FATIMA JAFAR reviews the poetry of Sandra Brown Springer and Remi-Lyn Brown, performed in an event celebrating black queer womanhood. DISRUPTION, an event marking the end of this year’s Black History Month, was held on campus last week. UCL library assistant and poet Sandra Brown Springer, and her daughter Remi-Lyn Brown read their poetry to an audience made up of UCL students, staff, and their close family and friends. Brown is a self-published poet, and part of the creative collective SXWKS, while Springer is doing her Masters degree in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, and is currently working on a short story and poetry anthology. This was the first time they had performed their poetry together, but, as they said, it will definitely not be the last. Their poetry focuses on the navigating of space and identity in today’s society as black women, and coming to terms with their queerness. Both…Continue Reading

DISRUPTION

THOMAS NGUYEN discusses Mary Wollstonecraft’s message on education for the Time’s Up generation.  Following the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the ever-growing number of liberating speeches, marches and articles give us hope that the fight for gender equality is progressing. Springing from Alyssa Milano’s accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, debates on sexual harassment and sexism have opened up in all spheres of society – ranging from politics and the military to fashion and business. Oprah’s speech at the 2017 Golden Globes, Israel’s victory at Eurovision with the song ‘Toy’, and the hundreds of testimonies given the spotlight in national newspapers are just a few of the encouraging examples. It seemed, for the first time, that male executives, actors and photographers who had previously abused their power were finally getting brought to justice. Despite this, we are yet to reach the essence of the problem: namely, that a child’s education, both at…Continue Reading

‘No Distinctions of Vanity’

EMMA CHEUNG explores the concealment of queer identity in Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith and Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden. The lesbian narrative of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith revolves around duplicity and entrapment. Beautifully reimagined for the screen in The Handmaiden, both works present a captivating portrayal of the way disguise forces itself upon queer identity. The role of clothing in Fingersmith is at the forefront of the reader’s mind. With dishonest intentions, the characters mould artificial identities through changes in dress in order to control the way in which the world perceives them. But within this method there is a potential sacrifice of the self. Does a disguise leave space for the existence of a true self beneath? At what point does external perception become self-perception? The dizzying web of betrayal and fraudulence in Fingersmith plays with these questions, continuously drawing upon the crisis of identity that can plague the queer experience. The…Continue Reading

‘My strait gown cuts me’

ALICE DEVOY looks at the what, why and who of swearing. Some words are more shocking than others. They have been deemed inappropriate, offensive or disrespectful, and are placed under the umbrella term of ‘swear words’. Swear words have the ability to shock because they violate social norms and transgress established barriers of what is and isn’t appropriate. You may recognise the following extract from the 2003 film Love Actually, in which the new housekeeper, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), embarrasses herself in front of the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) by swearing, and so verbally violates the cultural expectations. Natalie: Hello David. I mean, Sir. Shit, I can’t believe I’ve just said that. And now I’ve gone and said ‘shit’. Twice. I’m so sorry, Sir. Prime Minister: It’s fine, it’s fine. You could have said ‘fuck’ and then we’d have been in real trouble. Natalie: Thank you, Sir. I did have a terrible premonition…Continue Reading

The female curse

JAMIE HARDIE reviews UCL Drama Society’s Eigengrau and Girl in Yellow Raincoat at the Bloomsbury Studio.  Drama Society’s term three double bill in the Bloomsbury Studio was a fitting end to the 2017-2018 academic year. From the fearful uncertainty in Girl in Yellow Raincoat, to the clash between feminism and predatory masculinity in Eigengrau, the production seemed an accurate reflection of the confusion and conflict that has filled our headlines in recent months. The evening began with Penelope Skinner’s Eigengrau, a disparate, irreverent, and at times gruesome tragicomedy concerning the lives of four entangled characters. The central struggle of the play is between manipulative lothario Mark (William Mead) and staunch feminist Cassie (Aude Naudi-Bonnemaison). The performances are strong: Mark is skin-crawlingly authentic, while Cassie is brought to life with fiery passion. In contrast to these tough characters, the touchingly melancholic Tim (James Fairhead) and the frenetic and scattered Rose (Ema Mulla) stack up as the casualties of Mark’s callous antics.…Continue Reading

EIGENGRAU / GIRL IN YELLOW RAINCOAT

ISABEL WEBB speaks to Raniyah Qureshi, the founder of AWOMENfest, a three day feminist art festival that launches this month. Picture the scene: nestled in a DIY arts venue in Peckham, a group of rugby lads sit around a table to discuss the relationship between tears and feminism with The Colour of Madness Project. In the next room, more of these men – stereotypically masculine and disengaged – compare notes on the artwork of Damaris Athene and Fee Greening, whilst others, perched in the zine corner, soak up the atmosphere and contemplate the body positive life drawing session they just attended. This is AWOMENfest founder Raniyah Qureshi’s ideal for the new feminist festival. “The people you want to come the most are not the ones who are already engaged. In my dreamworld, the room would be full of rugby lads who don’t give a shit.” This might seem like a…Continue Reading

AWOMENfest: Radically Soft

SHALAKA BAPAT discusses what ‘Home’ means to the speakers at the TEDxUCLWomen event. Throughout history, women have been confined to domestic, private spaces. ‘A woman’s place is at home,’ ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’ and ‘go make me a sandwich’ are all phrases that I daresay many women have heard (from men – who else?). However this year’s TEDxUCLWomen event saw the theme of ‘home’ alternatively as a space of agency, of action and of comfort. Last year’s theme was ‘Intersect’, and the event very much continued in this vein. Unlike many platforms for ideas and culture, TEDxUCLWomen has diversity at the very core of its being. This was visible in so many aspects: from the team of incredible women who organised the event, the physical accessibility of the space, the subsidised tickets for community groups, and the vegetarian food that was served. It is the small but crucial…Continue Reading

What else but home?

FLOSSIE WILDBLOOD explores self-sacrifice and self-assertion in Dolores, a new documentary about civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. Dolores is yet another, more subtle, act of subversion from someone who has made a life of being a rebel; a provocative acknowledgment of the numerous different ways Dolores Huerta’s own narrative has been – and still is – obscured, whilst she has fought tirelessly to give others a voice. In Peter Bratt’s new documentary, Huerta is vocal about the prejudice she experienced during her long career as a labour leader: prejudice that, at the time, she often felt she had no choice but to brush over. Perhaps the most enduring metaphor for this is the miscrediting of ‘Sí se puede’, the inspiration for Barack Obama’s ‘Yes we can’, which Huerta came up with in 1972, and which has repeatedly been misattributed to the more renowned César Chávez. Dolores is a defiant attempt…Continue Reading

Dolores

BEATRICE KT reviews Shami Chakrabarti’s speech at The School of Life.  “Unencumber yourselves”, a woman proclaims on stage as the event starts. I’m wondering what I am unencumbering myself from – the patriarchy? The class divide? The fact that I’m an ethnic minority? Welcome to The School of Life. The idea of a secular ‘Sunday Sermon’ is one that subverts religious terminology, and speaks volumes about the role The School of Life wants to play in our lives. The Church was once the cornerstone of culture and society in the United Kingdom, helping individuals reflect on their morality, giving them step by step guidelines on how to live a fulfilling life, and most importantly fostering a community of like-minded individuals who encouraged one another in their lifestyle. Fast-forward to today, The School of Life has recognised the void in our lives that was once filled by religious institutions and attempts to present their own secular…Continue Reading

Sunday Sermon

ISABEL WEBB discusses sex education after UCL Leading Women tackled the subject in collaboration with Men’s Rugby. Ask anyone what their experience of sex education was like in school and they will probably mention a traumatising demonstration of what happens to a tampon in water and a very rogue use of a banana. Fruit was always a common theme in sex education; first came the banana, then the condoms on cucumbers, and then the school nurse attempted to incorporate a pear into her description of fallopian tubes. The use of fruit seems to perfectly encapsulate the innuendo-laden inaccuracy of most sex education in schools, as well as Britain’s deep rooted discomfort with directly talking about sex. Clearly, using actual scientific models to explain bodily functions to children would be too much to ask. It’s no secret – and no surprise – that most people’s attitude to sex is a heady cocktail…Continue Reading

Sex beyond bananas

FAYE WILLS, a leading clay shooter, discusses how her accomplishments in the sport have been devalued based on her gender. Faye Wills started shooting when she was 16, and at 19 represented Kent at the South East Regional and National Inter-Counties Championships in the discipline of English Sporting. She has regularly won regional competitions and corporate shoots in the ladies’ class, often equalling or bettering the scores in the mens’ classes. In 2016, Wills represented Kent again, this time in two different disciplines – English Skeet and Olympic Trap. In October of that year, she attended a Talent Identification Day for British Shooting, and after she was invited to join the training programme for Olympic Skeet, which she is currently on. At a recent competition, she came 6th overall in the British Shooting skeet group and 2nd in her level of the programme. As a clay shooter, you come to expect a lot of negativity…Continue Reading

‘Beaten by a Girl’

Flossie Wildblood explores the online feminist sharing space, Gurls Talk. When those we were used to seeing on the big screen started to appear on the little screens in our pockets, social media felt almost like a leveler. Famous figures were suddenly closer than ever, living lives ever so slightly like our own. With its succession of ‘unposed’ snapshots, Instagram gave us access to every intricate detail of these lives. Gradually, what started as a down-to-earth way for celebrities to connect with their fans evolved into one of the 21st century’s most crucial marketing tools. We have not made a big enough fuss about this progression: while artists, helped by their agents, now carefully hone the cyber-self they present to the world, the photos they post retain that same aura of spontaneity. Being perfect inside and out has a new, natural look – and it’s more aesthetically pleasing than ever. …Continue Reading

Gurls Talk