So today I had a bit of a meltdown on twitter. Oops, is all I can say. It’s been brewing for a while. I’ve become increasingly annoyed at some of the behaviour I’ve seen and while it’s possible to ignore it, there comes a point at which it feels irresponsible to do so.

I’m sick of the way in which a minority of largely white, cis feminists and their white, cis male friends have appropriated the concept of intersectionality for self-promotion and bullying. It’s anti-feminist and it’s anti-intersectional. It’s not good enough to pretend you are giving a voice to those who are marginalised when in fact the only voice anyone can hear is you, yelling about Caitlin Moran and Vagenda and why all white feminists should shut the hell up (apart from you, of course).

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I realise I’m late to the party when it comes to discussing Lily Allen’s new video, or even discussing how I’m not going to discuss it. Therefore I’m going to discuss it a bit, then discuss people discussing it, and then not discuss it any more. I reckon overall that should do.

Like many people, I liked the balloon bit in Allen’s video but thought the rest was rather like punching someone in the face while telling them you were only offering an ironic commentary on face-punching. I’d like to think it’s possible to encourage people to be critical of sexist, racist culture without simply re-creating it in order to say “LOOK! LOOK HOW BAD THIS IS!” (more…)

I must be getting old. Finally I get round to watching the infamous Miley Cyrus VMAs “twerking” performance and all I can think about are the Two Ronnies and John Cleese.

I wouldn’t say Miley’s We Can’t Stop/Blurred Lines medley is exactly the same as the “I know my place” sketch. Still, if you overlook the complete lack of self-awareness in the former (and the entitled smugness in the latter), Miley’s twerkathon is to race and gender what the Cleese and Ronnies line-up is to class. If it wasn’t for the ridiculous foam finger, I could imagine it being used in teaching materials in years to come. This is how bad things were if you were black and/or female in 2013.These are the hierarchies. It’s simplistic, yes, but it seems we’re not yet ready for the nuances. This is how crude and unimaginative we are:

I’m a fully clothed white man. I look down on them.

I’m a barely clothed white woman. I look down on her.

I know my place (bending down in front of a rich white woman, having my arse slapped while wearing a massive teddy bear backpack).

I’m wondering what level of delusion it takes to choreograph this sort of thing, without at least, for one small moment, asking “hang on! Just what AM I thinking?”

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Calling all B-list celebrity mental health monitors! Do you ever fear that when it comes to ex-Nickelodeon actress Amanda Bynes’ descent into her own personal hell, you might lose track of which entertainingly mad thing happened when? Then fear no more! For MTV has created Amanda Bynes: A Timeline of Her Troubles. Never again shall you fret over whether the being “kicked out of gymnastics class over talking to herself” came before the appearing in court “looking dishevelled in an ill-fitting blonde wig, sweatshirt and sweatpants”. At last someone’s taken the time to document it all, from the racist tweets to the involuntary psychiatric hold. Phew! Guess this means we can finally relax and get back to more serious tasks. Who’s up for placing bets on the next Z-list suicide attempt?

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Bynes fan. It’s not that I’ve never seen any of her films; who needs to? My main gripe is that I wish she’d done a bit more lashing out before getting carted off to the institution. Or perhaps if she’d self-harmed in public, that’d have been fine (providing we got pictures). This, after all, is what modern celebrity-watching is like. Waiting and hoping for famous people to implode, and then wallowing in faux concern. After all, these people need our armchair diagnoses, delivered via the Sidebar of Shame. How else would they cope?
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Over the past few days I’ve been deciding what I think of Femen (this has involved a lot bra unfastening and re-fastening while I make my mind up). On the one hand I’m quite drawn to the idea of knocking down great oligarchs with a rebellious, well-aimed tit swing.  And on the other I don’t want to impose boob-centric values on others. Argh! Will it be okay if I expose just one breast? Come to think of it, should I just dig out one of my old nursing bras for ease of selective flashing? Finally, I’ve come down on the side of covering up (even though I’m writing this in the bath, so I’m not actually wearing anything. Just saying). What others choose to do with their bodies is their business – or rather it isn’t, but self-aggrandising, racist rhetoric isn’t going to change this. (more…)

Just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, even someone who believes in “rape shoes” and accuses Katie Price of being “Vichy France” can have moments of feminist glory. I thought this when reading Caitlin Moran’s latest Times column, which is on the subject of Seth MacFarlane’s 2013 Oscars misogyny-fest. In it, she looks at all the excuses that are trotted out for “ironic bigotry; faux misogyny; pretend racism; satirical homophobia” and calls bullshit on the claim that white, male, heterosexual comedians are merely “acknowledging the historical elephant in the room”:

Here’s the problem: in all these instances, the comedians were not acknowledging an elephant that wandered into the room – they brought it into the room. All artists start with an empty page, or a silence – and this is what they wanted to talk about. Over and over.

As Moran points out, there is no need for men to remind women that sexism used to exist and hey, just in case you’ve forgotten, this is what it looked and felt like. What’s so offensive about the whole thing isn’t just that these men are still being sexist, but that they’re using such a self-congratulatory argument to get themselves off the hook: “look, I was only parodying what people used to do to you for real”. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if one day some clever-clever rapist were to claim he was merely performing a slapstick satire of the days when men used to have sex with women without their consent (it’s hardly his fault if his victim was too unsophisticated to realise it was all a postmodern joke). (more…)

Here is a true story: In the early 1980s, my dad and his friends were involved in the May Day parade in our town. The theme of their particular charity float was “Around the world in 80 days”. So my dad decided to black up with Kiwi shoe polish and go as Idi Amin. We have, conveniently, now lost the photos, but I’m absolutely sure I didn’t dream this. Indeed, I was in some of the pictures myself, dressed as Mrs Mop (whoever the hell she is -  I’m guessing that since my dad had racism covered, I was doing my bit for class prejudice by dressing as a cleaner).

Whenever I tell people about this (and I don’t tell them often), the response is typically one of amazement. Where the fuck did you come from? they ask, terrified and amused in equal measure at the thought of the redneck backwater whence I came. And yes, rural Cumbria in the 1980s was a funny place. It’s a funny place still. But even so, there are times when I could do without the liberal horror of peers whose skin is every bit as white as mine, peers who just happen to hail from more metropolitan quarters and who may even boast about having attended school with real, live black people. Ha ha! they chuckle. What a terrible family! What a thoroughly racist town! But it didn’t feel weird or racist at the time. It felt normal. It felt the way things feel now, the way they’ll always feel to those with advantage. Years later we’ll wonder how we ever thought this was okay, yet at the time it’s an incredible effort to picture the world being any different.
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What do each of the following have in common:

  • the inappropriate use of apostrophes
  • advertisers using “pan fried” when they could just use “fried”
  • the belief that bulimia is an illness rather than a moral failing
  • the idea that there can be more than one meaning for the word “gender”
  • the notion that people other than smokers, motorists and fox-hunting aficionados can be persecuted
  • having to use the term “African American” when you just want to say “black”

All of these things are, of course, examples of political correctness, about which I am now an expert. (more…)

[Trigger warning - it's the Daily Mail, after all]

Why did it take the police so long to believe the victims of the Rochester rape ring? That’s the question I have to ask myself, even if, like most feminists, I’m not remotely arsed about female victims of sex abuse being believed. Thank god the Daily Mail’s on the case.

You could of course say it’s all down to the entire world being saturated in Political Correctness Gone Mad. No one’s going to believe a white girl’s statement against that of an Asian man. As the Mail suggests, here we have “the horrific consequences of Britain’s “Islamophobia” witch-hunt” (boy, we’ve missed you, Melanie Phillips). The trouble is, to be perfectly honest, I have to say this interpretation DOES sound a little racist to me. Not to mention completely fucking implausible.

I have decided to do some further research into this myself. Only I am lazy and only have my lunch hour in which to do it, so I’ve stuck to the Daily Mail website. Still, it’s all proven quite enlightening. I now present to you my three key findings revealing why the Rochdale victims were not believed. And it’s fuck all to do with race:

  1. Women lie about rape all the time. They lie because they’re jealous. They lie because they’ve cheated. They lie because, basically, they’re scum. We hear far more about women lying than we do about them telling the truth. So what’s a reasonable Mail-reading bobby meant to believe?
  2. Young girls are there for our delectation. Like here, and here, and here. And also, they’re total slags. Hence the Rochdale men’s defence seems perfectly plausible.
  3. It’s only rape if you’re in a dark alley with a total stranger. Otherwise it’s a “grey area“. It’s hard for men to know where the boundares lie. That applies to paedophiles as much as it does to police officers. Jeez, it’s hard being a bloke.

So, there you have it. Worry no longer, Daily Mail. The answer to this moral conundrum was there in your website, all the time, there in all the stories that simply HAVE to be told and which don’t distort our perceptions of men, women and reality in any way whatsoever.

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