What is a woman?


What indeed?

Adult human female? Unattainable, fantastic social construct mined for centuries for the profit of  patriarchy? And worth saying, perhaps; that if the archetype remains unattainable (desirable or not) for womyn-born-womyn; then how much more so for Burchill’s ‘bedwetters in bad wigs’?

I chanced upon this article via the ever-reliable GenderTrender – always worth a visit if one is of a gender sceptical bent. As GT readers have noted, said article is slyly weighted in favour of contemporary liberal morés. But I trust those in full possession of their critical faculties will make mincier meat of it.

From the X(X) Files: the truth is out there, cutting edge or as dully-predictable as the NY‘s closing quote from aging geek and trans*celebrity Sandy Stone:

‘I am going to have to say (to women), It’s your place to stay out of spaces where transgender male-to-female people go. It’s not our job to avoid you.’



Heavy metal is gay…


…is a statement guaranteed to trigger apoplexy in not a few rockers of the old school, not to say bafflement amongst some only passingly familiar with the genre. But bear with Tom Dare, writing over at Terrorizer.com about homophobia in the rock and metal world:

‘…metal is totally gay. It’s a predominantly male audience watching predominantly male bands act as butch and masculine as possible. It’s leather, denim, tight trousers … and a bunch of other shit that has more to do with 1970s San Francisco gay clubs than anything vaguely hetero. It’s all phallic metaphors, homoerotic imagery and sweaty (frequently topless) men grappling each other in a dark room.’

He’s got a point: consider the ‘classic metal’ look, as exemplified by Rob Halford of Black Country metal stalwarts, Judas Priest, amongst others from that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era. That leather and stud look is still popular within certain of gay clubbing circles: and whilst Halford IS gay – now openly so – he’s very much the exception. German industrial metallers, Rammstein, took that camp/macho, homoerotic look to its natural conclusion more so than many latterday exponents of the genre, as seen here on Bück Dich (Bend Down):

Clearly a band comfortable enough with their sexuality to play around with it as camp, vulgar exhibitionism (mind you, this was their first album cover ;) )

As Dare writes, though; such is not the norm. Homophobia in metal circles, as elsewhere, is undoubtedly an issue. Back in 1984, Queen lost a lot of fans Statesside with their cross-dressing video clip for I Want To Break Free. (OK, Queen aren’t a metal band per se, but they’ve flirted with the genre on many occasions and count not a few metal aficionados amongst their fan base). It would be heartening to think we’d moved on from there.

Homophobia, at its root isn’t a fear of male-on-male sex as such; so much as a fear of men not being seen to perform their proper gender rôle (i.e. fucking – and putatively impregnating – a bunch of women). As such, it’s rooted in misogyny – a fact that can be inferred in the colloquial use of gay to mean worthless or inferior. The best critical analysis of homophobia I’ve read is by American feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin in the ‘Law’ chapter of her classic Intercourse text.

What homophobia within subcultures such as metal tells us is that men still yearn for ‘safe spaces’ to indulge their homophobic – and thus, misogynistic – feelings without admitting it to themselves.

So I beg to differ with Dare when he writes

‘(When) Oli Sykes …screams about the girls he’s read about on the back of toilet doors (which paints a rather grim view of Sheffield, if that kind of misogyny is commonplace …) that’s a separate issue…’

But agree wholeheartedly with the following

 ‘…it brings love and shagging into metal. And that makes some people – particularly young people less likely to realise that phrases like “fuck this gay shit” or “faggot metal queers” cause real harm to real people – uncomfortable, and lash out.’

Metallers often adopt a posture of aloofness and superiority with regard to the ‘mainstream’ pop industry: I know I sure did back in the day – and that’s bullshit for any number of reasons, not least because much metal, as much punk, is really cranked-up, distorted pop – most often in the claim that for them it’s ‘all about the music; divorced from popular, consumerist trends; glossy, sexually-explicit marketing. It should be all about the music; and would be in a world less prejudiced.

Dare‘s call for metal fans to confront homophobia is, at heart, a call for them to know themselves better.



*Breaking News* Lesbians stage protest of heterosexual male keynote speaker at London Dyke March 2014 , threatened with arrest



In our country we’re often bombarded by tabloid headlines by stories of how bad things are ‘over there'; how little respect they have for ‘their’ women; how little regard ‘they’ have for life, particularly ‘ours’.

Read this and weep – or not – conservatives (and liberals): this is where the dichotomy really begins; and we’re as guilty as ‘them’.

Can’t be seen to silence women – wouldn’t be politic these days. would it? – send in a drag act to mouth platitudes on their behalf. Presto! Who could object…

And I’m supposed to be proud to be British…

Originally posted on GenderTrender:


Lesbians KICKING ASS! for Lesbians! at London Dyke March 2014

After weeks of online protest surrounding the controversial appointment of former LibDem Councilor Sarah Brown, a male transgender, as keynote speaker at the London Dyke March, a group of courageous lesbians staged an effective demonstration today at the march, raising awareness of how Dyke Marches worldwide have been aggressively colonized by “male lesbians”.

Flyer handed out by Lesbian protesters at Dyke March today

Flyer handed out by Lesbian protesters at Dyke March today

Many readers will recall former Councilor Brown as the male self-identified “polyamourous dyke with one male partner” who launched a public campaign to name the foul smelling drainage created by his surgically inverted penis (what he describes as “the smegma-like mixture of dead skin cells, gynaecological lube, stale urine (gives it its distinctive smell) and sweat that is sometimes present as a white residue on the end of a dilation stent when a post-operative trans woman…

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Cusp of release… almost.


In case you missed the memo, Opeth are due a new album in a couple months and are now trailing it with Cusp of Eternity, track two from Pale Communion:

The full tracklist is as follows (see Prog magazine for more)

  1. Eternal Rains Will Come
  2. Cusp of Eternity
  3. Moon Above, Sun Below
  4. Elysian Woes
  5. Goblin
  6. River
  7. Voice of Treason
  8. Faith in Others

On this song alone, it’s hard to ascertain if Mikæl Åkerfeldt and co have made good on their promise of a record both, ‘more melodic’ and ‘darker and heavier’ than Heritage. In the vein of The Devil’s Orchard which trailed the latter, it purveys a slightly streamlined, sanded-down version of the classic Opeth sound – rich in characteristically-sombre melody, albeit shorn of the ‘Marmite’ growls – which walks a fine line between satisfying long-time fans and signposting a sound with broader rock appeal. On the strength of …Orchard, critics might have been forgiven for concluding Opeth had recorded their ‘Black Album‘, The reality turned out somewhat differently, as we now know: Heritage may be markedly less brutal, yet every bit as challenging for that: tracks like I Feel The Dark and Famine were never likely to trouble daytime radio listeners’ ears, never mind set fists-a-pumping in stadiums.

To my ears Cusp… would have sat quite comfortably on Heritage, had it been recorded at the time. Sure, the guitars are a little crunchier-sounding but the song is still recognisably a member of the same extended family of songs sired by Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson during that fruitful period from 2010-12 which also includes Storm Corrosion and Grace For Drowning. One might even look back as far as 2008 and Mellotron Heart for signs that times were a-changing in camp Opeth. If that moody, idiosyncratic prog rock niche is your thing, Pale Communion is likely to be more music to your ears: Opeth fans of yore, yearning for a return to throat – and ear – shredding growls are liable to be further disappointed.



Did you know it’s 50 years since: 

- the “British Invasion” of UK bands blazing a trail across the United States of America? 

- pirate station “Radio Caroline” sent pop music bouncing across the air waves? 

- the South Coast witnessed the infamous Bank Holiday clashes between the Mods and Rockers?

Whatever your answer, the place to be on Thursday 12 June is in the audience for The Sixties – a musical tribute to the entire decade that was the 1960s – a show set to rock Worthing

The Sixties 

With songs from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Dusty Springfield, The Who, The Ronnettes, The Everly Brothers, Lulu, Bobby Vee, The Four Seasons, The Animals, The Hollies, The Monkees, Cream, The Shirelles, Procul Harem, The Mamas & The Papas, The Doors and many more… eye-catching outfits; an amazing live band; rocking dance routines; and news stories from these exciting and sometime turbulent times, The Sixties will transport people back 50 years. 

Phil Short, The Sixties‘ creator and lead singer, said: “I’m expecting people to be up dancing and singing along with us. Our cast of professional musicians, dancers, actors and singers will take everyone back in time, 50 years, to the blazing 1960s. 

“If you’re a fan of 60s music or love West End musicals like Jersey Boys, Dancing In The Streets and Let It Be, you’re going to love The Sixties!” 

The Sixties starts at 7.30pm at the Pavilion Theatre. Tickets are £19.50 (£18 concessions) and can be bought in advance via www.worthingtheatres.co.uk or on the night at the box office. You can find out more via the theatre’s website, on The Sixties facebook page (www.facebook.com/thesixtiesshow) or by following them on twitter @TheSixtiesShow 

Phil added: “Worthing has some of the best theatre spaces in the area. The Pavilion Theatre, sited on the pier, is a wonderful space to perform in and conjures up all the seaside romanticism of the era. Is it any wonder we picked it for The Sixties?” 

Phil Short is available for interview: for further information, an interview with Phil and pictures, please call Kelly.Barnes (promotor) 07853 852860.



“Empire Building”: Career Feminism and Me



Stop press – if only, one might sigh – the online abuse campaign against Caroline Criado-Perez goes on unabated, much less reported…

Seems plenty of women out there would rather she shut up too, sadly – wasn’t feminism supposed to bring females together – what went wrong?

And in a culture this toxic – suggesting one banknote of four might perhaps feature a female! the sheer audacity! gotta be raped and killed! – one can’t help by discern disingenuity in the shock! horror! reporting of the Elliot Roger massacre (the Salon piece strays too far in the direction of liberal for my taste, whilst getting the bones in the right place).

Incidents like the above ought to surprise no one.

It’s not ‘news’, and it’s not right; not any of it

Originally posted on Week Woman:

I tend not to do much about the daily stream of attacks, insults, wilful misrepresentations and misinterpretations that constitute my daily online life. Not anymore. I just put up and shut up for the most part.

I used to try to defend myself, believing for a long time that explaining what I actually said, meant, intended, would help. But I’ve long since given up expecting the facts to matter when it comes to the determined group of people who have been keeping up a campaign of harassment against me for the past year or so. Indeed, on the few occasions I’ve tried to highlight their bullying, to try to defend myself, to say that I don’t think I deserve to be treated like an inhuman piece of shit, just because I happened to have hit headlines for…being treated an inhuman piece of shit, this group has never been unsuccessful in turning…

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The possibility of Change


Following on, coincidentally, from my last (re)post

Recognize this guy?

Field Marshall Lord Kitchener’s face and pointing finger proclaiming ...

‘Your country needs YOU’

And this woman?

You’ll almost certainly be familiar with the former image and accompanying slogan – or variations on it, depending on your geographical location. Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener – for it is he – was the face of military recruitment during the WW1 campaign of a century ago. You might be forgiven for unfamiliarity with the second image: Edith Cavell was a Norfolk-born nurse who served in Belgium during that conflict; and her most oft-repeated quote ‘I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone’. Kitchener died June 5, 1916, on a boat sunk by a German mine off The Orkney Islands;  Cavell on October12, 1915 by Nazi firing squad. That which connects the pair – their respective rôles in that historic conflict aside and their deaths, both at the hands of the same ‘enemy’- to the aforementioned – in the Week Woman post – Criado-Perez campaign is their competition in a more modern conflict; in recognition for posterity via the medium of legal tender in the UK. started by Sioned-Mair Richards. In short, The UK Treasury wants to put Kitchener on a commemorative £2 coin; Richards nominates Cavell. Criado-Perez‘s successful campaign for women – or at least, a woman – to be represented on British currency was actioned via Change.org.

Petitions launched via that platform have helped to achieve positive action in social justice, education and public awareness, including:

Achieving legal aid for the inquest into the death of Cherry Groce, fatally injured during the ’85 Brixton riots

Keeping Mary Seacole on the National (educational) Curriculum in the UK

Pressing for a public enquiry into the late MP, Cyril Smith’s historical sexual abuse of vulnerable young boys

Richards‘ campaign deserves to succeed too: in a real sense it’s only a coin (or note) but implicit in the public support for the figure that we choose to commemorate the war that, 100 years ago failed to end all war is our hope – or lack of – that one day it might end. That one day, beginning today, we might have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone. If Criado-Perez‘ experience is anything to go by, I fear for Richards‘ treatment via social media. The only consolation is that any vindictiveness is in exponential relation to the importance of the values of their actions. For every 100 detractors, the lives of 1000,000s stand to be improved by the elimination of the brutal, patriarchal conventions that blight so many lives.

Is patriotism enough, or can we do better?