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I’m in Slow Club

Hannah Longmuir is an artist & maker living in the  Scottish Borders.  She blogs regularly for Cameo Curio.

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After Frances’s excellent post about her New Year’s Resolution to take the 2012 bull by the horns, I’ve been having a think.

I’m fully into making things happen, and many of my goals for this year involve moulding my own future – like working on making my business plan robust.  This year I want to take things up a notch, work hard for success, never take ‘no’ for an answer.

But yet, I’m subscribed to a Slow Club.

This doesn’t necessarily mean doing things slowly, or getting less done in a day.

It means that I’m subscribed to a way of living which embraces reflection and togetherness, which treasures the slow, and which is mindful of detail.  I’m subscribed to a way of living which aims to make quality connections.  I hope for my business ethos, my art work, my crafting and my relationships to reflect this commitment

Often the Slow Movement – whether slow food, slow art, slow money, slow cities – is a reaction against, & an intentional separating from, fast paced society.  I’m not really into that.  I don’t see being in Slow Club as negative lens for viewing society.

Saying that, I think that taking time to notice, valuing the inherent history in a re-usable item, and enjoying things that unfold slowly over time, can be a powerful vehicle for change and a strong political comment.  I also think it might be a way for me to be a woman in business making my own way through.

I think my 2012 is going to be about noticing.

About watching things emerge.

About being open to surprises and opportunities.

And I think I might be amazed by the things that happen.

Some interesting people to look up who are connected with the slow movement or who’ve written interesting things about living slow: John O’Donohue, Tim Slowinksi, Michael Kimmelman.


Friday Catch-up

Right-wing Feminism

Feminism for Tories explains why ‘right wing feminism’ might be the ‘phrase du jour’ but certainly isn’t a new thing. I’m particularly interested in the comments about not treating women as an undifferentiated interest group, and how this plays out in their thoughts on childcare.

 I may not personally agree with their political commitments, or their feelings about a feminism that is about individuals and not groups, but I’m very glad that there’s dialogue around this stuff and that feminism isn’t just about having one kind of political commitment. 

Susie Orbach on slimming clubs

Parliamentary inquiry on body image this week saw both a protest outside the House of Commons (Riots not Diets), and evidence from Susie Orbach, author of Fat is a Feminist Issue.  In this article, Orbach is quoted as saying that she believes slimming clubs lock their members into lifelong ‘straitjackets’ of unrealistic expectations about weight loss, and that our society is creating a generation ‘polluted with anxiety’ about their weight.  She also had a go at the £15 million pound weight watchers advert.

On a similar note, our household has been discussing Weight Watchers recent change of language in their adverts – you are now encouraged to ‘play’ Weight Watchers.  Pretty clever to make something sound more light hearted and fun and less like work; but then again I’m concerned about the implications of weight and body image being a game.  Anyone have any thoughts on this language choice? 

Do men or women have it harder in the writing business?

Author Jennifer Weiner wrote a blog post about her feelings the New York Times does a poor job of covering female writers, prompting Teddy Wayne to get grumpy about how it is men who have a harder time as authors. Seemingly his argument revolves around the fact that women are more inclined to read. My favourite take down of the whole thing is from John Scalzi. 

Fashion Blogging and Reality

DeeDee over at Decoding Dress asks whether fahion blogs are becoming increasingly detached from reality, which in turn begs the question of why you may (or may not) read fashion blogs: for the reality or the unreality?

Ethical Fashion

Franca of Oranges and Apples has a really helpful post (well, essay by her own confession!) about figuring out ethical fashion and how there isn’t just one way to do be ethical in your approach to clothes.

Can a man be a feminist?

In the New Statesman, Nicky Woolf covers the topic of whether men can be feminists, largely arguing that feminist acts by men are in fact patronising and patriarchal.

Have a great weekend everyone!

I spy, with my critical eye, something beginning with Fail…

Today’s post comes from Nik, who is a community   musician, church tour-guide and active listener, and  gets confused about the combination over at anyanswersquestioned.blogspot.com

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The prompt for me to watch the first episode of the new series of Sherlock was seeing a proliferation of blog posts about it’s rewriting of the end of the episode. I managed to avoid reading any of the posts before seeing the episode, so all I noticed at the time (not having read the original) was that the ending was a bit pants, and the lead female character, who had been brilliantly written for throughout, wound up looking pretty pathetic. Which was a shame.

A friend of mine who enjoys Harry Potter (and who also gave the most rousing and convincing defence of the Twilight series I’ve ever heard, for which they get kudos) told me that they are really disappointed, not only by the fact that outing Dumbledore post-publication appears to imply that non-heterosexual relationships are somehow more “adult” than heterosexual ones, but also by the fact that Ginny Weasley’s sole raison d’etre is to marry Harry. Which, in spite of rhyming, is not cool.

Another friend (yes I have more than one) has expressed disappointment in discovering recently that a couple of their favourite authors (namely Lois McMaster Bujold and Jared Diamond) are in their own special ways more than a teensy bit racist. Damn.

I really enjoy Steven Moffat’s writing. I really like his dialogue, his pacing, most of his characters. I love what he’s done with Doctor Who, and I’m willing to sit through a certain amount of potentially dangerous over-simplification / benevolent sexism to enjoy it. I’m also willing to ignore a certain amount of homophobia from the lead characters in Sherlock because I think their relationship is well-written enough to overcome it (Korea disagrees). But is it enough simply to be aware of these problems? Given that I have very little way of addressing them (apart from getting whiney on The Internet), by continuing to enjoy and consume this material I am tacitly endorsing it, and every time I recommend it to a friend I’m potentially propagating it. Should I be giving a list of caveats every time I tell someone about something I like? Because given what a fan of Lord of the Rings I am that could seriously impact on my free time. (There’s a deeper argument I quite like here, which sheds some interesting light on a discussion I had a while ago about the rape scene in the Watchmen film.)

In some ways I feel that it’s a mark of quality – the fewer caveats I need on something the better it is. I’m currently avidly consuming Avatar: The Last Airbender (a children’s cartoon made for the American mainstream market) because it is remarkably progressive regarding gender, race, ability and so on. The number of caveats required in the first series is roughly one half (it also has a 10-tonne, six-legged, flying bison in it, which may explain much of the rest of its appeal). While that’s all very well in contemporary media, it doesn’t work for much else. Wagner was anti-semitic but still wrote great music (well, arguably great anyway). Gandhi beat his wife, but surely that doesn’t invalidate his approach to protest? And obviously we can’t discount Stephen Hawking’s contribution to physics because, according to the BBC, he spends most of the day thinking about women, who remain “a complete mystery” apparently (poor dear).

Maybe it’s about lowering expectations. Nobody’s perfect, and even friends’ opinions are bound to disappoint at some point. I guess for the moment I’ll just keep playing “spot the fail” and then getting whiney on The Internet.