Archive for November, 2010

I’m a free bitch, baby.

November 28, 2010

I uh, decided to embroider a stumpwork portrait of Lady Gaga.

I found an unfinished mirror frame in the V&A, it was started by Martha Eldin in the mid to late 17th Century, she did a lot of it but she hadn’t quite finished it. On the frame, was a drawing that was yet to be filled in of Hagar. I can’t find a photograph of her to show you, I’ll sort it out soon. She was standing all strong and proud, so I decided to base my Lady Gaga around her.

gaga1

Obviously, she had to have exploding tits.

gaga2

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Her weird monster shoes, and her bodice too (although that’s now mostly covered with the flag) are needlewoven. The shoes were hell, tiny weeny stitches with a tiny weeny thread.

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I made her a little microphone out of fimo and a thread wrapped wire hand to hold it in.

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That is my hair there – I cut it off in a hungover state about a year ago and kept it all this time, waiting for it to become useful. And now it has! I covered it in glue and wrapped it around thick needles to get the curls, then I couched it down.

I am way too tired to explain anymore. Le sigh! Royal School of Needlework, you wear me out.

Privilege

November 19, 2010

privilege denying dude

Right, so ‘white male privilege’ is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, as highlighted in ‘Top 10 ways to be feminist’. I’ve been thinking about it a lot; thinking about the ways I’m privileged (I am white and relatively middle class) and thinking about how I should deal with this privilege I’ve been dealt: make the most of my opportunities, work hard and work hard to help those who weren’t born as lucky as I was.

But last night I thought about it in a different light, and I realised it wasn’t so simple:

A friend was telling me about a group of people from his university who were applying for funding for a group that took robotics into schools and gave the girls a chance to ‘play’ with the robots for a while, away from the boys. He didn’t seem to approve of this; he was labelling it ‘positive discrimination’ and telling me that by offering the girls an advantage, you were taking it away from the boys. He then started talking about privilege denying, saying “but if you point that out you just become a meme and suddenly a ‘privilege denier’.”

When I get into conversations like this, I appear totally unable to process my thoughts at the time. I think I worry about getting too fired up and saying things I don’t really mean and wouldn’t mean in the cold light of day; so I decided to ignore the bit about the privilege and instead point out why I believed it was a good idea: I told him that as I had been in a mixed secondary school, and at times separated from boys, I underst oodthat it is easier to thrive, as a girl, without the seeming ‘threat’ of the boys around you. Not that I was ever particularly quiet, but boys were loud and often came across as aggressive and at that age, you’d naturally step back and let them take charge. Being in a girl only environment, such as the odd PE class (I remember one lesson we played basketball without the boys- easily my favourite lesson of PE ever.) we came out of ourselves, we found our confidence, we explored situations and we could try out being leaders. After I’d explained this, he perhaps afforded me a victory on that one – but overall he still felt that not having an alternative class for boys was a disadvantage for boys.

On the bus home I thought about the privilege denying thing some more, and now I’ve slept on it I’m ready to respond:

Denying privilege doesn’t mean you’re a total douche bag like the guy in the picture: in this instance at least, I think it’s a display of how actually he’s a nice guy. Friend views all human beings as equal, totally and properly, and has always done, so he can’t really see why any division of sexes is necessary. That is completely beautiful, but unfortunately a little naive. So yeah, we are all born equal- and that’s right, but we’re not treated equally and problems begin to develop, that need fixing.

Some of the earliest life lessons we’re taught are the most destructive:

Males are taught from the word ‘go’, that they are always right. To follow their gut instinct, to be strong, have courage in their convictions, be MANLY, GRRRRR!

Females are taught the exact opposite: question everything, look into all available options before jumping for the first thing, and doubt every single aspect of yourself. Be meek and feminine! *eyelash flutter*

And that is male privilege.

It takes a long time to shake these off, or begin to start trying to fight them. I think I was 19 before I woke up to the realisation that actually I wasn’t totally shit. And I found that realisation through feminism, through talking to lots of women, through a relative separation of the sexes.

So, to put it into a simple metaphor:

Men are thriving, confident, healthy creatures.
Women have been broken by the system.

And that is why every so often, you separate the sexes and afford one of them more of your time: because you need to mend this broken viewpoint. It is not because you are being sexist, because you believe boys shouldn’t be allowed to play with robots or because they don’t deserve the same encouragement, it is because in order to offer the same encouragement to all sexes, quite simply, more time needs to be spent ‘fixing’ the girls’ self esteem.

And now I’ve thought about this properly I can see where my white privilege comes into play: I wonder a lot why there needs to be so many ‘equalities and diversities’ things going about, when surely that’s just pointing out a difference between people? Creating an Us v Them world? No. It’s offering them the same chances in life I have been lucky enough to have, and that every human being deserves.

Equality is on the horizon, but it’s going to take a lot of steps to get us there. We can’t just switch the whole system on and off again to fix it up, we have to go bit by bit. And the first step is this, encouragement through separation and giving women, and all other ‘minorities’ some extra time to find that confidence that has been stolen from them.

Filigree Work

November 15, 2010

We’re being taught Whitework at the moment, last lesson on wednesday, sob sob sob. Jenny Adin-Christie is teaching us Whitework and she’s amazing. Super good teacher, lovely person too.

One of the lessons covered filigree work, embroidery on a surface so transparent that the thread that creates the aesthetic is the thread on the back of the work.

whitework1

You can also apply fabrics and pictures to the fabric from beneath-

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The text on the brown paper (stitched on with feather and thorn stitch) reads “Now you have touched the woman, you have struck a rock; you have dismantled a boulder; you will be crushed.”

This year is proving tricky.

Retraction

November 14, 2010

Before I go on to post anything else, I would just like to state that Vince Cable is a backstabbing worm and the piece of embroidery you see below is now viewed ironically (but no less treasured). Turns out that no Lib Dems up top* have principles.

Just for more info:
Here is what their website says about education and tuition fees:
“Liberal Democrats believe university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go to university and not be put off by the cost.” – http://www.libdems.org.uk/education.aspx
And this is what they do in power: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11677862

Yep.

*some of the ones with less power still do. yay!