So this happened yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0CazRHB0so There were, of course, two immediate reactions: straight up jubilation and love And critique: Aaannnnndddd this morning, there are articles/radio interviews reflecting the opinions of those who appreciated Allen’s video and those who find it problematic. For my part, I’m tired of the overwhelming tendency of certain types
Not only is November the GEEKED month (we were born in November 2012), it is also a great month for you to feel new and improved – a 2.0 version of yourself let’s say. Isn’t that January (with all the New Year’s resolutions), you ask? Well, not exactly… I am not talking about the 5:2
There is nothing quite like old movies, advertising or television shows when it comes to social anthropology. Nobody would confuse plot points, costuming or set design with real life. But dialogue is very representative of the way in which people spoke at the time of filming. We can look at films from the 1940s and
So this happened yesterday:
There were, of course, two immediate reactions: straight up jubilation and love
Aaannnnndddd this morning, there are articles/radio interviews reflecting the opinions of those who appreciated Allen’s video and those who find it problematic.
For my part, I’m tired of the overwhelming tendency of certain types of feminists to think in purely binary terms. Why does ANY type of critique automatically have to mean complete disavowal? Why can’t adoration of something also include intelligent scrutiny? We are so mired in this debate as to whether something is, or is not ‘feminist’ that many women have forgotten entirely that our lives are actually far more complex then ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Let me put it this way, think about a restaurant experience you’ve had when you really enjoyed the ambience, the staff was really awesome, and yet your dish was pretty bland and actually the wine wasn’t very nice either. You talk about that experience a lot because you aren’t happy to say that it was ‘bad’, but you can’t quite say it was ‘good’ either, and so your explanation requires length and depth. Totally normal, right?
Lilly Allen’s video is, in my (white-lady) mind, wicked for a few reasons. She has pointed a sharply-nailed finger at a misogynistic industry that could care less about women’s voices and experiences and is, instead, out to perpetuate the commercialisation of women’s bodies. Her balloons at the end are my favourite part! The appearance of these balloons is, of course, a reference to the gawd awful ‘Blurred Lines’ video and yet, with her honesty and her satire, she is able to totally take the wind out of the male fantasy of (white) female bodies represented by Thicke’s performance. Yes, more of this please!
HOWEVER, for me, the overwhelming objectification and hyper-sexualisation of black women’s bodies stopped me from giving this video a 5-star rating. Contrary to what Ms. O’Hagan has insinuated, my concern to critique the inherent racism of this video is not an attempt to ‘tear the whole thing down’, nor is it a result of my preoccupation with locating Allen’s video in the ‘not-feminist’ column. It may seem strange, but my response, and the responses of many, many other women, are actually far more complex than the debate surrounding the state of (online) feminism.
To be quite frank white ladies, it simply isn’t about the current terms of this debate at all… we’re still totally missing the point.
Thanks to an amazing scholar I know, I’ve recently been trying to think about why we (as feminists) start first and foremost, with the category of gender. Why do we continue to assume that gender is always the greatest, and most pertinent site of oppression? I know that being women, or being interested in women as human beings, is what brings us all to the ‘broad church’ of feminism, but once inside, our interests vary greatly.
I’ve learned a lot over the last year about my own privilege, and my own whiteness and a large part of this process has been a result of the now-tiresome debates surrounding ‘Feminism’ within popular media. What has become glaringly obvious to me, and what is clearly still totally absent from the radar of many media feminists, is that my experiences of patriarchy, oppression, and discrimination are very raced, classed and embodied. Moreover, because I am white, I appear able-bodied, and I am cis, it is my gender–my being as a woman–which serves as the primary site through which I experience discrimination. That formula might be virtually meaningless when trying to understand the oppression experienced by ALL other women!
A woman who is differently-abled does not, I guarantee you, experience oppression and discrimination primarily because of her femaleness (indeed, there are many disability theorists who argue that differently-abled women are effectively stripped of their femininity) but because of cultural perceptions of her ability. Thus, for this woman, feminism might not necessarily centre on the mythical category ‘Woman’, but would be perhaps concerned with addressing cultural constructions of ‘The Body’.
This is worth thinking about because as much as certain feminists say they want ‘Feminism’ to be a ‘broad church’, they continue to insist on gender, on ‘Woman’, as the primary category around which we must all rally. When certain online feminists argue that we should no longer discuss whether something is, or is not ‘Feminist’, what they are really fighting against is the dislodging of the category of gender from the primary place of concern for feminists. And make no mistake, the category of ‘Woman’, as framed by ‘normative’ constructions of gender, is white white white. (Here I am echoing the important and powerful work of many, many, many Black feminists and Third World feminists like Sojourner Truth, Alice Walker, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Chandra Mohanty).
The thing is, for some women, other identity categories serve as greater sources of discrimination and oppression and yet those categories are intricately tied up with, and related to their being as women. Surely that matters, surely we should sometimes care about race first, about class first, about sexuality first. Every time a critique is swept aside in order to ‘re-focus’ the debate, to re-draw the attention back to the primary category of ‘Woman’, a new type of oppression materialises wherein all those women whose experiences may be damaged by other types of oppression are told that they don’t matter as much. In this way, I suppose I have to admit that I am concerned with how feminisms are performed, but I have no interest in policing the ideological borders of ‘Feminism’.
Sorry, but I don’t think the critiques of Lilly Allen’s video are in any way unfair, and I don’t think their point can be construed simply as a desire to remove Ms. Allen from the temple of feminism. This isn’t about our expectations of Lilly to be the next feminist superhero. I should think it’s fairly obvious that she is not perceived in this way. The point here is not to ‘tear down’ Lilly’s version of feminism. To continue to insist that all critiques arise because we’re all overly concerned with defining ‘Feminism’ is to assume that for all women, ‘Woman’ is the primary category of concern. This misses the point of current critiques entirely.
If feminisms are indeed about human equality, then we, as feminists, have to recognise the plurality of human experiences including the plurality of women’s experiences with respect to race, class, sexuality, embodiment, nationality, etc. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for feminisms to occasionally take other categories of identity seriously when fighting all the various forms of oppression we, as diverse women, experience.
Lilly Allen’s video can be liked AND critiqued and in fact, for us white ladies, it should certainly include the latter. Yes Allen states that she is employing satire, but as many Twitter feminists have suggested, the video does not depart IN ANY WAY from the videos she purports to mock. Ms. O’Hagan herself recognises the ways in which this video hyper-sexualizes and objectifies black women… if she had just shut up after that point, it would have been a great piece. I don’t know, maybe it’s the journalism, but the need to end on a neat and tidy note, to come to a coherent conclusion containing only one opinion seems to plague some feminists, just as it has here in O’Hagan’s piece. Why pass a verdict? Why insist on being able to say ‘Good!’ and paint all other responses with the ‘Bad’ brush?
I recently watched the conversation between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks hosted by the New School and I honestly cannot think of a more eloquent expression of black feminism. They are magnificent. One of my favourite moments comes towards the end when bell hooks states that we have got to stop thinking in binaries; life is complicated, complex, and in many shades. We are only harming ourselves by continuing to insist that life is or isn’t, it’s there or it’s not, it fits or it doesn’t.
What if we looked at Lilly Allen’s video and instead of saying,
“it IS ‘Feminism’ because she is fighting ‘The Patriarchy’ and that’s the only thing that matters!”
“I wish she hadn’t perpetuated the oppression of WoC in her attempts to express her own feminist sentiments”?
I’m not talking about a master feminist plan, I’m not asking Lilly Allen for one, but I am trying to hold her accountable–because I do believe she is a feminist and therefore is interested in fighting women’s oppression in myriad forms–for what she has produced, both good and bad. I most also say that I do not think it’s enough for O’Hagan to dismiss scrutiny of this video as frivolous or unrelated to feminist interests. Lilly Allen has gained cultural capital off the backs of women of colour, that manifests in greater privilege both socially and economically. To suggest that videos won’t matter to feminism is to deny the ways in which popular culture and media shape our realities in the West. I find this unwise.
Feminists fuck up all the time. Feminists of all persuasions fuck up all the time. So what? Engaging in conversation with one another about the ways in which we are complicit in each other’s oppression is not ‘tearing down’, it is a recognition of the fact that for some women, their gender is the least of their worries and so perhaps the ‘topic’ of our ‘church sermons’ should, from context to context, from moment to moment, shift focus.
For some white ladies, Lilly Allen’s video shouts feminist manifesto, for some women of colour, it represents another instance of objectification. These two aspects exist simultaneously and in conjunction with one another. We must learn to recognise that the former is not inherently more important than the latter.
Not only is November the GEEKED month (we were born in November 2012), it is also a great month for you to feel new and improved – a 2.0 version of yourself let’s say. Isn’t that January (with all the New Year’s resolutions), you ask? Well, not exactly… I am not talking about the 5:2 diets, life-changing programmes and better job lists. No, I’m talking about the month when you have the opportunity to do good things for others.
During November each year, men all over the world grow fabulous moustaches, or “Mo’s” as they are known, to raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and men’s mental health.
‘Movember challenges men to grow a moustache for the 30-days of November, thereby changing their appearance and the face of men’s health. Through their growing efforts they raise awareness for the often ignored issues of men’s health, by prompting conversations wherever they go. Another crucial part of being a Mo Bro is to raise funds for men’s health. Men donate their face, and much like taking part in a run or a walk for charity, ask their family and friends to sponsor their efforts.’
‘But what if I can’t grow a Mo?’ I hear you asking… No problem at all! You see, Movember is not just for men, it is in fact a global charity and women play a big role in it. The women of Movember, a.k.a Mo Sistas, can help by supporting and encouraging the men in their lives to get involved, by signing up at Movember.com, and participating in fund raising and awareness themselves. ‘Essentially, Mo Sistas do everything that Mo Bros do, without a Mo’.
So Mo Bros and Sistas if for the life of you, you can’t grow a Mo – or indeed you don’t want to- here are some ideas of how you can still help:
- During the month of November why not host a fabulous Mo party?
Invite friends and family and charge an entrance fee. Then decorate your venue (it can be your living room) with moustaches, make moustache shaped cakes, pizzas, sandwiches. Invent your own Mo cocktail and just have a really good time. Obviously everyone should wear a real or fake moustache! Take pictures have a ball.
- Do a bake sale in your office, uni, pet centre, local garden…
If you can bake your cakes or decorate them with a moustache theme great, but that’s not essential. Sell as many cakes as you can and talk to people about Movember.
- Get together with artists and make a November auction
Well this needn’t be too fancy or daunting. Last year I asked our friend Patrick Wray if he would like to help me raise some funds for Movember and he kindly made a few special edition Moustache inspired T-shirts which we sold to our friends and family. All profits were then donated to Movember.
So just use your imagination, raise some dough and help our Bros by donating the money you raised directly to Movember.
November Vegan Month
No, I’m not asking you to become a vegan for a whole month. If you want to or you already are, well then, good on you! But here are a few things anyone can do this Vegan month:
No one as far as we are aware chooses to eat meat or fish to harm animals. No one is in favour of the suffering these animals go through in order for us to enjoy that really tasty medium rare steak with a fried egg on top, or that oh so yummy cheesy peperoni pizza. The fact of the matter is that most of us don’t know, or choose not to know, what really goes on in the factory farming business because life is already too complicated and the last thing we need is to add to our worries by being concerned about where our food comes from.
In western civilization, dogs and cats are pets and most times are treated as well as children with many taking the role of a child in a household. We love our pets, we protect them, care for them and wouldn’t allow any harm to come to them. And it is with this in mind that Jonathan Safran Foer asks the reader to consider how they would feel if they knew that their beloved dog was living in a confined wire cage only big enough for the dog to stand, but so small that he can’t move sideways, can’t get up on 2 legs and with his nails grown around the wires of the bottom of the cage, making any movement extremely uncomfortable and painful. Then Foer asks the reader to imagine that their dog is force fed antibiotics and other proteins to grow abnormally fast, the dog is forced to defecate where he eats and when he is big enough for consumption, he is killed in the most inhumane ways you could have imagined. Not great, huh? Well this is what happens every single day to millions of chickens, turkeys, cattle and pigs. All this just for the sake of variety and choice of food that we have grown so accustomed to.
This type of treatment of animals for the sake of big industries–like food and cosmetics–is a disgrace. So please, consider doing one or more of the following things this month:
- Read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals - this book won’t try to turn you into a fundamentalist vegan/vegetarian but it will open your eyes to some of the ways one might consume meat and fish more responsibly
- If you are a meat eater, do Stella McCartney Meat-free Mondays where you have one day a week when you don’t eat meat
- If you love meat and can’t imagine living without it, find out where your local farmer is, get to know them and support them by buying from them instead of giving your money to factory farming companies.
- If you are a vegetarian, try the same thing but with all animal-sourced products. Have one day a week when you don’t eat anything with dairy, eggs or honey etc.
- Buy only cruelty free products. Most cosmetics are tested on animals, bunnies, mice, monkeys etc. The product is injected into them, rubbed on their skin and eyes, or forcibly fed to them. They live an extremely painful life and go through horrible deaths. This needn’t happen, there have been many other ways developed to test new products in labs without having to test them on animals. Some companies already do that, why shouldn’t others do it too? In the UK, a new law was approved so that it is illegal for companies to test on animals, nevertheless some companies still buy products from other countries where they can legally test on animals.
So try this for a change, use only products that have been produced by companies who have been approved by PETA and have the leaping bunny on the package. Do your research and find out if your favourite perfume is cruelty free and consider changing if not. In the UK for instance, you can buy many cosmetics and make up products from Superdrug: all of their products are safe. You can also get all your cleaning products and cosmetics from Sainsbury’s. Original Source do amazing shower gels (oh so fresh and fruity) and they too are cruelty free. Lush is a must on your list of cruelty free shops. But beware of Bodyshop for example, they do not test on animals and are against it but are owned by L’Oreal who DOES test on animals.
- Donate some money to animal charities of your choice.
- And last if you are willing to, why not go Vegan for the month?
Or you can also have Tofurkey this Thanksgiving
Do some of these things and see where they take you. You might feel at the end of the month that this is not for you, or you might just realise that actually you can live with these changes long-term!
November and the tiny woolly hats
Innocent Smoothies are lovely people. Their company’s motto is to make the world a happier place and they do that by sharing funny, inspiring and cute messages on all of their packages and providing us with delicious juices made from 100% fruit that help us to be healthier. Not only that, but every November they get people take part in the Big Knit where thousands of tiny woolly hats are knitted and then put on top Innocent Smoothies bottles and sold to the public. Every behatted bottle sold raises money for Age UK, helping to save the lives of elderly people during the winter.
Get involved by knitting your own tiny woolly hats or by buying smoothies this November. There are tons of things you can do with the woolly hats you purchase. For example:
- Xmas tree decorations
- a Woolly Hat made of many tiny woolly hats
- a necklace with a woolly hat
- a garland of woolly hats
Find out more on the Big Knit website.
So, as you can see, there are loads of things you can do to help and remember, all of this counts as extra points for when you sit down to write to Santa about your Xmas list. He will sure be pleased to know you have been such a good character and that you have in you the will to change the world by being funny, welcoming and cosy
Plus you give more people and creatures reasons to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Have a great November!
There is nothing quite like old movies, advertising or television shows when it comes to social anthropology. Nobody would confuse plot points, costuming or set design with real life. But dialogue is very representative of the way in which people spoke at the time of filming. We can look at films from the 1940s and 1950s and sense racial views of the times. We can watch television of the 1960s and 1970s and see the overt anti-gay sensibilities. Today most film and television depicts bigotry only to make a point. There is one area of bigotry that never seems to have really changed however, and that’s misogyny.
Whether it’s in the casting or the storytelling, women are still objectified and marginalized. Male actors of every age, size, attractiveness and skin condition are regularly cast in prominent roles. Women of one size, one look, one age group and one hairstyle populate film & television roles. If you are an actress who is not a willowy, bouncy haired, 20-35 year old with a symmetrical face you’re lucky to get character roles. Yes, there are exceptions. But for the most part paunchy women over 70 are not getting the guy. The roles themselves often marginalize women. Accomplished doctors, detectives or spies still need to be fashionable and coiffed. When women are depicted as more than a collection of strategically placed highlights they are made to be a masculine cartoon. Even in the most “realistic” television dramas we never see women discussing or experiencing anything about being a woman. Has there ever been a cop show that explains how a female cop on a stakeout deals with her period? Sex, or servicing men is discussed and depicted continuously. Characters are always getting pregnant (and of course having the baby or losing the pregnancy naturally) so someone must be menstruating!
It’s not all that surprising that in the 21st century we still don’t discuss menstruation except as an insult. That’s right, in 2013 it is still perfectly acceptable to refer to someone as “having their period” when the accuser dislikes the behavior of the accused. It is still acceptable to refer to men as “ladies” or “girls” as an insult. In all manner of workplace you can hear these accusations. Imagine just for a moment that instead of hurling a female term as an insult, it was an ethnic or racial term. We wouldn’t and shouldn’t tolerate it. But insulting someone by calling them a woman; that’s cool. And why not; women tolerate it and even perpetuate it. Women will use the word “girl” to deride (ex., you are such a girl.) Women screenwriters, directors and casting agents perpetuate the one-dimensionality of female characters in film and television. And almost all women everywhere persist in using the incorrect terminology for their own genitalia.
Even those now famous monologues about that part of the body, use the wrong terminology. The vagina is one very specific part of the genitalia. The vagina is the internal, or birth canal, part of the female genitalia. Vulva is everything else (and from a sexual response perspective; what matters most.) Using inaccurate terminology is always troubling. Often, if not always, there is an underlying message in such choices. It is quite possible that the term “vagina” first became popular in the medical field (that same medical field that labeled women as hysterics and viewed sexually responsive women as flawed and/or dangerous.) The (male) medical field singled out the part of the female genitalia that most affected them. The vulva has no role in male satisfaction or in birthing. This is a reasonable explanation/theory. But why have women perpetuated this inaccuracy? We teach our children the word vagina, while we teach them all of the proper terms for male genitalia. We don’t refer to testicles as penises. We don’t refer to foreskin as penises. We use the correct terminology for all parts of male genitalia.
Does all this sound cranky, distasteful and maybe even a bit irrational? Are you thinking; “well someone’s got her period!” As a matter of fact, I don’t. But if I did, I wouldn’t whisper it or discreetly palm a tampon on my way to the bathroom. I don’t routinely discuss anyone’s genitalia in public, and wish I didn’t feel compelled to now. But it is one (important) piece of a troubling puzzle. We should teach our children body pride not body shame. We should correct them when they accuse someone of “throwing like a girl” or “crying like a girl.” We should stop ourselves and correct others when insulting someone with female allusions. It’s not a matter of political correctness; it is a matter of correctness. There is something wrong with considering “acting like a man” to be a compliment and “acting like a woman” to be an insult.
This post originally appeared on HereSheisBoys.com.
Brenda Tobias natters about well being, childhood, culture and style. Her work is published in: Ladies’ Home Journal’s Divine Caroline, All About You, Airplane Reading, Stage and Cinemaand higher education publications. Ms. Tobias is aCrassTalk and Huffington Post contributor. She’s the author ofDear Auntie Mame:The Romance Guide.
TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL OUR BIRTHDAY!!!!
We are literally counting down the hours and we hope you are too! We want to see you and all your pals dressed in your finest Halloween gear!
In addition to GEEKED zines sold at ComicCon prices (read: DISCOUNT!) we’ll also be offering you the chance to win some awesome prizes!
For £1 you can enter our Raffle and have a chance to win:
- A GEEKED Bundle containing issues 2, 3, and 4
- A copy of What is a Superhero (which Dr. Will Brooker, aka Dr. Batman, one of the contributors to the book, might sign for you if he’s feeling generous… or tipsy ;p )
- An original piece of Ciderbat jewelry (we’re partial to these pieces)
- ORRRR a voucher for a FREE GEEKED Tshirt from Bakso!
For every raffle drawing we do, we will also be offering a ‘second place’ prize so your chances to win double with every draw You may buy as many entry tickets as you like at £1 ea or 6 for £5
We hope to see you on Friday at The Harrison! 6pm is the witching hour but drop in any time for fun, zines, prizes, cake and cosplay!
So we’ve all been there, lost confidence in our looks or bodies, felt uncomfortable about the person we are, and lonely because we don’t know how to share who we are… Or we’re frightened we’re a little too off beat to meet someone. Well I was all those things and worse. I lost my father to cancer; the one man in my life that accepted me, shared some of my interests, and thought I was beautiful no matter how I dressed or acted. He never judged me for the fact I liked rock music or pints in the pub; that I liked action movies and comic books; and that, from Star Trek to Anime, I was all geek. Well, as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, your world changes, and as a daddy’s girl, mine hit rock bottom. I was suddenly lonelier than ever before and I was tired of being single with no one to share my passions. I was in bereavement counselling and was dealing with PTSD. I have social anxiety, low self-esteem, body dismorphia and a general drive to not eat and hate myself. My only comfort was my world of fandom.
I am an epic geek, to the point that I cosplay and make my own clothes to wear. Being flamboyant and creative was a great outlet and geeking out to various TV shows made me happy. But I had a hole in my heart because I no longer had anyone to share things with and I felt lonely. I tried dating sites but never got past the first date. It was always the usual story of men only wanting one thing and I pride myself on not giving it away. That, or men who thought because I was geeky and enjoyed cosplay, anime, and TV shows like Supernatural, I would be some kinky pervert. So, one day I was checking my various TV sites when I came across an advert reading:
“Are you a single female, the last of your friends to find love? Have you tried dating and just don’t know what you’ve doing wrong. Well a new show is in production to take women and help improve their confidence and give them a makeover and a romantic date.”
Well, extreme times call for extreme measures. Why not do something so scary, so public, so different from hiding in my room with Doctor Who DVDs? Why not do something that would kick me into feeling like a woman again? I thought I’d apply for the show… plus, a free makeover sounded lovely. I filled in my application about Daddy, my lifestyle, and the fact that I had been living in South Korea teaching. In Korea I was a plump 13.5st girl and they are not forgiving of weight! Plus, with my short hair and punky look, I was a bit of an oddity. For 12 months I heard such things as, “why you so fat, is it because you so fat you no boyfriend”. I came back with a severe weight complex and dieted and exercised my heart out. I went from an 18 to a 12 and was happy. Then Daddy died and the dieting took a dark turn to eating as a control issue. I was already Vegan but I also quit carbs, and eventually solids. I lived on cuppa soup and 10 cal jelly pots. I needed a shakeup.
The show loved me and my interviewers said I was a natural on camera, so I got chosen for the pilot. Then the very exciting news of who was going to host the show came, one Mr Gok Wan. Now I watch his shows, and if someone could help with fashion and make me feel sexy, he would. They made me dress in my own outfits to get an idea of my crazy fashion sense, this included the famous Rockabilly Tardis dress I had made to meet John Barrowman (which he loved and so did Tenant and Smith when I met them). I thought at the least Gok would appreciate the fact that I design some of my outfits myself. My concern was the complete lack of confidence.
The journey I went on was very different from the one that aired. I went through challenges such as having all my makeup removed and my picture showed to people in Soho to see what they thought of me. I have a secret fear that people are psychic and will know I’m weird and laugh at me. It was an amazing experience to see these random people on the street saying I looked young, interesting, that they couldn’t believe that was un-made up face, or that I didn’t have confidence in my looks. Was this on the show, though? No! Then my fear that men will hate and judge me because I’m too fat to date was addressed next. I was taken to Plymouth and told I was going to spend the day sailing with 4 guys. I panicked a lot but I had to get on with it and the experience was priceless. I talked openly with them, I cried with them, and they were totally surprised that I hated myself so much; that I thought I was weird and fat and didn’t fit in. They thought I was a fun, open person that fitted into the group nicely, joined in, and was a good laugh. My looks and weight meant nothing to them. They judged me on my personality and ability to relax and be myself. Was this on the show? No!!!!!
So, what did make the show? Well, an edited “fashion show” that turned me into a stereotype and mocked my lifestyle. So much was changed for the final edit: things were taken out of context and Gok seemed to really not like me at all. Which show was it? Gok’s Style Secrets and I’m Zoe Burgess.
As the episode said, I was living a lonely life, hanging out in my bedroom. Why? Because my dad was dead and I had stayed at home in my Mother’s house so she wouldn’t be lonely. I also had social anxiety. Not once did they mention these things. Instead, they spun it like I needed to come back down to planet earth. I also needed a “make under” as my style was “too extreme”. I have no problem with my style. I wanted to feel like a woman and not have to keep buying bigger sizes than I needed to achieve my look.
So what was the first stage? I was shown a 10 min video of my friends and family talking about how much they loved me and how they were worried about me, about my eating, and my escapism. It was a shame the episode cut it down so much because it was a beautiful video that made me feel so very sad that I was scaring people. It was actually a very good experience and Gok seemed to get me. He didn’t judge my style and he seemed interested in the underlying problems. He even talked about “former fatty syndrome” and he said that he understood what I was going through.
The next challenge that was aired in great detail was a surprise practice date. I was not very happy about this and I nearly totally panicked, but there was no turning back. This is where it became obvious that my pain and my lifestyle was being manipulated purely for entertainment. Watching the episode back, they totally edited the date to make me look bad. This is what I found out after my date with Ali. He had turned up all in black with a leather jacket, boots, and “out of bed” look. The producers took one look at him and said, “oh god, you’re so her type… we need to change you”. Ali told me about how they bought him a new outfit, shaved and restyled him, and then told him he couldn’t talk about rock music or movies on the date because, like me, he liked classic rock. I had thought the date went well, and after filming we were allowed to just talk naturally, which is where the “nom, nom fish” line came from. Once filming was done, Ali said he’d had such a great time and he asked to have my number so we could go out on a real date because he liked my style. The producer jumped in and said that he couldn’t as he hadn’t had a CRB check and they had a “responsibility” to keep me safe. Of course, I’m not stupid. I know that they didn’t want me going on a date before the end of the show and that it wouldn’t look good if I got a date without Gok’s help. The date shown on screen was one of the most awkward and difficult things to watch, even more so knowing that Gok told me I was a natural flirt and doing the right things. Gok’s opinion of me didn’t make the edit however and he filmed a separate one saying the opposite.
Gok went on to say that I was in a scare-mongering outfit for the date, as it had slashes in the top. I said it had slits to show a hint of boob. He also commented that I had “all of my tattoos on”. Well no shit Sherlock, they’re real tattoos, years of love and creativity. All from manga, designed by myself and artists in Korea and Japan, and beautiful reflections of the idea that my body is a canvas and should be painted as I see fit. So no, I couldn’t just wipe them off for this date. The guy has to like tattoos or I’m not for him! Better he finds out at the beginning before he notices the full back piece!
The next piece of Gok’s “advice” was actually a criticism because “all I talk about is movies”; I’m a film student, I have a film MA and I’m doing a 2nd Ma on Japanese culture, working towards an Anime PhD. I’m proud of this stuff and when I panic I will always be able to talk about that area. Asking a film academic not talk about films is a tall ask! He then went on to complain about the fact that I like death, skulls and vampires. Yes, I like these things. I think there is beauty in imperfection, the dark erotic, the alternate aesthetic view. Beauty doesn’t have to be flowers and sunshines. The moon reflecting at night, the drop of blood on pale skin, are all vibrant images and as for vampires, you name me a girl who doesn’t like them. I may not like Twilight but I was a Buffy fan and I love Interview with a Vampire. In truth, I’m much more into the Fey but never mind, Gok had decided that my dark vampire world is uninviting. So much for Goth and Alternate culture, there Gok. That’s some great fashion and culture knowledge you have of England! Do you think Gok walks through Camden and believes he has been transported into the mind of a depressed girl and runs screaming back to Soho?
At last we came to makeover day, the moment I was waiting for. I wanted to look like a sexy woman, I wanted to still be me and feel great. After all Gok’s talk of leaving the darkness behind me, I was worried I’d end up in colourful outfits that I’d hate. Oh dear. Honestly, while I did end up liking the outfits, I didn’t like the time trip back to the dark ages where women were nothing but pretty things to look at. To attract a man one must, according to Gok, show that you are a real woman, not “an androgynous Goth”. Now, I don’t identify purely as Goth; I’m alternative and I definitely don’t think I look androgynous. But apparently I need to put my tits and waist on display when I walk into a bar, to catch those elusive guys. Feminism just got set back 100 years, there Gok. I don’t want to attract guys based on my boobs; I want them to like my interests and aesthetics. I am more than tits on legs, but alas, I was in his hands now.
The first outfit was a wonderful pinup dress and I loved it. I always dreamed of having that kind of figure and to find out I had a pinup waist was a dream come true. But here is where more contradictions come in. Gok said showing off my tattoos was off-putting, only to pick a dress that he himself said would show off my tattoos. Also, he suggested that my choker was aggressive but a knuckle duster handbag isn’t?! My next outfit was great and I dubbed it “1950’s Catwoman”. Gok was not pleased that I named my outfit but he put it on me. Again, according to Gok, a top with a slash above my boob was aggressive but I could show “a bit of bra”; not at all a problem for Gok. I reiterate, I am more than Boobs on Legs, and I happen to really like my legs!!! It wasn’t all bad: I did feel like a very sexy lady and having discovered I have a shape, I have tailored my clothes more. I have been raiding Camden for Rockabilly and pinup inspiration.
Now for the craziness that was my bedroom: I’m a geek collector and a fangirl, so I have a lot of stuff. When Gok walked into my room on the episode, I loved that they played the X-File theme as it’s my favourite all-time TV show. The first thing he said was, “it’s an 11 year old boy’s paradise”. I thought that was harsh, I kinda knew that a lot of the stuff I was buying was to compensate for depression and I was trying to fill the gaps in my life. I also knew that the posters of actors I liked were because I didn’t think anyone would love me and they would always look at me and not judge me. But then Gok insulted John Barrowman and that is a no no. John Barrowman is an icon to me, he portrayed the first ever openly omnisexual character on TV, and in a family no less! He has done great work for gay campaigns and anti-bullying campaigns, he has such a positive outlook and zest for life; it’s inspiring. When he smiles it makes you happy, when he performs you know it’s for you, and his performances are clearly because he loves to make people laugh and be happy. He is also naughty and dirty! ;p When I met him, he was so complementary and naughty, I love him. So yeah, you don’t insult a JB fangirl!
Again, I have to admit that it wasn’t all bad. I did get rid of clothes that were too big for me and I organised the clutter.
As for the section on flirting, what a farce. I went along with it, but couldn’t walk in my shoes, so picked the guy nearest to me so I wouldn’t have to walk far. I am never in a million years gonna trawl a bar for guys. I would go to a bar to have drinks with mates, not fish for dates. I would chat up guys at conventions and festivals. At this point in the show, me and some mates stayed for a drink at the pub after filming and I found out that a casting call had been placed for guys who were alternative, liked movies, or rock music. If they came to this bar, they got a free pint, and all they had to do was wait to see if the girl walking around would choose to talk to them. It was a giant stage, a total farce! Who cares how I pick up guys? It was great to feel confident in myself and get makeovers but I was not happy about being forced to pick up men in bars. I felt pushed into talking to this guy, I didn’t want to at all. Also at the time of filming, I had met a guy at an anime convention and was actually eager to see if that was going to go somewhere. The whole thing felt so unnatural.
Then came the line of dialogue that killed the whole experience for me: “Who would have thought that Zoë, the depressed emo Goth, would be in a bar chatting to a table of people”. What the hell?! At conventions I’m a wild thing—try and stop me partying—but regular bars? Not so much because I don’t have common ground with most people. I was depressed because of loss, an eating disorder, and anxiety issues. I am 30, certainly not emo. I was so offended by this line and so were my friends who texted to let me know what they thought of Gok’s statement. I spent my youth between Electric Ballroom and GAY, I’m not a wallflower and not innocent, I just had a traumatic event that changed my life and I was deeply lonely and insecure.
The last hurdle in all this was “The Date”, which I so didn’t want to go on! They were flying me to Venice though, so I was pretty excited about that. My date was found (without my knowledge) by drawing a profile on a dating site. I had been repeatedly told throughout the show that it was my geek passions and alternative dress that put guys off, so I didn’t know what kind of guy awaited me in Venice. (Apparently my profile attracted a lot of people interested in sci-fi, which obviously contradicted what I’d been told).
I finally got my full makeover and I did look amazing, but oh god the preparation. Venice was hot, like 40 degrees hot. I woke at 5am and was taken to the mansion without breakfast for hair and makeup. At that point, I got an apple and a croissant, and then in the non-air conditioned mansion, had my hair blow dried. I was put into a corset and able to eat a bit of salad. By 3pm, I was ready to pass out; I was hungry, tired, hot and in pain, but “the show must go on”.
I have to say, the makeover was amazing! I looked like a sexy star of Spartacus, a gladiatress turned queen. I had never looked so beautiful before and it was so me. I finally felt like I was attractive and amazing… but then I met my date.
I was so disappointed; he was so not my type. We were able to geek out, but they kept stopping filming to ask us not to talk about geeky things. Why set up two geeks and ask them not to talk about it? Instead, we swapped funny stories and he told me a delightful tale about shaving his balls and cutting one but still going out and bleeding into his boxers. Oh, the romance. The crew said it was like watching Beauty and the Beast.
The me you saw on that date is the true me, so I did get my confidence back, which was amazing, but my journey was not what was shown on screen.
So what did I do after the show?
Well I bought very geeky fabric and started making more clothes for myself! Including a dress I hand drew panels from manga on to wear to conventions. I dress a little more accordingly to each situation, saving my more fantastical outfits for parties, festivals and conventions. I have day clothes and night clothes, but still all my style. I met the man of my dreams in a very me fashion. I was at an anime convention, I was running wild drinking and making friends when I saw him, and thought I want him. So I asked him to dance, then sat on his lap, and told him he was going to be mine. It wasn’t long until we were happy and dating, totally loved up. He likes comics, anime and movies. He loves my tattoos and my fashion sense, and collects figures and toys as well. He brought out my inner-Dom and taught me new ways to feel sexy and be a powerful woman. He helped me with the depression and anxiety, sitting with me through panic attacks, talking about my dad, holding me when social anxiety flares, and he tells me every day that I am beautiful, no matter what I’m wearing or doing. He loves me for all the reasons a person should love someone else. He says it’s because I am creative, artistic, intelligent, forward and funny… plus he thinks hips and tattoos are super sexy.
It’s such a shame that the things that really helped me in this show weren’t shown. I was just shown as a geeky Goth. I love being a geeky Goth, but that’s not why I was single. Gok said some harsh things about my character, particularly his last speech. His advice was that I should give up the manga, anime and John Barrowman, and that I needed to grow up. I have, in fact, not given any of those things up and don’t feel any less of a woman for it. I resent the fact that the episode focused on my geek and Goth characteristics and never challenged the real issues. When I confronted the producers, they said it was because it was too dark for the story they were telling. I was then banned from tweeting about the episode and not allowed to say anything negative in a public sphere.
Well, my story needs to be told. I don’t want women thinking they need to compromise their interests to find love. I hate that feminism is being set back. A girl can like things that have been traditionally characterised as “guys’ interests”, there’s nothing wrong with that. (My boyfriend loves that I’ll play computer games with him.) I did manage to do some video blogs addressing the issues that came up in my episode, but I’ve never told the full story.
So, there you have it. Gok seems to think women should stick their tits out, trawl bars, not talk about “masculine hobbies”, and basically change everything they are to get a man.
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/
We hope you’ve got Friday, November 1st already marked in your calendars because we are totes expecting to catch your act at our Cosplay Birthday!
We’ll be at The Harrison in central London from 6pm selling cheap zines, GEEKED merch, giving away goodies and having good ol’ fashioned fun. Oh, and did we mention? It’s a Cosplay Birthday so get your gear on! Whether you’re the superhero type, or more of a historical character reenactor, we’re all about it! All are welcome so if we catch anyone body-shaming or ‘Fake Geek’ labeling, we’ll get Phoenix to vaporize them!
As wicked-wonderful as our party will be, that is not the extent of November 1st’s awesomeness!
From 6.30-8.30, Foyles will host a discussion between book contributors Dr. Will Brooker (our favorite web comic creator) and Richard Reynolds and comic creators Kieron Gillen and Si Spurrier. They’ll discuss not only what makes a superhero—costumes, powers, context—but also what those elements mean to fans, readers and creators. The evening will conclude with signings so get your queuing shoes ready!
Admission is £5 and tickets can be purchased at the door!
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to totally GEEK out and explore what it really means to be a superhero (and may we suggest you do this in cosplay, since you’ll obviously be coming by to party with us after!!)
All settled then. November 1st is your day to get GEEKED! Hit the coolest book launch of 2013 at Foyles and then come party-hearty with us at The Harrison.
We’ll be waiting
Well GEEKS, we’re a year older and we’re feelin’ FINE!!! To celebrate, we are hosting a partay-partay and we want you—yes, YOU—to come along and bring your friends!
Friday, November 1st, we’ll be camped out in a Central London (shortly TBC) location and we’ll be waiting for YOU! Dress code is COSPLAY BABY! So come as your favourite comic book character, favourite TV character, literary folk, film peeps, whatever makes you happy!
All are welcome and we hope that you’ll come to celebrate our first anniversary in style! Don’t be a Halloweenie! Get yo’ Cosplay on and come to our Birthday!
Friday, November 1st–Central London–6pm until Late–Cosplay!
Folks, have we got a wicked surprise for you!
We are pairing up with the team of My So-Called Secret Identity to bring you an extra-special issue of GEEKED Magazine. Issue Five will feature, for the first time EVAR, issues 1 & 2 of the webcomic, My So-Called Secret Identity… IN PRINT!
In mid-November we will be releasing a full issue of GEEKED which will be cover-to-cover centred on MSCSI! And because we are so psyched about this collaboration, we’ll be giving you more bang for your buck: GEEKED Presents My So-Called Secret Identity will be printed in A4 format with beautiful full-colour comic pages from the first two issues of MSCSI.
The magazine will also contain interviews, extras, and special bonus pages:
- An interview with creator, Dr. Will Brooker
- Exclusive Interviews w/ artists Suze Shore & Dr. Sarah Zaidan
- Two extra bonus pages never before seen online
- MSCSI Cosplay
- Recipes inspired by MSCSI
- Character Pin-ups
- And more!
PLUS, the first TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE WHO PRE-ORDER THE ZINE will also get a FREE Cat Abi Daniels Cosplay Cat Necklace:
The zine will be priced at £8 and you will be able to order them online to be delivered RIGHT to your door! Pre-Orders ARE NOW OPEN!!
GEEKED Presents My So-Called Secret Identity, Issue Five hits stands in November but they’ll go fast so get those Pre-Order paws warmed up and ready! MSCSI will soon be yours to have and to hold *KERMIT FLAIL*
Not yet on Team Cat? Go to http://mysocalledsecretidentity.com/ to step into Cat’s world and share her adventures! And remember, a portion of all donations go to support the charity, A Way Out.
When we make new friends, or have a big contributor pow-wow, certain ideas tend to pop up repeatedly in conversations about the future of GEEKED. Sometimes people have awesome ideas but it’s hard for us to put them into action because of ‘real life’ issues of funding, timing, outlets for sales, etc. When RL gets the upper hand, it can sometimes feel discouraging and we all end up making sad faces into our pints.
THIS time, however, we’ve managed to FINALLY put one of our much-talked-about ideas into action and we LITERALLY could not be more excited!
(For reals, we’re frickin’ STOKED)
GEEKED Magazine T-shirts are now available! Huzzah! We’ve got a range of designs, all of which can be worn by the ladies or the mens.
Our ‘Fake GEEK Girl’ T’s were a big hit at all the Cons this summer and we hope you’ll wear your subversion with pride! The best part about these rags is that you can pick the one that best suits your style… more of a volatile-demigod than you are an Amazonian princess?
No problem! We’ve got a FGG T for you We even had a couple folks tell us that the ‘boyfriend’ half of their couple would wear the shit out of a FGG T so don’t be shy, they come in sizes appropriate for lots of body types.
Also available are T’s with cover art straight out of our magazines! Check out this Rule 63 print where all those bad-ass supes that are running atcho face are grrrls!
Or this amazing T—perfect for the convention-goer—that illustrates all the guys, gals, creatures and androids you might find at San Diego Comic Con.
Finally, a BRAND NEW GEEKED DESIGN that captures everything we are! The ultimate GEEKED gear!
And in the meantime, ‘Get yo GEEK on, get yo GEEK onnnn, getcha getcha getcha GEEK on’!!