Monthly Archives: January 2013

Aside

Happened across this interesting link via Jason Hirschhorn’s Media ReDEFined (worth subscribing to for daily digest of what’s ‘happening’ across a variety of media).

Beating revenge porn with copyright

I don’t pretend to understand the legal nuances (any lawyers reading this?) but tackling the pernicious practice of ‘revenge porn’ is overdue. . Publishing intimate photographs/personal details for the purposes of blackmail, revenge or shaming is one of many unscrupulous uses of internet technology that hurts many women (and some men) and as is so often the case, ISPs and site owners seem unwilling to accept a moral responsibility to deal with it. The law is often victims’ only recourse, so it’s about time for the law to establish some clarity, and get tough.

Copyright vs Revenge

Alternative Oz – sweet as…

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REVIEW – HONEYWHEELER (EP) by HONEYWHEELER

Australia isn’t necessarily the first country that springs to mind when one thinks of world-class rock bands, but cast your eye down the following list – AC/DC, Midnight Oil, INXS, Crowded House, Silverchair, Karnivool, Pendulum and Tame Impala – and it’s evident that for a sparsely-populated nation it certainly punches above its weight. The two decades-old (fuck me! Was it really that long ago? Seems like last week) explosion of Grunge/Britpop clearly left its mark on the Antipodean musical consciousness, if this eponymously-titled EP by Aussie rock four-piece Honeywheeler is anything to go by: the Bandcamp blurb describes lead singer Angel Love Owens as an ‘unabashed ’90s kid’, and knowing – by way of her blog –  of her feminist inclinations I mentally put two and two together and came up with L7. In fact, the songs on this EP bear scant similarity to the tampon-flinging LA Grunge rockers save for occasional excursions into a dirtier, riffier guitar attack on Best Thing and Eat Your Heart Out: which is not to suggest that the …Wheelers lack Yankee, Riot Grrl attitude; rather that it’s tempered with a more characteristically-British sweetness and light…

Because this ‘Alternative Rock’ which soundtracked my mis-spent teens and early twenties developed independently on both sides of the Atlantic, and Honeywheeler takes its fair share of inspiration from each scene; and whilst it would be a stretch to say the band have created much that is truly original, they’ve clearly put in their 10,000 hours and then some: there’s no denying that they understand the mechanics of a good pop tune, and know how to capture it crisply and powerfully on ‘record’.

And if it seems unfairly reductive, not to say a tad sexist, to trot out a slew of comparisons to female-fronted Indie bands, Honeywheeler does wear its Alt-’90s heart on its plaid-clad sleeve: whilst listening to this EP I had a mental image of a young Owens practising her Justine Frischmann and Louise Post moves in front of a dressing table mirror. And if she stops short of Donita Sparks‘back the fuck up’ snarl, it’s clear she ain’t got no truck with your lily-livered, whiney-ass mansplainin’, either and you’d best listen, dammit! She does sweet and sardonic; hard and heartbroken with equal ease and conviction. The musical backing is, for the most part, capably-executed and not short of hooks, and though Owens takes the songwriting credits on all tracks, three of the four members (also comprising Chris Ellis [Gt], Andy Coles [Bs] and Damien Grove [Dr]) contribute guitar so it’s a hard job to assign proper credit for individual performances.

Two of the five tracks on offer here do step some way outside of that (’90s) mould, though. Lyrics aside, I Don’t Love You could be one of Grant Hart‘s more cheerful offerings from Hüsker Dü, circa Warehouse: and driving closer, I’m Over It (by far the best thing on here) shows musical ambitions outside of straight pop. Its nearly-five minutes allow room for guitar histrionics without succumbing to cheesy rock-god posturing and Owens‘ delivery is both urgent and impassioned, with guest vocalist Michael Strong (…And The Ghost Anyway, The Disappointed)  adding louche, gravelled counterpoints: their interplay is reminiscent – though only a little – of Pure Reason Revolution‘s Jon Courtney and Chloë Alper which is no bad thing in my book. And I love the quirky little synth outro on Another: although Owens‘ is credited with keys, those parts are mostly understated. These moments hint towards a more expansive rock sound and the benefits of additional synthetic ear-candy and suggest two potential directions the band might explore to expand their musical palette.

Here’s a link to the EP via their Bandcamp page – style gurus note the ‘fridge magnet’ option – the coolest rock accessory since Mastodon‘s The Hunter key chain 😉 Enjoy!

Future Echoes

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I don’t often purchase new music these days: with almost unlimited, 24/7 on-tap tunage via YouTube, Bandcamp, Spotify, LastFM and a host of other online sources it’s rarely necessary and justified less often yet. I am an aficianado of the physical format, though, and can be enticed to part fairly quickly with not inconsiderable sums for artists that deign to package their new releases with that little bit of extra love and effort. Whilst too many popular artists’ idea of a ‘special’ edition just ain’t that special Marillion‘s ‘Campaign Editions’ and Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree‘s 10″ hardbound ‘coffee-table book’ format’s are always on my radar come pre-order time – and take pride of place on my CD shelf – because a) the quality of the music is consistently top-notch, b) the packaging is as solidly-made as it is beautiful, and c) the extras are genuinely-worthy exclusives and not second-rate demos and jams that never made the final cut.

February brings hotly-anticipated pre-orders from two of my current faves, Steven Wilson and Amplifier (click on links to pre-order). Wilson premiered Luminol, a track from …Raven… on the last leg of his Grace for Drowning tour  and yesterday the Manc-based Psych-rockers released a teaser for Echo Street in the form of Matmos, below.

The forthcoming album’s opening track, it’s a downtempo, melancholy; almost- power ballad and slightly reminiscent of On/Off from their eponymous debut. Somewhat in contrast to the effects-heavy, psychedelic fare which sprawled over The Octopus‘ two discs, it suggests a band consolidating their songwriting skills whist retaining traces of the fuzzed-out, epic atmospheres that made their past albums such an immersive listening experience. The kind of song The Verve used to do rather well, and equally likely to appeal to fans of nu prog acts like Porcupine Tree and Anathema. Whether you’re an Amp-aficianado, or a newcomer,

Check out Matmos here and enjoy

I’m looking forward to a trip down Echo Street very soon 🙂

 

 

 

 

Levitation

Three Tools

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I’ve been concentrating on the political strand of my blog lately, to the detriment of my rock’n’roll persusions. I don’t apologise for that: media stories have been cropping up that have rightly grabbed my attention: I’ve been saddened and angered by by knee-jerk, bigoted responses to timely and perceptive social commentary by Suzanne Moore; and conversely felt psychically-restored by displays of public anger over the Jyoti Singh Pandey rape incident in Delhi: in a world where violence is normalized it’s good to be reminded that people (as Faith No More once sung) care a lot.

So today let there be rock… with a little bit of politics.

Tool were part of the ’90s alternative rock movement in the US – which included the likes of Nirvana, Hole, L7 and Rage Against The Machine – in Amerika. They attempted to kick back against the then-prevalent tide of cock-rock by embracing Feminism, and rejecting racism, homophobia and corporate politics along with the recognizable ‘rock star’ look.

Artistically, they embraced a range of diverse influences including Metal; Prog Rock (notably King Crimson); Punk; anti-capitalism; expressionist theatre and mysticism to create a brand which remains unique in the annals of US hard rock. Singer and lyricist, Maynard James Keenan is, in my mind, one of the all-time great rock vocalists; able to communicate pathos and anger; tenderness and disgust and often in the same song.

Despite Keenan having contributed to some worthy musical endeavors under the Puscifer and A Perfect Circle appelations, I’m personally itching for some new Tool (fnarr, fnarr) and persistent rumors suggest new material is on the way, albeit slowly…

The Pot and Hooker With a Penis are songs about hypocrisy; Wings for Marie/10,000 Days is both tribute and lament, inspired by Keenan‘s mother who died in 2003 after a prolonged illness. It’s one of my all time favourite songs by anyone: Keenan‘s puts in his best ever vocal performances and I choke up every time I hear it.

So enjoy…

A partial Observer: not so liberal with the truth…

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Julie Burchill’s ‘Transphobic’ rant has been a long time coming. Actually, the liberal left and feminists have been dancing around each other – and frequently butting heads – in the moshpit of identity politics and intersectionality for some time now (check in here for a whistle-stop summary of some of the fundamentals of that dispute) and the only truly shocking thing is that it’s taken so long to become big news in the MSM. Once again, the spectre of Fleet Street and its international bretheren being eclipsed by web-based social media as the first point of contact for authentic public opinion rears it’s head…

It’s not insignificant that the most vociferous backlash – against Burchill in particular – has arisen from liberal quarters. The comments section of her article was flooded with ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ types crying transphobia! and misogyny! and both it, and the piece in question were swiftly removed from the paper’s website. and replaced with an apology and a promise to ‘investgate’ (you can still read it here). Their liberalism – prevalent today – is of the ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ type which, in its rush to affirm the validity of all and sundry often fails to discern – as Moore does so eloquently in this piece in today’s Guardian – the difference between true liberation and a nominal equality. More damagingly still, such liberals miss, or perhaps ignore, how granting the latter to one group can impinge upon the former for another group. Thru my day job, I’ve met financially and emotionally vulnerable women who live under the omnipresent threat of deportation. They understandably feel less than liberated by the knowledge that the Abu Hamzas of this world are accorded full legal rights under equality law. Conflating the two has in the past lead – and continues to lead – to a kind of laissez-faire liberalism which perversely serves to uphold the worst tenets of patriarchal societies’ reactionary conservatism. It took ten years for Greater Manchester Police to investigate and bring charges against a mostly-Pakistani child prostitution ring in Rochdale; a delay caused in no small part by fears of being perceived racist. Similar fears continue to result in a paucity of prosecutions brought against African-Britons who continue to practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in contravention of British law. It’s surely not insignificant that in both the above instances, the integrity (and safety) of females is valued as subordinate to the integrity of ‘culture’. In fact, this is very much the norm and bears somewhat on the Trans subculture that feminists have long scrutinized, deconstructed and found wanting.

There’s a paradigm of woman-as-defective-man that goes right back to Genesis, has been perpetuated by modern intellectuals, notably Freud and continues to be reflected in today’s consumerist societies which offer a plethora of ‘fixes’ from clothes and make-up. thru feminine hygeine products and medicines to cosmetic surgery. None of these are inherently bad, and superficial relaxation of gender boundaries – driven more by capitalist market forces than humanitarian concerns, it must be noted – have meant that more men than ever are availing themselves of such. Nonetheless, gender is tied to the physicality of females – in addition to conventions of behaviour, the mode by which male gender is most regulated – and in practice this is embodied in notions of beauty; specifically and most insidiously in the notion that one can never be beautiful enough. To be a woman, then, is to submit to a lifelong regime of correction…

Moore’s ‘Brazilian Transsexuals’ analogy encapsulated this brilliantly, if controversially. What women are fed up with, she suggested (and this is my inference, mind) is an expectation that they conform to standards of womanhood created by men; with a beauty that connotes second-class citizenship, sexual availability and vulnerability.

It’s a pertinent point, and something that Trans-activists would do well to take note of. If, after many years of dissatisfaction with their prescribed gender roles they find their newly-appropriated female ones more unsatisfactory still then maybe it’s the confines of those roles they ought to be questioning – which is exactly what commentators such as Moore and Burchill are doing. If acceptable stereotypes of behaviour and dress oppress born women, then surely they must oppress Transwomen too? If an ideal standard of physical beauty excludes and frustrates a significant majority of born-women, then what chance do Transwomen stand? More sinisterly, the trappings of femininity that Transwomen co-opt mark them out as targets for male violence. The image of womanhood appealing to many men’s eyes is simply passive, accepting, penetrable: a ‘slut’ paradigm that popular media attatches to particular modes of physicality and dress but is in fact psychically pervasive beyond any such parameters. The cry of many detractors that Brazilian transsexuals are in fact, a marginalized group and subject to disproportionate levels of violence is well-made, but in directing their – intellectualized – ire at Moore and Burchill they somewhat miss the point: it’s not feminists – or indeed, women at all – who are doing the raping and the killing. One Twitter user apparently threatened to behead Suzanne Moore – many users of Brazilian transgendered prostitutes, and woman-haters at large, aren’t content with mere threats.

 

When the Shit Goes Down in the Kitchen

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Woman dies from Xmas lunch Clostridium food-poisoning

As a chef I always pay attention to these kinds of reports – food safety is a matter taken very seriously in the catering profession these days, and rightly so. At work, we’re required by Environmental Health Officers (EHO) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to undergo regular refresher courses in food safety, because in a busy job it’s all too easy to become complacent, and information is continually being updated in light of new developments. Lethal outbreaks of food-poisoning/food-borne illness are relatively rare, but lower-level sickness is very common and can have legal repercussions for catering establishments and is costly in terms of employee sick leave, in addition to the personal pain and inconvenience of being ill. A large body of scientific and statistical data is available to the professional caterer; along with rules and recommendations for best-practice, and though the risks for the home cook are exponentially less – due to the relatively small output – the general principles are much the same and there’s much that can be learned from the professional model in terms of minimizing food safety risks.

Whilst viruses and the physical contamination of food with chemicals – cleaning products, primarily – or foreign bodies – packaging debris, dirt, broken fingernails, glass splinters etc. – also present issues, most incidences of food-related health-risk are bacterial so that’s mostly what I’ll be focusing on here. The Clostridium Perfringens bacteria implicated in the above story is one of the most prevalent causes of food-related illness, along with Campylobacter Jejuni and Salmonella bacteria. So today’s post consists of a – hopefully, helpful – summary of what I’ve learned over my years of cooking professionally: simple techniques and strategies to ensure safe and happy eating, and what to do in the event things go wrong.

Storage – store raw and cooked items seperately in the refrigerator – ideally keeping the latter on shelves above the former, and definitely in separate containers – to minimise the risk of cross contamination. Some fridges/freezers feature a temperature readout but they’re not always that accurate so it’s worth investing in a food-probe thermometer to check that your appliances are working correctly. Ideally fridges should maintain a temperature of 5ºc or below and freezers -18ºc, and no higher than 8ºc or -12ºc. Even in a fridge, storing food too long will increase poisoning risks (see Use by/Best before – below) and the proliferation of spoilage organisms will quickly rob food of flavour and nutritional value: this is especially true of perishable foods such as fresh fish, poultry and berries.

Washing and cleaning – clean your hands and equipment – knives, chopping boards etc – regularly during food prep, especially in between preparing raw and cooked food. Look for cleaning products – hand wash, hard-surface cleaners, washing-up liquid – that are antibacterial but also food-safe (chlorine bleaches such as Domestos will taint food with an unpleasant odour and taste, in addition to being toxic and irritant).

Danger Zone – In catering we talk about the ‘Danger Zone’ to describe temperatures between 5ºc and 63ºc, this being the range within which bacteria can reproduce most quickly to dangerous levels. No food should be allowed to remain between these temperatures for more than 90 mins, and ideally ought to be kept out of it altogether. Serve cold food straight from the fridge and hot food straight from the stove/oven to minimize risk. Soups, gravies and other sauces can be a potential route of transmission and should be brought to a boil quickly and stirred regularly to ensure heat is evenly-distributed. Microwaves are notorious for heating unevenly, and cool spots in an otherwise hot sauce can allow bacteria to reproduce to dangerous levels. Some bacteria (including the Clostridium implicated in the story above) form spores if heating takes place too slowly,  allowing them to survive even boiling thereafter. Egg-based sauces such as Creme Anglaise, Sabayon, Hollandaise and Mayonnaise which are cooked lightly or not at all, and are served warm or at room temperature rather than hot, should not be kept more than 90 mins and discarded thereafter.

High Risk. High-risk foods are those which are ‘ready to eat’ – cooked meats, pates, egg dishes, cheeses (especially unpasteurised ones), sushi/sashimi/tartares, jellies, prepared salads – which won’t be subject to any further bacteria-killing processes (e.g. cooking) prior to service. These dishes require especial care, and leaving them out for extended periods at room temp is a big no-no. After 90 minutes out of the fridge they ought to be binned. As a rule of thumb, any dish which is protein-rich and moist can be considered high-risk. Raw food is only generally high-risk if it is to be consumed raw – so raw meat, poultry and fish, if correctly stored, cooked and served ought not to present a problem. What constitutes correctly-cooked? On the basis of staying out of the Danger Zone (above) we ought to be cooking all of our meat to at least 63ºc all the way thru; but if you’re a lover of rare beef, lamb, tuna or salmon then that’s clearly not an option. In those cases, the important thing is that prime cuts are seared on the outside to eliminate bacteria. Reconstituted meats such as burgers and sausages can be risky if served rare, though; since bacteria are present throughout the meat not just the outside. Undercooked meat products were a major source of the potentially lethal Escherichia coli 157 bacteria strain, nicknamed ‘Barbecue sickness’ in the States. Poultry and pork ought to be cooked until the juices run clear, and a core temperature of 70ºc is recommended; unlike red meat and non-white fish, these meats are pretty unpalatable when undercooked anyway. Use your food-probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to check the core temperature (and don’t forget to clean it between uses).

Use-by/best before labels – millions of tonnes of food are needlessly thrown away every year, and especially in the current economic climate consumers may well be feeling under pressure to cut down on wastage. Food date labelling errs, quite sensibly, on the side of caution but before you think about eating that week-old curry in the back of the fridge, take note: the distinction between use by and best before is worth knowing and understanding: the former applies to foods that are high-risk and/or perishable and dates ought to be adhered to rigidly to reduce the likelihood of illness; the latter, as its name suggests, indicates that the quality – flavour, texture etc… – will deteriorate after the date shown but safety isn’t generally a big concern as the foods thus labelled aren’t high risk.

Precautions – avoid goods with damaged packaging or which appear to have been incorrectly-stored. I’ve complained to my local Co-op more than once about price-reduced high-risk items – fresh fish and meat, pre-packed sandwiches, semi-rotten fruit – left unrefrigerated on the counter. This is bad practice and what you save in pennies you may end up paying for in illness. When preparing food, cover any cuts/burns with a sticking plaster, tie up long hair and avoid smoking, scratching and picking your nose (or anything else).

Illness – if you’re suffering from any kind of diarrhoea or vomiting illness it’s better to give the kitchen a wide berth: that’s not always a practical option for home cooks, of course; especially parents with kids to feed. Taking extra care with hand-washing and cleaning of equipment will help to minimize risk, however. If you work in a catering or healthcare environment then you don’t need me to tell you to stay home: your employer will already have the correct procedures in place.

Symptoms – symptoms common to most types of food-related illness and the ones to watch out for, include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, though the exact combination of those and other symptoms can be peculiar to particular types – Campylobacter, for example primarily causes diarrhoea, with fever, disturbed-vision, bloody-diarrhoea, and appendicitis-mimicking abdominal pain variously-present in severe cases. Food-poisoning-like symptoms can also be characteristic of viral infections including Norovirus; whilst the food-borne Clostridium Botulinum bacteria rarely affects the gastrointestinal tract at all: it’s primary symptom is muscular paralysis (Botulism). If in doubt consult a doctor, and any gastrointestinal illness that persists for more than 48 hours ought to be investigated further.

Treatment – most gastrointestinal problems pose more of an inconvenience than a serious threat to health, but can nevertheless be unpleasant. Diarrhoea and vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration, so it’s important to maintain fluid intake, even if you don’t feel like eating. Rehydration sachets can be bought from your pharmacy, but a good home-made alternative is a teaspoon each of salt and sugar dissolved in a glass of lukewarm water. Ginger and peppermint infusions are effective in combating nausea and settling the stomach, as are flat soda pop and Milk of Magnesia. If you can manage food, bland, dry snacks such as unbuttered toast and water biscuits are less likely to upset a delicate stomach, and clear soup. Rest is important, too – though as mentioned above, if symptoms persist or worsen then don’t hesitate to consult your GP – and though it’s better to let minor infections run their course – diarrhoea and vomiting are the body’s natural mode of ejecting pathogenic bacteria and the toxins they excrete, from the system – if you must leave the house, to see aforementioned GP for example, the anti-diarrhoea medicines such as Loperamide (Imodium/Maalox) can provide short-term symptomatic relief.

And speaking of relief, I think I need some respite from all this ‘heavy shit’ so I’ll leave the last word to Mssrs Freese, Muggerud and Reyes: here’s hoping your next weekend roast doesn’t signify a ‘Black Sunday’ in your cooking career…

State of denial

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And the revelations continue. Today, comic Jim Davidson is identified as the latest in a succession of celebrities to be questioned as part of the ongoing Yewtree investigation into the culture of sexual crime and misdemeanor within the media.

Like Max Clifford‘s ‘…birth certificate…’ interview, Davidson‘s blog comments (apparently now deleted, see extract below) could be read as a cynical disclaimer in advance of his impending questioning. Was he one of the ‘dirty dozen’ who contacted Clifford? Did he know he was in the firing line? Pure speculation, of course…

‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

‘The Jimmy Savile witch hunt is going a bit silly now. We all are starting to speculate and accuse… even in jest. So no I don’t know who’s next. Well, if I was in the pub with the lads it would be a different story.

‘Everyone has had the nod. Everyone is now an expert. Just pick someone you don’t like and say it’s them. So I’ll be the first one to knock it on the head and belt up. How’s about that then?’

DAILY STAR

‘Front page eh?……Well I was only stating the obvious (Jim’s Newspaper). It just goes to show how much interest this Saville (sic) thing is having. I read a thing today (in The Express) some one saw Jimmy Saville (sic) pinch some girl’s bum . Apparently that is a sexual assault. Where will all this end. As odd as he was, Saville (sic) can’t defend himself.The bloke’s dead for Godsake (sic).

‘Let’s move on and get some important stories in the paper. I haven’t heard anything about Jordan lately. What’s happened?

‘Fund raising for the British Forces foundation tonight. Monday sees me, Bobby Davro, Claire Sweeny and Mike Osman off to entertain the Navy on HMS Dauntless.

‘Spare a thought today for the two British troops KIA. There’s news.

‘Oh and do I really know who the next exposed pervert is?….well, have a guess,because that’s what the press are doing,that’s what we’re all doing!’

PANORAMA

‘How come the BBC can make a program blaming the BBC?

‘It’s like having yourself arrested and then being your own prosecuting barrister!

‘The BBC has finaly (sic) gone mental. This hot bed of leftyness has asked itself the question: “Should we have known?” The answer is yes. We all knew didn’t we?

‘A bloke who’s a loner dresses and acts like a nonce and thinks he is the most important person in the world. Hmmm. I knew… and didn’t do anything. Mind you I had no proof. To me he was just another pervert.

‘There are lots of them in Showbiz. There seems to be more gay ones than straight, but that’s because there are probably more gays in showbiz than most professions.

‘Who’s next to be the victim of a media feeding frenzy? I have the answer to that but like Jimmy Savile it’s only rumours… but when these rumours come out… WOW!’

In the comments section from the DM article, ‘Tenerifediver’ added:

‘This overblown witch hunt is a publicity manoeuvre to divert attention from the Asian paedophile gangs. They are alive and active NOW, and are far greater threat. But they’re not so easy to catch or to prosecute are they? … The Asian paedophile gangs have the Human Rights bill to protect them and the spineless lawmakers who allow it to continue. No. Go for dead people! They have no defense (even if they were guilty)…’

 Talk of ‘witch hunts’ and ‘publicity manoevres’ has its consequences, though: it serves to dilute in the public mind, the severity of the implications of the proliferation and sheer mundanity of sexual violence in our societies; and Davidson‘s remarks and Tenerifediver’s message board comments exemplify perfectly most of our misconceptions around violence in general and sex abuse in particular
  • violence/sex abuse are exceptional – far from the truth: under a system of hierarchy violence is inevitable, and the circumstances under which it is condoned are largely a matter of political expediency.
  • specific allegations against – purportedly – ‘soft’ targets are part of a campaign of misdirection from ‘real’ culprits – again, misleading: ‘tip of an iceberg’ would be accurate. One of my major concerns from the outset – the surfacing of allegations against Savile in the wake of his death – was finger-pointing towards specific organizations (e.g. the BBC) at the expense of recognizing (sexual) violence as an inherent feature of hierarchy/patriarchy. The distinction to be made – if any – between ‘legitimate’ violence as perpetrated by soldiers in the ‘theatre of war’ (telling phrase) or by parents under the aegis of ‘discipline’, and ‘abuse’ is, at best, a murky one. Patriarchy inheres a parent/child relationship model between state/authorities and population which tacitly legitimizes a significant proportion of violence in interpersonal/intercultural/inter-class situations (and I admit Dworkin‘s definition of women as a class unto themselves).
  • That the outing of offenders is part of a left wing agenda – if exposing an undercurrent of violence in society is on anyone’s agenda, it’s a feminist one: historically, the left and right demonstrate much of a muchness in their adherence to the patriarchy/hierarchy which gives rise to conflict and abuse.
  • the conflating of gender and race – history is littered with examples of attempts to tie the tendency towards violence onto genes specific to certain ethnic groups. This is troubling and misleading on two counts: that such pronouncements are almost without exception made by majority/oppressor populations against minority/oppressed populations, and, that it locates the cause of violence primarily in nature when, in fact, nurture is overwhelmingly causal. This has implications in gender terms, as well as racial ones. Taboos around violence perpetrated not only against, but also by women remain hugely problematic in today’s societies, as well as historically. Women do commit acts of violence – though to date no women have been implicated in the Yewtree investigation – and find themselves judged not only by the ‘normal’ standards applied to male offenders but additionally as contravenors of ‘natural law’ in societies terms. Patriarchy shafts us all (too often literally) but some more than others.
  • The spurious correlation between homosexuality and sexual abuse – read Guy Kettelhack‘s insightful Dancing Around The Volcano to hear how the Gay community is coming to terms with with ‘deviant’ sexuality (arguably better than their straight counterparts) and foreground the fact that 95% of sexaual violence is male on female, like this
  • perpetuation of the notion of an arbitrary ‘line’ between acceptable behaviour and abuse – of course, no-one would pretend that bum-pinching=rape, or that sexist ‘jokes’ or comments are equivalent to financial sex-discrimination, but – and it’s a big but – they all sit on a continuum of attitudes and behaviours that characterize an inherently unjust, undemocratic society and culture. It was telling that Jamie Kilstein’s ‘rape jokes’ drew abuse from sexist men and approbation from feminists – we all know what’s going on and too many of us would rather it was kept quiet. A sense of entitlement is bred into males and milking that to the max is the gold-standard for climbing the ladder: this certainly appears to be the case with Savile who ascended to ‘untouchable’ status within a plethora of organizations. Who on God‘s earth would think it reasonable having a pop DJ on the board for Broadmoor? If there’s a better example of the failings of the ‘old boys network’ I’ve yet to hear…
What’s becoming clear is that – Yewtree‘s three, Savile, Savile and others and, others categories aside – there are two categories of police witness in the YT investigation: those who allow their names to be published and – in Davidson‘s case, presumably, since he’s yet to issue a formal statement – make public their denial – those who hide behind injunctions. If Harris, and the several thusfar un-named protagonists in the Yewtree investigation are innocent of any wrongdoing they would be well-advised to peek out from behind the curtain of injunction and allow their testimony into the arena of public debate as the likes of Clifford and Starr have done. (Aside: the vast majority of hits on my blog are via search engine terms ‘Rolf Harris‘ + ‘Operation Yewtree’ – none for Clifford/Starr). If they feel they’re being made guilty by implication, or association then let us hear their denial. Harris is, if reports are to be believed suicidal. The fault for this rests with a hierarchy which privately rewards the very abusive, violent and discriminatory behaviour that it purports publicly to find morally repellent. Taboo and fetish are old-accustomed bed-fellows and the ‘high’ inherent in practising taboo behaviour is proportional to the moral indignation and shame of being outed. With such a deep rooted double standard in place is it any wonder men deny allegations of sex crime, well-founded or not. But there’s denial and denial and for all our sakes – especially for our future women and children – we need to know what and who we’re dealing with. If it’s left up to the gossip-mongers, they’ve already been found guilty, whilst our culture walks free and we all lose.