This is happening just up the road from me! Apparently, according to my local authorities, the ‘right’ of men to ‘get laid’ (rape) trumps the rights of women to be protected from violence under the law. Sorry, but that’s just sick. East Sussex County Council is concerned about the rights of the vulnerable? It’s a given that women/girls – and men/boys, come to that – who enter prostitution are amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens. It’s their health and wellbeing we need to be protecting – not the spurious ‘needs/rights’ of a bunch of dirty old men, disabled or not!
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).
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.
‘[Darwin] emphasized that, though in almost all species the female was the choice-maker, in human societies the privilege of choice making had passed to the male, with deleterious effects.’ Gillian Beer, Introduction to the Origin of Species, 1859, Oxford University Press, 1988, (regarding Darwin’s, The Descent of Man, 1872)
As a man – and an educated man from a middle-class background; thrice-privileged – I can take freedom of choice, in speech as elsewhere, largely for granted, which is a very different proposition from saying I ought to be able to, or believing that the content of said speech is intrinsically valuable. One problematic aspect of privilege is that the privileged position renders it scarcely-visible; the distorting effect on one’s worldview tricky to apprehend. Admitting this perspective, it’s at least understandable that a challenge to one’s privilege might be mis-construed as an infringement of rights. I’m being magnanimous, here: plenty men intuit only too well the social head start that the accidental inheritance of a ‘y’ chromosome provides them with and miss no opportunity to revel in it, generally at the expense of those less-privileged than they.
Put another way; men are prone to a) talking bollocks, and b) lashing out like wounded animals when their ‘bollocks’ is subject to scrutiny. So it’s no wonder feminists come in for a lot of flak; scrutiny of men’s ‘bollocks’ being somewhat of a specialty of theirs. I came across a fine example of this a couple days ago via Madeline Rachael‘s fine wp blog The Feminist Agenda (below)
Swanson and Buehners‘ dismissal of feminists as ‘whores’ – and in a
discussion diatribe defending ‘the family’ and ‘society’ – is as typical as it is telling. Christian conservatives of their stripe would have one believe that they love ‘good’ women and that their beef is with only certain types of ‘bad’ woman. I’m minded of a press statement issued by West Yorkshire detective Jim Hobson during the investigation into ‘Yorkshire Ripper‘ Peter Sutcliffe here in the UK during the early ’80s which (British feminist) Joan Smith quoted in her essay ‘There’s only one Yorkshire Ripper‘ (Misogynies, Faber and Faber, 1989):
‘He (The Ripper – at that point yet to be apprehended) has made it clear that he hates prostitutes. Many people do. We, as a police force, will continue to arrest prostitutes. But the Ripper is now killing innocent girls. That indicates your (sic) mental state and that you (sic) are in urgent need of medical attention…’
The implications of this statement are clear and frightening – only violence against ‘good’ women is remarkable, never mind legitimately criminal; prostitutes fall outside outside of the ‘good’ category; are thus legitimate targets for men’s and society’s disapprobation, and that the distinction between the legitimacy of arresting and murdering women is a mere matter of degrees. To emphasize differing degrees of misogyny, however, or to give credence to the notion that some women are deserving of it, would be to miss the point that criminalizing ‘bad’ women and murdering ‘good’ ones both attack women as a class.
Three decades on, Swanson and Buehner, whilst they’re clearly not advocating violence against women per-se, are nonetheless arguing their ‘case’ (further magnanimity) against feminism from the same mindset; namely that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women and that feminists fall squarely into the latter camp, along with ‘whores’. The glaring contradiction is that both the women who confront their assigned status in the gender hierarchy (feminists) and those who submit perfectly to it (‘whores’)** are subject to the same negative judgement: ergo, in their eyes all women are ‘bad’, whatever they might say to the contrary.
This is significant when one considers the conflict between Radical Feminism and the Liberal Left/Trans* lobby which, though decades-old, exploded so dramatically into public consciousness via the publication of ‘Transphobic’ articles by Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill and the subsequent Twitter storm. Notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women loom large in the vocabulary of Trans* activists. As in Dt Hobson‘s assessment of Sutcliffe‘s murder victims (above) the wrong kind of woman is, in their opinion deserving of ‘extreme predjudice’ and the wrong kind of woman – the ‘bad’ woman – is any woman who questions the bipolar gender model on which their ‘identity’ depends. Scrutiny of their ‘bollocks’ is not encouraged, to say the least; presumably because it bears more than a passing resemblance to that spouted by Swanson and Buehner: sexist, anti-feminist and rigid in its adherence to gender bi-polarity. Accusations of ‘Trans-misogyny’ (an unhelpful term to my mind) are rendered risible by prolific resort to the common-or-garden variety by Trans* activists and their supporters.
So whilst bollocks of their kind continues to proliferate both on and under the radar of the MSM: on blogs run by Men’s Rights Activists; on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and in the comments sections of all manner of online publications; feminists, who discern profound ideological issues and serious health and safety concerns for ALL women, are being subjected to inquisition , hounded , jailed, ridiculed, and silenced by those who fear the prospect of a life shorn of privileged position. Some women themselves argue against the need for feminisn, including this Huffington post writer, who is somewhat hoist by her own petard by her declaration that ‘feminism is misunderstood … by many of those calling themselves feminists’, and her sexist dismissal of the anticipated feminist backlash to her article.
For the Trans* activist who has spent the majority of their life occupying a position of privilege, discerning the difference between loss of said privilege and a genuine infringement on human rights might conceivably be difficult; but let’s not make the mistake of being magnanimous again and again in the face of evidence to the contrary. That anti-woman propaganda such as the Generations Radio feature and the Huffington Post piece are allowed to stand whilst the likes of Burchill and Gallusmag are censured tells us something. That these and other women – feminist or not, wives or the prostituted, straight or queer, butch or femme, workers or home-makers, black or white, young or old, trans* or ‘cis’ – so frequently take the brunt of societal problems that are manifestly not of their making tells us much the same thing: somebody needs to check their privilege, and they’ll be carrying a ‘y’ chromosome, I betcha!
**Couple points to note: a) I didn’t want to get sidelined into any kind of ‘blame game’ at that point, sufficed to say that the choice to be a feminist or a ‘whore’ are clearly not equal and opposite – specifically that the latter can be considered as ‘free’ a choice as the former – nor mutually exclusive. Andrea Dworkin is a case in point whose radical politics were deeply-informed by her personal experience of prostitution. b) The original use of the word whore was Buehner’s, and having quoted him thus I ran with it for the duration of the piece, mainly a creative decision since it made for a more memorable title. It implies no disrespect towards prostituted women on my part, hence the quotes ‘—‘.
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!
Wow! A rape-prevention campaign that actually addresses the real issue instead of indulging lazy, misguided victim-blaming tropes 🙂
Of all the cruel and Byzantine ways that the law has contrived to interfere in women’s born right to own and manage their reproduction, this surely takes the cake. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t doesn’t even begin to cover it. On paper, objectifying the foetus as evidence runs somewhat contrary to the Pro-life definition of it as a fully-human being; but the implications in real life are exactly the same: don’t abort! The mother is still effectively owned and subject to the rule of patriachy. The likely psychological trauma of having to carry a baby to term and the fact of her/his existence will serve as a lifetime reminder of the initial violation, whether the mother decides to bring up the kid or not. And the science underpinning the law is flawed in any case. As a commentator on the thread (The Reality Dog) rightly observes:
‘This is shockingly stupid. Just using her own logic, why would you need to force the woman to carry the baby to term in order to get evidence? Once the abortion was performed, you would easily be able to get DNA from the fetus to prove paternity to the rapist and likely get that person charged and behind bars even faster. Once again, anti-abortion legislators are grasping at straws…’
Coincidentally – or perhaps not – this law would erect an additional psychological barrier against victims reporting the offense against them.
And this has implications for the kid, too. Growing up knowing that your life came about as the product of rape must, I imagine, have profound implications, and bear none-too-positively on one’s self-esteem and future relationship prospects. There’s an alternative, of course: not knowing the intimate details of one’s conception and parenthood; or the fate of one’s surrendered offspring – but as an adoptee I can vouch that that has its implications, too; both for the child and the parents, biological and adoptive. The likely internal conflict propogated by this proposal parallels that experienced by the incested child. As Suzanne Moore wrote in a perceptive Guardian piece in response to the Savile scandal:
‘I know people right now are having to make a decision to remove a child from a family after a series of disclosures about the white stuff that came out of “Daddy’s willy” when they were having their special time. The last thing this child wants is for her Daddy to be taken away.’
Which is to say, knowing that your parent(s) is/are bad people doesn’t necessarily diminish your need for a sense of ‘where you come from’. Even if that need is a product of patriarchal indoctrination, for the sake of our kids’ (and adults’) peace of mind it must be addressed.
I doubt the lawmakers consider these, or have even given them pause for thought, and whilst I’d be more confortable believing naïveté was a factor in their proposal, my inclination is that it’s politicking pure and simple: a legal statement of intent that promotes that reinforces the patriarchal agenda; specifically:
- Reproduction is a legitimate end in itself, howsoever brought about, and rape is a legitimate means of reproduction,
- A woman’s body is an extension of the state and subject to state control,
- It is the duty and responsibility of the state to encourage, regulate and manage reproduction, by any means.
This bill bodes badly in a world that many care to appellate ‘post-feminist’: its basis is spurious science and its implicit cruelty to the forcibly-impregnated and their offspring are, individually, reason enough to contest its legitimacy on humane grounds. Taken together they embody a legal and moral abomination; another in a history of many.
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 🙂