About the Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster
Hi all, Tabitha Stanmore here!
As head of the SWW DTP Gender and Sexuality research cluster, it’s a huge pleasure to welcome you back to the second issue of Gendered Voices. It has been great to see how well the first issue was received, and I’m sure this edition will spark many stimulating discussions. This has been another busy year for the Gender and Sexuality cluster. We’ve enjoyed several reading group meet-ups, organised and guided Lucy Elkerton, where we’ve explored such topics as gender bias is science, neo-masculinity, and sexuality in the stories of Angela Carter. It has been a great opportunity for us all to delve into other areas of research, and think about different facets of gender and sexuality. We look forward to the programme for this academic year, where the reading group will be tackling themes including formations of gender identity outside of a Western context, and nonbinarism (pertinent to this issue of Gendered Voices!). The cluster also hosted its second annual conference in May, held this time at Bristol University. The theme this year was ‘Gendered Voices’, in deference to the launch of the new magazine and to encourage cross-
About Gendered Voices
Finally, as the new academic year begins it is time for me to hand over leadership. It has been a privilege to head the Gender and Sexuality cluster this year, and I am very pleased with the level of engagement from within the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and beyond. To all readers, conference attendees, speakers, organisers and cluster members, thank you so much for making the cluster what it is. From November, the new cluster leader will be Nick Havergal, second year PhD candidate in theatre at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter. Nick is researching masculinity in live Edwardian performance, and has many exciting ideas for cluster activities next year. It will be fantastic to see the Gender and Sexuality cluster continue, building on its past successes and expanding its reach. We hope that many of you will continue with us on the journey!
Contents p. Our Reading Group p. Our Contributors p. Editorial p. Editor’s Pick: Kimwei p.
1 2 3 5 6
Our Voices Breaking out of the Binary Box p. A Curatorial Perspective: Fashion and Emergent Genders in Museums p. Prioritising Marginal Voices p. Guest Article: Gender Fraud p. BIsexuality and Constraining Binaries p. Trans People in the Inca Empire p. Women and Masculinity p. Questioning Ownership of Identity: RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Lipsync Performance p. Gender is Non-Binary: Drag World p. Female Killers in Late Seventeenth-Century England p.
disciplinary conversations. Overall the two-day event was a success, with over 20 speakers from across at least nine disciplines. Our third conference will be held in the first half of 2018, so please check in with the cluster website (genderandsexualityresearch.wordpress.com) for upcoming details.
Between Bodies and Voices Gender Fluity in Nineteenth-Century France Revealing the Phallus “Are you the Gender and Sexuality Guy?” The Exstitential Struggle of Non-Binary Living
p. p. p. p. p.
27 29 31 33 35
You the Many, We the Few
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21 23 25
‘Gendered Voices’ - A Report Reading Research Network Events Contact Us
p. 45 p. 46 p. 47
Our Recent Reading Group The reading group focussed on masculinity and in particular on one of the most common – and contentious - ‘buzzwords’ in the study of men and masculinities: ‘crisis’. To explore this, two texts were selected: the opening chapter from cultural scholar David Buchbinder’s conveniently titled ‘Studying Men and Masculinities’ (2013) along with a blogpost titled “What is Neomasculinity?’ written by the American ‘pick-up artist’ Roosh V and published on his web site. Using examples of Anglo-American cultural products such as Fight Club or Robert Bly’s Iron John (regarded as a kind of bible for what is known as the ‘mythopoetic’ men’s movement) Buchbinder traces the various ways in which ‘crises’ of masculinity have been evoked in Western media and scholarship. On the one hand it has been used as a means of diagnosing a perceived loss of the so-called ‘deep’ or natural sense of masculinity in the chaos of a modernising world, yet also refers to the harmful, essentialising ways in which certain practices and behaviours have been reclaimed by some movements in order to rediscover that lost manliness. The latter point is where proponents of ‘neo-masculinity’ such as Roosh come in. His article advocates the
Image Credit Maria Tomlinson
importance of fitness regimes and warns against male addiction to porn – reasonable things to point out – yet he also uses unsubstantiated terms such as ‘game’ or ‘sexual marketplace value’ to back up a biological justification for male supremacy and even, bizarrely, includes a section that proposes banning gay men and women from barbershops. Roosh responds to the so-called crisis in masculinity by citing (mostly debunked) claims of biological essentialism without much acknowledgement that those very ‘norms’ he wishes to reinstate are themselves constructed. The participants agreed that what we mean by ‘crisis’ in masculinity is really just the process of historical change, where the norms and standards typically associated to boys and men are in a constant state of redefinition; the term can be invoked to advance a personal or political agenda that merely produces a perception of crisis and cannot therefore be regarded as an objective or monolithic fact. It was pointed out that both texts deal with masculinities from one cultural perspective – i.e. Anglo-American – and that in future reading groups it would be interesting to explore gender dynamics in non-Western, non-Englishspeaking contexts.
Maria Tomlinson: General Editor Maria is a teaching fellow in French studies at the University of Reading. She is in her fourth year of her PhD which is cosupervised between Reading and Bristol universities. Her PhD is funded by the SWWDTP. Her thesis is on the representation of female bodily experience in Algeria, France and Mauritius. Rebecca James Design Editor Rebecca is a first year SWW DTP PhD student at the University of Southampton and co-supervised at the University of Cardiff. Her research focuses on the image of the pirate in eighteenth-century literature, focusing on the figure in relation to contemporaries like the highwayman and the privateer. Cheryl Morgan Writer Cheryl Morgan is passionate about transgender history. She regularly speaks at conferences on trans lives in the ancient world, and has written for blogs such as Notches and History Matters. You can find her on Twitter as @CherylMorgan. Sam Wratten Writer Sam is a third year PhD student at the University of Bath. Sam’s research explores how men and women use pain relief, and how this is influenced by gender. She is currently exploring gender stereotypes related to pain relief and how they influence pain management. James Pickles Writer James is a PhD Researcher
in Criminology at Northumbria University at Newcastle Antonis Daikos Writer Antonis Daikos is researching exhibition-making as a method to display gender-neutral fashion in museums. The research is undertaken at the Centre for Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion, UAL, and supported by the London Doctorate Design Centre. Past exhibition collaborations include Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and Louis Vuitton: La Galerie. John Whitney Writer John is a PhD researcher in the Department of Film, Theatre and Television at the University of Reading. His research examines the creation and performance of game processes in participatory theatre models. He teaches on modules that explore performance identity, modes of performance making and modes of actor training. Annie Poland Writer Annie Poland completed her undergraduate study at Goldsmiths College, followed by an MSc in Gender, Sexuality and Society at Birkbeck College. She has worked within the Violence against Women sector for five years, and is currently a researcher for a charity which works with people involved in the Criminal Justice System. Jacob Mallinson Bird Writer Jacob is a doctoral research student in Musicology at Wadham College, Oxford.
Previously, Jacob read music at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His interests surround queer theory, psychoanalysis, and phenomenology. He is also a drag queen by the name of Dinah Lux. Katherine Dunleavy Writer Katherine is a PhD researcher based at the University of Bristol whose work focusses on the images of Priapus found in the Roman world. She is particularly interested in how these images in the domestic sphere can help us to understand concepts of masculinity in the changing landscape of Roman politics and culture in the first century BC and first century AD Tommaso Trillò Writer Tommaso is a Marie Sklodowska Curie Early Stage Researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Lodz, Poland, in the context of the GRACE Project (MSCA grant agreement No 675378). His research aims at exploring European narratives on gender equality as circulated on Twitter by key institutions and private users. Anna Field Writer Anna is a fourth-year SWWDTP History student based at Cardiff University, with cosupervision from Aberystwyth University. She is currently writing up her PhD thesis, ‘“Intimate Crime” in Early Modern England and Wales’ for submission in December 2017. Her work is especially influenced by historians of
gender and social relations. Rachael Stockdale Writer Rachael is a PhD candidate at Queen’s University Belfast, and is also currently working in the European Women’s Lobby in Brussels for 6 months. Rachael’s thesis is on gender, feminism and LGBTQ+ themes in 19th century French literature Rosie Nelson Writer Rosie is an ESRC funded Sociology PhD student. Her research focuses on bisexuality and the construction and maintenance of gender identity and expression amongst bisexuals. You can find Rosie on Twitter @roropanolo.
Joe Higgins Writer Joe has recently completed an AHRC-funded PhD project in Philosophy on the SASP (University of St. Andrews and University of Stirling Philosophy) programme. Joe is now lecturing at the University of Stirling. Joe’s research focuses primarily on the phenomenological illumination of issues within cognitive science, particularly focusing on social cognition and the nature of human selfhood. Cheryl Diane Parkinson Writer Ms. Cheryl Diane Parkinson an educator in a secondary school in East London, teaching English Literature and Language GCSE and A Level. Publishing history includes an article on racism within our schools published in
The National Union of Teachers newsletter March 2012, The Sexualisation of Black Women in The Fem Magazine, 2016 and articles in The Voice Online, 2017. Kimwei McCarthy Writer Kimwei is a singer-songwriter, university lecturer, digital nomad, blogger and lifestyle experimenter. He presents thought provoking pieces which explore the theme of gender-identity, as well as his own experiences of being non-binary transgender. His project, Nothing’s Binary, which began with the song by the same name, puts on events, workshops and discussions celebrating the full gender spectrum.
Our cover feature Thank you to everyone who sent in their photographs for the front cover of this issue. We launched an open call on Twitter and on our blog for people to send in pictures of themselves. The aim of our cover is to celebrate diversity. We would also like to promote diversity and inclusivity in the Arts and Humanities. We hope that the representation of LGBTQ+ and BAME peoples continues to grow in the field both in numbers of doctoral students and in topics which receive funding. The cover features faces of both our authors (from this issue and the previous issue) and our readers. We would like to thank the following people for submitting their headshots and agreeing to feature on our front cover: Cheryl Parkinson, Sonya Chenery (photo credit Ed Booth), Cheryl Morgan, Pavandeep Kang, Jacob Mallinson Bird, Twm Bollen-Molloy (aka Polly Amourous), Gareth Mills, Flora Noble, Ruth Abou Rached, Sophie Paulden, Teja Reddy, Harris Hill, Adnan Farook, Annabel Davis, Joe Higgins, Billie Bottle (credit Aubrey Simpson), Zena Lam, Kimwei McCarthy (Credit Aubrey Simpson), and Daniel Stewart
Welcome to the second issue of Gendered Voices!
the possibilities are when you look beyond the binary.
It has been an exciting couple of months for the magazine and the SWW DTP Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster. We published our first issue of the magazine in February, and were overwhelmed with the positive responses to the magazine - as I am writing this editorial the magazine has been read by over 1300 different people, and has been seen a whopping 19000 times. We also did a limited print run of this issue and brought it to our cluster conference in May - it was increadibly exciting to see all of the fantastic content in print and being read by the delegates at the conference.
Following from our top twitter picks featured in last issue, this issue’s editorial pick is Kimwei’s blog which you can find on the next page. You can also find an image of Kimwei and friend Billie below. This issue’s guest article comes from Annie Poland, and explores the notion of ‘Gender Fraud’ in the eyes of the law - it makes for a pretty eye opening read about the place of non binary identies in a legal environment, and you can find it on page 13. We are also excited to direct you to page 23 where you can find Maria’s article on her experiences at Drag World convention.
Since our cluster conference we have been hard at work planning this second issue. Beyond the Binary seemed like the perfect theme for this issue after our explorations of how gender impacts research topics and the experience of research, and the diversity of content featured in the magazine speaks to how well the theme was recieved by our contibutors. The articles included in this issue range in content, from personal accounts of how gender and sexuality have effected their experience of researching, to research that looks specifically at non-binary identities from a broad range of cultural perspectives, to research that explodes binary assumptions in several different topics. The range of topics explored in this issue is testament to how open
Also included for the first time is our ‘Creative’ section, an exciting new section of Gendered Voices. This issue features a short story written by Cheryl Diane Parkinson, entitled ‘We the Many, You the Few’. We are really excited to present this different aspect of gender and sexuality research, and hope that you enjoy this thought provoking piece. You can find out more about our exciting cover feature on our contibutors page, which is a celebration of identity and diversity. As ever, our contact details are on the back page, so feel free to get in touch and let us know what you think about this issue Maria Tomlinson (General Editor) and Rebecca James (Design Editor)
Billie Bottle and Kimwei McCarthy (Credit Aubrey Simpson) 5
Editor’s Pick From Maria: In our last issue I shared with you my top three pics of twitter accounts which tweet about gender and sexuality. In this issue, I’d like to recommend a fantastic blog which explores questions of gender identity and resonates with the topic of this issue - ‘Beyond the Binary’. The blog is by Kimwei (featured on the front cover of this issue and pictured with friend Billie below our editoral) who has kindly allowed us to share a page from his blog with you. Kimwei recently spoke on BBC Radio Devon about non-binary identity and gender stereotypes. The below extract is from Kimwei’s blog and offers a personal take on the idea of being beyond the binary. You can find Kimwei’s blog at https://symphonyforhappiness.wordpress.com/
Gendered Clothes – Men’s Clothes are Boring?
t’s been a couple of years since I’ve been dressing almost exclusively “as male” (but not trying to “pass” as male). You know what I’ve discovered? Men’s clothes are boring. Isn’t it weird that clothes are so gendered? Trousers, no longer. A woman wearing trousers is not “cross dressing”, but apparently, a man wearing a skirt is???
For those of us who are gender fluid, transgender, or who simply don’t want to be defined by stereotypical gender boundaries, clothing and image are effective tools in sending a message about who we are, since they are both visible and instantly communicative. I have two friends especially struggling with this right now, who will go unnamed. One has a female body and the other a male body. My female bodied friend identifies as non-gender-binary, but looks extremely feminine. She rings me up in frustration at trying to express her masculinity through image, whilst being blessed with curves and delicate features. My friend in a male body is firmly cis-gendered, but thinks women have all the fun in terms of nice clothes. He is very worried about what male friends or potential female partners would think if they saw him dressed in the clothes he really likes, which are stereotypically worn by women. Is he a transvestite? I wouldn’t say so. In the words of designer and gender-superhero Arian Bloodwood, I would say more that my male bodied friend simply wants to wear clothes that he likes. My two friends and I all want the same thing – to be perceived as ourselves. Since, in one way or another, we don’t fit within conventional gender boundaries, it’s difficult to work out how to “present” as who we really are. When my male friend walks out the door in his favourite outfit, some people will see a guy who just looks fabulous and knows how to dress. However, he also fears attracting negative attention if perceived as a gay or transvestite by people who view those groups negatively. Essentially, when he dresses as himself, he worries about being seen as someone else entirely. My NGB trans friend in a female body doesn’t like being
seen as a very feminine woman, whilst the masculine part of her goes unnoticed, since she struggles to send the “right” signals through her mode of dress. But what ARE the right signals? We’re in a strange intermediate phase as a society, where gender boundaries have started breaking down, but they haven’t snapped completely. Dressing as male has helped people to better understand my gender, yes that’s true. But, would I need the label of non-gender-binary transgender if society’s ideas about gender were blown wide open? If that happened each person would meet me as me, without applying a set of parameters to my personality based on the gender of my body? Would I need to “dress as male” then? Probably not. I’ve thought a lot about the signals I send out through image and my decision a couple of years ago to only wear “what I would wear if I had a male body”. Out went strappy tops, bras, anything that showed midriff or accentuated breast size, and in came tailored shirts, waistcoats and… no that’s all really. Told you men’s clothes were boring. And the truth is, if I really did have a male body, I’d wear dresses skirts and other “female” clothes here and there, because they just look fabulous are great fun! Male and female bodies and brains are different in some ways, yes. But ultimately, I believe we need to throw out our expectations of what people should be like/should do/should be treated based on the gender of their bodies (or clothes). Only then, will both transgender and cis-gendered people alike be free to express and be accepted as who they are fully. In some parts of the world this is a mortally serious point. Each year Amnesty International run the ‘Write For Rights’ campaign, which is a wonderful thing. Cases are varied and it’s worth noting that each year there are some cases relating to gender/sexuality. We can contribute to moving this issue forward by opening up to it on a personal level. Support the cause by cross dressing this Christmas, but don’t call it “cross-dressing”, just call it wearing clothes that you like. -Kimwei
Breaking out of the Binary Box: Studying cis and non-cis stereotypes
rom the moment we are born, and sometimes even before then, certain aspects of our lives and how we will be treated by other people are predetermined. In particular I’m referring to pink versus blue, emotion versus stoicism, male versus female. Two boxes, one of which society wants us to fit in, and once we are in it, there are expectations for everything we do from that point onwards. These expectations stem from stereotypes; beliefs about the characteristics of individuals within a certain group. In relation to sex and gender, there are different expectations and stereotypes for men and women; men should be masculine and women should be feminine. These two boxes alone are unequal in shape and size in this society, a patriarchal society which disproportionately favours men in many ways. Of course, there are also benefits afforded to women more than men, such as the greater freedom to express emotions and be open about mental health issues, which is thought to be linked to the growing rates of suicide amongst men.1 Although there are different expectations for men and women, these expectations fit into clear cut boxes with clear cut rules. Taking a step back from these boxes, there are thousands, possibly millions of individuals who don’t fit into the ‘male’ or ‘female’ box. The reason these individuals do not have their own clear-cut boxes is part of a larger social issue. Western societies are dominated by a cisgender mentality, in which identifying and performing the gender considered appropriate for one’s biological sex is encouraged and rewarded. This is even the case for intersex babies, who are born with sexual anatomy that does not meet the criteria for ‘male’ or ‘female’. Despite their biological variation, the decision is often made to raise an intersex baby as either male or female, trying to force them into a box, rather than encouraging an understanding and acceptance of individuals who do
not necessarily fit into either box. This is shocking given estimates that being intersex is as common as having red hair.2 Although social progress is being made, non-cis and non-binary individuals are still a minority, and largely unrecognized and/or misunderstood by many members of society. This is why they do not have their own boxes, and because they don’t have their own boxes, there are less clear-cut rules and expectations for their behaviours and attributes. When it comes to stereotypes, there are clear rules and expectations linked with the ‘male’ and ‘female’ boxes, but less clarity when it comes to individuals who surpass these boundaries. My research focuses on what is stereotypically deemed acceptable for men and women in relation to healthcare, specifically pain relief, but this is very much a starting point. Very little is known about the barriers that masculinity and femininity pose to using pain relief, and how these barriers might influence pain management - so this is my focus. The male/ female binary is so unequivocally normative in this society, and we are all so unrelentingly exposed to male and female socialization, it is relatively easy for my participants to reflect on their perceptions of what society deems acceptable and unacceptable for men and women. It may be more difficult to access this viewpoint for non-cis and non-binary individuals. Although ignorance can fuel broad but ill-informed stereotypes about certain groups of people, the general lack of exposure to, and understanding of, non-binary and non-cis individuals may make it difficult for many to reflect on specific expectations and rules for these groups, such as acceptability of using certain forms of pain relief. It is difficult to obtain an accurate estimate of nonbinary populations, but a conservative estimate in the UK population is thought to be 0.4%.3 However, most
1 Samaritans. (2015). SUICIDE STATISTICS REPORT 2015. [online] Available at: http://www.samaritans.org/sites/ default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017]. 2 OII-USA. (2015). How common is Intersex? An explanation of the stats. [online] Available at: http://oii-usa. org/2563/how-common-is-intersex-in-humans/ [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017]. 3 Practical Androgyny (2014). How many people in the United Kingdom are nonbinary? [online] Available at:
of the general public might assume these individuals to be transgender, an identity which is becoming more commonly understood and portrayed in the media. However, just 31% of individuals who identify as nonbinary consider themselves transgender, meaning that the trans population does not fully represent the nonbinary population. Without a society-wide recognition of all non-cis and non-binary communities, overarching but unwritten expectations for these groups may be difficult to access and evaluate. Some might argue that, for example, with both transgender and intersex individuals, a decision is being made to put them into one of the two boxes. Therefore, they may be prescribed the stereotypes associated with the box into which they have moved. This seems unlikely, given that they face prejudice and judgement not otherwise faced by cisgender individuals. Even if this were the case, it would neglect gender fluid individuals, who may regularly oscillate between ‘male’ and ‘female’ identities. What might society expect of them? Not only do people break out of the ‘male’ or ‘female’ boxes, but some never fit in them in the first place, and it is time to abandon these constraining boxes.
areas of society becoming more open-minded and accepting of individuals who do not fit into these boxes. Perhaps it is through this recognition, understanding, and acceptance that one day there will be specific stereotypes and expectations for these groups. Or preferably, there will be no boxes at all, and all individuals regardless of their gender, regardless of any aspect of their identity, will be free to be themselves and live authentic and autonomous lives.
For now, society still rigidly enforces and rewards people for fitting into the ‘masculine male’ or ‘feminine female’ boxes. However, it does seem as though progress is (very gradually) being made, with certain https://practicalandrogyny.com/2014/12/16/how-many-people-in-the-uk-are-nonbinary/#ehrc-gender-identity [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].
A Curatorial Perspective:
Fashion and Emergent Genders in Museums
“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”
Ian McEwan (The Cement Garden. London: Jonathan Cape, 1978)
t is estimated that up to 25% of the global population may not identify with the gender binary,1 and, while this is now apparent in contemporary western fashion, museums have not yet developed strategies to represent non-binary identities. Professor Judith Roof2 argues that binary gender is “seemingly preexistent”, and defines genders as “dynamics that depend on cultural roles, sexual desires, or peer mimeticism”. Biological and cultural constraints sanction segregation by gender, and account for its preexisting status. However, identifying as nonbinary is not an automatic invalidation of established values, but rather the synthesis and the disregard of expectations and attributes associated exclusively with the binary extremes. These newly visible, but not necessarily new, gender expressions can be recorded, represented, and disseminated through the museum. Fashion exhibitions, in particular, can prioritize design, aesthetics and construction methods of garments, as much as the representation of the body, the gender, and the identity of the wearer. In dress, the rigid definitions of masculinity and femininity appear softer and even interchangeable. In 2014, fashion critic Alexander Fury had noted how contemporary menswear designers were “questioning the fundamentals: gender, identity, and sexuality”.3 Designers such as Jonathan Anderson, Jamie Elwood, Edward Crutchley and Alejandro Gómez Palomo endorse the irrelevance of binary gender and define their work as gender-neutral.4 However, gender remains significant in these examples; their approach to bridging the gender gap is rooted within menswear, suggesting that gender-neutrality is proportional to masculinity and the freedom to (re)negotiate it.
The relationship between femininity and genderneutrality has been determined by different considerations. Feminist ideologies had a direct impact on women in the 20th century, who adapted the appearance of their male counterparts as a symbolic gesture towards equality. Notably, Coco Chanel’s menswear-inspired Chanel Suit (1916) and Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking (1966), a tuxedo suit tailored for women, tested gender roles. By the 1970’s, unisex garments became synonymous to equality, although it can be claimed that they masculinized women more than they feminized men. The relationship between women’s attire and gender issues can justify why gender-neutrality, as a contemporary phenomenon, manifests primarily in menswear. Women have been questioning cultural roles and desires, however, the stigma of heterodoxy is only now being removed from the male consciousness, and dress reflects this shift. Despite the evident preoccupation of fashion with non-binary genders, their presence in museums is limited. Gender has not typically been considered as a variable, therefore only a few fashion exhibitions have engaged explicitly with it and even fewer have bypassed the binary. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), New York, and the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT), New York, with their respective exhibitions Two by Two (1996) and His & Hers (2013), exemplify the constancy of gender-specificity over time. Additionally, retrospective or thematic exhibitions, such as Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (MET, 2011, and V&A, 2014) or The Vulgar (Barbican, 2016), focus on feminine narratives and distinguish between traditional genders, if menswear is included.
1 http://www.asexuality.org/ 2 Roof, J. (2016) What Gender is, What Gender Does. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (p.2). 3 Fury, A. (2014) A Men’s Wear Revolution [Online] Available from: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com. 4 Bojarska, K. (2012) Responding to Lexical Stimuli with Gender Associations: A Cognitive–Cultural Model, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, p. 0261927X12463008. doi: 10.1177/0261927X12463008.
Our Voices Nonetheless, the Museum of Liverpool staged the exhibition April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady (2013), which placed a prominent transgender English figure within the museum context. Biographical exhibitions, however, are bounded by the singular identity, even when it is symbolic of a larger social group, and do not aim to address the expansive range of identities. More recently, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) exhibition Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715 – 2015 (2016) further supports the notion that gender-neutrality, in its current form, is linked to masculinity. In the final section of the exhibition, ‘The Splendid Man’, the curators consider the past, “when certain gender distinctions in colours, fabric, and motifs were far less significant”, but also the future, with “three looks which may hint at men’s fashions to come”5 ; a Comme des Garçons ruffled suit (Fall/Winter 2014-15), a Rick Owens dress and blazer ensemble (Spring/Summer 2012), and a deconstructed kandora by Ahmed Abdelrahman for Thamanyah (Fall/Winter 2012-13) (Fig. 1). This grouping of garments, despite them being shown on male mannequins and in the context of a menswear exhibition, signifies the aim of the designers (primarily)
and the curators (secondarily) to contest prescribed cultural behaviours in their individual practices. In his analysis of cultural elements, academic Raymond Williams6 defines the dominant as the status quo, the residual as that which stems from tradition, and the emergent as cultural innovation and new meanings. Based on these definitions, curator Paul O’Neill situates exhibition-making practice within emergence, “the promise of overcoming, transgressing, evading, renegotiating, or bypassing the dominant”.7 Curators and exhibition-makers rely on the interrelationships among the current, the established, and the new. Fashion, as the medium, ultimately contains all three elements, curatorship is emergent, the museum environment is inherently residual, and (the representation of) binary gender is dominant. This dynamic poses a challenge for exhibition-makers as mediators between the avantgarde and the orthodox; it is perhaps too early to fully assess the novelty, or durability, of gender-neutral fashion, however it is an opportune time to populate curatorial methods and conventions with the broad, and now visible, spectrum of emergent genders.
5 Takeda, S. S., Spilker, K. D. and Clarissa, M. E. (2016) Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015. 01 edition. Los Angeles : Munich ; London ; New York: Prestel. (p.11, p.215). 6 Williams, R. (2003) Marxism and Literature. New Ed Edition. USA: Oxford University Press (pp.121-126). 7 O’Neill, P. (2012) The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s). Cambridge, Massachusetts ; London, England: MIT Press. (pp.25-26).
Fig.1 (left) Deconstructed Kandora, Ahmed Abdelrahman for Thamanyah, Fall/Winter 2012-13 and tattoo by Mark Mahoney. 2015 (center) Dress with blazer by Rick Owens. Spring/Summer 2012 (right) Ruffled suit, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons. Fall/Winter 2014-15 © Marley Healy. 2016
Prioritising Marginal Voices:
Why I refuse to step back from my gender and sexuality
y research focuses on LGBT+ hate crime. I look at how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (binary, nonbinary, fluid, gender variant), and queer people negotiate, navigate, and reconcile the identities for which they are victimised. I use the term queer throughout this article as an inclusive yet interchangeable term for LGBT+. Recently, I spoke about my research at an international conference and overall I received positive feedback. An established and renowned academic commented that they enjoyed my talk and learned a lot from it. They advised, however, that I should ‘take a step back from the LGBT+ stuff.’ Their point, I think, was to urge me to expand my research to look at all hate crime strands (race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and transgender identity). This is somewhat fair, yet, the notion that one can simply ‘step back’ from the systems of oppression that they or their participants personally face as queer people is grounded in privilege and a lack of understanding. I fully respect the academic in question and value their insight wholeheartedly, but I must humbly and unapologetically refuse to step back from my gender and sexuality. Firstly, a binary, rigid view of identity ignores that race, religion, sexuality, gender, and class intersect. My participants and I are fully rounded people shaped by our multiple identities. My whiteness prevents me from experiencing racial hate crime yet my sexuality does not, whereas queers of colour experience victimisation at the intersection between race, sexuality, and gender. Race, gender, disability, sexuality, and class are constructed, restricted, oppressed, and marginalised by intimate power structures within society. I cannot ‘step back’ from my sexuality any more than a black researcher of race hate crime can step back from ‘the race stuff’. Doing so would ignore the integral and quintessential relationship between identity and identity based violence such as hate crime. Academic research is an environment where marginalised voices should not take a back seat, but should be brought to the forefront of research. Unfortunately, it is not. Academia is an environment, no more or less than any other environment, where sexism is rife, heteronormativity is prevalent, the middle class dominate, whiteness is ubiquitous, and the
voices of marginalised identities/people are a niche area of research. The abandonment of marginalised voices, I feel, is a tradition that is far too common in the social disciplines. Feminist scholars have long argued that there has been a ‘malestream’ of voices and research that has myopically excluded, overlooked, and neglected women centred research. For scholarship to truly flourish and be a force for social good, we must embrace neglected voices rather than encourage scholars to ‘stand back’ from voices that are consistently silenced. A core premise of exploring LGBT+ hate crime, in my research, is LGBT+ identity. I am not just a queer person who is researching hate crime for fun. I am queer person who has gone through 18 years of a straight dominated school system, where literature, television, film, and societal representation was straight focussed. I am a queer person that receives strange looks when I hold hands with another man in public. I am a queer person who, as a child, tried desperately to be straight. I am a queer person who is consistently told that because I look queer, that I give a negative stereotype to the LGBT+ community. I am a femme queer person who is constantly reminded that my sexuality and gender presentation is not valued in society. Other gay men consistently repeat to me that the reason they are gay is because they like men not queens or princesses, an incredibly homophobic sentiment. So I cannot ‘step back from the LGBT+ stuff’ as, for my entire life, my ‘LGBT+ stuff’ has never had a place. My LGBT+ participants have never had a place. Stepping back from this robs all value and credibility from their identities, their experiences, and the homophobic and transphobic social systems which oppress them. The personal nature of my research has, at times, forced me to stand back as a form of self-care. On June 12th 2016, the nightclub Pulse, in the state of Orlando, was targeted in a homophobic terrorist attack. 50 LGBT+ people were killed and over 50 were nonlethally injured in the attack. This marks the largest and most lethal targeted attack on queer people since the Holocaust and in USA history. Conducting hate crime research in the aftermath of this attack was emotionally too heartbreaking to continue. I had to stand back
Our Voices and take time off in order to emotionally recuperate and do my research justice. Self-care however is a form of demarcation and preservation that takes a step back from the emotional impact a researcher subjects themselves too. It is wholly different from taking a step back ‘from the LGBT+ stuff’. My queer identity does not inform my research because it’s a fun quirky topic. My queer identity informs my research because I do not have the privilege of stepping back from it or escaping it. Every day I negotiate and navigate through a binary gendered, heteronormative, and transphobic social world. The only binary I perceive is the binary of being silenced/being heard. I refuse to take a step back from my ‘LGBT+ stuff’ as the voices of my participants will be heard. I encourage academics everywhere trying to represent and research oppressed peoples to unapologetically and uncompromisingly stand with their participants and stand up for their voices.
The Intelligibility of Non-Binary Genders within the Law Annie Poland
ver the past five years six people have been prosecuted in the UK for what the law has deemed gender fraud”(Sharpe. 2016).1 By gender fraud we are referring to cases of sexual offences within which consent, although given at the time of the sexual activity, was later deemed vitiated by a perceived deception of the true gender of the defendants i.e. identifying as male to their sexual partners, but having female genitalia. The actions of the law in these cases exposes the dangerous and dominant discourse of fixed binary genders, which continue to deem the gender non-conforming body and life unintelligible and deviant, and seeks to preserve heteronormativity.
The foundations of criminal law presume that the body pre-exists and the purpose of the law is to regulate this already constituted being (Naffine. 1997. p.83).2 However, these foundations have been questioned from numerous fronts including gender theorists. For example, Judith Butler argues that the formation of the body becomes a site in which one can uncover the power to produce, control, and regulate bodies, rather than that of a pre-existing or non-entity (Butler. 1993. p2).3 In so doing the law creates the parameters in which bodies are made intelligible, and thus consequently produces a domain of abject bodies (Butler. 1993. P.3). This domain of abject bodies is a key site in which one can view the power of discourses and its implications upon lived experience, and includes those who pose a challenge to the notion of fixed binary genders. This article will consider the experiences of six people prosecuted for gender fraud in the UK – Gemma Barker, Christopher Wilson, Justine McNally, Gayle Newland, Kryan Lee and Jennifer Staines. It is important to note that there are key differences between the cases
and the experiences of those involved should not be homogenised. However, there are also key similarities across the cases which deserve exploration. Each of these six cases pivot around the idea of consent and the reasonable grounds in which consent could be vitiated. In each case it was decided that consent was obtained as a result of deception. Namely that the law deemed that the performance of the defendants gender at the time of the sexual activity was false. Thus the requirement that the complainant consents on the basis he [/she/they] agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice (Section 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 s74) - is deemed not to be met, and therefore a criminal act has taken place.
Key to this legal determination of deception, however, is what the law deems relevant to disclose before entering into sexual activity, and what it does not. For example McNallys lawyer, at the point of appeal, made the argument that since the law has determined that deception regarding age, marital status, nor wealth cannot vitiate consent, neither should gender identity. However, Lord Justice Leveson, rejected this claim (McNally v R. ).4 This powerful discourse of fixed binary genders, and the imposed requirement of transparent gender histories is most aptly illustrated by comparing these cases of gender fraud with that of the undercover Metropolitan police officers who conducted relationships with political activists between 2003 and 2010. These men deceived the women with whom they conducted sexual relationships in regard to almost everything else about themselves bar their gender, yet not one has faced criminal charges (Wistrich. 2015).5 Thus it becomes ever more apparent that the crux of the crime is actually that of attempting to perform a gender identity outside the dominant discourse of
1 Sharpe, A. (2016). Expanding liability for sexual fraud through the concept of “active deception”: a flawed approach. Journal of Criminal Law. (February 2016, Vol. 80(1)) [Accessed via Westlaw UK] 2 Naffine, Ngaire (1997) ‘The Body Bag’, pp. 79-93 in N. Naffine & Owens, R. J. (eds), Sexing the Subject of Law. Sydney: Law Book Company. 3 Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that Matter. New York: Routledge. 4 McNally v R.  EWCA Crim 1051 (27 June 2013). Available from: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/ Crim/2013/1051.html 5 Wistrich, H. (2015). Gayle Newland behaved no worst than rogue undercover police officer. Guardian [online], 17th September 2015. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/17/gaye-newland-undercover-police-officers-sexual-relationships. [Accessed 18th April 2016].
transgress the dominant gender discourse.
Furthermore, it is also important to note the intrinsic role sexuality plays in these cases. One must question whether the law would have responded as it did if the perceived gender fraud had not also drawn into question the sexualities of those involved i.e. that in uncovering the true gender of the defendant equated to uncovering the complainant had unwilling been in a same-sex relationship. Thus illustrating the laws role in not only reinforcing the notion of fixed binary genders, but also in the preservation of heteronormativity.
Furthermore, stemming from a history of pathologising bodies which deviate from the dominant gender and sexuality discourses (Foucault. 1992),9 there are repeated references to mental health disorders within these six cases. For example, the Judges remarks in the Newland case noted numerous mental disorders and drew a close link [between these disorders] with [Newlands] troubling issues of sexuality, stating that Newland presented a very troubling picture (Newland v. R , p.3). Thus suggesting that anyone who questions, changes or struggles with their gender or sexual identity must be mentally unwell.
A further key commonality in all six cases is the language of deceit. For example, Barker was described as deceptive and deceitful by the Judge (BBC. 2012)6, whilst Newland was described by the Judge as highly manipulative, deceitful, [and] scheming(Newland v. R , p.1),7 and Lee as deceitful (Judges remarks as cited in Guardian 2015).8 This language of deceit has effectively rendered the trans body unintelligible i.e. it is not possible that it was a non-binary, gender fluid or trans performance of gender but instead an act of deceit in the face of their true gender. A final commonalty to draw from these six gender fraud cases is the laws attempt to re-regulate these bodies back into the dominant gender discourse i.e. fixed binary genders of male/female, and the preservation of heteronormativity. This re-regulation is enforced via criminalisation and pathology, rendering bodies outside the dominant discourse as deviant. Most obviously this is illustrated in all six cases by the success of the prosecutions. These prosecutions not only re-regulate the bodies of the defendants, but also serve as a warning to all others who may attempt to
To sum up, the law is part of powerful discourses which create the boundaries of the intelligible gendered body i.e. fixed binary categories of male and female, and plays a key role in the regulation of those who deviate from this norm. The successful prosecutions of these cases of gender fraud are deeply worrying developments in the laws creation and interpretation of bodies. However, as Judith Butler reminds us, these norms are not all powerful; there is always space for transgressive power within the domain ofabject bodies (Butler. 1993). Although the law has attempted to reregulate these bodies, our ability to hear and see these experiences as a challenge to the dominant discourse is powerfulâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;exposing the constructed boundaries of such discourses and calling them into question (Butler. 1993. P.30). Thus illustrating the need to hear gender non-conforming experiences within a critical analysis of law, in the hope that this will open up the creation and meanings of bodies in more multiple and diverse ways.
6 BBC. (2012). Staines woman dressed as boy jailed for sex assaults. BBC News [online], 5thMarch 2012. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-17256641. [Accessed 18th April 2016]. 7 Newland v. R  Sentencing Remarks of His Honour Judge Dutton. Available from: https://www.judiciary. gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/r-v-newlandsentencing.pdf 8 Guardian. (2015). Woman who used fake penis to have sex with a woman avoids jail. Guardian [online], 15th December 2015. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/dec/15/woman-who-used-fake-penisto-have-sex-with-a-woman-avoids-jail. [Accessed 18th April 2016]. 9 Foucault, M. (1992). The History of Sexuality. London : Penguin.
Bisexuality and Constraining Binaries
exuality is a complicated, messy, and divisive topic. Amongst the messy glut of sexualities is one which tends to be seen a little differently than most. Bisexuality is the sexual or romantic attraction to more than one gender or sex. Bisexuality is often described in terms of the fluidity of sexual attraction, as people acknowledge the possibility of change over time, and a difference in the intensity of feelings across genders and sexes. Bisexuality demonstrably smashes binary thinking through its very existence. Not content with occupying one gender, and being attracted to another gender, bisexuality opens up the potential of attraction to all genders, acknowledging the variety of genders; not just men and women, but men, women, non-binary, or agender individuals are warmly welcomed into the arena of potential partners (depending on individual preference). The limitations of an oppositional binary are defied in favour of the potential to love or lust after anyone regardless of their gender identity and expression. But is bisexuality really able to exist in a vacuum, outside gendered expectations and binary-thinking? There are two approaches to considering this; firstly how do bisexuals engage with their own genders, and secondly how are bisexuals received socially? Individuality and Bisexuality Historically, bisexuality was a term used to refer to the androgyny of an individual as opposed to a sexual orientation distinct from gender identity. In contemporary sexualities scholarship, it is accepted that sexual orientation and gender identity do not correlate for an individual, and these are two entirely separate spectrums on which individuals can find themselves. However, the way in which we adorn our bodies, the gender expressions we choose in terms of dress, make-up, piercings, body hair, tattoos, and movements are a way in which we communicate some of our identities to others. These communicable identities can range from gender and sexuality, to music preference and sports team allegiance. Sociological
Rosie Nelson and psychological research has determined that LGBTQ+ identities often (but not always) communicate their sexualities and preferences through these forms of gender expression. Research has demonstrated that some bisexual women attempt to moderate their appearance to straddle a middleground between femininity and androgynous masculinity. Given that there are stereotypes about heterosexual women (long hair, no body hair), and lesbians (androgynous clothing, short hair), some bisexual women attempt to adopt intermediate gender expressions so that their internal identity is authentically maintained in their visual appearances.1 This chameleon-esque approach to maintaining levels of attraction through adopting differing markers of gender expression suggests that bisexuals are not, in fact, gender-blind. Rather, bisexuals adopt and mediate their gender expressions to communicate their affiliation with both heterosexual and lesbian and gay spaces. The disruption of two different modes of gender expression is subversive, however ultimately bisexual women are still constrained to work within a binary system of heterosexuality and lesbianism. Social Spheres and Bisexuality If we turn to considering the social location of bisexuality, the very existence of bisexuals is often a matter of contention. Lesbians, gay men, heterosexuals, and even some bisexuals, are often guilty of promulgating biphobic and monosexist forms of thinking. These biphobic comments include responses to bisexuality such as ‘you’re being greedy’, ‘it’s just a phase’, or ‘you’re an attention-seeker’. These forms of thinking stem from monosexist assumptions, which work to suggest that monosexual identities (such as heterosexuality, lesbians, and gay men) are more valid than bisexual identities. This monosexism prioritises either/or sexual orientations such as heterosexual, lesbian or gay identities. This binary thinking has a negative effect on bisexual people, ultimately suggesting that there is no social location for bisexuals. With similarly rife biphobia and monosexism evident
1 Hayfield, N. et al. (2013) ‘Visible lesbians and invisible bisexuals: Appearance and visual identities among bisexual women’. Women’s Studies International Forum.
Our Voices in the media, healthcare, education, interpersonal relationships, and institutional practices, it is no wonder that bisexual individuals have significantly worse mental and physical health than all other sexual identity groups. Bisexuals are less likely to tell other people their sexual identities, leading to a significant level of stress in maintaining secrecy regarding their identities. With higher levels of addiction, suicidality, psychological distress, rates of domestic and sexual violence, and eating disorders, bisexuals experience a significant amount of stress related to their sexual identities, for which they ultimately cannot access specific forms of help due to the fear of disclosure. Through invalidating bisexuality in institutional discourse, binary thinking has a demonstrably harmful impact on the mental health and physical wellbeing of bisexuals. Beyond the Binary? Ultimately, if we consider bisexuality at its philosophical extreme, it is operating outside of binary-thinking. However, in reality bisexuals are placed within systems of discourse and power which reify binary-thinking in terms of both gender and sexuality. Consequently, given the stage on which to perform, bisexuals are often forced to construct their identity through merging visual cues, and adopting language and identities which came out of monosexist paradigms. Bisexuality has the potentiality to be beyond the binary, yet is consistently forced back into a binary due to rigid gender expectations, binary language, monosexism, and a lack of representation, validation and acknowledgement.
Trans People in the Inca Empire Cheryl Morgan
he search for gender and sexual variance among the native people of South America has been critically hampered by the actions of their conquerors. The Conquistadores, and their attendant priests, spent a great deal of time fulminating against what they viewed as the sodomistic practices of the native peoples of the Americas. Sodomy, in this instance, was taken to mean any sexual activity that was not heterosexual, gender-normative, and procreative. The 16th Century theologian and pioneering economist, Martín de Azpilcueta Navarro, defined sodomy thus: “as when a man sins with a man, a woman with a woman, or a man with a woman outside of the natural vessel” (i.e. not vaginal sex). The latter was the case even if the man and woman in question were married. The 15th Century Diccionario de los inquisidores describes sodomy as “incomparably more serious than having sex with your own mother”, presumably on the grounds that getting one’s mother pregnant was preferable to “wasting” one’s seed. Sodomy, therefore, was viciously supressed wherever it was found. Most famously, Vasco Núñez de Balboa had 40 native Panamanians executed by being thrown to his dogs because he deemed them sodomites. Given what we now know of Native American cultures, we are more likely to describe them as Two Spirit, the umbrella term adopted by Native American people for gender variant folk. For the Conquistadores, the war against sodomy was part of their justification for conquest.
As things began to settle down after the invasion, some native people learned Spanish and began to provide their own chronicles of their people. One of the best known is An Account of the Antiquities of Peru (1613), by Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamayhua. Pachacuti was faced with a difficult challenge. On the one hand it was absolutely necessary for him to portray himself as a good Catholic. On the other he seems to have had a genuine desire to report the beliefs of his own people and of his Inca overlords. His account can be assumed to have muddied some details of the native traditions. However, translations of his work can be even less reliable. An English translation of the work was produced by Clements R Markham in 1873 and is published as part of his book, Narratives of the Rites and Laws of the Yncas. Here is a short passage from Pachacuti’s work. “The Curacas and Mitmays of Caravaya brought a chuqui-chinchay, which is an animal of many colours, said to have been c h i e f of the uturuncus (jaguars).” On the face of it, there is nothing remarkable about his. However, here is the original Spanish. “Los curacas y mitmais de Carabaya trae a chuqui chinchay, animal muy pintado de todos colores. Dizen que era apo do los otorongos, en cuya guarda da a los ermofraditas yndios de dos naturas.” Los ermofraditos yndios? Where did that come from? It certainly isn’t in Markham’s translation. Markham’s cover-up was noticed by the American scholar, Michael J Horswell, and published in
Decolonizing the Sodomite: Queer Tropes of Sexuality in Colonial Andean Culture (2005). In this book, Horswell talks about the Quariwarmi (a Quechua word meaning “man-woman”). They were a cult of gender-variant priests who served a very liminal god. As Pachacuti noted, Chuqui Chinchay is the Jaguar of Many Colours, or, as the English is now often rendered, the Rainbow Jaguar. Gender variance, rainbows and cats: it is hard to think of a more perfectly queer religious cult. The Quariwarmi appear to have had similarities to the devotees of Cybele in the Roman Empire, and to the Indian hijra. Blas Valera, a Jesuit missionary who was himself part native, says of them (quoted in Horswell): “Many of these offered themselves from childhood and lasted, not only in continence until old age, but in virginity… Many of these or others were eunuchs, what they called corasca, and either they castrated themselves, in reverence to their gods, or others castrated them when they were children, so that they served in this way of life.” Modern accounts of children being made eunuchs typically talk of this being forced upon them by cruel parents or society, but there is no reason why gendervariant youths seeking a way to live their lives as women would not choose such a fate, and thereby avoid male puberty. Finally, Horswell quotes two Spaniards as saying that the Quariwarmi spoke like women. That could simply mean using a high register, as modern trans women do. However Quechua has some words that have a usage which is dependent on the gender of the speaker. For example the phrase, “my brother” is translated quite differently if the speaker is male or female. It is possible that the Quariwarmi used the feminine mode of speaking to emphasise their female nature.
Women and Masculinity: Literature and the Pirate Ship
n 16th May 1724 The Weekly Journal, or Saturday’s Post advertised a book about pirates which had recently been published. It promised ‘a particular Account of all the Pyracies and Murders committed by them’, as well as ‘the remarkable Actions and Adventures of the two Female Pyrates Mary Read and Anne Bonny’.1 This book was A General History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson. A General History has long been used by historians and scholars looking for material to supplement the scarce archival resources about the lives and activities of pirates in the early eighteenth century. Its self-conscious assertion of the factual accuracy of the information contained within its pages has been accepted, despite the fact that some of the content is fiction. Nonetheless, it remains an exciting imagining of the lives of some of the most notorious pirates of the period. The tales are dramatic and exciting, full of larger than life characters. The two female pirates named in the advertisement and title page are certainly as exciting as their male counterparts. In A General History Anne Bonny and Mary Read are two women who both disguise themselves as men and serve on the pirate ship of Captain John Rackam. Both stories start with their parentage, and then detail their lives before joining the pirate ship, before ending with their capture and trials. They take different paths to the pirate ship. Read enlists in the army dressed as a man, before falling in love and marrying a fellow officer. After his death she returns to the military, before her ship is captured by Rackam. Bonny, in contrast, runs away from her family home to marry without her father’s permission. She then runs away again, this time to sea as Rackam’s lover. She is disguised on the ship to circumvent the maritime ban of women. The representation of these two characters challenges the binary between masculine and feminine, through their masculine dress, and the adoption of behaviours that the text codes as masculine.
Isabel Karreman argues that ‘Life on board a ship, already an exclusively male environment, fosters culturally masculine qualities such as aggression and risk taking, and requires physical prowess.’2 A General History valorises these ‘culturally masculine qualities’, praising a range of captains for their bravery, boldness, and activity in battle. Read and Bonny are praised in the text for the self-same characteristics. Before she enters the sea space Bonny is described as ‘so Robust, that once, when a young Fellow would have lain with her, against her Will, she beat him so, that he lay ill of it a considerable Time.’3 Bonny is capable of using masculine coded behaviour to protect herself from the ultimate assault of the feminine body – rape. She is not only capable of preventing assault, she is able to physically assault him and leave him significantly injured. In this moment, she reverses the normative characterization of woman as victim and man as aggressor. Similarly, when Read is part of a foot regiment in Flanders ‘upon all Actions, she behaved herself with a great deal of Bravery,’4 and ‘in a Regiment of Horse; she behaved so well, in several Engagements, that she got the Esteem of all her Officers’.5 Read’s adoption of masculine behaviour goes beyond that of Bonny’s. While Bonny uses her masculinity to protect her feminine body, Read takes on masculinity to fight in battle, acting within an all-male space. The language used to describe her is reminiscent of the earlier language used to describe Blackbeard. The two women become embedded in the ‘culturally masculine characteristics’ that Karreman outlines. Having established that both women share the same characteristics as the male pirates, the text then situates them in the sea space. Aboard the pirate ship the two women are able to further demonstrate their masculinity: at the Time they were attack’d and taken, when they came to close Quarters, none of them kept
1 Weekly Journal or Saturday’s Post (London, England), Saturday, May 16, 1724; Issue 290. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. 2 Isabel Karreman, ‘“The Sea Will Make a Man of Him?”: Hypervirility, Effeminacy, and the Figure of the Queer Pirate in the Popular Imagination from the Early Eighteenth-Century to Hollywood’ in Gender Forum Vol. 32 (2013) pp. 68 - 85 (p. 70). 3 Captain Charles Johnson, A General History of the Pyrates 1st Edition (London; J Lacey, J Stone, Charles Rivington, 1724) p. 132. 4 Johnson, p. 119. 5 Johnson, p. 119.
Woodcut from the first edition of A General History of the Pyrates of Bonny and Read the Deck, except Mary Read, and Ann Bonny, and one more; upon which, she, Mary Read, called to those under Deck, to come up and fight like Men, and finding they did not stir, fired her Arms down the Hold amongst them, killing one, and wounding others.6 Bonny and Read fully embody the masculine characteristics in this sea space. In moments of action, such as this one, they display more bravery and courage than the men who surround them, and Read actively punishes them for not meeting the standards of masculinity established by the text, as the two women do. When faced with the violence of authority figures, Bonny and Read respond with violence, while the men perform the more traditionally female action of hiding. Similarly, Bonny presents a very specific account of masculinity in her chastisement of her lover: ‘that she was sorry to see him [about to be executed] but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang’d like a Dog’.7 Rackam, in this view, is being treated like a dog, because he was cowardly when confronting the authorities. ‘Fight like a Man’ and ‘Fight like Men’ become repeated mantras and therefore, in the text, masculinity and violence become synonymous.
their female bodies separate them from their masculine compatriots. Both Read and Bonny are convicted for piracy, and sentenced to execution, only to find respite because they are both pregnant. The women plead that their bellies should allow them to escape capital punishment for their masculine behaviour. Rather than being punished for their cross-dressing and appropriation of masculine qualities, the women are able to avoid punishment by virtue of having a uterus: a biological circumstance that their male counterparts are unable to use. Recognising that Bonny and Read’s crossdressing is more than just a performance of masculinity suggests that A General History presents a more complicated account of gender than one might assume from the homosocial nature of the text. While there are very few women throughout the rest of the narrative, the masculinized characters of Bonny and Read recognize the idea that in the early eighteenth century gender was ‘seen as a continuum which encompassed not only masculinity and femininity but effeminacy’8 and that ‘manliness was a virtue that could be aspired to by both sexes, women could be equally praised for their ‘manly’ characters’.9
Ultimately, once they are forcibly returned to the land, 6 7 8 Michele 9
Johnson, p. 122. Johnson, p. 133. Tim Hitchcock and Michelle Cohen, ‘Introduction’ in English Masculinities 1660 – 1800 ed. by. Tim Hitchcock and Cohen (London: Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1999), p. 6. Hitchcock and Cohen, p. 7.
Questioning Ownership of Identity: RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Lipsync Performance John Whitney
his short article will examine specific lipsync performances from the drag queens Latrice Royale, Jinkx Monsoon and Sasha Velour who have all appeared on the Logo television programme RuPaul’s Drag Race. I will look closely at a performance of each queen and how they question the ways in which their identity is performed. I could have included many famous drag kings or ‘bio queens’, including LoUis CYfer (Drag Idol 2014, Milk Presents Joan 2017) here. However, this article focuses upon drag queens, because they are the main form of drag to have featured on the show to date. To begin, I would like to analyse Latrice Royale’s performance of “Natural Woman”. Royale performs as a pregnant woman, addressing the majority of her lipsync performance towards her unborn child. What is interesting here is that this is a biological male, performing the role of an emotionally charged mother figure – but we accept it as part of the premise of the lipsync performance. I feel that there is a clear binary between what is acceptable when a person is performing in drag, in comparison to when they are out of drag. At DragCon 2016, during the ‘Big Queen’ panel, the drag queen Ginger Minj can be quoted as saying that ‘as a big girl, when I am out of drag, I am seen as just a fat boy and I am looked at differently for this’. However, when Minj (or in this case Royale) performs the female role there is a curious binary between identity and performance. Another queen who questions notions of femininity is Jinkx Monsoon. I would like reflect upon Monsoon’s performance in her lipsync to “Malambo No. 1”. Her lipsync partner Detox performs the lipsync in an ‘operatic’ style, in what could be considered a traditionally ‘female’ style of performance. Monsoon prefers, as she states in the show, to ‘play up a sthick’, and performs in a very ungraceful comedic manner, despite being dressed in an incredibly feminine outfit. I feel that there are points to be made here about the various different kinds of femininity found within drag performance. I would like to particularly highlight that,
in this instance, the comedic elements of Monsoons’ performance could potentially be read as more ‘masculine’ than that of Detox. It is important to note that this point that Monsoon identifies as non-binary. I feel that Monsoon’s performance is very much in line with their gender identity, neither masculine nor feminine, neither male or female – Monsoon is their own identity, performing a comedic performance, rather than a performance purely focused upon their gender identity. The final queen under examination within this article will be that of Sasha Velour. Velour’s approach to drag can be read in many possible ways. What I am particularly fascinated by is that, similarly to the existence of multiple gender identities, there is not only one form of drag. There are many different forms of drag performed by the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Categories include impersonatory drag (Chad Michaels, Derrick Barry), comedic drag (Bob The Drag Queen, Bianca Del Rio) and pageant drag (Trinity Taylor, Alyssa Edwards). Every drag queen has their own particular aesthetic and approach to their own drag, much like every person has their own approach to their ‘look’ or their identity. Velour identifies very much as an ‘art queen’ who uses her drag to ‘change the world’. This is most certainly reflected in her lipsync performance of “So Emotional”, which became an instant internet hit. Many video producers created their own versions of Velour’s ‘rose petal’ inspired performance – this clearly displays the impact of Velour’s interpretation of the song! Not only has Velour’s expression of her emotional identity impacted the audience of RuPaul’s Drag Race but also it has become influential outside this space by providing a platform for further ‘art’ or ‘performance’ queens to become popular. Velour’s performance, to a certain extent, shifts the focus away from gender. Although rose petals are a traditionally more ‘feminine’ concept, her incorporation of them into her act has a greater significance that a mere performance of gender – it extends into
Our Voices performative focused issues such as the cathartic response of the viewer. Velour, therefore, performs a gender construct in order to emotionally manipulate the audience. In this article, I have illustrated that drag provides the opportunity for us to question what it is to have a gender identity. The queens I have mentioned question the gender binary in a variety of inventive and thoughtprovoking ways. These include a representation of the pregnant female figure, the questioning of femininity, or the revolutionary politics of a simple pile of rose petals. I hope to have shown here that during their lipsync performances drag queens can both develop the specific drag persona they have created whilst also engendering questions around gender and identity - even if they are not setting out to do so! My explorations of the above performances are just a few in the multitude of possible analyses of the drag queen movement. There is certainly scope for further research to be carried out within this field. Scholars, start your engines...
Gender is Non-Binary
Drag World, London, 26th-27th August 2017
y interest in drag started a mere few years ago after a friend recommended that I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. I was immediately absorbed in the show and taken aback by the talent of many of the contestants. Not only were they able to completely transform their appearance and create a character, many of them could dance, sing, act, sew, be funny… As someone who has for a long time been interested in the performance of gender, I found in drag a fascinating disruption of gender norms and binaries. I even started applying the lessons I had learned from RuPaul’s Drag Race to a course I was teaching on French Surrealism. During our seminars, we analysed a poem by Robert Desnos that was narrated from the perspective of the female drag persona ‘Rrose Sélavy’ who was created by Marcel Duchamp. We also explored the photography of Claude Cahun who could be described in contemporary terminology as a ‘drag king’. Claude questioned societal norms of gender and femininity by appearing in photographs with various combinations of shaved head, rosy cheeks, lipstick, and/or masks. I was therefore very excited when I heard about Drag World and the ‘Gender is Non-Binary’ panel in particular. I attended the event with two close friends who are also big fans of RuPaul’s show and drag performance. As soon as we were allowed into the exhibition hall at Olympia, we ran to ensure we had front row seats for the panel. The contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race who were on the panel were (going from left to right in the photo) Violet Chachki, BenDeLaCreme, Carmen Carrera, and Jinkx Monsoon. They spoke about their own experiences as drag queens, and about nonbinary and transgender identities. All four panellists emphasised the importance for gender non-confirming people to start from a place of loving themselves and then building on this selfconfidence. RuPaul’s phrase: ‘If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?’ sprang to mind. Taking on a motherly role, Jinkx, who identifies as non-binary, underlined the necessity for gender non-confirming people to find a supportive network and express their identities in a safe space. Carmen, who is a transgender woman, (and whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person), spoke from personal experience about her transition. She said that
she found the creative outlet of drag, yoga, and her chosen family helped her reach a place where she started to love herself and accept her flaws. BenDeLaCreme made an excellent point about how we are bombarded with messages that tell us that validation is something which comes from the outside, i.e. through other people appreciating us for who we are. She stated that, instead, the only validation we should seek is our own and exclaimed that events such as Drag World would not have been possible if the drag queens present had not understood the importance of self-appreciation. She then used herself as an example and made one of the funniest remarks of the day on the subject of turning our flaws into something worthy of celebration. BenDeLaCreme chuckled: ‘I am super weird egomaniacal and vain and I have figured out a way to channel that into something lucrative!’. Violet responded by expressing her admiration for gender non-conforming people and their perseverance. She asserted that she sees strength in people who dare to be themselves and channels this into her own fierce and feminine drag performance. The panellists also spoke at length about the gender stereotypes that we are faced with on a daily basis. They also discussed their own experiences of being misgendered. Carmen outlined that misgendering is something which happens not only to trans and nonbinary people but also to cisgender individuals. She gave women who played sport as an example. This is a point with which I identified and it got me thinking about certain times I have had to contend with gender stereotypes. I have many a time been labelled as a ‘tomboy’ or ‘laddy’ for playing football, and some people have expressed a surprise at the feminine way in which I dress. The two seem to be mutually exclusive in their minds. But why? Football is a game, with a ball and some posts. It has no gender! The fact that football is considered a man’s game in the United Kingdom is completely arbitrary. Sonya, who you can see pictured on the front cover of this issue, also attended Drag World and offered the following review of the panel: “This was a really important and reflective discussion, and areas of differing points of view were handled with sensitivity,
warmth and openness. While it might be true that the majority of people attending the panel are likely to have already had an understanding of transgender and non-binary identities, the panellists also offered advice about discussing gender with those who may not be so familiar with the issues. Discussions such as the one which took place in this panel also help to address the common misconception that drag queens are all cis-gender men, and some of the artists on the panel provided an insight into the ways in which drag performance had helped them to understand and relate to their own gender identities. As Maria has described, the tone of the discussion was empowering and supportive of people who identify outside their assigned gender, and I feel that the work of the artists who appeared on the panel (and many others) in promoting inclusion and understanding of diverse gender identities is extremely productive in increasing awareness among a wider audience.â&#x20AC;? Towards the end of the panel, the tone became more serious. BenDeLaCreme offered some very important advice to the audience. She emphasised the importance of calling out prejudice against non-cisgender people when we hear it. She also urged the audience to make sure that conversations about gender identity, binaries and stereotypes continue beyond the walls of Olympia. So Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll leave you with this thought, listen to Mamma BenDeLaCreme - keep the dialogue on gender and sexuality going beyond the pages of this magazine and into the real world! The more we talk, the more we can change peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attitudes for the better!
Female Killers in Late Seventeenth-Century England
arly modern homicide law was based on binary understandings of the male and female body. The biological make-up of bodies was understood to influence how ‘natural’ expressions of violence were when committed by men or women. For example, lawyer’s handbooks defined murder as premeditated and ‘cold-blooded’, while manslaughter typically occurred in a ‘heat of passion’. According to humoral theory (the most widely known theory of the human body at the time), men had naturally warm bodies. This heat made them far more susceptible to angry outbursts – this was unacceptable in civil society, however could be adequately explained by their biology. Women, on the other hand, were perceived as naturally cold and wet. Usually, this made them less prone to violence. A woman who committed homicide was therefore much more likely to be understood in terms of unnaturalness and inhumanity. Popular crime pamphlets of the time regularly described women who killed their husbands and children (for these crimes gained the most attention in popular print) as ‘tigers’, ‘monsters’, or ‘barbarous creatures’. However, when we look deeper into the vast contemporary literature written about female killers, more complex ideas to do with gender, violence, and culpability emerge. Accused women were not simply victims of a misogynist legal agenda, nor were they proto-feminist ‘rebels’ against patriarchal social structures. This dichotomous interpretation leaves little room for the suspect’s agency or indeed flexibility of contemporary gendered understandings. For example, if we look at one very infamous case of petty treason (husband-murder) from 1687, we see that authors depended on specific and exceptional elements of cases to paint a picture of culpability that was not simply a result of female biology or the victim/rebel binary. Mary Aubry was a French midwife who killed and dismembered her husband, Dennis, after years of sustained physical and emotional abuse. By the late seventeenth century, early modern women who killed in response to marital abuse were generally depicted in crime pamphlets as victims of their own circumstances. A victim-turned-husband-murderer could be used by crime-writers to explore ways in
Anna Field which men’s excessive domestic violence was an abuse of husbandly authority, and how unacceptable male behaviour drove women to commit these seemingly ‘unnatural’ acts. However, this was not the only or dominant explanation of Aubry’s actions. Printed accounts of her crimes were numerous (7 if we include the trial reports from the Old Bailey), varied in content, and highly politicised. They drew on a variety of themes, from the contemporary fear of a Catholic threat to the ambivalent social status of midwives. Aubry’s nationality, vocation, and gruesome dismemberment of the body meant that her crime was far enough removed from the daily lives of most readers that authors and imagined audiences could explore issues of marital abuse at a safe distance. Aubry’s case can be interpreted as indicative of a shift in popular attitudes towards battered wives who actively defended themselves against male violence rather than disobedient subordinates who disrupted the ‘natural’ gendered order. For example, Dennis’ violence was interspersed with hints about the sexual incompatibility of the couple. Elkanah Settle’s broadside ballad of the crime speculated that a beautiful ‘young girl by covetous parents doom’, had been ‘betray’d to some old jealous misers bed/ to impotence, to age and aches wed’. In the details of the case, it emerged that Aubry had attempted to obtain a separation from her husband, and had withdrawn from their marital bedchamber to prove her intentions. This angered Dennis further, which led him to beat and sexually abuse her. While scholars have categorised the sexual abuse that Aubry endured as rape, contemporary accounts alluded to the crime of sodomy – ‘he attempted the forcing of this examinate to the most unnatural of villanies, and acted such a violence upon her body in despite of all the opposition that she could make’ – which made the act unquestionably criminal and could prove grounds for separation, as there were no contemporary frames of reference to conceptualise marital rape as an illegal act. He then proceeded to bite her ‘like a dog’ which added to the description of her husband as unnatural and animalistic in his cruelty and abuse towards her, swapping bestial language from representing deviant femininity to deviant masculinity. The dismemberment of Dennis’ body, especially
Our Voices his decapitation, could be read as a symbolic dismemberment of the patriarchal head of household, putting Mary firmly in a ‘rebel’ category of female killer. However, another man and her own thirteenyear-old son, John Desermeau (Dennis’ stepson) helped her conceal the crime. This added another layer to Aubry’s criminality. The fact that she acted with accomplices simultaneously showed her as both weak and powerful: she was unable to physically dismember and dispose of the body herself, but had also exerted persuasive power over her male accomplices. One printed account said that Desermeau never dared ‘speak against her [...] Command’. In another report however, Desermeau allegedly refused many times to help his mother but he ‘went with her at last, she saying she was loth to go alone’ to dispose of Dennis’ body. The role of Aubry’s son added another layer of nuance to her culpability, and shows that her violent actions challenged the victim/rebel binary across various printed reports of her crimes. This one example has allowed us to question further some of the entrenched binary constructions of female violence that at first glance seem to characterise cotemporary literature. In fact, murderous women rarely occupied one simple subject-position, and authors used this to their own advantage and interests. Conflicting accounts of the same case often revealed that gender could influence depictions of violence in a variety of fascinating ways.
Between Voices and Bodies Jacob Mallison Bird
o to any drag bar across the world, and I can promise you that you’ll see a lip-sync performance. To me, lip-syncing is fascinating for so many reasons: at a most instantaneous level, it’s mesmerising to watch, the drag queen sashaying across the stage to the vocal stylings of some deified diva; then it’s interesting to consider why drag lipsyncing is lauded by punters, but when female popstars such as Whitney Houston, Britney, or Beyoncé lipsync it is vilified by fans and media alike; also, on a more theoretical level, the practice makes me wonder what it means to have the voice of another as your own; and, moreover, why drag performers choose these particular voices? I would like to focus on the final two questions, and query what is going on in lip-syncing, and why these performers find so much fun and empowerment in embodying someone else’s voice. Voice theorists seem to enjoy the dichotomous nature of the voice. It is at one time that part of us that seems most ‘us’; it is a calling card for our identity, something that tells the listener an awful lot about us, even who we are. But, voice is also in a very intrinsic way apart from us, in that we literally have to expel it from our bodies in order to produce it. At the very moment of its production, voice exists outside of the body, creating a kind of dialectic of voice: it is at once subject, leaving our bodies and carrying with it the innermost truths of our identity, and at the same time it is object, returning to our ears and making the speaking subject, in fact, the listener. This unique structural identity of voice has been noted by many theorists, with Kaja Silverman writing eloquently on how the voice in its diaphanousness spills over the boundaries of subjectivity, and Freya Jarman going so far as to say that the voice is structurally queer, existing at the boundaries of subject and object (Silverman, 2008: 77; Jarman, 2011: 3). Whether one agrees with these theorisations or not (I personally am inclined to wonder why we still try to fit something like the voice into easy categorisations of ‘subject’ and ‘object’ when it so clearly defies this logic), it has powerful implications for drag lip-syncing. If the voice always exists as object to the speaker as a prerequisite of existence, then what does this mean for lip-syncing? When the drag queen performs on stage, 1
she essentially dramatizes the inherent duality of voice. She makes all the motions of ‘voicing’ – she takes deep inhalations of breath in time with the phrase structure, she moves her mouth masterfully around the contours of the words, and she contorts her face to show expression and effort – and yet she makes no sound. Rather than actually producing voice and having that return to her ears, she gives that job to something else, the speaker system in the club, and the voice that comes back to her is the voice of another. Still, we have the ‘singer’ performing the actions (or the visible actions, at least) of voice; still, we have voice existing outside of the body; and still, we have ownership of the voice predicated on its being produced and heard at the same time. Such a theorisation may seem to be overcomplicating a fun mode of performance, but understanding the voice in this way has important ramifications for several other non-normative modes of voice. Take, for example, those who have undergone surgeries in which they have sacrificed their voice and use a computer prosthetic in its place: such a theory confirms the validity of these voices. But in drag this lip-syncing, or this non-normative mode of voicing, isn’t enforced, it’s chosen. Drag queens decide to lip-sync over singing, and, if anyone has seen RuPaul’s Drag Race you’ll know that many drag queens have wonderful singing voices. This begs the question as to why lip-syncing is preferred and what benefits it might hold. Thinking about drag lipsyncing, these queens often perform to their favourite songstresses. Gaga, Madonna, Beyoncé, Mariah, Whitney: these illustrious women make up a pretty core contingent of the go-to drag repertoire. When a drag queen struts around on stage, lip-syncing to the voices of these powerful women, she identifies with them. In that moment, making the motions of voice herself and the speakers completing the feedback loop by sending a voice to their ears, they are identifying with the voice, making it their own, and therefore empathically relating to the power in that voice. Indeed, this is a key marker of identity building in psychoanalysis. Where Lacan spoke of a visual mirror stage between mother and child, Guy Rosolato extended Lacan’s theory to include an ‘acoustic’ mirror stage, in which the young child learns to identify with the voice of the mother as a form of protection.1 Indeed, Didier Anzieu goes further to argue that the soft murmurings of the mother’s
Rosolato, Guy (1978) La relation d’inconnu, Paris: Gallimard, p.32.
voice envelope the baby in a kind of sonic skin, an aural amniotic sac, that similarly works in its armoured protection for the baby.2 And so when the drag queen is dancing around on the stage, living for herself, mouthing the words to her favourite song and her most idolised singer, her fun has serious benefits. Exploiting the inherent duality of the voice, she identifies with the power of the voice, of the person behind that voice, and adopts that own protection into her. And the theory continues: at any stadium concert, the camera pans across the audience and you can witness tens of thousands of people lipsyncing, sharing in the voice of their idols, invigorating 2
themselves and their psyches empathically from the power of those they adore, and the successes they’ve achieved. So, next time you’re watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and gasp when RuPaul utters the immortal line ‘it’s time to lip-sync for your life!’ know that she’s not exaggerating, because in many ways these queens really are. Image: Jacob Mallinson Bird/Dinah Lux
Anzieu, Didier (1985) Le Moi-Peau, Paris: DUNOD, p.40
Gender Fluidity in NineteenthCentury France Rachel Stockdale
ll too often we hear the same tiresome critique of gender identities, sexual orientations and lifestyles which run contrary to conservative and heteronormative stereotypes - that these are “modern” inventions, that these types of people simply didn’t exist before, even that kids these days will do anything for attention. Well, guess what? They did exist – and there are numerous records to prove it. These identities are not a new phenomenon, however in some cases it is only now possible to articulate them, both in a literal and philosophical sense. Research has shown: ‘A society’s responses to sex change and gender transformation reflects the ways in which it perceives and maintains sex and gender distinctions, including whether two or more sex and gender categories are recognised and what is regarded as “possible, proper and perverse”1 in gender-linked behaviour.’2 In light of new research into gender identity, with gender fluidity3 in particular becoming increasingly prominent both in queer communities and scientific research,4 it is appropriate to look back on the past in order to trace the markers of phenomena which were not acknowledged as such in their respective settings. This is particularly important when dealing with aspects of gender, sexuality and identity as it discards arguments of diminishing explanations (putting them down to patterns and trends), pointing instead to human nature as an explanation of consistent gender irregularities from heteronormativity throughout history. This is something which I hope I can contribute to in some small way through my research into excluded queer 19th century French literature. One writer who exemplifies this is Marguerite Vallette-Eymery, more commonly known as simply ‘Rachilde’. Despite being predominantly excluded from the literary
cannon, Rachilde was a major figure in the fin-desiècle decadent movement. Whilst a controversial persona, the quality of her writing and the definite impression she left on decadent literature is irrefutable, yet alongside so many women writers, she has been relegated to passing mentions in footnotes. In unearthing these obscure texts we are given a glimpse into queer identity in 19th century France – and shown that, in some ways, it isn’t all that different from the identities emerging in modern queer culture. Returning to literature from the past is a useful exercise in highlighting the existence of diversity even before the conceptualisation of certain identities (in this case, specifically non-binary forms of transgender identity). It is my belief that many of Rachilde’s texts represent theories of gender fluidity well before their time. This argument for gender fluidity may be radical and pioneering in nineteenth-century French literary criticism, but the textual evidence, re-read in light of new advances in this area, supports the assertion that this is a recurring, if underlying, theme in Rachilde’s writing. To take Rachilde’s Monsieur Vénus for example, it was published in 1884, banned and thereafter censored for what was perceived as grotesque representations of gender and sexuality. It was by reversing ‘natural’ sexual roles and redeploying the signifiers of masculinity and femininity that Rachilde achieved this reaction of public outrage. This indignation was generated by the story of Raoule de Vénérande, a noblewoman, and her socially deplorable romance with Jacques Silvert, a working class flower maker, who becomes completely emasculated through Raoule’s erotic fantasies, culminating in their complete gender role reversal. We see in Monsieur Vénus a clear example
1 Sabrina Petra Ramet (1996) Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, London/New York: Routledge, p. 378. 2 Alison Shaw and others (2005) Changing Sex and Bending Gender, New York: Berghahn Books p. 2. 3 For more on gender fluidity see Lee Harrington (2016) Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities, Anchorage, AK: Mystic Productions Press 4 Gender fluidity research is being carried out in sociological, psychological, psychiatric fields as well as extensively in Queer, Gender, Women’s and Gay and Lesbian Studies. For more see Christina Richards and others, (2016) ‘Non-binary or Genderqueer Genders’, International Review of Psychiatry, 28, 95–102. K.L. Broad (2002) ‘GLB+T? Gender/ Sexuality Movements and Transgender Collective Identity (De)Constructions’, International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, 7, 241-64, p. 256
of non-binary transgender identity in the character of Raoule in comparison to a male to female transition as seen in the character of Jacques. However, it has yet to be argued that this is not simply a story of defying gender roles or just another example of unnatural role reversal, often seen in decadent narratives, but actually that Rachilde is doing something more nuanced and complex in this text than simply adhering to decadent tendencies of gender role reversal and performance by providing an insight into gender fluidity. On gender fluidity Bornstein says: ‘If ambiguity is a refusal to fall within a prescribed gender code, then fluidity is the refusal to remain one gender or another. Gender fluidity is the ability to freely and knowingly become one or many of a limitless number of genders, for any length of time, at any rate of change. Gender fluidity recognises no borders or rules of genders.’5 Therefore, gender fluidity refers to a gender identity which varies over time, in which a gender fluid person6 may at any given time identify as female, male, neutrois, multigender, agender, genderqueer and any other non-binary identity. Whilst it may have sufficed to avoid using specific gender identity terminology in previous years of Rachilde scholarship due to a lack of awareness, new advances in gender identity research encourage us to use these breakthroughs not only in contemporary writing but also in literature which presents as relevant
from the past. These new advances have opened up discourse not only about the aforementioned identities in the present, but hark back on what has been there all along, simply without the linguistic tools to articulate these concepts. Supporting this, Gantz argues: ‘While Queer theory relentlessly reinvents itself in pace with the changes in postmodern theoretical discourse, it also encourages its literary practitioners to find as yet unmined potential in the treasures of past works.’7 Indeed, when reading her texts, it becomes clear that Rachilde was a century ahead of her time in terms of gender theory, by undermining the presumed hegemonic logic affiliated with heteronormativity. By presenting us with characters displaying not only transgender characteristics but also insights into gender fluidity at a time when gender roles were extremely restrictive, Rachilde was not simply playing into decadent tendencies to reverse gender tropes, but actually she was deconstructing notions of gender through gender fluidity. By reconsidering the complexities of gender identity in Rachilde’s work in the light of new thinking on gender, Rachilde’s fiction not only shaped and challenged attitudes in fin-de-siècle French society, but continues to inform discussions on the role played by literature in opening up new understandings of sexual identity today.
5 Kate Bornstein (1994) Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, New York: Taylor & Francis, p. 51. 6 For more on gender fluidity see Lee Harrington (2016) Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities, Anchorage, AK: Mystic Productions Press 7 Katherine Gantz (2005) ‘The Difficult Guest: French Queer Theory Makes Room for Rachilde’, South Central Review, 22, 113-32, p. 113.
Revealing the Phallus: Ambiguity and Power in Roman Hermaphrodite Images Katherine Dunleavy
he ‘Sleeping Hermaphrodite’ has captivated and amused visitors to the Louvre for centuries. A sleeping, seductive, feminine body entices viewers (or, perhaps more accurately, voyeurs) to come closer and explore the figure which only reveals its surprise, a penis, when one walks around to the other side. Simultaneously surprising, titillating and intriguing, this was a popular sculpture in the Roman world and there are multiple copies scattered across the world’s major museums. This, however, is only one type of hermaphrodite image and by looking at both the Sleeping Hermaphrodite statue type and those figures that reveal their penis in a very direct way we can begin to understand the inherent power in these images for a Roman audience. Usually hermaphrodite images are interpreted as representing sexual passivity or a loss of ‘manliness’; this is largely supported by Ovid’s telling of the story of Hermaphroditus in which the female sexual desire of Salmacis leads to the fusion of the sexes: Now the entwined bodies of the two were joined together, and one form covered both. Just as when someone grafts a twig into the bark, they see both grow joined together, and develop as one, so when they were mated together in a close embrace, they were not two, but a two-fold form, so that they could not be called male or female, and seemed neither or either. When he saw now that the clear waters which he had penetrated as a man, had made him a creature of both sexes, and his limbs had been softened there, Hermaphroditus, stretching out his hands, said, but not in a man’s voice, “Father and mother, grant this gift to your son, who bears both your names: whoever comes to these fountains as a man, let him leave them half a man, and weaken suddenly at the touch of these waters!1 1 Ovid. Met. IV:346-388
The outcome of this union is a ‘softening’ of Hermaphroditus which in the Roman world always carried connotations of passivity. The unconscious feminine nature of the Sleeping Hermaphrodite suggests a vulnerability that chimes with this. We also frequently encounter depictions of hermaphrodites fighting off lusty mythological figures known as satyrs, often the hermaphrodite is reclining suggesting the satyr has woken them from sleep in an attempted rape. The Romans took Greek models for these statues and imbued them with new significance. Ambiguity, was a powerful tool in Roman imagery and the hermaphrodite was no exception. Whilst these sleeping hermaphrodites from the Greek world were incredibly popular, they are not the only way to depict them. A series of statuettes show them standing with erect penis and this makes them much more masculine, by similarity to god Priapus. These figures often display their phallus by lifting a long garment, challenging ideas of vulnerability and voyeurism, and ensuring that there is no mistake that this penis is something you are supposed to see. The confrontational style of these small objects seems to dispel any notions of the hermaphrodite as purely passive and, in fact suggests, that the sexual ambiguity is a source of power. Similarities between the pose of these statuettes and representations of Priapus in similar objects hint at potential similarities in function and meaning. Priapus was, in many ways, the embodiment of Roman notions of masculinity. He is aggressive, sexually and verbally, has a large erect phallus which he proudly displays, and upholds traditional notions of hard work, fertility and ‘Romanness’. These traits can be seen in images in which he reveals his phallus from under a cloak laden with fruit. Priapus clearly uses the phallus as a weapon, threatening to rape intruders in a set of poems known as the
Priapea. Therefore, his image is often interpreted as providing a protective function with the ability to ward off evil. His phallus represents the sexual, physical and social dominance of the Roman elite male. We can use this in our interpretation of hermaphrodites which borrow the strong phallic imagery but combine it with the feminine body. The Sleeping Hermaphrodite plays upon passivity and surprise, but the way the phallus is revealed from under a cloak in these statuettes and is proudly, and erectly, displayed shows aggression and dominance.
liminal and risky space of the garden. Images of hermaphrodites show that in the Roman world sexual and physical ambiguity could be a potent thing and caution against assuming that hybridity implies weakness. These examples indicate that the phallus can retain dominance even when part of a body that appears primarily female. In fact, the combination of feminine attractiveness and male virility made the hermaphrodite fascinating, sexy and powerful. Image below: Credit Trustees of the British Museum
If we consider the two images together, we can begin to imagine that the hermaphrodite in the Roman world was a dangerous figure and one of the few who posed a threat to the dominant male. Theoretically a man could approach a sleeping hermaphrodite expecting to mount a sexual assault on a vulnerable woman only to find an equally strong and virile male facing them once awake. Even a sleeping hermaphrodite is perilous because of the potential threat from the phallus. Perhaps we should see battles between satyrs and hermaphrodites as more equal, it could be just as likely that the hermaphrodite will rape the satyr as the other way around. It is no surprise that the Romans found this ambiguous figure both alluring and frightening, and used images of hermaphrodites to protect precarious domestic spaces whilst also using them as discussion points in leisure areas. In Pompeii, for example, a painting of a hermaphrodite disturbed by Pan was found above the boundary between the house and the peristyle garden in the House of Castor and Pollux. The Sleeping Hermaphrodite in the Louvre, on the other hand, was found in the Gardens of Sallust, large landscape pleasure gardens in Rome where it would have amused visitors as a playful feature of the gardens. Significantly, both are associated with the
“Are you the gender and sexuality guy?”
Daily (male) experiences of the gender binary in research practices
t was relatively early in the morning of a foggy spring day in March 2015. I was a Master student sitting in the entrance hall of my department, waiting for class to start. I’m very lost in my Twitter feed when a tall guy stops a few steps away from my chair, staring in my direction, waiting for me to notice his presence. I raise my gaze to meet his and, as soon as we make eye contact… “Hey, hi, sorry to bother you. are you the gender and sexuality guy? I need some reading suggestions.” I’m not quite sure whether I got back to his inquiry in any meaningful way. I don’t know. I am not sure. I don’t remember. And the reason why I don’t remember is that my brain was stuck, thinking of his very first question: “are you the gender and sexuality guy?” Alright, yes: I am a man. Or a “guy”, as he put it. No debate on that. And yes: I was one of the very few people at the department actually working on a project directly addressing gender issues. And, once again, yes: I was surely the only man at the department with a research interest in gender and sexuality issues. So… was I? Was I “the gender and sexuality guy”? In a way, how could I not be the gender and sexuality guy? From being just a topic of interest, gender issues became my main area of specialization. I graduated my Master and soon started doctoral research on institutional discourses on gender equality issues as circulated via Twitter, with a focus on practices of production. Ultimately, being a man and being a PhD student in gender studies are two quite central parts of my daily life. Also, not irrelevantly, I am either the only man or one of the very few men present at most conferences, workshops, classes, etc.; a situation that makes “gender guy” a particularly efficient name to single me out of the crowd. And so, one way or another, the nickname stuck. More than two years
down the line, I am still the gender and sexuality guy (“gender guy”, for short) to many of my friends. As the gender guy, one of the earliest conclusions of my doctoral research was that the gender binary is alive and well. There’s almost no argument to be had: institutions, especially EU institutions, understand gender in terms of men/women and gender equality as “equality between women and men”. Feminist movements have more nuanced narratives, but ultimately remain tied to their history as women’s rights movements and the binary thinking that comes with it. This is not to argue that they shouldn’t. Women experience endemic oppression and should never put aside their fight for liberation. The point I am trying to make is that large scale feminist movements are not “beyond the binary”. Are they more inclusive? Yes. Have they strengthened the alliance with the LGBTI movement? Yes. Are they more aware of queer critiques? Yes. Are they beyond the binary? No. Beside screen-based research, I am also conducting interviews with the people operating the Twitter accounts in my sample. Their answers usually point in the same direction as their Twitter feeds, but the most interesting part of the interviews for the argument I am trying to make here is their reactions to my embodied presence. It is not uncommon for my participants to be surprised that my male body is capable of conducting “equality work” and utter feminist sentences. Some of them have been visibly confused. Why am I actually interested in gender equality at all? Almost as if they were saying that, by virtue of being male, equality does not concern me. But after all, I am the gender and sexuality guy. Since it is definitely not “gender” that pulled me into the business, it must be have been the “sexuality” bit. In the words of my very first interviewee, “my son [a man in his 20s whom I briefly met the previous day when scheduling the interview] was quite intrigued by you. He told me ‘mom, why is this guy studying the feminist movement? I looked at him quite carefully… he is not gay’. And I told him ‘no, I don’t think he is gay either, but look, when he comes to the assemblies of the movement, he sits there quietly and takes notes’.
Events I actually watched you, you are perfectly at ease [at the assembly]” (Interview #1, 13 February 2017). I don’t see the point in disclosing my sexuality to my interviewees, and I usually don’t. Nor do I see the point in disclosing it here, so I won’t. However… what if I were straight? Would my interviewees be even more puzzled by my straight male body quietly taking notes at a feminist assembly? And here it is: straight/ non-straight. Another binary that institutions and social movements are hardly “beyond”. Let me cut to the chase and actually make my point. The gender studies community or the feminist movement (let alone society at large) are far from being “beyond the binary”. If we as a gender studies community were beyond the binary, men and gender non-conforming people would not be seen as rare unicorn-like creatures at gender studies conferences. And using “gender and sexuality guy” to point at any of the men present at said conferences would hardly make any sense. If we as the broader feminist movement were beyond the binary, a man quietly taking notes during a feminist assembly would not be a noteworthy event. Nor would he necessarily have to be read as gay in order for the situation to make sense to the observer. If we as society at large were beyond the binary, there would be a lot more gender guys around.
The Existential Struggle of NonBinaryi Living Joe Higgins
i: ‘Non-binary’ is an increasingly wide-reaching term, encompassing persons who identify as androgynous, multigender, agender, transgender, gender fluid and genderflux. In other words, it can apply to anyone who does not solely identify as female or male.
owadays, many people accept gender as a social construction, rather than as rigidly aligned with biological sex. However, the dominant view is still to consider it to be a binary social construction: one is either male or female, not both, nor neither, nor somewhere betwixt. The dominance of this binary perspective unfortunately leads to an ongoing existential struggle for non-binary persons. That is, one cannot fully be (or become) gendered in a way that one intends if there is little social recognition of one’s non-binary way of life. This is because we each identify with certain socionormative ‘ways of being’,1 which are sometimes labelled linguistically, but are more pervasively present through implicit norms that manifest within social interactions. Without aligning with behavioural norms that are widely socially acknowledged and therefore enacted in everyday interactions,2 such as those that exist for typically ‘male’ or ‘female’ behaviours, one is lost in an existential wilderness. This amounts to more than merely belonging to a marginal part of society. In order to properly understand the nature and gravity of such an existential wilderness, one can (perhaps unexpectedly) appropriate aspects of the work of Martin Heidegger. For Heidegger, our existence is fundamentally practical in nature. We are
beings that do things, using the environmental tools that are at our disposal. Due to this practical nature, our primary mode of encountering our immediate environments is according to its functional possibilities. So, for instance, the keyboard before me is ‘for typing’, a book may be ‘for reading’, a football ‘for kicking’, or a banana ‘for eating’. The specific functional possibilities of various objects will naturally vary according to personal and situational specifics, but the point is that environmental entities are encountered as having a ‘for-what’ quality.3 Moreover, in virtue of being for something, each entity always belongs to a “conceptually prior” involvementstructure, which, in turn, may belong to further involvement-structures that are nested within one another (metaphorically akin to Russian dolls in reverse, spiralling from an immediate functional engagement with a ‘tiny’ fragment of one’s world, outwards to the overarching ‘giant doll’ that encapsulates one’s purposeful existence). For example, I may encounter a keyboard as ‘for typing’, in the practical context of an office (a relation that Heidegger calls an “inwhich”), in order to write an article (an “in-order-to”), which is aimed toward presenting some philosophical analysis (a “towards-this”), which is for the sake of being an academic (a “for-the-sake-of-which”). These structures are part of an individual’s selfprojection into specific activities and ways of life.4 And, in general, the contextual structure of any action will ultimately rest on relations which are of the form ‘forthe-sake-of-which’.5 In other words, any basic activity is underlaid by identifying oneself as for-the-sake-ofbeing-a-partner, or for-the-sake-of-being-a-parent,
1 ‘Ways of being’ amounts to a kind of implicit ‘labelling’ through the normative consensus that is generated in virtue of subjects interacting with one another. However, it is the implicit nature of such ways of being that ultimately makes ‘labelling’ an inappropriate term (i.e. even non-verbal humans could have normatively discernible ways of being with one another in virtue of the social roles that they enact within interactions) 2 Of course, society could acknowledge expressively iconoclastic behaviour, such as that of the suffragettes with regards to sexism, as readily as it acknowledges conformist behaviour, so long as the alternative to the questioned/criticised norm is evident. For non-binary persons, part of the issue that I am highlighting is that the questioning of a largely taken-for-granted way of living (i.e. being male or female) results in no clear alternative that will be immediately acknowledged by wider society. ‘Non-binary’ encompasses a clear ‘negative’ project – to reject the idea that one must identify as solely male or female – but not a clear ‘positive’ project. 3 Heidegger, M (1976/2010), Logic: The Question of Truth, trans. T Sheehan, Indiana University Press 4 Wheeler, M (2005) Reconstructing the Cognitive World, MIT Press, p.146 and Heidegger, M (1927/1962) Being and Time, trans. J Macquarrie and E. Robinson, Basil Blackwell, p.115 5 Wheeler, 2005, pp.146/147
Events or -a-sibling, or -a-doctor, or -a-leader, and so on. What is crucial, here, is that these underlying identities with which one aligns are always socially determined. Now, one may be tempted to object that, ultimately, we each ‘play by our own rules’ and, from a personal perspective, simply behave for-the-sake-of-beingoneself. But this overlooks the holistic nature of the socio-normative world. The normative roots of any social position, be it a parent, partner, sports champion, professional, priest, anarchist, or whatever, are not individualistically manifest (if they were, there would be no recognised consensus regarding typical behaviours across and within societies), but socially generated and maintained through ongoing interactions. How one acts for-the-sake-of-being-a-parent or for-thesake-of-being-a-partner is normatively regulated by a collective aggregation of societal interactions that determine what makes a good parent or good partner. In the most basic existential sense conceivable, relating to the world for-the-sake-of-being-a-human is itself a social relation, as individual humanness amounts to normative belonging to human ways of being, rather than to a biological category. So how does this relate back to gender? Well, gender is one of our most fundamental ways of identifying
ourselves: many everyday acts are, for most people, underlaid by the socio-normative projection of oneself as for-the-sake-of-being-female or for-the-sakeof-being-male. Gender is a fundamental relation to the world that is, for most, implicitly built-in to daily activities. And the solidity of this implicitly gendered way of being emerges from interactionally generated social consensus regarding ‘male’ and ‘female’ behavioural norms. For non-binary persons, such interactionally conferred normative consensus is lacking across wider society. Resultantly, one may feel unhinged at one’s existential foundations, a fact that is borne out by reports of nonbinary persons sometimes feeling alienated, odd, or ‘atypical’. Being non-binary is not just a matter of carving out a normative niche that one is comfortable enacting oneself, it is also a matter of carving out a niche that others will acquiesce to as something that you can conform to within the bounds of socially recognised normativity. This amounts to much more than an issue of social labelling or straightforward social acceptance; it is the fact that how one behaves requires social corroboration in order for one’s existential reality to be verified. Without such social verification, one remains stranded in an existential wilderness.
You the Many, We the Few
Cheryl Diane Parkinson
By Ashton: When I was born, I had blue eyes. That much is certain. Blue is for boys isn’t it? But then again, it’s never that simple. The one who should’ve known, apparently didn’t. A mother knows. A mother has an instinct. Don’t know what happened to my mother. Perhaps she developed Ostrich Syndrome. Apparently she had this mini heart attack and made the nurses check to see if I was blind. I wasn’t of course, but I do have a ‘special eye.’ As well as the other thing. The thing that’s missing. Or that extra thing that makes me what I am. One thing for certain. I was different. It’s just a lazy eye really, but mum dressed it up as she dresses everything up, but I like things real - raw. I don’t like to sugar coat stuff. It may taste nice when you roll it around in your mouth, but it just gives you cavities later on. As I got older, my eye colour changed. No longer blue but hazel. Little flecks of green appeared - just dancing around the edges. Yep. Again. Another clue. Light brownish with flecks of green but still weird for someone like me. I have to wear these yellow tinted glasses, which makes the colour look even weirder. It all started with that bloody video. I can say bloody. Even though she drops the f- bomb when she’s angry, or scared - I am not going to. Although I have reserved the right to say bloody as much as I like. Bloody! Bloody! Bloody! It all started with that bloody video that was going to help make me into the next Quentin Tarantino. I called it, ‘Who’s Afraid of The Girl Next Door?’ Catchy title eh? Inspired by Miss Woolfe, (of course) and it’s along the same lines of the horror that’s circulating around school at the moment -‘Anyone for Baseball?’ It was my favourite film of the month. A very bloody horror that she didn’t like me watching, but, well… it was funny. The mother would be screaming, her arms flailing all over the place - the acting was awful. And it was so obvious it was watered down tomato ketchup - a cheap budget film. No one could take it seriously. At least in my film, the girl next door wouldn’t be acting. I was trying something new - catching her in real moments and then hash them together to make my film. All very artistic and new. We like our labels too much - don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be an ideal world if we could just accept things for what they were without forcing them into a box. A pigeon box. Or is it a pigeon hole? Not very big is it? Restrictive. Says it all. Bit like the boy-blue jeans that the mother buys me. At least she’s tried to stop forcing me into frilly dresses. Still. Make-up is our next battle. My favourite line in the film was when the mother ran to her husband’s battered corpse and screamed ‘Nooooooo!’ As if! If you found your husband bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat with the murderer just standing there, you’d run the hell out of there incase you were next. Nevermind cuddling his bloody body! The directing was rubbish! The script was rubbish! But it was so rubbish it was kinda good, if you know what I mean. But I could do better. I would do better. And with my eyes, I had a unique way to view the world - like an artist. I am unique, neither here nor there. Like I said, I’m not into labels. My colour interpretation is different to others. I can change the concept of what film should be, and change is good isn’t it? That’s what she said anyway. She said she would send me to film school. She’s not sure about the one that’s nearest because it’s full of boys. Apparently the mother says boys might give me a hard time. Pfft! I’d be more worried about them. I’m just as strong as them and can easily smash their faces in! They
Creative say girls are worse, but in my experience, boys are physical, girls are mental and then there’s me neither here nor there. Neither one nor the other. Some days I feel like one, and then others, I feel like the other. Mostly though, I am both. And none. A weird hybrid. What can I say? I’m just a genuine work of art (!) I’m serious about my work and can’t have anyone messing things up. This is my medium, how I get heard. This is my voice. She thought I would mind working with a bunch of boys. I think she’s looking for any old excuse to keep me under the thumb. The dear old mother. Thinks she knows what’s best. Thinks she knows who or what I am. She hasn’t got a bloody clue. Narrator: Ashton had everything - compared to some, and to others, it was relatively little. Perspective is everything. A detached house on Cedar Avenue, which backed onto a lush, green wood, is where they lived. They had enough money, Ashton was pretty handsome and clever, with loving mother and father, and went to a good school - lived in an affluent area and had high expectations of a career in the film business. But, like a lot of teenagers, the grass was greener. Ashton wanted more. As an only child, loneliness was an issue. We established that the eyesight wasn’t perfect, in fact according to the parents, nothing was perfect. But Ashton was Ashton - that was it. The richer kids at school were spending the summer in Egypt or going to the Maldives - whereas Ashton was either sitting at home watching television, or like last year, they’d take a short break to France. The parents only flew there so as to make it more of an adventure for Ashton - something to post on Instagram - pictures of the plane wings, pictures of outside the Eiffel Tower. It worked. Ashton bubbled with excitement at the sight of the plane and loved it even more when football was shown on the over screens. This year, though, they were staying at home. The mother was working on something - she was always working on something in those days, and the dad was… well, he was just around. By Ali: The dad was never around. Isn’t that what these things always say? Well. He was. There was nothing wrong with the home life - as you can see. All pretty normal. Except for me. *insert evil laugh*. I am the black sheep, the oil in the water, the fly in the ointment. The Wolf in the Woods. How did I get there? Oh *deep sigh* I don’t know. I guess I evolved, pretty much like original sin. One minute I wasn’t there, and then the next... poof! Here I am in all my flamboyant glory for all the world to see - and how stunningly beautiful I am! And now that I am here… I’m afraid to say that I ain’t going no-where. *smiles* By Ashton: It starts with a white-in. Thought it would be better than a black one - way to common, this had to be my best piece of work. A white-in that gets duller and duller until you see an eye, frantically spinning left and right, taking in the full scene, as quickly as it can as if it is searching for something. Peering through a rustic hole in a wooden fence. I had set up my camera to record my eye as I stared through the fence, blinking. It’s an eye. Out of context. Just an eye. The grainy, jagged wood with a knot poked through, and my greeny-brown eye, looking through. I quite liked that shot. The green mossy fence brought out the green flecks on the edges of my eye. It was the only shot on the film that I liked. Green would be a bit of a theme. There nearby woods would prove the perfect backdrop. The rest? The rest is what caused the trouble. I wouldn’t mind, but that interloper wasn’t supposed to be there. I was filming the girl next door who I haven’t really spoken to, even though we have been neighbours for over two years. She was hanging up the washing. Boring, yes, I know, but I was planning on using the footage to develop a story. Plus, she looked kind of cute - what can I say? I notice these things, I’m a teenager. Anyway - the title was gonna be “Aliens invade earth and take over our bodies.” She was perfect for the protagonist’s role. Some mousy boring little girl that everyone ignores, but actually, look deep into her eyes and there’s
something there. Not that I have spent ages looking into her eyes you understand! But, well. I have spent some time studying the subject to see if she was the right person for the job. And behind that typically ‘acceptable’ facade, there was something there. I could see it. And I will try to bring it out for all to see. Not doing the world any kind of favour by hiding that shit. But when I was watching it back in my bedroom, there was something else on there. Something else that had no bloody right to be there! No bloody right at all! Narrator: It was a cool summer’s day and Ashton was filming. The hushing rush of the breeze in the nearby trees from the wood could be heard as Ashton tried to capture it on film. The idea was to give the scene a feeling of freedom. Much like how a high ceiling gives a small room the feeling of space. The mum was in the study, working and the dad had gone shopping. The sun was too bright for Aston to tag along, besides there were more pressing things to do. The glare of the sun caused problems, which is why the tinted yellow glasses had to be worn - today of all days. As much as Ashton didn’t like to admit it, there was a vulnerability there. Although today, going against the rules, Ashton was out in the full glare of the flaming sun, filming. Dad loved going Waitrose. When he wasn’t sitting in his special chair, with his feet up on his special wooden coffee table watching the cricket, he was at Waitrose - more than Ashton deemed as was normal. He’d browse all the isles, buy stuff he didn’t really need. Especially gadgets from the electric isle - which made the mum cross. But, ‘boys and their toys’ is what was said as an excuse for spending money useless things they didn’t need - pathetic. Some of the stuff came in handy when Ashton was recording, or playing stuff back because he bought extra large speakers that you could plug into the television. Mini microphones that could be used when interviewing friends. Once, the dad bought a camera and a stand which came in very handy for Ashton. He also turned one of the bedrooms into a workroom so films could be created, developed, or as Ashton liked to say, ‘brought into being.’ For a thing wasn’t a thing until it was created. And when it was created, it wasn’t labelled or pigeon holed. It was allowed to exist - to be. And those that watched the films, either accepted them or not. Ashton didn’t really care if they understood. That was not important. In their modest four bedroom home, Ashton was in the work room where the films were edited. That was when it was seen. Ashton squinted. Something was there that shouldn’t be. A figure. It was stealing the focus with a completely unauthorised walk-on! Ashton’s brown hair stood on end, like antennae, while hazel eyes, glared at the glowing screen in anger. There was Ashton’s eye, blinking while watching through the hole in the fence. Then it cut to what the eye was looking at: the girl. The camera spanned as it caught in shot the girl from next door hanging up white bedsheets. Ashton’s eyes were hurting. Not being able to figure out if it was because it was too bright or just that fatigue was taking over, the eyes watered slightly - a shimmering, wobbling view wasn’t something that was workable. Going without the glasses wasn’t the best idea as it dulled the picture, or the perception of the picture, but needs must. Ashton preferred things raw - not altered. Viewing the world as it was was alway preferable to changing the perception of what was there. That wasn’t any good and always felt like lying to Ashton. And it was when Ashton was contemplating all of this, that he was seen. Just briefly at first. A figure flitting in the background. Just behind the girl next door as - a dark figure in red. One moment he was there… and the next, he was gone. He vanished. Like some kind of Goddamned mirage. And Ashton was fuming. This needed a closer inspection. There was a larger TV in the bedroom. That was as good a zoom as he had. By Ali: Ohh! I gave juuust a little taste. :-)
By Ashton: My heart kept racing as I played it again and again on the large television screen in my room. Just to check, y’know? Check if it was real. Maybe there was something wrong with my eyes, something more than usual that is. So I put on my yellow tinted glasses and watch it again. I squinted and shoved my face right up close to the screen. But it looked the same, just darker, and more yellow. I felt a chill and so rubbed my left hand with my right, smoothed down the nervous goosebumps. The dark in my bedroom watched me. There’s a leather sofa, a large window with white wooden shutters on it. Closed of course so the bright sun didn’t hurt my eyes, but no matter how many times I played it back… it was still there. He was still there. Some kid in skinny black jeans and a black t-shirt. I tried playing it in black and white, which had an effect I liked. The stark white bed sheets billowed against the tinted skies as my neighbour pinned them onto the thin wire, and in a second, there’s a flash of colour - even when I put it on black and white. I froze the frame - just to see, keep him from vanishing this time, and I saw him. It was a him. I think it was a him, but that doesn’t really matter. My heart leapt to life as I zoomed in on the large television screen that was hooked onto my bedroom wall at the end of my bed. I couldn’t view this in my editing room - I needed more privacy. On the large screen, there was no mistaking him. He was bloody looking right at me! Blood red eyes, glaring at me… smirking! Where the bloody hell did he come from!? Sitting on the bottom of my bed, I trembled. Grabbing my chest, my breathing stuttered out in panicked bursts, but he just stayed there - frozen in time, staring right at me. And the weird thing is, I thought I knew him. I bloody well knew him! Narrator: The change was subtle at first. A mother knows, doesn’t she? Did this mother know? Who can tell if their child is capable of such things? Did she see the signs or was she blind to them? Can this ever be her fault? Well, the eyes are the windows to the soul. That’s what they say. And the eyes were off from day one. They were broken. Not quite right. Did that mean that the child wasn’t quite right in the head? Or maybe it was in the heart. Perhaps the two aren’t even connected. Like a doll that’s been made, nearly perfect… just a slight defect. Was it a defect or was it just difference treated as a defect? Becomes a self fulfilling prophecy don’t you think? Treat an individual in a way they shouldn’t be treated and, well. Aren’t you to blame if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to? Perhaps the parents had nothing to do with it. Perhaps the child was just… very angry. She knew then. She knew the child was born with more than just a twinkle in the eye. If she looked closely, she could see him - in all his red glory, smirking and laughing. Knowing. Or maybe at that stage, he was just green with envy. Just waiting on the edges for the right time. The child was born with him there. Riding on Ashton’s coat tails - like a parasite. Ashton didn’t want any pill difficult to swallow sugared. But a bit of sugar always helps the medicine go down, doesn’t it? Was there any medicine for this kind of thing though? Anything to obliterate the parasite! Blast the blood-sucker off! Shock the brain to eradicate the monster within. Electroconvulsive therapy. Did that work for other disorders? Did ‘not claiming to be one gender or the other’ even count as a disorder? Or does the disorder lie with those forcing others to be what they are told they are? Perhaps the parents should’ve blasted first and ask questions later. Would they still get the blame if they got it wrong? Parents should know. Parents are always to blame. There wasn’t even a firm diagnosis, so how could there be a firm cure? Did one difference in the head have anything to do with the other difference in the overall makeup? In fact, isn’t it all just guess work? One thing I do know, green is symbolic of jealousy. Or anger. Or is that red? Green, in this case, definitely leads to red. By Ali: The dad was around the next time I showed up. They were eating dinner like a good little family. *sick bucket!* The mother had made some spaghetti bolognese that Ashton pretended to like fake meat in fake meat sauce. Mmmmm… It tasted… plastic - my favourite! It went down like a led
balloon but Ash (yes, we’re beyond first names terms) kept shovelling it down the throat like it was a gourmet dinner. That vile shit! I didn’t like it! So I puked it back up. That was hilarious. All three sitting around the dinner table like a civilised little family and then I just throw it back up again, all over the shiny wooden table with its perfect little white napkins that were placed to one side. Ash ought to use it to dab the side of our mouth after spewing. And my personal favourite, all over the mirror opposite that table. That took some aiming. It was like something out of The Exorcist. I just sprayed that shit all over the mum and dad. Left the silverware clean though - I’m not a complete monster. Getting puke out of the forks… tricky. Even for the dishwasher. The screaming and crying started, and after mum got over the shock (quicker than the dad) she rushed to our side after swearing under her breath - think that was the fear. The dad just sat there, staring like a f*ing idiot. Yes… I can drop the f-bomb even if Ash doesn’t. They didn’t see me coming. I did though. In the mirror. The eyes went red, and the lazy one twitched. That’s how you know I’m coming. I wonder if Ash spotted that? I didn’t stay for long. Just enough to let my presence be known, and for Ash to understand, that really and truthfully, *sarcastic sigh*I prefer meat. By Ashton: I don’t know what happened. Mum put me to bed, said I was coming down with something. Dad said it was the heat. They were both lying about something - I knew they were. My eye was sore. The lazy one felt tired and sore like grit had got in and I had just kept rubbing it - but I hadn’t. It blinked funny. And I looked - different. I felt a little different too. The dining room stank after I had finished with it, and I heard mum and dad quietly rowing while they cleaned. My bedroom is just above the dining room and sounds pass through the floorboards easily. It looks out onto the garden at the back of the house as well. When I opened my white sash window, the smell of mum’s roses wafted up, as well as the sound of summer. I could hear the nearby trees from the wood, and smell yesterday’s rain in the undergrowth. It floated on the air and wrapped me in a protective blanket. When I was younger, I used to just sit on the white window seat and look out the window at the treetops lining the back of the garden - the tip of the woods. I imagined beasts in those woods, heard the howling of wolves, imagined myself as Little Red Riding hood - cape and all. I’d be fighting epic battles where there was blood shed and captives in little wooden prisons. I imagined filming them all on my camera and becoming a famous film maker. But that was before. Before the mum forced me to wear those bloody glasses all the time - I don’t though. I didn’t say anything to mum and dad, but he was there. That same boy that I saw in next door’s garden in my film, was here…. I saw him… in the mirror! I know, I know, it sounds absolutely crazy, and for someone like me whose eyes aren’t exactly perfect, to see what I saw… Did I really see what I think I saw? I’m sure I did. He smirked at me… with my mouth! Looked at me, with my eyes. He is coming. I know he is, I can feel it. And it scares the hell out of me. Gone was all my anger, given way to fear. I got up from my bed and walked towards my full length mirror next to the open window. The silver shimmered as I hovered and stared at myself, while me stared back. That was me, wasn’t it I rubbed my left hand as goosebumps suddenly appeared, and as I did, it was clear that my hand was not my hand! My right hand! it touched my left hand, and it felt like his hand holding mine! That bloody boy! A scream caught in my throat as I stared at my hand that was not my hand… I wanted to scream out loud but instead my pillow was grabbed from my window seat and brought to my mouth with that hand that was not my hand, and it stifled my sobs so no one could hear, and I watched me in the silver glass as I screamed into the flower pillow and he was laughing on the inside, as I was crying! He was laughing at me! I wanted to punch his bloody face in! But then my frown turned into a smile as he laughed at me with my mouth! He was using my face! ‘No!’ I screamed on the inside, but my mouth turned up and laughed harder and harder. My own face in the mirror was smiling and laughing while I screamed and cried on the inside, but the inside didn’t look the same as the outside as he continued to laugh and laugh with my mouth, and
my eyes gave off tears, streams and streams of tears that I was unsure whether they were laughing tears or crying tears and I wanted it all to stop, all to stop as the mouth laughed and laughed and laughed … until. I punched the smile right off his face and split it in two. And he shattered into a million sharp jagged pieces. And my hand was bleeding. But it was most definitely my hand. Narrator: It was the screaming and the shattering of glass that made them bullet up the stairs to Ashton’s room. Slippered feet pounded the stair carpet, across the landing. The door was ajar. And they saw Ash, standing defiantly, fists balled and bloody and glass all over the floor. The mother instinctively rushed to Ashton’s side scanned the room for an intruder whilst clasping her child close, cradling the injured hand. ‘What the -?’ The father said as he looked at the mess. ‘Ash?’ Ashton’s breath was coming out shallow and raspy. The slender frame held in a strong fighters stance, knee-high white socks unyielding. Specks of blood spattered Ash’s face as shards of mirror cut little gashes on the forehead and cheeks - which were red and flushed. The green flecks in the eyes flashed dangerously. Dad tentatively stepped over the shards of glass, stray pieced snapping under his shoes, scooped up his shoeless child and rushed downstairs, followed by the mother flapping and squawking at his sides. ‘Should we call an ambulance? Call the police? We ought to go to the hospital.’ Words flew out of the mother’s mouth without her really thinking. Her big brown eyes were wild with fear as her skinny legs began to run towards the mobile phone on the coffee table. They should call someone, anyone. Her shaking hands picked up the device but didn’t dial. The dad said nothing but placed his little child gently down into the warm, enveloping sofa, furrowed his monobrow and looked into those eyes he thought he knew so well - they were wild. And panicky. He’d seen this before. ‘Darling… what’s happened?’ His loving broad brown hand smoothed down Ash’s frizzy hair that was scooped up on top of the head but had wires escaped from the hair band sticking up. ‘I saw him… I saw him,’ Ash whispered wide-eyed. ‘I knew it! Charles! There’s someone in the house!’ The mother had paced from the coffee table to her child and husband on the sofa, and now at the hint of an intruder, she paced back to the coffee table and the phone to call for the police but was frozen by the sharp flick of the dad’s hand. ‘Who?’ ‘He was laughing at me! Laughing, with my mouth! Mine!’ The sobbing began again, but this time, it was just sobbing, no laughing. The dad cradled the child in his arms as he looked worryingly at the mother. By Ali: I waited. Until the land was low. The eye stopped twitching, the fake food stopped coming and things settled down - but I was still there. I was coming and Ash could feel it. Damn good of me really, giving notice. I could just take over, but that would be… ungentlemanly. The weather was turning. It was sunny now, oh yes, but a cold wind was coming. A cold front. I waited for a month. The perfect opportunity came up and I simply couldn’t refuse. It was one of them - a perfect storm you could say. It was a Wednesday, after netball practice. The baseball was in the cupboard from last term. The mum was making the food and the dad… was around. The dad is always around. But that didn’t bother me. I planned to paint the town red! Or more like, the hallway red. My favourite colour red - did you know? By Ashton:
Don’t they say life imitates art? Well that’s complete shit. In the film, the murder that happens is so gruesome that it’s funny. He takes a baseball bat to the father’s head and smashes his skull in. The stupid mother comes in whilst he is in full-on frenzy and she bloody starts screaming, so he smashes her in the mouth to shut her up. It’s so pathetic it’s funny. Blood gets spurted all over the white walls of the lounge as a sickening thud can be heard - wood smashing in flesh and bone. A wet smack could be heard again and again, accompanied by a couple of screams, and then silence. Jackson Pollock would have been proud. Narrator: When they moved into the neighbourhood, the house with the red door and the red roses reminded them of Little Red Riding Hood - that had to be a good sign. And then there was the beautiful woods at the back of the house - all lush, dark and green. It was like a fairytale. They wanted what was best for their child: the most perfect schools, the best opportunities - the best, most perfect life. So when Ashton was born, their lives were complete. But then, when she looked into Ashton’s eyes and saw that they were blue, she suspected the worst. Blue eyes did not run in the family - neither her nor her husband’s. But here they were with this pale-skinned blueeyed baby. So they got the test. And although the child wasn’t blind, there was something wrong. The mother knew it from the beginning, she just got the diagnosis wrong. Ashton’s sight wasn’t perfect, and according to her, that wasn’t the only thing that wasn’t perfect. Ashton saw the world in primary colours of red, yellow and blue - that was it. When Ash was 18 months old, frames with which to view the world were given - glasses. The yellow frames helped tint the real world and gave access - the glasses sugar coated the rough edges of the world that hurt the soft parts. The left eye twitched at times; a red flash warned at the corner of the eye, but Ash thought nothing of it. The blue for boys soon was replaced for green. Pink was missing from the world Ashton could see. Red hinted at that quite clearly. Flaunted it even. But Ash knew. Ash knew that the eyes were symbolic. They were unlike any other eyes - bit like Ashton - there were no words to describe who or what it was, or what Ashton was. There was just feeling. When Ashton was 5, the twitch was more prominent. It was exhausting and drained Ashton terribly, which contributed to debilitating headaches. They took Ash to the doctors, therapists anyone that would listen. They even considered surgery because of the impact it was having on their lives. Ash was irritable, found it difficult to sleep and was also, at times, violent. Ashton was mean to kids in the playground. The child bit, spat and kicked. It wasn’t until Ash took a kitchen knife from the home hidden in the rucksack and threatened a boy that had been bullying, that the parents pulled their child out of mainstream school and into the best grammar school they could afford. Counselling was given. The therapist claimed that Ash would calm down once the twitch did, and eventually it did. And they all forgot. Ashton had no incidents until 13 years old. One afternoon after netball practice. Tired - the eye had begun twitching. Thinking it was because the glasses hadn’t been worn, Ash rubbed the eye with the right hand - and felt it. Right there in the hallway, the heart flamed up in Ash’s chest before pounding heavily. The hazel eyes grew wide in fear as Ash stared at the right hand. It looked normal, but it wasn’t Ash’s. A wave of nausea hit as the feet stumbled underneath - Ash silently balked… and changed. ‘Ashton? Is that you?’ the voice came from the kitchen. ‘Yes mum!’ The words came effortlessly from the mouth, but Ash hadn’t said them! The legs moved calmly towards the cupboard under the stairs which housed the baseball bat from last term, while Ash screamed silently on the inside. The vision blurred. Green became fire-red. Ash passed a silver framed mirror in the hall, hung on the pristine white wall, and watched as eyes that were once belong to Ashton, were someone else’s. They looked defiantly at Ashton, that was not Ashton. And the mouth… it smiled with Ash’s smile! Ashton screamed to no avail. Internally trembling with rage, the stalking wolf took over the body with a glint of red. And it was just the beginning.
‘Hello love.’ The father was home. Of course. A low growl ripped in the back of the throat revealing sharpened canines as the mouth curled menacingly. The school bag was dropped in the corner and the baseball bat left leaning on the wall in preference for talons and teeth. Ash that was not Ash whistled ‘Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf…’ Ash that was not Ash, couched on what was legs but now resembled haunches. Ash that was not Ash eyes blazed with a white hot fury. Pin pricked pupils whizzed and focused like a camera lense, on its prey, a blurred image through the glass doors, as it slowly stalked into the living room on all fours. Dad looked up from his chair just in time to see the creature launch itself at him - a blur of black, red and fur. The growl turned into a snapping and snarling as flesh could be heard being ripped from bones. The dad’s blood-shot eyes bulged in sheer terror as his throat was held in powerful jaws that ripped it out of the neck before the dad truly understood what was happening. Ash that was not Ash, with blood dripping from its maw, watched satisfyingly as the light in the dad’s eyes was silently snuffed out. By Ali: I have arrived! Ta- dah! *jazz hands* And oh! What an entrance - even had a soundtrack. No red carpet for me though *boo* How rude! But I soon changed that. I changed everything. I warned them that I was coming. The Boreal Wind was coming - change. *singsong* #All Change! Ah… it’s inevitable really - unavoidable. The dad wasn’t where he should have been, but I positioned him in the hallway after and used his blood to make the walls the right colour. Now they match the door. Who’d have thought the old man had so much blood in him? *smiles* Well, that couldn’t be helped really, but the mum? Well. She played her part superbly! Bravo bravo! I think she was better than the original. Now, in the original she screamed, waved her hands, yada yada yada and then went to hug the dead husband, but this time… the mother froze. She looked at the killer with a confused look in her eye. No, I would go as far as to say a hurt look, I think. Analysis isn’t my forte. I suppose her mothering instincts must have taken over any fear or disgust she should have felt because she didn’t hug the corpse, or scream with her arms flailing in the air, but instead she walked over to me and gave me a little ol’ hug. Awwww. Well, that as unexpected I can tell you! *guffaws* She didn’t stick to the script, but I did, as much as I could, because I am a professional. *Superior sniff.* Her skull sounded the same hitting the bat though - that wet squelchy sound. All it took was one hit and she was down - but not out. Her big brown teary eyes looked up. But instead of fear, like they were supposed to show, they showed hurt, and then love. She smiled. She actually smiled at me! Well. I couldn’t be having that, no we couldn’y! so I had to finish her off. And quickly because I could smell whatever she was cooking, burning. And it was meat. Ah! The grand ol’ woman was cooking my favourite! So I caved her skull in, stepped over her body and dished up. The kitchen was smoking and I didn’t want the alarms going off so I opened the patio doors quickly to let it escape into the warm sky - a bit of air never hurt anyone. I breathed it in deeply, and sighed happily before retreating to the kitchen - the heart of the home. I couldn’t help but yell. ‘Anyone for Baseball?’ Haha! Hilarious. The meat was well done, just how I like it. In the fridge was a bottle of barbeque sauce - that’ll do nicely. I took my plate and sauce and strolled into the front room. Cricket was on the television - always cricket. No, that would need to change. I sat in his (now my) chair put my feet up on his (now my) coffee table and surveyed my castle. I switched over immediately. Ripped a manly piece off my steak and shovelled it into my mouth. A breeze blew in from the patio doors. There was a change afoot. But you know what they say, a change is as good as a rest and I’ve waited long enough! Sick to death of that bloody Ashton having what was mine from day dot. I’m a teeny bit ashamed to say that they could see my green envy. Just a tad at the corners. They tried to push me out - and that just made me see red. *smiles* That’s my favourite colour, red - did you know? *Whistles* Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?
Gendered Voices A Report on our Conference
n the 18th – 19th May 2017, the South, West and Wales DTP Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster held its second annual conference, this time themed on Gendered Voices. Building on the success of last year’s Gendered Spaces symposium at the University of Reading, this time we were able to organise a two day event at the University of Bristol. Maintaining our commitment to interdisciplinary discussion, we were fortunate enough to have twenty four speakers from such diverse fields as English, Law, Philosophy and Archaeology, to name a few. The papers presented were as broad as this range would suggest. The first day began with a panel on ‘Stereotypes’, in which Sauleha Kamal, Leonie Thomas and Sam Wratten led us in discussions on the exoticisation of Muslim Women in Frankenstein, women’s voices in the early BBC, and gender stereotyping in pain relief medication. After the break, a panel on ‘Gender, Sexuality and Religion’ found Alun Evans, Jade Godsall and Chiara Amoretti exploring the quality of desire in the Song of Songs, the medieval deification of Lady Poverty, and the re-appropriation of the Virgin Mary in contemporary novels by Kathy Acker. These opening presentations give a flavour of the rest of the conference – we certainly started as we meant to go on! If you would like to see the full list of speakers and paper titles, you can find the conference programme here. Over lunch, we took the opportunity to share details of the Cluster’s magazine, also named Gendered Voices (you can read the first issue here!), with delegates. We will soon be looking for articles for the second issue, so please get in touch if you’re keen to contribute! Panels on ‘Fertility’ and ‘Gendered Expressions’ rounded off Day 1. ‘Fertility’ covered the female cycle from childbirth to menopause, while ‘Gendered Expressions’ carried a distinctly Clasical feel with talks on the changing femininity of Medusa, female musicians in ancient Sparta, and the gendered messages in Roman-Spanish mosaics. Discussions continued over dinner, where it was great to see so many delegates sharing knowledge and ideas between disciplines. Day 2 kicked off with three papers loosly themed on ‘Gender and Representation’, including talks on British experiences of voicing queerness; hysteria in the literature of Lucs Malet; and
the (under-)representation of trans and gender-non-binary people in mainstream media. The second panel of the day – ‘Gender and Violence’ – carried a sombre tone, with papers on the under-emphasised place of girl soldiers in international law; the utility of the production of a shared narrative in dealing with sexual violence trauma; and the role of female volunteers in the Provisional IRA. All talks were very thought-provoking, and it was useful to see the common ground between researchers in History, Law and Psychology. At lunch, we were fortunate enough to be able to screen a new short film created by Anna Bunting-Branch, called The Linguists. Based on the work of Sci-Fi writer Suzette Hagan Elgin, The Linguists explores what a ‘women’s language’ might look like. Afterwards, we were honoured to welcome Thangam Debonnaire as our keynote speaker. Thangam was Labour MP for Bristol West until the dissolution of Parliament earlier in May, and had previously worked for Women’s Aid as their first National Children’s Officer. We would like to thank Thangam for a lively and varied talk on the different and changing ways of tackling domestic violence in Britain; Thangam’s experiences of being a female MP; and her work with refugees. The afternoon began with a panel on ‘Masculinites’. Here, delegates had the opportunity to learn about the continued relevance of the Roman god Priapus (as manifested in masculine online bravado); consider images of masculinity and effeminacy in The Hollow Crown’s Richard II, and debate whether there was such a thing as a ‘third gender’ for medieval clergy. Finally, the conference ended with three talks related to ‘Feminism’. Our panellists discussed the ‘cramped’ education system experienced by early twentieth century British schoolgirls; the portrayal of female history in modern novels, and ultimately questioned whether there is a place for feminist epistomology in Philosophy. On that note, we left both speakers and delegates to make their own conclusions! A huge thank you once again to all our speakers, attendees, and to the SWW DTP for sponsoring the event. We look forward to seeing many of you next year!
GENDER & SEXUALITY RESEARCH NETWORK SEMINAR PROGRAMME: AUTUMN TERM 2017 Forever The Dark Prince of Hollywood: Walt Disney, Psychobiography and the “Practically Perfect” 9th October 2017 John Whitney, Film, Theatre and Television (Reading) The Jihadist and the Sex Slave: Gendering the International Discourse on ISIL 23rd October 2017 Faye Bird, Law (Reading) “I’m a fucking bovine mutant”: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and the (Un)Tamed Performance of the Female Body 13th November 2017 Anna Varadi, Film, Theatre and Television (Reading) “The Happy Creatoress”: Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) and the Burdan of Womanhood 27th November 2017 Molly Bridges, English Literature (Birmingham) MONDAYS 4-5PM, Edith Morley (formerly HumSS) 189 The Gender and Sexuality Research Network is pleased to announce the seminar programme for Autumn Term 2017. No registration needed; all welcome! We are an interdisciplinary research group based at the University of Reading. Our aim is to provide a supportive and collaborative space for those whose work or interests include aspects of gender, sexuality and the body to share ideas and stimulate discussion across disciplines. We warmly welcome academics and students from any department who would like to get involved. Meetings involve a twenty minute paper followed by a Q&A. For further information, contact: Faye Bird and Gareth Mills firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Question is a new, interdisciplinary, cross-institutional journal founded by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. Question aims to encourage conversations across academic disciplines, sharing knowledge beyond traditional Humanities subject fields and gaining new insights as a result. The journal is fully dedicated to academic rigour, with a ‘right to reply’ and double blind peer-review system. However, Question also operates on the maxim of ‘no prior knowledge’. Each piece is presented in a format accessible to non-specialist audiences, allowing postgraduates and lay audiences to engage with topics outside of their fields and challenge, debate and contribute to the authors’ ideas. The first issue of Question will be published in November 2017. If you would like to contribute to the second edition, please contact the editorial team at questionsubmissions@gmail. com.
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