Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Lillith 'Howard', Neo Puritanism and Censorship (We're Laydees, You Know!......
One of my fellow bloggers Louise posted on this item today. Save for arguing against censorship and commenting on stereotypes of sex workers (either a drug addict victim or the 'happy hooker' evidently portrayed by this sitcom) she seems not to see beneath the rhetoric of this organisation.
'Eaves' and 'Lillith' are of the strand of feminism I despise and have no respect for - the anti sex puritanical wing, who claim that women cannot consent to sex work yet by some miraculous stretch can consent to an abortion. Yet it seems criticism by those who define themselves as feminists is often done in a friendly, sisterly manner, a critique from within if you will.
I will not be so polite. These people are like a sketch from Little Britain or Catherine Tate.
I shall quote them:
"We, the undersigned, believe that Channel 5’s new sitcom, 'Respectable', due to be screened in August 2006, about women selling sex in a brothel as subject of humour is a gross misrepresentation of the lives of women involved in prostitution. The reality for most women involved in prostitution is coercion, extreme violence, drug dependency, homelessness, criminal records, rapes and beatings - not shoe collections and student loans."
Criminal records? Hang on - these same ladies support the criminalisation of prostitution and oppose the definition of it being 'sex work'. The label, for them, should remain 'prostitution' - the origins of the term being 'engaging in an immoral act in exchange for money. The negative stereoptype which they portray about sex workers may be true in some cases, yet they don't want to see that it is the criminalisation they support and the social stigmatisation with it that leads to these problems. It doesn't matter whether women continue to prosecuted or men, as is the case in Sweden and which they wish to be the case in this country. The result is the same.
"In July 2006, two women in Shropshire were beaten to death in a brothel. By broadcasting a sitcom that makes selling sex in brothels appear funny,
Channel 5 is glamorising an industry that exploits, degrades and ultimately kills women. This sitcom should be withdrawn immediately from schedules and shelved, never to be shown."
Hang on, comdedy can make almost anything seem funny (including the Nazis!). Why is sex so sacred and serious to these precious ladies?
The Mary Whitehouse brigade is out again, with a slightly different tone of rhetoric. Not only this but their Victorian mentality makes them stereotype an entire industry and by definition the people who work in it as being hapless victims, if not on a death wish then degraded and exploited by what they believe to be doing consensually. They are disingenous to use murder victims as a political tool. If the sex industry was decriminalised then it would be far safer. In Germany, where it is legal, the women have alarm buttons by their beds. If pressed a security guard is on call. Yet our charming laydees from the innappropriately titled 'Lillith' would object to this as the security guards are nothing but 'pimps' and exploiters. Never mind the safety of the women, the safety of whom these hypocrites have the audacity to invoke! The safety of whom the values of these modern Victorians constantly endanger by their own tired morality.
What is boils down to is this - they object to any definition of the female on television that offends their middle class, genteel Victorian sense of 'decency, just like Mary Whitehouse and the appropriately named 'National Vigilance Association' of the late 19th century. Why don't they take it to it's logical conclusion and bar all representations of sacred protestant womanhood from our media? By their standards no representation can ever be what they deem as politically correct.
Watch this space, as I intend to write some more articles exposing these people. Or look at their websites and they will speak for themselves pretty much. How such sub 19th century puritan garbage can pass for 'feminism' these days is beyond my grasp.
Because, face it, question them hard enough and all their objections and protestations will amount to will be a cry of 'we are laydees, you know!'
I intended to link to this report on my previous post on the subject, but I mislaid the link. It is now recovered!
These statistics do show a worrying trend. Were it 60% of male students who believed it acceptable to assault women, I suspect that the news would have been given greater prominence. In fact, the number of males who believed male on female violence to be acceptable was significantly less, at about a quarter.
The prominence given to men's violence against women in the last 40 years seems to have taught most males that it is not acceptable to hit your partner judging by this survey. How many of them actually put this accepted wisdom into practice is another story.
But Professor Strauss is absolutely correct. We must make the same 'big deal' about female violence as we do about male violence. This goes especially for the left and for feminists, who have tended to dismiss the issue. It is about time we look at facts rather than misinformed and generalised politics on this issue, and be consistent and non hypocritical.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Pro Life Feminism,Today and Yesterday
I used to get sick and tired of being told the shibolleth that one could not be a feminist if one was not pro choice, often in the form of ill informed rants. Next time pro choice feminists want to invoke the legact of Susan B. Anthony and other feminist foremothers on any issue they should take into account what their views actually were on abortion. The legacy of Susan B. Anthony may live on, but it does not live on in those who trash her legacy by creating a party line for not only all feminists but for all progressives generally.
They may argue that Anthony's (and Wollstonecraft's etc) views were in the context of their time, and that they should not be a blueprint for the views of feminists today. They are entitled to do this. What they are not entitled to do, in my opinion, is to make supporting what Alice Paul termed 'the ultimate exploitation of women' a party line, and silence any dissent on the issue in a neo Stalinist manner.
They are not entitled to insist we celebrate this 'ultimate exploitation' as a civil liberty that we must rejoice in.
If the views of the early feminists should not be a blueprint then neither should 'pro choice' be one either. Let the individual look at the facts and reach her (or his) own conclusion. But this is precisely what the femintern stops it's adherents from doing. It is taken as a truism that one is not a feminist unless they support the fight for 'choice'. Abortion is often mixed in with other issues, it being taken for granted that to be a progressive is to be pro choice.
I am in fact a social libertarian on nearly every issue - I support the decriminalisation of prostitution, am pro porn and support the legalisation of drugs. But my rights end where somebody else's begin as far as I am concerned. As I grant the foetus human status abortion is not my right.
I would not ever demand, if my position were the ascendant one, that everyone agrees with it in order to prove their progressive status. I therefore wish that my opponents would stop making it a litmus test.
Monday, August 28, 2006
This commentator here isn't exactly a Labour leftie but I have to say I understand his sentiments. A Cameron government would be essentially the same government so I can't say I will be sorry about a Labour defeat in the next election either. I've long voiced the (however slim) hope that a defeat may help the Labour Party get itself together and just maybe move again to the left. Clutching at straws, maybe, but you never know. Who does with politics?
The Myth of Male Power............And Other Bogeys!
Seeing as Camille Paglia recommends it I have been intending to read this book.
It is about time we get some perspective on the issue and face up to the world as it is in the 21st century. As Fay Weldon pointed out a few years ago, the original aim of the women's movement was justice, not revenge. Those who truly believe in justice and equality should take into account the arguments of this man.
It is not engaging in 'Backlash' - it is simply being reasonable. Farell does not claim that women are oppressing men - simply that modern men have problems, are not in the powerful position of oppressors that feminists assume, and that much of feminist belief is mistaken and wrong.
I will take one of the most common feminist grievances - which is the pay gap. Some of this can be accounted for by the fact that mothers often take part time work, which tends to pay less per hour anyway. This is a legitimate issue. But the answer is not to force mothers into full time work. Not all mothers may wish to work full time. Part time work should pay as well per hour as the full time equivalent of the same work. This is also why I support the 'Wages for Housework' campaign in it's aim to establish a financial reward for caring, and to recognise it as work.
If we take aside part time work, the pay gap does narrow. Much of the remaining gap can be accounted for by the low waged status of other caring work, such as nursing. Nurses work hard, what they do is essential and the pittance they earn is a disgrace. Women are, of course, highly represented in nursing, and I don't deny the low waged status of the work is partly due to the fact that women have traditionally done it - but there is also the fact that nurses cannot go on strike, or at least not without giving themselves bad publicity.
Let's imagine that both these issues were dealt with - stay at home or mothers in part time work were better rewarded financially. Nurses and other carers were given a more equitable wage. I think we would see the pay gap decline significantly, perhaps to a point where it became virtually non existent.
These are points that Farrell neglects. It's a shame because it would make his case stronger if he did. Instead he points to the fact that men take on more physically dangerous jobs, which tend to pay more than the female dominated service sector. A point worth taking into account, but please don't forget the long hours and the sacrifices put in by our overworked nurses! He mentions firefighters, but they are not the most highly paid of male workers. At least not in this country, I cannot speak for the United States.
The committed feminist Lynne Segal admitted a few years ago that female professionals in their early to mid 20s actually earn about 105% MORE than their male counterparts. So it seems the 'glass ceiling' may have been smashed by our modern female yuppies. Interestingly she let this gap in pay pass without a murmer of complaint, whereas I doubt she would have done was the shoe on the other foot.
I believe in a movement where men and women work together for both social justice and equality, and can tackle discrimination where it does occur. This should not involve creating non existent oppressions, or demonising men as being potential abusers. The obsession with pornography, and the inherent oppressiveness of the male gaze, is really a cover for neo puritanism and a case of privileged women looking for reasons why they are 'oppressed'. Not all women find the male gaze to be oppressive anyway, and these grievances pale into comparison besides those suffered by women in Afghanistan or many other third world countries, women there I am sure would happily exchange their very real oppression for these non sequiters.
Women are supposedly oppressed by a bogeyman called 'objectification' namely sexual objectification by men. But hold on! Sexual objectification is something we all do to each other, such are the rules of attraction. What about the 'objectification' of men by women in the form of Hollywood actors? I'm sure Brad Pitt must feel very oppressed under the gaze of the female! And I objectify men myself, be they be models or someone sexually attractive I see on the street. I don't see how I am oppressing anyone by doing this. But fortunately white middle class men are not creating for themselves a grievance by claiming that I am.
The left has a slightly more sophisticated version of this doctrine. It claims that it is capitalism and consumer culture that does the 'objectification' or sexual 'commodification' of women. But it fails to account for the fact that women have always decorated themselves, in tribal (pre capitalist) culture women adorn themselves with face paint. All the modern cosmetics industry is doing is trading on an age old practice and one that is quite natural to the human. It may be distorting it and selling it back to us in a packaged and artificial form, but it is the nature of capital to do that with all natural human desires and practices. And an industrialised and urban society to a degree means that people demand mass produce by number, so mass production and packaging like this is inevitable of all products to some extent. As for porn and prostitution being in any way the 'commodification of women by capitalism' that is another empty non sequiter, and dry rot besides.
Prostitution is not called 'the oldest profession' for no reason (i.e it existed long before capitalism). So, for that matter, did porn. It was abundant in ancient Greece and Rome, as Camille Paglia will go to great lengths to show you. Porn may have taken on the forms of capitalism in that it is mass produced, likewise prostitution may have taken on some of the forms appropriate to the modern age, but they are in no way unique or even a product of capitalism. The only truth may be that their presence has increased post-industrialisation due to greater alienation of men from their work and the breakdown of extended family structures.
Leaving this aside all these critiques say nothing about the 'objectification and commodification of men by capitalism' - in the form of the Brad Pitts and the Calvin Klein ads. When it comes down to it we are all to some extent commodities in a capitalist culture. That is the nature of the market.
Susan Faludi, in her recent book 'Stiffed' (much better than that atrocious piece 'Backlash'), did go as far as to draw the conclusion that men are in fact now oppressed as women have been by what she calls 'decorative' culture, partly due to being let down by the decline of manufacturing. While she did make some interesting points about the largely decorative and celebrity based culture of late capitalism, she fails to take account of the natural human tendency to 'objectify'. Perhaps it is a result of the liberation of women that we can view men sex objects as openly and as unashamedly as they have always done to us.
Providing that nobody is being hurt I can't see any problem in doing what is natural as far as attraction and sex go. Only a killjoy puritan would object - but this is a tendency reserved for the femintern. So I can rest being assured that few men will bizarrely accuse me of oppressing them.
Do any feminists have any comments here?
Sunday, August 27, 2006
An interesting report here
on the denigration of the white working class on television. While I found 'Little Britain' amusing and am not one to jump on the pc bandwagon, it is a worrying trend that so many of those surveyed thought Vicky Pollard to be a realistic depiction of working class youth. And I can't deny the reactionary tones of that show. Neither actor was from a working background yet the targets of their satire tended to be such, apart from a few exceptions. It would be refreshing to see the 'chattering classes' being satirised for a change.
As for 'reality shows' like Big Brother and 'Wife Swap' I've long thought them overdue for the kill. Like the game shows in Stephen King's Richard Bateman novel 'The Running Man' they appear to be the modern equivalent of freak shows, with many of the contestants having mental health problems of some sort. Or simply desperate for money or fame. If it continues such TV will only get worse and more potentially exploitative. The audience appear to be treated as condescendingly as do the participants.
But in a celebrity obsessed consumerist society (a spectacle) fame is everything, even if it is only fifteen minutes of it. Appearance is everything. Reality TV, however distasteful I find it, is a mere product of this, of alienated people aspiring to 'be someone' and taking their gamble. So it would be utopian of me to simply wish it away, or god forbid call for any censorship. I just don't watch it (and to be honest it bores me anyway). But then I don't watch much TV anyway.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Chen Guangcheng has been sentenced to four and a half years for 'public order offences, see report. According to Amnesty he did not receive a fair trial.
Write to the foreign secretary or the Chinese embassy to demand he be released. Further details will be posted of any upcoming events or activism.
An interesting article on languages in the Guardian's Comment is Free' section.
Anglophones tend to be the worst equipped linguistically, and this is probably because we tend to take it for granted that most other people will speak English, it being the international language to to US/Anglo hegemony of the commercial sphere. A rather arrogant view that is not always true anway. I recall a couple of trips I made where few people could in fact speak English, and regretting the fact I had not brushed up on any skills. Communication was therefore difficult.
Learning a language probably does take away an Anglo-centric view of the world to some extent. While it is impossible to learn a language properly in a classroom it at least gives you a few basics to start out with and makes communication on holiday easier and less embarrassing. The rest should come with being friendly and talking to people when in a country, learning as you go.
Despite my objection to the narrowness of the national curriculum, I see the need for at least one foreign language to be compulsory in school, for the development of basic linguistic skills at least. Classroom knowledge does not help that much if it is not used ever in a natural environment, it is forgotten after a few years if not revised.
The best time to learn any language is during early childhood. This is partly why the Dutch have good English skills, I believe, as they learn in primary school. And is a language they will use.
In my local community centre there were courses in foreign languages being offered to children under five. Perhaps this should be offered in school, but that would be a question of resources and what language would be opted for anway.
Damn A Levels Again.......
Every year I wait for another round of complaints that exams are getting too easy. Yet again there are calls for a new grade. Why aren't they rejoicing that perhaps children are getting smarter, or simply working harder?
But it is worth thinking of what exam results do and don't tell us anyway. With or without an A+ grade, they cannot tell us about somebody's all round intelligence. All they will ever do is inform how skilled somebody is at passing exams, and that is not the same as general intelligence. What it is useful for is for employers to judge a person's discipline, which is pretty much what exams are for anyway. So they have what they want - a more disciplined workforce for the skilled professions. Why the tears?
In more ideal circumstances the move should be made away from an exam culture, pretty much like the long hours culture and that of discipline per se. Not every skill or talent can be measured on a piece of paper.
Mistaken Identity Again.......
The mistaken identity of the plane bomber appears not to have been the first one this week. This women, for some unknown reason save for that she was English living in Northern Ireland, was mistaken for Maxine Carr, the former girlfriend of the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley.
A prime example of what media induced hysteria can do. It brings to mind the vigilante activity in Portsmouth a few years ago, when paediatricians and other innocent members of the public were mistaken for paedophiles.
Besides, it's worth a moment to think about what Carr's crime exactly was. Nobody knows exactly why she covered up for Huntley. She may well have been telling the truth when she said that she did not believe he could be capable of such a thing (to face the fact that you have been living with a murderer can't be a run of the mill task). Whatever the case, she was not guilty of killing anybody, he was.
But it seems issues like this prevent some people from being able to think rationally.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Proto Eugenics and 'Choice'
The Scottish professor Neil McKegany, of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, suggests implimenting a policy of paying heroin addicts not to have children, by giving cash in return that women take long term contraception. But even worse than this he suggests that those who are already parents be given a year to kick their habits or have their children taken away - permanently, for adoption.
A spokesman from the Catholic Church rightly asked where this would end. Who would be next? Alcoholics? He was probably only too aware of the eugenic undertones of this. Prior to World War II and Hitler's eugenic Reich the Church was the strongest opponent of eugenic ideas that had wide support among the elites. Sadly many progressives found themselves on the wrong side, and bought into destructive ideas of social engineering, the idea that 'inferiors' should be dissuaded from breeding.
Fabians such as Bernard Shaw, the Webbs, and HG Wells supported negative eugenics.
But most notable was the founder of 'Planned Parenthood' Margaret Sanger, the birth control activist and modern 'feminist' heroine.
The proposed policy in Scotland gets bleaker. Worse still, the Labour Party are considering adopting it as part of their manifesto. It is suggested that addicts sign a contract agreeing not to have children. If they breach the contract not only will the children be taken away from them but their methadone prescriptions and State benefits will also be withdrawn.
This in the wake of the tragic deaths of some children who died as a result of neglect by addicted parents. But it is a vicious response that will help nobody. Parents with such problems should be given all the help they need to support their children, along with adequate treatment for addiction geared towards the need of the individuals. They do not need threats like these. Drug addicts have enough problems as it is. I have seen parents who have had their children taken away due to addiction - and the loss has worsened their problems. Losing all you have only makes you want to give up completely, driving you further into despair. Yet the plans wish to make it easier for children to be removed from parents in such situations. If the new plans come into fruition women pregnant while attempting to recover from an addiction will only have two choices - abortion or removal of not only your baby but removal of all else - treatment and benefit. An extremely stark scenario.
While suffering from or attempting to break from an addiction is not the ideal time to have children, but draconian policies like this are not the way to address the issue. The way to address it is via adequate treatment and support - support for both vulnerable parents and children from social services and the community.
The Scottish National Party thankfully opposes such proposals. It is yet another example of New Labour getting 'tough' on the most marginalised groups in society - a classic characteristic of the bully, the powerful attacking the powerless.
It is the same mentality of the eugenicists - any measures necessary to ensure that 'degenerates', 'undesirables' etc, do not reproduce. It is not a war against drugs but a war against the weak and the poor.
Any mention of reducing the upper time limit on abortion and 'pro choice' groups such as 'Abortion Rights' are up in arms. Yet they are silent on matters like these, and the proposed draconian policy did not get the media attention that it should have done.
It is also noteworthy how 'Abortion Rights' are silent over the arrest and trial of the noble Chen Guangcheng for exposing the forced abortions and coercive population policies of the Chinese government. This was a removal of reproductive choice for women, and if they really were in favour of choice they would be wholeheartedly backing him. They cannot argue that they only focus on British law, as this article shows that they do think internationally, at least when it suits them. They are not only silent about Chen but are also silent about forced abortions and coercive population policies full stop. They only care about 'choice' when the choice involved is abortion. The only ' reproductive right' they care about is the right not to reproduce. Their propaganda is full of misinformation. It is high time that these people be exposed as the liars they are, and that the left and trade unions stop giving this group the unconditional support that they do. They quite often get articles published in the left wing press, yet it is very difficult for left wing pro lifers (or even those who simply wish to see restrictions such as a reduction in the current time limit) to get any space. They stop the left from being able to have an open and honest debate on the abortion issue, as they and similiar minded people long ago succeeded in enforcing a false consensus and a climate of fear around this particular shibolleth.
'Reproductive rights' have long been denied in China, and now the British government are talking of denying them to the most vulnerable people in the country. Some of us must speak up against it. An attack on the most marginalised is symtomatic of a wider mentality. It is a dangerous mentality, the pro death ethos, and it must be fought tooth and nail. 'First they came for......'
As the spokesman from the church recognised (and he seemed to have been the only one to have expressed this insight) it may not stop with drug addicts. Hitler in fact began with the mentally ill. Nobody objected to this, and thus he was given leeway to move in on other 'defected' people. Drug addicts occuoy the same kind of position today. They are stereotyped in all kinds of ways and are generally thought of as being if not evil then at least undeserving. But they are people with problems - who need the full dignity and humanity granted to everybody else. Full human dignity is stripped from people when their basic human rights are denied.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Tories Ahead of Labour in Polls.......
Even I was surprised to find the Conservatives ahead of New Labour by as much as 40% to their opponents measly 31%, an all time low for Blair.
I have reached the stage of indifference as to which one of the main parties is in power as they have become virtually identical. I fail to buy the arguments of Labour lefties vis a vi the historic link with the trade unions, etc. They do not have the power they once did and have virtually no influence over policy. Hence the dissafiliation of the RMT and FBU.
As much as I admire the campaign by John McDonell and was heartened by the election of Walter Wolfgang to the NEC last month, I still hold little hope for the future of the party.
Middle class 'swing voters' may be simply tired of this government and it's lies. Some people may be voting Tory simply because they want a change, as the government is seen as being as sleazy and as tired as was the Major administration in it's last years.
It has ignored public opinion over important issues (i.e the war on Iraq) and is notably out of touch with the feelings of the people that terrorism is not unlinked from it's foreign policy. The government does not accept this undeniable logic because to do so would be to admit that it's 'war on terror' has been a shambles from the get go. The administration is as detached as Major's ever was.
Blair's 'New Labour' ditched it's socialism and created a red-tied version of Thatcherism to become 'electable' in the eyes of 'middle England'. Now, after spending almost a decade being unelectable themselves, Cameron's Conservatives are modelling themselves on Blair's New Labour. The result? Identical parties.
One thing that can be done, however, is to ditch the first past the post system that got us into this mess to begin with. We need electoral reform with some kind of proportional representation. Then an alternative will be able to built as smaller, less established parties, will have the opportunity to gain some clout. This will give the left in the UK the opportunity it needs to build a base and a credible alternative to the centre right who are running the show.
Support Chen Guangheng
This brave man currently stands trial in China for exposing the forced abortions and sterilisations carried out under China's one child policy.
All progressives should give him their unconditional support as it is highly doubtful he will be given a fair trial judging by China's overall human rights record. His wife has been barred from attending the trial, and against his will he has been given two State appointed lawyers. Chen exposed a programme in which as thousands of women were forced into abortions or sterilisations. Those who attempted to flee were beaten or jailed. A heartbreaking example is here.
This is one area in which pro life and pro choice activists should be able to unite. Raise awareness by circulating the information, and write to the foreign secretary.
Friday, August 18, 2006
If the hateful Julie Bindel were to write in such a way about any other group in society then the editor of the 'Graun' would not publish such a piece of hate literature. But children, it seems, are fair game. And so, it seems, are parents who like to spend time with their children and not pack them off to summer camps or boarding school as she assumes they must do. Take some time out to reflect, Julie. Not everyone hates kids as much as you do. In fact, not everyone hates children at all.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I have long suspected that the time has come to treat domestic violence as a gender neutral issue, . Although official statistics still show that women are more commonly the victims, this must surely have something to do with the fact that women have had years of being encouraged to talk about the issue. Men have had no such thing, and are probably less inclined to talk about it. It does not exactly look 'masculine' to admit to having been beaten by one's wife. Yet a sizable number of men are beginning to speak out, and the issue can no longer be dismissed or ignored. One in six men are on the receiving end of violence at home.
To face this would, however, involve questioning the prevailing feminist orthodoxy - that domestic violence is a gender issue, that women are almost always the victims, and that DV is a result of women's oppression, or subordinate position. It could well be that as women gain more power in society generally they may feel more inclined to exercise it in other ways, as men have always done. But an article first published in the Scotsman seems to dispute that things were ever so clear cut as this. So do some 'Violent Reflections', along with numerous other sources online. The right leaning libertarian site 'i feminists' is one place to look. I quite like them for their controversial stance and their slaughtering of certain holy cows that are overdue for the kill.
Sadly, though, it tends only to be the right who cover the matter. The left does not question this particular feminist shibboleth, any more than it tends to with abortion lest it incites the wrath of this constituency it holds a fragile alliance with. I may run the risk of being labelled a misogynist, anti feminist, reactionary etc for publishing this but I've gotten beyond caring about such smears from people whose critical faculties have been dulled by political dogma. In truth the feminist movement cannot handle dissent on what it deems articles of faith. To question long held beliefs is deemed to be 'feeding the backlash'. Any questioning of the prevailing wisdom (for instance - that women never seek out or are attracted to violent partners, never have their own role to play in the dynamics of abusive relationships, and denial of their sado masochistic content) is said to be 'blaming the victim'.
However we look at it - facilities should be promoted for male victims of female violence. Shelters should be available for those who need it - be they men, women or children. Neither should children have to put up with violence from either parent while in the shelter. The physical abuse of children by some mothers (amounting to a form of domestic violence in itself) has also been underplayed by the feminist movement. This may well be because women tend to spend more time alone with children, often lacking power over anyone else. Yet men who batter their spouses often lack power elsewhere too. You can't have it both ways, making excuses for it in women while casting male offenders to eternal damnation.
The fact that there are more female casualties of violence at home is probably due to men's greater physical strength. Yet what of the cases when women do kill their husbands? 'Battered woman syndrome' is often invoked by the defence pretty easily. Yet a man would probably be laughed out of court were he to invoke a similiar defence.
I have had it said to me that perhaps we need a different analysis of women's violence than men's against women. But this is working on the assumption that the feminist one was true to begin with, which I have cause to doubt.
In many countries of the world women still are in a subordinate position. In such cultures it may well be the case that violence is seen as a legitimate way to punish unruly women. In the West gender inequities still come into play due to the low financial status of caring work, done predominately by women, which will account for the pay gap. Working mothers come under a lot of pressure, and it is often no longer possible for families to survive on one pay cheque. But we no longer live in the same world we did in the 1970s, even if the premises of feminists (and the acceptance of them by the left) were true. This being that domestic violence was the sole province of men against women. To rad fems it is a patriarchal conspiracy, and 'violence against women' a grand conspiracy of a male cabal to keep women in their place. It was no grand conspiracy - if anything it was as the Marxists have always said - a result of women's economic subordination. Just as children's dependence on adults can make them targets for oppression and violence at the hands of adults who cannot always be trusted not to abuse their power. But in our society we have gotten past the stage where women are in the same position as children - so let's stop infantilising them so. Let's embrace a mature feminism that treats women as adults, and fight against the sub adolescent posturing that views women always as victims.
To claim that an expression of rage (rage often being associated with weakness rather than actual strength) is a part of some grand patriarchal conspiracy is puerile and dumb.
In cultures where women are subordinate a patriarchal ideology may provide a rationale for male violence, but the idea that women can never be violent, are somewhat inherently purer, has long been discredited.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Irvine Welsh and the Art of Misogyny
I wonder if there is any such thing as political correctness gone mad........
It appears Irvine Welsh has been in a bit of trouble over alleged misogyny in his latest novel. Are people really that slow, and unable to allow for a little poetic license? God help us if writers reduce themselves to a state of self censorship. I'm not a fan of Welsh myself or his macho style but I have no desire to censor anyone.
If this is the first time he has been pulled up over this kind of thing I'm surprised, as I recall the infamous 'Porn' novel, with the blow up doll on the cover (a sight for sore eyes indeed). Wonders never cease......
Thursday, August 10, 2006
It was curious to see Julie Bindel's take on the Sheridan affair. It probably goes without saying that I am not a fan of the aforesaid journalist. But what was revealing was the way that she saw it as a gender war. Having been on a discussion list with Catriona Grant, the woman she quotes in her article, her brand of feminism does not appeal to me. The women in her faction (which Sheridan called a 'gender based discussion group) wish to criminalise the purchasers of sex, seeing all the sellers as being victims. From what I could gather their feminism has hardly moved on since the 1970s, or rather it is a rehash of it. All women are oppressed and men are by definition the oppressors.
But interesting what Grant had to say, namely that this was not about class but about gender. Really? Would any serious socialist (or feminist for that matter) testify for News of the World, that right wing and misogynist rag? Is Rupert Murdoch suddenly a champion of women's rights?
While Bindel may speak some truths about the macho behaviour of men on the hard left, and the sexist treatment in court merited to Fiona McGuire, I neither support the brand of feminism espoused by Bindel and Grant (the latter being an admirer of the former and her style) nor do I think it a principled stance for alleged socialists not to stand by their comrades, whatever their faults.
Bindel's article seems to further confirm my suspicion that it was a faction who took advantage of the situation. Nothing was mentioned about the truth or non truth of the allegation, even whether the sex life of Sheridan was relevent to his conduct as a politician. Bindel's ire was focused on Sheridan's wife and mother for standing by him, for not being the kind of women she would deem as politically correct. Which speaks volumes about her -and those with her policies.
A good rebuttal is in today's paper
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Anne Quesney In the Guardian
I was a little bit rankled by reading the glowing interview and profile of Anne Quesney, head of the campaign group 'Abortion Rights', in the Guardian today.
Her organistion (sadly along with most of the left) bemoans the fact that many people who 'claim' to be pro choice are now wavering on whether or not abortion should be carried out after 20 weeks. The suggestion to reduce the approved time limit is treated as on a par with the work of extremists who wish to undermine 'women's reproductive rights'. As with many extremists on her side of the debate, she stereotypes all her opponents as being motivated by 'archaic religious views'. To accuse them of being dogmatic, as she does, is simply a case of pots and kettles.
Not only this but she accuses her opponents of lying - something she is not averse to herself. The abortion breast cancer link may have been exagerrated (as can be many other health risks by pro life campaigners) but it is medical fact that carrying a first pregnancy to term does reduce the risk. Neither it is unheard of for women to be traumatised mentally by abortion. Yet Quesney denies this or any other health risks, claiming that raising them is essentially 'chipping away at women's hard won for rights'. As for the preposterous claim that 'foetuses do not survive outside the womb any longer than they did 2,000 years ago' I find it incredulous that she dismisses medical technology in this way. Right, Anne. So if a premature baby is born, at, say, 26 weeks, it should be left to die, and not put in an incubator?
Anne complains of a 'postcode lottery' - where women in some areas find it hard to obtain abortions, especially late ones. I would ask her to think of the feelings of the medical staff in this case. Late abortions are not 'simple medical procedures', as has often been argued for early ones. To put it bluntly they are not unlike giving birth - to a dead baby.
While I may well appreciate her egaliterian motives I can never accept her conclusions. Her belief that easy access to abortion 'improves people's lives' is essentially buying into a patriarchal worldview - that in order to gain equality women must adapt themselves to a wombless, male world. Never mind the demands for flexible hours, parental leave, and accesible childcare.
Pro choice campaigners tend to neglect the cases when abortion is not a 'choice' but is used as a direct tool of the oppression of women. I wonder what Anne and her friends will make of this?
More Casualties from Blair and Bush's 'War on Drugs'
Just as with coca farmers in Columbia, poor opium farmers in war ravished Afghanistan are on the receiving end of this phony war(see report)
The fact that it is costing the lives of British troops is an embarrassment for the United States but not a deterrent to it's overall policy. Prohibition kills and maims but human life is cheap. It will be too much for the powers who be to admit that their policy is a disaster. Meanwhile lets continue to wage war on the most vulnerable in society and and finance criminal cartels, while ensuring third world peasants know their place.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Overselling Climate Change.......
I came accross an interesting feature on BBC news. Evidently the risks of climate change have been somewhat exagerrated by the media. But this is no surprise. The media today thrives on scare mongering rather than telling the public the truth, which is what journalists of integrity are supposed to do.
Climate change, it seems, has become another shibolleth that one rarely can question without being accused of being an agent for big business. But the fact it is happening seems indisputable, what is up for debate is the rate at which it is happening, and the extent of damage. And what should and should not be done. Let's hope that the poorest in society won't be denied the occasional luxury of air travel by means of an unfair tax that will only hit them. See report.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Pulp Fiction and Me.........
I just finished a recreational read, Martina Cole's
'The Take'. I have long read her books as they are pulp fiction at it's best, but what makes her interesting is that she does write from a female perspective on what is usually male territory. We have the stereotypical villians of gangster novels, but we also hear about the women who love them, who veer between Zolaesque pathos akin to Gervaise from
'L'assomoir',and sometimes self awareness which ends in their redemption. The men usually are full of self justifications and macho bravado.
'The Take' got some bad reviews from Amazon, with readers effectively complaining that the characters were both dislikable and stereotypical. But hey, have they only just caught on? Stereotypes are the norm of this kind of fiction and ultimately make it what it is. Freddie Jackson was the archetypal villian, a sociopathic personality with an uncontrollable temper and attractiveness to women. In my mind he physically bore a strong resemblance to Heathcliffe. His alcoholic wife Jackie slits her wrists in a pulp Brontesque act of tragedy in response to his predictable death at the hands of his cousin who can take no more of his shit. Jackie has a 'good' sister Maggie who is the wife of Freddies 'good' cousin Jimmy ( a nice guy but not so ridiculously good looking or as charming as his sociopathic nemisis), and their characters and their relationship are too good to be true. It is only tarnished by the antics of their losers of a sister and cousin, who screw up their lives through their own self destructive tendencies. Jackie, like Gervaise, destroyed herself through alcholism and squalor, along with infatuation for a man who despised her.
I'm not asking for 100% realism here, and this is not in the same league as Zola or Dickens. But I enjoy a bit of pulp mixed with some tragedy to bring out my empathy for women who love bastards (as many of us have been guilty of).
Satire is usually funny if done well, even if it is not very pc. A while ago I came accross this site.
I am the first to grant that the guy ( I am assuming he is a man due to his style) seems rather bitter, and he is at times a tad misogynist. Judging by some of his posts he is a Conservative. His humour is a bit repetitive, so he fails to quite pull it off. Top spoof requires that you fool someone at least for a little while, andhe doesn't manage that.
However, he does hit on a few spots. Perhaps because the type of feminism he parodies happens to be the type I despise, that self serving, hypocritical and whingy brand promoted by spoilt and privileged students who are simply looking for a grievance. Too bad they see men as the enemy and not the class system that excacerbates divisions. One blog that is an example of the real thing (and God I wish it was a spoof!) is I'm Not A Feminist, But.
Even worse is the fact that this site is British, I naively thought this kind of nonsense was more the property of the Americans these days.
It is a prime example of the the degeneration of the feminist movement as a whole. There are many other such blogs but I don't particularly feel bothered to advertise them. Besides totally ignoring divisions among women such as race, class, etc, this brand of feminism takes narcissism and naval gazing to it's extreme. What few politics it does possess leave much to be desired. On the list of links from that site first comes 'Abortion Rights'. Not far below is a list of anti prostitution resources, one of which is dressed up as 'research'. Not far beneath are anti porn sites.
Right. So abortion is always a free choice, according to these middle class remnants of what was once the 'women's movement'. Never mind the social and economic pressures felt by many women, predominately working class women. On the other hand, women can never engage in sex work freely, or any other kind of sex that this self serving elite do not deem 'politically correct'. When it comes to something they happen to dislike we must always be forced or coerced by an evil phallocracy, conditioned by childhood abuse, or just occasionally by economic forces we have no control over. What about the economic forces that often drive women to abortion, or the men who emotionally blackmail or coerce women to abort the unborn child (or foetus) that they sired? Patriarchy is notably exempt from any ire in this regard. How strange. But any conception of class, and the way that the capitalist system as a whole constrains our choices, would be too much to ask from them.
I stand as the type of woman who they would readily shun as being 'male identified' or something worse, readily admitting that I would sooner engage in sex work than have an abortion. I know that's just me, but if they really were 'pro choice' they would not dictate to me what I do with my body, or what type of sex is pc.
As long as these ideas continue, I am sorry to say that I will continue to laugh a little at feministing.org.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
I must say I was pleased to hear about the Tommy Sheridan victory. It was a victory for the left, and I admired his oratary in court. However, there are lessons to be learnt. If there was any truth behind the allegations (and I find it hard to believe there was none at all, albeit exagerrated) then it highlights several issues. News of the World would not have had such a field day had he not capitulated in the first place to the puritan mentality on the left by claiming to be a teetotaller and an ideal family man. Had he not claimed this then he could have simply told them his sex life was simply none of their business, end of. It would have simply been between him and Gail, as it should be.
A post on Stroppyblog summed up my view on the matter pretty well. Pretty much as the Bill Clinton scenario - I'm not interested in the sex lives of politicians, providing they do their job. It is ideas I am interested in. But one should practice what they preach.
Tommy was treated quite badly by members of his own party, it would appear, as some testified on the side of NOW. Thar kind of factionalism and rivalry should be beneath socialist politics, and his comrades should have stood behind him without exception.
But it is over now and I send him my regards on his victory. Wither the Scottish Socialist Party from here, is the question now. Let's hope it picks up again to be the promising body and hope for the left that it once appeared, and not a bastion of neo Calvinism. May it once again be an example of the ability to organise that is still lacking on the English left, partly due to first past the post.
Friday, August 04, 2006
FCPS: A fixation of Neo Puritans?
Recently the Guardian chaired a debate over the publication of a work entitled ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’ by Ariel Levy. The book’s topic is a phenomenon known as ‘raunch culture’. Its main premise seems to be that women are complicit in their own oppression by dressing in a sexually provocative manner, taking part in lap dancing or joining men in the viewing of strippers. It also bemoans ‘raunch’ as being the only model of sexuality promoted by mass culture.
There is no consensus on what actually constitutes ‘raunch’, so in many ways it is a bit of a straw man (or woman). But going by the rhetoric it may be fair to say that the sexuality displayed by Paris Hilton, or Katie Price (aka glamour model Jordan) are both representations.
‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’, as is implied by its very title, asks very little of men but focusing it’s ire on women for buying into what it deems to be a male defined form of sexuality. So do it’s sympathisers in Britain.
Fighting a straw man is a convenient way to avoid confrontation with the establishment. As with the anti porn campaign of the 1980s by Catherine Mackinnon, Levy’s work has been praised by Christian Conservatives, whose other values would not sit well with the liberal audience Levy hopes to address.
‘Guardian’ columnists have taken up this banner and often berate women who don’t fit into this new code of conduct of sexual purity. It is the moralism of the Daily Telegraph or Mail with a liberal veneer.
For example, Katie Price has been sneered at for ‘making a career out of men’s masturbatory habits’ in Jenny Colgan’s ‘View from a Broad’ Column. Even the women from the comedy show ‘Smack the Pony’ received the ire of Arabella Weir for daring to expose their breasts on television. Bare breasts simply should not be shown, as the sight of naked flesh constitutes ‘porn’ and inherently ‘objectifies’ women. So it seems the comedians were either too stupid to understand this or were knowingly betraying their own sex to the evils of the male gaze.
If it was to come out that Price/Jordan suffered from an addiction then no doubt the Guardian would cry tears of pity for her and outrage at those evil men who had exploited her. But women who take their clothes off for money with no shame incite the wrath of their self proclaimed redeemers. Human empathy can only be directed their way if they accept the victim label – ‘know their place’ by old fashioned standards. It is an item of dogma that women cannot engage in this kind of work unless they are under severe duress. The nuances of human behaviour are not important to those who buy into the black and white view that sex work is always forced. To admit it may just sometimes be a genuine career choice would both outrage their morality and blow their liberal cover. It would prove they really are more concerned with public morality rather than ‘exploitation’ or the vaguer buzzword of ‘objectification’. The underlying idea is that no decent human being would do such a thing voluntarily.
Katherine Viner, the playwright and editor of the Guardian ‘Weekend’ magazine, cheered on the government’s clampdown on prostitution early this year in the broadsheet while simultaneously ranting against prostitution’s alleged infiltration into the mainstream and its supposed loss of stigma. The law was not enough :
'We need a zero-tolerance approach - protests, complaints, refusals - to the use of prostitution in media, fashion and advertising, and to the promoters of the sex industry who pervade our public life.’
What Viner and her ilk are really concerned with is the indignity felt by ‘respectable’ women like herself at such brazen displays. The sentence could be an excerpt from Mary Whitehouse, the 1980s Christian campaigner against ‘immorality’ in the media. Viner’s sexual politics are a renewed hash of the good woman/bad woman myth promoted and sustained by a male elite.
Women are not oppressed by unequal pay, lack of access to childcare, flexible working and the devaluation of caring. It is porn that is the monster – and by implication sex workers themselves. The idea that prostitution has lost its stigma is pure fantasy on Viner’s part. Despite the pornographic symbolism in ‘raunch culture’ prostitution or for that matter prostitutes are not acceptable in polite society. Viner and her colleagues from the Mail will ensure this continues to be so.
There is little, if anything, progressive in this brand of sexual politics. Yet it is what dominates the mainstream. It is a reinvigoration of the censorious anti porn campaigns of the 1980s. Women who dress in a flamboyant manner, dye their hair etc are demonised by association as either being oppressed without their knowledge or actively betraying the female sex. On discussion forums regarding the issue they are often spoken of on the assumption they are absent – which implicitly shows the snobbery of their self proclaimed rescuers.
The promoters of this ideology rarely question their implicit snobbery and elitism. They write from a privileged background, showing no actual understanding towards working class cultures or people whose choices in life may not be as broad as their own. It is not a coincidence that women are patronised, infantilised and berated far more than men in the parallel fixation with binge drinking. Male sexuality is by this standard aggressive while females are passive. The masses, unless kept in line, will get uncontrollably intoxicated and unleash their untamed sexuality and offend the public morality of the middle classes. It is a conservative mentality that can be traced back to the Victorians.
People who focus their angst on sexuality rarely talk about economic issues. A connection between the pervasiveness of popular culture and the use of mass communication by the capitalist system as whole is rarely, if ever, discussed. They hope that sex can be the one area of sanctity uncontaminated by the market, a naïve view at best and a dangerous and reactionary one at worst.
There is an argument to be had that there is more to life than looking like Paris Hilton, and that females do sometimes collude in their own exploitation. Perhaps the selling of stationary with Playboy Bunny logos to children does show a disturbing trend in the marketplace. But this will not be remedied by creating a new code of conduct, one that will prove to be just as constricting. Part of it is the age old battle between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture – the former inevitably being of more worth and value. Women who do choose to flaunt their sexuality in the way the mainstream promotes are written off as being brainwashed – it does not seem to enter anyone’s mind that some may actually enjoy flaunting it.
The ‘liberal’ sexual morality police are far more insidious than their counterparts in the Mail who openly speak in terms of indecency or decadence.