A very UN-glossy look at popular culture... and whatever else takes my fancy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The best thing to happen to me all week

Yay! I have wi-fi back up on my laptop!

I was actually working on writing a really ridiculously long essay-type thing for here, then all of a sudden my baby is working properly again and I decide to waste an entire evening downloading a shitload of music instead. Time well spent, I reckon.

Music. Is. Great. <3 <3 <3

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another day on the metaphorical treadmill

Jesus Christ, my last three years of hibernation away in studentland have left me spectacularly unprepared for just how fucking boring and monotonous and utterly zombifying office work is. Where has all my time suddenly gone? How do my evenings manage to fly by so ridiulously fast now?! The only plus side (apart from earning some £££, of course) is that the spare time which I do have I seem to be spending much more productively now. And I guess it's kind of pleasant to be in some kind of routine, I guess....

In one of my now-crammed-full-of-activities-because-I-no-longer-have-much-spare-time-so-can't-be-lazy-and-put-them-off-til-later evenings I trootted down to cineworld to watch Volver. For those who haven't seen it, it's a film by Almodovar (one of my favourite directors in the world, ever) chronicling the relationships between three generations of women in one family. I know that I doesn't give it the best sell, but you should all go see it because it's tremendously witty, quirky, clever and original. It's also wonderful to watch a really touching story about female unity and strength rather than seeing women portrayed on-screen as competitive, catty and unable to function harmoniously with one another.

In other news, I also have an article being published soon *fingers crossed* on The F Word... yay me! So watch this space...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Quick Note...

It's late and I need to go to bed, but I just had to post a quick note after a browse around some blogs....

I'm very new to the blogosphere, but there seems to be quite a war waging between radical feminists and 'anti-censorship' feminists. I have seen comments made that state, in no uncertain terms, that anyone who opposes censorship is 'not a feminist' and will not be allowed into discussion with the 'real' feminists.

I am not positioned firmly on either side of the fence. I am interested in discussion, deabte and hearing what each side has to say. However, if there is one thing that I am definately AGAINST, then it is those who refuse to discuss issues and hear other people's opinions. I am against fundamentalists of all kinds. I am against anyone who will not listen to those whose viewpoints fall outside of their idea of what 'feminism' is and how a 'feminist' thinks, feels and behaves.

If I ever find myself refusing to listen to someone because their viewpoint does not fit into my construction of 'feminism' then I shall be very disapointed with myself, to say the least.

Banksy vs. Paris

Oh Banksy Banksy Banksy, I love you, I honestly do. You've cheered up many a dull morning for me when I've suddenly spotted a piece of yours. Perhaps a rat, lurking down by the pavement as dozens of fast-paced feet march past unnoticing. Or the old hitchhiker on Archway road who I used to smile at as I went through the daily grind, thinking it would be great to join him, just jump in a car and bugger off to 'anywhere'. And when I read your books I felt inspired enough to actually sit down and write a long-winded email to you (or one of your minions at least - I don't know who deals with your mail. You have a PA? A Secretary? Wouldn't surprise me if you had several). I didn't send it though. I'm sure you get enough drivel-filled emails from kids who want to 'fuck the system' gushing about how amazing you are and what an inspiration you've been; you don't need another to clog up the recycling bin.

So why do you have to go and do this to me?

Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from. You're attacking the cult of celebrity, pointless fame, the worship of 'false icons' and everything that goes with it. I think it's a really clever stunt, I honestly do. I agree with what you're saying. I just have one question...

Why did you make her topless on the front cover?

What was the point of that, really? I guess you're suffering from the schollboy syndrome of finding it really really hilarious to draw boobies on pictures of women. I'm not very impressed. No points for you this time.

Apart from her pointless tits, my other gripe with the stunt is that, clearly, Paris didn't make herself become famous just like that. She didn't wave her magic fame wand and - poof! - suddenly she was a celebrity. It is the media who created her - perhaps a campaign about the vapid-ness of modern celebrity should be targeted at them instead? Why not doctor 500 copies of Heat magazine? Or The Sun? That would be pretty good actually. I think you should do it. Just don't draw naked tits on everyone just for the sake of it, please?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

So, the government has finally outlawed the possession of (in addition to the making and distributing of, which is already illegal) ‘extreme adult images.’ This apparently includes necrophilia, bestiality and ‘extreme violent sexual acts.’

I have to say that, as a feminist, I’m yet to make up my mind entirely as to whereabouts I stand in the whole pornography debate. I have watched pornography, and a lot of it did unsettle me in the way it served up women’s bodies as objects, dehumanising and degrading them for the pleasure of the male viewer. I have seen pornography in which the female performer has clearly been in pain and discomfort, where she looks as if she finds the experience anything but enjoyable. But I draw the line in claiming that women are raped and abused regularly in order to make these films; I do not work in the industry, I do not know these women, and I do not feel it is my place to dictate whether they are being raped or not, whether they are consenting or not. I do not wish to speak for them on their behalf and I think it is insulting and demeaning to paint them all as victims when we do not know them and we do not know their truths. We cannot make generalisations about these women; their stories must be heard by us on a case-by-case basis.

Therefore, when it comes to ‘extreme adult images’, I am again hesitant about tarring all images that depict violent sexual acts with the same brush. I have not seen any particularly violent pornography, nothing that would perhaps class as ‘snuff’, nor anything depicting violent torture and rape (whether real or simulated), but if women really are being raped and tortured in order to make these films then it makes sense to try and stifle the demand that leads to their production. However, I do not want to consider all such material as morally repugnant. Even though it may not be what I choose to do in the bedroom (or the living room, or the kitchen, or the garden...), I have met plenty of couples (mostly in fetish clubs, where people are more willing to talk about the subject) who enjoy painful and violent sex acts. They still have wonderful, healthy relationships that most people would be envious of. If they chose to film themselves carrying out these acts, is it now illegal to posess this material? As I stated earlier, although I'm sure many actresses in violent pornography have been abused, we must be open to the idea that there are some who genuinely enjoy carrying out these acts. Human sexuality is beautifully diverse and varied in its colours and themes, and I believe it is unjustifiable to try and tell two consenting adults that any sex acts they choose to carry out with each other are ‘wrong’ and should be banned. In fact this is one of the main gripes I have with the majority of pornography that I have seen; it serves human sexuality up in one extremely narrow and restrictive mould. It is not ‘liberating’ in the slightest, despite its makers’ claims, as it teaches that sex is something that should be performed in a certain way, that certain acts are what all men must get aroused by, and that both genders should play certain roles. Likewise, it is not our place to tell grown adults who like to engage in sex acts involving pain and degradation that their tastes are morally wrong. I know that this law may apply to only the most extreme of images, but I still object very strongly to the idea of authority figures dictating to us just what is normal, natural human sexual behaviour. As a woman, I know that my sexuality has been dictated for me over centuries by those in power, it has been denied to me and forced upon me depending on what suits their needs at any given time. I am therefore wary and suspicious of any laws seeking to define ‘acceptable’ sexual behaviour.

As for the argument that watching extreme material will lead the viewer to harbour such desires, and eventually tempt them to act upon them, I am inclined to believe that there is some truth to this. However, I do not think that banning extreme pornography is the answer. I believe that the root cause of this problem is the lack of sex education and open discussion in our society. We have an abundance of skewed, unrealistic portrayals of human sexual behaviour, be they in the media as a whole or pornography itself, and no sensible discussion and education to balance it out. Young boys turn to pornography to learn about sex when they are curious, and girls look at the figures on the cover of FHM, learning that this is the role they should take. I agree with radical feminism’s analysis of pornography; I do indeed see it as violence against women, I see how it carves women’s bodies up for male pleasure, how it teaches men that their right to orgasm is paramount to any of the woman’s rights. When you consider how men are fed this material from an early age, and that 1 in 20 women in the UK have been raped, we cannot take the issue lightly. I am not saying that there is necessarily a direct link; I understand that the relationship with rape is very complex and that not every man who watches pornography will grow into a rapist. But when women’s lives are affected on a daily basis, whether through the experience of rape itself or other, more low-key forms of harassment, the fact that material which degrades them and glorifies violence towards them, that attempts to control and display their bodies for the pleasure of men, is widespread and almost mainstream in its use cannot be ignored. However, I don’t believe that censorship is the key. What we need is real options in the first place so that the young do not have to resort to pornography to learn about sex. We need open discussion of the subject and representations of sex that do not serve women up as playthings for male pleasure. I do not know what this material will look like yet, or how we can go about creating a culture of respect for women’s bodies rather than degradation and objectification, but I’m hopeful we can find it. I believe we can change this.