A poem by Lily Mulvey
10th September 2017
This project is an original SexyVeg collaboration, bringing together the work of spoken word poet and artist Lily Mulvey and videographer Holly Cassidy. A big thanks also to assistant director Rem Berger and sound recordist Maya Bovill.
This piece is a visual representation of Lily’s spoken word poem “Dick”. The poem is about a particular individual from Lily's lived experiences, but it is also more broadly about negative attitudes towards women and feminists by privileged men. It’s a sweet and cheeky poem, but also deeply powerful.
The politics behind Dick
Lily tells SexyVeg: ‘I consider myself a feminist. It's important for me to align with the movement because ticking off arbitrary metrics of equality isn't the point and speaks to only a small part of the problem. Feminism addresses the constant and damaging roles we are all expected to perform, which stifle people of all genders and no gender. Many voices aren't being heard sometimes and so I can understand the choice not to identify as a feminist, but I trust that the feminism of individuals is evolving to better address the shortcomings associated with the movement’.
Holly believes that ‘everyone should be a feminist, be them male, female or whatever else. Feminism has been given a negative name, however all it means is a wish for equality between genders, and who doesn't want that?’ She lists a whole host of figures that have influenced her work: ‘I'm inspired by my parents, my A-level media teacher, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Debrah Francis-White, Gandhi, Anne Frank, Michelle Obama, Katheryn Bigelow,Coco Chanel, Marín Alsop, Ashlinn Cassidy, Lue Harvey, Billie Joe Armstrong, the Bronte sisters, strong female protagonists in various books and films, the mother of 6 children I sat next to on the bus today... the list goes on’. She continues, ‘I am very easily downhearted by the leaders of this world today, leaders who are actually condoning sexual discrimination, but it's not difficult to find the majority of people are incredible specimens who deserve to be celebrated. Having grown up feeling undoubtedly like the inferior sex, being fed lies about appearance and being brainwashed into hating my body and bowing down to men, I feel at a great disadvantage and quite frankly don't want any other girl born into this world to be made to feel the way myself and my female peers have been made to feel. Like the rest of my feminists, I am not a man hater, quite the contrary. I simply believe it's about time inequality between the sexes was a thing of the past, that we can soon look back on it in horror and disgust. I imagine future generations of people will ask us in disbelief “What, you mean you were paid less than a man doing the exact same job as you, because you were a woman??”; “Wait, the media made you HATE and deprive your body of food in the name of fashion and beauty?”; “1 in 3 women worldwide would be subject to some form of abuse in their lifetime, in 2017??!”’.
Rem tells us, ‘obviously I'm for equality between men and women, but I don't think this should be the only standard for being a feminist. This is too easy, and a lot of people can adopt this standpoint without actually doing anything to improve the world. For my part, I do try to tell stories with female leads. More and more interesting parts are being written for women nowadays, which is great, but there is still quite some way to go before we have equal representation in film. Plus, it's a good challenge for me to not only write films from a male perspective’.
For Holly, ‘Sexyveg is my ideal platform. The more we speak out and make this issue widely spoken about, the better. I remember when I used to think of feminists as closed-minded man-hating lesbians. I think back to those times with embarrassment, and regret at my lack of education and prejudice. I find it difficult to believe that in this day and age we still have to use all our energy to fight for this right of equality’. Rem adds, ‘I think SexyVeg is a great platform in how it combines the creative with the political. All the features on this blog highlight important issues and bring them across in various ways, whether as features on performances and events, short stories, recipes, or even original film productions such as this one’.
Lily Mulvey studied History of Science at the University of Manchester, and it was here that she first gained confidence in her own writing, but it was only after working at bars that she gained the confidence in herself and began performing her pieces as spoken word. For Lily, her art and poetry was a way of starting to put herself back together after a difficult period in her life. Her work stems from the desire to organise her thoughts, ‘it's a terrible mess in there and putting my thoughts into words makes sense of things’. This is partly where the idea for the video came from, the creative process is different for everyone, and we wanted to show the way creative people organise and reorganise their ideas amongst the chaos of everyday pleasure, pain, boredom and desire. The idea is to show the “creative process”, with the desk being the central space for creative endeavour. The desk is a space for more than sitting and writing, you also procrastinate on it or doodle or drink tea. They wanted it to have a very tactile feel, handwritten notes and screwed up paper, pencil sharpenings and spilled tobacco. The video concludes with the finished poem, with Lily writing the last lines as she speaks them.
Holly Cassidy has been passionate about films her whole life; acting, writing, directing and editing films even as a child, with her cousins and friends. She began studying Media Studies at Sussex University before realising that a hands on practical approach made so much more sense to her. She spent the next two years doing just that, completing internships and work placements at a host of inspiring media companies, all the while working as a stage manager in a London music venue, and working towards a music performance diploma. Two years ago she had her 'lightbulb moment' and set up her own business as a wedding videographer. ‘So far I have zero regrets and believe that hard work and passion count for everything’. (Please check out HollyCassidyWeddings). Holly originally wanted to work in radio, before becoming a professional videographer. She told me: ‘Something about radio fascinates me; it's the digital form that has been around for longest, yet seems to still be thriving in a world filled with modern alternatives and upgrades. Though radio still greatly excites me, film took over. In a day and age where we have become increasingly impatient and lazy, all one wants to be presented with on a website is a button that, when hit, will speak all the information you need to you. We don't have time to read through things anymore, to tirelessly skim through information. Promotional films are massively valuable to any business. However I would not be in this field if it were not for my passion for the medium. My wedding business slogan is “capturing moments of beauty through the medium of film”. I believe film is the perfect way to convey feeling and emotion’.
Rem Berger is a videographer working in London and Amsterdam. He studied Film & Television production at Westminster University, before completing a Master’s in Philosophy at Goldsmiths. Rem kindly got involved in this project at a later stage, and worked as an assistant director on the shoot, ‘I can't take much credit for this video, seeing as the idea didn't come from me!’ Rem tells SexyVeg, ‘I did very much like the idea, and had a great time working on it with Holly, Lily, and Lue. It goes to show how you can create something effective with few resources, as long as you have a good idea’. For Rem working in the film industry ‘never really felt like a choice’, he made movies throughout his childhood and adolescence back in Holland, and has worked on countless film productions since moving to London to study film. A passionate ‘cinephile’, Rem take his inspiration from anything and everything: ‘I don't think one's inspiration should only come from the same medium within which you work. It's important to consume other artworks as well, to stay aware of what you see around you and constantly evaluate your experiences’.