Thursday, 13 October 2011

Yin, Yang Yang, Yang, Pt. 1

Why We Should Never Forget Why The Telegraph Is Heinous, & The People That Make It Happen.

While I was browsing, researching for some piercing ammunition for parts 2 and 3 because I believe that you should make no generalisations when it comes to Sociology, Psychology, indeed any 'ology', my eye was drawn to an article by Neil Lyndon of The Telegraph from back in August 2010, where with the righteous glee of the troll under the bridge once he'd spied a goat, he leapt with vicious impudence upon the whole Feminist movement, titled 'Feminism? Forget it Sisters' upon the basis of one study by Dr Catherine Hakim of The London School of Economics, which suggested that 'men do slightly more work than the women they live with when employment and domestic work are measured together.' 

Before I begin my diatribe against the specific content of the article, the openly abusive user comments that feature underneath, the strange absence of rebuttal but inclusion of comments which suggest there had been some, but they had been deleted, and the gems I uncovered from searching this treasure trove of hateful men who have no concept of irony, let alone Feminism *breathe....* I want to hit you with some statistics straight off the bat, where I will try to bring in as little of my opinion as possible.

  1. Women do two-thirds of the world's work, yet receive 10% of the world's income and own 1% of the means of production.  - Robbins, Richard H. Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p.354.
  2. Women are paid 22.6% less per hour than men. - Banyard, Kat, The Equality Illusion, The Truth About Men and Women, (Faber and Faber, 2010), p.2
  3. Women working full-time are paid on average 17% less than men, which is the equivalent to men being paid all year and women working for free from the end of October. - Office of National Statistics, 2007 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 7th November 2007.
  4. 75% of part-timers are women, and women working part-time earn 37% less per hour than their male counterparts. - Fawcett Society, Not Having It All, How Motherhood Reduces Women's Pay and Employment, 2009 
  5. Women in waged work with young children do 46 hours a week of housework (childcare, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, gardening/DIY) compared to 25 hours by men. (ONS Omnibus Survey, 1995)
  6. 1.2 million people hold down two waged jobs, two thirds of them are women. (Guardian, 4th January 1999)
I have more statistics. Believe me. I include only these because I don't wish to labour my point, or indeed include a shortened version of my GCE coursework which was on the impact of motherhood on professional women for which I was awarded the highest mark that had ever been awarded at my school for Sociology coursework (bragging? Yeah, and?) so I'll go into what Mr Lyndon now believes. Which, I have to say, seems uninformed by any of these, and the countless other statistics into the £739bn that is contributed to the UK economy every year by unpaid work (ONS, 1997) by primarily women.

Beginning with unfathomable hyperbole, Lyndon stands tall as the patriarch (he attests does not exist), proclaiming, 'The long night of feminism may be about to end. A glimmer of light is flickering in the encircling gloom'. So firstly, Lyndon already has made the claim that Feminism has been going on too long, which, if rather crudely we pin that point as the days of Wollstonecroft gives the cause, at tops, 250 years of debate in all of human history. Secondly, he implies that the work of millions of women, political, sociological, humanitarian, personal, that create the meaning of the word 'feminism' could be knocked down with a feather upon the basis of Hakim's work. He also strongly suggests that in a world with Feminism, the world has been cast in gloom, and by turn, that it must have been so successful and pervasive, that women now inherit the Earth, with men truly as second class citizens. I haven't come across any evidence that suggests this. He attempts a record for the most amount of fails in 21 words.

Let me also talk to you a little about Ms Hakim, to draw you a picture of the work she has done.

Catherine Hakim. 'Attractive wins and ugly loses in today's rat race.'
Aside from the study which Mr Lyndon cites - a study so good he neglects to include its title in his article - you may have come across Hakim's work 'Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital' (Penguin, 2011), which argues the case that to get ahead, women should not rely on their intelligence, talents, qualifications and charisma to smash through the glass ceiling, but to use their sex, or 'Erotic Capital'. She argues that past the age of 30, male sex drive increases, whilst female's dwindle, and so to address the 'male sex deficit' women should paint themselves to impress their more powerful male colleagues, and in doing so, women will be able to have everything they want. Hakim has another fan at The Telegraph, Bryony Gordon, who believes her work should: 
'be read to young girls as part of the national curriculum... sick of women feeling they have to do themselves down, and wear their body issues as a badge of honour. If that's feminism... count me out'.
Gordon, who, to save on the ever increasing length of this post, I am quite obviously not a fan of, is one of Hakim's only advocates brand of 'red-top Sociology' (Yasmin Alibhai Brown). Culturally insensitive, Sociologically incorrect and Psychological nonsense, Hakim seems to support moves from the likes of The Bank Of England which emerged in February 2009 that it had run a seminar entitled 'Dress For Success', where women were told: 'always wear a heel of some sort - maximum two inches; always wear some sort of make-up, even if its just lipstick.'. Hakim's 'research' is hardly groundbreaking, with Naomi Wolf recognising (not advocating) the phenomena 20 years ago as 'The Professional Beauty Qualification', where she argued that women's appearances are conditioned as part of professional success; Hakim, is simply abhorrent enough to claim it is a tool that represents some sort of liberation and acclaim for women. Studies have revealed in fact, that if an individual (primarily women) view their bodies as inanimate objects to be used to manipulate or please onlookers is harmful to the individuals; proving a direct correlation between the more a girl does this, the lower her self-esteem is. (Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualisation of Girls') For more reasons why the woman is a moron, check out Jezebel's '3 Reasons Why 'Erotic Capital' is Bullshit'.

Now, reader, you are aware of who Hakim is, let us return to Lyndon, who believes her work points out a 'self-evident truth' that men work 'slightly longer', 'mowing lawns, cleaning cars and fixing shelves'. All tasks I am not only able to complete, but have many times, and more to the point, is hardly remarkable. Another small point, completely personal to myself, but something which I would be unsurprised to hear echoed in many other people's lives, is that although in my family, my father does tend to complete these tasks in the home, he chooses to do them, and in fact, enjoys doing them; for as long as I can remember my dad's 'pottering' has been his principal hobby, and far from being a cruel taskmaster, demanding him to fix his bike, or make a home-made belt, my mum would enjoy having him spend more time with the family than doing these tasks which according to Hakim, redresses the balance with women's cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, pretty much any repetitive, necessary, and with the exception of the latter example, joyless tasks. I would like to point out, nevertheless, that a phenomenological approach to Sociology unless backed up by statistics are unreliable, as it is the greater trends that point to cultural conditioning, and the wider experience of the group being analysed. Phenomenology is the precise approach Lyndon takes, talking about 'all my adult life', 'Our is not an unusual arrangement', 'In our home', and 'Only people blinded by ideology - as feminists have been - could fail to see that millions of men and women are working harmoniously'. 'Blinded by ideology', that's a pretty intriguing idea, since every respected Feminist uses qualified research, and not only that, but their work is consistently reinforced by un-ideologically affected statistical bodies. Men and women can work together harmoniously; but for the majority, this is not the case. Perhaps Lyndon is 'blinded' by his small London elite of right-wing self-righteous middle-class white friends.   

Most offensively however, Lyndon's summarizing remarks extrapolate what he believes to be Hakim's indomitable fortress of truth to hope for some more studies: 
'What next? Might a respectable study soon reveal that, contrary to what we are always told, one in four men does not batter the women he lives with? ... Might the entire edifice of lies that comprises modern feminism now be about to crumble?'
Not wishing to repeat the statistics of another recent blog of mine Who Need the 'Rule of Thumb'?, where I included numerous studies on domestic violence, we need to remember a few things unaffected by opinion. The police in the UK receive a telephone call every minute related to domestic violence. (Stanko, 2000) The majority of domestic violence, like rape, goes unreported, less than 24% is reported (Walby and Allen, 2004). On average, a woman will be the victim of domestic abuse 35 times before she leaves her oppressor. The biggest cause of death in pregnant women in America is murder. Domestic abuse is no more prevalent in terms of class, race, minority, but it is predominantly a crime against women. If Lyndon believes that scientific research and evidence are 'lies', then one has to wonder what in his mind makes truth?

Clearly, I am not a reader of The Tele-youmustbehavingalaug-h (not the snappiest, but really? Not a redtop?) so in sheer bafflement I often enjoy reading the comments of those who do, and the readers of this article really must be seen to be believed. 'Little' writes that Feminists:
 'often leap to making stuff up and generally manifesting antimale nastiness. 

Even more perversely, many feminists are Leftists whose hostility to their own society trumps anything else, so they embrace a dopey multiculturalism that further victimizes Islamic women. (They think "Oh goodie, I can add 'anti-Muslim' to the list of vices I accuse my countrymen of!" without even thinking well what are these Muslims exactly standing for?)'
Yuh huh. So proud of his views, 'Guest' writes:
'Times sure have changed. I wish I was alive when women tended to the house. Nowadays their police chiefs, don't like to cook and seem to be more attracted to women than men.'
I don't trust someone who doesn't know the correct use of 'their', 'they're' and 'there'. 'NickBris' informs me of something I was unaware of, that:
'Most probably, feminists create at least 70 percent of all hate in the western world. More hate comes from the feminist movement than any other form of hate that’s existing in the western world.'
I never knew that my sisters and I were more hateful than terrorists, more hateful than dictatorial political forces, than war, but 'most probably' so.

An  interesting trail that resulted from this snooping came from the very first comment featured, by 'Andrew64', where he trail blazes the cause of the most under-represented group in society, men. Advertising his Facebook group 'Representing Men', Peter Leckie of Liverpool looks for equality for men, a group of people, he believes, have missed out on all the benefits women get in society, a 'glimmer of light' in the 'encircling gloom' of Feminism I am sure. So far have women been given preferential treatment, or 'positive discrimination' as he calls it, men are now the new underclass, and so he wishes to bring them all together to stop this happening, keeping men on top. Because that's equality. COUGHING FIT.

Added by Leckie to the group's photo's. Stop that funding! Business is for men!
It was searching - admittedly not for long, as by this point my eyes were widening to the point of matchstick capacity - that I found something depressingly repetitious, the inclusion of women on the group page, seeking approval from the men in the group by distancing themselves from Feminism. One such woman wrote on the wall:
'It's good to know that I'm not the only one who bloody hates feminists. It's stupid. Women have more rights than men nowadays and they still insist on whinging.'
It's obvious to point out that this is patently untrue, what is more curious is that this woman believes to have lived such an unoppressed life that she cannot even see in her own life where inequality still exists, even if she  refuses to take an interest in the lives of others. It is these types of people for whom I affirm my own Feminism even more strongly, that women exist who do not simply reject the title of Feminist - which should only mean someone who recognises that society is unequally biased towards the interests of men, and that equality should be something to strive for - but that it is so dismal a concept that one must proclaim the anti-Feminist cause.

Even more concerning than the comments, is the youtube blog of 'SuepMy', which I include below:

SuepMy's diatribe uses powerful rhetorical devices such as the wiggle fingered inverted commas technique when she breezes past the 'evidence' Feminists use, whose 'truth' she believes is 'prioritised'. Well SuepMy, I guess that would be, as I have already stated in this blog, because there is hard evidence for it. Like Lyndon, Leckie, and all the other anti-feminists I have talked about in this blog, she adopts a phenomenological and generalised approach to - wiggle fingered inverted commas - prove her point.

Taking on the subject of domestic violence, something which should never be done without evidence and sensitivity, she argues that Feminism has 'hijacked' the subject with the belief that 'only men are violent'. Nonsense. Statistically speaking, violent crime is predominantly caused by men, and when women commit violent acts in relation to domestic abuse, again, statistically, it is in reaction to it. However, this excludes acts of IPV in lesbian partnerships, but to say that 'only men are violent' is just another myth of Feminism which aims to devalue the entire liberation movement. Domestic abuse is a system of controlling another person whom the the perpetrator believes to have vulnerabilities, using them to assert control, and both men, women  and transgender can be the perpetrators; however, the majority of which are men.

A conclusion she draws from the 'American studies' she paraphrases, is that 'men are presumed guilty before innocent' in cases of domestic abuse. More nonsense! Well done! 3.5% of domestic abuse cases result in a conviction. (Women's Aid) If you're right SuepMy, then you must believe that either 96.5% of survivors are liars, or that they rush to the courts with no evidence or thought. She also claims that valid excuses exist for domestic abuse, psychological reasons, and that these are ignored. There is never an excuse for domestic abuse. A common misconception is that the majority of men who commit acts of domestic abuse come from abusive families, and this holds the damaging implication that if they do, they have no choice but to repeat history. The abused do not always become abusers, and abusers can get help. It is their choice to do so or not, and with charities such as Respect offering support with just that, to try and justify the actions of perpetrators devalues the torment survivors have gone through.

She uses her blog to then try and hawk her own treatment for 'rage management', arguing that all the domestic abuse organisations out there have got it wrong, and she has the solution, and I won't lie to you, by this point, I can barely listen to her voice any more, a flaccid over-rehearsed self-important whine that just won't stop. So thankfully I can. When I started training with WAIS, part of it has been 'myths and stereotypes' where although I was aware of the stereotypes out there, I also had not particularly had to put up with them, and therefore employed a kind of derealisation to the whole dialectic, something which was shocked out of me when I encountered this particularly repugnant lot. As T.S Eliot wrote in The Cocktail Party (1949):
 'Half of the harm that is done in this world/ Is due to people who want to feel important.'

Yin, Yang, Yang, Yang. Intro.

So today has been a wonderful day for me. I have just started my volunteer training at Women's Aid Integrated Services - in a shameless plug, have a look at their latest campaign video below - a fantastic charity specialising in support for domestic abuse/IPV for women where in the first day alone, I not only have met a diverse group of funny, genuine, simply incredible women; but began my journey to finally being able to give practical support to the Women's Rights movement rather than simply ideological. It's a step I've pursued for years, and although I believe the long list of other charities I have worked for over the years are no less worthy, being able to work in an environment which is so closely aligned to my moral and ideological beliefs feels incredible; and all the more heart-warming to be starting to do so in Domestic Violence Awareness Month

It was on this high note that I returned home on - albeit completely exhausted, note, coffee is never a replacement for sleep, it will only leave you in a jittery daymare - and so it was in this atmosphere of fulfilled contemplation that I spent most of my evening napping and flicking from brain drain to creativity graveyard on the T.V. On a slight digression, if an hour of television programming can be dedicated to analysing BigFoot footage with  Tim and Eric meets CSI computer wizardry (thank you National Geographic... yes you did just read that) then is there, quite honestly, no room  in T.V scheduling for more programmes with Womanist agendas?

Often, as one finds in situations like this, where your body has signalled its intentions for no more effort in a day, but your mind has been busily been building new connections all day in a state of neurogenesis, I, at least, find my self shouting from a sofa, or gawking at my laptop, hoping that if I am a) loud enough b) use as Shakespearean a vocabulary as possible, and c) screw my eyes up enough (still waiting for that secret hereditary laser vision to show itself) I will somehow reorder the balance of the universe a little. This is pretty pointless. What is somewhat less pointless - if my degree is anything to go by... ahem - is to write about it, in the hope that you, reader, will also become aware of some of the currish, boil-brained rats-banes I have had the misfortune of encountering.

In particular, there are three people/subjects which have roused a particularly putrid pale of bile in me tonight, so rather than make this blog post seem like the angry ramblings of a bar-stool preacher, I am going to divide it into three parts, in the hope that this will allow some sort of cohesion, and ability for directed, concentrated loathing. I was going to do so originally in the chronological order of who offended me first, but since beginning to write this blog post, new things have offended me, particularly pertinent to the invaluable work Women's Aid and affiliated charities do on a daily basis, so I think perhaps I should start there. Now I am sure you are asking, 'but Scout, why should I ever come back to this blog? Isn't it enough I've read this much? What do I honestly have to look forward to?'. Well I'm glad you asked! In parts 2 and 3, which I assure you, will hit your screens by this time tomorrow - you have to use that anger when it's fresh, or it all gets muddied and or forgotten, as Hemingway once aptly noted, 'There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed' - you will have the privilege of meeting the U.S.A's b*****d child of Britain's own shame, Roy 'Chubby' Brown and Bernard Manning.  Also, you can also hear my opinions on how Sega and Japanese video game manufacturers have been making domestic abuse into arcade fun for all the family! But mostly Dad. Mum doesn't have a great time in these games.

That good you say... 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Who Needs the 'Rule of Thumb'?

Amidst the usual protocol of the next fortnight's spending expenditure, consent agenda and whether new items should be added to council meeting agenda, Shawnee County District council in Topeka, Kansas, slipped in a proposal which would seem extraordinarily forgiving even to husbands of seventeenth century England; that the County District Attorney's Office would no longer prosecute those who are accused of counts of domestic violence. In a motion which was supported 7-0 by all council members, they have outraged and intimidated in fairly equal measure the people of Shawnee.

Originally proposed by County District Attorney Chad Taylor, who said he would no longer prosecute these crimes of private physical and psychological intimidation, under the belief that it would save the DA's budget 10% by 2012; Taylor quite literally has put a price on the impact of domestic violence upon its victims, primarily which are women. Believing that these cases should be under the jurisdiction of city, not county prosecution, the council followed suit by voting against proposals that they should prosecute, hoping to play Taylor's hand by placing the onus to revert back in the County's offices. The squabbling of both governing bodies left no legal support for the victims of domestic abuse, despite the crime contravening acts 3, and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the US voted in favour of. This deeply misogynistic and archaic proposal, also comes with perfect timing, a celebratory start to October, also known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As Karen Ann Rinker, state coordinator for the National Organization for Women pointed out:

'...the people who are caught in the middle of this blame game and finger pointing are the women of Topeka. These women are the only ones who remain truly blameless.'

Chad Taylor. You shouldn't judge a person upon their appearance, but are you honestly surprised? Oh, and fun fact, one of his dogs is called 'Reagan'.

The move which was first proposed on September 8th has had immediate consequences for victims and attackers alike, after Police Captain Brian Desch revealed that since the 8th, all 18 domestic violence battery arrests that had been made had been released after they could no longer be prosecuted. Where one could see the move simply as wife beaters being allowed to continue their ways without reproach, (domestic violence has the highest rate of repeat victimisation of any crime, Women and the Criminal Justice System: The Facts, Fawcett Society, 2008) which is abhorrent enough, there is of course, a more sinister side to the change in law. Intimate partner violence - or IPV - like most behaviours of intimidation and control towards women, is a precursor to more serious incidents, so left unpunished, it is likely that Taylor will soon see an increase in the number of homicides appearing in his courts. (Women's Aid).

IPV, as Kate Banyard argues in the brilliant The Equality Illusion, The Truth About Men and Women Today,(Faber & Faber, 2010) is:

'at its heart... an ongoing system of control... various 'types' of violence are deployed in it, including physical, sexual, emotional and financial. When abusive partners start sensing a lessening of their control, they often attempt to reaffirm their grip. Thirty percent of domestic violence cases start when the woman becomes pregnant, and correspondingly murder is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the US.'

In the UK alone, 1 in 4 women will experience IPV at some point in her life, 'with two women murdered each week as a direct result'. ('Domestic Violence: Frequently Asked Questions' Factsheet, 2009) This rate is even higher in the USA, with 1 in 3 women on average experiencing IPV at some point in their life (Brown, A, Violence Against Women by Male Partners 'American Psychologist Journal', 1993, 43, 1077-87), and is also likely to be repeated. In cases of male-to-female IPV it is far more likely to result in death, either as a result of escalation, or retaliation. (Dobash & Dobash, Bachman, Salzman, Sorenson) Indeed, it's not just cases of homicide against abused women that Taylor should expect to see an increase in; as women who do become violent or kill their partner, are significantly more likely to be responding to violence perpetrated against them (Lundberg-Love, P.K, Marmion, S, Intimate Violence Against Women: When Spouses, Partners, or Lovers Attack, Praeger, 2006), violence of which they now have no legal protection from.

Where my judgement of this baffling turn of events is as a heinous contravention of human rights, an abandonment of any concern for the women, families and communities of Shawnee, and as a message that macro economics is more important that any micro sociological and psychological impact, (64% of female victims of IPV test positive for PTSD - Banyard) his argument makes no sense. In an interesting report by Matt DeLisi, editior of the Journal of Criminal Justice, he calculated in Murder by Numbers (Routledge, August 2010, Vol.21, No. 4) that the average cost of a homicide tops $17.2m, which, if, rather morbidly - and may I say that I certainly hope that this does not happen - that even half of the 18 IPV offenders released since the 8th result in a homicide after Shawnee failed to offer them adequate legal protection, then Taylor could be facing $154.8m worth of legal costs as a result of badly misjudging these even early cases; assuming none of these cases have even more remarkable aspects to the cases (a multiple murderer in DeLisi's report drew costs of between $150 -160m). Considering Taylor could only hope with his budget cuts to save by 2012 less than half a million dollars, this is surely pathetic economic sense even when someone sick enough to call his dog 'Reagan' refuses to acknowledge a greater, transcendent value of promising your jurisdiction protection from intimidation and coercive control.

The Council will announce its reviewed position on Tuesday, as to whether it will continue with its plans, sending a local, national, and global message of the importance of Womens' rights, and the rights of any person whose human rights are challenged against ludicrous economic policy. I pray that no other county or country follow suit.

For Fans of Twitter

Follow me at @kittenscout, where you can see all the other waffle too good to make it onto Green and Golden!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I Hope That It's Because It's S***

As you're undeniably aware, this week, Amanda Knox, the wrongly accused murderer of Meredith Kercher by the Italian authorities has finally been acquitted of the charges, and, clearly shaken, disturbed, most certainly fragile, she has bravely returned to face the media circus - which had long settled upon the assumption of her being a crazed killer, her love of 'sex games' causing the tragedy - to speak about her ordeal. Speaking in Seattle on her return, signs point towards Post Traumatic Stress, as she quavered through half sobs and darting eyes:

'I'm really overwhelmed right now... I was looking down from the aeroplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real... thank you to everyone who believed in me... my family is the most important thing to me, and I really just want to go and be with them'

The event has shown up the cruelty and anti-feminist practices in action of many members of the press and their organisations, although, for the usual suspects, this has been approached with severely dubious tact; The Daily Mail took an unusual perspective on the story, distancing themselves whilst not entirely rejecting their earlier vilification of Knox, going with:

'She has matured into a very different young woman from the unappealingly self-absorbed figure we first saw smooching with her boyfriend when Meredith’s body was barely cold.'

Again, kudos to David Jones of the Daily Fail for going with: What now for Foxy? Dreams of being a mother, Hollywood millions and a new life as a professional martyr to injustice. Very observant Jones! More than me I must say, because I could have sworn she said she just wanted to go home, but I must have missed out on the subtle indications of dreams of sex, money, motherhood and sacrifice. Just as well since that's what you originally said she was all about... well, perhaps without the motherhood bit, but you were probably doubting that she could be allowed with children.

It's an unusual way to seem supportive, when all it makes me think of is William Thomas's The Unadjusted Girl (1923) which argued that because of men and women's unavoidably different biological personality traits, (because all women act like ladies... which really even in 1923 is a heap of BS - note the caught on camera Suffragettes of 1912) women are too busy wanting to lie on their backs and think of England to engage in criminal activity. When, however, a woman hasn't had enough attention and love, they use sex to get what they want, recklessly throwing aside dreams of domesticity for thrills, cash, and luxury; so if Jones argues Knox is a 'professional martyr to injustice', she sure still seems like a criminal.

It's long established Criminological fact that in criminal cases, where a woman is believed to have committed a crime which suggests she has stepped outside the roles of femininity, particularly if it represents a significant breach of normalcy for the submissive nature of motherhood and daughteronomy she is hit with the full, furious weight of the law. It is interesting to look at what even high class media publications such as Vanity Fair decided to select for print when the case broke in 2008, for the media's judgement of Knox has been in this case the more belligerent and insidious arbiter of the law, passing their verdict early on non-existent evidence. Painting her portrait from a combination of vague confessionals, Judy Bachrach uses Knox's 'high school drama teacher's confession, 'Let's lay it out: she wasn't a dazzler.', to Diya Patrick Lumumba - the oft described as 'innocent' man Knox would later under pressure implicate in the crime - happily telling Vanity, that in the bar she worked 'she spent most of her time chatting up guys and flirting'. Perhaps her lack of attention and love early in life meant she had to pursue sexual attentions and criminal actions? Gosh that profile seems to fit time and again...

Adding further to the profile of general weirdo, 'one of' Kercher's friends would tell the police to be printed in Vanity 'the first time I met her we were eating in a restaurant, when all of a sudden she began to sing in a loud voice. It was very strange and out of place.' I don't know about you reader, but if spontaneity and liberated expression is a legitimate precursor to 'extreme sex murder' (all VF btw ) then someone ought to either sew me up, or lock me up now.

Unsurprisingly, the ever wonderful Julia Kristeva can express my point more poetically than with my fresh annoyance on the point of this portraiture of a weirdo/criminal/sex fiend for strengthening the patriarchal order in About Chinese Women:

'If a woman cannot be part of the temporal symbolic order except by identifying with her father, it is clear that as soon as she shows any sign of that which, in herself, escapes such identification and acts differently, resembling the dream of the maternal body, she evolves into this 'truth' in question. It is thus that female specificity defines itself in patrilinear society: woman is a specialist in the unconscious, a witch, a bacchanalian, taking her jouissance in an anti-Apollonian, Dionysian orgy.' (154)

As Victor Burgin, less poetically, but perhaps more succinctly summarizes of Kristeva's philosophy of 'psycho-cultural otherness' in a description where Knox's transformation from the 'mousy' brunette scaring girls and luring men like a Siren in the bars of Italy, to 'Foxy Knox' (which will bring me back to my title, honest) is incredibly apt:

'... the woman in society... in the patriarchal, as perpetually at the boundary, the borderline, the edge, the 'outer limit' - the place where order shades into chaos, light into darkness. The peripheral and ambivalent position allocated to woman, says Kristeva, had led to that familiar division of the field of representation in which women are viewed as either saintly or demonic - according to whether they are seen as bringing the darkness or as keeping it out.' Geometry and Abjection 115-6

It seems that Knox has experienced this media transformation from 'bringing the darkness' to 'keeping out', from depraved 'unappealingly self self-absorbed' sex criminal to 'martyr to injustice'. Strangely then, the only figure who has had to make a public apology for his representation of Knox, is the ever enlightened Matthew Wright of The Wright Stuff who ran with Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya? on a recent episode in profoundly bad taste.

Wright's show not only served to play into this dialectic of psycho-cultural otherness, but served to severely attempt to undermine the entire question of double standards for women's position in law and media by reducing her to the level of sexual object, cruelly removed from any of the trials and tribulations which have reduced her to a traumatised and a confused woman, who once worked hard to meet her aspiration of becoming a teacher. It is not what Wright said, or more to the point what my lover Murdoch's Channel 5 sanctioned (indeed, Wright only apologises for 'the on-screen title was wrong, no doubt about it') that worries me, it is that Ofcom only made an investigation upon the basis of 15 complaints, an appallingly low amount of protest. This finally brings me back to my title, why is it so low? The choices surely are that either The Wright Stuff is a terrible programme for which 15 viewers would be an impressive amount, leaving a potential 100% complaint rate; and one could certainly argue this point quite strongly, or that simply his comments were simply out of time.

Considering the remaining memory of the Royal Wedding was Pippa Middleton's posterior, for which I have come across almost no complaint, it is only that Knox is now a recognised victim that the discussion was out of order, not that women should be belittled so much, their private bodies considered so much as publicly owned that there is nothing wrong in this discussion. I fear that this is in fact the culprit for the paltry amount of complaints, that the dialectic which exists of judging whether a woman is seen 'as bringing the darkness or as keeping it out' upon the basis of her looks (do I need to explain how this relates to Susan Boyle's 'transformation'?) is so well subconsciously accepted, that a woman must be a freshly traumatised individual to even elicit 15 complaints. Knox is a particularly vulnerable victim of this dialectic, but it is only her particular vulnerability which suggests that the conversation must be stopped. Women's bodies, lives, wounds are rightly there to be questioned, observed, and abused. Apparently.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

20th Anniversary of 'Nevermind'

Celebrated by anyone who knew, knows, or has just found out the genius of the iconic Seattle grunge three piece has probably been kicking out their favourite riffs this past week, as Nirvana's most famous, diamond selling record Nevermind, reaches the grand old age of 20.

Various celebrations have taken place, BBC Radio 1 lent me the soundtrack to a rather dubious night journey I ended up taking through the Peak District yesterday, featuring interviews with everyone from The Subways to Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, although, unfortunately, presented by the ever irritating Zane Lowe, who kept insisting that (and I paraphrase) 'everyone' got into Nirvana in the same way, through Nevermind... which, as a teenager who used to listen to Bleach, Incesticide and In Utero not only to school, but in lessons, getting me through some really difficult times, kind of came across as a bit populist and dismissive, BUT, there is little denying what an amazing album it is; and perhaps without it, less people would know about the genius of the late Kurt Cobain, which would be a travesty.

Equally, have celebrated in creative and appropriate fashion, launching a live Nevermind listening session at 1pm yesterday, where everyone would start listening to the album at the same time, and tweet their comments until and after the album was finished. Cottoning onto this a little too late - but nevertheless loving the idea - NME has offered another fantastic alternative for fans, posting the band's legendary 1992 concert Live at the Paramount for just 24 hours from the 27th of September, so if you're reading this and you've missed it, gutted. It was amazing, of course.

Anyway, without wanting to go on and on (particularly since I've not bothered to blog in months... although beware, more posts are coming soon, and I'm going to try and make them more frank, since no one reads this anyway haha) this is my favourite track from Nevermind, I hope some of you agree.

I really haven't had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I'd rather tell a story about somebody else. - Kurt Cobain

Friday, 15 July 2011

News Corp and Marxist Irony

It's pretty old news now that Murdoch et al have finally come under close scrutiny due to the phone hacking allegations and investigations that are taking place; interestingly only considered an issue once a clear 'victim' was involved. By this I mean Milly Dowler's family of course, and as the FBI investigation now begins State-side, that of 9/11 families, who may have also been hacked, for whom I only have the most heartfelt sympathy, as does the entire country. Nevertheless, it must be said that when it was the realm of sleazy politicians phones - the Galloways - the sluts on the podium - the Imogen Thomas' - and indeed their love rat partners, of course the Giggs of the world, the media seemed to decide amongst themselves it was well deserved. In this instance, it seemed to be a result of rather simple Marxist manipulative theory, 'those with the means of material production' also have 'the means of mental production' (Marx & Engels),
the news told us it was shocking, they told us they were ashamed, nobody needed to ask if they needed to be punished. It had already been dealt, then was simply the time for signing the interview exclusive deals, free to eventually complete the full circle, and pose for the 'candid' photographs, showing the spontaneous sexiness the media raised them to have. Just like Miss Thomas' incredulous trip to LA in late June 2011 proved.

This is something which no one seems to have asked, indeed the cultural hegemony which has been cast, which subliminally makes all its members agree that this was the point at which it is okay to vilify Mr Murdoch, in my mind, has come unforgivably late. As Left Foot Forward reported recently, and something which Sociologists and Economists have known as far back as 1995, Murdoch has been paying 1.2% tax, 31.8% less than the rate of Corporate tax. As some right minded people I know have reiterated, it is not tax evasion, it is tax avoidance, but I hardly think it is the point. In the money Murdoch has saved in paying tax, in a country which he has been a silent political kingpin since Thatcher, he has denied the country at least 4 fully staffed and equipped state of the art NHS hospitals, or equally about 65 state schools, well, whatever it could have been spent on, in a time of cuts, redundancies, elderly welfare diminishing, and units specialising in children's heart surgery facing closure (those greedy babies wanting new valves... don't they know there's a deficit?!) 'evasion' or 'avoidance', there's a whole lot of people who are perhaps suffering now because he's not been asked to pay fairly. Certainly, I think I would take a small army of life-long benefit 'scum' to lose the country the amount of money we've lost out from Mr. Murdoch alone. Indeed, in recent weeks, news of the ever worsening cuts have been a mere babbling brook to the tidal waves of emotional sensationalist news depicting a left-wing revolution, which in reality is not much more than a self-governed set of public slaps to the wrists.

I suppose this is my biggest qualm about the whole media circus that has ensued; believe me, I have dreamt of the day Murdoch, in Shelley-esque style gets turned on by the monster he has created, but I also dreamt that it would be for the right reasons. So caught up one becomes in the repetitious damnation of Rebekah Brooks (again, I feel I must reiterate, I am not a fan of the woman, but she does seem to have taken the role of the sacrificial goat for the Aztec Gods of media manipulation somewhat) and the constant breaking news media cycle which endlessly churns out more and more victims until the whole country starts investigating how they may put a pin on their own phone, Murdoch's far reaching economic and political crimes go unpunished, simply because they are not on trial. And I wonder if they ever will be. If News Corp falls, will Murdoch still have punching power in England? Of Course! Where print media may be on a grim death-march facing the ever advancing armies of digital media, Sky is not set on any such grim course. Providing millions of British homes with digital media (not to mention channels and programmes), and interestingly, less than a week ago, Wales receiving £57m from Whitehall for super-fast broadband in times of strict austerity measures, there are just as many opportunities for wealth and power acquisitions in Britain as ever, and in the nature of private Capitalism, it is beyond the influence of any of its citizens.

Indeed, Murdoch's far reaching global empire is a support network to valuable to world economics to ever be allowed to crumble; his mental production vast enough to ever allow the suggestion to go too far. Indeed, if this is a man who hacks into private information of everyone from politicians to grieving families, who knows what information, let alone money he has to barter with? As Berger argues: 'The mass media still perform their job of distracting people from the realities of society and of "clouding their minds" with ideas that the ruling class wishes them to have', often in the NewsCorp scandal, quite violently, as Elisabeth Murdoch went on record in The Telegraph to say Ms Brooks 'fucked' the company, something which the kindly old Rupert denies.

As Rupert's bloody Friday draws to a close, there is real suggestion and hope for change, heads certainly will roll, but I think perhaps, only to keep the King's off the block. The post-modern world has replaced empires of countries replaced with empires of one presided over by their white male Tycoons who make their own rules to the games they play globally. When Capitalism allows for an individual to decide how much wealth they believe it is fair to pay to a country, and with ever mounting wealth, and means, they can become more and more surrounded by soldiers to wage their wars, it is hard to imagine how democracy can fairly prevail in any country. If you think this is going too far, just look into how Murdoch's impacted every political ascension in Britain since the 1980s.

N.B I write this after the event, where Ms Brook's involvement has become clear to say that this article did not suppose that she had no involvement, the level at which she provably has been is as clear now as it is abhorrent, but that it's image of her preceded significantly the evidence of her involvement, and that I only ever argued a case which I hoped would follow an 'innocent until proven guilty' ethic which rarely is in practice in news media.