Q&A: Oxford Dignity Drive

Hello to the gang at Oxford Dignity Drive! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves; who you are and what you all do?

In March 2015, Dignity Drive was set up by Wadham College students Rachel Besenyei and Niamh McIntyre, to raise awareness and combat period poverty! This took the form of an initial week of fundraising events, and a drive for donations of sanitary products which were then delivered to homeless shelters, and refuges around Oxford. We (Laura, Issy, and Hannah-Lily) took over last summer., and since then we have been raising more funds, and distributing products around Oxford. 

Why are you working for this cause? Do you believe it to be an international issue?

The issue of period poverty is especially prevalent in the UK at the moment because of the current government’s massive cuts to homelessness services, which often hit women harder. There has been a 50% cut in services since 2010, and in that time homelessness in the UK has doubled.

The lack of sanitary products for women is often talked about as the ‘unseen’ side of homelessness, and so even when people donate to food banks, often they just don’t consider it. Periods remain a taboo subject across the world, but we are focusing on Oxford in particular because of the widely acknowledged issue of homelessness in the city.

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So what do the Oxford Dignity Drive do to help?

In 2015 we ran a week of events aimed to raise awareness around the unspoken issue of period poverty, including film screenings, panel events, and an exhibition. Increasing the discussion around menstruation as a means of combatting this taboo is vital, and we hope that by doing so it will become part of every discussion surrounding homelessness.

The other major work we do is raising money, and taking physical donations. Recently we have been raising funds through union motions, and then delivering them as soon as we can to food banks and refuges in Oxfordshire. As necessary as raising awareness is, we know that this is a tangible, urgent issue, and so our aim is to provide resources as quickly as possible.

Tell us about some of these events that you’ve been holding, or plans you have!

Last term we worked on diversifying the places we donate to, and identified that there was a potential issue in that homeless shelters are predominantly used by men. So we contacted a number of women’s refuges, and are now aiming to help them too. We’ve also been continuing to raise awareness through social media, and are planning some more events, as well as a week-long drive in mid-February. You can follow our Facebook page to keep up-to-date, and watch this space!

What would you ask of local residents to do in support?

If you’re thinking about donating to food banks or shelters, make sure you include sanitary products as well as food products (this can include toiletries too, they’re all greatly appreciated!).

Spread the word, confront the taboo, and tell all your friends about Dignity Drive!

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Perhaps on a more national scale, what can everyone do to help?

It’s really the same as above; there is a nationwide campaign called #thehomelessperiod which has a big petition, and takes just 10 seconds to sign. There are also a number of regional campaigns doing the same as us – at universities in particular – so check whether your university has one, and if not you could consider setting one up! We can help, so please get in touch if you would like any advice.

Would you like to say anything else to the lovely Anthem readers?

We would like you to help us in raising awareness around period poverty. Whether it’s sharing an article, telling your friends, or making donations to food banks yourself. We are always looking for more people to help Oxford Dignity Drive as well, so locals to the area can contact us on Facebook, and we’ll let you know how to get involved.

Lastly, we will always continue trying to combat this issue, but ultimately we are picking up the slack of deficient government services. Write to your MP, and be considerate of any party’s policies surrounding homelessness when making personal political choices!

Sanitary products are not a luxury – they are a necessity. 

 

Oxford Dignity Drive do some great work, and you can keep learning about their work, and what you can do via the following:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oxdignitydrive/?fref=ts 
GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/sfdprg

Words by Briony Brake with responses from the team at Oxford Dignity Drive
Images by Oxford Dignity Drive

Blue Monday, Blue Winter, Blue Year.

Blue Monday is not the most depressing day of the year, nor is it any more or less depressing than any other day of the year.

January can be a difficult month as we tend to pile even more pressure onto ourselves with sweeping New Year’s resolutions that often force us to think we should be fitter, stronger, or better than we already are. My New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to watch more films because I keep watching the same ones over and over .

I do not plan to get smarter, thinner, or better at riding my bike because I have as much control over the year as I do the weather. This year I’m going to try my best to look after myself while I attempt to embrace the mess that is life after uni.

I don’t believe I will be happy all year. I don’t believe I will be healthy and happy for the next New Year because I don’t know what life will bring. My attitude differs to the popular resolve I’m sure, but it seems fair to me.

As such, I know people will think I’m being negative by saying that Blue Monday is as depressing as any other day. I feel I should however remind you that Blue Monday is false, has no scientific backing, and was made up by holiday company Sky Travel in their 2005 press release. Blue Monday is pseudoscience, and an angle for marketers. So all of this (see below) is bullshit.

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My point with this piece isn’t to mock you, or to tell you how foolish you are to buy into all the companies and newspapers telling you to be depressed every January 16th. My point is to tell you that for many people, the entire month, season or year can be so awfully blue, that one day won’t make a difference.

We should not see Blue Monday as a day to feel bad about ourselves unnecessarily, but as a reminder of how much work we need to put into looking after ourselves, as often as we can. Whether it’s a seasonal affective, or year-round depression, it’s important to focus on the good.

Articles from the Daily Mail (*cough* trash) telling us why things are terrible and ‘more depressing than usual’, should be replaced with good news, and things to be happy about. We should not feel bad for being upset, and we should definitely not feel bad on behalf of others when we are sad. It is a human right to feel. It is a part of living to cry and feel down, as much as it is to laugh and feel joy.

This Blue Monday, I ask that you stop reading articles about the bad in the world and to instead watch a film, or have dessert or a hot chocolate. I don’t want you to feel bad because you’ve been told to. I ask that you look after yourself as well as you should every other day of the year, and to do your best to keep it up from now on.

Blue Monday isn’t real, but your health and feelings are. Look after what counts, and be kind to yourself.

 

Words by Briony Brake

Here’s to Michelle

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Donald Trump is becoming the second most powerful man in the world this month (second only to Vladimir Putin), the White House will simultaneously be losing potentially the most inspiring and captivating First Lady it has ever had. Michelle Obama has been the role model that America needs; inspiring women of all backgrounds and ethnicities that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and not to let anyone hold you back.

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 If I’m ever feeling a bit down, or doubting myself,  or (especially) if I’m pulling an all-nighter, and need motivation to finish an essay, I tend to watch a bit of Michelle to get me back on track.  Not only does she have a law degree from Princeton and Harvard Law School, she’s also launched a campaign, ‘Let’s Move!’ in an attempt to combat childhood obesity, and she’s used her position as a way to encourage girls to pursue the careers they are interested in (‘Let Girls Learn’).

Michelle has also been extremely vocal about being a black woman in America, and the challenges those facing discrimination come up against. On top of all that, Michelle has never been afraid to be herself; she’s even been shopping with Ellen DeGeneres and on Carpool Karaoke with James Corden. Not to mention she’s also raised two kids…

Here are some of my favourite Michelle quotes that will hopefully get you through those exam/ January/ dissertation/ general blues:

1. “I wanted them to understand that the measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls. And I told them that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and I told them that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues them, and that they should make their voices heard in the world”

Talking about meeting young girls in the US and around the world in her New Hampshire Speech Oct 2016.

2.There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish, whether that’s in politics or in other fields.”

Talking about what she tells her daughters in a 2012 speech about the US.

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3. “The women we honour today teach us three very important lessons. One, that as women, we must stand up for ourselves. The second, as women, we must stand up for each other. And finally, as women, we must stand up for justice for all.”

In a speech in 2009 at the Women of Courage Awards.

4. “If had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States today… Compete with the boys…Beat the boys.

During a panel session hosted by Glamour in September 2015.

 

So there’s your inspiration and reminder that you can do this. Go slay x

 

Words by Sophy Edmunds
Photos and videos by NY Times, The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube, and Let Girls Learn/the White House.

 

Stop WINE-ing About Women Drinking

 I am fully and wholly aware that alcohol is bad for you. It’s bad for your physical and mental health. It is a drug.

But my god it’s fun, isn’t it? When you’ve had a few, and you dance your way back from the pub, eating some chips that taste like the best chips ever… and it is my god damn right to do that.

In the wake of New Years and Christmas festivities there have been a spate of ‘oh no binge drinking women how awful’ articles in the typically awful right-wing press. The narratives of these stories are often about how terrible it is for us young girls to go out in short skirts, or heels, and to get merry. They depict us as ‘messes’, as out of control, or loose.

If you’re decrying young women going out and acting disgracefully on nights out, you should probably stop putting photos of it in national newspapers.

I am sure that some of this notion of women going and getting drunk being a terrible thing stems from the fact that many of these women probably end up having one night stands, and that many people still have a problem with women being in charge of their own sexuality and sexual freedoms.

I wonder if there’s a rise in young women drinking because the pressure on us to be everything is so intense that we need something after a long day of the patriarchy to take the edge off.

Or if it’s because we are made to feel so constantly self-conscious and aware of our looks -as that is taught to be the only thing that defines us – that having a drink is sometimes the quickest way to feel good about ourselves.

In her article ‘Pictures Of Today’s Young Women That Make Me Weep’ (I’m not going to link you to it or even suggest that you look it up because any more hits on their website is exactly what The Mail wants, and I’m loathed to ever give them what they want, the absolute fucks), Sarah Vine writes “[e]ven more depressing, however, is the fact that these are not the usual suspects – thuggish male louts or football hooligans – we see brawling and barfing their way to destruction; but young women”.

OKAY. LET’S DELVE IN. Vine seems to be suggesting here that if it were ‘the usual suspsects’ that would somehow be okay, and that the fact that it’s not makes it worse. She even calls it ‘depressing’.  

I wonder why, Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove, young women would feel the need to go out and get rat-arsed these days. No idea? Me neither, Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove.

I’m not okaying binge drinking. It’s silly, and foolish, and is a strain on public services. People put themselves in dangerous positions and many die or are hurt. I’m just saying that being a woman doing it is not any worse than being a man doing it.

Also, being drunk is a right laugh. There is something intensely powerful about a group of girls on a night out. It is one of my favourite places to be. When you give up with glasses and swig from the bottle, and do each other’s eyeliner and cackle. When you hold back your mate’s hair as they’re sick in a bin. My two best friends from school and me would take it in turns to be the most drunk on a night out so no one was always the one doing the looking after. That’s not being a ‘mess’ that’s being considerate. Rae Earl put it best on Twitter when she said this:

Vine’s article also says this: “These girls have grown up in a post-feminist society that tells them anything a man can do, they can do better. And that includes getting monumentally, catastrophically bladdered.”

You know what?

Yeah. It does. Today’s young women can do whatever they bloody like. Have a drink mate. Mine’s a pint.

Words by Sian Brett (@sian_brett)
Tweet by Rae Earl (@RaeEarl)

Recipe: White Chocolate, Raspberry and Pistachio Traybake

This recipe sounds and tastes very impressive, but is actually just a plain cake mix with a few delicious ingredients stirred in. This means that the recipe can easily be tailored to your tastes. For example, you could change the nuts to walnuts, or omit them entirely; you could change the type of chocolate, or mix up the fruit. One of my favourite variations is to add a teaspoon of mixed spice, chopped pecans, apple and apricot. Just remember that if you’re adding extra wet ingredients you’ll need to compensate by adding more dry ingredients, and vice versa. Tray bakes are perfect for students because they don’t require special equipment, or any assembly, and I find that the cooking time is often minimal.

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Ingredients

For the cake mix:

  • 130g butter or margarine
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 2 medium sized eggs, lightly beaten
  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50g Pistachios, smashed/chopped into pieces
  • 75g Raspberries (I use frozen as they are much cheaper!)
  • 125g White chocolate (chips or bars roughly chopped up)

For the topping:

  • 50g White Chocolate
  • 50g Pistachios

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Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (no fan). Grease a large baking tray, preferably one with deep sides. If washing up is not one of your talents and the tray is a little worse for wear, then I would consider lining it with baking paper.

  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until they form a soft mixture, light in colour. Next, add in about a tablespoon of the whisked egg mixture and beat in. Continue to do so until all the egg is incorporated. If the mixture starts to curdle (i.e. look a little lumpy) beat in a spoonful of flour. Then sift in the flour and salt, and fold into the mixture.  Add the milk and stir in.

  3. At this point, you can begin to add whatever flavourings or extra ingredients that you want. For this recipe, fold in the white chocolate chunks and crushed pistachios. Then pour the mixture in the prepped tin. After this, poke in the raspberries so they are evenly distributed across the cake and slightly covered by the mix.
  4. Put in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown on top, and a knife comes out clean when poked into the middle. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly you can either move the cake onto a lower shelf or cover the top with a sheet of foil.

  5.  Once removed from the oven, leave to cool. I like to top the cake with swirls of melted white chocolate and trim the edges with more crushed pistachios and then cut into slices.

 

Words and photos courtesy of Rowan Duval-Fryer

Caring About Self-Care

I’ve been learning a lot recently. I’ve been at a school, for the mind.

I’ve had a bit of a revelation about life, the universe, and everything.

Ok, are you ready? Listening? Ears tuned to Sian frequency? Eyes ready to be widened in shock?

Here we go:

It’s important to look after yourself.

I KNOW. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure.

It turns out, that it’s quite important for your mental and physical wellbeing to care about yourself, and your body and your mind. It’s makes a difference if you shower, and change your bed sheets, and give yourself evenings in to watch Netflix. Eating proper meals makes you feel better!

And not just in the obvious ways. It turns out that doing nice things for yourself means that you start to believe that you’re worth those nice things (or not even nice things just normal looking after yourself things) and then you feel better and give yourself more of those nice things and then you feel better and then-

Wait… you guys don’t look as surprised as I was hoping. Oh you… you already knew? Who told you? You just knew? How did you just know? Oh. Okay yeah, fair enough. Common sense. Yeah.

For me, this is pretty big news.

Here are some things I have done since I learnt about self care:

  • Got a job
  • Bought myself fresh flowers
  • Did my washing more regularly
  • Bought nice shampoo
  • Wore clothes that made me happy

I thought that self-care was just showering and sleeping. But, it turns out, it’s so much more than that. It turns out that if you make yourself feel nice, then you’ll feel nice. And that if you look after yourself properly and dedicate time to thinking about the way you feel, you’ll actually feel better.

I’m in about week 6 of therapy. I’m trying so fucking hard to undo negative thoughts, and feelings, and relearn what happy is. No, not even what happy is, just what okay is. And that alone, that act of making myself go and talk to a lovely doctor every week about why I feel the way I do, is a kind of self-care. Because I’m learning to value myself, and what I need. And that’s so important

I can’t believe I didn’t know it was important! Why did no one tell me it was so important! Why aren’t we taught it in schools – why don’t we have sex education, and drug education, and then mental health education about how the world is big and scary but you are valid, and real, and how we are all just blobs of being and we are what we make ourselves and we should look after ourselves because it’s so self-validating?

I wish I had been taught that I am worth looking after. I wish everyone got taught that, because you are, you so so are.

 

Words by Sian Brett.

 

‘Heroes’: A Review

Picture this: you’re sitting inside your University exam hall, your clothing style has changed, your hair is longer (or shorter!), and you’ve already planned your “We made it through our degree!!!” house party. But then suddenly, it hits you. The past three years have flown past quicker than you imagined.

You, sitting there, paused mid-sentence. The sudden fear of having to enter adulthood strikes: getting a job, paying off your debt, potentially get married or having children, then watching your children continue the ongoing circle we call life. Your future flashes before your eyes quicker than you can finish that sentence you paused on. As you ponder your existence during a quarter-life crisis, you could say you’d like to become a superhero.

“Student Finance cannot cover a Superhero, let alone a degree!”

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Heroes is a play written & directed by Sian Brett, co-directed by Frankie Jolly, and is a part of Box Room Theatre Company and Goldsmiths Drama Society, 2016.

Every university student would relate to those first paragraphs. I know I’ve most definitely had similar thoughts on numerous occasions. University is not just about improving our fields of study, but our development as a person! So the idea of leaving this stressful-Utopian establishment, is quite frankly, frightening.

Heroes is a play which presents the contrasting pessimistic and optimistic anxieties of two third year English students sitting their final exam. Sian Brett, a name you’d be familiar with if you’re an Anthem regular, has voiced common, yet silent concerns among students such as:

  1. Am I spending more time at the pub than completing my University bucket list?
  2. Are our degrees even worth getting a part time job just to pay disgustingly overpriced rent? Then, having to scrape together the little time we have between lectures, societies, and reading to actually live our lives.
  3. Should I study a Masters Degree to continue my “University” experience? Or in reality, am I just delaying my entrance into adulthood??
  4. Am I going to be as extraordinary as I originally planned to be? Will even I make a significant change in the world? Because at the moment, we’re all uncooked potatoes.

“You’re a vile creature, you’re a student

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One of my biggest fears in life is not being remembered. I want to be extraordinary, and these exact thoughts are expressed in Heroes. As an audience member I was able to tag along with the characters’ search for an understanding of our life and how we contribute to social progression. Heroes welcomed me to the idea that anybody could change the world. No matter how big or small the situation is, you don’t need powers to be a hero.

You can’t talk about Heroes without mentioning the fabulous cast members Niamh O’Brien and Jazmin Qunta. The relationship between the two characters is organic; I didn’t see a performance, I saw life. I saw me and my home-dawg (hi Nicole) back in Loring Hall, eating Thai food while discussing our future….or watching High School Musical 2. The point I’m making here is that Heroes’ self deprecating nature allows the audience to chuckle their tits off whilst still projecting themselves onto the characters. It’s theatre which holds your hand and says to you: ‘Hey man! You’re not alone with this… I love you and everything, but your palm is really sweaty right now’.

Heroes It’s probably the most heartwarming downer I’ve ever experienced in theatre! The sooner we realise that all art is about death, the happier we’ll be in life.

To see more from Box Room Theatre, click here:
Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/boxroomtheatre/?fref=ts
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/boxroomtheatre/

Because I loved Heroes so much I’m giving it 5 Stars! (My dog is called Star and she is great)

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Words by Courtney McMahon
Images courtesy of Courtney McMahon and Box Room Theatre

Another Feminist Gift Guide for 2016

You’ve probably already seen around 100 different gift guides on your news feed, or on Amazon or Etsy, and you may even have read some of them, and the may even have been feminist or girl power gift guides, but I’ll be damned if I’m not making my own for Anthem. I spend enough time online window shopping, I might as well share my findings. So here’s a few items I think the girl power enthusiast in your life would appreciate…

  1. Don’t Fuck With Feminism‘ jumper from Joanna Thangiah
    $50 (roughly £40) from her online store
    Find it here.
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  2. A sassy/glittery pin from Robin Eisenberger
    $10-$12 (roughly £9) from her online store -she also stocks stickers, and her own illustrated zine.
    Find them here.
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  3. ‘Bad Girls Throughout History‘ illustrated book by Ann Shen
    £10.78 hardcover from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  4. ‘Girls Need To Support Girls‘ crop top by Minga
    £14.90 from Minga London’s online store
    Find it here.
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  5. Love Sick‘ book by Jessie Cave
    £9.98 hardback from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  6. ‘Milk and Honey‘ book by Rupi Kaur
    £6.99 paperback from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  7. Cuterus‘ enamel pin by Punky Pins
    £6 from their online store – full of cute pins like this one
    Find them here.
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  8. Femme Ain’t Frail’ gift set (enamel pin and patch) by WhoAreYouCurlySue
    £11.42 from her Etsy store – items can be bought individually.
    Find them here.
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  9. ‘It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life is Complicated, So I’ve Drawn it Instead’ book by Rubyetc
    £9.99 paperback from Waterstones
    Find it here or in-store.
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  10. Girl Almighty’ lightning bolt pin by Milly Pins
    £7.34 from her Etsy store
    Find it here.
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  11. Girl Gang‘ embroidered hoodie by Missguided
    £18 from their website
    Find it here.
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  12. Feminist Activity Book‘ by Gemma Correll
    £9.66 paperback from Amazon
    Find it here.
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  13. Pendant necklace from H&M
    £2.99 from their website or in-store – silver and gold available
    Find it here.
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  14. Girls Bite Back’ sweatshirt from H&M
    £6.99 from their website or in-store
    Find it here.
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  15. Feminist journal/diary from Chronicle Books
    £7.99 from Amazon
    Find it here.
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So there you have it, my list of 15 items (mostly books) that would make a pretty snazzy feminist gift (I know I like them). Seriously though, if you have a man or woman in your life who’s getting into feminism of any kind, then go for a book and let them read up. Some of these books are an excellent place to start, as well as Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, anything by Caitlin Moran, or Virginia Woolf, or just go on up to the Sociology section of Waterstones and choose for yourself.

Happy Gift Giving!

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images courtesy of Joanna Thangiah, Robin Eisenberger, Ann Shen, Minga London, Jessie Cave, Rupi Kaur, Punky Pins, WhoAreYouCurlySue, Rubyetc, Milly Pins, Missguided, Gemma Correll, H&M, Chronicle Books, Amazon and Etsy.

#Cam4Art

Let’s just state the obvious here; we’re glued to our electronic devices. Even if you consider yourself someone who is not glued to an electronic product, you probably still use one to make life a bit easier. But this article is not about how you might ignore your Grandma to check on your Instagram likes, this article is about a new movement in the art world called #Cam4Art!

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#Cam4Art is a product of our time, an event responding to digital intimacy and our intense internet culture.

#Cam4Art is a live-streaming performance art event created by my home-dawg Kia Nicole Noakes and Nicholas Tee. #Cam4Art will be taking place between the 25th-30th of November 2016 and is possibly the most accessible piece of performance art you could ask for, and you should not miss out on this opportunity! Here are just a few of its benefits:

  •   #Cam4Art is completely free!
  •   Even if art is unlikely to gain a double tap from you, #Cam4Art includes over 30 artists from across the globe who produce different forms of performance art. So there’s a chance you’ll find someone you will enjoy!
  •   #Cam4Art is online! No matter where you are or what device you are using; you can watch and enjoy performance art without the hassle of leaving your house!
  •   If you miss the #Cam4Art event, it’s not a problem! The performances will be recorded for you to look back on!

Before you grab your diary and save the date, I’ve selected four female artists who I’ve taken an interest in and who will hopefully interest you also, and may even feed your feminist appetite!

Emily Roderick
“Microscope Performance II”
Friday, 25th Nov. 21:00 (GMT)

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Emily Roderick uses technology such as digital microscopes and screens to explore her body and surroundings during a live art performance, and you can see more of her work here: http://cargocollective.com/emilyroderick

Why did you choose performance art to express your work?
I find performance art one of the most interesting art forms for both the artist and the audience. With quite a strong interest in the senses, the body, and digital identity, performing my ideas felt like the most suited form. I am relatively new to performance but it already feels like a very valuable decision that I have made within my work.

What responses do you get from the feminist community?
The feminist community have been very supportive of the work that I make. I think what has been most intriguing is the interest and support of the technology that I am integrating into my performances and videos. It is great as a woman to be working with code and physical computing. Embracing a male-strong industry within my practice has brought me nothing but respect as an artist. Due to only recently getting my face into the art world, most of the support resonates on social media, which is great when I am referencing cyberfeminism and networked feminism. I hope that this support continues to build within the artists community.

Do you ever get any negative responses from people who claim to be feminists? If so, how do you respond?
I personally haven’t received any negative responses about my work or ideas. I’d like to think that people approve of my ideas and like to promote feminism, more recently cyberfeminism. If I were to receive anything negative, I would be interested in hearing their view and why they feel that way. I am not here to preach but would express the ideas of equality, and that art is a great platform to express these views to a wider audience.

Why have you chosen to participate to #Cam4Art?
I first saw mention of #Cam4Art through my university. I was attracted to the fact that the organisers were pitching their ideas to a wide range of artists and were keen to get students involved. The ideas seemed fresh, and looked to celebrate the online platforms that we have access to today, as well as suggesting new platforms for exhibiting work. Despite having a digital aspect to my work, I was yet to experiment with the online world to display my live performances. #Cam4Art seemed like the perfect way to explore the online community and give an alternative output of my current work.

Lindsay Dye
“Variety Show”

Friday, 25th Nov. 22:00 (GMT)

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Get ready for Lindsay Dye’s “Variety show”, where the clue’s in the name: webcam mutations, readings, and visuals. See more at: http://www.lindsaydye.com

Why did you decide to use your job as a Cam Girl in your art?
I was making art about internet relationships and Miami strip club culture while I was in graduate school in NYC. My research about sex work brought me to cam culture. I became a camgirl to analyze the community and to understand conceptual projects like the Camgirls Copyright Infringement Dress that cannot be worn in public, and the Buy Me Offline Shop, an e-store where you can purchase physical screenshot prints, originally used as blackmail from my chatroom clientele. Three years later, it’s my full-time job and continues to be a source of artistic fodder.

Do you ever get any negative responses from people who claim to be feminists? If so, how do you respond?
Disengagement is the most harmful response I receive from anyone. It’s painful when another human disregards your intellect because of your occupation. My long-term response has been the integration of my two jobs: camgirl and artist. This has made a smoother entrance to talk about sex work and feminism to both men and women through the art I make, and the chatrooms I inhabit. The response is that women and feminists are more than this one thing that supposedly defines us; we are complex and attach ourselves to many identifiers, by choice and by experience.

Why have you chosen to participate in #Cam4Art?
This show represents the exact space in which I’ve been working for the past few years, an autonomous one. Autonomy is the silver lining to camming and #Cam4Art’s fundamental concept, that is to exhibit work on the artist’s terms. The juiciest part is that performative work online becomes mutated immediately just by using the medium of the internet. The layering of audiences on multiple platforms becomes innumerable and lost. There’s a level to live-streaming that can’t be perceived.

Kate Durbin
“The Supreme Gentleman”
Saturday, 26th Nov. 20:00 (GMT)

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Kate Durbin will be streaming her pre-recorded work “The Supreme Gentleman”, which was created in response to the tragedy of the Isla Vista shooter, Elliot Roger. See more here: http://www.katedurbin.la

Why did you choose performance art to express your work?  
The Supreme Gentleman was initially commissioned for Yes All Women, an art benefit in Los Angeles created by Jessie Askinazi and emceed by Rose McGowan, with the proceeds going to the East Los Angeles Women’s Center. The Yes All Women benefit was inspired by the hashtag #YesAllWomen, which was created in response to Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger’s 2014 killing spree. Rodger espoused misogynist and racist beliefs on YouTube and gamer websites prior to his shooting rampage in my home state of California, and no-one did anything about it.

The Supreme Gentleman is a re-enactment of Rodger’s final YouTube address. It was important for me to physically embody Rodger’s words as the type of body he felt so entitled to: a white woman. I wore a long Lady Godiva wig and BMW panties because he objectified blonde women and cars (BMWs were his favourite). I spoke his horrible words out of my own mouth in order to diffuse their power; the change in tone of the voice reflects that these are not even Rodger’s words, but the words of a white supremacist patriarchy, a collective belief system larger than individuals.

What responses do you get from the feminist community?
A lot of people who consider themselves feminist like my work. The Supreme Gentleman was commissioned for a feminist project, the Yes All Women art auction benefiting the East Los Angeles Women’s Center.

Do you ever get any negative responses from people who claim to be feminists? If so, how do you respond?
I do, at times. I listen to critique but when it mischaracterizes my work
 or becomes hateful, I tune out. I don’t feel obligated to personally respond.

Why have you chosen to participate to #Cam4Art?
I want the work to continue to have an online viewership, especially now with a Trump presidency looming in my country. One of the things I was thinking about when I put the work back on YouTube, along with the addition of the karaoke sing-a-long text, is how we turn mass shooters into gods through the media. I was thinking of how we help that process along through clickbait. I am thinking about how we have done something similar with our current presidential election. As artists we can draw attention to this process, can try and interrupt it.

Seren Metcalfe
“Laying Within a Bed of Spring Greens”
Monday, 28th Nov. 22:00 (GMT)

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Seren Metcalfe’s performance focuses on the relationship between a person expressing emotion onto an inanimate item. Find out more here: http://www.serenmetcalfe.co.uk

Why did you choose performance art to express your work?
I wanted to convey a sense of intimacy and discomfort within my work as this just wasn’t being conveyed through the videos and photographs I was creating. I am a performer because I realised the only way for me to truly be intimate with the viewer is to be present. There is something amazing about a viewer being able to watch my body move,  hear the sound of my breath, and watch the emotions on my face in real time!

What responses do you get from the feminist community? Could you give an example?
I’m not sure about using the term ‘feminist community’ so exclusively but I guess my work is very self-empowering, and when I perform I put myself in a very vulnerable position. It’s strange when I get comments saying “you’re so brave for being able to do that”. I wonder if I would get the same reaction if I was a man performing? But then to flip that around, I think maybe the performance would be a greater success if I was a man portraying myself as vulnerable.

Do you ever get any negative responses from people who claim to be Feminist? If so, how do you respond?
I mean, I don’t think you have to be a feminist to understand my artwork. My artwork isn’t exclusively for a feminist audience, it’s for anyone.

Why have you chosen to participate to #Cam4Art?
I’ve done performances through webcam previously and they’ve been less successful so I’m really excited to develop something better than I have done previously. Its really great to be part of a network of so many unique performers. There’s a real sense of togetherness about it.

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If you are an artsy-fartsy individual like myself, it’s now time to consider: “Is live streaming the future for performance art?” (Huck Magazine). I believe that the #Cam4Art event will most definitely answer this question, so make sure to tune in between the 25th– 30th of November 2016 here: http://www.cam4art.com

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cam4art/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cam4art.cam4art/?fref=ts

Images courtesy of #Cam4Art, Emily Roderick, Lindsay Dye, Kate Durbin and Seren Metcalfe.
Words by Courtney McMahon and external opinions from Emily Roderick, Lindsay Dye, Kate Durbin, and Seren Metcalfe.

The Lions Barber Collective

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 years old in the UK. Let that sink in for a second.
In 2013, over 4,000 of a total 5,140 suicides were male. Nearly 80%.
For every female who commits suicide, there are four males who do, but the numbers aren’t going down…

The ratio of male to female suicide shows a sustained rise over the last 30 years.  In 1981 men accounted for 62 per cent of suicides, this rose to 70 per cent by 1988, 75 per cent by 1995, and 77 per cent in 2012, to 78 per cent last year” (CALM, 2013).

The statistics are worrying, and aren’t even slowing down. So what the hell can be done about it?

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The Lions Barber Collective is a group of professional barbers from England, Ireland and Holland who are trying to help prevent it. How? They want to talk. It’s widely known that people are often likely to confide in bartenders, salon workers and barbers more than their friends or family. It’s not a bad thing, but it does raise the idea that perhaps these guys should know what to do when dealing with vulnerable members of the public.

This particular group has begun working in partnership with #BarberTalk and Papyrus (suicide prevention). Their general work, in conjunction with BarberTalk involves raising awareness, and training. The training aims to have barbers recognising, talking, listening and advising their customers. Here they’ve realised their relationship with the men they work with, and the trust that already exists, and are putting it to good use!

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Through a variety of public projects, demonstrations and merchandising (you might even have seen these badass t-shirts before), the charity is able to spread the training, knowledge, and most importantly, the awareness. It may seem like a little change, but being able to actually tell someone what’s going on in your life, or how you’re feeling can make the world of difference. For men who frequent the barber multiple times a year, it can become a chance either to get a few things off your chest, or simply be distracted from any problems long enough to have a nice chat.

Founded by Tom Chapman, the organisation is still very young, and really deserves the chance to grow and become a household name. Having lost a friend to suicide himself, Chapman felt the need for a safe and open environment where men were free to express themselves, and be listened to if they were feeling depressed or suicidal. The work they have done in such a short space of time has already saved lives, and as Chapman says in the interview below, if they can shave off just 1% of the suicides, it’s still lives being saved.

I emailed Lions Barber Collective and received a joyous reply from Tom Chapman who wanted to pass on the main goals of the collective; “to destroy the stigma around mental health and suicide, and through the BarberTalk program to train barbers to recognise the signs of mental health, the skill of non-judgemental listening, and signposting”.

It seems like a small ask that could save lives.

You can like them on Facebook to keep up to date with their events and partnerships here: https://www.facebook.com/TheLionsBarberCollective

Or check out their website instead for more information and merchandise: http://www.thelionsbarbercollective.com/

All photos courtesy of The Lions Barber Collective
Words by Briony Brake

Statistics from CALM: http://www.thecalmzone.net.gridhosted.co.uk/2014/10/male-suicides-in-england-and-wales-hit-15-year-high/