Tag Archives: Facebook

Pop shots Fader

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Why is pop still so scared of the vagina?

Why indeed?

And it’s not just pop per-se: popular cultural morés in general often present as being at odds with female biology even whilst commodifying (female) sexuality embodied therein…

e.g.

Pornographic representation of in-vaginal ejaculation is so novel it occupies its own, minority-interest ‘kink’ category (‘creampie‘, if you’re interested): the converse ubiquity of ejaculation on faces and/or breasts (as far as possible from the vagina, note) and anal sex.

Public breast-feeding remains a matter of consternation and misunderstanding, despite those practicing it having ‘enjoyed’ http://www.maternityaction.org.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/breastfeedingpublicplace.pdf since 2010; restrictions on its portrayal via social media. Showing breasts is only a (moral, if not actually legal) crime it seems, when they’re actually functioning as breasts; rather than as a sexual fetish.

The increasingly visible recourse to accusations/diagnoses of Transphobia/Cissexism within public discourse, with the tacit purpose of disabling such discourse: embodying the increasingly-fashionable Post-Modern notion that female-ness is a psychosexual ‘identity’ divorced from reproductive biology, and that any suggestion to the contrary is offensive, albeit to a small minority.

The longstanding trend towards employing girls/women with ‘masculine’ (i.e. tall, lean, not-so-curvy) physiques as models in fashion.

What is it ‘we’ don’t want to see? You’d think femaleness were a terrible thing indeed, that we might be blinded by the light of it. ‘This little wound women have… it frightens me.’ spoke the artist-seducer Reynolds in Anaïs Nin’s A Model’ . Seems it frightens a lot of people. Maybe it should?

From The Fader article:

‘Why is pop scared of pregnancy? Aside from the fact that women are so often presented as objects not subjects available for consumption in their own music videos—an illusion that’s broken by the sight of a pregnant bump—perhaps it’s something to do with that old nightmare of “having it all.” Ever since the sexual revolution of the ’60s and ’70s—when sexual morals shifted, independence celebrated, and more women began to enter the workplace—women have been split into workers and nurturers.’

Having it all‘ is a phrase once often deployed to knock down women who dared to step outside of their male-prescribed, supposed limitations, especially if they performed too well. Overt, incontestible evidence of female reproductive power is an affront to those of us who claim to have the red telephone to woman-central at our fingertips. Whilst some of us non-females show aptitude as both workers and nurturers, there’s still that one thing we can’t do. And it’s no coincidence that artists such as Cherry and Björk who unashamedly bare – and revel in – their femaleness are also high-achieving and indisputably icons. Bjrk writes of

‘”(the) “biological” process of heartbreak: “the wound and the healing of the wound.” But, let’s be real: it also looks like a vagina! Which is, of course, the anatomical source of the family unit that she mourns on “Family,” following the breakdown of her relationship. Where do I go to make an offering, she sings, To mourn our miraculous triangle: father, mother, child.'”

(Which the Po-Mo set might seize on as homophobic, unjustly: even Elton in full indignance is grounded enough to realize he can’t have his kids without female participation. There’s good reason to interrogate the wisdom of IVF and other ‘reproductive technologies’ but that’s a debate for another day.)

She knows.

When Marillion‘s Steve Hogarth wrote the words for The Wound he was in the same metaphorical space, I think; albeit from a necessarily incomplete, male perspective:

Finally, here’s a good – and apposite – one from the vault:

 

 

 

LULU: RATING HIM A 6 WON’T MAKE YOU A 10

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Facebook‘s Lulu app allows women and girls the opportunity to ‘rate’ the guys in their life, share the information with other FB users and recommend suitable guys to your friends. It’s only accessible if you list your gender as ‘female’ in your account. Harmless gossippy fun, or something more sinister? The writer of this Girls Globe article is pretty cynical about it, and a good few guys are up in arms; but…
Given the volume of creepy, nasty, sexist crap guys are wont to post about women all over the web, I’m not sure we’re in much of a position to get too butthurt over something as relatively innocuous as a rating out of 10 – though I’m less than surprised that some have and will. I bet MRAs will be hopping mad…
A couple of thoughts: FB and other sites and apps have been notoriously sloppy when it comes to cracking down on sexism directed towards females – be interesting to see how they react to this. And given that the app is only accessible to FB users listing their gender as female – though non-female users will, as the author says no doubt attempt to hijack proceedings by altering their settings and/or creating pretend-female sock-puppet accounts – it’s hard to predict how this will intersect with currently-fashionable conceptions of ‘gender-as-spectrum’. My understanding is that most ‘Transwomen’ come from a background of living as het men, ‘Transwomen’ as Lesbians, so I wouldn’t expect to see much of an uptake from that quarter; but who knows? And if this app lasts beyond the initial novelty phase, and gains traction as a way of sharing useful information – like which guys are genuinely creepy and dangerous – rather than locker-room gossip then it (and similar platforms) might have real ‘feminist potential’ as it were. Mind you, this may well already be happening for all I know, which I don’t, which is no doubt the idea.  I’d like to think so – I feel the potential of the www to provide opportunities for safe space and organising, especially for women and otherwise-marginalised groups, rather than big business, is its best asset. It’s potential for paving the way for grassroots democracy and egalitarianism has scarcely been tapped thusfar, but progress is being made all the time.

With respect to cyberspace, as in meatspace, men and their institutions have shown themselves as quick as ever to try and dominate thru sheer force and naked aggression; and as has been observed throughout history, criminals are seemingly the quickest to capitalize on the opportunities offered by new technology. But precisely because the web – and attendant social media – are primarily information media and increasingly, universally accessible, they provide heretofore unprecedented opportunities for building communities of resistance. Wife-beaters, philanderers and paedophiles who previously evaded detection and capture by moving from town to town, country to country might start to find their options limited. Their reputation – or lack thereof – may well precede them, and loss of social status might begin to achieve what historically-ineffectual legal sanctions in concert with wilful public indifference thusfar haven’t.

Lulu in likelihood won’t be the social ‘magic bullet’ to achieve any of this, but it and other emergent social media might well point the way.

Girls' Globe

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It didn’t take time for it to make news in the men’s locker rooms after a group of sweaty, tired football players pulled out their i-phones and yelped—“what the f**k!”

It traveled faster than just some who’s-that-hot-chick thing that forms the usual mode of conversation at post-practice sessions among hefty male athletes who “just need to relieve themselves of some dangerous testosterone.”

“Hey Higgins that’s you,” cried Ralph, pushing aside a towel and making his way to a big, muscly guy who was recruited to the university a year ago for his innate ability to throw a ball. “You’re an impressive 8.6.”

Who cares if Rihanna’s ass just got bigger on screen and Amanda Bynes just passed a racist remark?

A dude who considers himself an alpha-male, a “chick-magnet” and “the big guy” just got rated on an application by a bunch of giggly, gossipy college girls who were once…

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Not such a nice one, Cyril – and the ‘boy’ who cried ‘Rolf!’

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Three days after Mark Williams-Thomas outed Rolf Harris via Twitter as the ‘fourth man’ in the Operation Yewtree investigation and the mainstream media is still playing dumb – or maybe smart: perhaps in the aftermath of the Leveson enquiry and an ill-fated Newsnight documentary, they’re simply on their best behaviour. Alternatively, Harris has taken out an injunction, strongly suggested by newspaper reports’ familiar wording ‘cannot be named for legal reasons’. But how many well-known Australian, children’s television presenters in their 80s, with waterfront property in Berkshire (currently besieged by camera crews from major press corporations) can there be?

A confidante of Harris‘ is quoted by media sources as saying

“Quite frankly I think police should be ashamed of what they are doing … Is everyone who has ever worked with that man Savile going to be hauled in? He is being tainted with guilt by association.”

Actually this is misleading, since police sources have clarified Harris‘ questioning falls within the third, ‘others’ sub-category of Yewtree and is thus unconnected to Savile. Also, and contrary to a large percentage of Tweets claiming that Harris has been arrested, he was in fact merely questioned and subsequently released without charge.

Exponents of the MSM and public users of social media alike, love to trumpet British justices’ lofty maxim of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – much as I and others in the catering profession glibly adhere to the fanciful notion that ‘the customer is always right’ – and many are doing so in this case. It is a conceit, however – one that only the truly naïve would take at literal, face-value – as evidenced by the case of MP Cyril Smith which – eventually, and posthumously – made national headlines, though, as with Savile, never resulted in formal criminal charges.

A strong Prima Facie case – including a confession from Smith himself – was first presented by Greater Manchester Police to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 1970. It was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who nixed it. This also happened on two further occasions in 1998 and 1999. Whilst not necessarily conclusive evidence of the widespread conspiracy mooted by the likes of David Icke (who, as one of the few long-term campaigners outside of the Women’s Movement to have worked to expose institutionalized sexual misconduct and violence, forever pissed on his own credibility chips by tainting potentially believable stories of corruption with fairy stories involving Satanism, lizards and alien blood-lines) it certainly proves that as far back as the ’60s, authorities were colluding to suppress knowledge of serious criminal activities perpetrated by the ‘great and the good’ in public life. This will inevitably lead to increased public and press speculation regarding knowledge and suspicion of paedophile activity within the care system, Whitehall and even the DPP itself. Also, as Williams- Thomas Tweeted later, conversing about the broader issue of institutionalized sex-abuse :

‘We can learn a lot from the past -but only if we want to.#Savile has changed a climate & given confidence for many to report’.

This in a nutshell demonstrates why, in spite of (in my opinion, much-exaggerated) fears of a witch-hunt, it is imperative that every case is properly investigated, including, where possible, the interviewing of suspects and other witnesses. In a statement regarding the original complaint against Smith in 1970, Nazir Afzal (Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS) agrees, concluding his statement by saying ‘Any victims who are considering coming forward should not be dissuaded by the decisions of the past … [t]he decision made in 1970 would not be made by the CPS today.’

It is also equally important that these matters be openly and freely discussed; a conversation that a MSM overburdened with regulation, and subject to injunctions on behalf of those rich and well-connected enough to serve them might find harder to report. It bears reiterating that it is not the government, the DPP or the CPS which are ultimately on trial here, either in the media or thru the courts. As the buck doesn’t really stop with the BBC or the education and care systems for enabling and acting – or not acting – to conceal Savile‘s criminality, nor does it stop with politicians and prosecutors in Smith‘s case; although they were arguably in a more powerful position to act should they have so wished. The real culprit is our (male) establishment, hierarchical to a fault and a two-faced arbiter of specious morality. That the likes of Savile and Smith moved in higher circles differentiated the nature of their offences little if at all from similar crimes committed within the domestic sphere, schools, churches, sports clubs and other less-lofty institutions inhabited by the great unwashed. One common feature of sex-crime (amongst other moral and criminal outrages) is the degree to which institutions and their membership – whether the government, the police, the state, the church or the family – have historically connived and colluded to protect the integrity of the establishment at the expense of individuals’ integrity and safety; the integrity and safety of women, children and minorities in particular.

As I applauded Philip Schofield for raising the issue of criminality within The Commons, so I applaud Williams-Thomas for doing likewise in his profession. If it is regrettable that apparently innocent parties such as Lord McAlpine have, and will inevitably continue to become embroiled in this unfolding scandal, then the fact that said scandal has gone unpublicized and its perpetrators unpunished for so long is infinitely more so: indeed, ‘regrettable’ barely begins to describe it. Let it unfold, and in the full glare of publicity, the better to banish the shades of deceit and denial. If the MSM allows itself to be unduly constrained by regulation and legal machinations then it may well find itself made redundant, in similar manner to the way that old media within the entertainment industry is likely to be made redundant by filesharing, streaming and direct-marketing and selling. Efforts to stem the flow of information and other media content via email, Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere have thusfar proved largely ineffectual. Napster, anyone? This is a two-edged sword, mind – the once maverick Facebook shows signs of succumbing to the old institutions’ double-standard: yesterday it removed a page sharing information on the identities and whereabouts of convicted sex-offenders, in response to a court order; yet in the past it has repeatedly failed to take down pages created by sex-offenders for the purpose of grooming and procuring children for sex. This is not to say that the internet and social media are inherently bad things: they’re neither inherently good nor bad, and on balance the benefits probably outweigh the drawbacks, but they do place responsibilities on us as citizens of today that previous generations have not had to contend with. We need to embrace and discharge those responsibilities to the best of our ability. To talk of ‘learning lessons’ has become trite in recent years; glib jargon that glosses over a personal and collective desire to do anything but; to wish a problem – whatever it may be – away. But there are lessons here, for anyone ready and willing to learn: that denial cannot wish problems away; that the very means – in this case social media and the internet – that enable organized criminals to a heretofore unprecedented degree, might also empower their opponents and ultimately bring about their (criminals’) undoing. If old media are losing out to new in consumer market-share it’s because they are still playing by redundant, old institution-led rules that fail to take account of new realities. In days gone by, Fleet Street and its imitators around the world would have been champing at the bit to report in full on stories such as Harris‘s. McAlpine‘s  rearguard action – which as justified as it may superficially be, ought not to discourage future testimony from abuse victims – and any potential fallout from Leveson must not be allowed to plug this current volcano of truth.

If enough good people speak out then evil will not triumph.

Detecting hypocrisy: The Adventure of the (anti) Red-Top League.

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Activists opposed to the Sun‘s topless Page 3 have targeted supermarkets across Britain as they stepped up their campaign for an advertising boycott of the tabloid.

From guardian.co.uk, Saturday 3 November 2012

“Supermarkets are selling family values and yet they are advertising with a newspaper that encourages people to see women not as a human but as an object,” said Lucy-Anne Holmes, who set up the campaign in August. “We are calling for them to stop advertising with the Sun and send out a really positive message that they value their female customers.”

As much as it pleases me to see our good citizens exercising their right to protest, and putting social media to proper use; I’m troubled by Ms Holmes and her No More Page Three cohorts invoking the old saw of ‘Family Values’. The notion that Family Values are what Tesco, ASDA et al are selling is, in one sense, laughable. A 21st century public, at least superficially au-fait with the idea and reality of The Brand might sometimes be forgiven for not seeing the wood for the cut-price, flat-pak patio set; forgetting that the bottom line for business is just that, the bottom line. Supermarkets value their female customers, right enough, for as long as they can be persuaded to spend, spend, spend: a state of affairs which The Sun‘s kind of family values – right-of-centre, deeply-conservative and long-predicated on the objectification and stereotyping of women – can only serve to promote. Any kind of paradigm shift in gender relations would decimate their core customer base overnight and those exponents of big business too slow to respond would die. The Sun‘s continuation of the Page Three tradition, far from a contradiction of such values fits right on in and ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ types perceiving otherwise might perhaps be advised to try putting the telescope to their good eye.

And lest my own inevitable hypocrisy come back to bite me I can reveal you I’m no stranger to porn, Gangsta Rap, Bond movies and any number of media tropes than many a feminist would frown mightily upon. Hell, I’ll even admit to liking some of the former. And to me, in an age when the days of print media look to be numbered; a plethora of infinitely more dubious imagery is instantly accessible via everybody’s smartphone (often cheek to jowl with ‘reputable’ brands on their webpages) and said brands have their fingers in any number of unsavoury pies; this singling out of Page 3 appears variously, arbitrary, desperately headline-grabbing and an exemplary case of shutting the proverbial stable door. With so much popular culture nakedly (pun intended) influenced by the mainstreaming of pornography, The Sun and its Page 3 seems less an anomaly than the solitary ‘brand’ that wore its heart on its sleeve all along.

And here’s a thought for the mythical squeezed middle that Holmes and co will no doubt be counting on for the lioness’ share of their support: If supermarket customers are genuinely concerned about good values and respecting the rights of women, then they could do worse than to choose fairtrade foods and clothing, thus ensuring that – largely female – foreign workers whose efforts keep us in the bloated, wasteful style to which we have become latterly accustomed will perhaps be a little better-remunerated; better-treated, even.

For those wishing to support the No More Page 3 campaign, you can sign their petition here

and visit their Facebook page here

 

The new institutions

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Facebook hunt ‘tracks wife’s rapist’.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/9616624/Facebook-hunt-tracks-wifes-rapist.html

This kind of vigilante response is scarcely a new thing; albeit that the novel use of social media gives the situation an up-to-date, technological twist. The key word here is empowerment: the proliferation of the internet and, specifically, social networking applications like Facebook has empowered the public at large to take matters otherwise beyond their control into their own hands.

In much the same way that aspiring pop musicians now have a new means to bypass a hierarchical institution (the record industry) whose stock has been devalued by corruption and complacency; now victims of crime have a new means to bypass a hierarchical institution (the police and judiciary) whose stock has been devalued by corruption and complacency.

With ever more lurid revelations regarding the late Jimmy Savile keeping the issue of sex crime high in the media ratings, it’s a good time to reevaluate our historically inadequate response to sex crime and speculate the impact these new media might have in influencing change.

Legislation to deal with sexual-offenders is already in place, and the fact it’s historically proved so often ineffective is rooted mostly in a failure of collective will to enforce it. There’s something of an interrupt between the legal assertion that rape is a felony deserving of strict punishment and the response. The BBC (as other corporations do) manifests in microcosm a wider societal truth: that the welfare of the individual (victim) is of less import than the ‘brand’ (be that corporate entities, the church, the family etc). Deviants (from the prescribed norm) and whistleblowers are to be discouraged at all costs. As a (human) race it’s seductive and comforting to believe that everything’s basically ok, bar a few ‘bad apples’ but to quote Joe Jackson, “it just ain’t so”.

So I’m uncomfortable with the idea of the BBC becoming the focus of this – for much the same reason I was uncomfortable with Asians/Muslims becoming the focus of recent child abuse allegations/prosecutions in Rochdale. The danger is that the public will be presented with – yet another – convenient opportunity to buy into the comforting idea that the problem – child sexual abuse – arises from particular institutions or communities rather than recognizing it for the widespread, deep-rooted problem that it is. Despite recent efforts on behalf of the Women’s Movement and affiliated lobby groups, this kind of hidden violence is still too often perceived as exceptional. It really isn’t. There’s a parallel with the way HIV/AIDS is still too often perceived as an issue only for gays/drug users/the promiscuous; ‘them’, not ‘us’: denial is a powerful thing. Which is not to say that the BBC shouldn’t be brought to book; as Savile‘s employer it bears corporate responsibility to fully investigate the numerous allegations; co-operate with resultant legal proceedings and where necessary, instigate disciplinary action and provide recompense to victims. Nonetheless, the wider, longer-term solution to  crime rests on changing complacent, complicit attitudes within public and corporate life.

The new institutions have a significant – one might argue, pivotal – role to play here. The solution to violence is never more violence and we might not all care to be vigilantes anyway; but we can be vigilant and thanks to an ever-more-accessible stream of information via Twitter, Facebook and other public forums it’s becoming increasingly inexcusable not to be. Witness the recent Nick Griffin furore on Twitter for a fine example of how members of  the public has embraced this unprecedented opportunity to confront the forces that undermine civilised society in real time and in a genuinely democratic way (for instance this petition at Change.org to oust Griffin from Twitter). For better or worse, the internet is the ultimate enabler; for the criminally-minded and law-abiding alike. Indeed, there’s a certain irony that the very media that have given free reign to the illicit sex industry and other organized crime networks – and make no mistake, these are organized networks dealing in big bucks, let alone the cost in human misery –  are the same ones that might potentially bring about its undoing, by way of confronting the public’s long history of denial and complacency. Criminals like Savile will continue their tyrannies, of course, but there’s every chance that social media will provide an effective platform by means of which they might be exposed in their lifetime. Malicious false accusations and mistaken identifications are a possibility, of course, even likely – and there’s a weary inevitability that a few attention-seeking ne’er do wells will jump on the Savile bandwagon – but I’m not unduly concerned by this: typical estimates of the frequency of false criminal accusations hover around 2% of reported crimes, and given the exceptional social stigma associated with sex-crime, combined with ingrained reluctance to believe and thehistorically poor treatment of victims in court,there’s every reason to believe that false allegations of sex-crime are, if anything, less common than that. By contrast, 95% of sex crimes go unpunished; in many cases victims not only don’t report them to the authorities they never confide in anyone at all. As the saying goes, ‘you do the math’.

Savile‘s post-mortem trial by media might fly in the face of long-cherished notions of justice, but given the lack of justice that the majority of sex-abuse victims settle for it’s arguable that we’re in a better position than before. Marsh‘s assailant will face due process, and rightly so – though one hopes he will be treated sympathetically and with lenience – but the fact remains that in a more humane, less misogynistic world, victims of sex-crime would feel sufficient confidence in judical ‘due process’ to report their attacks at the time. It took eleven long years to bring Marsh to justice and many of Savile‘s victims have suffered much longer than that: if social media can effect some kind of paradigm shift, and fill a gap in the short term, then so be it.