15 year old Ann Makosinsk from Victoria Canada has invented a flashlight that doesn’t need batteries and instead is powered by the warmth of our hands. She was researching alternative energy methods when she came across the Peltier tile, a tile which generates electricity when cool on one side and warm on the other. She did some calculations and discovered that the energy generated could be enough to power a flashlight. Ann did months of research on transformers and circuitry before coming up with a working prototype. She is a top 14 finalist at the Google Science Fair and is going onto the finals of the competition later this year. Read more 15 Year Old Girl Invents No Battery Flashlight Powered by Heat from our Hands
Like many other black women, I was conflicted about participating. That a group of white women had drawn clear inspiration from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, yet failed to acknowledge the historical precedent, rubbed me the wrong way. Here they go again, I thought, adopting the work of black people while erasing us.
I’d had enough before it even began. 53% of white women who voted in the 2016 presidential election did so for a man who aims to move society backward. Were white women now having buyer’s remorse? Where were all of these white people while our people are being killed in the streets, jobless, homeless, over incarcerated, under educated? Are you committed to freedom for everyone, or just yourselves? …
There are some great perks to living on the West Coast. I never thought, as a die hard New Yorker, that I would ever find myself uttering those words. Most would think it’s the weather but for me, it’s because of the time zone set up. Yes one could argue that you aren’t getting everything on television first, like you do in New York, which does kind of suck. But sometimes that time zone thing works out pretty well. One such instance was during the Women’s March this past Saturday. It was great because I was able to watch the march on television, that was well underway in D.C., before leaving to go to the one here in Cali. It was, overall, an extraordinary showing of solidarity and sorely needed at such a crucial time in our history. In fact, it’s long past due. Speaking as a black woman who has been an organizer around black feminism and black women’s issues for the last couple of decades however, unfortunately what I saw in D.C. was disappointing. As the march unfolded, I began to realize that it had been hijacked by male centered forces from the black patriarchy.
As I watched speaker after speaker emerge, I began to see a pattern unfold. The white women were mainly centered on feminist issues, while the black women were centered on the plight of black males and with, what the Oppressive Black Patriarchy (or what I call the OBP), had deemed as a priority and agenda for black women. I became more and more frustrated as I saw these women who represent the OBP’s agenda in black grassroots circles, gradually take over and push their way, center stage into this march. The vast majority of the black women who spoke didn’t utter a word about the rampant amount of victimization that black women suffer, as a result of black male violence against them, which happens on an hourly basis. They conveniently left out issues of rape, sexual molestation, sexual violence, child molestation, child support, familial neglect, abuse, domestic violence, neighborhood shootings, physical, emotional and psychological harm in relationships, female genital mutilation and rape in war torn areas of Africa as well as the abuse which occurs within male centered political and religious structures, grassroots and otherwise. All of these areas were omitted, along with all of the other oppressive types of situations that black women face as a result of the ongoing patriarchal oppression that exists within black communities around the world and on line. …
… And therein lies the problem for many people of colour: how does a black woman reconcile getting behind a women’s protest when 94 percent of black women went down to the polling stations and cast their lot with Clinton only to be thrown under the bus by a majority of white voters who could not see beyond their own interests to think, for one second, of the fear that a Trump presidency might invoke in people of colour, queer and LGBTQIA+ people, trans people and immigrants? What do you do when you’re expected to swallow your bitter disappointment and stand shoulder to shoulder with many feminists who only seem to stand up and make noise when they have a vested interest in the matter at hand? Like Mbakwe says, where were all these women when we lost Sandra Bland?
Some of the fundamental problems with the Washington march date back to months before it took place. Brittany T. Oliver, a women’s rights activist from Baltimore, voiced frustration with the Women’s March on Washington co-opting messaging from two prominent events of civil disobedience in black history: One Million Women, led by black women in response to feminists ignoring the experiences of people of colour in 1997, and the well-known March on Washington in 1963. Oliver states “politically co-opting efforts with “ALL WOMEN” and “ALL VOICES” is merely an attempt to erase the specific needs of people of African descent.” …
… Born in Lagos in 1944, Emecheta moved to England in 1960 with her husband Sylvester Onwordi, to whom she had been engaged from the age of 11. Her 1974 autobiographical novel Second Class Citizen described their unhappy and sometimes violent marriage, which included his burning manuscripts of her work. At the age of 22, Emecheta left her husband and worked to support herself and five children. During this time, she completed a sociology degree at the University of London and contributed a column to the New Statesman about black British life. The columns formed the basis of her 1972 book Into the Ditch.
Until 1978, she wrote while working as a community worker in Camden, north London, using her experience to inform her fiction. Her third novel, The Bride Price, was the first of many where she focused on the role of women in Nigerian society. Among her most famous works was The Joys of Motherhood, an account of bringing up children in the face of changing values in traditional Igbo communities. In 1976, her first play, A Kind of Marriage, was widely praised when it was screened on BBC TV. Ten years later, she adapted the play into a novel, in the same year in which she published her autobiography Head Above Water. …
The stewardship of feminism’s collective memory raises all kinds of ethical questions. Can our approach be based on trust alone? Frankie Green shares some thoughts on feminism, archiving and accountability.
No need to hear your voice when I can talk about you better than you can speak about yourself. No need to hear your voice. Only tell me about your pain. I want to know your story. And then I will tell it back to you in a new way. Tell it back to you in such a way that it has become mine, my own. Re-writing you, I write myself anew. I am still author, authority. I am still the colonizer, the speaking subject, and you are now at the center of my talk (bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics).
The context in which bell hooks writes is very different from mine. Yet her words resonate strongly with me, illuminating some questions I want to explore here.
Archiving the history of the WLM is well-established, as we who experienced that era believe it crucial to ensure that our movement is not lost to history. The importance of taking this task seriously has been elucidated by Jalna Hanmer, and many have worked tirelessly on collecting and cataloguing information, making it available to new generations of activists, students and historians. Our collections provide insights into the aims, achievements and processes of the movement and show how it was sustained at grassroots level by thousands of women – many of whom did not become well-known, since they never attracted the attention of the mainstream media. Read more Whose story is it anyway? by @strifejournal
“At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth who are here at the Women’s March, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.
“We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages. We know that we gather this afternoon on indigenous land and we follow the lead of the first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people. We especially salute today the Standing Rock Sioux.
“The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.” …
“Friends, sisters and brothers, all of you who are before me today and in 370 marches in every state in this country and on six continents and those who will be communing with us in one at 1 [p.m.] in a silent minute for equality in offices, in kitchens, in factories, in prisons, all over the world. I thank each of you, and I especially want to thank the hardworking visionary organizers of this women-led, inclusive march, one of whom managed to give birth while she was organizing this march. Who else can say that?
Thank you for understanding that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes pressing send is not enough. And this also unifies us with the many in this world who do not have computers or electricity or literacy, but do have the same hopes and the same dreams.
I think that because I and my beloved co-chairs, the Golden oldies right?–Harry Belafonte, Dolores Huerta, LaDonna Harris–all these great people, we may be the oldest marchers here today, so I’ve been thinking about the uses of a long life, and one of them is you remember when things were worse. …
A lie can travel halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on. Or, in this case, a contemporary artwork shared by a witty but mistaken tweeter can lead to a myth taking root worldwide, with over 16,000 retweets and nearly 30,000 Twitter likes in a few days. That’s a lot of people who now think this is true and that Charlotte Bronte really did go for muddy walks in her black silk mourning slippers and then fix them with Emily’s hair, not forgetting to embroider little sprigs of heather on the insoles. Read more Charlotte Bronte did NOT repair her mourning shoes with her dead sister’s hair!
When I emptied out my desk in search of Christmas cards, I realised I’d been stockpiling quite a bit. Wrapping paper with yew and ivy and Christmas berries on it; stocks of illuminated manuscripts; multiple versions of deer in winter (I understand you can buy a Primark Christmas jumper with queer deer now, too); lots of birds sitting in amongst the illuminated branches and Christmas greenery. I’ve got birds on the tree, too, and my housemate made a wreath with mistletoe, holly and fir cones from Cambridge Botanic gardens (she works there). And I’ve been cutting back the laurel and ivy hedges in the back garden so I’ve got a mug full of ivy berries.
It’s all traditional Christmas imagery – the outside brought inside; the reminders of winter forests. But for medieval people, Christmas was not just a mid-winter festival; it was also the culmination of the fasting season of Advent and the beginning of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the traditional time for Christmas games and feasting and also for hunting the animals to provide the Christmas food. The religious festival itself had a plangent and brooding undertone, which you can see from carols such as the mournful Coventry Carol, the austere, foreboding and triumphal ‘Out of Your Sleep/Arise and Wake’ and ‘Adam Lay Y-Bounden’, with their glances out from Christ’s nativity to the Harrowing of Hell it foreshadows. These carols shift our attention, from the expected centrality of Christ’s nativity, to focus on the narratives that run alongside, and outside, this one. Read more A Siege of Herons and a Winter Forest: Carols, Poems and Stories for Christmas by @LucyAllenFWR
I’ve often written about the case of William Burke Kirwan on this blog. His was the case that caused me to pursue a different path in life. Since 2010 I’ve been researching his murder of his wife and it’s lead me back to university and in directions I never dreamed of and there’s plenty more to do. So at this stage I’m a little bit proprietorial. My friends know this about me and tend to point out interesting nuggets about the case they stumble upon. In Dublin, after all, it’s a very well know case indeed. You can still argue about it if you take the boat out to Ireland’s Eye from Howth.
So when the Irish Times featured the case as part of their series of stories from their archives, quite a few Irish friends sent me the link and asked me what I thought. Now I’ll say again that this is a case that is very special to me so I’m apt to be a touch judgemental but in this case the article in question raised my hackles both as a historical scholar and as a court reporter. Read more Even after death
Cross-posted from: Finn Mackay
Originally published: 01.09.15
Andrea Dworkin was, and remains, a Feminist legend. It is too bad that what most people know about her is nothing more than anti-feminist myth.
I first met Andrea in Brighton in 1996, at the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Women’s Citizenship. I was then lucky enough to meet her on two other occasions, including several conversations that I will treasure. I will never forget listening to her keynote speech in that hall in Brighton, amongst rows and rows of over one thousand women, all mesmerised by the honesty and strength of Andrea’s testimony. I will never forget the passion with which she spoke and the clear, steely determination behind her low, slow, measured and husky tones. She did not mince those words; a lot of her speeches are visceral, they reference the physical suffering of abused women and children, they reference the legacy that scars the bodies of those in prostitution and pornography. Read more Andrea Dworkin – Behind the Myth by @Finn_Mackay
I first saw Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years (2012) when it was screened at the FWSA Biennial Conference in June 2013 at the University of Nottingham. The film focuses on the time the African American, feminist, lesbian, warrior, poet, Audre Lorde spent travelling back and forth to Berlin between 1984 and 1992, and her influence on the Afro-German community.
To celebrate Black History Month Wales, I compiled a non-exhaustive list of black writers with strong connection to Wales, who should be celebrated and known about for their work and achievements. The article, published on Wales Arts Review, features brief bios and recommendations to the works of the following writers: Leonora Brito, Professor Charlotte Williams OBE, Patience Agbabi, Eric Ngalle Charles, and Bevin Magama.
Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 21.09.16
“Most important the figure of the witch…in this volume is placed at the center-stage, as the embodiment of a world of female subjects that capitalism had to destroy; the heretic, the healer, the disobedient wife, the woman who dared to live alone, the obeha woman who poisoned the master’s food and inspired the slaves to revolt.” (p.1)
I have just finished reading this fascinating and excellent work.
I am avid enthusiast of the need for the reclaiming of women’s history and the necessity to document and learn about women’s past roles in our history. So it was with excitement that I came across this important work.
A more spiritual person might have believed I picked up the book because of some kind of higher purpose, but at the time, I thought I was merely attracted by the color: a pale lilac that spelt the word ‘Wicca’ in a simple font on the book’s spine.
A year ago, I stood in that bookstore debating whether I should buy the book or not. I didn’t know then that my choice in buying that book — and more importantly, reading it — would lead me to where I am today.
Wicca wasn’t something that usually appealed to me. At the time, I was a hardcore atheist. While I tolerated religious beliefs, I found myself quite incapable of placing faith in a higher power.
I wasn’t always an atheist. I was raised in a family that was partly Christian and partly Muslim. My childhood seldom involved church, but was filled with family members invoking biblical verses and prayer in times of need. Uncomfortable with this contradiction, and influenced by my school friends, I began attending church and Bible study groups regularly at the age of 14. Read more APPROACHING WITCHCRAFT AS A RECOVERING ATHEIST
The gallery had sold out of the glossy, colour catalogue for Making the Australian Quilt: 1800–1950 by the time I saw the exhibition last week. But I had a terrific chat with the young woman serving at the museum shop while I placed an order to have the catalogue mailed out (at a discounted rate, no less).
“Isn’t it interesting,” she said, “how contemporary some of those quilt designs are. It’s amazing to think they predated modernism by decades. But not acknowledged, of course.” She gave me a gorgeous, wry smile. “Why would women’s sewing be acknowledged as art?”
Making the Australian Quilt: 1800–1950 is a wonderful and important exhibition now showing at NGV Australia (the gallery at Federation Square, in the heart of Melbourne). Over eighty works are on display – mainly quilts and bedcovers – and they are variously beautiful, historically significant, poignant, charming and fascinating. Intricate quilts stitched by convict women en route to Australia. Depression-era blankets (called waggas) made in desperation from scrounged bits and pieces. Delicate embroidery commemorating the jubilee of Queen Victoria. Read more Elizabeth Macarthur’s Quilt at the National Gallery of Victoria
My second to last day on the land I threw away the black leather jacket that I had been wearing to shoot the Night Stage in for the last five years. A very persistent mother mouse had established a nest in an inside pocket and in the process destroyed the lining of my beloved (and iconic, to me) jacket. That jacket was one of the last personal items I let go of on the Land this year, but it was far from being the only. In fact, this year on the Land I ended up losing many things that I knew I would never see again. I lost the labrys that I wore in the lapel of my jacket on Saturday night, my brand new Michfest hoodie, a one-of-a-kind hand crafted metal earring, a beautiful bouquet of feathers that a Sister presented me with as a gift of gratitude for my work, at least two lens caps, some brand new socks and finally the tent a friend had gifted to me seven years ago – the year my daughter came to the Land as a four month old infant. My tent was badly damaged by the aforementioned persistent mother mouse and a tree that fell on top of the tent, resulting in a ripped rainfly. The mouse came through the bottom of my tent and the tree came through the top. No, the tent was not tarped, I know, I know, I know. My point is, there were few days that some part of my mind was not occupied by my relationship to the things I had to let go of. I was given plenty of opportunity to remind myself that the most magical, comforting and even practical of “my” things have the potential to pass right through my hands and that both possession and permanence are illusions of my heart and mind. Everything changes. Every single thing reaches a moment of completion. In big ways and small ways we are always moving through and toward and away from the things, the places and the people we have loved, cherished and tried to hold on to in our lifetimes. Read more THINK OF ME AS LOVING YOU STILL by @_ssml
I spend a lot of time digging around for cultural records of women. This information is not yielded up easily, and the sources are often problematic for their bias, whether masculine or Euro-racialist and colonialist. So it is gratifying to come across a source that contains very hard-to-find information, in this case historical accounts of female spiritual leadership in the Pacific Islands. I proceed on the assumption that a great deal of information is preserved in oral traditions I don’t have access to, and that documents written by missionaries and “explorers” (traveling with colonial navies) can be problematic because of their biases. Yet they sometimes contain important testimony, as shown by what follows.
The following is drawn from an article “Oral literature of Polynesia” in a book with a most unlikely title for such a subject: The Growth of Literature: The ancient literature of Europe, by Hector Munro Chadwick, Nora Kershaw Chadwick, Kershaw H Chadwick. London and NY: Cambridge University Press, 1940 (1968). The book came to me via a roundabout search triggered by an Hawaiian oral history that set me looking for prophetic and priestly women. It was a story about the prominent kaula wahine Pao. Read more TAULA AND KAULA WAHINE, PROPHETESSES OF THE PACIFIC
In the nineties, girls and women navigating through downtown Kampala would have been surprised to end the journey without being groped and stalked. By men. This was normal; men being men and women being, well, objects for men to grab, gawk and leer at. Negative reaction often resulted in a barrage of insults. It didn’t matter that they had just called you ‘sister’ or ‘mummy’ or ‘auntie’. You were buttocks, breasts, legs. Yours was to suffer it, preferably with a smile, and keep walking.
Years later, we hear stories of women who have retaliated against this harassment. Surprisingly, men are said to cheer them on, and playfully chide their colleague for the unthoughtful move. And so you would think that a lot had changed on these streets. However, last year when Ugandans were gifted with a Christmas of laws, including the notorious anti-miniskirt act, hardly had the thud of the honorable speaker’s gavel died out, than mobs were undressing women in the name of policing decency.
Cross-posted from: Madam J-Mo
Originally published: 24.10.15
This post contains plot spoilers about the 2015 film Suffragette.
On one hand I was very excited to see the 2015 film Suffragette because this is a period of history I have long been fascinated and inspired by. One the other hand I was very nervous to see the film precisely because I know so much about the era – and I was worried that the film industry would either a) over-dramatise things for effect to distort facts, or b) invent one or two things to make the plot more ‘Hollywood’.
I always refer to myself as a supporter of the suffragists rather than the suffragettes. The suffragists (the peaceful ones who campaigned for many decades but rarely made the news) far outnumbered the militant suffragettes (the ones who got the headlines for the few years they were active), and it frustrates me that the law-abiding, peaceful and effective suffragists are so often overlooked than their more sensational sisters. So while it looks unlikely that a film about Millicent Fawcett’s lifelong campaign and petitioning will be made any time soon, Suffragette is the best we’re likely to get for now. Read more Suffragette – A Film Review at Madam J-Mo
I’ve been feeling low lately, with all the terrible news stories of the last few days, and I wanted to write about something that makes me happy.So here it is.
I got my new Tarot Deck today!
I’ve had the Dark Grimoire, (a Lovecraft inspired deck) for a few years and they are beautiful. I wanted them because they’re so dark and dreadful, but dark and dreadful isn’t the right mindset for me when I’m doing a reading, it makes me anxious. So I started looking for a new deck, I looked for Months and couldn’t find anything that even came close to what I wanted, then I found The Tarot Of The Silicon Dawn, illustrated by Margaret Trauth.
It’s bright, it’s vibrant and it’s beautiful. It immediately appealed to the child, the nerd and the feminist in me. I stumbled across the Justice card and that was enough for me to order it straight away. She’s standing tall, strong and beautiful. And what is she looking at, anyway? Something she’s fought, or something she has yet to fight?
It was released in 2011, and seems to have attracted a group of readers who immediately loved it. I avoided looking up too much about it- I wanted a surprise when it arrived, and it turns out The Tarot Of The Silicon Dawn is a massively unconventional deck.
It has extra cards , including three fools, each one representing a different cycle in her life. It has a whole extra ‘Void’ suit, to represent ‘where we aren’t’ The next life, a parallel Universe, anywhere but here. Whichever way it’s drawn, it’s read as a sideways card, there is no upright and no reversed.
At first I was a little worried about remembering which fool was which, but the styles are so different it makes it easy, all the cards are so different that even if you’ve never picked up a deck before, I don’t think the extra cards would be too difficult to work with straight away.
The cards are much smaller than the average Tarot deck, which I adore. I have pretty small hands and when reading a normal deck I sometimes find my hands start to hurt, which can be off-putting. These are close to average playing card size and fit nicely in my hands, though they may be a little too small for those with big hands.
Another thing I loved (LOVED) was all the women in this deck, I haven’t spent much time with it yet, so I can’t remember every card, but I only recalled seeing one or two men as I went through and looked at the cards. It’s very much a female dominated deck. The emperor is a woman, Death is a woman. It’s a deck full of powerful women. That wins it big points in my book.
Even the box is beautiful. It’s a flip box, with space for the cards and the book (which is pretty large, considering it includes the new card explanations too) A quick-view of the suits are on the inside lid, making for easy viewing.
The Void cards are beautiful, they’re black and sort of embossed. It’s really hard to see in a photo, you have to hold them up to the light to see the subtle pictures. They include illustrations such as this, the Starseed, a 2001 inspired card depicting our soul, our next life, our origins. I love that it’s a super cute dinosaur. Many of the cards are almost glittery, too. The twinkle when you tilt them back and forth in the light. It’s a beautiful affect and the embossing somehow makes them seem more solid. They’re a little thicker than the average card because of this, which makes me less worried about bending and creasing them.
I find it’s so much easier to tell the story when reading from a deck which is full of creativity and colour, I struggle with some of the older and more conventional decks because I find them boring and sometimes a little lifeless. With this you don’t have to rely on the subtle hints to tell a story, the tools on the Magicians table or the plants The Empress cares for. The characters are neck deep in their own stories, and you’re just happening to see a small glimpse of it when you’re looking at the cards.They aren’t static figures fixed in time waiting for you to read them, and I find that makes a big difference.
My Favourite card.
We all have that one special card that we identify with, no matter what the deck. Mine is the 10 of wands, so I was hoping that it would be good. It didn’t disappoint. It’s probably the most beautiful in the entire deck, though I might be a little biased. I have never been a believer that money can buy happiness, I’ve seen people so obsessed with material gain that they have lost everything that’s important to them. Wealth doesn’t further our knowledge, it doesn’t nurture our soul. If anything it can take us backwards, while we stifle and destroy our purpose in the hopes of having a bigger car and a bigger house. The 10 of wands shows that perfectly, it shows the wide-eyed, hopeful apprentice finally achieving what they worked so hard for, they are wealthy, important- they are the head of an empire. But they are unhappy. They stand, staring out at everything they have, everything they own, but they are alone. It’s an important warning, or an even more important harsh truth.
The Tarot Of The Silicon Dawn is truly the most beautiful, inspired deck I have ever been lucky enough to stumble across. It is bold, inspiring and a must have for any witch out there with nerd tendencies, and I am already totally in love with it.
Is My Gender Showing? I’m an animal, people and tree hugging ecofeminist. Sporadic fiction writer and freelance journalist with a new blog, Is My Gender Showing? about all areas of feminism with a focus on objectification, gender roles and mental health. I also from time to time document my adventures with No More Page 3 Leeds and Yorkshire Feminista. I can be on Twitter found at @feministvibes
Cross-posted from: Carolyn Gage
Originally published: 28.04.16
Florynce Kennedy… The first and only time I ever saw her on camera was in the cameo role of “Zella Wylie” in the Lizzie Borden film, Born in Flames. A kind of women’s liberation “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Zella mentors the young female militants who are engaged in overthrowing the patriarchy and taking over the world in this feminist, science fiction classic. Here’s “Zella,” addressing an age-old feminist concern:
“All oppressed people have a right to violence. It’s like the right to pee: you’ve gotta have the right place, you’ve gotta have the right time, you’ve gotta have the appropriate situation. And believe me, this is the appropriate situation.”
And Florynce would know. She had organized a “pee-in” at Harvard University to protest the lack of women’s bathrooms. …