We interviewed dreamy-psych-rock trio Sunflower Bean

DtL: What has been your proudest moment so far?

Jacob: For us, releasing our first record Human Ceremony has definitely been one of our proudest moments. To have completed a full length album and put it out into the world feels pretty good.

DtL: Have you ever experienced bullying? If so what happened and how did you deal with the experience?

Jacob: As someone who grew up liking and playing music in school, I was always getting teased for it. I think back then I would take it pretty personally. I remember the summer going into high school; I was begging my parents to let me quit band so other kids wouldn’t see me walk home with my saxophone everyday! But as I got older, things got a lot better, and I started to realise that music was my passion and that I shouldn’t allow myself to be affected by other kid’s unwarranted judgements.

DtL:  Our research revealed that 35% of teenage girls believe that their gender will have a negative effect on their career. What are your thoughts on this, based on your experiences in the music industry Julia?

Julia: It’s extremely complicated. When I was a kid, I noticed that all the songs I liked were written by men, about women, and I wondered why when I sung along to them, I always had to sing about girls. I wanted to sing about boys. But that didn’t stop me from becoming a musician, you know? I still went on to try. I think it’s important to try and take care of each other, and let each other know that it’s not a negative thing to be a woman, it’s a gift.

DtL: Have you ever experienced sexism/stereotyping in the industry based on gender? If so, how did you deal with it?

Julia: People often think I don’t really know how to play bass until they see us live, or they say they’ve “never seen a girl play bass like me”. I just want to keep pushing myself as a musician, songwriter, and artist. I think the more women are viewed as “normal” in the world of music, instead of this “other” thing, these comments will lessen. And my way of doing that is to keep working and growing.

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DtL: What advice would you give to young people who might want to get into the music industry?

Jacob: Practice. I think as a musician the most important thing is to keep GROWING and LEARNING. A lot of times you may feel like you have hit a wall and that’s okay; maybe you just need to step back from whatever it is you are doing for a little bit and come back to it with a clear mind.

DtL: What is the most exciting thing you are working on right now?

Jacob: We just made a music video for our song Come On and other then that, just touring. We’ve been on the road solidly since Human Ceremony came out.

DtL: What are your most prominent challenges, and how do you overcome them?

Jacob: The challenging thing about doing what we do is probably the constant travelling, and managing so many different kinds of situations that come with being in the music industry. But we all care about each other and that helps a lot. Respecting and appreciating each other’s skills is really important.

DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?

Jacob: I would say, keep on rocking! You’re gonna find some kids to play music with and everything is gonna be alright! I would reassure him that he CAN follow his dreams in life if he works hard enough.

DtL: What tends to inspire your writing?

Jacob: We are inspired by the world around us, time, and getting older, space, the universe. The human range of emotions.

The track we have on repeat here in the DtL office: 

An ex-worker blogs about her experiences in the sex industry, the reality behind the videos, and the effects of such material on the younger generation

I have sampled the sex industry in its full and varied diversity. And in that time, I had taken two overdoses, been raped twice, consistently manipulated and became a functioning drunk. It’s true to say, I am a rehabilitated abuse victim who gave her consent. The turning point was recognising I had to change for my child, now children, as well as furthering my education – which awarded me the ability to see the truth of what happened to me. I wasted most of my twenties in the industry, continuously pursuing the promise of a bit more money than the average wage, only to be left with no CV, and struggling with feelings of anger from sexual and emotional violation. 

I must first point out that not all pornography is harmful, that sex on camera in itself is expression and can be artistic.

What I do have a problem with, is how easily misogynistic pornography can be accessed. This kind of porn, what I will refer to as ‘gonzo’ porn, worryingly commands approximately 98% of porn internet traffic and is the current point of reference for sex education.

Women in gonzo porn are pitted as a debased object; voiceless and used and abused by men, who mock them and subject them to degrading acts. This is expression you may think, even if it isn’t respectful. In some ways I’d agree with you – but because gonzo pornography is so easily accessed, it has permeated our everyday lives and distorted reality, with dangerous consequences…

Gonzo Porn has replaced our understanding of the natural development of sex that exists in real relationships, between two people. It has sadly carved out a new identity for women who subconsciously embody the damaging ‘slut’ persona, feeling that this is the only way to ‘impress’ men. Porn also promotes self-sexualisation in very young girls, and has brainwashed boys and men into seeing women as fodder, not the multi-faceted people that they really are.

The word ‘slut’ is a common phrase in memes seen on many young teenagers Facebook feeds and other social media, describing certain female classmates. The frequency of this unfair adjective is a new arrival, and goes hand in hand with the increase of degradation porn. Sure, when I was young there were girls who got intimate with more boys than others, but they weren’t shamed to this extent. The children who grow up in the media-obsessed culture of today are experiencing an entirely new animal.

Vikki

Girls are encouraged to self-sexualise through expectations of boys who watch porn regularly, but are then ‘slut-shamed’ for doing so. It’s a trap, and one that society should be aware of for public health. Gonzo porn is presented as edgy, and a reflection of freedom of expression. It is never presented in truth: as one gender’s mass-scale violation.

If expression was really free in porn, then subgenres like ‘alternative porn’ would be more popular – where both genders are depicted as equal. The current porn industry is about control and humiliation of women, but boys and men are also being damaged by pornography; experiencing erectile dysfunction due to the bombardment of high speed graphic images. As a consequence, they also experience desensitisation to real sexual relationships.

The industries that make these representations don’t care for one minute how they affect people. They only care about money. To remain healthy, it is our responsibility to maintain our sense of self-respect and to not be coerced into unwanted sex, or extreme acts just because porn has normalised them. The porn stars who act in these films are only doing it for money, and many of them are damaged people who take drugs and have had problematic upbringings.

I found myself in a bad place in my teens. I had a terrible relationship with my mother and left home at a very young age to stay with people I didn’t really know. I starting seeing a man who was much older than myself, and then fell into the glamour industry. At first I thought it was fun – but very quickly I had developed a drinking habit to cope with the people who (in retrospect) used me. My world became very dark. Sure, there were some good things, like the money, but that eventually disappeared and all I was left with, were the scars of being sexually objectified.

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I believe that sex workers should have worker’s rights that prevent them from the coerced sexual abuse that happens time and time again. There are situations constantly cropping up on social media of girls complaining of being violated outside of shoots. I also believe that porn stars should be able to buy back images of themselves after ten years so they can transition in society more comfortably. The sex industry pays women more, as it needs its object to function, and women in the industry think they are getting a good deal, until they find themselves with no way of getting out. The permanence of their appearance on film leaves them with little prospect in corporate society. Women are not people in the sex industry, they are voiceless caricatures.

We don’t know the true effects yet, as the internet is relatively new, and I’m not dismissing its sheer awesomeness for one minute, but what I am fighting against is the graphic depiction of women as fodder. Are glamour models victims of a culture that sexualises women and young girls? What effects do these identities have on everyday women? Our children need more protection – both boys and girls. Glamour models are certainly not empowered like some say they are, but they wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them would they? If they weren’t facilitating men’s demands they wouldn’t be of interest to these men.

The glamour model is an unhealthy construction and teaches women that they are decoration. They are merely brainwashed by a culture that disregards the best interests of humanity. We need to encourage connection and co-dependency, which means real rapport between boys and girls.

 

Yesterday it was announced that it is now illegal to wear a Burqa in Switzerland with fines of up to £6,500 for those in violation. Unfortunately this isn’t a new concept within the realms of legislation as the French government made it illegal back in 2010. For those who aren’t familiar with Burqas, it is a long garment covering the whole body from head to feet. It is typically worn in public by Muslim women. As a pro-equality charity, we are strictly against anything that prohibits freedom of speech or expression and completely condemn the bans.

6 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Ban the Burqa

1. Because everybody should have the freedom of speech and expression:
It is a basic human right to be able to live your life and to express yourself in an environment that is safe and equal. Historically, so many groups of people have been suppressed by public opinion and politics and driven underground. This is the 21st century and we should be moving forwards and not backwards. We should all challenge any status quo that violates the rights of others. Whilst we understand the opinion that Burqa’s disempower women, banning them is not the way to tackle the issue. The fact of the matter is: men and women are equal and this should extend to equality of expression.

2. Because religion does not equal terrorism:
The sheer fact that the Burqa has been banned in Switzerland, suggests that they clearly perceive it to be a threat to public safety. Islamophobia or Islamohate as we prefer to call it is a growing trend, specifically within Westernised culture. There is a common belief that all people who identify as being Muslim are terrorists or extremists, whereas terrorism activity represents an incredibly small proportion of the Muslim community and violates the basic principles and beliefs that the religion is based on.

3. Because banning the Burqa is forced feminism:
We understand that in many cases, the Burqa is used to disempower women and to remove their freedom of expression, but equally – in many other cases, it is used as an outlet for people to express their religious beliefs and affinity. We absolutely stand against the unfair treatment of women, but banning the Burqa is not necessarily the best way to tackle the issue. It is a much better strategy to understand the root cause of those beliefs and to challenge them with education.

4. Because Burqa’s are a staple piece in the expression of religious beliefs:
Our research shows that only a minority of young people are religious and that’s perfectly okay. It’s also perfectly okay to have religious beliefs – whether they are beliefs that comply with popular religions or not. Nobody has the right to dictate to anybody what they can and can’t believe and it’s important to respect that everybody is different and that diversity is a good and important thing. Burqa’s are, to some people, an expression of their devotion to their religion. That’s okay. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean you should fear it.

5. Because the Government should have no right in deciding what citizens can and can’t wear in public:
Imagine the outcry if the British Government suddenly decided to ban hats, gloves and scarves during the winter months because a small minority were using them to conceal their identity for insidious purpose? Could you imagine the reaction? The Government is there to run the country and not there to dictate religious or clothing choices.

6. Because Governments should be allocating time and resources to things such as poverty, radicalisation and equality:
It takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money for the Government to draft, amend and file new legislation. We don’t have exact figures but we imagine it’s enough to feed a lot of people who are on the brink of poverty.

Alright, we’re the first ones to admit that it’s way too soon to be talking about Christmas… but if you can’t beat them, join them. Here’s 15 premature signs of a British Christmas. Enjoy!

1. Christmas starts in September

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2. and Easter starts in January

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3. There’s nothing quite like Christmas TV

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4. or like the horror of Jumanji being axed

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5. That awkward feeling you get when somebody asks you to open your present infront of them

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6. … and you don’t like it

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7. opening a card and expecting money to fall out and it doesn’t

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8. the excitement when you’re opening all your presents tho, not that it’s about presents etc. etc.

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9. Asking your parents if they want help with the cooking on Christmas day and they say no

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10. …and then being nagged at the end for not helping

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11. Having to make small talk with your distant family members

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12. … and then sitting around the table on different chairs

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13. OMG… the food coma afterwards

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14. Surviving on nothing but turkey sandwiches and selection boxes for the next 3 days

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15. but the warm feeling you get, seeing family and friends and eating enough carbs to last you until next year

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Sex. It’s funny, it’s exciting and it’s part of growing up. It’s natural to be curious and to want to explore your sexuality with people you fancy.

In fact, almost 4 in 10 of us admit to sending a naked photo of ourselves at least once, according to The Wireless Report 2014. The fact of the matter is that ideally, we’d like to live in a world where we could explore our sexuality safely, but unfortunately we’re not quite there yet. 24% of those who have sent a naked photo have had it shared without their consent with other people. Some have even had it posted publicly online for the entire world to see. The impact of that can be absolutely catastrophic on self-esteem, mental health, relationships and future career prospects. Ultimately, we advise that you don’t do it – however if you are going to do it, our experts have shared their top tips for doing it safely:

Naked photos – doing it safely

Don’t do it if you don’t want to: it’s important to never do something that you feel uncomfortable doing. If you’re being pressured into it, please stop and think before you act. Support is always available to you should you need it.

• Your body is beautiful: we all come in different shapes and sizes and take it from us, your body is beautiful. If you are sending images for validation of your beauty, this may conceal an issue with self-esteem.

• What’s the motive? Unfortunately, not everybody is genuine and kind in their motives. You may think that you can trust somebody but we’ve all heard the horror stories. If you’re going to do it – only share images with someone who you completely trust. Remember that you can never be sure who you’re speaking to online.

• Hide your face: along with anything that is distinguishable about you. That way, if your photos are ever shared, people will find it difficult to prove that they are even of you.

• Delete once you’ve done it: it’s never a good idea to leave your naked selfies lying around. Make sure you’ve got secure passcodes and passwords to prevent unauthorised access.

• Never store in the cloud: it’s way too vulnerable. Think of all the recent press.

• Know that it’s okay to say no: your value is in no way defined by your willingness to send a naked picture. If somebody truly respects you, they will understand and will not pressure you.

• Think about distribution: whilst not totally safe, there is a degree of comfort in using an app like Snapchat as opposed to something more permanent. However, don’t be fooled – people CAN download 3rd party apps to store the images without your knowledge.

• Have fun with it: not your thing? We recommend Childline’s Zip It app (available on the app store) – it has loads of funny, alternative and damn right sassy photos that you can send as alternatives.

• Consider the law: if you’re below 18 or chatting to someone below 18, it’s illegal to request, store, produce or distribute any naked photos. Just something to keep in mind.

• Don’t share it: it may seem like a good idea at the time, but we know that the implications of sharing a naked photo can be huge – it can literally ruin lives. Please think twice.

• Speak up: if you have a bad experience, please do not keep it to yourself, it’s natural to be curious about your sexuality. Tell somebody and seek support. Childline are a good start: 0800 11 11.

If you have had a bad experience, or know somebody that has, please speak up. There’s loads of support available in our get help section and in the DTL community and from our friends at Childline on 0800 11 11.

Has someone share a photo of you without your consent? Read this to find out if you’ve been a victim of Revenge Porn and what to do…

As one of the UK’s leading anti-bullying charities, we are constantly researching the current landscape of equality, both online and offline. We took to Google and Bing – both leading search engines, to find out what the most searched for terms were surrounding different demographic profiles. Some of the results were so abusive, they have already been hidden by the search engines.

singlemothers

blondes

feminists

gaypeople

goths

interracial

men

tattoos

women

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity of meeting up with the wonderful Dustin Lance Black for a couple of hours. We talked Ditch the Label, bullying, transatlantic equality… and cake. I also spoke to Dustin about his upbringing and career inspirations and I may or may not have made a few blunders along the way. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video – we’ve split it up into 2, for your viewing pleasure (and because it would have taken ages to upload otherwise). Huge thank you to @DLanceBlack for his time and for all of the positive work he does and to @OllyPike for heading up the production.

Liam x

You can find out more about Dustin Lance Black and his work on his official website. If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in the interview, support is available in the Ditch the Label Hub.

In The Wireless Report 2014, we found that 1 in 3 had sent out a naked photo of themselves to someone. We wanted to dig deeper and so we hit the streets of Brighton to find out what the public think about sexting and naked selfies. Here’s what they told us!

If you have had a bad experience with naked selfies, support is ready and waiting for you here.

As many of you will already know, we recently announced that we were the official UK charity partner for The DUFF movie which is currently playing at major cinemas across the UK. As part of the partnership, we were given an opportunity to interview Kody Keplinger; the author of the original ‘The DUFF’ book. We talk writing, The DUFF, bullying and appearances – along with everything else in between.
Hope you enjoy!
Jess x

The Interview

Ditch the Label: When and why did you become a writer?
Kody Keplinger: In a way, I guess you could say I’ve always been a writer. One of my earliest memories is of sitting at my mother’s typewriter in her office. There was no paper in the typewriter. But I was clicking buttons anyway, telling her the story I thought I was writing. As I got older, that turned into actual writing. I was always coming up with new story ideas and writing them down. This has been my dream job since I was very young. I can’t imagine not writing.
Ditch the Label: Where did the inspiration for The Duff come from?
Kody Keplinger: I was in my high school cafeteria one morning when I overheard a girl at my table talking about her weekend and how a guy had referred to a friend of hers as a “DUFF.” It was the first time I’d heard the word, but as soon as I learned what it meant – the designated, ugly, fat friend – I was sure it was me. That I’d be the DUFF of the group. But after talking to my friends about it, all of them thought they were the Duff. Every single one of us was sure it was us. When I realized this, I jokingly said I’d write a book called The DUFF one day. I never thought I’d actually do it, but later that semester inspiration struck and that joke became a reality.
Ditch the Label: Did you have any involvement with the film making process?
Kody Keplinger: No. I wasn’t involved with the film making process; however, I did get to visit the set and meet the cast, which was such an honor. It was especially exciting to meet Mae Whitman — because, funny story, I’ve wanted her to play Bianca since I wrote the book in 2009.
Ditch the Label: What do you think of the finished film adaption – is it as you imagined it when you were writing?
Kody Keplinger: I love the movie! I’ve seen it several times now, and it delights me every time. With that being said, the book and the film are a bit different, as most book-to-film adaptations are. But the themes of friendship and self-acceptance are still there – and Mae Whitman’s take on Bianca is spot on!


Ditch the Label: In The Duff, there is a strong message of self-acceptance for Bianca, which will resonate with a lot of young women. Do you think this can just as easily be applied to teen guys?
Kody Keplinger: Oh, it most definitely can. In fact, I know that it has. I’ve gotten several emails from male readers who have read the book (usually because a female friend made them) who have written to me after because they related to Bianca. One of my close male friends read it and told me it inspired him to be more open and less ashamed about his struggles with mental illness, proving the self-acceptance goes far beyond body image. I’ve also heard from boys who saw the movie and had similar reactions. Guys deal with some of this stuff, too, and I definitely think the message can – and does – resonate with them.
Ditch the Label: Have you ever personally experienced bullying or prejudice? If so, how did you deal with it?
Kody Keplinger: I was an overweight, blind teenager – it would have been a miracle if I hadn’t dealt with at least some bullying. I was lucky, though. It wasn’t as bad as you might have expected. The majority of the bullying I dealt with actually came from a close friend, someone I trusted who would manipulate me, put me down, and randomly ignore me, leaving me on constant eggshells for reasons I never understood. I think that sort of quiet bullying happens a lot. At the time, I had no idea how to deal with it. I just let it happen until graduation. If I had to do it over again, I would have stepped away from that friendship early on, trusting that I’d find other friends who would like me. Teenage Kody didn’t have that kind of confidence, though.
Ditch the Label: You are the co founder of ‘Disability in Kidlit’ – can you tell us about that?
Kody Keplinger: Disability in KidLit is a website devoted to all things disability and how they relate to young adult and middle grade fiction. Our goal is to provide both a space for disabled readers and writers to discuss their experience as well as to be a resource for able-bodied authors and readers who want to know more. We’ve reviewed books, had discussion posts about specific issues, tackled problematic tropes, and even had disabled people write about their middle or high school experiences.
Ditch the Label: How important do you think diverse and positive role models are to young people?
Kody Keplinger: It’s insanely important. I think it’s easy to get discouraged – especially when you’re younger – when you don’t see anyone like you being successful or doing the things you aspire to. As a teen (and still now to a degree) I was always incredibly excited when I heard about a blind or legally blind person who had become successful. Because that meant I could be successful, too. I’d imagine a lot of young people feel that way, whether their disabled, part of the LGBT community, a PoC, grew up poor, etc. We look for role models we can relate to.
Ditch the Label: We know that bullied teens as young as 13 are considering invasive surgery. What message would you give to young people who may feel pressured to change themselves in order to fit in?
Kody Keplinger: God, it’s hard. I try to think if there’s anything anyone could have said to me at that age, when I was feeling awful about my body. I guess the first thing I’d do is remind them that, right now, their bodies are still growing and developing, and changing them at this stage just isn’t a good idea. And then I’d tell them that high school ends, but whatever they change about their appearance lasts forever. So if you do it for other people – and not for yourself – you’re just going to be unhappy in the long run. Instead of focusing on the things you dislike about yourself, focus on the things you do like. Maybe that’s your hair or the way your legs are shaped or your sense of style, etc.
Ditch the Label: In addition to supporting those who have been bullied, we strongly advocate education and support for perpetrators. We know that many are dealing with their own complex issues that may not be immediately obvious. Do you think this is an effective approach to tackling the issue of bullying and prejudice?
Kody Keplinger: I think it might be the most effective approach, personally. Because, yes, in my experience, those who bully are often taking their own pain out on others. I know there were times in elementary school where some girls were picking on me, making me feel like the ugliest, stupidest girl in class. So when I found a girl who seemed like she could be lower on the totem pole than me, I picked on her. It made me feel like I wasn’t the worst. I regret that now. But I think that’s a common practice. So it just makes sense that the best way to stop bullying from occurring is to find the perpetrators and find out why. There is always a why.