A Respectable Woman

Wedding

A Respectable Woman is the latest poem penned by Alison Little around the theme of Truth for National Poetry Day 2019. It was performed by Alison at the Life Rooms in Walton and for Sefton Slams at Crosby Library.

 

A Respectable Woman

Respectable, woman I am
Married, my working man
Toddler hand, baby in pram
Nightly, I cook up scran

Cleaned daily, house gleams
Sparkle, blinds align
Domesticity, I beam
Other tasks benign

Respectable, woman I am

Indulging, drink I never
Curse those who do
Frolics, not me, ever
Bars, the fallen go

Narcotics blamed for all
Because of drugs!
The route of all downfall
‘She’s off it’ I shrug

Respectable, fat through childbirth

Gateaux, farm food supply
In fat pants, I squeeze
For dinner I deep fat fry
Weight gain ease

Obesity: giving birth
Fat blamed, motherhood
Woman’ purpose on Earth
Hefty means good

Children, reflect parenting
Ensure they behave
I scream, shout, demanding
Blamed, early grave

Mortgage renders responsible
Better than those amid
Marriage equals respectable
Only role, provide kid’

Respectable: I got Married

Every bride is beautiful
Fat pant’ looks, dismay
Nightly groom uses tool
Every dog has its day!

Alison Little

More about National Poetry Day

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Gloria Steinem

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The iconic feminist, the writer, the political activist and the author of her later biography, ‘My Life on the Road’.

As a girl, she traveled across the US between Ohio and Florida for most of her informative years. The trailor upbringing came to an end when her parents divorced, she went to live and care for her depression troubled mother, now attending school regularly from
the first time at the age of eleven.

After college she was awarded a fellowship and spent two years in India. During her travels she opted for a termination of pregnancy in London ten years before they were legal.

From this she became a journalism, a groundbreaking article being ‘A Bunny’s Tale’, where she went undercover as a playboy bunny to get the dirt on Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire. Co-founding New York Magazine and Ms Magazine, which she later became an editor for several decades later. From the late sixties she rubbed shoulders with greats like Betty Friedan as they marched for the liberation of women.

Now, at the age of eighty-five, she is technically in retirement. However, social activism work is not something you retire from, she is still penning the writings which inspire women Globally.

Her latest biography, ‘My Life on the Road’ contains so many awe-inspiring quotes, we give only a few to lay a foundation for Steinemism and the future:

Dick and Jane limitations that school put on girls.’

From her travels in India:

High caste women were sexually restricted and women at the bottom were sexually exploited.’

‘Most of us, I love graduations. They are individual and communal, an end and a beginning, more permanent than weddings, more inclusive than religions, and possibly the most moving ceremonies on earth.’

‘Needing approval is a female cultural disease, and often a sign of doing the wrong thing.’

‘I was angry about the human talent that was lost just because it was born into a female body, and the mediocrity that was awarded because it was born into a male one.’

‘A journey -whether it’s to the corner grocery or through life-is supposed to have a beginning, middle and end, right? Well the road is not like that at all. It’s the very illogical and the juxtaposed differences of the road-combined with our search for meaning-that make travel so addictive.

‘My Life on the Road’ is available from Amazon

More about Gloria Steinem

 

 

Hand-Held Destinies

Me

Wednesday evening saw the opening of; John Moores Painting Prize, the Rise of the Sixties in Liverpool, at the Exhibition Research Lab of John Moores University. The fresh white interior of the John Lennon Art and Design Building provided the exhibition venue, brought to life by an evening of the performance. Stimulating music, spoken word and monologues were accompanied by illuminating visual arts responses.

Hand Held Destinies is a spoken word piece written and performed by Alison Little on the evening. Created as a response to a photo exhibit from 1968 of two girls playing in the sea shores of New Brighton:

 

Hand Held Destinies

Girls hold hands in friendship.
Gleeful
Elegant in play

Eight years old
Born in 1960
The decade which changed Liverpool, Britain and the World

1960 saw the introduction of the pill
We had effective contraception
Birth Control
The Sexual Revolution
Smaller Families
We got richer

As they play in the swath they are attractive in their childhood. Swimsuits made for play, hair it’s natural colour, tresses they are not afraid to get wet. Sand grit, Sea and the salt of the shores adorn their sun-soaked bodies.

Today we have the modern day falsehood of youth. Primark churning out padded bras for pre-teens. Claire’s accessories piercing collections of hoops and studs to the lobes of innocence. Youthful visions of success; to appear on celebrity love island, becoming a WAG or to acquire a cosmetically enhanced bosom larger than Jordan’s.

An era when British beach holidays ruled the waves. Stripped deckchairs, the bucket and spade, splendour of Punch and Judy. Taken over by the package holiday: routes to the warmer destinations of Southern Europe. Made redundant for a second time by the cheap flights of the digital buyers market.

Background, we have sea vessels and the Albert Dock, it’s function then for shipping. Today, as the girls head to retirement we have shipping in its last days of decline. We have a dock surplus of its intended purpose.

Sea Faring industrialism replaced
A cultural haven
The Waterfront
The Tate
Museum of Liverpool
The Maritime
A new Future
A future of tourists
Culture Vultures
City Breakers
A cheap flight destination
The ‘Must take in’ city of Liverpool
A city revived
An end of mass unemployment
The striking city no more
The legacy of the Capital of Culture Year

Their playscape is now a Metropolis challenging globally.
But to the padded bras, the stud lined ears and fixations with celebrity culture we have the bucket.

A return to the beauty of innocence bathing in the optimism of the future.

Alison Little

 

Exhibition continues throughout April.

More about Research Exhibition Lab

Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.

More about Graham Smillie photography

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Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

Miss Liverpool copy

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

thong

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!

Will you be my Bride, McBride

bride

‘Will you be my Bride, McBride’ is an extract from the latest chapter being written from the novel ‘Casual Nexus’ from Alison Little:

Will you be my bride, McBride

Jack was around his best friends house, Huxley McBride, they have finished school for the day. It was early September and they had just started in the upper school. Although neither of them showed any real interest in academic work or any of the subjects they had selected to take, they preferred things as the teachers were more relaxed and there were no more detentions. They were playing Atari against each other, although Jack was more skilful, Huxley always beat him as he owned the games console and had more time to practise. Jack only had a cheap version which his Dad had picked up at a car boot sale which only let you play simple games like tennis and golf. He had tried asking for one for his Birthday but Mum had said that it was ‘Too expensive’. He’d always got bigger Birthday presents before Callum and Sal had come along. When he had talked over this with Mum and claimed it was unfair she had explained that money for presents had to be split around all of the ‘Kids’ in the family so there wasn’t as much to spend on him individually. He had a solution for Christmas, he’d get Callum to agree to a joint Christmas present then he would lay off any fight games until after the New Year when he had his Atari in place. He usually got Callum to go along with what he wanted. He’d tried Sal many times to get her to go for what he wanted but she always said ‘No’ and went along with what she wanted. She was such a selfish little girl and he wished she had never come along. He swore she always got more clothes brought for her than he did, when he asked Dad about it he claimed that it was because she was a girl and couldn’t really wear the boy’s clothes that had been handed down.

Huxley always had everything, all the latest consoles, new release videos and designer brand trainers. Their house was the largest on the Private Road next to the Council Estate where Jack lived. Had Dad was a drummer in a top band which had made it big in the seventies, they were still selling out gigs now over a decade later. They could afford everything, the latest models of whatever came out, they even had a dishwasher. Jack had actually used it a few times, just for fun to see how it worked. The one thing that Huxley didn’t have which Jack had was a Mother. She had left the family never to be seen or heard from ever again before Huxley had even started school. He said that he could remember her but rarely talked about her or why she left. Jack thought that not having a Mother around would be fun. They had the run of Huxley’s house most of the time as his Dad was rarely there and he basically let Huxley and any of his friends have the freedom to do anything they wanted.

Huxley’s younger sister Caitlin came into the front room after entering through the back door, she had just started their secondary school this September. She was late back as she had stayed for she had stayed for the compulsory ‘Must go to netball practise’ session all girls attend when they start secondary school. She was full of energy and life, laughing as always. Unlike Huxley, she missed her Mother not being their greatly, but she made the best of things, ensuring she was always giggling and joining in with games.

She had her jumper tied around her waist, Jack looked towards the blossoming buds of her breasts. He noticed how they had developed further since the summer, they were becoming more than a handful. They were in fact much bigger than that of many of the girls more his own age, three years older. Although she wasn’t a particularly beautiful girl she wasn’t unattractive either. She was a little flabby around her belly, although he talked with the other lads about all the hot girls he fancied and how he often ‘Wanked off’ while listening to Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’, he actually prefers girls with more fat on them. Yes, her ripening breasts will do nicely he thinks to himself.

Caitlin asks Huxley if she can play the winner of the game, he says ‘No’ which he has a tendency to do with everything she requests. Like Jack, he has little time for his family members and would prefer it if they were not there at all. Huxley asks Jack if he is coming outside for a cigarette. Although they had virtually a full run of the house it was still better to smoke outside, his Dad didn’t like the smell of nicotine. Jack ponders over the offer but decides to decline, choosing to remain in the sitting room with Caitlin.

As Huxley lights up Jack tells Caitlin she can come and play Atari with him. She sits down beside him Jack watches her skirt rise above her knees. As the game starts Jack shows little response to the grid form defenders dropping down the TV screen. Jack begins to prod Caitlin, again, the rhetoric:
‘Will you be my Bride, McBride?’
As the Packmans on the screen munch forward, Jack clasps his thumb and forefingers into Caitlin’s bosom,

‘Get off,’

she responds and pushes him hard away. Huxley hears the commotion and looks through the patio doors to observe Jack fondling Caitlin. He laughs to himself and looks the other way as he finishes his cigarette. Inside Jack continues to pester Caitlin, he runs his hand inside her skirt. The muscles in his groin strain as his hands touch the gusset of her pants. Caitlin now battles with him and punches his hand away as she shouts;

‘Get off, get off.’

She manages to break free from Jacks grasps and runs upstairs at a full pace almost falling over the top step as ascends. Into her room, she slams the door then pushes the bedside table against the framework. She sits on her bed, heart pounding with her knees tucked up to her chin.

Alison Little

Sylvia Pankhurst

 

Mural pres

The mural commission was proposed by Alison Little for the Trafford House in Manchester.

Commission proposal

Sylvia Pankhurst

The mural design incorporates elements of Sylvia’s work and beliefs which represent a life which was truly courageous. Towards the lower section, we have the icon slogan ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ and the colour bands of green and purple which were used throughout the Sufferage Movement. Sylvia’s mother, Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the Movement and her daughters followed in her footsteps. The top logo is an adaption of the ‘Angel of Freedom’ motif designed by Sylvia for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Central to the design is the grid, an adaption of the Holloway Brooch, symbolising how she was imprisoned more times than any of the women involved with the reform work. The dove image reflects her views towards pacifist, the traditional symbol of peace. Her philanthropic work is shown through the milk bottles and the distribution centre she set up in London’s East End. Sexual freedom is presented through the red ring, symbolising how she never married. The final image is of an Ethiopian women carrying a child on her back, the last years of Sylvia’s life were spent in the country, again helping the needy. 

‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ is the most iconic slogan of the Suffrage movements fight for equality. The initial slogan was in fact:

‘Will the Liberal Party give votes for women.’

However, the initial banner produced with this phrase was too cumbersome to carry on protest marches so it was reduced into a shorter format. The colour bands of green and purple present around the slogan and to the upper section reflect the colours used by the WSPU. Their colours were purple, white and green, purple as regal colour showing the Royal blood which ran through the veins of every Suffragette, purity is indicated by the white and green be present as an emblem of hope and the symbol of spring. Sylvia’s mother, Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the WSPU and the radical campaigner iconic for women winning the vote in Britain. All three of her daughter were strongly involved in the movement and continued to work toward equality after the passing of their mother. They were lifelong campaigners and a truly remarkable family.

The top logo is a simplified adaption of the ‘Angel of Freedom’ designed by Sylvia in 1911 to promote a demonstration to be held at the Royal Albert Hall. Sylvia was initially at Manchester School of Art, located not far from the intended location of the mural, then she travelled down to London the attend the Royal College of Art. Much of her early works reflect her philanthropical interests through the painting of working-class women. As an artist, she was presented with numerous awards, however, inevitably her visual arts work was overshadowed by her Political career and her writings on these subjects. The logo has been minimalised due to the height it is intended to be between 30-35 meters at the top of the mural and the detail will not be seen from ground level. The slight misprint where the purple ring is to one side as opposed to central is to be replicated, this reflects the printing processes of the period where this was commonplace. 

The central grid of the mural is a depiction of the Holloway Brooch designed by Sylvia. As a campaigner, Sylvia was imprisoned more times than any of her contemporaries enduring the process of being force-fed. By 1906 she was working full time for the WSPU resulting in months spent in Holloway Prison taking a leading role in the Hunger Strikes. The Holloway Brooch was originally cast in silver, the gates depicted where to represent the Houses of Parliament. It was awarded to WSPU party member who had served sentences in prison and often described as the;
‘Victoria Cross of the Union.’
Be awarded the brooch rewarded to the courage of the women who often spent long sentences in prison, and commonly the women’s prison: Holloway.

The four squares of the gates show images of Sylvia’s beliefs and life’s work. The top image is that of a dove, taken again from a brooch designed by Sylvia to promote peace. She was a dedicated pacifist and from 1910 was continually concerned with the growing levels of militancy used by members of the WSPU and argued with her mother in regards to the mater. This resulted in her braking from the party in 1913 after an arson campaign where the intention was to set fire to the houses of several high profile Politicians. Notably one of these was the Stately home of Lloyd George the current Chancellor of the Exchequer. She was opposed to the break out of the war in 1914 and horrified by her mother and sisters support for the war effort. Speaking at the International Congress of peace held at the Hague in 1915, from this she helped form the Women’s Peace Party. In the years after the First World War, she became a committed anti-fascist: supporting the Republicans in Spain, helped Jews evade Nazi occupation and campaigned against the Italian presence in Ethiopia. 

The representation of milk bottles reflects the philanthropic work in which Sylvia threw herself, a notable project being the milk distribution centre for babies who could not digest food in the East End of London. She continually campaigned for better maternity services and for rights for one parent families. During World War One she helped to set up low-cost restaurants in poorer parts of London. To provide jobs for women who had become unemployed by the war she open a toy factory, this also helped to fill the gap for playthings from Germany. More time was committed to campaigns to help poverty-stricken wives of Soldiers at war. The second initiative with milk played an important part in her work in Ethiopia. UNICEF had been giving milk tokens to mothers but these were simply being sold at the market as they were unsure of how to make the milk from formula. Sylvia made arrangements for making the dried milk with UNICEF, the children queue up as a result of efforts. Continuing into the modern day, the Pankhurst and Manchester Women’s Aid centre in Manchester continues this work today with groups of women suffering from domestic abuse. 

The image of a red ring, almost scraped on in terms of texture, a ring which does not meet at its ends. This represents the sexual freedom which Sylvia experience in an era where this was socially unacceptable. When studying at the Royal College of Art in London she began an affair with Keir Hardie, a leading Politician for the newly established Labour Party. Although his relationship with his wife looked to have disintegrated the bond he formed with Sylvia still in her twenties would have been considered scandalous. Their relationship continued into the First World, after a series of stokes he died after contracting Pneumonia in 1915. Sylvia was then to meet an exiled communist, Silvio Corio, they became lifelong partners and moved to village-come-suburb of Woodford Green together. Sylvia gave birth to a son at the age of forty-five, her mother tried to persuade her to marry Silvio but she wanted to keep her birth name. They argued over the matter and never spoke again. Other motives may have been that during that period women lost their British Nationality if they were to marry someone from outside the UK. If Sylvia and Silvio had been deported to his native Italian they would probably have been executed on grounds of being anti-fascist protestors. The red ring has always been used as an anti-symbol and the manner in which the ring, potentially a wedding ring, does not join represents her desition not to marry.

An Ethiopian mother and child are pictured in the last image of the Gate, this shows the work Sylvia did for the East African country. In 1935 the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie met with Sylvia in the city of Bath. He was in exile from Ethiopia as they were subsumed by Fascist Italy. Italy had begun building a military presence in East Africa, as a devoted anti-Fascist Sylvia was opposed to this and became a great supporter of Ethiopia. After the Second World War, she raised further objections to Britain’s administration of the South Eastern Ogaden, Ethiopia. Although Britain departed in the mid-fifties she continued to spread the anti-colonial message, moving out to Ethiopia in 1956. She spent her time visiting schools, hospitals and development projects. Dying at the age of seventy-eight and was given a State Funeral being made an Honorary Eithiopian.

The mural is to be completed using artists acrylics after an initial cream coat of masonry paint. This finish to be completed with yacht varnish, preferably brush coated. The artist’s fee would be £1000.00 for the design but would need to be completed by a street artist. The design is ready for delivery but modifications may take several weeks.

Silvia Pankhurst was a revolutionary campaigner which is reflected through this mural and the themes which it covers. It will be in keeping with the modernist aspects of the structure but equally, remind us of the rights which were fought for to give us the better world in which we live. Sexual freedom was a liberty which had to be won, how it is acceptable in contemporary society not to marry and to raise children as part of a one parent family. It will inspire feminist ideological thinking and help us move towards equality for women. Artwork which can motive creativity, thoughts around rights towards incarnation and what is occurring in these institutions which is still as relevant today as it was one hundred years later. Thoughts around pacificism, humanitarianism and Britain’s role as a Nation. Philanthropy and how we can give to others more in need in this country and abroad in countries struck by poverty. Equally, the potential to become was Sylvia truly was: a citizen of the World.

A mural which will inspire, motivate and make a real difference.

References:

Sylvia Pankhurst, A crusading Life
1982-1960
Shirley Harrison
Aurum Press
London
2003

http://www.sylviapankhurst.com
A Comprehensive information source
Susan Homewood for Hornbeam Publishing Limited
2008

Mural in location