And the Women’s Prize winner is…

All six finalists for the Women's Prize for Fiction on stage with Kate Mosse

All six finalists for the Women’s Prize for Fiction on stage with Kate Mosse

Phoebe: A.M. Homes! Who we thought gave one of the most engaging readings of the evening at the Shortlist Readings we attending at the Southbank Centre on Wednesday.

A.M. was up on stage alongside her fellow finalists in the Women’s Prize for Fiction – Zadie Smith, Kate Atkinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Hilary Mantel and Maria Semple for a set of readings chaired by one of the founders, Kate Mosse.

The event felt a little like a cross between a girl’s school assembly and that bit in The Witches when all the witches are gathered for their annual conference in the posh hotel, just waiting to take their scratchy wigs off. But in a good way!

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GUESTPOST! Rethinking Pink

Ever since I was old enough to choose what I wore, and for several years before that, I haven’t wanted to wear pink. As a child, I preferred dressing up in my doctor’soutfitcomplete with working stethoscope (my parents must have been so hopeful for a sparkling career in medicine, sorry Mum) rather than jamming a Disney princess dress over my unruly curls and chubby limbs.

natalie-pink-dressThis obviously didn’t bode well for my teenage years, when I oscillated between gothy garb and so-tight-you-couldn’t-digest-food jeans from Miss Sixty with navy or white polo necks. As a result, now in my mid-twenties, I have a knee jerk reaction to pink things where I’m instantly reminded of the popular girls at school and the sartorially inoffensive twin-suits that my grandmother wore.Even my sister, the perennial makeup enthusiast and wearer of labels, resorted to cutting off my pink fiend of a Barbie’s hair in order to make her a bit edgy.

It’s interesting, then, considering the marmite reaction women often have to pink, that itonly began being associated with baby girls and girlishness (and blue with boyishness) shortly before WW1. That’s not even a hundred years, guys, why has pink become so associated with saccharine girlishness?

I’ve always had a niggle that pink is pushed on women, especially in situations where its associations with frivolity and aesthetic perfection can trivialise the actual issue at hand. Of course, there is some serious beef with pink being used to cutesy up rather un-cutesy subjects like cancer that I won’t go into, but the fact remains: not because of the colour, but because of the connotation, pink has not been my friend.

Jacket Zara, shoes Melissa for Vivienne Westwood, sunglasses Victoria Beckham

Jacket Zara, shoes Melissa for Vivienne Westwood, sunglasses Victoria Beckham

That said, this season has seen a whole lot of decidedly un-girly pinks cropping up. There is pink without chiffon, pink without frills, hot pinks that feel powerful rather than cute. The piece that swung me was a 60s style fuchsiadress from Zara with split sleeves, a veritable bat cape which has necessitated much Kate Bush style wavy-armed dancing around my flat. There’s also a DKNY two-toned pink and red blouse (pink and red not mixing is a myth perpetuated by pink purists, obvo) that might be taking a sizeable chomp out of my next wages.

The key to keeping pink non-nauseating is sticking to bold cuts and simple fabrics, read: no satin, no layers. Just straight up good tailoring and interesting shapes. If in doubt, size up on the top; you don’t want a tight pink shirt, unless you want to look like you’re trying to make Mean Girls-chic happen (it’s not going to happen).

Oh, and if the idea of wearing pink makes you want to sick strawberry yazoo milkshake, stick to accessories and go for the Marc by Marc Jacobs knockout pink haute mess bracelet, anything with knockout in the title cancels out any ghosts of girlishness, I promise.

Natalie Cox moonlights as a fashion blogger over at and occasionally appears in the papers  being annoyed about something. She tweets as @NatalieSCox.

GUEST POST: Feminist Porn and a Writer from New York

This is a guest post from Pamflet’s friend Hannah!

Before I was in a steady relationship I had never watched porn, I never thought to. I had read lots about sex: teen fiction, novels, women’s magazines and online, but my only encounters with porn interfaces were gaudy and flashing side bars – big tit blondes with their legs spread, Asian fetish sites – whatever your ‘category’ type, these were screens from which to recoil.

That it was my boyfriend who introduced me to the possibility of porn without shame is ironic, or at least mistimed – I could have done with the recourse far more before. But when we did feel like watching some together, it would have been good to have the recommendations of feminist writer and researcher Anne G. Sabo’s After Pornified to hand. Now I do.

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REVIEW: tracey & me

It’s the last week of Tracey Emin’s Love is What You Want, a survey of her career at the Hayward Gallery and the exhibition (which has been running since May) closes this Monday. The end of the show (strangely enough – or maybe not) coincides with the news this week that one of her cheeky neon works has found its way into 10 Downing Street – ah Tracey, ever the self-publicist, with her Tory-gifting ways! It seems that even now, pleasingly,  she can still find ways to shock and surprise us (Tracey buying her way into the establishment/only way she can be ‘acceptable’ is by giving her work away?).

There’s enough in LOVE to raise a few blushes, but then you probably wouldn’t bother going along if you were easily embarrassed. Tracey’s major talent as an artist is as memoirist/diarist, exposing the private (parts) and representing  the female experience through the telling of her own personal story.  She does this physically in the exhibition with her long-legged and often gloriously nude body appearing frequently in self-portrait and making the subject of her work the perils and risks of living in a female body – pregnancy, periods, getting too drunk. To this she adds a strong sense of the sentimental and importance of memory with collections of trinkets and inky notes explaining the stories behind her work and roots of her inspiration.

Her intricately stitched blankets mesmerise because blankets shouldn’t be hung on walls, they should be keeping us cosy in beds. Instead she recalls historical tapestries and domestic quilting and layers over them the personal with her embroidered confessionals – there’s little comfort to be had under these covers. The darkroom of neons is arresting too, with more emotive phrases glowing out of the matt black walls.

A narrative of class>money>survival runs through the exhibition and to me that unmistakably drives her work ethic. The teenage Tracey after all is still here in films like Why I Never Became a Dancer and in the family photographs and letters.

I can’t imagine a world without Tracey – an artist without self-censure or self-consciousness or any notion of middle-class uptightness laid bare on her bed. This exhibition’s not perfect, but it reminds us that she’s the dirtiest, sexiest and funniest we’ve got – and there’s nothing shameful about being a woman.

REVIEW: austra live at the haunt//oh my goth

Do we need a new Knife? YES. Toronto’s spookiest band, Austra, kindly filled the weirdo-music gap left by The Knife/Fever Ray with their debut album FEEL IT BREAK earlier this year. Reminiscent of Bjork, Kate Bush, Enya, Bat for Lashes and Depeche Mode they cast a shadow all of their own.

The Knife were a bit lifechanging and made me wish all my favourite records could be remixed and overlaid with some steel drum sounds but were — gasp – boring live, playing behind screens and masks, always bowing out of the spotlight. Now Austra might be pagan-dabbling electro-goths but they’re definitely not shy and all the LP’s drama thundered out on stage when they played the Haunt on Friday. Firstly frontlady Katie Stelmanis‘ swirly dancing is spellbinding (so much so that I felt myself awkwardly attempting to mirror her and having to stop before someone noticed), her arms conjuring up all manner of shapes in the dark. These moves too are a kind of summoning up of her incredible, operatic (note: classically trained) voice which pulsates, trembles and alarms. That was then complemented by artistically writhing twin diminutive-goth backing singers Romy and Suri of Canadian duo Tasseomancy. Together they became dark/light/dark witches at the front of the stage flanked by icy malemodelman keyboarder Ryan, oversized-spectacled drummer Maya and XX-ish bassplayer Dorian.

Austra might look and sound like a hipster-goth fantasy that you can’t sing along with (look at them!) and they do take themselves very very seriously but they are seriously good. I’ve been longing for a proper music/fashion goth comeback to take hold and Austra should be its leaders.They’re back in the UK in September.

More goth: listen to BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed on what happens when goths grow up last month.


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