17 April, 2009

My Top Five

Being, as I am, an ardent band-wagon jumper, I recently joined in the latest craze sweeping Facebook, LivingSocial. For the uninitiated, LivingSocial is an application that allows you to pick your "top five" either selecting a topic from the list (top five films, books, etc) or creating your own, complete with illustrations. Inspired by a few femi top fives already posted there, I've basically thieved the concept and brought it here, in the guise of my Top Five Anti-Feminist (and oh, so much more) Hate Figures:

1.) Peter Hitchens, or as I like to call him, If Evil Had A Face - a Fail On Sunday columnist and popular choice among the femis. The man said, in all seriousness: "if both parties have had sexual relations before or either is of a less than chaste nature, it cannot be defined as rape." Yup, say yes to sex once and you're saying it forever, to anyone. Even people you haven't met. Flesh eating zombies are too good for him, really.

2.) Richard Littlejohn, aka Dick Littlecock - another Daily Fail writer. I don't care if he's been done to death already, the author of an article titled "Don't Give Me The People's Prostitutes Routine" in relation to brutal murders of five young women, two of whom were mothers; who routinely ridicules homosexuality; who defended the torture of Binyam Mohammed and uses the words "muslim" and "terrorist" as though they were interchangable deserves to be on every kind of hit-list going, for all eternity.

3.) Amanda Platell - you guessed it, she has a column in the Fail. So many reasons to hate her, I can't pick a clear winner, so I'm going to choose at random and go with "hijacked the death of a young woman on a skiing holiday to rant against feminism". I'm sure her parents loved opening the paper and seeing their daughter's tragic death used to push a woman-hating agenda.

4.) Pope Benedict - you all know who he is, I imagine. He doesn't write for the Hate Mail (a little variety is the key to keeping things fresh, you know) but I imagine he'd like to if he could. Condom use causes HIV and women were most liberated by the advent of washing machines, according to this man. It's like Goodbye Lenin, only he is somehow being kept in the 1950s.

5.) Kylie Minogue - ok, this one is slightly irrational, but humour me. She freaks me out, frankly. She's so small, she could be hiding anywhere and you wouldn't know. She could be behind you RIGHT NOW. On a serious - and feminist - note though, when her career stalled in the early noughties, she immediately resorted to posing half-naked in lads mags to keep her profile up, followed by prancing around on stage in not-quite-arse-covering hotpants and of course the lingerie collection, which seemed largely an excuse to release ever more posters and calendars and one horrible, horrible tv advert where she simulated sex on a rodeo bull (does anyone else remember this?) clad only in sexy undies. Yeah, it did wonders for her album sales, but at what cost the celebration of actual talent? What an icon. Not.

08 April, 2009

The modern man and paternity leave

This article cropped up at the DMHFFH (with thanks to FGF for the link) about how modern man is emasculated. About the achievements of Man “The world is by and large explored: Everest is conquered, the Poles attained, the Moon walked.” About how all that is left is to prove himself as the breadwinner. And how my MP Nick Clegg is the devil.

Now as a yoga stretching, tofu eating, long haired meditating hippie, which according to Liz Jones is like admitting myself to being left wing of Mussolini on Fox News, I guess I am the model emasculated man. I abstain from drinking and consider a quiet night watching a film more entertaining than pub watching this strange ‘foot ball’ that people talk a lot about. So as an emasculated male my future apparently is to become a docile househusband looking after the kids in the way that was enforced for women in the fifties. To which I say: Fuck That.

But going back to the article (though there’s not much point in reading it, the title says everything you need to know about it) at hand, the role of the father has been somewhat decayed other the years for a number of reasons. Job working hours have increased and the lives of people are becoming more caught up in trying to live the ideal lifestyle. So the problem for the role of father is not becoming a docile vegetable, far from it, it is the absence and the loose of identity that goes with actually being a father. Hence paternity leave. I will, if in any future I do become for any number of reasons a father, I would seek out as much paternity leave as I can. I would want any future offspring to know me as the father and not the guy who gets money.

Anyway, the article is defunct in argument regardless of whether you take the emasculated male side or the Man™ side of the debate. The article seems to suggest that men are useless as caring fathers and should be but cash machines for any children and then says something that might reverse this, paternity leave, is going to leave us males going insane. The finishing section on how this is brought about the ‘celeb obsessed’ culture with the closure of steel mills and coal mines (yes I know in a paper that will support Margaret Thatcher to her long awaited grave and to the very gates of hell) and similar bizarre conclusions that really offer no conclusion.

As a side note this is my first official post and get the feeling it is kinda rambly, what do people think?

02 April, 2009

Those Mad, Mad Men

On Valentine’s Day I went out with a couple of good friends who have offshore, foreign girlfriends and were thus at a loss while other couples PDA-ed all over town and singles stayed in and cried. As we all were living local, we opted on going out in leafy suburb Richmond.

The topics of conversation flitted between football, hard rock and the perfect murder, but at one point it switched to the excellent US television series Mad Men, which two of us were enthusiastically gobbling up at the time.

The non-believer, who is a Czech lager commie (one rung below champagne socialists on the liberal elite ladder) pointed out that he had watched an episode with his (admittedly faintly pretentious) partner and that the two found it chauvinistic, sexist, racist and outdated. CLC, as he shall be known from hereon in, went so far as to jokingly accuse me of being a misogynist for liking the show.

Now, my friend clearly missed the whole point of Mad Men - to the uninitiated it is a beautifully crafted and scripted drama set in a New York advertising agency at the start of the 1960s. An arena in which men dominate everything as unscrupulously as one could possibly imagine. But here’s the catch - the beatniks are taking over the world, segregation is falling apart, Kennedy is in office and - crucially - the pill just came out and abbos are legal.

In between getting hit on by a really wrinkly guy who was a dead ringer for Max Clifford (we were in a gay bar full of old boys looking for trade. Safest option after hours in the 'burbs), I explained that most of the male characters are nasty, sexist pigs, and that we are not supposed to sympathise with them. What they say and do is funny, but then Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and Alan Rickman in Die Hard have some cracking lines and awesome killings but, clearly, they are not meant to be the good guys.

Yes, the main protagonist - shady creative director Don Draper - cheats on his wife, but we are shown that to be the result of a repressed desire to escape from the shackles of the convention he wears to escape a troubled past and identity. He shouldn’t even have a wife, but society has dictated that he conform to a nuclear family that he develops affection for but instinctively resents. Unlike his hissing, wolf-whistling male colleagues, his infidelity is shown to be born from deep unhappiness and an emotional complexity he is struggling to fathom - much like the philandering of many the female characters.

It is this emotional sensitivity that makes him so good at his job: he senses, knows what people feel and want, for good and bad. It is also this instinct that leads him to take what was then a huge professional risk in promoting a young woman from the secretarial pool to junior copywriter, much to the derision of his superiors and subordinates. He encourages and develops Peggy as he feels she deserves it and - crucially in a capitalist context - knows that her insight into the powerful female market that his contemporaries dismiss is a key to a new, untapped market for the advertising industry.

Anyway, enough of this, but what stuck with me most from this discussion was the somewhat casual accusation that I was a sexist. I hauled CLC up on this, asked him to justify it and pointed out that it was as serious an accusation as one of homophobia or racism and one that should not be tossed around like rocket in a salad dish. He apologised and admitted that he “only said it to wind me up”. I then pointed out that, as a regular contributor to forums on women’s rights and issues, I would have a greater claim to lay for being a feminist than he does as he rarely discusses or even thinks about such matters.

And this is when it almost kicked off. CLC scoffed and said “you can’t be a feminist, for starters you’re a man, and furthermore your attitude to sex and relationships is as casual as a burberry cap, England away” (his actual words, I love this guy really).

Wooooaaaaaahhhh. Hang on there son. You’re meant to be this Guardian-reading ultra liberal who always thought New Labour smelt of shit and marches for peace on a monthly basis. Since when did feminism require membership to a specific gender group? Since when did being in a monogamous relationship have any bearing whatsoever on gender equality? B-b-but sexual freedom and the discrepancy in accepted behaviours between men and women are some of the key debates here? No?! I also pointed out that my conduct re: dating was significantly less anarchic than that of the majority of our co-drinkers, only heterosexual - yet no-one would call those big, hunky bears sexist, dammit!

Here lies the problem. There appears to be a misconception of what feminism means. Educated, liberal men and women who - without realising it - sympathise with feminist views still think that a. all feminists hate or want to dominate men, that b. feminists oppose any representation of female physical beauty and that c. a heterosexual man cannot, by default, be a feminist. Jebus, the last girl I was seeing had this view; she even said that she hated feminists, citing Valerie Solanas as a case study (ironically, perhaps, this girl has an almost identical job to Peggy in Mad Men, and indeed originally worked in an agency that is considered macho by modern standards). That would be like saying Al Qa’eda represent all muslims - which is considered an ultra-right view - except, it seems, a lot of people think this.

I thought feminism was about equality, bridging the gender gap in pay and opportunity, ensuring women have control of their bodies, addressing the heavy female skew in sexual assault victims and campaigning against unnecessary objectification of women in mainstream media. Right? Am I wrong?!

Now we, of course, know better than this, but we are not helped by negative, extremist portrayals by those mad folk who tied themselves to a tacky but harmless University Beauty pageant, and that crazed, shouty Twisty woman who thinks men should all be neutered and that any dissenting voice is one of fascism. Please, stop. You are doing as much good for our cause as those Al-Muhajaroon nutters that used to hang around Finsbury Park mosque were doing for Islam. We don’t need you.

You, however, need us. “Us” meaning “men”. The math, as our American friends say, is quite simple.

Half of our population is male; half is female. Of the female half, the majority will, if encouraged and allowed, support women’s rights. A significant minority - even if unleashed from the restraints of domineering men, which remains unlikely until victory is achieved - will retain a natural submissive streak that is manipulated and fostered by partners or family members. Same happens to chaps too. But this natural function of diversity leaves less than half of the population - already lagging behind the dominant half - to challenge the status quo.

What I’m slowly etching towards is this: Yes, we fucked up for several thousand years. Yes, we waste an inordinate amount of time watching musclebound chaps in shorts running about trying to stick a leather penis substitute between some hoop or other. Yes, we smell. But if men are excluded from the debate and the action, women are doomed to lose.

Let us in. Most of us are actually alright, given the right guidance. You need us as much as we need you - and we make a mean risotto.

01 April, 2009

Oh, Daily Mail. How you love stories about women putting on weight... women losing weight... women who should be losing weight... women who are causing other women to lose weight... but we all know, most of all, what you really love is making women feel bad. Actually, in terms of DM hatred, this article isn't too bad; yes, Natalie Cassidy has put weight on, and now she appears to be running. Woop-de-fucking-do. Is it of any importance whatsoever? No. Are they having a dig at her? Of course.

The worst thing, though, is not the article itself. Yes, it's gossipy and horrible and entirely pointless (and apparently written after somebody picked up Closer on their lunch break) - but it's not aiming to actually say much. Instead, what it does is provide a platform for the readers to spew hatred all over the place. They seem roughly divided between "don't be so mean!", "she was too skinny" and "she's fucking huge/ugly". So... same old. Predicted division of comments if this article was about Kate Moss: slightly more on the ugly side, slightly less on the mean.

But at least it's not asking "
Should I tell my husband I helped our 15-year-old daughter have an abortion?" Because, you know, that's just asking for trouble.