Sarah est une jeune photographe professionnelle. Elle a immortalisé la première édition de Ladyfest Paris l’été dernier, et on ne la remerciera jamais assez. On pourrait parler de son talent pendant des heures ici ou vous pouvez vérifier par vous même par là.
I played the very first Ladyfest in Olympia Washington, USA in 2000 and it was the most incredible experience. Olympia is a small town, where many of the early riot girrrls lived and played. A committee of around 40 women put together an event of women musicians, poets, artists, political meetings, workshops (one I remember was called the Hip Momma workshop and as I was about to become a mum this was amazing for me). There were gigs everywhere, art everywhere, humour, creativity, bravery and passion. The town was overtaken by women of all colours, creeds, shapes and sizes and they were all beautiful. Oh my, just to remember is pure joy!!
Why do I want to play Ladyfest Paris? Paris is a beautiful city, full of history and a history of revolution. As women we want to make sure our voices are heard. They need to be heard. We are creative, we are strong, and we will not be hidden from view, from history any longer!!! And……We just had a Slut walk in London, to reiterate rape is not about what women wear, it is about how men behave. We want men to help us create a sexual culture where we all understand that NO means No. Whether you are a woman or a man, No means No..I could go on… but I’ll stop now.
See you in Paris on the 2nd and 3rd. I’ll be playing some of my songs and showing my films, about self esteem, sexual violence, love, feminism, obsession and many more. Debbie Smith from Echobelly, Curve, The Nuns is playing with me…
Those two words make my skin crawl. That is because they have usually been uttered by a stranger who says it while leering or worse. Street harassment – I’m sure every woman you know has experienced it at some point. It could be whist walking down the street, sitting on the metro, going to work or picking the kids up from school. From the lewd comments and wolf-whistles to flashing and even groping, it amounts to the same thing. It is a form of sexual harassment, something that women are forced to confront on a daily basis, something that is too often put up with because ‘it’s just the way things are’. Simply being a woman out in public makes you fair game for this kind of objectification.
Laurie Anderson confronted this with her 1973 photographic project, Fully Automated Nikon (Object/Objection/Objectivity). Angered by strangers’ sexist comments, she went out around her local New York neighbourhood armed with her Nikon camera. When a passer by muttered a crude comment she aimed her camera and photographed him, later placing white strips over his eyes like a criminal. Unsurprisingly, she built up quite a collection.
It is almost forty years since Anderson took these photos, yet unfortunately they are still just as relevant today. And that’s why Ladyfest Paris is important. Everybody has the right to walk down the street without feeling intimidated. Women are not there to be leered at. Ladyfest Paris is about empowerment and equality, it’s about raising awareness and sharing experiences. Because if nothing is done to fight this kind of abuse, nothing will ever change.
“Je répugne absolument à l’idée d’enfermer la femme dans un ghetto féminin (…) Il ne s’agit pas pour les femmes de s’affirmer comme femmes mais de devenir des êtres humains à part entière.”—Simone de Beauvoir
"WHY LADYFEST? PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME WHY I WANT TO SPEND MY LIFE IN FEMINISM."
Why Ladyfest? People always ask me why I want to spend my life in feminism. I never know what to say, because I don’t understand how I couldn’t. When two women a week are killed in England as a result of domestic violence, when women are paid 18% less than men in the UK and even less in France for doing the same jobs, when there is no way out of the sex industry for many women who are pimped out, abused- when women are a commodity at all. When breasts and the supposed expression of female orgasm is used to sell everything from shampoo to vodka and only one advert in ten on the metro features a man. When I can’t walk home at night alone without feeling vulnerable, when I question my responsibility when I am sexually assaulted. When I am told to stay home if I feel vulnerable, when I am told it is my responsibility if I am assaulted. When an 11 year old girl who is gang raped in the USA this week, in 2011, is told she is responsible, when the provocation of her clothes is addressed by the US Media when she was assaulted by over 20 men. When there is only a 6% prosecution rate for rape and everyone from our political leaders to our favourite sports stars are getting away with it.
Sometimes when men shout at me in the street, or stare at me even if I am in my pyjamas, or try and grab me on the Metro, I feel like I am asking for it. I know I am not, I am never asking for it. When someone threw me on the street and tried to assault me, I later questioned my responsibility. It was not mine. But sometimes it is hard to remember that. It is through events like Ladyfest Paris, events that bring like-minded feminists together, that we can remind eachother and everyone else of the relevance and importance of a cause that is often bastardised as simply man-hating. If only it was as easy as sitting around and bitching about our ex boyfriends. We can help eachother be stronger feminists and hope to help others who sometimes are not afforded the liberties that we are. We can listen to music, see art that celebrates women and diversity. We can talk about things that affect us on a daily basis, and others throughout the world, and we can have a good time. I don’t understand how anyone could not want to be a part of that.
“Because a woman’s work is never done.
and is underpaid, or unpaid, or boring, or repetitious,
and we’re the first to get fired,
and what we look like is more important than what we do.
And if we get raped its our fault
and if we get beaten we must have provoked it
and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches
and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos
and if we don’t we’re frigid
and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a real man
and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic or pushy
and if we expect childcare we’re selfish
and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and un-feminine
and if we don’t we’re typical weak females
and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man
and if we don’t we’re unnatural
and because we still can’t get an adequate, safe contraceptive, but men can walk on the moon
and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion
and for lots and lots of other reasons
we are part of the women’s liberation movement…”—Joyce Stevens