Weekly round-up and open thread

This week’s round-up is a fortnightly round-up with links from the past two weeks. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the issues covered in the articles we’ve picked.

As always, linking to articles does not mean endorsement from the F-Word and certain links may be triggering. We welcome debate in the comments section and on Facebook/Twitter but remind readers that any comments containing sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or disablist language will be deleted immediately. If you notice that we’ve missed out any important articles from the past couple of weeks, feel free to let us know.

My pandemic epiphany: watching the world open up for disabled people (Frances Ryan, Guardian)

From the article: “If the pandemic created one shared experience, it was this sense of missing out. Fomo went global and the world got creative to cope. Theatres went online. Museums hosted virtual tours. Work held meetings over Zoom. Musicians streamed gigs live to fans. As a disabled person, the weeks that followed lockdown were like going through Alice’s looking glass.”

A-levels: Student foresaw exam crisis in winning story (BBC News)

From the article: “[Jessica Johnson’s] piece, A Band Apart, won an Orwell Youth Prize Senior award in 2019.

‘I wrote about the inequality in the education system,’ the Ashton Sixth Form College student said.

‘I wrote about the myth of meritocracy and it was about an algorithm that split people into bands based on the class that they were from.

‘I feel like that is quite ironic, I’ve literally fallen into my own story.'”

Meet the model agency fighting body fascism (Lottie Jackson, The Guardian)

From the article: “…a growing number of anti-racist critics such as [Diep] Tran prefer the practice of “colour conscious” casting – which actively acknowledges and considers race when casting “non-traditionally”, rather than attempting to ignore it. This could look like lots of different things: from searching for actors from specific ethnic backgrounds, to using race to inject a novel message, to tweaking aspects of the production to acknowledge how race impacts the characters’ lives.”

A domestic violence charity for black women is fighting eviction (Ruby Lott-Lavigna, Vice)

The innate Black Britishness of I May Destroy You (Bolu Babalola, Vulture)

From the article: “It would be easy to call this Black Britishness a “lens,” but “lens” is clinical and anthropological — “lens” is external and removable. It is less of a lens and more of a feeling that coats the chords of the show. A culture rarely seen in mainstream television, it’s not that Black Britishness (and the specificity of being a Black Londoner) assists in telling the story, nor is it that Black Britishness is its own character within the story. It is that it helps form the story. The rhythm and pulses chug narrative along, enriching the grain of the series. It’s a millennial tale, but it’s a Black British millennial tale, and within the nucleus of Black Britishness is a nexus of cultures, a diasporic mutuality that recognises our diversity whilst also drawing them together in communion.”

Transathon: brilliant books by transgender, non-binary and genderqueer authors (Reading with KT)

All alone in their white girl pain (Safy Hallan Farah, Hip to Waste)

From the article: “At Tumblr’s peak, a valorisation of delicacy and softness, juxtaposed with violence, permeated, and a flimsy case was built for weakness transmuted into a callus or armor, the remnants of which have now collapsed into itself with Lana Del Rey’s recent breaking of the fourth wall of her persona.”

Lose a Stone in 21 Days review – a diet show that’s hard to stomach (Lucy Mangan, Guardian)

From the article: “The general conversation around weight, overeating and obesity, and the understanding of the sociocultural influences around them that we swallow as unavoidably as we do the hidden sugars and fats in processed foods has evolved greatly in the last few years, but programming has not kept pace. Handing people a pamphlet and telling them to pull themselves together – which is what it really amounts to – won’t fly on screen now any more than it would in a GP’s surgery.”

We must hold the media responsible for amplifying government anti-immigration rhetoric (Diyora Shadijanova, gal-dem)

From the article: “Our society has normalised anti-immigrant rhetoric so much that we live in a culture where we think it’s okay to film vulnerable people like they’re animals in a zoo. We have become so desensitised to the suffering of Black and brown bodies, broadcasters are voyeuristically filming migrants instead of trying to help them reach the shore safely. It’s certainly a new low, but the institutionalised xenophobia of the British media has been calcifying over a long period of time and we must hold it responsible for the Faragification of the news cycle. If we don’t, more people will die.”

Looking beyond Kamala Harris’ identity and at her political actions (Gloria Oladipo, Wear Your Voice Mag)

A brief history of the policing of Black music (Harmony Holiday, Lit hub)

From the article: “Prison and bondage have been effectively woven into Black acoustic consciousness. Policing and the police have become the most familiar chorus. Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment, a calling forth of the police, a fuck you to them that implies they are omnipresent and within earshot all the time, ready to strike out against any Black song or singer who threatens their lurking fixation on Black life and Black sound.”

Rachel Rabbit White, in her boudoir (Nico Walker, Interview Magazine)

From the article: “I’m writing more traditional poems, love poems. Lyrical poems. […]The poems shift constantly between the specter of being “in love,” this beautiful human phenomenon, and questioning romantic love as a site of social complicity that’s deeply socially ingrained and fucked. I’m thinking about how desire is at the center of what it is to be alive and how desire is the root of all suffering. Love and poetry and romance are, like, the only place of enjoyment for me. When feminists like Shulamith Firestone criticize romantic love, namely heterosexual coupling, as a site of oppression, I agree. But sometimes it also feels like romantic love is the only site of release, or even a site of resistance, under capitalism. Maybe I feel this especially as a sex worker, when you’re selling a sense of love or romance for work, the romance “off work” can feel like a space of reclaiming.”

Surveillance, sourdough starter, and Black flâneurie (Taija Isen, The End of the World Review)

From the article: “According to [Kathryn] Greenidge, cyclical upswells in the popularity of Black writing—periods every twenty years or so where “publishing gets very excited about the trend of black people writing fiction”—tend to correspond with times of economic prosperity; when there’s no money, the opposite happens. With the current economic low point we’re living through […] Greenidge worries not about what this means for the survival of Black fiction, but for its reception. She quotes Toni Morrison on the unfortunate reality that “black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form.” With the recent explosion in antiracist reading lists—which feel like a lab-engineered example of exactly what Morrison was talking about—we can add to that something like penance or reassurance or virtue. […] For me, it was the specificity of Edie’s voice that felt, especially now, like a portal into a more capacious universe for reading and talking about Black writing.”

Why bathing is more than self-care – it’s art (Katiy Heath, Catapult)

From the article: “Hygiene—the cleansing of the skin, the hair, the body—marketed as aspiration. Cleaning the self as caring for the self, because affording the time and space for skin-, hair-, any kind of -care is our god given path to that delicate kind of feminine actualization. Rose-scented soaps that promise skin so healthy it glows. Products advertised as intoxicating elixirs that restore our flesh back to our younger, incorruptible seeds.”

How did rich millennials become the voice of generation rent? (Rachel Connolly, The Guardian)

From the article: “Elitism in the media industry has led to the strange phenomenon of mainly upper- and upper-middle-class millennials acting as dubious spokespeople for the impact of problems from which they are largely insulated.”

What if accessibility was also inclusive? (s.e. smith, Catapult)

From the article: “When people think of accommodations, they often think of the physical or in concrete concepts: Ramps, elevators, ASL interpretation, curb cuts, content (trigger) warnings, priority entry. They do not think larger, beyond: What if accommodation is inclusion, and making people welcome? What if accommodation is acknowledging that everyone, regardless of disability status or need, has a right to participate in public life? That needs are not necessarily linked to disabilities, which may vary over time, and accommodating them builds a better culture for everyone? What if, instead of fixating on the things people cannot do and grudgingly working around them, we rejoice in diverse experience, in making space for one another, in kindness, in care? In the ways our knowledge of our bodies and lived experience inform our articulation of our needs?”

No one should have to ignore their grief, yet it’s long been expected of people of color (Nadia Owusu, Catapult)

From the article: “I continue to think about this now, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic—that the racism and realities experienced by people of color in this country are hard for many white people to understand. And as we work—whether at home, now, or out in the world—many workplaces and company cultures are designed and maintained in relation to a white-experienced reality: one that is highly individualistic and often rose-colored; one that has little to do with the reality I and countless others in this country experience. Maintaining that reality, working within it, often requires that people of color leave our fear and grief at the door. But that isn’t always possible, particularly in times of heightened crisis, and pretending to do so for most of our waking, working hours is both exhausting and dehumanizing.”

‘It hasn’t sunk in’: Residents win 60% rent reduction in London council flats (Aamma Mohdin, The Guardian)

The fault, dear reader, is not in our stars (Carly Lewis, The Walrus)

From the article: “Fast spirituality is fun and trendy, and it can even be useful, but its growth may point to something more disconcerting: the inaccessibility of our mental health care systems. As many young people have discovered, the right therapist can be hard to find. There are often wait-lists, and after each session, there’s always a bill—in my experience, a fifty-minute appointment can cost around $180. It takes a lot of time—and money—to build trust with a professional and make progress as a person. Fast spirituality, on the other hand, can be instantaneous, prescriptive, soothing, and free. Is it really so surprising that more and more people treat their zodiac signs as diagnoses, replacing the long, difficult path of professional therapy with instructions from the cosmos?”

Dear Esperanza (KateZenLove, Medium)

[A personal response to organisation Esperanza, from sex workers’ rights activist Kate Zen]
From the article: “How is it fair that I have to bleed before you — for you to consider me human? Why is it necessary for me to expose my pain before all the strangers in an organization you belong to, who despise me and call me names? And open the most sensitive parts of myself to their cruel and salacious gaze? Why are we being pitted against each other by people who only listen to us if we agree with their point of view? If we can be used to further their political agenda?”

Talking to transphobes (Natacha, UnCommon Sense)

From the article: “…They say ‘Go and talk to women’s groups!’ but here is the problem. They seem to think that the transphobic hate groups that have grown up in recent years are ‘women’s’ groups when of course they are not. Trans people have been talking to, and indeed taking part in, genuine women’s groups, from the Women’s Institute to the Fabian Society Women’s Network for a long time, and these include groups that run domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centres.”

Why attacking trans people is bad for women (and all minorities) (Jane Fae, Medium)

From the article: “These cases focus almost exclusively on accommodations made to allow a very small minority — perhaps 40,000 trans women and men in total — to go about their lives in some facsimile of normality. Yet they have consequence. Specifically, they have consequence in terms of establishing legal principle: and though they claim otherwise, when you take down a principle, you set in motion new law that will impact on everyone’s rights in years to come.”

Economic justice is necessary to stop the murders of trans women of color (Imara Jones, Truthout)

From the article: “One way to lower the levels of extreme violence against trans women of color is to center the economic justice of Black and Brown trans women. The essential point here is that for many trans women, anti-violence and economic well-being are one and the same.”

UN women and partners provide immediate relief to women and girls affected by the Beirut blasts (UNwomen.org)

From the article: “Reeling from deep economic crisis, COVID-19, and now the blasts, Lebanon needs women at the centre of recovery plans.”

Cardi B’s “WAP” Highlights the Hypocrisy That Sex Is Taboo When Women Steer the Conversation (Rhea Cartwright, PopSugar)

From the article: “As Cardi and Megan bask in their Blackness, whilst steering the sexual conversation in custom leopard and white tiger outfits, we are reminded of what Black women have endured in a society that has silenced and taken ownership of their bodies.”

I’ve seen first-hand the toxic racism in international women’s rights groups (Lori Adelman, The Guardian)

From the article: “Critics point to development as a colonial hangover, noting a sector that fails to acknowledge the historic exploitation which created ‘vulnerable populations’ to begin with. Additionally, feminists have long critiqued the race blindness of global gender empowerment efforts.”

The image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to isado on Flickr. It is a photograph of a bunch of colourful flowers sat in a sink outdoors. The sink is elevated from the ground on concrete blocks and there is a tap quite a way above it. The background to the scene is a red corrugated metal wall.