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I saw Begin Again and now I’m pissed off by Riven Alyx Buckley

Well folks, I’ve just got back from seeing Begin Again at the cinema, and I have to tell you: I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off because I thought I was getting a RomCom. With no other fanfare to go off, I saw Mark Ruffalo on a bland film poster gazing at Keira Knightley, and figured

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Choose Your Own Adventure Feminism: The Multiple Narratives of Maleficent

OK so first, a whole bunch of disclaimers: -I know that Maleficent has been out for many many moons by now which is why I had given up on writing this post and then I talked to my Mommy (whose birthday it is today!) who wanted to see it written, so… this is for my Mom.

London Film & Comic Con Preview + Day 1

GEEKS! We’ve been at LFCC this weekend and so far, so awesome! We’re sharing the table with Buckley’s Boomsticks run by our Media Manager, Riven. We’ve met some super cool folks so far, have gotten some great tips on story leads, and have sold zines, zines, zines! We’re ready for one more day and we hope

I saw Begin Again and now I’m pissed off by Riven Alyx Buckley

GuestBloggerWell folks, I’ve just got back from seeing Begin Again at the cinema, and I have to tell you: I’m pissed off.

I’m pissed off because I thought I was getting a RomCom. With no other fanfare to go off, I saw Mark Ruffalo on a bland film poster gazing at Keira Knightley, and figured it would probably be on par with Ruffalo’s last dalliances as a romantic lead. Which is a longwinded way of saying I had zero expectations of this actually being a good film.

I did not get a RomCom. What I got was one of the sweetest, most unpretentious films I’ve seen in a long time; I got a well-told story and well-written characters. Actions were relatable and situations were believable. The lead character, Gretta, had her own agency and was solidly likeable, and dealt with unfolding events with grace and empathy. No one gave a speech, no one sat through an awkward first date, and no offensively wistful voiceovers helped to drive home the emotional ramifications of each plot point, all of which I would happily expect from a RomCom. Everything was charming and nothing was formulaic.

Which goddamn pisses me off.

You see, I spend a lot of time watching films. I spend a lot of time reading about films. And over the last year or so, I’ve been really worried that my love of cinema is somehow dwindling because I just don’t get excited about new releases the way I used to. Begin Again has just helped me come to the realisation that it’s not films that I’m getting tired of, it’s how they’re being sold to us.

We are so used to the Sci-Fi/ Action Movie trailer structure that you and I could write one right now without needing to pause for thought – ‘in a TIME of DARKNESS..[CG-laden panning shot across urban sprawl]..in a CITY beyond HOPE..[snapcut of blurry action sequence]..ONE MAN WILL SAVE US ALL’…[midshot of bruised, muddy, but fetchingly ripped protagonist, filmed from the back so he can glance over his shoulder and grimace at us]. We can spot a drama by the amount of references to awards you get: if people are introduced by their relationship to the Academy Awards, you know it’s going to be worthy as all get-out, and possibly involve wigs. Don’t even get me started on the never-ending announcements that this new film is somehow the Film Event of the Year, which they’ll happily trot out describing anything involving computer graphics – even if said film has a February release date.

Superhero movies, which started off as a breath of fresh air, are now becoming the worst culprits of paratextual dickswinging. Thanks to them, we now have trailers for other trailers. We have behind the scenes footage before we’ve seen the film from the front. Selling a film has become a massive, multilayered campaign. And it’s blocking the light to these incredibly sweet, unassuming films that deserve to be watched and celebrated. We sit around having angry conversations about how women are represented on screen, how androcentric films are becoming – and we’re right to do so. But I’m not sure I believe that this is down to a lack of well-written, non-white-male characters anymore; I’m starting to suspect that great films are being made and slipping past us simply because studios couldn’t figure out how to properly sell them to us.

I thought I didn’t really care that romantic films are directly sold to women or for ‘date nights’ that seem to involve dragging and cajoling a guy to give something you want to watch a second glance. Anything they need to do to promote the film, right? Wrong. Begin Again doesn’t belong with Friends With Benefits, or Going The Distance, or any of the other films that have been sold entirely on the chemistry of the two leads and a new take on an old genre. It belongs on the shelf next to Once, High Fidelity, Almost Famous, and all of the other gently brilliant films about the curative power of music, and how we relate to each other through sharing songs. I think what’s happening here is that we’re getting to a point where any film that deals with relationships on any level is going to get labeled and sold as a chick flick, and thereby missed by people who don’t consider themselves as part of the target audience.

We need more films like this that don’t fit labels, that don’t seem tailored to particular demographics. We need to take more chances and give more cultural space to films that don’t contain origin stories or training montages, otherwise we’re going to end up a sea of disaffected schlubs trying to relate to a man who has to save the universe because some old dude prophesied he could, in the remake of the sequel of the adaptation of the year™. Staying open minded and not being put off by something that doesn’t look like your cup of tea is getting harder and harder to do, but we have to keep trying.

Riven Alyx Buckley is a professional appreciator and amateur word wrangler. Usually up to coffee-fuelled mischiefs, you can follow her here (wordiebirdie.tumblr.com) or on the Geeked tumblr. She’s recently opened Buckley’s Boomsticks on Etsy, selling custom painted cosplay prop guns.

Choose Your Own Adventure Feminism: The Multiple Narratives of Maleficent

OK so first, a whole bunch of disclaimers:

-I know that Maleficent has been out for many many moons by now which is why I had given up on writing this post and then I talked to my Mommy (whose birthday it is today!) who wanted to see it written, so… this is for my Mom.

-This post will contain all sorts of spoilery stuff. If you happen to have missed Maleficent, and have not heard a single thing about it from online sources, congratulations, you must surely live in a void. But also, if you want to see it, and you don’t want me telling you everything about it in advance, don’t read any further.

-Finally, some of this discussion, as you must well know if you have seen the film or have read about it, centers on material that some people might find disturbing. More explicitly, this post will involve discussion of sexual violence. Do with that what you will.

… Actually, there’s one more thing. I totally, 100% ADORED this film! I am biased in every way and I will write about it with total glee and appreciation. If you’re looking for a ‘neutral’ analysis, you’ve come to the wrong place. I will hasten to add, however, that I do recognize that this film isn’t perfect. There are some strange leaps in the story, the pacing can be a bit awkward, the brutality directed at women is excessive and although it isn’t entirely white-washed, it’s pretty close (I think there are two black actors, neither named, only one of whom speaks). Nevertheless, I think it is super duper amazing for a bazillion reasons so I shall get on with exploring a few of those below.

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I went to see Maleficent with the expectation that it would be a lot like a Gregory Maguire novel. That is, a creative interpretation of a minor character in a very famous story whose own story never really made it into view. Although we all know who Maleficent is (from the fairy tale or, more likely, from Disney), we can’t really claim to know anything about her outside of the fact that she’s got a bit of an attitude problem. We don’t know anything about her because her story had never been written; aside from being Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis, the  fairy tale has nothing much else to say about Maleficent. The film Maleficent then, is Linda Woolverton’s creation. She takes a known character and creates a backstory previously unknown to us. I’m not only a big fan of this type of narrativizing, but I also think it’s a vitally important freedom for women whose stories are still relatively marginalized within popular culture. Yes, Sleeping Beauty has numerous female characters, but we were never allowed to hear them, or to see inside their heads. Therein lies the quality that truly sets Maleficent apart.

Despite mixed reviews and the stated reservations of some of my feminist friends, I came out of Maleficent feeling as though I had seen one of the most positive, woman-centric films Disney has ever made. Not only does Maleficent offer a compelling account of a woman’s journey, it also creates a layered narrative which offers female viewers the chance to relate to the film in unique ways.

173-angelina-jolie-1354205219Perhaps the most concerning critique I encountered prior to seeing the film centered on an interview given by Angelina Jolie in which she talks about the motivations of her character. The interviewer asked Jolie for her thoughts on the pivotal scene in which Stefan sears off, and steals Maleficent’s wings in order to serve his own ambition. Jolie revealed that the scene was a metaphor for rape and that she and Woolverton felt that this event was the key to explaining ‘What could make a woman become so dark? To lose all sense of her maternity, her womanhood, and her softness’. Jolie went on to say that ‘the core of ["Maleficent"] is abuse, and how the abused have a choice of abusing others or overcoming and remaining loving, open people’. The critique of these sentiments which concerned me most was not those focused on the fact that an act of rape was embedded within a ‘children’s film’. Although I am weary of the use of rape as the go-to trauma when affecting a female character, and I would have much preferred to see Woolverton find some other catalyst, I am also aware that for many, many women, rape is a part of the fabric of their existence. Moreover, as numerous writers have noted, the original fairy tale of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was in fact centered on sustained rape of a woman. Perhaps it is fair to say that this narrative technique was disappointing, but not surprising.

No, what upset me more was the possibility that, as a friend of mine observed, the Maleficent character would represent a ‘failed survivor’ whose raped body becomes monstrous and ‘evil’ because it has been stripped of ‘maternity, womanhood, and softness’. My friend pointed out that these types of connections were really quite offensive, and that they denied raped women the possibility of being women. It was indeed hard to ignore the ways in which, once again, female sexuality seemed to be linked with evil and monstrosity. And further, how narrow the criteria seemed for ‘successful’ rape survivors. Thankfully, once in the cinema, I did not actually feel that way about the film’s intent.

The rape scene is incredibly unnerving and Jolie’s performance is so powerful and evocative that it was genuinely hard to sit through. But I don’t think, at any point, that it is really possible to see Maleficent as evil. The film does a beautiful job of justifying all of Maleficent’s fears, anger, pain and resentment. At no point was I confused about who the monster was and I would suggest that clarity comes not just as a result of wearing ‘feminist goggles’ but because Woolverton has made this a story, in part, about deep injustice. It was interesting for me to have Jolie’s interview in my mind as I watched Maleficent’s ‘recovery process’ unfold because I never had the impression that her character became unwomanly. She is shocked, hurt and angry; she develops resentment and resolve, and for a time, she is reserved. These reactions struck me as perfectly natural and for many survivors, these are all necessary phases of recovery. So too do these phases seem necessary for Maleficent for as the story progresses, she gradually approaches a way of being that resembles what we have been shown is her ‘self’.

I don’t think my friend’s critique was unjustified, Jolie’s comments were not unproblematic, but I think she was expressing genuine feelings about her own womanhood. It’s not at all surprising to me that for Jolie, one of the defining characteristics of womanhood is maternity. However misguided I feel some of her ‘save the children’ efforts may be, I do believe that she cares deeply about children, and especially girls. I think she is a very maternal woman and for her, the essence of being a woman rests in her ability to be a mother. For her, it must have seemed logical that an absence of ‘maternal feeling’ might represent a loss of womanliness. Do I think that’s true for all women? Absolutely not. And probably, Jolie doesn’t think that either but until she calls me, and invites me out for lunch, I’ll just have to assume that’s the case.

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The other critique that rattled my cage is also related to maternity and had I seen it any sooner, I might have been sorely tempted to pen a sharp response. This blog-ologue will have to do. On the popular feminist website Jezebel, many readers complained that, in the end, a totally badass, kickass, strong female character winds up being ‘reduced’ to an over-active pair of ovaries. For the purposes of full disclosure, let me just state that I stopped reading Jezebel with any regularity some time ago. The way their readers cloak themselves in sanctimonious ‘fourth wave feminist’ self-righteousness drives me to distraction. Look, I get how these young women are keen to avoid being pigeon-holed because of long-held and narrow associations of women with procreation. And yeah, it is totally right to be annoyed that certain female tropes continue to be used to the exclusion of the real diversity lived by women. Again, I will admit that in this way, Maleficent is not the perfect feminist film. But the total refusal of the Jezebel readers to 1) acknowledge that for a blue-zillion women, maternity or maternal feelings are meaningful and empowering, and 2) that there is the possibility of reading this narrative more broadly, even if it is slightly against the grain makes me want to do a Maleficent finger-snap *into lemmings*

The brunt of the Jezebelian complaints was that Maleficent goes from being a bit of a hard-ass to fawning over Aurora ‘because of ovaries’. As mentioned before, I’m not really all that upset about this because I have watched a number of girlfriends, who were ‘NEVER having kids’, become mothers of two or three and so they too should be able to see themselves reflected in meaningful feminist narratives. But let’s say you’re not that type, does the Maleficent story line exclude you? Only if you’ve got no imagination.

elle-jolie-052014spLet me suggest that the Aurora-Maleficent thing can also be about Maleficent’s role as a healer, and about the power of female relationships. Again, we see from early on that Maleficent is connected to, and concerned with nature. (Another fine line, I know. Many a woman has been silenced because of her perceived connection to the Earth). On a number of occasions throughout the film, we see her healing plants and encouraging the earth to grow. If a character is invested in growth and life, is it really all that shocking that she might also develop a concern for a growing young woman? And about Maleficent’s connection to that young woman, I kinda loved it. In some ways it’s maternal, sure, but in many ways it isn’t at all. Maleficent sees herself in Aurora and begins to relocate her joie de vivre through Aurora’s own intimate interactions with nature. They connect. I’m not saying it’s purely erotic, but I’m not saying it isn’t at all. Women’s relationships are so underrepresented in popular culture and the intimacy and depth they can have often defy established heteronormative categories. Yes, the end is very much a repeat of Frozen but that’s awesome! So it happened once, once in all the history of Disney, and now y’all want to complain that ‘love between women proves the most powerful kind’ appears again?! Seriously, sit down.

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If you’re still not jazzed with these interpretations, let me try to sell you one more. Let me start by quoting some key passages from feminist poet Audre Lorde’s essay ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power’ in her influential book Sister Outsider.

A) Lorde states that ‘the erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane…In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives’ (53).

B) The erotic, Lorde writes, ‘offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough. The erotic has been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation’ (54).

C) Lorde argues that ‘women so empowered [with the erotic] are dangerous’ (55).

D) In opposition to the power of the erotic are oppressive systems. Lorde writes that ‘the principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need–the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, it’s erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment’ (55).

E) For Lorde, the erotic functions ‘in several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference’ (56).

F) ‘To share the power of each other’s feelings is different from using another’s feelings as we would use a kleenex’ (58).

G) In describing her own experiences, Lorde suggests, ‘in touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial’ (58).

H) ‘Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world…For not only do we touch our most profoundly creative source, but we do that which is female and self-affirming in face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society’ (59).

Thank your Goddess Lorde, now let me tell you a story…

Let’s pretend that Maleficent is one giant metaphor for women’s experiences in western culture. Maleficent’s wings represent the erotic, and Maleficent herself is women (A). Maleficent and her wings are viewed as a threat by the old King (who represents Patriarchy) and so he tries to attack (A). Maleficent’s wings make her strong, confident, she uses them to protect her community. She is powerful but joyous (B). Because of these things, the King orders her killed (A, C).

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The King’s successor, Stefan (who represents Capitalism) exploits his relationship with Maleficent to rob her of her erotic power (A). With his new-found victory, paired with the old Patriarchal tricks, Stefan becomes Kyriarchy (D). In response, Maleficent becomes vengeful, her time spent in her community focuses on defense, on sabotage, on her pain (D).

Diaval_Topshot-1But Maleficent finds herself establishing relationships, even surprising ones. Maleficent finds allies in Diaval and the Tree guards. The important thing is that they cannot save her (Prince Phillip) but they struggle alongside her, fight with her (F). Even more powerful still is Maleficent’s growing relationship with Aurora (other women) with whom, sometimes even in spite of herself, she experiences joy again (E).

Maleficent’s relationship with Aurora is so powerful in fact that she finds the courage to face her oppressor, Stefan. She is brutally fought against and her own reactions become desperate and sometimes manipulative (D).

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But because of her powerful connection with Aurora, Maleficent is connected again with her wings. She becomes almost unstoppable (G).

Maleficent, with her allies (F), because of her relationship with Aurora (E), and with the return of her wings is able to defeat Stefan (G). Maleficent and Aurora unite their kingdoms, return peace to the land, and pursue joy in their own unique ways (H).

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Are there limits to this extended metaphor? You betcha. It’s pretty broad and it ignores the ways in which some women (women of color, working-class women, disabled women) are distanced even further from the power of the erotic, how their oppression is even more violent. But that’s why models are such handy tools, they can be adjusted, remade, made better, or even discarded. I’m not saying this is the perfect feminist narrative, and I’m not saying Maleficent is the perfect feminist film, but I do think there are myriad possibilities for finding something meaningful in its ‘pages’.

If you’re not down with my Maleficent adventure, I hope you’ll still watch the film and choose your own. Yours will be awesome, too.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

London Film & Comic Con Preview + Day 1

GEEKS!

We’ve been at LFCC this weekend and so far, so awesome! We’re sharing the table with Buckley’s Boomsticks run by our Media Manager, Riven. We’ve met some super cool folks so far, have gotten some great tips on story leads, and have sold zines, zines, zines! We’re ready for one more day and we hope you’ll come by for great deals, boomsticks and CUPCAKES.

Here’s a look at our favorite cosplayers so far and some of the merch you can expect to see on our table.

Table Fun

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Cosplayers

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Come see us on Sunday for more GEEKED merch and to show off your cosplay!

Georgie Watts on her Debut Novel: Owl Eyes

 

‘Twenty year old SGuestBloggerarah is struggling to cope with a stressful job, demanding parents and an eating disorder, when she is drawn into the dark world of Graffiti and Street Art. Set in the nineties in an unremarkable mid-British town, Owl Eyes is  a gritty yet funny coming of age story of loss, love, friendships, acceptance and overcoming adversity.’

 

I came up with the idea for Owl Eyes over a period of a year whilst making my art and music.  I had always been interested in street art and had a friend who did her own paste-ups.  I was inspired by her rebellious nature and I am always drawn to strong female characters in both real and fictional life.  I am also a fan of Leticia Ribeiro who is a Brazilian jui jitsu champion and wanted to put some of her admirable kick-ass moves into it somewhere.

At the time, having never written a screenplay or a book before, I naively decided it would be easier to write it all into a book.  I soon realised that neither of the two would be easy and that both require extremely different approaches!

I set the story in the early nineties  – a time that saw a UK recession – not with the same levels of widespread poverty we see today in Britain, but nevertheless, my own experiences of homelessness and poverty in this recession inspired me to talk about some aspects of these things.  I wanted the ‘underdog’ to win out and I wanted them to be kick-ass ladies because there just didn’t seem to be too many stories out there like that, at least not featuring all the things I am personally interested in.

This era, with it’s fashion, music, culture and the place I set it in is very familiar to me.  I have drawn the style of dialogue between the characters from what I heard in this place. I prefer the reader to make up their own minds about where this might be.

There are elements of myself within the main character, Sarah AKA ‘Owlie’ but my favourite character is Mickey AKA ‘Phanatic’ who is an amalgamation of a few people and I would love to have her as a girlfriend – she is so tough and smart!

In the story, I really wanted to highlight the risks, action and adventure involved in street art – some of the situations are quite dangerous!   It is also an examination of the people around the main characters which I hope, shows the reader why the characters are the way they are and what ultimately motivates them to move on in their lives.

Some of the things that I describe can get a little dark – but I wanted to try and balance that with the light of the good things that ultimately happen to the characters.  I really like to employ as much humour as possible within the character’s interactions and didn’t want it all to be doom and gloom.  If potential readers are looking for relentless misery and characters dying, then don’t pick up this book  – but if like me, you enjoy reading about strong women, culture, the nineties, overcoming personal difficulties and are a big sucker for romance and happy endings with it, then you might like this story :D

I am currently working on the film screenplay and will be bugging people to help me get it made.

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Here’s an extract from pages 82-83 of Owl Eyes:

‘Oh look Peter, it’s so awful – do they have to go around defacing everything? What on earth gets into these kid’s heads? They wouldn’t like it if someone came and painted hideous things all over their property, it’s a bloody liberty I tell you, a bloody liberty!’

Centre-front page, leaving just enough room at the bottom for Supremo-man’s Carpets, featured a large picture of some owl eyes spray painted in bright yellow and pink stripes, underneath it, the headline in bold black capitals, ‘Stupidity!’.

‘You’re not saying anything about it, why is it you never have an opinion?’ said Sarah’s mother.

Peter looked up from the model lorry kit he had been putting together and mumbled, ‘Huh, what?’

‘Oh for goodness sake, you’ve not been listening to a word I’ve been saying. This – look!’ ironically jabbing the picture with a biro, ‘Graffiti, everywhere! This has absolutely ruined that lovely old heritage bridge.’

Peter surveyed the image carefully and finally said, ‘Well as far as I can ascertain, the person who did it was abit silly – all those electric wires being nearby and everything, but I think it’s a lot of fuss about nothing – good on them I say!’

‘What do you mean? You can’t be serious Peter?’

Martha’s mouth would not shut, she needed the extra air.

‘Yes, good on the little buggers! Be a daredevil while you can – life soon takes you down a false path of hope and bosses you about before eventually throttling you to death, so why not have fun beforehand?’

‘Are you insane?’ growing incredulous and suspecting a metaphor, ‘It’s just this sort of rot which erodes our wonderful democratic society. It’ll all end in anarchists and looters, you mark my words.’

‘Don’t be so stupid, it’s just abit of paint, no one’s going to end up breaking into Tesco and taking all the parsnips – although a Civil War’ll break out here in a minute if you don’t go and put the kettle on.’

‘Oh Peter, you are insufferable! Look it says here that these owls in particular have been spreading all over Town – it’s not just an isolated case. Apparently, the police will issue a cash reward to anyone able to provide information leading to the arrest of these individuals. I’d give that information for free if I knew it!’ she had completely overheated.

‘I’m not sure you would somehow.’ said Peter, thinking about last Thursday when he had been dragged into John Lewis. She told him she needed rejuvenating serum and he, for a very short time, had £200 in his wallet.

He looked again and thought the owl pictures over the page seemed slightly familiar. Peter did not know anyone who drew or painted apart from Sarah, and she had not seriously picked up a brush since school. He felt certain he didn’t know any anarchists…

Owl Eyes Georgie Watts and Book Image Large

Thanks for reading- join me on Facebook here www.facebook.com/owleyesbook for more information and details of how you buy the book :)

Georgie xx

 

Call for Submissions: The Sexy Issue!

406215_426088774099985_1018337752_nIt’s that time again… NEW ISSUE TIME!!

WOOP WOOP! We are SO stoked about the next issue and as ever, we need YOU to make it happen!

Although we are a publication which has fervently invested in the medium of print, the success of The Intersectionality Issue made us realize that if we really want to promote the writing and art of awesome GEEKS, we might have to change our tactics. The last issue was read by over 1,000 readers, that’s TEN TIMES the number of folks our printed zines could reach! Does that mean we’re giving up on print entirely? Aw hell no! But we would like to keep widening our audience and strengthening the platform on which we can promote your work!

That’s why we’re doing another online issue, FREE! And this one, ohhhhh sister, this one is gonna sizzle.

Here’s our Call for Submissions for GEEKED #7 The Sexy Issue!!

 

In this issue, we want to explore all the ways to get sexy! We’re aiming for a sex-positive visual and literary smorgasbord of sensual, sensuous, sexy and scintillating. What does that mean? Well, for us, it means:

  • That sex and sexuality are not shameful nor negative aspects of life but worth exploring and celebrating for those who are consenting and interested in doing so!
  • That sex and sexuality are diverse, varied, dynamic and fluid! F*&% heteronormativity, cis-normativity, racist paradigms and ableism!
  • That ‘sexy’ does not necessarily mean sex! We want to expand our explorations of ‘sexy’ to lots of types of stimulation. Some folks are asexual, some folks are survivors, some folks simply aren’t into sex. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that make their brains feel like they’re full of champagne! We think that’s ‘sexy’ too!
  • That we are open to challenges, critiques, re-interpretations, conversations and proper expansions of notions of ‘sexy’.
  • That we are fundamentally against slut-shaming and body-shaming.

So what does it for you? What blows your proverbial skirt up? What aspects of life truly scintillate your being? Is it that hotty-bo-body who makes your lattes?

Is it the perfectly crafted argument in a scorching op-ed piece?

Is it the sound and sight of the long silky pony-tail on the person walking in front of you, swaying like a pendulum? *swish, swish, swish* …What?!

Is it the smell of a spicy dish?

Is it perfectly applied cat-eye makeup?

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Let’s get it on, let’s explore sensuality in all its manifestations!

Wanna play? Here’s what we need:

A Word from the Y: Do you identify as a feminist man? Fab! Let’s hear what makes you feel sexy! Tell us what gets your motor running. Is it lots of little things? Is it a type of person? Is it that one leather jacket you own that makes you feel like a ‘smooth criminal’? Yah buddy! Talk to us! This piece should be 1,000 to 1,300 words.

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Art: Have you seen a particularly provocative art exhibit recently? Do you have the inside scoop on a spicy show opening this summer? Do you want to talk about a super steamy collection that gets you humming? Wicked, bring it on sugar!

 

 

Street Fashion: Alright ladies and gents, bois and grrrls, they and xier… let’s see your sexy! We want to fill our ‘Street Fashion’ section with photos of you at your hottest. Got a super great flirtatious photo? A sensuous snap? Send it in!

Let’s see those come-hither hands, or your super sassy toe cleavage. Let’s see those stunning pin-up photos you got to celebrate your slinky-self. Do your eyes make people melt into desirous puddles? Marvelous, snap ‘em and send ‘em!

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NB: Remember that we’re all about consent so we have to ask that you only send photos wherein YOU are the subject. Also, this is the internetz, so be aware that these images will go out into the big wide world. And if they are professional photos, make sure to include the watermark so we can give credit to the artist :)

Music: This one is a ‘you-call-it’ section. Do you want to talk about your favorite ‘gettin’ freaky’ albums? Do you want to explore the ways in which artists like Rihanna use their sexuality to express themselves in their music? We think music is a huge part of sexy so tell us how tunes titillate you! This piece should be 1,000 to 1,300 words.

bull-durham-mv07Film: We think Hollywood, for the most part, has got sexy all wrong! It’s either curtains blowing in the wind, or x-rated stuff which usually borders on violence. We would love a piece that explores sensuality in film and one which can point us in the direction of some properly steamy, yet sex-positive cinema. We would love a list which includes non-hetero-sexy films and films which feature actors of color. This piece should be 1,000 to 1,300 words.

Flash Fiction: Now we KNOW that there are some pretty racy FanFic writers out there and honey, we want you! We would love to include a short story entirely of your own imagining, or a piece which explores a particular fandom in racy ways. We’re looking for an original piece of 1,000 words max.

Food: Food, like music, is another hot-spot for exploring sexy! We would love to hear about a restaurant where all of your senses were begging for more. Or how about that go-to recipe for a date night where the end game is some in-between-the-sheets action? Are you good at taking Food Porn photos? MmmHmm! Let’s see those buns… and you know, fruit, and mains, and *ahem*

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Illustrations: All of the pieces outlined above (excluding ‘Street Fashion’) require illos. If there’s one section in particular that sends shivers down your spine, let us know! If you’re the open-minded type, and into experimenting, we’ll hook you up with a piece. Got some illos that fit the theme but don’t respond to any of the prompts above? Yes, yES, YES! We want you too and always welcome free-standing art submissions.

Open Call: There’s so much about sensation, sexuality, sensuality, and seduction that can be explored! Do you have an irresistible pitch for a written piece? Is there an issue that really melts your butter? Brilliant, we want it. Send us a pitch outlining the piece you most want to see in The Sexy Issue and approximately how long you think it might be upon completion.

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The Sexy Issue is going to be ridiculously hawt and we hope you’ll get in on this action!

Are we trying to make sex with this issue? Nah, but if that’s your thing, we hope it gets you in the mood.

Is this zine going to be full of feminist porn? Nope, but we’ll point you in the right direction if you’re interested!

Will this issue make you tingle and purr and hum with delight? Will it leaving you screaming ‘Hot Damn!’

We sure hope so!

Submit your pitches to info@geekedmagazine.com! We especially welcome work from GEEKS of color and trans*GEEKS. **UPDATE**We’re hoping for a mid-July launch so all pitches must be in NO LATER than 13 June. 

A GEEK Goes Ghost Hunting by Zoe Burgess

 

So, similarly toGuestBlogger many a female geek, I have a passion for shows such as X-files and Supernatural. I love so called ‘real paranormal’ shows like the class Strange but True and more recent Paranormal Witness.  I also consume horror films on a regular basis including the recent horror film The Quiet Ones, which I talked about on my own blog.

 

But since I love horror and am a believer in ghosts, I thought the best thing that a supernatural-loving fangirl needs to do is go ghost hunting herself! So it was time to suit up, pack the rock salt and iron, put on my trench coat, grab a flash light and face a real haunted location in the UK. My sister (who is also a horror enthusiast) and I went with a company called Fright Nights and Winchester-style, the Burgess sisters went to Chatham for an overnight ghost hunting expedition.

The haunted location we chose was Fort Horsted in Kent which had been used in an episode of Ghost Adventures which is kind of like a ‘real’ version of Ghostfacers.

It was an odd experience, I must say. I was thinking this was gonna be like Most Haunted: a moving curtain, an over the top medium, and maybe some night vision. We arrived and joined the group of 30 other ghost hunters, most who had done this kind of thing before, with only a few sceptics in the group. The Fort was hard to find; hidden and low lying, it wasn’t the most inviting building. It was cold and dark and thank god we had torches because there were falls, trips and bumps along the way.

fort-horsted-tmb3The night was divided into three parts, first the whole group was lead to some locations around the Fort. We got to each location and were asked how we felt. We were then instructed to turn our torches off. It was dark and unnerving as our eyes settled. I have to admit that one location did freak me out as there was a sudden drop in temperature and I got the feeling that something really didn’t like us. I was scared and so was my sister. Then there was a whistle from the hall. Now I really can’t explain that one as there was no one out there and without a torch you couldn’t move about because it was pitch black… not an iota of light.

My sister wasn’t sure if she could continue through the night if it got freakier. It was a very unsettling feeling, being watched, strange whistling and sudden temperature drops. We even had our own medium with us telling us about the spirits that were walking around the Fort. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, as I’m not a 100% sold on mediums, especially ones that are trained demonologists.

Supernatural_dean-002This guy was no Winchester; maybe too much Supernatural has clouded my brain on what a hunter and demon slayer should look like, but safe to say, this was not our medium. We had renowned medium, Rune master, Paranormal Investigator and Consultant Demonologist Daniel Macdonald to guide us through our paranormal experiences and protect us from untoward spirits.  Again, he wasn’t a Winchester but he was a jolly man, even if, by the end of the night, I was less than convinced by his supernatural abilities.

It turns out real ghost hunting is not always that exciting and in true British fashion, as long as I had the promise of a cup of tea, I felt that I could face anything. The Doctor taught us that, and it’s true. Tea and a packet of crisps, which it turns out, are essential to overnight ghost hunting. It also turns out that, like good horror films, less is more.

After the first experience I was scared and unsettled, believing that something was there and that the place was indeed haunted. While I still think that the place is probably haunted, I was less convinced by the behaviour of others on this tour. Subtle noises and temperature changes are freaky, so is being in total darkness and not being sure about what you are seeing as your eyes adjust, or shadows and weird lights appear. But when people start acting like muppets, then all belief gets washed away; when you are no longer scared, but exasperated, by the ‘true believers’ in the group, the effect wears off. I believe in ghosts, no question, but some people take it too far and then all the scary goes and things get silly.

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For the second part, we divided into two groups in which we got to play with some ghost equipment, temperature takers, and EKG readers. We were taken back to a place that had some previous activity and got to play with the equipment ourselves. Unfortunately, this was very unexciting as nothing happened, no temperature changes or blips of energy moving around the place. I did play with a dousing device, but it’s not very scientific and you can just make stuff up. We then swapped over with the other group to hang out with our medium and do a séance.

English_ouija_boardNow, myself and my sister had agreed that while I believe, I’m not about to totally jump on the “I see dead people band wagon”. She’s very open to possibilities, but if Paranormal Activity and most horrors taught us anything, it’s that séances and Ouija boards are out of the question. It’s just too much like tempting fate. We knew that no way in hell were we going near a Ouija board but we may do a séance. Well, turns out we didn’t really have a choice as a séance was on the cards.

Séances aren’t that scary, we all held hands and did some humming. Apparently humming brings energy levels up and attracts spirits, also so does singing “round and round the roses” and playing witch songs about knots. I’m not so sure of the workings of witch craft, my feeling is that magic isn’t bad, people are, so just like some people commit crimes, some witches misuse witchcraft. That said, I didn’t think much of using witch songs to summon spirits.

Not much happened during our séance, apart from our resident ‘true believer’ having a moment that killed things for the Burgess Sisters. During our previous exploring he felt something sitting on his chest, he saw shadows walking about, he knew a dark presence was standing behind him and he began feeling cold and victimised by the spirits. We had ignored this for a bit, but during our séance he got attacked. Apparently the spirits were trying to choke him, he was in pain and couldn’t breathe and a dark presence was trying to force its way in. Dan, our medium, had to take him out and perform an exorcism while we continued to chant in the dark. By this time some of the group were talking about the ‘ghost of imagination’ or the fact that this one guy was blocking the spirits so they weren’t coming to play with us.

I started to wonder, if there really were spirits about, why did we need to be in pitch black? What do they care about that and why when the medium says they are friendly, is one guy getting attacked all the time? It was a bit disappointing because instead of slowly freaking myself out in the dark and cold, I had one guy that was doing the paranormal version of cock-blocking the ghosts so they couldn’t properly get into the circle and mess with us.

tumblr_mwwjs72etN1qlh3nvo1_250So after another tea break and some discussion about our paranormal hypochondriac we were ready for the last aspect of this ghost hunt.

 

This is where it all really went downhill. If I had left with hearing some strange noises, a door that had opened itself, and that weird feeling of being watched, I would have left scared, satisfied and ready to tell everyone that they should also Winchester-up and try a ghost hunt! But alas, things got very silly and in no way scary or proving.

Both groups joined together and we went for the final séance in a dark tunnel that had good activity. Again there was humming and witch songs, things got cold, shapes moved in the darkness and people overreacted and got silly. When 30 people turn off their torches, of course you’re gonna see blobs and lights moving about, that just happens when the eyes have to adjust. Also if you’ve ever been in total darkness then you know it’s not static, things move about. If I wasn’t an intelligent, thinking person, then the black shadows circling me would have freaked me out, but I’ve been in 100% darkness in caves in Asia so I know that darkness moves, ripples and plays. So when a women says a figure is standing in front of her, and it’s black, I think ‘obviously, everything is black. We’re in a non-lit tunnel’.

But the thing that totally ruined the experience is that a couple more of the ‘turned believer’ types said they were being pushed, that the ghosts were trying to shove them and we were told by the medium to go with it. The medium said they were acting as a magnet and people were drawn into the centre of the circle as a bad game of hockey cokey played out. This is when I stopped believing in the medium, as people began to see and experience things, he agreed with all of them.

“A ghost pulled my hair!”Rummelfiold

“Good keep talking about your experience”.

 

“Is there a dog in the room?”

“Yes, there is”.

 

“Is someone standing behind me?”

“Yes”.

 

“Is there a dark presence in the room?”

“Yes, but don’t worry, I’m not letting him in”.

And this went on along with the vaguest predictions like, “a young girl is talking to me, she asks if anyone here is having a birthday or had a birthday or that this ghost hunt was a present or gift”. Unsurprisingly, five people were like “Yes”. I myself had bought this as a present for my sister but no, the link was too thin and he was starting to discredit himself by saying yes to everyone.

The get-out clause from the organiser was that apparently the more open you are, and the more you believe in the spirits, the more likely you’ll experience them. This is not really a hard step but as people swayed and felt breaths on their faces, all I could think was we’ve been on our feet for 8 hours and it’s now 2am, no wonder you’re unsteady on your feet and they hurt. That’s not ghosts, that’s common sense. As for feeling breathes, we were all twisted up with the hockey cokey of pushing ghosts, that some people were standing in front of each other and while you couldn’t see them, I certainly could feel people’s breaths.

So while it was a fun night, because it was part freaky and a larger part laughable, it just didn’t feel like a haunting. More like some overzealous people ready to believe a little too easily. I would do it again, try a new location but would hope that the others were like me, a little sceptical. I still believe in the paranormal, but I am definitely a ‘less is more’ type of believer which is true in real life and in my horror TV.

 

 

My name is Zoe Burgess, I’m a professional geek! Well that’s the dream I am working towards my Anime PhD and do cosplayer and anime panels. You can find me as @lonedreamer on twitter and as Let Zoe Spoil You on various social networks such as youtube and tumblr. My personal weblog is http://www.lzsy.co.uk/

Philosophy: a Man’s World? By Katy Maydon

GuestBlogger

Name a female philosopher. Okay, now name one that isn’t Simone de Beauvoir. It’s hard, I admit it. There aren’t many famous philosophers who are female, and being a student of philosophy it’s hard to shake the feeling that I’m wasting my time: why bother writing philosophy when I won’t be taken seriously?

Often I find myself in social situations where I am either the only female or one of small number. This doesn’t unsettle me, I feel confident in my ability to hold a philosophical discussion with men, even when they are older and more educated than me, but is this how all female philosophers feel? Or are females put off when confronted with a male dominated subject?

This is a widely discussed topic. If you Google it you’ll find articles about various women’s experiences of the subject: good and bad. And Men too, rallying, asking where all the female philosophers are?

A problem I myself often find is that people expect women who study philosophy to specialise in feminism, gender studies or fluffier subjects such as aesthetics. Being a philosophy student whose specialisms are logic, metaphysics and philosophy of maths, you have to work hard to become someone who is taken seriously. I’m five feet, two inches tall, barely twenty-five years old, wear flowery patterned clothes and regularly contract incredibly high-pitched hiccups: should I be surprised that I’m seen differently to my male counterparts?

Surprised is the wrong word. Outraged more fits the bill. Logic in particular requires a mathematical brain and will power of steel: you can’t see that from the outside. Male or female, it takes a lot of hard work and reading to study philosophy of any kind and no one should assume anything by the way someone looks. In lectures, I’m cheerful, I participate and often find myself laughing or giggling at my fellow students and lecturers. Perhaps the image I give off in an academic environment isn’t one that shows how serious I am about the subject?

This year I have been running an exercise class for students who are studying logic for the first time: a mixture of male and female. Now, I do make jokes; I turn up my ‘serious teacher’ voice and tell my students (who are all older than me, some of them by 20 years or more,) that if they don’t behave they will have to ‘leave my classroom!’ It’s all in jest and I have absolute confidence that the classes are enabling the students to get more from logic: always something I’m happy to bring to the table. But would a whole year of philosophy students feel the same?

My biggest worry is what comes next. If I’m finding it hard to become seen as more than the sweet girl at the front of the class now, what happens if I decide to pursue a career in academia? Can a young, petite female stand in front of a class of students who may well all be older than her and still be as respected as a male of the same age?

I’d like to conduct an experiment where philosophy students read two academic journals on the same subject and then discuss which they think it was written by a woman: I wonder what the outcome would be? This is a subject that is so driven by predetermined ideas of what a philosopher should be and that may never change. We’re not all well-off, Oxbridge graduates who go home and sit in our philosophical armchairs drinking whisky and smoking a pipe. Some of us watch Made in Chelsea and shop at the weekends.

Simone de Beauvoir famously said ‘One is not born a woman, one becomes a woman.’ This is true also of philosophy, one becomes a philosopher, one becomes an academic. Women shouldn’t be scared of philosophy. The word ‘philosopher’ stems from the Greek word for ‘lover of wisdom.’ Do you love to learn? Then welcome to the club: you’re a philosopher, flowery dresses and all.

 

 

Katy Neate Maydon’s dream is to be a published novelist, the other side of the book world. Along with writing her novel and a film script she keeps a blog, which documents her day to day musings on books, movies and life in general.

The Intersectionality Issue: Extras!

Hey GEEKS!

We hope you’re enjoying The Intersectionality Issue, available FREE from Issuu. We had so much great writing and art submitted that we weren’t able to squeeze it all in so we’re rolling out MORE intersectional goodness here on the blog.

Last in our entries of extras is more info on Eco-Feminism. When Sof asked me to write about the ‘Intersectionality of Eco-Feminism’, I realized I had a LOT to learn! In the zine, I make a lot of noise about the ways in which people with privilege need to adjust their habits/attitudes towards the environment and the people in it, but that’s not the end of the story. Women in the global South are taking action to protect themselves, their families, and to try to fight back against climate change.

Check out the video, ‘Weathering Change’, which follows the lives of three women in Nepal, Peru and Ethiopia where they are doing everything they can to make their own change.

Or read about a new documentary, ‘After the Rain’, which ‘portrays four women, aged between forty and eighty, who work as farmers in the country. The women are from diverse backgrounds—Macedonian, Turkish and Albanian—and each has a very different attitude towards their work on the land’.

If you’re still looking for more tips on how you can make a difference in your own consumer habits, have a look at Sofia’s top tips for living more ethically:

- I use freecycle and freegle to give away items I don’t want anymore and to get second-hand things. It’s free and it stops things going to the landfill.
- I changed to an implant instead of the pill, this reduces the amount of packaging being thrown away every month and my periods are more sporadic so I waste/pollute less by discarding pads and panty liners.
- I don’t use contact lenses, I wear my glasses everyday (because I can of course, for some people that’s almost impossible).
- I’m a vegetarian (my ethical reasons for this aren’t just animal rights but also environmental impact – factory farming is the most polluting industry, worse then car emissions, plus the inhumane acts that happen in these factories aren’t just towards animals but factory workers too. They work for almost nothing in precarious conditions, in constant contact with the smell of blood, and witnessing violence and massacre everyday. The unreported amount of factory workers with mental problems due to these situations is nothing compared to the reported ones and those are staggering!)
- I avoid using the bus (I tried cycling in London but I’m terrified to be honest – it’s just so dangerous), so I try to use the train, which is electric, and I walk everywhere else I can.
- I use Ecover brand products for housecleaning products; not only are they environmentally friendly they also are cruelty free :)
- I make my own bread which makes sense for me as I save tons of money (GF bread is super expensive), but also it means less packaging going to the landfill.
- I am highly considering swapping my hair colouring to Henna as I am constantly aware of the impact that chemicals in hair dye going down the drain have on waters.
- When buying paper rolls I always use recycled or FSC certified.
- I will not be getting a new phone. Last time I upgraded was so that I could give my old phone to my dad who needed a phone.
Don’t be an asshole, be kind to the Earth ;)

The Intersectionality Issue: Extras!

Hey GEEKS!

We hope you’re enjoying The Intersectionality Issue, available FREE from Issuu. We had so much great writing and art submitted that we weren’t able to squeeze it all in so we’re rolling out MORE intersectional goodness here on the blog.

Next up we’ve got an alternative illustration for Dr. Cori Wong’s piece entitled ‘Intersectionality, Or, Why I Don’t Write for Feminists’. Artist, Jonathan Swailes (who also graced our Word From the Y column this issue), was inspired by Cori’s piece and created this incredible illo! Check out more of Jonathan’s work at DeviantArt.

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The Intersectionality Issue: Extras!

Hey GEEKS!

We hope you’re enjoying The Intersectionality Issue, available FREE from Issuu. We had so much great writing and art submitted that we weren’t able to squeeze it all in so we’re rolling out MORE intersectional goodness here on the blog. To start us off, we have a new comic from Writer, Abigail Brady and Artist, Pippa Ashton. For more of their creative work, follow Abi @abigailb and Pippa @pippaalice on Twitter!

Colourblind

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