Stirred welcomes Lenni Sanders!
Favourite Feminist Icon and why?
Historically, I’m super fascinated by Ida Craddock and her work advocating women’s rights and sexual education in the 19th century – she was an early voice against marital rape who felt that the wife’s duties/husband’s rights model of married sex was damaging and misogynist. She was arrested in 1902 under an anti-obscenity law for trying to send sex ed pamphlets through the post. Although some of her ideas are old-fashioned and repressive, Ida Craddock’s work was a step in the right direction.
What did you want to be when you were little?
Through primary school I considered a bunch of possibilities: I was particularly keen on being involved in arts and crafts somehow, or being a farmer. I also wanted to get really good at roller skating. I’m still not very good at roller skating. But, as a kid I always did like writing stories and poems.
When did you start saying you were a feminist?
Vocally, probably 6th form or Year 10 or 11. I think since childhood I’ve been passionate about women’s status in society – angry about the pay gap and so on – and as I got older I began to think more seriously about what it means to be a woman, particularly in a global context.
Favourite author? (female identified)
Virginia Woolf is such a modernist game changer and I think her prose is stunningly beautiful. I love those long, run on sentences so much. Is it cheating if I say another favourite too? And Margaret Atwood.
Favourite author? (male identified)
There is something irresistible in the word-choice, phrasing, images in the poems of Ted Hughes. He is an absolute boss at summing something up through a few choice details. … And wonderful Dylan Thomas.
If you woke up and sexism had ceased to exist, what would the world look like?
So much better! Women would be taken seriously as equal citizens all over the world, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to be a female prime minister or president, reproductive rights would be much better protected. But I believe it’s important to look at the world in an intersectional way, sexism is all tangled up in other systems of oppression to such an extent you couldn’t and shouldn’t just lift sexism out of the mess with a scalpel. We have a lot of problems in this world.
What barriers do you think women spoken word artists/poets face in writing and performing?
There is a horrible quote from V S Naipaul criticising women’s ‘sentimentality, the narrow view of the world’ and asserting ‘I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think (it is) unequal to me’ and although that’s an extreme response I think it does sum up how women’s writing is sometimes considered. I also think women often aren’t – or aren’t encouraged to be – confident about their abilities and performances. (Perhaps due to responses like Naipaul’s.)
Any random fact about you you’d like us to know?
I’m allergic to peanuts, soya, and lentils if you want to feed me a nice snack any time. Once I tried to get out of a party I didn’t want to go to by eating vegetarian soya sausages and inducing an allergic reaction. (Soya is my mildest allergy.)