Last Week on Ujima – Crime, Cricket, Umbrellas & Protest

With profuse apologies for the day, here are the Listen Again links for last week’s show.

We started off with my friend Lucienne Boyce talking about her latest historical novel, Butcher’s Block. This is a new Dan Foster mystery novel, Dan being a Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist. We got onto the subject of bodysnatchers, and thence onto the horrors of 18th century medicine. Inevitably, when Lucienne and I get together, we start talking about suffragettes as well. Not in the 18th century, of course, but next year is the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some British women the vote.

Next up was my report on the Kia Super League Finals Day, including interviews with Raf Nicholson of The Cricketer, and Stafanie Taylor, hero of the hour and captain of the West Indies women’s team.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

The second hour began with a pre-recorded, trans-Atlantic interview with Nancy 3 Hoffman, owner and curator of the world’s only umbrella cover museum. Nancy is packing the museum into suitcases and bringing on it’s holidays to Bristol for a couple of weeks.

Finally I welcomed Amirah and Cat from the Bristol People’s Assembly into the studio. They told me all about the big anti-austerity demonstration that was to take place in Bristol at the weekend. I see from the news reports that it drew some pretty big crowds. It is also the first time I can recall the mayor of a city calling a demonstration against his own policies. Marvin says he has no choice but to make cuts because of reductions in the money he gets from central government, and he wanted people in Westminster to know how angry the people of Bristol are about it all.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for the show was:

  • Thin Lizzy – Fight or Fall
  • Sade – Is it a Crime
  • Eurythmics – Sisters are Doing It for Themselves
  • Queen – We Are the Champions
  • DJ Bravo – Champion
  • Billy Holiday – Stormy Weather
  • Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
  • UB40 – One in Ten
  • Bob Marley – Get Up, Stand Up

Today on Ujima – Worldcon Interviews

With so much of this year’s Worldcon centering on black women writers, and in particular Caribbean women, I was able to devote an entire show to interviews done in Helsinki. Ben the Engineer and I had a nice, quiet day, which is just as well as Ujima is in the process of moving offices within The Station and I didn’t want to be bringing in guests.

First up on the show was Stephanie Saulter who set the scene by talking about the current prominence of Caribbean writers. We also reflected on her (R)Evolution series and how the young Finns at Worldcon looked like they were cosplaying characters from the books thanks to their brightly dyed hair.

The second interview was with Karen Lord who talked about being Toastmistress and putting the world into the Hugos. We also discussed her forthcoming role as a writer on Season Three of Tremontaine, and her new book deal.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Hour two opens with me talking to Tempest Bradford about AfroRetroFuturism, issues of race in the SF&F community, black people in Roman Britain, and the significance of N.K. Jemisin’s second Hugo win. We also mentioned the Writing the Other course, of which there happens to be one coming up soon.

Finally I headed out to Helsinki’s only Jamaican cafe to interview Nalo Hopkinson over a very nice “lion juice” smoothie. We discussed Nalo’s job as a creative writing teacher at U.C. Riverside, the novels that she is working on, and what she’s seeing coming from younger Caribbean writers. Nalo also talked about her medical struggles with anemia and fibromyalgia.

You can listen to hour two of the show here.

The playlist for today was all SF&F themed songs by black musicians.

  • Prince – Art Official Cage
  • Parliament – Mothership Connection
  • Jimi Hendrix – All along the Watchtower
  • Michael Jackson – Thriller
  • Clipping – True Believer
  • Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic
  • Jamiroquai – Space Cowboy
  • Sun Ra – Space Jazz Reverie

I was pleased to get a Clipping track in. Most of the songs on Splendor and Misery have too many swears in them to be playable on the radio.

The show will be available at the Listen Again links above for a week or two. Once it has vanished I’ll start putting the interviews up on Salon Futura.

Ujima Tomorrow – Worldcon Special

I’m back in the studio at Ujima tomorrow. Obviously I haven’t had much time to find guests while I have been in Finland, but I have been collecting material all the same. This year’s Worldcon was the first with any headline guests from the Caribbean, and of course was notable for N.K. Jemisin’s second successive Hugo in the Novel category. To mark this I will be running interviews with Stephanie Saulter, Karen Lord, Tempest Bradford and Nalo Hopkinson. The music will all have a science fiction and fantasy theme. You can listen live via our website from Noon to 14:00 tomorrow, or catch the show via the Listen Again feature for the next week or so.

Radio Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning my colleague, Berkeley Wilde, and I will be on BBC Radio Bristol with Dr. Phil Hammond. We’ll be talking fairly generally about the work that The Diversity Trust does, and more specifically about LGBT+ things that are in the news. I expect to get asked about Trump’s attempted ban on trans people serving in the military, and about a recent vicious attack on a homeless trans woman in Bristol.

The show begins at 9:00am and I’m expecting to be on at around 9:45. You can listen online, and the show should be available through the Listen Again service for several days after broadcast.

Today on Ujima: Bookshops, Podcasts, Art for Health & Drag Queens

Despite the fact that England Women were playing South Africa in Bristol (of which more later) and it was a beautiful sunny day, I took myself off to the Ujima studios to do a show. I love you folks that much.

First up was my good friend Alistair Sims who runs Books on the Hill in Clevedon. We talked about bookselling, tea, and some of his personal projects. If you want to buy some of their specialty tea (which I highly recommend), you can do so here.

My second guest was Gwyneth Rees whom I met at the Sound Women event last week. She’s been getting into podcasting, and we talked about that. You can find her Woman of the Week podcast on iTunes. I suspect that you’ll be hearing more from Gwyneth in the near future.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

In the second hour I began with Joy Johnson who is an art therapist. I had no idea anything like this existed, but apparently it is quite common. Joy doesn’t have her own website, but this is the Art & Heath South-West site that I mentioned during the interview.

Finally I was delighted to welcome Donna La Mode who is part of the Drag Queen Story Time project. Donna and her friends will be at Bristol Pride on Saturday telling more stories. If you can’t make it there, the crowdfunding appear that we mention on the show is here. Every little helps.

You can listen to the second half of the show here.

The music for today’s show has a very summery theme.

  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry
  • Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters
  • Sun Is Shining – Bob Marley
  • Long Hot Summer – Dizzy Gillespie
  • Summertime – Sam & Dave
  • Farewell My Summer Love – Michael Jackson
  • Summer Night City – Abba
  • Hot Stuff – Donna Summer

Pride on the Radio

Today on BBC Radio Bristol John Darvall has been discussing whether or not we still need Pride. Many of my friends were on, including Daryn Carter of Bristol Pride. I was on too. I may have had a bit of a rant about the DUP getting into government.

John and I had a discussion about Theresa May’s voting record without having the info to hand. I have since looked it up. She is actually in favor of gays and lesbians getting married, but she’s against allowing them to adopt. She also avoided voting on allowing LGBT issues to be discussed in schools, and on both the Gender Recognition Act and Equality Act. Details here.

One thing that I didn’t get a chance to address was the idiot who phoned in to say that if being trans wasn’t an illness then why is it treated on the NHS. Well firstly many trans people don’t want or need any medical treatment. And for those that do, that treatment is to help them transition, not to stop them being trans. The treatment is very successful with the vast majority of trans people being happier as a result. Saying that trans is an illness because trans people get NHS treatment is rather like saying that if having lungs wasn’t an illness why does the NHS treat pneumonia.

The broadcast will be available through the BBC’s Listen Again service once the show has finished. I’m on just before the end of the first hour.

Today on Ujima – Dinosaurs, Afrofuturism, Psychology & Feminism

It was radio day again today. I think I had a great bunch of guests on Women’s Outlook. Hopefully you do too.

We began with DB Redfern from the Bristol Museums Service telling us all about the fabulous new dinosaur exhibit they have open this summer. Actually it is not strictly a dinosaur thing, because the star attraction, Doris the Pliosaurus, was a sea dweller. She might have eaten dinosaurs, though. Anyway, she was a magnificent monster: as long as a bus with teeth the size of bananas. Doris would have eaten great white sharks as snacks. DB and I had a great discussion, covering important topics such as dinosaur poop and whether Nessie exists. Kids of all ages will love this one.

After the news I was joined by Zahra Ash-Harper and Edson Burton to discuss the Afrofuturism event, Afrometropolis, that I attended a couple of weeks ago. We had a great chat about what Aforfuturism, and an African-centered future, might mean. I got in a plug for Worldcon 75, Nalo and Karen. I do hope we get more events like this in Bristol.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

For the second hour I was joined my a new friend, Clare Mehta, who is a psychology professor from Boston. She’s doing some really interesting work on human ideas of gender and how they are affected by social settings. This all harks back to some of the things that Cordelia Fine was talking about in Testosterone Rex. Fascinatingly, your social environment, and the sort of things that you are doing, can affect your hormone levels. And yes, women do have testosterone in their bodies, and men have estrogen.

Also in that segment I had a pre-recorded interview with Nimco Ali that I did when she was in town doing a talk on the campaign to end Female Genital Mutilation. One of the things she talks about in the interview is having to leave Bristol because she was getting death threats. Ironically today on Twitter she was talking about getting death threats for standing as a Women’s Equality Party candidate. Hopefully once the election is over I can catch up with her again and talk about her experiences as a candidate.

To go with the interview I played the wonderful song, “My Clitoris”, produced by a local charity. I had to check the OfCom regulations carefully for that, but apparently it is perfectly OK to say “vagina” and “clitoris” on the radio. Thank goodness for that, because if we can’t talk openly about this stuff then we are never going to put an end to FGM.

My final guests were Byrony and Liza from See It From Her, a wonderful new group that exists to promote women and non-binary people in the media. They are putting on a one-day event called Borderless on Sunday, and it is sort of a Women’s Outlook co-production because both Yaz and I are on the programme chairing panels. Yaz is doing the one on racism, and I’m doing the one on identity. It is a free event, but you do need to book via Eventbrite so that they can keep an eye on the numbers. Even if you are not interested in what Yaz and I are doing, do come anyway because food is being provided by Kalpna’s Woolf’s amazing 91 Ways project. There’s lots of other stuff too. The full programme is on the Eventbrite page.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Whitney Houston – Love will save the day
  • George Clinton – Walk the Dinosaur
  • Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic
  • Sun Ra – Blues at Midnight
  • Integrate – My Clitoris
  • Michael Jackson – Human Nature
  • Meet Your Feet – World Party
  • O Jays – Love Train

And because the video is so good (and we had to cut the song a little short) here is the You Tube version of “My Clitoris”.

Gendered Voices – Day 1

With apologies for the delay, here’s a look back on some of the things that I heard about during the Gendered Voices conference last week. This post is about the first day’s papers. I’ll do one for the second day later.

The first session was all about stereotypes, and began with Sauleha talking about Muslim women in Frankenstein. I had entirely forgotten about this. There is a character in Mary Shelly’s book called Safie who is initially presented as a veiled, cowed Eastern woman, but who throws off her patriarchal shackles and becomes a character with a fair amount of agency and something of a happy ending. It is revealed that her mother was a Good Christian woman who was kidnapped by a Vile Oriental, and intimated that her ability to escape her situation is only because of her Christian blood.

One the one hand, headdesk, Mary, what were you thinking? On the other there are apparently signs of progressive thinking. One of the dafter things that 18th Century Britons believed is the idea that in Islamic theology women have no souls. Goodness only knows where they got this idea from. Apparently Mum (Mary Wollstonecraft) had swallowed this one whole, but Mary Jr. wasn’t so sure. She was, after all, writing about an artificial being, the Monster, whose claim to having a soul was far more dodgy than Safie’s.

Gender and theology and science fiction: I could not have asked for a more interesting start to the day.

Paper two from Leonie was about Vita Sackville-West and the book review program that she had on BBC radio, complete with actual audio from one of the shows. My goodness, that woman had a cut-glass accent. I can quite see where the idea of the Sackville-Bagginses came from. On the other hand, I ended up quite liking her. Vita shared her reviewing duties with a male colleague (whose name I have shamefully forgotten), each doing a show every other week. She listed the books she was going to cover in the Radio Times in advance, and encouraged readers to write in with their own views. She also managed close to a 50:50 gender split on authors. He just turned up for his shows and talked at his audience.

Finally in that session, Sam told us all about her research into gendered attitudes towards pain relief. I am going to be one of her test subjects in early June. Work like this is badly needed because there is very little understanding of how the various aspects of health care are different for women.

On then to session two which was all about religion, kicking off with our first male presenter, Alun, who was talking about the Song of Songs. This is a particularly intriguing part of the Old Testament, because it is basically about sex. Alun is interested in it because of the possibilities for sex-positive theology, which some parts of Christianity could badly do with. I’m interested in the possible origin of these verses.

Other parts of the Old Testament, specifically the tale of Jezebel, suggest that some people in ancient Israel worshiped other gods, including Baal and Asherah, who are of Mesopotamian origin. In Mesopotamia kings have a tendency to legitimize themselves by describing themselves as the Beloved of Ishtar (or some other version of the goddess). It is possible that the Song of Songs was originally a religious rite in which the goddess, in the form of the High Priestess, confirms the king’s right to rule because of his sexual appeal to her and the Daughters of Israel.

Next up was Jade who was talking about female divinity in Catholicism. Specifically she was discussing the figure of Lady Poverty, who features in stories about Saint Francis. She is depicted as someone at least as old as Adam and Eve, and therefore a semi-divine figure of sorts. Of course this being Catholicism her femaleness has to be controlled by marrying her to Francis. Personally I am deeply suspicious of the idea of a man marrying a personification of poverty; it has way too many sexist jokes about it. Interesting paper nonetheless.

Our final religious paper was Chiara who is studying the works of the experimental novelist, Kathy Acker. Acker has a complicated relationship with just about everything, and religion is no exception. Chiara was looking specifically at Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula and My Mother: Demonology, both of which have strong religious elements. Personally I want to read Pussy, King of the Pirates because, well I think that should be obvious.

After lunch we began with a session on fertility. One speaker had to cancel so we were down to two papers, starting with Claire on the subject of pregnancy and childbirth in mediaeval letter. She focused on the famous Paston letters from Norfolk, and in particular the matriarch, Margaret Paston. It is lovely to see sane discussion of pregnancy between a mediaeval husband and wife, though I suspect that the idea that all men through history have been uninterested in “women’s issues” is yet another of those 19th Century lies. If anyone knows why the Paston women were obsessed with eating (presumably very expensive) dates while pregnant, Claire would probably love to talk.

Maria told us all about a fascinating French novel, Constance et la Cinquantaine (Constance in Her Fifties), which is all about a group of feminist friends who panic when going through menopause because their men are deserting them for younger women. Apparently the only thing that results in a happy ending is becoming a lesbian.

The final session was on various expressions of gender. It began with Di explaining the complex history of the image of Medusa from a scary, quite masculine version in Bronze Age Greece to a much more feminine version in later times. The Romans, bless them, used both. I’m particularly fascinated by the image on the pediment of the temple in Bath, which shows the snake hair on the head of a male Celt.

James entertained us with images of gendered behavior from Sparta, which is a fascinating place (and which got very bad press from the Athenians). He didn’t specifically mention non-binary gendered presentation, but we chatted a bit and I do have a few clues to follow up. He did mention the possibility that songs written to be sung by a girl’s chorus celebrated same-sex attraction between women.

The last paper of the day was from Lucy, a fellow fan of Romosexuality, who introduced us to an amazing mosaic from a villa in Spain. On the one hand it is a stunningly beautiful piece of art. On the other it is obvious that it depicts only people (female and male) whom Zeus is said to have raped, and is intended to imply that the man of the house is just as powerful and rapey as old Thunderbolts himself.

That’s it for day one. More later. And if you think the owner of that Roman villa reminds you of Trump, just wait for the next Roman paper.

Yesterday on Ujima – Cricket, Music, Blood & Activism

I was in the Ujima studio again yesterday to do another Women’s Outlook show. Here’s what went down.

My first guest was Lisa Pagett who is Head of Women’s Cricket for Gloucestershire County Cricket Club and also General Manager of the Western Storm, out local women’s T20 franchise. Lisa was there mainly to preview the Women’s World Cup, which will see 15 matches in the South West, split between Bristol and Taunton. Bristol has the England-Australia and England-West Indies games, both of which I intend to be at. (Tickets are only £10, available here.) We also looked forward to the Storm’s campaign in this year’s Kia Super League, and talked more generally about getting women and girls involved in cricket.

Next up I had some live music in the studio. I was joined by saxophonist Sabrina De Mitri and guitarist Paul John Bailey who have a gig coming up supporting Jon Gomme at the Hall soon to be Formerly Known as Colston. They played live for me in the studio. Huge thanks to Ben, my engineer, for keeping on top of the tech for that.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

The second hour began with Shai from No More Taboo, the menstrual health charity. We talked a bit about some of the issues surrounding period poverty in Bristol, and what No More Taboo is doing to tackle them. We also discussed what we would like to see prospective MPs commit to so we can get some action on this in Parliament. When I first talked to Chloe Tingle when she set up No More Taboo girls unable to go to school because they can’t afford sanitary products was problem in poor countries elsewhere in the world. That it has become an issue in the UK is evidence of just how badly the austerity policies of the current government have impacted British women.

My final guests were Deborah from Co-Resist and Joe from Solar Nest. Co-Resist is an organisation that does activism through art and public engagement, while Solar Nest is a start-up business based at the University of the West of England that aims to build more sustainable and affordable housing. Deborah is managing a public engagement event for the students so that they can get feedback from the people of Bristol as to what they want from such an initiative. She also has some other projects we talk about.

Obviously I’m interested in Solar Nest from an energy and environment standpoint, but the most significant part of this interview was when Joe commented that students today have no hope of ever being able to afford their own home, especially in somewhere like Bristol.

Oh, and Deborah assures us all that clowns are not scary, not one little bit, promise.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for the show (excluding the songs that Sabrina and Paul played live) was as follows:

  • Boney M – Dreadlock Holiday
  • David Rudder – Rally Round the West Indies
  • Lianne la Havas – Tokyo
  • Parliament – Children of Productions
  • Pretenders – Sense of Purpose
  • Parliament – Mothership Connection

If you are wondering about the predominance of Parliament, it is because George Clinton & co. are playing Bristol on Monday and I can’t go because I have a previous engagement to host BristolCon Fringe starring the fabulous Clarke Award finalist, Emma Newman.

Yesterday on Ujima – Gareth, Fitness, Trans Theater & Stopping Violence

It was a very full show as always on Women’s Outlook yesterday. I started out talking to local author, Gareth L. Powell, about his latest book, a short story collection called Entropic Angel (after a story originally published by me in Dark Spires). We also talked about the differences between writing short fiction and novels, the forthcoming Eastercon, and Gareth’s forthcoming space opera series.

The second slot featured Phoenix Liberty Rain, who is a fitness trainer. April is Health and Wellbeing month on Ujima, so I’m doing my bit despite being one of the most unfit people you could hope to meet. Thankfully Phoenix is very unlike your average fitness trainer. She works entirely online (and has been doing that for 9 years, so it is clearly a viable business). She doesn’t insist on diets, and she doesn’t make you go running in the rain before dawn. She does, however, recommend weight training for women. And she thinks that the main benefit of her courses is the self-confidence they give people. She’s my sort of fitness trainer. And given that she works online, you can sign up for a course from anywhere. This is her website.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Hour 2 began with Alice Nicholas and Maddie Coward of Creative Youth Network talking about a play called Eclipse that they are staging in the same building as our studios later in the month. The play is about a young trans boy, and it sounds like Alice and her team have done a great job on the story. I’m hoping to get to see this one.

Finally I welcomed Nazand Begikhani and Gill Hague of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at Bristol University. They were going to be launching a book last night at Watestones, and they talked to be about their work around the world, and specifically in Iraqi Kurdistan, to combat violence against women and girls.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The playlist for yesterday’s show was as follows:

  • Cameo – Word Up
  • Savage Rose – Lonely Heart
  • Beyonce – Get Me Bodied
  • Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right
  • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tears of a Clown
  • Amanda Lear – I Am What I Am
  • Tracy Chapman – Behind the Wall
  • Donna Summer & Barbara Streisand – No More Tears

Next week marks the debut of our new team member, Zakiya. She’s also heavily involved in Ujima’s environmental initiative, Green & Black. I’m looking forward to hearing what she does. Yaz will be back with more social campaign news at the end of the month.

An Evening at the BBC

I spent yesterday evening in the staff club at BBC Bristol. That’s because it was the venue for a meeting of our local Sound Women group for women who work in the media. The group is run by my colleague, Miranda, who has regular Friday afternoon show on Ujima as well as occasional gigs in the big leagues. (Miranda used to be a very high profile DJ, but she took time out to raise a child and, well, you know how that goes.)

We had two speakers for the evening. The first was Kalpna Woolf, who had a 25 year career in the BBC, rising from temp to head of production. More recently she has reinvented herself as a cookery writer, and runs an amazing charity called 91 Ways which celebrates the multicultural community of Bristol through food.

The second speaker was top-selling author, Amanda Prowse. Contemporary family dramas are not usually my sort of thing, but a writer is a writer and it was clear just listening to Amanda that she knows how to tell a story and is likely to have a lot of humor in her tales. She’s done extremely well for herself, and clearly has a lot of natural talent. There aren’t many people who can just sit down in front of a computer and just pour out a novel. She’s also got a major commitment to tackling important issues such as infertility, racism, and eating disorders; and makes sure she researches each topic well before starting to write.

It was an excellent evening, and it is great to get to hang out with other women in the media. I’ve already got one potential guest for my show from it.

Yesterday on Ujima – Revolution!

Yesterday’s show was a bit impromptu as I wasn’t expecting to be doing it. This meant a lot of music and no guests, but Ben and I got through it just fine.

There was a little bit of content. If you are interested in following the occupation of Cheltenham Road Library by the Bristol branch of Sisters Uncut, you can do so via their Facebook page. And the full text of Gabby Bellot’s article about Derek Walcott can be found on LitHub.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here, and the second hour here.

I took in rather more music than I needed just in case. Aside from the Chuck Berry tribute, it was all part of the revolution theme for March. This is what I ended up playing.

  • Chuck Berry – Maybeline
  • Chuck Berry – Roll over Beethoven
  • Chuck Berry – Memphis, Tennessee
  • Chuck Berry – School Day
  • Chuck Berry – Rock ‘n’ Roll Music
  • Chuck Berry – Johnny B Goode
  • Thunderclap Newman – Something in the Air
  • James Brown – I’m Black and I’m Proud
  • Prince & The Revolution- Let’s Go Crazy
  • Otis Redding – Change is Gonna Come
  • David Bowie – Rebel, Rebel
  • Against Me! – True Trans Soul Rebel
  • Peter Gabriel – Biko
  • Tom Robinson Band – Up Against the Wall
  • The Clash – Revolution Rock
  • Gil Scott Heron – Revolution will not be televised
  • Chi-Lites – Power to the people
  • 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?
  • Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain

Yaz will be in the studio next week, and she has some people from Sisters Uncut lined up as guests.

Yesterday on Ujima – Radio Comedy, Allyship & Conferences

Yesterday’s show on Ujima seemed to go OK, despite much of it being thrown together at the last minute as a couple of people I’d wanted were not available. We did have some technical issues at the start, but Ben was able to sort that out and I think we were OK for most of the show.

First up was Olly Rose talking about their fabulous science fiction radio play series, Ray Gunn and Starburst. Season 2 should be dropping very soon now. If you haven’t listed to Season 1 yet, you can do so for free here.

At 12:30 I welcomed Camille Barton, whom I have been fortunate to be on programme with a couple of times recently. She was talking about her Collective Liberation Project, which is a really interesting attempt to do intersectionality in practice.

Along the way I got to plug tomorrow’s event at Ground & Burst where I will be talking about gender identity around the world, and Monday’s BristolCon Fringe event which will feature Paul Cornell and Steph Minns. And I gave a shout-out to the amazing Sound Industry conference that will be happening in Bristol at the end of the month.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Regular guest Charlotte Gage of Bristol Women’s Voice and Bristol Zero Tolerance joined me at 13:00 to discuss a really interesting conference on male gender roles that is taking place on Friday of next week. I took the opportunity to mention a private member’s bill about giving people the right to ask for their taxes to be spent on peace initiatives rather than wars. The Taxes for Peace bill is sponsored by Ruth Cadbury MP, who also happens to be a good ally of the trans community. If you think your MP is likely to support it, please nag them before the 24th. Charlotte also talked about a new initiative to monitor street harassment that is going to be launching in April.

Finally on the show I welcomed Liz Andrews of WellBeans to talk about the Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace conference which is being held in City Hall on Monday 27th. Thinking back to my time as an employee, it really is about time that businesses took this sort of thing seriously.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The music for the show began with a tribute to Joni Sledge of Sister Sledge who sadly died this past weekend. After that all of the music was chosen to fit in with the Month of Revolution theme on Ujima. Here’s the playlist:

  • Sister Sledge – Thinking of You
  • Sister Sledge – Lost in Music
  • Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution
  • Chic – Rebels We Are
  • Bob Marley – Revolution
  • Pretenders – Revolution
  • T. Rex – Children of the Revolution
  • Jamiroquai – Revolution 1993

I will definitely be back in the studio on April 12th. I may end up doing April 5th as well, though I have two other things I should be doing that morning.

Real Women, Fake Feminists

I’m way too busy to spend a lot of time deconstructing the latest furore over the realness or lack thereof of trans women. However, I did want to post part of the speech I made at the Women’s Equality Party event in Bristol a week ago. Here you go:

Related to that, I want to put an end to the nonsense idea that there is a right way to be a woman. When I started gender transition back in the 1990s, if I had turned up for a psychiatric appointment dressed like this* I would have been told to go home until I had learned to wear a dress like a proper woman. Trans women have fought long and hard against that sort of stereotyping, and you should too.

Women can be engineers, they can play rugby, they can cut their hair short, and they can wear blue. Being a woman, or a girl, is not about performance, and it is absolutely not about the toys you play with as a child. Far too much nonsense is talked about this in the media. That nonsense is harmful to all children, but it is particularly harmful to transgender children, and to children who don’t want to be forced into gender stereotypes but have no desire or need for gender transition. Putting an end to gender stereotyping is, I hope, a cause that we can all agree upon.

Sadly all too many female British media pundits are all too fond of defining what a “real woman” is. And it is not just the likes of me that they go after. One of the main reasons that I don’t listen to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 is that whenever I have had to tune in (usually because they have been talking nonsense about science fiction and why it isn’t for women) they have had features intended to shame women in some way. Just like the women’s sections of mainstream newspapers, they are overly fond of telling women that everything they are doing is wrong, particularly mothering which it seems almost impossible to get right. If you took these people seriously you’d end up with the opinion that everything bad in the world is somehow the fault of bad mothers.

So I find it particularly galling to have a Woman’s Hour presenter wag her elegantly manicured finger at me and tell me that I know nothing about feminism. I might not be an expert, but I’m damn sure that feminism involves more than looking down your nose at other women and telling them that they are doing woman wrong.

* I was wearing trousers (by Monsoon), a t-shirt and a jacket (by Ann Taylor). According to ancient Greek historians trousers were invented by the Amazons so that they could ride horses more easily. Real men, the Greeks insisted, wore short skirts; with no underwear.

Yesterday on Ujima – International Women’s Day

Yes, I know, International Women’s Day is actually on March 8th. However, Bristol Women’s Voice has a big event planned at M-Shed over this coming weekend, and I wanted to preview that. Here’s a look at yesterday’s show.

First up I was delighted to welcome Rina Vergano who, together with her colleague, Jane Flood, will be putting on a performance entitled Hags, Harpies and Harridans. Naturally we talked about witches, crones, social attitudes towards older women and so on. I wish I could be there to see Rina and Jane in action, but of course I’ll be in Liverpool talking about Romans.

We had a quick leap both forward and backward in time for the next segment. On IWD itself Bristol Museum will be hosting an event called Intrepid Women Travellers. My friend Jean Burnett, who is an expert on the lives of Victorian women adventurers, will be speaking about Maria Caroline Bolitho, who crossed the Himalayas on horseback. Jean came in to tell me about Bolitho, and to discuss so of the other women whose lives form part of the event. For your entry fee you will also get a private tour of the Adela Breton exhibition (now moved from Bath), which I highly recommend. Sadly I’ll be at a Reclaim the Night march in Bath that evening.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

For the second hour I was joined by Sian and Gabby from Bristol Women’s Voice. We discussed many of the other events that will be happening at M-Shed on Saturday. One of those is a workshop on self-confidence hosted by a new friend of mine, Angie Belcher. She’s a stand-up comedian, and she hosted the Women’s Equality Party event I spoke at left Saturday. I can assure you that she has no lack of self-confidence.

Sian also reported on a move by the Bristol Post to switch their Women of the Year awards ceremony from the Marriott City Centre because of the hotel’s hosting of an event with Floyd Mayweather, a former boxer who has been convicted of domestic violence and appears totally unrepentant. BWV has been campaigning against the Mayweather event, and I’m pleased to see them getting support.

This reminds me that someone in Brighton has decided to invite Germaine Greer to speak at an IWD event. Naturally there is a campaign against this too. Fox Fisher has a petition. You can sign it here.

Finally on the show I was delighted to welcome Jen Grove who, together with Jana Funke, has done superb work in organising LGBT History Month events in Exeter. Jen and Jana are part of an all-woman take-over of Phonic FM, one of Exeter’s community radio stations, on IWD. Jen was actually at Ujima so she could record an interview with me in one of our studios for this. I got my own back by dragging her onto my show.

One of the things we talked about was PHSE lessons, which are of course of interest to LGBT historians. Fortuitously yesterday happened to be the very day that the Government announced that they would make PHSE “compulsory”. Quite what this means is open to question. It sounds like religious fundamentalists will still be allowed to remove their children from such lessons, and as yet there is no guarantee that LGBT+ issues will be on the curriculum. However, kids desperately need these lessons, and far too many schools are currently providing nothing at all.

Yesterday evening I was part of an event about gender put on by Medsin, a nationwide group for medical students. I was delighted to find Natalie from T.I.G.E.R. on the programme with me. T.I.G.E.R. does great work in Bristol schools teaching kids about gender and relationships. Hopefully the new regulations will allow schools to make use of organisations such as theirs.

You can listen to the second half hour of the show here.

The playlist for yesterday’s show was as follows:

  • Santana – Black Magic Woman
  • Nina Simone – I Put A Spell on You
  • Bat for Lashes – Travelling Woman
  • Janelle Monae – Sally Ride
  • Aretha Franklin – Respect
  • Amy Winehouse – Our Day Will Come
  • Linda Ronstadt – Different Drum
  • Destiny’s Child – Survivor

Next week my colleague Miranda Congdon will be taking the helm and looking back on the history of Fem FM, a feminist radio station which operated in Bristol in the 1990s. My next show will be on March 15th.

Today on Ujima – LGBT History Month

It was great to be back in the saddle again, so to speak. I have been way too busy doing training and therefore not doing radio for quite a while. But today I was back with a full show dedicated to LGBT History Month.

First up was some promotion for this event next Wednesday evening at M-Shed, which I am chairing. In studio with me were my good friend Henry Poultney from Off the Record, plus Cai, Jade and Lara who are all young people involved with the event in some way.

Next up was Karen Garvey from M-Shed, who I have also come to know very well over the years. She was mainly talking about this event on Saturday. There’s lots going on, much of it also involving people I know well. My co-chair from OutStories Bristol, Andy Foyle, will be demonstrating the wonderful history map that we built last year with help from Bristol university. Simon Nelson from the City Council will be talking about the pioneering African-American gay man, Bayard Ruskin. Performance artist, Tom Marshman, will be leading a guided tour of queerest exhibits in the museum. Lori Streich will be talking about lesbians in feminism. LGBT Poet Laureate, Trudy Howson, will be topping the bill. And to round it all off the local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will be being fabulous.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Kicking off the second hour was Daryn Carter from Bristol Pride. He is staging an event at the Watershed on Saturday the 25th. We have a lady from the Tate talking about their forthcoming Queer British Art exhibition. We have Jake Graff. We have Tom Marshman (again). We have Oscar Wilde (probably just a tribute band). And we have me covering 4,500 years of trans history in art. I may have to talk quite quickly.

Daryn and I also had a bit of a rant about the mess the Church of England has got itself into over same-sex marriage.

And finally I was joined by Lesley Mansell from North Bristol NHS Trust to talk about the public LGBTHM events she has organised at Southmead Hospital. They are both trans-focused as well. It is a refreshing change to find part of the NHS working hard on trans inclusion.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

Thanks as ever to Ben, my engineer. I’ll be back in the studio on March 1st for a show devoted to International Women’s Day.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Prince – I Would Die 4 U
  • Tegan and Sara – Faint of Heart
  • Laverne Cox – Sweet Transvestite
  • Janelle Monáe – Q.U.E.E.N.
  • Lady Gaga – Born This Way
  • The Vinyl Closet – Garbage Man
  • Cyndi Lauper – True Colors
  • Labi Siffre – It Must be Love

I played Cyndi for Caroline Paige, the RAF trans woman who gave that great talk in Exeter at the weekend. The Labi Siffre was for Kevin as a late Valentine present because I’m soppy like that.

Today on Ujima – New Year, New Presenters plus Movies and Smoothies

With Paulette having retired, we need to put things in place to ensure the continuation of the Women’s Outlook show. I can’t do it myself because I have too many work commitments. But today I was delighted to welcome to the studio three women who are interested in working on the show as presenters. They are Isadora Vibes, Kamaljit Poonia and Esme Worrell. I spent the first hour getting them to introduce themselves and talk about one of their areas of experience.

Isadora is a poet and has been on the show before. She talked about the forthcoming In Between Time Festival, which looks amazing.

Kamaljit has a long career in equality and diversity work. She has been involved in the Bristol Race Manifesto project (which parallels the work Berkeley and I have been doing on an LGBT Manifesto) and she gave an update on that project.

Esme is, among other things, a stripper. We chatted about sex work, which as you will know is a topic of great interest to trans activists because so many trans women can’t make a living any other way.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

The second hour began with a visit from Gabriela Staniszewska who is an award-winning director of short films. She’s based in Bristol and I was delighted to find out that she specializes in science fiction and horror. We got on famously.

Finally I welcomed my friend Russell Thomas who runs the Ground and Burst cafe in Bristol that majors in smoothies. Russell is trying to get people to eat more healthily by eating fruit rather than processed sugar. I was very hungry by the time I had finished talking to him.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

Here’s the playlist. Obviously there was a Bowie song on it.

  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Chaka Khan – Through the Fire
  • Mariah Carey – Don’t stop
  • David Bowie – Sound and Vision
  • Diana Ross – Theme from Mahogany
  • Janelle Monae – It’s code
  • Shalamar – I can make you feel good
  • Pointer Sisters – I’m so excited

I’m not entirely sure what will be happening for the next few weeks while folks get trained up. I have some work engagements on Wednesdays that I can’t get out of. But I will definitely be back on February 15th with an LGBT History Month show.

Today on Ujima: More Music

Yes, I know it isn’t Wednesday. This week’s Women’s Outlook show should have gone out yesterday in the usual time slot, but once again technical gremlins intervened. So instead the show was run in the 10:00-12:00 slot this morning. You can listen to the first hour here, and the second hour here.

As with last week, the show is entirely music, but it is great music. Here’s the playlist:

  • Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman
  • Afro Celt Sound System – Whirl-y-Reel 1
  • Guillemots – Sao Paulo
  • Eddy Grant – Living on the Front Line
  • Maria Muldaur – Midnight at the Oasis
  • Zoe Rahman – Shiraz
  • Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
  • Stereo MCs – Fever
  • Donna Summer & Barbara Steisand – No More Tears
  • Janelle Monáe feat. Esperanza Spalding – Dorothy Dandridge Eyes
  • John Coltrane – Blue Train
  • Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
  • Dreadzone – Tomorrow Never Comes

The Janelle Monáe song is, of course, there to encourage you all to go and see Hidden Figures when it is out in your area.

Today on Ujima: Music, Music, Music

Thanks to computers, it is no longer necessary for radio stations to have staff in over the holidays to do shows. Ujima is officially closed for the season, but it is not off-air. Many of us have pre-recorded shows to be broadcast over the holiday period, myself included.

Of course technology doesn’t always work as planned. Doubtless this is the early stages of the robot revolution. So my show didn’t pop up at noon as I was expecting. Thankfully there are a few dedicated staff able to pop in and sort things out. What appears to have happened is that my show and the following one, Steppin Raizer, got swapped around. So my show starts at 14:00 instead.

You can listen to the first hour here, and the second hour here. The content is all music. I was particularly interested in playing longer songs that I can’t use in full on a normal show. Here’s the playlist:

  • Lianne La Havas – Unstoppable
  • Big Audio Dynamite – E = MC2
  • Donna Summer – MacArthur Park
  • Daft Punk – Giorgio
  • Dreadzone – Life, Love & Unity
  • Koko Jones – Love Will Save the Day
  • Michael Jackson – Thriller
  • The Specials – Ghost Town
  • Eddy Grant – Hello Africa
  • Prince – Purple Rain
  • Sade – Jezebel
  • Janelle Monae – We Were Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Chic – Good Times

Next week’s show will also be all-music. I’ll be in Oxford.

Yesterday on Ujima – Domestic Violence

In the wake of last week’s protest at City Hall regarding provision of priority housing for women who are victims of domestic violence, I devoted most of this week’s show to the issue. For the first hour I was joined in the studio by representatives of Sisters Uncut and Bristol Women’s Voice. We also used material from last week’s parliamentary debate on the Istanbul Convention and information provided by the Women’s Equality Party. It was a really good discussion and it provoked quite a bit of audience feedback.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

In the second hour I was joined in the studio by my colleagues, Frances and Judeline, both of whom gave personal stories of their experience of domestic violence.

In the final half hour we wished happy birthday to our producer, Paulette, and also wished her well in her forthcoming retirement.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

Quite what Paulette’s retirement means for the future of the show, I am not sure. I have told the station management that I’m willing to commit to one show a month, but I can’t do more than that because I need to earn a living and I have three businesses to run. However, thanks to the magic of the internet (technology gods willing) I should have shows on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. These will just me playing some favorite pieces of music; in particular longer stuff that I can’t use on a normal, chat-based show.

It being that time of year, the playlist for yesterday was all Christmas music:

  • Greg Lake – I believe in Santa Claus
  • Jackson 5 – Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
  • Isaac Hayes – The Mistletoe and Me
  • Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby
  • Temprees – Its Christmas Time Again
  • Luther Vandross – May Christmas Bring You Happiness
  • The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping