New Statesman | The Becky Watts murder shows that in a world of violence against women, porn is just one more form of it


In Ali Smith’s novel How to be Both, teenage girl George – recently motherless – becomes obsessed with a pornographic clip. She spends almost all her free time watching it, and watching it, and watching it. It features a very young woman, perhaps young enough to be a girl herself, although of course George knows nothing about who she is or how she came to be in this film. Understandably, George’s father is concerned when he finds out what his daughter is doing. He wants to know why, and so she tells him:

This really happened, George said. To this girl. And anyone can watch it just, like, happening, any time he or she likes. And it happens for the first time, over and over again, every time someone who hasn’t seen it before clicks on it and watches it. So I want to watch it for a completely different reason. Because my completely different watching of it goes some way to acknowledging all of that to this girl. Do you still not understand?”

Read the full post at the New Statesman

The Pool | Why women should never feel obliged to “laugh off” flashing

Sometimes when I think about the the fact that one in five women has been the victim of a sexual offence in her adult life, I think about how lucky I am not to be one of them. And then I remember that I am one of them, because about ten years ago, I got flashed. This is how it went. I was living in Sheffield, walking through the underpass to the tram stop, toddler son in tow, when a man called from a few feet behind me. I realised later that he must have been waiting there for some time, standing ever so still until someone – some woman – came into view.

Read the full post at the Pool

New Statesman | The problem with men participating in feminism? There is no risk – but plenty of glory


I didn’t go on my local Reclaim the Night march last year. I wanted to, but then I looked at the event page on Facebook and saw how many of those planning to go were men, and I thought: who, exactly, do these guys think they’re reclaiming the nightfrom? Reclaim the Night started in the UK in 1977 as a specific response to male violence and institutional disregard for women’s lives and freedoms. In Leeds, the indolent Ripper investigation had allowed Peter Sutcliffe to go on killing for years. The police, it appeared, simply didn’t care enough about the lives of prostituted women to mount a proper manhunt, and it was only when Sutcliffe murdered a student that they took action. That action was to tell women to stay at home after dark.

Read the full post at the New Statesman

Guardian Review | The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida


“You have not been yourself lately,” the narrator of Vendela Vida’s new novel says to herself. Or maybe the narrator says it to the character: the story is told entirely in the second person, a decision that is strikingly odd at the start, then quickly becomes part of the alienating texture of this intoxicatingly strange novel. This “you” compels the reader into a very disquieting question from the first page – who am I? Am I this you? – which, as it happens, is the same question the main character orbits throughout. Who is she? Is she you? The limits of self wear away and identity bleeds out, and no one is quite secure in their skin.

Read the full review at the Guardian

The Spectator | Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter


A dead parent, the interrogation of a literary inheritance, and over everything, a bird: Max Porter is apparently unafraid to step into massive shoes. Not just the colossal ones belonging to Ted Hughes, whose ‘Crow’ poems are the jumping-off point for this free-verse novella about a bereaved Hughes scholar visited by Hughes’s corvine manifestation, but also those of Helen Macdonald. H is for Hawk, her memoir of loss, writing, recovery and nature, drawing ingeniously on the life and work of T.H. White, covered this territory with ferocious honesty and eloquence. The comparison is impossible to avoid, and not kind to Porter.

Read the full review at the Spectator

New Statesman | Meet the footballer Niamh McKevitt, a girl who joined the boys’ league


The only girl in England playing football in the boys’ leagues tells the story behind her unique sporting journey.

Attracting attention has always been normal for Niamh McKevitt in her football career. At 16, she is the captain of the South Yorkshire Girls under 17s squad, has represented the Republic of Ireland Women at junior international level, and started playing for Huddersfield Town in the FA Women’s Premier League while still at school. But it’s not her accomplishments in the women’s game that make her stand out. It’s this: since she was 12, Niamh has been the only girl in England playing football in the boys’ leagues, and she’s now written about her experiences in a book called Playing With the Boys.

Read the full piece at the New Statesman

Guardian Review | Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz


James Bond seems to have become a problem. Obviously, a literary character that generates billions of dollars over more than six decades is not the worst sort of problem to have, but he presents a problem all the same. Since the death of Ian Fleming in 1964, Bond has passed through the hands of numerous authors – four of them since 2008. Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd wrote a single novel each, and now we get Trigger Mortis, Anthony Horowitz’s attempt at reviving the cold war relic. The truth is that, payday aside, stepping into Fleming’s blade-heeled brogues seems a thankless business. It’s not that Fleming is exactly inimitable, but the parts of his style that are easy to pastiche are also intolerably obnoxious, while the things that are worth copying are as elusive as they are distinctive.

Read the full review at the Guardian