Missed: Mrs America?

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Wednesday night saw the TV series Mrs America hit our screen in the UK. The series dramatises, more than documents the path of second-wave feminism in the United States.

The initial episode centres around Phyllis Schlafly, played by the Hollywood great: Cate Blanchette. Schlafly, a staunch anti-feminist who lead the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Many hold Schlafly accountable for the bill never being passed and eventually abandoned in the early eighties.

Schlafly, the women who Betty Friedan, mother of seventies women’s movement, insisted should be burned at the stake. The Republican who led a league of housewives, home-makers and churchgoers against the progressive feminists of the day.

Growing up during the great depression, Schlafly had a modest upbringing, her father of long term unemployment. Motherly support of her education steered her towards a scholarship place at the now named Maryland University. In tangent to her studies she worked as a model, but she also ‘Test fired machine guns’ for the largest munitions factory in the US, World War Two raging across the Globe. Eventually studying post-grad at Harvard, then becoming a researcher for the Republican Party.

Marrying a wealthy lawyer, fifteen years her senior, resulting in six children. Author of many publications the most notable: ‘A choice, not an ego,’ selling over 3.5 million copies, highlighting matters in opposition to National defence strategies.

After another unsuccessful run for Congress in the early seventies, she turned her attention to women’s politics and battled successfully against the ERA. The main policies were in favour of women remaining exempt from the Draft, Vietnam was at war and American troops were being sent East. Other motions looked to protect social security benefits for dependent wives. Although her eldest son was openly gay she stood by conservative policies against single-sex marriage and anti-immigration.

The dramatisation brings the seventies to our post lock-down TV screens. Brown patterned floral prints, chunky jewelry, twin sets and hand knitting. Hairnets and curlers creating the bouffant of the day. Although an anti-feminist, Cate Blanchette portrays a strong, capable woman, more than a little opposed to being assigned the role of note-taking. We see a true beauty parading the national stars and stripes in the form of a bikini.

In opposition, we encounter bad sex aesthetics not spoken about during the decade. When exhausted she submits to undesired intercourse with her demanding husband. Lying back motionless as he ploughs internally with no regard for her pleasure, indulging in merely his gratification.

What next for the series?

Although slaughtered by Gloria Steinham in person, her character was introduced and takes the limelight in the next episode.

A drama to be indulged, not a doco to be scrutinized!

Watch on BBC iPlayer

Recycled Tampons + er, do I have to?

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So you’ve moved with the green revolution: recycling, re-using carrier bags and you endeavour to sort waste for compost. Due to lock-down you’ve reduced use of the vehicle and invested more time to walking and cycling. The next step: they want us girls to use re-cycled tampons, your first thought?

Someone else’s discharge! ew…ew…ew.

Your initial intention: to reduce your carbon footprint by all other means keep sanitary produce; new, pure and cleanly raped.

It’s time to re-think the matter of eco sanitary products, they are not what you imagine!

1.5 billion sanitary products are flushed down the lav every year in Britain. An average woman will use 11,000 sanitary items over her lifetime. It’s time to consider greener alternatives.

Okay, I understand recycled tampons are actually made from used tampons, but aren’t they less pure?

Wrong – many are actually made from organic cotton and often, unlike regular varieties, free from chlorine bleach. They frequently exclude rayon and chemically produced fragrance. If polymers are used, medical-grade is usually stated. Further claim to be hypo-allergenic, highlighting their superiority to standard produce.

Are there genuine environmental benefits?

So, so, many: regular tampons are around 90% plastic and ultimately not biodegradable, taking up space in landfill and the oceans of the planet. Green alternatives use cardboard applicators, paper wrappers and compostable film. Some utilise re-usable applicators which are purchased separately.

Any other plus factors?

There are animal cruelty-free and vegan alternatives, some donate to charities that act against period poverty and FGM.

Then there’s straightforward vanity: the packaging looks amazing. A luxury supplied in a 5-star hotel or first class lounge at the airport.

So are you with me?

Yeah, I’m with you, recycled tampons are for me and forever!

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Brit Pop Guitar

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The Brit Pop Guitar is a sensation: Visual arts meets music culture with the dynamism of the Nineties which we all love to remember.

The iconic Union Jack which was imprinted on many of the bands of the era immerses within the surface of the guitar. A gritty rendition, presenting many blemishes, reflecting the disenchantment of the decade.

An unusual vision of beauty, the sexy NHS spec wearing girl, projects from the base with the same impact she made in the Pulp’ Common People music video.

Towards the lower section, we have a crowd at the festival which pre-dates Christianity: Glastonbury. Taking us back to a simpler time when entrance meant scaling the fence, away from the inflated cost of festival tickets commonplace within contemporary culture.

On the other side of the bridge, two fingers affront our focus. The insult which many, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, in particular, brandished throughout appearances. A decade which encountered economic decline, instigating uprisings of dissident activism. The generation which fought back against the raw deal they were inheriting.

Centrally we engage with the Oasis symbol, the motif printed over two levels, dominating the sound-hole. Rendering Britishness, red white and blue, backing the stretches of the guitar strings.

Negativity and dissatisfaction, prevalent of the era, is projected from the upper section:

‘Modern life is Rubbish’

A term coined by the staple of Brit Pop: Blur. The graffiti-style conveys the widespread anti-establishment dissatisfaction of the Nineties.

Butterflies flutter over the neck of the instrument. Our late Millennium radio stations were taken over by Richard Ashcroft of the Verve belting out:

‘Don’t go chasing butterflies.’

A sobering, reflective lyric in a time when heroin was being widely consumed across our nation. A drug which had not only engulfed our cities but had filtered out to our towns and villages.

The head-stock displays one of Noel Gallagher’s acclaimed anoraks. Oasis refashioned the anorak, making it desirable once again. Iconic of Britain, not only due to the protection it offers from our frequent rain showers, but equally re-visualizing the white on the red of the St Georges Cross.

The three-quarter sized Brit Pop guitar is set to make as much impact as its full-size contemporaries. A spectacular string instrument which reminds us why we still celebrate Nineties Brit Pop.

£350

Contact for more information.

 

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A Void

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A Void

In this, I have agreed to what was termed ‘A life modelling process’ for an artist seeking volunteers for a project he is working on. I stand before him in my dressing gown, nude underneath and wondering what he wants me to do, he tells me:

‘Don’t worry, I have done this lots of times before.’

From this, I am somewhat reassured, but still, air a little caution.

‘I just need you to lie down so I can paint you with latex.’

In this he shows me the latex, it’s white and when he paints a little of my arm it feels cold but pleasant on my form. I agree to the process and he helps me untie my dressing gown belt, although naked I feel comfortable in front of him, he has put me at ease.

I lie down under his direction and move into the position he needs me to be in. He starts painting around my neck area, slowly but surely working his way down. He is careful but professional as he covers my breasts, making sure he only touches my nipples with the horse hair bristles of the paint brush.

Working his way further down my body he comes to the groin area. I become nervous again, worrying about what he is about to do.

‘Relax, I have done this many times before.’

I let my muscles fall low, then with warm air, he blows gently inside myself. From this, like magic, I open right up like a great white shark about to launch an attack.

‘That’s right, good, you’re doing well.’

He directs, then he moves onto his back and slides his head and upper body inside my womb. From this, he begins to paint, carefully and professionally, coating the walls of my womb and ovaries in latex. When he has finished he edges out carefully and puts each hand delicately on the inside of my legs. Then without touching me with his lips he sucks air from the inside of myself. I return to my normal size, at ease with everything going on, amazed at what has been performed by this genius.

From this, he works down my legs in a similar motion. He then turns me over to work on my back and lower body. So relaxed with the brush motion I am almost asleep when he finishes:

‘We just need to wait for it to dry.’

He whispers, in this, he picks up an old fashioned guitar and begins to sing folk songs.

He wakes me up to tell me that it’s time to peel the latex off. I stand up for him and he begins stretching off the suited coating, carefully going over my breasts. After my ribs he stops and places a hand on each side of myself, then he kisses my forehead, gently and childlike in motion. As I smile he gets back to action, working the form off down to my lower body.

After a gentle shake, my womb falls out. Before me, I see its squashed in structure, perfect on the inner coating, but de-revelled on the outer. My ovaries flop out almost deformed and entwined, messy and forlorn. Ahead of me, I see the babies, I will never give birth to and the children I will never raise. The bedtime stories I will never read, the play parks I will never go to, the football matches I will never go to and the school plays I will never attend. In this he finishes the removal process, then he shakes out the body-like creation. He clips it onto a line, in this, it stands tall and strong, an independent being, strong, singular, but of great value.

Alison Little

A Void is a flash Fiction works from Alison Little. This piece was first performed in the Hornby Rooms, Central Library, Liverpool for International Women’s Day in 2018. The subsequent year it read for an event marking the same celebrations held during the 209 Women exhibition marking the centenary of women being able to vote in the UK (Although restricted to those over 30 and with property).

The illustration was also created by Alison Little using a bamboo dip stick pen and Indian ink. It feature a close up of a womb and creates an impression of scarring. She is looking to make a sculptural piece from latex later in 2020 to represent the works.

More about 209 Women exhibition, Open Eye Gallery

Quotes from Catherine MacKinnon

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Catherine MacKinnon, a mother of second-wave feminism, led the US movement alongside greats such as Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem. Primarily, a legal scholar, lecturing at institutions such as Harvard. Specialising in sexual harassment, pornography and prostitution. We take a look at some quotes from her acclaimed 1980’s publication, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on life and law.

”One of the advantages of male supremacy, along with money and speech and education and respectability, is sexual access to women, of which pornography is one form.”

”Marriage is women’s destiny, she defends and seeks to extend. Now, three out of five marriages end in divorce after about five years, leaving the woman with approximately one child, approximately no income, and a standard of living drastically below that of her former husband.”

”A recent study shows that the only difference between hookers and other women with similar class backgrounds is that prostitutes earn twice as much.”

”We resent being blamed for what men do to us, being told we provoked it when we are raped or sexually harassed, living in constant fear.”

”Men see rape ass intercourse: feminists say much intercourse is rape.”

”Sex blindness”

”The rule said that if Native American women married outside the tribe, the children of that union were not full tribe members: if Native American men married out, there were no such consequences.”

”Neo-Victorian prudery’

”What is not considered to be a hierarchy is women and men – men on top and women on the bottom.”

”Reproductive freedom”

”The problem is, the State has never in fact protected women’s dignity or bodily integrity.’

”Most rapes are intra-racial and committed by men the women know.”

”The purported plot of Deep Throat (Linda Lovelace) is premised upon rearranging the woman by putting a clitoris in her throat, so she gets sexual pleasure out of giving oral sex to men.”

”A critique of pornography is to feminism what defence  is to male supremacy.”


”This is what it means when feminists say that maleness is a form of power and femaleness is a form of powerlessness.”

”Women’s desire to be fucked by men is equal to men’s desire to fuck women.”

 

Quite simply, a great feminist icon here to inspire and move humanity forward.

 

 

Catherine MacKinnon

Feminist Unmodified

Barbie Must Die!

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The top 10 reasons why Barbie must die and be with us no longer.

10 Goes out with Ken.

9 Drives very slow cars.

8 A bit too fond of Pink!

7 Delicate and brakes easily.

6 Does nothing other than leisure activities.

5 Injection moulded, resulting in her looking like every other injection moulded Barbie.

4 Her only function is to play dress up.

3 Is a stereotypical babe, cliché of straight, blond 3/4 length hair, fair-skinned and       representational of Aryan culture.

2 Literally an airhead, she has nothing between her ears.

1 Not a real woman!

1950’s Girls Annuals: the Homemaker

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Seventy years on from when the girls annual of the 1950’s were being read in the  pink bedrooms of the post-second world war generation we look back at there content. Where they looking to inspire the girls who would grow up to lead second-wave feminism through the seventies, or were they looking to indoctrinate the next generation of Housewives?

Girls literature of the 1950’s painted a world of domestic bliss. The role of sewing, the adoration of flowers and the wearing of impractical clothing prevailed across the pages of mid-century girls annuals. Poems encourage the practice of cleaning, baking, being house-proud, having the most perfect hair and awaiting the kiss of a man. The role of the party planner is put forward, a caregiver role projected. However, not to be forgotten in Britain, the concept of making tea in a crisis is ever-present.

Pressures on young girls to be lady-like

The continual pressures on young girls to be lady-like. Any matters of rebellion from this notion are lame and akin to stories of naughty schoolgirls. Images of impractical sports clothing, skirts worn for tennis and golf. Dancing is in full costume and skiing is shown to be gentle and relaxing. With sports like rowing, women simple sit back as men take the oars. Similar scenes are shown with motor vehicles, males are strong and take the wheel, steering away from danger and girls watch on. Generally, the women are beautiful, appear to be sunning themselves as the men do all the work. They are gorgeous, pale-skinned, flushed cheeks with bouncy blond hair adorning their slim bodies. Looks of women pleading with men as they carry all the heavy items. Delicate women prevail as they receive kisses on the hand from admiring men. Many of the tales inscribed simply escalate to men saving the day as the women look on in awe.

Boys literature of the period was in starch contrast to that of girls. They masqueraded daring adventures, escapades and the dangers of warfare so prevalent on the minds of those growing up in the years which were the aftermath of World War Two. Presenting depictions of action sports, space exploration and tackling monsters. Many of the tales bore similarities to the ever-popular Westerns of the time, cowboys, Indians and hunting. Cops and Robbers was an ever-present theme. We were also introduced to the world of large, expensive motorcars, Bentley’s of the era. Top athletes, racing and highly competitive sports dominated the pages of the 1950’s annuals. Men were shown to be strong and capable, getting into fights and adventures took place across the globe. Incidentally, many of the representations of black people were tribal in origin. Images of women seem simply to depict a gorgeous girl who sits there as the man wins her with his actions. Cigars are also present, as a male indulgence, not something to be discouraged. Work and logic puzzles were headlined around ‘Shoot’ and ‘Hit’, evoking a strong sense of competition. Practical skills were encouraged through narrative’ around tools and making exercises were played out.

Contemporary girls literature has modified immensely from the 1950’s. Positive, empowering statements ‘I can’ and ‘You can do anything’ embrace our pages. Girls are now dressed as action figures and take on space exploration. Females from ethnic minorities are now included and girls vary greatly in their appearance. We are presented with different faith groups and the idea of unconventional family groups are put forward. Those with disabilities are shown and take on powerful roles.

Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them.

Inspirational positions and occupations are presented as life choices. Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them. Positive real-life role models are presented through photography and text. Girls are shown to be practical, using tools and building projects. The former male domains of math’s and science are promoted, the aesthetics of wearing goggles for experiments put in a positive light. Environmentalism is a new agenda, current affairs and politics are embarrassed. Tea parties are now of the fair trade variety and healthy pursuits of foraging for food are encouraged, taking from the male hunter, gatherer role. Making projects develop skills in science, numeracy levels and encouraging activism.

The nostalgia of the fifties is enjoyable to re-collect, the role of the mother and the home-maker not to be discredited, contemporary girls literature id clearly more inspirational. Modern-day girls Annuals promote positive female aspirations, leadership and activism, not being lady-like and waiting for a man to save the day. Female literal sources which will create a more positive power balance for women of the future.

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I must be Miss Liverpool!

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I must be Miss Liverpool!

We are seated, lined up, eventually at the final of Miss Liverpool. The seats of the room arched around, judges desks empty for now. They have demobbed to a side room, making the final, ultimate, life-changing decision.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

It’s taken me four years to get here, I am twenty-two now, applying since eighteen, each time getting a little further, this time to the final. The extra cash borrowed for botox being the bar heightener. Four years of casual work to fund; hair, make-up, nails, extensions, tanning, designer brand gear and finally botox.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

When Daniel Lloyd won it she really became someone. She got Miss Liverpool, Miss GB and even got put in the Miss World contest. She did FHM, Playboy and even bagged the Face of Ladbrooks. She should have won Celebrity Big Brother, if it hadn’t been for that Shilpa ‘Shitty’. And then after having three kids with Jamie O’Hara, I bet the divorce settlement was massive. That’s want I want, a line of footballing boyfriends to make me the ultimate WAG.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Then there was that Christine that got married to Paddy McGuinness, she was only eighteen and him in his forties. I wouldn’t mind being with an older fella if you got all his money and the celebrity lifestyle. She even got to go on ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Lots of the winners get signed by Impact modelling agency. There the best glamour agency around, on your page you model in just your bra and knickers and they list your vital statistics. Image, everyone who wants looking at you, men wanting you and women wanting to be you.

The judges are coming now, I look down and chant:

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Through my teeth, I repeat the words as the third then second placed are revealed. This is my last chance, I will be too old next year at twenty-three.
I must be Miss Liverpool.

I recoil as the winner is read out. No, not her, barely eighteen, a bookworm at college, a bore. Actually looks like she let her hair dry naturally and it’s not straightened or dyed or anything. Her heals are only three inches high and that’s not even a designer dress. I cannot believe it, with the title she wants to go the Alder Hey and visit the cancer ward as she has promised her Aunty who is a nurse there, ridiculous!

No night club openings, no botox, no boob job, simply visiting boring sick kids. What could have been, I could have been a leading WAG, I could have had my own line of product, gone on ‘Celebrity Love Island’, I could have married a footballer…. I could have had another boob job….I could of had a maximum divorce settlement.

I will never be anyone!

‘I must be Miss Liverpool’ is a flash fiction works from Alison Little. It was performed at the The Athenaeum as part of the Light Night 2019 festival.

More about Light Night

Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

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The ritualistic process of crowning a Miss Liverpool is an annual event in the city of Liverpool. Initially, relating to the ancient custom of Marriage, the ball-like gown paraded by the contestants often being the traditional white. The notion of a maiden passing of age is also conjured up by the generation of the contestants, the latest winner; Elli Wilson, being a tender seventeen, most entrants are in there later teenage or early twenties in terms of age. A tall slender figure with a bikini perfect body relating to the process of fertility selection. Often a ‘Barbie-esque’ girl, a typical Arian with pure long straight blond hair. Images of Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty are conjured up by this fairy tale heroine, types of girls. Equally, does the pageant relate to the Debutante Balls so common with the Aristocracy and the Jane Austen novels we treasure as a society? Is the crowning of Miss Liverpool so different from the most recent Royal Wedding of Megan and Harry?

Should a contest be based simply on looks, it this merely an act of male objectification and is this wrong? Do modelling agencies like ‘Impact’ who often sign contestants degrading to women in the way in which they present the model’s ‘Vital Statistics,’ measures in terms of the figure and cup size of her bust?

Lucy Whittaker, former winner, Impact modelling

Does the beauty pageant relate to sovereignty and are the winners so different from Kate Middleton and Megan Markle? Is the process similar to a traditional Debutante ‘Coming Out’ ball and do we need this in contemporary society?

Does the Miss Liverpool contest promote child pageanting, is this the sexualization of children and is this being encouraged?

Are we happy with Nightclub culture, the final awards ceremony for the contest being held at the Olympia in West Derby Road? Does the winner simply go onto make nightclub appearances worthy of a role model figure? There have been long term associations between the Olympia and the Grafton Rooms which has long been known for prostitution within the city. Is the contest helping to create a rape culture which we should be aiming to suppress?

Is the Pageant simple a tool for creating minor celebrities leading to appearances on hyper-reality shows. Was the former winner, Daniel Lloyds appearance on Celebrity Big Brother a positive or negative matter? Many of the winners seem to become minor celebrities, fund cosmetically enhancing boob jobs and is this a process we want to be part of?

Is the contest simply a symbol of White able bodies hierarchy? Winners are seldom from minority groups, in term of ethnicity Miss England has only ever been won by a singular Muslim girl. Are those with disabilities, same-gender sexual orientation or trans women ever present as winners or participants?

Previous winners

Does the concept of beauty contests, celebrity culture and the vanity which surround our advertising agencies lower self-esteem and put pressure on women to be more beautiful and ultimately younger. Is the contest ageist in term of participants and winners?

Answer the ultimate question: Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

A) Yes, she is the ultimate female idol.
B) Yes, it’s just intended as a bit of fun, she can be seen as someone to aspire to in addition to leading women from other industries.
C) I would prefer for the Miss Liverpool contest to be changed to eliminate objectification and to promote skill and intelligence of women and to include women from BME communities.
D) Miss Liverpool must go….

Please Comment below.

Remember your Thong Collection

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Who was in their late teens, earlier twenties at the turn of the Millennium?

Remember your thong collection!

The underwear which stamped our generation of alpha females. We lead the way for third wave feminism with our underwear which really did show off our bums.

The first wave of feminism lead by Emmeline Pankhurst got us the vote, The sixties offered us effective contraception through the much love ‘Pill’. Abortion rights were introduced and free love became the spirit of the decade.

The seventies were characterised by second-wave feminism, with this came divorce and couples which no longer wanted to be together separated. Women were now able to gain their freedom back from unhappy marriages and able to move on and find new partners.

HIV and Aids topped the headlines throughout the eighties, we became more aware and safe sex was the name of the game.

What came next: the nighties and the turn of the Millennium which brought in third wave feminism and the rise of raunch culture. We were the ladettes, the females which knew how to make decisions about what they wanted. We didn’t want marriage, we didn’t want engagement, we didn’t want serious relationships. We were the generation of young women who turned around and said:

‘We want casual Sex!’

We were the girls how wanted to go on top in the bedroom and we lead with our thongs.

It was a consumer trend gone mad. They were all that were on sale in the younger fashion shops: Top shop, Miss Selfridge and River Island. The supermarkets got in on the act and George at Asda were doing 3 for a £5. Even the Great traditional British institution: Marks and Spenser had them on sale. Share houses, rented flats and clothes dryers across the country paraded collections of triangular, string combination thongs.

But do you remember how uncomfortable they were?

When they used to rise up and function like a cheese wire trying to cut through the central valley or your bottom. Rising up higher than the waistband of your low slung jeans and make an appearance to those all around you. The tin string marks you used to get from the lack of support offered by the flimsy creations.

So we lead with our bum checks on display, but now we’ve all settled down we get to wear much more comfortable underwear, briefs and little shorts now adorning our lower regions.

We are comfortable!