TEDx London Women 2021 on the theme of ‘Showing up’

I signed up for the TEDX Women event because I thought ‘that looks awful’. Especially eye catching was a bearded man with they/them pronouns who has read Judith Butler and the nauseous Jamie Windust. Originally it had been planned as an in person event in December 2020 but then they delayed it until February in the hope it would be in person.

Join us for TEDxLondonWomen on 6th Feb for a day of TED-style talks from 14 inspiring and thought provoking speakers. 

Broadcast live from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios to you – wherever you are, be part of the TEDx experience live in your living room! 

We’ve spent the last 8 months designing a unique interactive online experience, bringing you everything you love from TED talks combined with the magic of our live events. Watch the talks, meet the speakers, debate the ideas and become part of our global community of change makers.

This is your chance to spend the day with a theoretical physicist, a human rights barrister, a climate activist, a psychologist, a poet, a drag queen and more! Be warned – this is not your typical online event! 

You’ll be challenged by unexpected and powerful ideas as we explore our theme of ‘Showing Up’.

We’re Showing Up, are you?

Blurb for the event, held on 6 February 2021

The event began with the ravishing Tom/Crystal Rasmussen singing Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work in a screeching falsetto voice and golden beard. Excruciating.

First Claire Malone talked about her experience of working as a particle physicist, the Hadron Collider and how she has overcome some of the limitations set by her disability. I was pretty sure that her talk would be the most rational of the day and I was proved right.

Sophie Williams, an ‘anti-racist’ campaigner, told us about the ‘glass cliff’. The glass cliff is what women find once they break through the glass ceiling. The woman was so posh she fully raised my hackles. I suspect she has no idea at all what kinds of barriers ordinary people face, nor what it takes to lead a business. However, it didn’t stop her suggesting that when black women get into leadership positions, it is normally when the business is failing in some way (nice). These black women find themselves having to manage a lot of white men and then get forced off the edge of the cliff. Or something.

Then we had Clover Hogan (an Australian version of Greta Thunberg) talk to us about the fact that the world is going to die, before we got our next drip feed of anti-racist activism. Forests were being destroyed to give us Big Macs, Hogan told us. Her climate activism had been inspired by watching documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth. Then she told us America had been experiencing some bad weather recently. Young people weren’t responsible for all of this destruction but they were the ones being left with the responsibility for fixing it. Not only that, but eco anxiety was a huge problem among young people, with 70 percent of 18-24 year olds feeling helpless. She said that we could all do something, however little, or spend the rest of our lives being a really bad person and feeling guilty (okay, I’m paraphrasing). Her organisation is Force of Nature and helps Fortune 500 Corporations with their eco image. Nuff said.

Back to anti-racism and Temi Mwale talked to us about police brutality and Black Lives Matter. When Temi hears a siren she has a physical response akin to what sounds like a PTSD. Have we (i.e. white people) ever thought about how other people (i.e. black people) are affected by this sound? George Floyd might have been murdered in a US city that none of us could pin point on a map, but that doesn’t mean that the UK isn’t every bit as racist and dangerous for black people. A police force in the UK sent a message of support to George Floyd’s family but the UK police are not innocent.

Temi told us that she has spent hundreds of hours working with people in the criminal justice system. But it isn’t just the criminal justice system which is racist. It is ALL organisations, councils, hospitals, charities, everything. All racist. Racism is not only a psychological assault on black people, but it also harms the body. Transformative justice was a practice which centred healing.

Temi forgot to talk about the importance of jobs, housing and avoiding drugs as a way of keeping on the straight and narrow. She also forgot to mention that the criminal justice system demands the burden of evidence and that many of the people she was supporting would in fact be guilty of offences they were charged with.

In fact, The 4Front Project she is a director of, did a ‘love circle’ the night before a boy was sentenced to prison, where friends and family members sent positive messages of support (presumably it was a victimless crime he was serving time for).

Temi rounded off by telling us that we needed to accept the narrative of Black Lives Matter and that we are all enablers. Lovely.

At least Sangeetha Iengar, human rights barrister, straight up admitted she was a story teller. The story she had to tell was this: a young Syrian girl seeking refugee status in the UK was put in a detention centre. She made some fair points about the unfairness of detention and how migrants and refugees are demonised in some sections of the media. I was sort of on her side.

Then she made a great leap that Simon, a white British engineer, might be stopped by the British government from teaching his kids under his apple blossom tree. Why? How? I hear you ask. Well the UK government has mandatory training across all government organisations to combat extremism called Prevent. One of Simon’s kids might support Extinction Rebellion (now classified as an extremist group) and end up on the naughty step.

The UK government were on a mad power grab Iengar warned us.

The alternative of course would be for the government to do nothing at all about extremism and allow it to flourish and more lives to be lost, but of course she didn’t want to talk about that.

Dzifa Afonu, who has they/them pronouns, complained about NHS workers behaving insensitively towards patients and said it was due to burn out. She felt the answer to this was dissolving the boundaries between professional and patient, as she had herself learnt a lot from people and their ‘expertise of experience’ (she’s a clinical psychologist working with adolescents). Boundaries were fluid. So literally a case of the lunatics taking over the asylum then.

Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis told us to stop worrying about ladder career progression and get onboard their ‘squiggly careers’ idea instead. Understanding that you might not get paid more as time goes on was very important and you would have a far more enriching career experience. One is an ex-Microsoft employee who said that her ‘uniqueness’ was embraced by the company’s culture. This is the kind of thing people say when reducing income is of no consequence.

We were told not to go away and make the tea whilst TEDX talked about their headline sponsor for the event, which is CitiGroup, a multinational investment bank. Providing me with my first laugh of the day.

Ebinehita Iyere (don’t mispronounce her name) wanted to talk to us about black girls and have you tried to understand and support them?

You think they’re angry and loud, Ebby shouted aggressively, but you just don’t understand them.

Through healing Ebby found her ‘inner black girl identity’. She realised at school she had been oppressed by teachers and other pupils when they shortened her name (which means ‘destiny’) down to Ebby (oops).

Tips on how to deal with black girls included learning how to say her name.

Ebby got really excited at the end when she claimed that she was addressing black girls directly (probably just the ones on the panel with her).

Our final speakers for the day will be turning their focus to the self – how we can all heal, love, eat and show up for ourselves. You’ll hear from Pixie TurnerTom/Crystal RasmussenBethany Rose and Payzee Mahmod.

Blurb from final email

The whole fucking day had already been about self-reflection, but now we were really going to ‘dive down’ deep into it.

Bethany Rose promised she was only going to talk for two minutes about her nervous breakdown and then do the poem what she wrote about it, which included the line ‘get your rosaries off my ovaries’. I genuinely have no clue where the poem began, but the general arc of it was that someone once told her six things to do when she was depressed, which outraged her.

She finished her talk telling us the six things she thought we should do when we were depressed, which sounded not too dissimilar to the list that she debunked. We also learned that she had imposter syndrome about having imposter syndrome (pseudo imposter syndrome?).

Pixie is a nutritionist counsellor. Pixie says food isn’t good or bad and that we all are emotional eaters. Pixie doesn’t help her clients to lose weight. Pixie told us to enjoy our comfort foods without feeling guilty (which is all fine and well but when health hangs in a balance actually eating a 2,000 calorie pizza definitely is a problem and totally useless advice).

Of course, Pixie hadn’t taken into consideration the power of advertising from global food brands has on ’emotional eating’ but if you want to be platformed by TEDX whose main sponsor partner is an investment bank, then it’s probably wise not to.

Tom/Crystal Rasmussen talked about his journey of self-discovery, after having a very big big-up from fellow queer (and I suspect friend) Jamie Windust. He meditated on the topic of shame (which is always a red flag in my opinion). Plagued by self-hatred when he came out in the early naughties, Tom reckons that he had a bitchy sarcastic personality to make up for it (he doesn’t).

He had so much extreme sex at times his consent had been breached, but then quickly affirmed that having extreme sex was the best and most fun sex you can have.

Tom looked in the mirror and fell in love with the alter ego that he created for himself and convinced himself he was fabulous. Tom describes himself as being from a ‘repressed generation’ (you know, the one which completely missed the AIDS epidemic or which could be charged with the crime of sodomy).

‘Everyone suffers from shame,’ asserted Tom, not having considered that some people actually don’t. ‘Including my attacker’ he assured us. Nah, mate, not everyone who behaves badly feels shame and those who lead blameless lives have nothing to feel shameful for.

Finally Jamie Windust interviewed Payzee Mahmod, who had done a TEDX talk the previous year about her experience of child marriage. Her sister was also forced into marriage and was murdered when she resisted. You can watch her talk here.

She is currently trying to get a bill through Parliament to make marriage for 16 and 17 year olds illegal. You can sign the petition by clicking on this link. She also asked people to write to their MP to support the bill.

At least the day ended on a worthy cause. Jamie Windust with his bright red lipstick, bright yellow hair which matched with his bright yellow coat, asked Mahmod ‘How are you? Are you okay?’ and told her she was part of his TEDX family.

Then Crystal Ramussen came back onto the stage to sing us out. What a caterwaul!

Thank you for reading! Sign up to my blog by going to the bottom of the page.

Please share on other forums if you liked it, as I only do Twitter.

One comment

Comments are closed.