Thursday, 27 December 2012


Tilda Swindon as Orlando - Orlando (1992)

Based on Virgina Woolf's story, this wonderful adaptation by Sally Potter explores gender identities. Orlando is brilliantly portrayed by the fabulously talented Tilda.

Everlyn Sampi as Molly - Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)

This is a true story based on the shocking attitudes of religious post-colonialists, who try to take three mixed race sisters from their Aboriginal mother to recondition them to western beliefs. The protagonist, 14-year-old Molly, bravely defies white rule and assumptions.

Shirley Maclaine as Martha Dobie - The Children's Hour (1961)

A heartbreaking portrayal of unrequited love set against a homophobic society, with a harrowing performance by Shirley Maclaine. Hepburn plays the sensitive love interest.
 Cher as Florence "Rusty" Dennis - Mask (1985)

A strong and unwavering performance from Cher, who challenges society's perceptions of those deemed different.
Hertha Thiele as Manuela von Meinhardis - Mädchen in Uniform (1931)

One of the earliest depictions of same-sex desire, bravely expressed against the impending Nazism that shattered so many people's lives and perceptions.
 Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood - Silkwood (1983)

One woman up against an evil corporation, beautifully conveyed through the eyes of Streep, and, once more, Cher.
Imelda Staunton as Vera Drake - Vera Drake (2004)

A powerful story about backstreet abortions before the procedure was legalised. The title character goes out of her way to enable poor women to have a choice over their bodies.
Joan Crawford as Vienna - Johnny Guitar (1954)

An early depiction of gender role reversals. Crawford plays her part with relish. The beauty of this film lies in Nicholas Ray showing a supposedly 'older woman' who is in control of her life, both mentally and sexually - something we are sadly short of even in 2012.
Ruth Gordon as Maude - Harold and Maude (1971)

Maude is an inspirational, 80 something free-spirited woman, who lives the life that she wants and doesn't care about people's opinions and attitudes towards her. We all need a Maude in our lives, or else adopt her 'don't give a fuck' philosophy.

Nandita Das as Sita - Fire (1996)

No other film encapsulates the lives and constraints of two Hindi women than Fire. Sita defies cultural expectations and forms an intense relationship with Radha and, as expected, homophobia reeks its cruelty. Stunning performances.


 Christine Noonan as The Girl - if…. (1968)

Although nameless, The Girl is central in challenging an androcentric education system. Up on a rooftop, armed and certainly dangerous, how far can you push the downtrodden? If.... probes class and gender, blurring the boundaries of reality and fiction.
Tatum O'Neil as Addie Loggins - Paper Moon (1973)

Addie is a breath of fresh air, a confident girl who understands the world far better than the adults she encounters.The message I got from Addie is to listen to children, give them respect. We have so much to learn from her.
Hillary Swank as Brandon Teena - Boys Don't Cry (1999)

The harrowing true story of Brandon Teena, a transgendered youth who was raped and murdered in Nebraska, at the age of 21. Hilary Swank gives an incredibly sad and painful central performance.

Katrin Saß as Christiane Kerner - Goodbye Lenin! (2003)

The sensitive depiction of Christiane, a woman who embraces her Marxist political beliefs with a devotion equally matched by her son's love for her.
Fatoumata Coulibaly as Collé - Moolaadé (2004) 

Collé saves other young women from FGM (female genital mutilation), as her character challenges tradition and violation of women's bodies.
Chiara Mastroianni (voice) as Marjane - Persepolis (2007)

Marjane challenges society's perception of girls, fighting political injustice and sexism with wit and a warm heart.
Bibi Andersson as Alma the nurse - Persona (1966) 

There are many interpretations of this film. But for me it's a psychological journey for the characters and the audience. All the angst and self-doubt of what constitues reality and illusions are superbly expressed by Alma. Without doubt, Bergman's masterpiece.
Brigitte Mira as Emmi - Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

One of the few films to have a 60-year-old female lead. Emmi wonderfully conveys that sexual feelings and desire are not solely for the young, but for all women, regardless of age.
Elizabeth Taylor as Martha - Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

What a sassy character... a fighter who gives as good as she gets. Liz Taylor, sorely missed.
Marlene Dietrich as Amy Jolly - Morocco (1930)

One of the earliest films to portray ambiguous/blurring of gender boundaries

Gena Rowlands as Gloria - Gloria (1980)

Up against the mob, Gloria goes out of her way to survive. A fearless woman willing to fight for what she believes in. Rowlands' depiction of a strong but flawed character shows she's human and not a one dimensional caricature. Gloria's complexity is much neeeded and appreciated.
Penelope Cruz as Raimunda - Volver (2006)

Raimunda is a strong single parent who survives with her daughter following the brutal actions of her partner.  An understated film that questions violence against women, with Almodovar's dark humour resonating throughout the scenes.
Zhou Xun as Little Seamstress - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002)

Amazing performance by Zhou Xun as a girl who explore her sexuality and her parochial world. As her realtionships unfold, the Little Seamstress becomes restless, yearning for another world she has yet to discover.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Rape Culture in Adverts

Take a look at these ads. What messages are they giving? Do you accept them?

That's right, I'm available even if I don't agree... A submissive object for your manipulation.

What can I say? The writing's on the package... Want to be radical? Don't buy American Apparel.

You know she wants it... and she's going to get it. Calvin Klein, another corporate, sexist, misogynist brand. Buy their products, if you agree with rape.

This is where you belong...I am your master, you are my slave.

Are we gonna have some fun?  You mean, I can have her, too?


I always dreamed of this.. You think he's big? Wait till you see my stack.  Male fantasy, me thinks and knows...?

 When will you realise, girls don't give a shit what size you are. An attentive lover is far more satisfying, than the size of your baguette.

This is his idea of a perfect relationship...

Guys, there's enough to go round. I'm here solely for YOUR pleasure. I am a pasive object, without feelings. Exploit me, you know you want to. 

Seen enough? What are YOU going to do about it? Fight back, lobby and protest. Don't forget these images contribute to your submission.

The Sum Of My Parts

As women, we are often rated by our physical attributes. Why? Have you ever heard two men discussing that they have cellulite, or that their thighs are too fat? Why should you? Have you ever questioned why our lives are wasted with angst over parts of our bodies? Why does it make us feel good if someone says we have great legs?

Why are we reduced to this?

 Or this?
Or how about this?
Yes, I have a behind and breasts just like you… and?
Why must I be reduced to an object for your gaze and my passive submission?
I am a WHOLE person not reducible to my 'assets'. I am the sum of my parts. Men are not rated according to their physical attributes, therefore, why should I accept anything less?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Please sign this petitionHumanAction - Protest Against Draconian Ugandan 'Kill the Gays' Bill

HumanAction - Protest Against Draconian Ugandan 'Kill the Gays' Bill

Monday, December 10, 2012
12:00 PM
Ugandan High Commission
58-59 Trafalgar Square
London WC2N 5DX 
This is a message that gay activist, Peter Tatchell sent

On International Human Rights Day, this Monday 10 December, Londoners will gather outside the High Commission of Uganda to protest against plans for what is “probably the world’s most harsh and comprehensively homophobic law, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”
Currently under consideration by the Uganda parliament, the bill stipulates the death penalty for repeat homosexual offenders and severe prison terms many other aspects of gay life, behaviour and gay human rights advocacy. Contrary to some reports, the death penalty clause has not been removed from the bill.
Monday’s protest is to “stand in solidarity with Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people against the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”
It is organised by the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development. See their facebook page: It is supported by the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Please sign the All Out petition against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
“The Bill extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for same-sex intercourse to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have homosexual relations,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex marriage.
"Promoting homosexuality and aiding and abetting others to commit homosexual acts will be punishable by five to seven years jail. These new crimes are likely to include membership and funding of LGBT organisations, advocacy of LGBT human rights, supportive counselling of LGBT persons and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people.
“A person in authority – gay or heterosexual - who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years behind bars.
"Astonishingly, the new legislation has an extra-territorial jurisdiction. It will also apply to Ugandan citizens or foreign residents of Uganda who commit these 'crimes' while abroad, in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda.
“See this statement by Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law:
“This bill is even more draconian than the extreme homophobic laws of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“It is part of a wide attack on civil society and is symptomatic of Uganda’s drift to authoritarianism," added Mr Tatchell.

Read this report on the tyranny of President Yoweri Museveni’s Ugandan regime:

Background briefing on the bill
Here is an analysis of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Read the latest news on the Ugandan anti-gay Bill:

In violation of Uganda’s constitution
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates Article 21 of the constitution of Uganda, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination:
21. Equality and freedom from discrimination.
(1) All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of
political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and
shall enjoy equal protection of the law.
It also breaches the equality and anti-discrimination provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Articles 2, 3 and 4), which Uganda has signed and pledged to uphold.
See here:

Further information:
Ben Simms
UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development
07908 455 228
Peter Tatchell
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
0207 403 1790
For all who live in London, then please join us if you can. Otherwise, kindly sign the petition.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Historically, male thought has overshadowed women. Here are some inspirational women from around the world, who challenged their parochial, andocentric world.

Qui Jin (November 8, 1875 - July 15, 1907) - China

Radical feminist and wonderful poet who opposed foot binding. Sadly executed during a failed uprising. She was 31.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike (17 April 1916 – 10 October 2000) - Sri Lanka

First female prime minister

Miina Sillanpää, (4th June 1866- 3rd April 1952) Finland 

Activist and Finland's first female minister.

Miina Sillanpää speaking in Parliament at the House of the Estates in 1907. Finnish Labour Archives.Source:

Rosa Luxemburg (March 1871 – 15 January 1919) - Poland

Uncompromising Marxist revolutionary...

"Bourgeois class domination is undoubtedly an historical necessity, but, so too, the rising of the working class against it. Capital is an historical necessity, but, so too, its grave digger, the socialist proletariat."

Shulamith Firestone (January 7, 1945 - August 28, 2012) - Canada 

Radical feminist

“ is essentially a much simpler phenomenon--it becomes complicated, corrupted or obstructed by an unequal balance of power.”

Emma Goldman (June 27 1869 – May 14, 1940) - Russia

Anarchist and feminist imprisoned for advocating birth control. 

 “If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.”
Kalliroi Parren (1861–1940) - Greece

Feminist writer and active advocate for female emancipation. She opened the first all female school to advance women's education.

Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907- July 13, 1954) Mexico

Artist extraordinaire.
 “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”

Urvashi Butalia (1952-) - India

Feminist, historian and co-founder of Kali, India's first feminist publishing house.

 "What does a feminist biography look like? What does a feminist memoir look like?"

Angela Davis (1944-) - United States

Activist and writer


"Revolution is a serious thing, the most serious thing about a revolutionary's life. When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime."

Maria  Roda Italy -1899

From the age of 14, Maria was a dedicated anarchist and champion for feminist issues.

Ama Ata Aidoo (1940-) - Ghana

Writer and academic. Her writing defies stereotypical representations of women.


 “But what she also came to know was that someone somewhere would always see in any kind of difference, an excuse to be mean.”


Nawa El Saadawi (1931-) - Egypt

Psychiatrist, feminist and writer

"They said, 'You are a savage and dangerous woman.'
                         I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous."

Lidia Gueiler Tejada (August 28, 1921 – May 9, 2011) - Bolivia

First female president of Bolivia, feminist and radical revolutionary.



Angela King (28 August 1938 – 5 February 2007) - Jamaica 

Diplomat, adviser for gender specific issues.


 “I feel that all those millions of women who are looking at us are totally vindicated, and they have something to grasp to assist them for their battles for equality”

Aung San Suu Kyi (1945-) - Burma

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has dedicated her life to securing freedom and democracy for her country Burma, using non-violent means to fight against the ruling military Junta.


"In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued."


Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) - Pakistan

Prime minister of Pakistan and first woman elected to lead a Muslim state. Sadly assassinated in a bombing in 2007.


  "Now, when people are dying, you don't really look at who's offering the help. You take it. The first issue should be to help the people."

Germaine Greer (1939-) - Australia

Academic writer 


“Sadness is the matrix from which wit and irony spring; sadness is uncomfortable and creative, which is why consumer society cannot tolerate it.”

Charlotte Wilson (6 May 1854 – 28 April 1944) - England

Feminist  and anarchist

Lucía Sánchez Saornil, (December 13, 1895 – June 2, 1970)  Spain

  Poet, anarcho feminist, explorer of lesbian themes.

'You sneer at woman as a determinative factor in society, assigning her the status of a passive factor. You sneer at the direct contribution of an intelligent woman, in favour of her perhaps inept male offspring. I say again: we must call things by their proper names. That women are women before all else; only if they are women will you have the mothers you need.
'Extract from,

Title: The Question of Feminism
Author(s) Lucia Sanchez Saornil: 
Date: 1935


Nathalie Lemel (26 August 1827 - 1921 France

Anarchist, feminist and active participant during  the Paris commune.
Sugako Kanno (1881–1911) Japan
 Radical anarchist, feminist  and prolific writer

From her traumatic experience of being raped as teenager, Sugako challenged cultural attitudes towards women's roles in Japan . The only female in Japan to be hanged for treason.