Repeater: What struck you about Susan Sontag’s diaries?
Siouxzi Connor: I felt like an invader reading these things but at the same time couldn’t pull myself away. I guess, in her personal life, the fact that she went through such a turn-around in her sexuality as well – publicly too.
Obviously, the public side of it was more or less towards the end of her life, not so much when she was at the height of her fame, of her productivity. But I could see this pain coming out in her dairies that I also felt with my own struggles with identity, struggles with sexuality or sexual identity, and knowing whether to make that topic apparent in my writing room.
Repeater: I’m fascinated by what seems to be a really strong strand in your art of this idea of a forest. Am I wrong in noticing that that’s a thing? If I’m not, what’s it all about?
Siouxzi: It really stems from my childhood. It stems from this acquired common obsession that maybe a lot of children have of always trying to visualize this sense of home. They might draw this little square with a triangle and a little pitched roof and show the little path and a picket fence sort of picture of home. Continue reading Siouxzi Connor on forests, childhood and Susan Sontag
In an extract from her recent book Lean Out, Dawn Foster explores the limits of self-proclaimed feminist Theresa May’s solidarity with women.
The notorious Yarl’s Wood detention centre was opened in 2001, under the last Labour government, and management was outsourced to private company Serco in 2007. Poor conditions in the centre and protests against the 400-capacity facility have intensified in recent years, coming to a head in 2015. Reports of sexual abuse and mistreatment in the compound became increasingly common, and self-harm was rife among the women, who comprised of failed asylum seekers awaiting deportation, imprisoned despite committing no crime. A Channel 4 investigation obtained footage of the systemic mistreatment of women detained in the centre, included a guard shouting “Headbutt the bitch. I’d beat her up.”
Rashida Manjoo, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on violence against women, was barred from Yarl’s Wood by the Home Office in April 2014 when she tried to investigate complaints as part of her fact-finding mission into violence against women in the UK. Cameras have never been allowed in. In April 2015, in the same week as a woman died in Yarl’s Wood and a guard with a history of sexually inappropriate behaviour was￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ suspended pending investigation for a revenge assault, Cristel Amiss, of the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, told The Guardian: “We’ve been supporting women in Yarl’s Wood for over a decade and have heard consistent reports from brave whistleblowers exposing abusive treatment and sexually predatory behaviour by guards.”
“There’s no such thing as the voiceless, only the deliberately silenced and the preferably unheard.”—Arundhati Roy
Post-crash, countless studies have shown that the impact of cuts and austerity has been borne predominately by women. A Fawcett Society study on the impact of cuts doled out by the coalition government in the UK stated that 75% of all cuts hit women. Women with disabilities, black women, working-class women, and single mothers were the hardest hit.
The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission warn that 2010–2020 will be the first decade since records began that sees a rise in absolute poverty in the UK, with the gulf between the rich and poor as irreparable. When the economy tanks, it is predictably women who suffer. The fight for women’s rights is less a long, slow march, and more like a climbing wall: it is possible to climb as well as fall, so vigilance is essential at all times. The clawing back of the welfare state is a direct attack on women’s rights, but boardroom quotas make a tidier headline, based on the assumption that certain rights have already been won.
In reaction to the argument that “there is no alternative” to cuts and austerity, with Labour and the Conservatives in the UK singing from the same hymn sheets, women’s grassroots groups have started to fight back. The Focus E15 campaign grew in Newham in response initially to Newham’s “social cleansing” of the poorest households in the borough, targeting single mothers and forcing them to relocate to cities and towns hundreds of miles away from their children’s schools, families and support networks. In 2013, a group of 29 young single mothers, many of whom were teenagers, were served with eviction notices from their specialist hostel in east London. The Focus E15 foyer provided one-bedroom apartments for the women to live in with their children, or whilst pregnant, after being made homeless, and provided targeted skills training, literacy teaching, and specialist support to help the women back into work or training. Many of the women in the £125-a-week rooms were studying, or in part-time work in the area, and one mother said she was applying for universities in London.
The funding of Supporting People, designed to help vulnerable people live independently, was slashed in England and the foyer said that without funding for specialist support, the hostel would cease to be an appropriate environment for young mothers and children. Newham Council, tasked with rehousing the women, told them they should expect to be placed outside the borough and city. A change to Newham’s housing policy meant working families and people who had served in the armed forces received priority over single mothers like the Focus E15 residents.
We’re cross-posting (with permission) this great piece by desiredxthings on the demise of Page 3 — T.S.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE DEMISE OF PAGE 3
Well, the tits are gone and now all of our lives are meaningless. Wherever will feminism go now the patriarchy is crushed?
The No More Page 3 campaign has been a mess from the beginning – it was the online milieu of the middle class, white feminists who have been stomping all over minorities for decades. Anti slut-shaming has become trendy, so rather than telling other women not to get their breasts out in the first place, mainstream feminism is dictating how and when to get your breasts out – and evidently getting your breasts out for payment is verboten. But this is okay, of course.
It initially came across as a fairly benign campaign, to keep boobs out of a family paper. We can’t have kiddies staring at norks, can we? But… to try and position The Sun as a family newspaper, a main argument of NMP3, is laughable. If you want your children to have access to misogyny, homophobia, racism, antagonism towards those on state welfare, ableism, xenophobia, whorephobia and a whole host of other oppressive bullshit, that’s your own bad parenting; but don’t call it a family newspaper.
Let’s get this straight, I don’t really care about the titillation of men and I’m not even going to trouble myself analysing this as a free speech issue – those aren’t what I’m concerned about. I’m concerned as a sex-worker in a time where the well-funded face of feminism sees us, at best, as an inconvenience on the journey to the gender equal utopia and, at worst, despicable gender traitors. No More Page 3 has tried to deny claims that they are opposed to sex workers or nudity; that’s all well and good, but why does what they do completely counteract that? Their claim is that other glamour modelling opportunities exist; but they either fail to grasp or completely ignore the importance of page 3 to a glamour model. The Sun is the most popular publication in the country and high circulation means higher exposure. One photo in The Sun can lead to countless other opportunities. NMP3 have removed a stepping stone for many glamour models (many of which do not have agents and have to navigate the industry alone) and hacked away at a career route. Continue reading Page 3 was the least offensive thing in The Sun