29 September, 2009

Guest Post by Slummy Mummy: Roman Polanski

I read an article in the Independent today, which moved me more than anything the Fail have ever managed to come up with.

Harvey Weinstein, the uber powerful Hollywood producer, made an empassioned plea, on behalf of his close friend Roman Polanski, who has suffered a miscarriage of justice so heinous, that he, and many of his hollywood compatriots felt compelled to write about it on his behalf. Not since Live Aid have we seen so many celebs moved.

Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss Authorities at a film festival, for a 'so called crime' he committed, aged 44.

When he was 44, the internationally renowned director took a 13 year old to the home of his friend Jack Nicholson. He promised to take her photograph for Vogue. He gave her champagne, and Quaalude. Then he told her to get into a jacuzzi, and while she was dazed and confused, he raped her orally, he raped her vaginally, and he raped her anally.While she asked him to stop. She repeatedly asked him to stop. He told her to keep this a secret from her mother. She didnt.

Then he plea bargained, and when he believed he may actually be punished for the crime he committed, instead of the one his lawyer managed to get a deal for- he fled.He fled for 32 years.

Mr Weinstein speaks from the heart when he talks of the artistic merit of his friends offerings, and of the life path he took which was filled with tragedy. Mr.Weinstein talks poetically about the suffering his friend has gone through, by not being allowed to re-enter the US. He dismisses the crime of drugging, and raping, a 13 year old child- as a 'so called crime'. He speaks with confidence of the connections he, and his friends have, and how they will use them, to get this 'matter' cleared up. Apparently he is going to go visit Governer Arnie, and others are going to petition the Clintons, they even have the ear of Nicholas Sarkozy.

He tells us that Mr Polanski served his time, 'whichever way you look at it'. Now I may not be the brightest spark in the box, but in which country is living around the world, in palatial homes, continuing to direct acclaimed films, a punishment. Apparently the fact that he didnt get to pick up his oscar in person- is enough on the statute books that serve Mr.Weinstein and Mr.Polanski-to be considered justice. I had never seen that on our statute books.

And herein lies the problem. Apparently Mr.Polanski belongs to a set where the same rules dont apply. His artistic genius, his survival of the holocaust, and the tragic loss of his wife- means that he apparently has carte blanche, to do as he pleases. If Mr.Weinstein and Mr.Polanski, and their friends, donot view the drugging and raping of a child as a crime, the only question I have, is -at what income level, level of celebrity, level of connection, do you just get to bring children to the homes of your friends, and rape them, and it become just a perk? Sarkozy, Schwarzenegger, and Clinton, are apparently not elected officials- who are answerable to the people-how could we have thought that?. For people like Mr.Weinstein, the ears of these people, is a perk of celebrity and power.

Mr.Polanski, Mr.Weinstein, and everyone of the morally bankrupt celebrities today, who have spoken up about this 'miscarriage of justice', shows me very clearly the world we live in. I am reassured to know that people with this kind of power, and this kind of money, fully believe they have the right to use the connections that they have, to help a friend evade prosecution for this 'so called crime'. It makes me feel very positive about the world, that the drugging and raping, of a 13 year old child- is not rape, as long as it is a powerful celebrity that is raping her.

It reassures me that women like Deborah Winger, and Whoopi Goldberg- are standing up to tell the world that this 'so called crime' is not really that bad, its not like its 'rape rape' after all. Well if a case where a undisputed facts are that a 13 year old was repeatedly fucked against her will, after being drugged, is not rape= then really, I would like to know what constitutes rape at all?

Oh wait, I am not reassured. I am fucking angry. Disgusted. Horrified. Dumbfounded. They are words I would use to describe how I feel, when I see the stance of those crying out, about the injustice of arresting a man who used his money and power to groom a child, then drugged and raped her. The shock compounding itself, after realising so clearly, we live in a society where celebrity is all, and rape is just a perk to that celebrity- and while Harvey Weinsteins article was abhorrent- it may just be a very true reflection of the society I live in.

Slummy Mummy is a regular on the Daily Mail Hating Feminazis from Hell facebook board. And we heartily recommend her own blog, Deeply Flawed But Trying.

23 September, 2009

Daily Mail - "Feminists are evil!"…now with added irrelevance!

The Daily Mail have published a story entitled “Why I Loathe Feminism…and believe it will ultimately destroy the family”. Which is just fine and dandy. Except that the article isn’t about feminism at all. Save a few cursory references, such as the one below:

“Thirty years later, when feminism exploded onto the scene, I was often mistaken for a supporter of the movement. But I have never been a feminist, because, having experienced my mother's violence, I always knew that women can be as vicious and irresponsible as men.”

The article doesn’t expand on this, but goes on to tell the story of Erin Pizzey’s abusive childhood at the hands of her mother. An awful story, yes, and it sounds as if Pizzey’s mother was an awful person (and a racist to boot. Are you listening, Daily Mail?) Her hatred of feminism is built on a singular foundation: that women are as vicious as men and that feminists deny this.

Well, yes and no. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a feminist who denies that women can be violent and cruel. We’re not fantasists; we know that women aren’t perfect. But we are acutely aware of the fact the perpetrators of domestic violence are still far more likely to be male. Amnesty International figures state that in the USA, women accounted for 85% of the victims of domestic violence in 1999 (671,110 compared to 120,100 men). That’s a hell of a majority. These findings are backed up by a study by the United States Bureau of Justice, which estimates that women are six times more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence. Amnesty International also estimate that domestic violence accounts for nearly a quarter of all recorded violent crime in England and Wales - one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.

These are worrying statistics. We shouldn’t ignore the reality of female-initiated domestic violence, we certainly shouldn't pretend it's not as serious. But we also mustn’t be cowed by sensationalist journalism which attempts to turn this issue on its head. “What about the men?” should never be an excuse to pretend that male-on-female domestic violence doesn’t make up the majority of recorded incidents. It shouldn’t sweep under the carpet that nearly half of all female murder victims in the UK are killed by a current or former partner. And it definitely shouldn’t attempt to justify the prevalence of male violence against women by suggesting that men are lashing out on the counter attack – that women bring violence upon themselves by verbally abusing their partners. This is not justification. No woman deserves to be hit or beaten because she spoke out of line. The same is true for men. It’s a massive insult to the victims of domestic violence, male or female, to suggest they were asking for it and it’s scarily similar to the rape apologist’s proclamation that an inebriated or scantily clad women is inviting rape.

It’s sad and unfair that Erin Pizzey experienced such abuse at the hands of her mother. But that isn’t feminism’s fault - it wasn't feminism that made her mother a horrible person. And surely, without feminism, she would not have the privilege of being able to publish her story in a national newspaper...?

14 September, 2009

The Politics Of The Bikini Line

The somewhat hyperbolically-titled "To Wax Or Not To Wax: Have women ever faced a greater dilemma?" raised some interesting questions for me, and after discussing the matter with my fellow femis, here's a blog on this apparently terribly important matter.

The article itself seems to gently persuade the reader to 'give it a go', which irritates me somewhat because it seems very evident that she doesn't actually want to. It bothers me that Rowan Pelling compares a painful, expensive procedure which literally rips the hairs from their follicles with hot wax to...buying a pair of racy stockings. "It suggests a woman has put a bit of extra effort into seduction." Pelling states, which is a horrible smug little sentence, almost suggesting that a woman should depilate herself in order to show she's actually putting some effort into her sex life, regardless of the fact that stockings can be put on and taken off with no pain, discomfort or itchy regrowth. Pelling gives the illusion of choice whilst not so subtly promoting the joys and 'benefits' of a hairless undercarriage...even Iranian women do it, she simpers, as if Iranian women ought to be the benchmark of backwards sexual practises.

Of course, the real issue here is addressed in the comments. A startling number of people argue that a Brazilian is cleaner, which is complete rubbish (if it were cleaner, wouldn't thousands of years of evolution have gone some way to addressing that? And if hair is so unhygenic then why aren't men removing theirs?) Among other things, pubic hair cushions and protects the genital area, keeping it warm and protecting the (very) sensitive skin down there. It also traps and holds pheremones, which are an integral element of human sexuality as we understand it. There's a reason we all have pubic hair! (and besides, hair or no hair, if you don't wash regularly it will be unhygenic!)

Of course, it should be up to the individual whether they want to bare all, and in an ideal world we could say that every woman has that freedom of choice. But thanks in part to the rampant pornification of society, and the expectation for all women to match the plucked and preened centrefolds young boys are growing up with as their representations of the naked woman, there is an immense amount of pressure on women to have the full Brazilian wax. There's a strange idea that women with pubic hair are somehow unkempt and untidy, and therefore ought to spend countless woman-hours removing every last sprig.

What Rowan Pelling should have made abundantly clear is that any man who tries to persuade his partner to wax or shave when it's quite clear she doesn't want to is being a domineering prick. It is a decision that should be made by the owner (or non-owner) of his or her own pubic hair. If a woman wants to have a full Brazilian, or even just a bikini line trim, fair enough - that's her decision, and nobody has the right to tell her she's wrong. But there's a lot of unfair pressure on women to imitate this fashion statement, the fear of being found unsexy or not making enough effort to seduce. We're already cowed into removing our underarm hair and leg hair whether we like the idea or not (a practise made popular in the early 1900's - not so long ago!). Surely 'what lies beneath', abdundant foliage or otherwise, should belong to us, and only us?

10 September, 2009

The Problem With Pornography

This is a programme I think every feminist should watch:


I've always hated porn, and the reasons have been pretty straightforward - it reduces women to the sum of their orifices and pepetuates the idea that women are mere objects to be used purely for male pleasure. The number of rapes and sexual assaults have risen with every year that consumption of pornography has increased for obvious reasons, and women are never going to be seen as equals, at home or in the workplace as long as men are conditioned to view them as vaginas that talk.

But Tim Samuels' documentary (and I'll warn you, he's a smug git of the highest order) has exposed a darker side to the industry than I knew existed and it's time for us all to face up to some home truths. I won't spoilt the programme for those of you who haven't seen it, but here is a summary of the most shocking points:

*Only one porn production house enforces condom use - the others essentially ban it. The porn industry doesn't give a toss about the sexual health of it's "stars", despite there being an outbreak of HIV just five years ago.

*The invisibility of condoms in porn is fueling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in Ghana, where there is no sex education, but plenty of western porn. Women are reporting increasing incidences of rape and sexual assualts carried out by men who gather together to watch porn in the village at night.

*Women in porn are rarely happy or willing. A male porn star interviewed for the programme admitted he found it "difficult" to work with girls who were "crying in the toilets between takes" - yet he didn't seem to have any inclination to stop doing so. What a nice man. A female porn star also interviewed said no women in porn were happy and all had "pyschological issues", and yet she was hell-bent on pursuing a career in the industry. It was later revealed that her pimp - whoops, I mean manager - was also her boyfriend, and was shown on camera to be controlling and verbally abusive, at one point dragging her across a room by the wrist.

*Agencies exploit young women who are breathtakingly naeive about what porn involves. Samuels interviewed a 20-year-old actress who had just signed with a porn agency. She watched porn for the very first time a few hours before her first shoot so she would "know what to do".

*There is apparently a market for porn where men ejaculate directly onto women's eyeballs.

*Worse, there is a market for porn where women are forced to perform oral sex until their throats bleed and/or they are sick, and where women are forced to ingest their own excrement.

The last two points in particular make me think more than ever that porn is not supposed to be arousing simply because of the sex, but because of the depiction of the subjugation and degradation of women. That men aren't actually turned on by women vomiting over themselves, but by the violence. And considering how wildly popular pornography is, that makes me really fearful about what so many men actually think about women. It's no surprise that lads mags were a reaction to the sexual liberation preached by women's magazines like Cosmo, and that porn has got more extreme and more violent with every stride women have taken towards equality - it's all about putting women back in their place, letting them know who's really boss, etc etc. Porn is made by people who hate women, for people who hate women. It's really sickeningly scary. I could throw up thinking about it - I hope that doesn't turn anyone on.

08 September, 2009

Boris Keep Your Promise

Just a quick one to say - the BKYP petition needs 3000 signatories, so if you haven't put your name on it, go here and do so: LINKY

Basically, BoJo promised, during his election campaign for London Mayor, that he would secure the £744,000 of funding needed every year (during his term in office) which would maintain four rape crisis centers in London (as it is, there is only one, in Croyden). Making him keep that promise seems like a good thing to do.

07 September, 2009

the internet is for porn

Ah, feminism and porn. Let the battle begin. I'm throwing some thoughts out there, rather than connecting them to the single Daily Fail article. This piece was actually started by a number of things, including spending time with the other femis at our Fascinator Funday (there are pictures on facebook. It was awesome.), the post about Filament magazine on The F-Word last week, which also linked to Erotica Cover Watch, and me taking on a role as Office Bitch at the gloriously wonderful Coffee, Cake and Kink.

I like porn. There we go. I don't expect you to, although bonus if you do. Everybody has something that turns them on, whether it's naked men, naked ladies, or men dressed up as raptors flapping their "wings" while a cave-lady blows them (I draw the line at the people with a fetish for dragons fucking cars. Dude. seriously. what. the. fuck?).

However, I have noticed this, and you'd be an idiot not to. A lot more men will admit to liking - and watching - porn than women. And the vast majority of porn is made for, and consumed by men. Even the images of naked men are produced, in the vast majority, for gay men. If you go to fleshbot, there is a "gay" filter if you want to look at naked men, and "straight" for naked women (you don't have to choose a filter, though). Why? Both options assume I'm male - despite fleshbot coming from the same group as Jezebel. ECW talk about this issue here. Redtube at least allows me to choose my gender and interest - but all the adverts are aimed at straight males. Pornotube does the same as Fleshbot - gay, straight, all. But once again, the adverts (the facebook of sex! github for lesbians!) are for men. And they're skeezy.

Anyway. There is a point. Feminism, at least for me is - partly at least - about the right for women to control their own bodies. If women make the choice to sell their bodies for money, then I think they should be entitled to - although I also think that women in porn and prostitution need a great deal of support. No woman should ever have to sell her body - but if she wants to, with both eyes open, then ok*. Same goes for porn - if a woman wants to make porn, then sure, why shouldn't she? And if she wants to watch it, hurrah! If, for any person, watching porn is a part of embracing or experimenting with their sexuality, then why the fuck should they be made to feel bad for doing so?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wrestle my flowery chick-lit "girl porn" romance off my boyfriend.

*And mandatory health checks and no pimps.

The Daily Mail: Legitimising lechery since 1896

Let me preface this rant by stating that I am not a prude. It's unfortunate that I have to state this, because I would hope that most sensible-minded people would be able to see the difference between a woman terminally pissed off at the way women's bodies have become public property for sale and exchange and a woman afraid of the female form. Hell, the human body is an amazing thing - an infinitely variable masterpiece of evolution. But that would be too highbrow for the Mail.

So with that said, here is today's bone of contention: "Proof that men just can't help looking at women's boobs", an article which manages to insult both men and women in one dash of its greasy misogynist fists, as well as cleverly shoehorning Kelly Brook into the article as an irrelevant piece of window-dressing. According to the article, a whopping 47 per cent of men notice a woman's boobs before anything else. Which, er, directly contradicts the headline - less than half of men notice a woman's chest first. And that means that more than half of men look elsewhere.

But let's forget this small, unimportant statistical detail, because without it there'd be no basis for an article essentially stating "Men are going to look at your tits whether you like it or not. Deal with it". And this is insulting to both genders. It suggests that men are drooling morons driven by their basest instincts and are incapable of escaping their caveman urges to check out a lady's fertility (based on her cup size, naturally) It suggests that they cannot engage their brains enough to realise that there is a living, thinking woman behind those two lumps of mammary tissue - 'it's evolutionary!' wails the article, in an attempt to portray dirty-mac wearing perverts as perfectly reasonable men acting on instinct. Well, Mail, if this is indeed the case, how come more than half of men are able to "resist" this "natural urge" to park their peepers in a woman's cleavage?

The comments are the usual hovel of despair and decay:

I could have told them this and saved tem a lot of money. What gets me is, women wear a plunging neckline and then complain men do not look them in the eye. Give us some time-we will get to your eyes, Honey ! Admit it, you like it or you would all be wearing turtlenecks.- Bernard ex pat, Pawleys Island USA

In many ways this comment is exemplary of the most depressing type of comment: the right to own and possess women's bodies. Because what Bernard is suggesting is that, unless a woman covers herself from head to toe (Perhaps in an oppressive burkha! Ho ho, the irony) she is automatically consenting - nay, asking - to be regarded as a collection of component body parts to be measured and weighed and rated from 1 to 10. Which is utter bollocks, of course. If I wear a short skirt, it might be because I feel warm, or I like the skirt. It isn't because I'm asking to be judged by every passing man.

"Breast size is a lot like Coke and Pepsi. Men have a preference but will take whatever's on tap. As long as it's not flat.- rebecca, mallorca

Of course! Because if you admire a lady with less than a B cup, you must be gay. Or not a man. Rebecca knows these things.

I am often tempted to pin a £50 note or a photo of a nice pair of shoes to my chest just so I can walk around shouting "Hey lady, eyes up here, talk to the face" when women look at them.Why do women who put the goods on show then moan that people look at them?- brad, NIMBY

This inflamed arsehole is the worst of the bunch, by far. Not only does he employ the old and offensive stereotype of Teh Wimmins being drawn to pretty shoes or banknotes of a high value (as if men aren't!) he refers to breasts as 'the goods'. 'The Goods'! Did I miss the memo stating that my breasts were a commodity? Did I miss the meeting where it was decided that if I wear a low cut top of any kind I obviously deserve to be ogled? No. When I buy a V-neck in a shop, it does not come with a certificate stating that, on wearing the garment, I have turned myself into an object for the perusal of any man that might wish to reduce me to pieces of aesthetically pleasing meat. (Or, judging by the shouts of 'Grow some tits!' I often encounter whenever wearing said garments, less-than-aesthetically-pleasing. Hey, looks like rebecca was on to something...)

The fact is, this whole article is filled to the brim with rancid shit, and coming from a paper that preaches sexual morality, that claims to despise the sexualisation of our 'yoof', it's somewhat ridiculous to have to swallow the idea that women should submit to the lecherous gaze of the poor primitive male, that unfortunate creature who is but a slave to his instincts. Because to believe that would be to cheapen and insult the male gender, to objectify and dehumanise the female gender, and to reduce the infinitelt comples ideas of beauty, aesthetics and attraction to sneaked peeks at cleavages and surreptitious glances at the bra-line.

03 September, 2009

Love Music, Hate Sexism

Apologies first of all, fair readers, that this post is not directly linked to the Fail. Oh, I know it's a great read, but my head was turned by baser reading material this week; yes, that's right, I almost bought a magazine about a genuinely interesting topic, instead of which skin cream will bag me a bachelor but give me cancer if I don't cook for him.

Almost, but not quite. You see, I do like bands. But I also like being a girl.

I remember quite vividly the first time it occurred to me that these two things could be incompatible. I was fourteen, we'd just got the internet, and a whole new world of fandom was opening before me. And then there it was; a scan of Kerrang magazine, Davey Havok and Dexter Holland sharing the cover with the headline, "ROCK IN THE DOCK: is rock music sexist?" I never did track down the article, but I even neverer forgot its title.

Those words have come back to me a lot over the years, most times I've read about Courtney Love or Brody Dalle, and every time I've flicked past yet another male-targeted advert in a music magazine. (Yes, I sometimes read the NME; no, that does not mean I aspire to style my manly hair into so improbable a quiff that women will dance on tables in its honour thus allowing me to look up their skirts, Shockwaves haircare). But this week really took the balls-up biscuit. Shipped out to Marylebone because Euston thought it might perhaps possibly be on fire and with a four-hour train journey ahead of me, I trudged into WHSmiths for something to read. Oh look, a new Q! But oh wait, it's shrink-wrapped to FHM.

Er, what the fuck? I stared at it for a moment, processed the fact that one of my favourite magazines had just turned to shit before my very eyes, and walked out of the shop.

I don't care how much it comes down to publishers' alliances, I don't care what snivelling little marketing strategy is behind it, I don't care if some girl whose face has started popping up in the London Lite has taken her "hippy chic" clothes off, but I am fucking livid that a magazine I really respected precisely because it was so much more interesting, well-written, and generally grown-up than its peers has done that for which every successful band risks crucifixion in the music media; sold out.

Well, I'm not buying it. I'm not sure what I'll buy instead (the NME's too flimsy, no-one at Artrocker can spell... maybe Clash will fill the gap) but Q can stick it; I'm sure FHM can tell them where.