Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Being Inquisitive








We expect children to be full of openness, to revel in asking questions. Most parents will talk with a mixture of joy and exhaustion about those endless rounds of “but whyyyy?” We also assume that this will drop away with time as the world falls into place and loses the sheen of novelty. But that doesn’t mean the seeking of answers needs to stop. That desire to remain ever curious (and ever questioning) is a state of being I always want to aspire towards. Some of my favourite people are in their seventies or eighties, and still talking with glee about adventures they’ve just had or new books on their shelves. They know that there’s always more to probe at, always further perspectives to investigate…  Really though, I admire anyone of any age who is continually interested in expanding what they know. They're the kinds of individuals who make me want to do more, and learn more. 

In fact, I’ve realized recently just how much I love that simultaneous sense of being inquisitive AND acquisitive. I’m usually ticking and fizzing when I’m thinking about new things, learning obscure facts, and generally getting excited about all that’s fallen into my path in the course of a week. Could be a good conversation, a long article I’ve read on Buzzfeed, or a crowd-sourced list recommending amazing female writers (see all the answers beneath). Maybe a film. I saw Pan’s Labyrinth recently, and it’s been hiding in the back of my head for weeks now. Perhaps a play, a gig, a museum visit... I know it’s worked some sort of magic when I feel like I might explode if I don’t tell someone very soon all about it – whether I want to sing its praises or critique it with some bite.  

It's also why I’ll never make a great academic. As someone pointed out to me last week, an overwhelming, wide-ranging type of enthusiasm doesn’t always lend itself to strict study. It does, however, contribute towards some sense of eager pleasure in whatever the day ahead holds.

To give all of those observations some solid grounding, here’s a quick list of a few of the things I’ve read/ listened to/ looked at/ learned about in the last ten days: RuPaul on performativity of gender (and everything else in general); Neil Gaiman on fairtyales; Chimamamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith discussing race, writing and beauty; Sally Mann on photography; Oliver Sacks on hallucinations; (ok, those five are all from the NYPL podcast which I’ve been listening to over breakfast most mornings).

Beyond that, there's an interview with Carrie Brownstein on Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia; Benjamin Britten’s opera of The Turn of the Screw; this piece on why consensual sex "can still be bad"; a blisteringly powerful ongoing diary series from Jenny Diski; plenty of music videos from St Vincent; poetry collections by U.A. Fanthorpe and Seamus Heaney; this from Alanna Massey on why it’s ok to admit that being single can be rubbish; one gallery of images of Kate Bush and one of female muses; Jo Ellison on weight and taking up space; this dress by Elsa Schiaparelli; the film Suffragette; an essay from The Coven on crying and laughter; Rebecca Solnit writing on Virginia Woolf and darkness; and a series of brilliantly amusing/ genuinely informative pieces by JR Thorp for Bustle (we met up last week to chat about writing, clothes with marvelous histories, and cats.)

And that’s just a handful of the stuff memorable enough for me to recall at short notice – the kinds of things I ended up discussing with other people, or spent time pondering alone. It’s also a partial list because it doesn’t include the HUGE amount that’s been going on academically (which is, of course, my main focus at the moment) or the research that’s been required for various articles I’ve been working on. This is really just bonus stuff woven in around the edges of actual responsibilities. 

The thing is, lots of us do this to a certain extent – plenty of time, especially online, spent wandering down little gulleys and side-alleys full of images and ideas. One link leads to another, and suddenly you’re thinking all about Emily Dickinson’s poems scribbled on the backs of envelopes/ Lana Del Rey’s carefully constructed aesthetic/ Iris Apfel’s fabulous clothes. It’s easy to bemoan this wandering as procrastination. Sometimes it is. But usually there’s plenty to be gained in it too.

In some ways, I wonder whether the newsletter is becoming a new means to collate this type of inquisitive/ acquisitive tendency. It’s a way for people to assemble everything they’ve been taking in (side note: my lovely friend Emma Gannon said some very nice things about me in her last newsletter – go subscribe here). The newsletter offers up a space – almost a scrapbook – for things to be collected, shared, and preserved.

There are people who do this on other platforms too. Roe McDermott’s Twitter feed is always full of interesting articles, while Ana Kinsella’s lists of links (titled 'A Week's Click's) are fantastic for losing a morning to. Visual inspiration is easy to find on Instagram accounts like Kay Montano's and Laura Kitty's. And, you know, there's always plenty on the bookshelves too.. 

Of course, there's never going to be time to follow up on EVERYTHING ALL OF IT NEVER-ENDING. But that's ok. There are decades ahead to learn, research and cast that net of knowledge ever-wider (also plenty of time to choose what to invest your hours in, and what to ignore). I find that entirely wonderful. Plenty left to explore. Plenty left to write about, too... 

I'm wearing all vintage here, I think, other than the boots. This was shot just after we took these photos - you can see the same orange silk dress hidden under all of these layers. The acquisitive part of my nature definitely stretches wardrobe-way too. I regularly count buying a good item of clothing among the day's achievements. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

If the Hat Fits



 

 
 

 
 
 

 



 

 

 
 
 

I know many of my relatives through their clothes. I know their dress sizes, the shape of the blouses they chose to wear, the costume jewellery they kept until they died. I know what they valued – whether it was a brightly coloured leather belt or multiple pairs of black, leather gloves all cut slightly differently. I know this because plenty of these garments and accessories have filtered down to me over the years. My room is stuffed full of possessions that belonged to three previous generations of family members. It’s a jumble in there – items from maternal and paternal grandmas, great-aunts and grandfathers (as well as plenty stolen from my mum) hanging together in my wardrobe or folded away in boxes.

For a while, the most prominent things in that room though were the hats. So many hats! They lined the top of my bookshelves, hung on the edge of my mirror, and ranged across every available surface. At one point I even had two pinboards covered in an attractive range of shades: raspberry, cobalt, scarlet, khaki, chocolate, navy, russet, plum, electric blue.

Many of these ones had belonged to one of my maternal great-grannies. They’ve experienced quite the journey. When that great-granny died, my mum donated nearly all of her hats to the local primary school I attended – retaining a few for our own dressing up box. After years of these trilbies and berets (and plenty of other styles of hat I can’t even categorize) being played with by infants, their days of use were nearly at an end. They were bagged up and set aside to send to a local charity shop. As fortune would have it, my mum and I visited the school that day. Mum’s eyes fell on the jumble of colours plonked by the door. When we found out what was happening with them, she asked if we could rescue the lot – and rescue we did. We carried them home, spilled out the contents on the carpet, and inspected our spoils. I took them all.

I can date this amazing discovery back to summer 2009 because I blogged about them shortly afterwards – styling lots of the hats and repurposing the lyrics of Eleanor Farjeon’s ‘Cats Sleep Anywhere’:  

Hats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair.
Top of piano, window-ledge, in the middle, on the edge.
Open drawer, empty shoe, anybody's head will do.
Fitted in a cardboard box, in the cupboard with your frocks.
Anywhere! They don't care! Hats sleep anywhere.

I’d begun the blog earlier that year – searching for an outlet to play around with vintage clothes and conversations about style. At that point, an outfit for my blog didn’t feel complete without lashings of accessories. These were my first fumblings towards assembling a sartorial identity that was all my own – removed from the expectations of school or social groups or what teens were meant to wear. I wore net gloves and big, crystal necklaces and brightly patterned silk scarves. I layered everything and stuck a belt on top. I used the term ‘granny chic’ when it was still considered cool. And I wore a hell of a lot of hats. Alongside the various beautiful, brimmed things inherited from family members, I bought plenty second hand. They were the kinds of hats that on anyone over the age of 20 would resemble pretty tame wedding attire, but on a 14 year old with near-waist-length hair just about worked.

Hats have turned up time and time again over the years on the blog. To give the briefest selection of choices, there was the cream beret with a bow on the front of it to dress up in a Lucy-Pevensie-goes-to-Narnia inspired ensemble (complete with a vintage suitcase and some snow-covered fir trees); a black felt floppy hat to complement my sixties swing coat; a little, knitted green hat to keep my pinned up hair in place alongside a twenties-style flapper dress I made using film negatives; a children’s boater worn with a blue teadress; a seventies leather patchwork sunhat alongside a long, crocheted dress; a soft egg yolk yellow beanie to complement a grey wool dress I made from an old jumper; a bright orange hat atop a bright orange outfit inspired by the colours of Penguin Classics; a grey faux-fur hat (big enough to look like a small animal perched on my head) with a lilac satin princess dress; a red net and velvet fascinator to complete a striped velvet ensemble; feathers pinned to my head when emulating Isabella Blow… the list continues. I even did a Sherlock-inspired shoot with a deerstalker.

They’ve not just been for dressing up either. I have a core group I still wear with huge regularity. There’s one blue trilby in particular that I’d be devastated to lose. And yet, and yet… I’m still surprised to hear friends of mine say, “oh, I have a great hat, but I’d need more confidence to wear it.” Where they were once seen as ubiquitous, being just another addition to an outfit, now they’re considered some kind of statement. Apparently it takes audacity to don anything brilliant or boldly shaped. It seems a shame when there’s such pleasure to be derived from them. Yes, it may require a confident tilt of the head. But you’re much more likely to receive compliments than anything else. People tend to be impressed by a good hat. And all those pre-formed fears you might have about strange comments or people looking at you oddly? They’re mostly false. Besides, if they do stare, let them. You’re probably brightening their dull day. Take it from the girl who recently walked around a city centre wearing a zinging bright orange (very mini) mini-dress with a matching bow tied in her hair. Now that gets people staring.  

Sometimes hats don’t have to be eye-catching though. Sometimes, you know, they do have practical use too. I’ve been eyeing up various beanies and other cosy looking things recently, aware that the chill in the air means it’s time to assess what I can wear for purposes of warmth rather than general flamboyance. Perhaps among them there’ll be one particular hat. It’s black and very, very furry – fitting close to the head. The kind of hat that’s ideal for bitter days when the wind cuts at your ears (even when, as in my case, they’re already hidden under a mound of curly hair). It belonged to Nana.

Nana, by the way (pronounced ‘Na-naa’), was my other maternal great-grandma.

When she died a few years ago I combed her cupboards, partly helping mum to box stuff up, partly searching for treasure. I wasn’t disappointed. Furry hats and collars aplenty, as well as some rather fabulous winter coats.  That sense of intense delight in unexpected acquisitions – new things to add to my outfits without paying a penny – has never faded. 

I wore it endlessly last winter – once on a day when my mum visited me at uni. A few days later she emailed to say that she’d found some pictures of Nana wearing that very same hat at her (i.e. my mum’s) christening. There was my mum, tiny in a white cotton robe, and my great-grandma – furry hat matching her coat perfectly.


Nana was also, obviously, the counterpart to the granny with all the colourful hats. Collectively, they’ve together contributed more to my hat collection than any other family members. The two of them never saw eye to eye, both angry that their respective children had divorced when my mum was a toddler. So much animosity between them, and yet their hats are in the same boxes, jammed together. Sometimes I can’t remember which one of them owned a particular item. I like that though. All that tension and resentment – yet their hats now sit side by side, years later, given new life each time they’re worn.

This was originally written for The Coven - a wonderful website FULL of great, intelligent essays. I've already said nice things about them on my blog here

Reposting it here gave me the chance to trawl through my archives to find favourite outfits featuring hats. Sadly, I couldn't include them all, as it would have been 70+ images. I've stuck to ones from 2009 through to 2013. They're all photos taken when I was still in my teens - from age 14 onwards; still living at home (apart from the last few) and doing shoots after school and on weekends, or stacking them up during the holidays. The very last image is of Nana's hat. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Pleasure of Spending Time Alone











 The other evening I had our house to myself. Both of my flat-mates were out. I spent my time cooking, a chopping board on one side of the hob and a glass of white wine on the other. I listened to a podcast and pottered merrily. It was bliss. A very simple, easy form of bliss, yes, but wonderful nonetheless.

Spending time alone is one of those funny things that some of us relish, and others loath. Either it’s a luxury, a much-looked-for window to fill with solitude and self-determined activity, or it’s a to-be-avoided-at-all-costs kind of situation. Or, you know, it’s something somewhere between those two extremities. I err much more towards the camp who love snatching any chance to spend several hours being solitary. Not for too long, mind. There’s definitely a sweet spot between independence and isolation.

But give me a book, a museum, a river to walk along, or simply a morning to play around with unaccompanied by anyone else, and I’m content. It’s when I get all my thinking done. Lots of my seeking and learning and scheming too. Also most of my writing – though I only tend to count that as proper ‘alone’ time if it’s not accompanied by a nagging sense of fear at one looming deadline or another. It’s worth mentioning though, as I do seem to spend approximately half my life on a laptop with headphones in and fingers whirring. However, here I’m mainly interested in lonesomeness for leisure, rather than work…

‘Alone’ is such a different word to ‘lonely’ though. One is just a description of a temporary state of being that doesn’t include other people. The other is charged with dark resonance. Loneliness, the newspapers tell us, is on the rise. To be lonely is to be somehow lacking. Of course, the former can be used in just the same way. How many of us, at one point or another, have sighed/ cried/ written in a diary “I just feel so alone?” (Levels of melodrama up to the individual's discretion.) But now, to me, to be ‘alone’ is to have some much-appreciated time and space to call my own. 

In fact, being happy to spend time by myself is something I remain supremely grateful for. Of course there’s the odd spot of loneliness, but mainly I feel at ease in my own company – happily self-sufficient. There were definitely points where I was less keen to just hang out with my thoughts. Perhaps they’ve helped to build the sturdy appreciation for mornings lazing around in bed with books, or evenings going to the cinema solo.   

In case I’m painting some winsome, slightly sickening image here of days on end spent wandering through meadows and reading poetry on my own (that only happens occasionally, promise…), I should also point out here that I adore socialising. Most of my friends know that I tend to thrive on dashing around from one conversation to another. Last time I was in London I saw four consecutive lots of people, and collapsed, knackered, back on the train at 9pm. But I was also thrilled. The buzz of a day filled with good chats, ideas bandied back and forth across a table or living room, gave me a satisfaction like little else. In fact, I could flip the entire premise of this blog post to write something reveling in seeking and finding pleasure in the presence of others. Spending time with those I admire or appreciate is the most wonderful, joyous experience.


Maybe I welcome both states of being – intensely sociable, quietly solitary – precisely because there’s a balance between them. They cohabit side by side. Raucous laughter is fun. So is getting up early and cycling through a near-empty empty city. Each increases appreciation of the other. Maybe it helps that both are active choices – things I've had the ability to prioritise and value. And what a wonderful privilege that is... 

These photos were taken over the summer in Sweden - where I was with my family, and played A LOT of very competitive Scrabble with my younger brother, but also spent a lot of time happily in my own little world: merrily reading, swimming and scribbling notes/ poems/ general witterings. I also spent lots of time swanning around in this glorious vintage Liberty print two-piece, which I adore. I nicked all the accessories from my mum. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Through the Looking Glass





This was originally written for the second issue of the wonderful Ingenue magazine (which I suggest you all go and buy, as it's absolutely gorgeous and packed with intelligent content) - so it's a fair bit longer than your average blog post.. One of my favourite commissions I've worked on in a while though. Quick content note - some discussion of sexual assault. 

When I was in my early teens there were so many things I was uncomfortable with: the assumption that it was normal  - and expected - to shave off all body hair; the divide whereby guys who slept around were ‘lads’ while the girls were ‘slags’; the fact that to be female was to be judged according to your weight, your appearance, your desirability; the assumption that certain spheres like politics, business or science were just a bit more male; the way in which women were usually represented (or rather misrepresented) in the media.

Well, I’m not sure if I was consciously frustrated with the latter. I was certainly aware of it though. How could I not be, when it was one of the contributing factors to all those other forms of unease? I’m not claiming that it was solely fashion ads and movies and porn clips and newspaper commentary and gossip mags and website features and music videos that instilled those feelings, but they certainly contributed - especially when all of that filtered down into the realms of secondary school, where bitchiness ruled and judgment was par for the course.

In spite of so many advances, we continue to live in a culture where boys are expected to be active and girls are expected to be beautiful. One where actresses are asked about their weight-loss regimes rather than the nuances of the characters they play. One where gossip rags focus in on every perceived female ‘failing’ – encouraging us to mock any sign of life or age, like cellulite, sweat-marks, weight gain, weight loss, or wrinkles. One where the dominant ideal of beauty is slender, young, and white – anyone falling outside of those parameters labeled as an exception if they attain mainstream celebration. One where a woman speaking out is a woman who is threatening – perhaps one who needs shutting up. One where, ultimately, we are shown that female achievement isn’t manifested in skills, but in the width of a waistline.

Well, fuck all of that.

A little later on, I began to question those corrosive assumptions and expectations. I also started responding critically to what I was reading and looking at. A flourishing interest in feminism gave me a framework for what was going on – also, most importantly, a means to analyze the uneasiness. I realized that what I was consuming wasn’t a given – but something that could be challenged.

Maybe you’re reading this going “yeah, yeah, beauty ideals, gender roles, underrepresentation, the wage gap, inequality, capitalism etc – I get it.” If so? Great. That’s a good position to be in – one of awareness and education and anger. But it took me a while to reach that stage. As one person says in the excellent documentary Miss Representation, “the media is the message and the messenger.” For most of us it requires quite a bit of work to unravel those messages – to get a grasp on just what the messengers are doing at the moment, and then, maybe to consider how to change them.

Luckily there are plenty of others who are both clear-sighted and proactive, like Madeline Di Nonno - the CEO of See Jane, an organization set up by actor Geena Davis (she of Thelma and Louise fame) to look at gender inequality in films and TV. With a mix of research projects, education resources and an increasing number of events, they’re provoking big conversations. Their statistics have been groundbreaking, while the symposiums focused on women onscreen are opening up new dialogues within the industry.

Incidentally, Thelma and Louise does a pretty fabulous job of passing the Bechdel test (a set of requirements dreamt up by Alison Bechdel, in which a film must have at least two women in it, who talk to each other and, crucially, talk about something other than a man). Yes, there’s a fair bit of shooting, but also an incredibly nuanced, in-depth look at female friendship. It’s as political as it is entertaining. We still need more films like that, more than twenty years on. 

I sat down with Di Nonno recently to discuss the work of See Jane, spending plenty of time comparing our teenage years and time at university before we got on to talking about films. I mentioned how the revelatory thing for me was seeing all of those things I was aware of (the lack of powerful women onscreen, under-representation of women of colour etc) being quantified – properly researched to provide hard evidence.

Alongside these studies, See Jane has a very specific set of ways to combat inequality. They mainly work from the inside out. As Di Nonno points out, ‘by fuelling what’s going on behind the camera, you can then see the results on camera.’ From encouraging more multifaceted women leads to discussing the lack of female directors, writers and other creatives, they’re interested in both the process and the product.

Their main mantra is ‘if she can see it, she can be it’. It’s a simple point. If we could see female presidents and leaders and breadwinners on screen, then young people would hopefully consider that to be what’s normal - just as it’s currently seen as standard for all those positions to be male-dominated.

Essentially, See Jane wants to readdress the balance. ‘If we can organically change the content that our children are seeing, and boys and girls grow up seeing media images that have lots of girls doing interesting things, then subconsciously it becomes the norm, and not the exception.’

And my God, is visibility important – in so many ways. It affects what we think is acceptable, expected, right, everyday. Recent research showed that children between 8 and 18 spend around 7 hours a day engaging with media. It’s a huge force – one present whenever you open a magazine or watch a film or eye up your phone. If you can transform that force, you can transform how people – especially young ones - think.

‘The approach we’ve taken is collaborative – one in which we don’t shame,’ says Di Nonno. ‘Every studio, network, production company etc has been extremely responsive - because we’re saying, “we all want our children to grow up with a sense of infinite possibilities, our girls, our boys.” When it’s positioned that way, and we’re able to say that our research is showing that we’re bereft of female presence - but we’re 51% of the population - everyone is shocked.’  It’s not about pointing fingers, but encouraging positive, active decisions to do things differently.

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk do similar things with fashion, placing gentle pressure on the industry from the inside out – asking change to come from designers, photographers, stylists, casting directors, and anyone else who can actively choose to challenge the status quo. Like See Jane, they’re all about both showing and telling. It’s important to raise rallying cries and point out what’s wrong and shout loudly, but also to push for transforming what young women and men are seeing and taking in everyday – whether it’s on film or in a fashion ad. Both of them also offer up a set of tools – a way to engage critically, and question what’s put in front of you.

Di Nonno also mentioned the presence of ‘unconscious biases’ – of the way certain types of status quo are assumed to be normal. There’s no huge conspiracy here, no tycoons rubbing their hands and going “hahaha, let’s reserve all the big, serious roles for men” (Maybe. Hopefully.) Instead it’s just that ‘the default is always male.’

I pointed out to her how irritated I get that it seems like the ‘LARGE SERIOUS THEMES’ are reserved for men. If an experience is to be considered ‘universal’, it’s most likely embodied by a male protagonist – whereas if the main character is a woman, it’ll be considered niche or specialist or mainly for female audiences. Some progress is being made in breaking the mould – everything from The Hunger Games to Mad Max: Fury Road – but they’re still considered the exceptions.

It’s unsurprising that this is how it is in films, in an age where research has also showed that books with male main characters are more likely to win serious literary prizes. ‘As an artist, you write what you know, you want to be authentic,’ Di Nonno says. ‘So if you’re a storyteller, and the ratio of male to female storytellers is five to one, then that automatically is going to manifest in terms of the product that’s onscreen.’ See Jane’s 2012 study showed that if there’s a female writer or director, there’s a ten percent increase in female roles onscreen. Change the narrative, change the creator, change what the audience sees.

There’s often this argument that comes up when talking about gender and the media – a rallying cry that there are “more serious” issues to focus on, as though there’s a set ranking of issues neatly ordered from ‘mildest’ to ‘most awful’ that must be addressed in strict sequence. But this fails to chart any of the intricate links between different areas of inequality, or to take account of the way the media normalizes certain things.  

For example, images of violence against women are rife in the media: in shadowy fashion ads suggestive of assault or death; in film and TV narratives that use rape as a gratuitous plotline rather than something explored sensitively; in video games that allow female characters to have two functions: a.) Physical object, all boobs and bum and no personality, and/ or b.) punchbag.

Add to this the disquieting fact that under the American Film classification system (the MPAA), scenes featuring sexual violence towards women often gain lower age restrictions than those showing women enjoying consensual sexual pleasure. Brutality inflicted on a female might gain a movie an R (those under 17 can only see it accompanied by an adult), but if a woman is shown receiving oral sex, it’s immediately an NC-17 (basically the equivalent to a UK 18).

And oh, remind me where all this is taking place? Ah yes, in a society where women are overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) the targets of domestic violence; where rape victims are often assumed to have been ‘asking for it’ or to somehow have been provocative; where female pleasure is still seen as vaguely taboo. The media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists on our screens, in our houses, seamed throughout our conversations and expectations.  

I’m not arguing here that there’s a direct A to B link, as though one causes the other. Oh no. Instead it’s a series of relationships and influences. It’s all wrapped up – the focus on image and attractiveness, the over-representation of women as objects, the under-representation of women as complex individuals, the marginalization of women of colour, of older women, of women of all sizes... Sexualisation, body image, job prospects, violence, gendered stereotypes, aspirations, assumptions, anxieties – all interacting, all connected.

That sounds kind of miserable though. Surely we, as individuals, can attempt to make changes too? ‘There are so many things that people can do who are not making movies,’ argues Di Nonno – firstly pointing to social media. From the #askhermore hashtag to the ability to critique things, ‘everyone can have a voice, and call this out.’ Next she says, ‘I think it’s important if you’re a care-taker to watch what your children are watching… to watch it with them and have a conversation.’ It’s about chatting, giving young people a space to ask questions and be responsive.

What if you have some kind of authority? ‘For people who are in a leadership position… How are you attracting diversity? What is your means of messaging – print, website, social media? What are your hiring practices? How many women do you have on your board? How many executives?’

She also relayed the story of a guy she worked with at one point. ‘He sat through and listened to our research, and at out next meeting, he said “you’ve changed how I parent.” I said, “really? What happened?” He replied, “well, I have a son and a daughter – they both play soccer, and are both really into sports. But I realized that when I saw my son, I’d ask him about the game, or what he was doing, and when I saw my daughter the first thing I’d say is “Oh you look so pretty today.” All I was reinforcing to my daughter was her beauty, and not recognizing that she’s as good an athlete as my son.”’

So it’s about conversation. About using what Di Nonno calls ‘a gender lens’ to opening up chats, critique what you see, always be curious, query the stuff in front of you, and never get complacent. It’s about wanting more from our media-makers, and also changing our own behaviour. It’s about supporting those doing good stuff, like Act for Change (a project aiming to encourage diversity across the stage and screen), Arts Emergency (they look to get young people from all sorts of backgrounds into the arts through mentoring and schemes), The Fawcett Society (a charity campaigning for gender equality) and The Women’s Room, (an organization set up to get more women in the public eye, especially experts in their field), to name but a handful. It’s a good position to be in – one where our voices are important. And it’s one where they can only get louder.


The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are partnering with the BFI this autumn – hosting a global symposium on gender in media on October 8th.