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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Following on from food guilt...

Not too long ago, I posted about how women always seem to be made to feel guilty about enjoying themselves. Now in today's independent I've come across this

I'm sorry, but what has this woman done that is so morally reprehensible apart from get sloshed and have a good time? Like the writer says, what else do you expect if pluck a girl from kentucky and give her a multi-million dollar apartment in New York to go wild in? Who the hell can blame her? And let's not get started on the recent pleas for Britney to 'calm down' after she - shock horror! - gets thoroughly rat-arsed wth her girlfriends to celebrate her divorce.

Let's add to this the constant portrayal of Lindsay Lohan as 'out of control', Kate Moss's media treatment last summer (far more vicious than anything her other half gets, and let's remember who's the one who actually manages to turn up to work and make a living) and the criticism dished out at Lily Allen for daring to suggest that she would celebrate a number one single with lots of cocaine. Excuse me if I'm mistaken, but aren't plenty of men who've practically acheived iconic status thanks in part to their insatiable apetites for vice, excess and self-destruction? For starters, there's Sid Vicious, Jim Morrison, The Gallagher Brothers, Hunter S Thompson, even Motley fucking Crue... I know people appreciate their artistic integrity too (although if you consider Motley Crue real musical talent then please go shove screwdrivers down your earholes as punishment), but when has the same patronising criticism ever been levied at them?

If young women don't want to associate with feminists 'cos of all the boring fuddy-duddy stuff such as not liking strip clubs, then at least they may want to join us to campaign for the right to get totally smashed out of our faces on a regular basis? Who fancies organising 'RECLAIM THE GAK' with me?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Suffolk Murders

Right now I am back at my parents' house in Ipswich, Suffolk. I'm sure you've all heard about the terrible events in our town recently. I'm going to try and avoid talking about the fact that the women are constantly referred to as 'prostitutes' instead of people - you don't hear Luke Durbin, who went missing here earlier this year, referred to as 'shop assitant' instead of 'young man'. I'm going to avoid complaining about how the national media didn't bother reporting the case until a third body was found and the magic words 'serial killer' uttered. I'm not going to express my anger at the way the tabloid media have jumped on this case like vultures once they knew they could paint a picture of the 'ripper' targeting 'vice girls'. I'm not going to pass too much comment on the fact that Suffolk Police didn't say they were dealing with a 'major inquiry' until 3rd december, nearly a month after the first victim went missing. They've been spoken about enough by various commentators. I don't feel I have too much to add to what's been said.

But what I AM going to get mad about is the fact that no one seems to be addressing what was really responsible for these tragedies, what is responsible for the women selling their bodies in the first place, what is responsible for other sex workers being trafficked in, beaten and raped. And that is: the men who pay them for sex. The men who create the demand that fuels the supply. The men who continue to use brothels when they know many girls are trafficked in and held against their will. The men who pick women up off the street, carry on providing business even though they know it is dangerous for them to be working in such conditions. Why, amidst all the media talk about opening legal brothels and tolerance zones for the women to work in has nobody suggested that maybe, perhaps, men should consider whether it is really morally right for them to sleep with prostitutes?

We are used to campaigns telling us not to buy products or services when they use unethical working practices. Nike, Gap, Tescos, Starbucks; the message to stay away from these companies unless you wish to fund their workers' abuse is one that's vocalised quite frequently. So why, despite knowing the dangers street workers encounter, and even high-profile dramas such as 'sex traffic' on our TV screens, am I still not hearing any condemnation of the men who use these services? They are the ones who fuel the trafficking of women, who encourage them to work on the streets and place their lives in danger. It looks like there will be a reform of the laws surrounding prostitution shortly (don't get me started on the fact that it took a frenzied killing spree for this to really be discussed properly) but that is still not enough. There has to be a focus also on helping the women who want to get out of their situation. If it becomes a fully legitimised and respected profession, then what message will that be sending out to the next generation? That is normal, regular behaviour for a man to buy sex with a woman, to buy her body like a posession? What will this do to gender relations? Yes, whilst women are still working as prostitutes we need to make it as safe for them as possible, but this will not be enough. We need to help them escape when they want to and we need to teach men that it is NOT ok to buy women's bodies like disposable objects when they are in such a vulnerble position through lack of choice. Women are more than a collection of body parts and men are more than animalistic slaves to their sex drives. We cannot accept these gross and degrading stereotypes. We are human, we have brains and minds and we must use them.