

Rachel also contributes to The Fly Trap – check out their instagram feed.


REPEAL THE 8TH MARCHES

REPEAL THE 8TH MARCHES

REEK perfume speaks to people across the UK and Ireland who marched in solidarity with their sisters to repeal the 8th amendment abortion law. From toddlers to grannies everyone was out with one message, repeal the 8th.

“My body! My choice,” was chanted by thousands of pro-choice protestors as they marched from the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square to Dáil Éireann on Saturday, September 30th. The streets of Dublin were filled with music, cheers, and an overwhelming atmosphere as members of the community came together to recognise the long years Irish citizens have lived under the Eighth Amendment, which criminalizes abortion.

“It was extraordinary,” said Charlotte Lee, a student studying in Dublin. “It was amazing to see so many people across all genders, ages, and nationalities turn out.”

Under the 8th amendment, women and their doctors are barred from ending a pregnancy by choice. Those who choose to have abortions must instead go to another country, taking on the cost of the procedure, travel, and lodging themselves.

Students from many countries came to support the effort spearheaded by Irish citizens, who have fought for over three decades to repeal a law, which they say causes much more harm than good and unfairly targets poor communities. A group of hundreds of students started in front of the Campanile in Trinity College campus in Dublin and marched across the city to meet the other protestors in Parnell Square.

The atmosphere was friendly, and excited. The theme of this 6th Annual March for Choice was Time to Act, and that’s exactly what was called for. The chants of, “Pro-life is a lie! You don’t care if women die,” were impassioned and yet hopeful. Calls for a separation of church and state called into question the legality and ethics of preventing women from choosing abortion.

The thousands who turned out to participate, in their matching shirts and colorful signs with clever slogans, believe the end of barricading women from reproductive rights is near. If today’s march showed anything, it is that the community support for legalizing abortion is strong in Dublin, and it truly is time to act. – Jennifer Seifried, Dublin

Dublin was not alone – the brilliant bitches below share why they were marching to repeal the 8th today. Thank you all for your wise words, pictures and superb sign making.

DUBLIN

 

“Once again, the people of Ireland marched to repeal the 8th amendment.

If the government thought that by announcing that there will be a referendum next May or June would appease the pro choice movement, the thousands who marched today told them that the many want true repeal, not another watery wording that will block safe and legal abortions from happening.

The loudest group were the Union Of Students in Ireland. With the youth on board, another fudge will be defeated.” Ultan Monaghan

“Today was the 6th annual March for Choice in Dublin and hopefully the last. Taoiseach Leo Vradkars announcement that a referendum might finally take place next year should mean that 30,000 won’t have to take to the streets ever again to march for women’s rights to abortion in Ireland. The sun was out and the mood was hopeful. People talked about last year and how the rain echoed the mood at the time, but this year it was more joyful, progress is being made, the citizens assembly have spoken.” – Sorcha Nic Aodha

“It’s incredible. Absolutely huge turn out. Amazing atmosphere so great to see so many men turn out.”Heather Finn

“One step. We stop. Another step. We stop. A few more steps and finally we’re on our way marching through Dublin city. People. People with handmade signs. People with bicycles. People with prams. People with walkers. Young, old, in-between, students, teachers, single people, families.

We rally through Dublin. There’s singing, drumming, stamping, singing, and optimistic conversation. People are seeing each other after long periods, catching up, discussing local work to repeal the 8th.

Finally we reach Merrion Square. There’s speeches, stories and singing. People laugh. People cry.

“Remember this feeling of kinship and comfort”. People smile, happy but knowing we haven’t won yet.

“Remember this moment”. Happy but knowing there’s work to do yet.

“Turn to the person beside you, shake their hand and say ‘I support you’. This is your congregation”.Gas Blue Hanley

BELFAST

As an American living in Dublin, I came to the march on my own, but as is always the case with Irish people, I was befriended almost immediately by two lovely women. The march was peaceful, with only a few religious counter protesters on O’Connell. Equality towards women (particularly women of color and immigrants) is in a shameful state in Ireland, but the massive turnout clearly shows that this is not how people really think, but is simply a holdover from a time when the church had a stranglehold on the country. Being able to witness, as a guest in this country, people rising up to demand these changes to bring Ireland forward was an honor.” –  Holly Smith

GLASGOW

“Glasgow is over 200 miles from Ireland’s capital but that distance doesn’t cause complacency amongst those who know there’s a fight to be fought. Irish, Scottish and many other nationalities stood side by side today to protest in solidarity with the women in Ireland. Who are forced to relinquish control of their own bodies to an oppressive state.

Every person has the ability to make a difference to the injustices they see others face. Today we saw this take shape outside Buchanan Galleries in the form of banners, flags and poetry with everyone in attendance doing what they could to tell the Irish government that words are not enough and that we demand action.

Chants of “Not Church, Not State, Women Must Decide Their Fate”  carried out across The Dear Green Place in reminder that People really do Make Glasgow.” Ellen Patterson

LONDON

“The atmosphere was beyond great, with people of all ages proud to be there. With chants, speeches and spoken word. One of the pieces brought me to tears, and I could see people all around me were emotional at the terrible realities facing women who have to travel for abortion, both physically and psychologically. To see so many people come out to support the women in Ireland to repeal the 8th was overwhelming. There was such a strong feeling of sisterhood and solidarity.” – Fleur Moriarty

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED 

https://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/repealthe8th/

http://www.repeal.ie/

https://www.facebook.com/repeal8/

#repealthe8th

STICKERS


We want to get sticky with you. Click here to order our repeal the 8th stickers for free!