My friend @LawrencePatrice nudged me during the seminar by Children’s Laureate @malorieblackman: “First non-white face I’ve seen on a panel.”

Fair point. I had seen one other, but I’d been to the full three days of #lbf14, dozens of seminars, averaging 4 speakers per panel. That’s not a pretty statistic. Of course, there were black faces to be seen. Picking up our dirty coffee cups, cleaning our toilets, but they were silent, largely invisible. What is going on? This is 2014.

Race is a visible marker of class. Where there are no black people, generally the white people will not be working class. Certainly that’s the case here. Publishing is an overwhelmingly upper middle class profession. Patrice’s comment crystalised a feeling I’d had all week, that new-kid outsider sensibility that makes me want to write for Young Adults: I don’t belong here, this is not my place.

How can it be, in the centre of a great world city, in a global industry which is seeking new markets, that our home-grown non-white and working class talent is invisible? The industry is so keen to get at the expanding Asian market, but it won’t put a black face on a book cover, unless it’s an ‘issue’ book.

There were so many union jacks in evidence, it could have been a BNP convention (apart from the literacy barrier). But it’s a fake heritage Britishness that is being sold, completely unlike the reality that surrounds us. And it’s getting worse. Publishing is a costly, and thus risk-averse enterprise. If industry wisdom dictates that black faces on covers damage sales, then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And recession and shrinking print book sales act as a multiplier, making the risks more fearful and conservatism the norm.

Then there’s the dirty secret of unpaid labour. Publishing is a desirable industry so there are always people who will be prepared to work for nothing — as interns, or producing free content in their own time, like book bloggers and Tubers. But that is not an option for working class people, however talented. How do you afford massively over-inflated London rents, without a hand-up from Mummy and Dadddy? How do you find the time to follow your passion for free, when you have to work to eat?

But I have hope. Malorie mentioned her inspiration, Toni Morrison, saying: “If you can’t find the book that features people like you, then you have to write it.” She went on to write dozens of books, and now she is, deservedly, the Children’s Laureate, and is devoting herself to encouraging young people to read and write their stories, about people like themselves.

Traditional publishing is entrenched, feeling itself under threat from the digital revolution. That same revolution has demolished the barriers to entry. It’s never been easier to publish. And those neglected audiences will find the writers who speak for them. Apparently, on Wattpad, the self-publishing platform used by millions of young people, the fastest growing category is Muslim romance. When I logged on there, out of four featured covers, one is of a beautiful black girl. Obviously doesn’t put off their readers. White publishing, this is why you’re shrinking. If you won’t provide it, they’ll get it elsewhere

Sleaze, yes please (occasionally)

Posted: March 14, 2014 in sex
Tags: ,

“a low-effort way of getting off without having to bother with any of the getting-to-know -you stuff or the nerves”. Absolutely. I was just writing about this myself yesterday in my poetry workshop. Porn is for the lazy, beer and pizzas, guy.
But sometimes I am that girl/guy.
Come on, we all want the pay-off without the effort.
“Hot girls” is like pre-heated oven, ready when you have the appetite.

Sex blog (of sorts)

Another blog post hot on the heels of last night’s – partly to make it clear that I have no intention of this becoming a largely protected blog and also because this was the post I wanted to write last night but wasn’t thinking coherently enough to pull all the strands of together.

It started with reading Justine Elyot’s short story, Thames Link, which opens with this line:

” I sing the praise of the sleazy man.”

And then, further down the same page:

“‘….it’s not about power. It is about sex. He wants it. Not you. It.”

I first read the story, which is the tale of a woman who meets such a guy on her commute and fucks him in various locations on the banks of the Thames, on Sunday night. Since then, it’s got me off five times. I mentioned elsewhere that once I find a…

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International Twat’s Day

Posted: March 14, 2014 in politics, sex

sometimes wonder if IWD was created as bait, to draw all ball-worms out of the woodwork:

Spacegirlgail

It was International Women’s Day on Saturday and a couple of references to it make my twat-o-meter tingle (does that sound rude?  It’s really not rude).  The first was at a gig by Glasgow band Chvrches on Saturday night.  The band’s singer, Lauren Mayberry (who talked about some of the horrible sexist abuse she gets on social media in the Guardian here) gave a shout out to the day.  For some reason a small number of guys in the audience decided to boo this.  Luckily Lauren is as able as you’d expect a pop star in opaque tights to be and threatened to go into the audience and kick their cunts in.  But seriously, who the fuck is booing International Women’s Day?  Are these men who have considered the impact of the event and the on-going need to highlight how women are struggling for equality around the globe and…

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How to finish something

Posted: March 13, 2014 in novel writing, writing

Not rocket salad, but so true

12 Books in 12 Months

Do you ever feel like you’ve got so much to do that you’re forever catching up with yourself?

I do.  It’s got to the stage where my whiteboard of stuff to do (yes, I have a whiteboard with stuff to do installed on a wall so it’s the first thing I see when I come home from work) looks like this:

20140309-144712.jpg My super cool whiteboard.

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this really happened to me, just after I sent off the pitch to NFM:

 

introduction to crime writing

You know how they always tell you to have your ‘elevator pitch’ — 2-minute summary of your project  — ready just in case? This really happened to me.
I’m in the Algarve in a tourist resort to get some head space to work on a writing proposal. I’m chatting with my nice friend who asked me to look up the Dancing on Ice results  — which I do. She’s 81 years old and tells me she’s reading 50 Shades of Grey on her kindle. I say I read the first book and sort of could work out the ending.
“Yes, I prefer crime and thrillers,” she says.

We talk about Patricia Cornwell, PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley, and A Touch of Frost.
I tell her about the project I’m working on here:
“It’s about a woman who’s kidnapped. Only she’s a bit unusual — she’s a 15-stone pole-dancer…”
“Ooh…

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I can see how it happens now, the Twitter wars. In one of Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, can’t remember which one, we learn of the Krikkit Wars, where the peace-loving inhabitants of said planet end up reducing a whole galaxy to ashes (hence the rather distastefully named sporting trophy, the Ashes).

I got into a rage about a stupid article by a feminist journalist, who allowed herself to be used by a right-wing rag, for a piece which combined hypocritical titivation with self-righteous slut-shaming in a way that only such a cynical piece of toilet paper can.

I don’t know if Julie Bindel is vicious, reckless, cynical, gullible or just plain stupid. It was predictable they would use her that way. I suspect an inflated ego blinded her to the use they would make of her: why else would the Mail her a noted feminist? It aint because of the cogency of your argument. Sorry, love.

I stand by what I said about her article. But I got drawn into a much more blanket condemnation, in love with my own rhetorical declaration of war. In other words, I did exactly what I condemned her for.

I have been in conversation on Twitter with someone who describes herself as a radical feminist, with whom I have a lot of agreement. It’s caused me to reflect: is it fair to say all radical feminists are hateful?

She says they do good work for women, and once I allowed myself to think, I could recall lots of women who use that label about themselves and work tirelessly for rape crisis, women’s aid, against domestic violence and for lots of international causes. I lost a friend last year, a beautiful, loving woman who called herself a radical feminist, and whom it would be obscene to put in the same category as Bindel.

So to all those women who call themselves radical feminists and don’t attack women for their life choices, I apologise. I think your political analysis is wrong, but we can debate that. I think the ultimate logic of radical feminism is hatefulness, but that’s not the same as saying you are hateful. That’s like saying someone who is for immigration controls wants to burn down mosques or go on a killing spree like Anders Breivik. One may be the ultimate logic of the assumptions contained in the former, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. And part of our debate would be to examine why I think one leads to the other, and to get you to abandon the former because of what it leads to.

So to all non-hating radical feminists out there, sorry, lets talk.But that does not mean a truce on the haters. To distinguish them I think we need a new term. In the ‘trans wars’, they came up with TERF: trans exclusionary radical feminist. So I’d propose WHERF: Women-Hating Radical Feminist, which is anyone who excludes from the category of women:

women whose sexual practices they don’t agree with (heterosexual, bisexual, role-playing lesbians, Butch/femme, ‘lipstick lesbians’, women who like porn, BDSM practitioners:);

women whose work they don’t approve of (sex workers, porn stars, lap-dancers);

women whose politics you don’t agree with (members of ‘male’ groups);

anyone not natural-born unambiguous-cis woman (trans, intersex, gender-fluid, gender-queer)…

Blimey, it’s exhausting just listing the exclusions. And I haven’t even started on exclusion-by-invisibility (women of colour, working class, disabled…

this could take a fucking long time

Anyway, if you exclude women on any of these grounds, you can fuck right off.

I give up on compiling the list, but women have been excluded either physically (trans women, sex workers) or by negating discourse (No woman likes porn; all PIV is rape…)

So non-exclusionary radfems lets talk.

WHERFs fuck off.

Back in the last century, 1980 when Margaret Thatcher, that bastion of women’s rights, first came to power, I did a little street theatre piece, called the Invisible Woman. Fairly simple concept – me wrapped in bandages to highlight that the official figures did not show women’s hidden unemployment. Invisible Woman, geddit?

It looks like the bandages with have to be dusted off again.

Not just because women’s unemployment and poverty is again on the rise, thanks to Coalition austerity policies. You probably already knew that. And some good people used International Women’s Day to draw it to widcr attention. Just as others pointed out that there are 7 million women refugees worldwide. Good on both of those campaigns. I’m right behind you, sisters. That’s what International Women’s Day is supposed to be about, solidarity with working (class) women worldwide.

No, this time the Invisible Woman has another purpose: to highlight the invisible women in radical feminist discourse. That’ll be about 3.5 billion of us, all but their tiny but media-dominating clique.

Yesterday I got pretty irate at the hijacking of International Women’s Day by radical feminists to attack other women. In particular, an article by Julie Bindel in the Daily Mail. For readers outside the UK, this is a Hitler-supporting, immigrant-bashing right-wing rag. I found this article bi-phobic, misogynist, and potentially damaging to the “Impressionable young [women]… questioning their sexuality” whom Bindel professes to be so concerned about.

It mocked two celebrity women, because they’d previously had relationships with men. The words ‘bisexual’ or ‘bisexuality’ were never mentioned in the article. It was never suggested that this was a possible sexual choice. That’s what it means to be invisible. ‘Bi-phobic’ is probably not the best word: phobia would be a step up from non-existence. We don’t even fucking exist!

I got mad, I ranted, I posted a link to this article on Facebook. I was going to move on to other objectionable attacks by radical feminists – on sex workers, transwomen, women who like porn. I felt better having got that off my chest.

So, this morning, I find on my thread, that I posted: “more men telling us how to do feminism”. One glance at my profile pic, read one sentence of my post, and you couldn’t be in any doubt: I AM A WOMAN. But that can’t be. I don’t agree with the radfem analysis, so I can’t exist. QED

Enough is enough. All my conscious life, I have fought for women’s rights, and for those of workers, poor and oppressed people. I have so had it. You will not make me invisible, you will not shut me up, ‘sisters’.

And for those of you who say, lets deal with our differences in private: I didn’t start this. I didn’t use a fascist-supporting millionaires’ rag (Julie Bindel) to attack bisexual women. I didn’t go on CNN Freedom Project (Robin Morgan) to attack Amnesty International and sex workers. I didn’t use my university professorship in gender studies (Sheila Jeffreys) to compare transwomen to racist black-face entertainers.

I didn’t start this war, ‘sisters’, but you sure as hell aint going to win it.