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

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Violence Schedules?

Jessica Valenti of is interviewed here where she talks, on the second page, about how all women live on a 'rape schedule'. That is, we are constantly thinking ahead, planning ways to stay safe when getting from A to B, whether it's pre-booking a taxi, getting someone to walk you to the bus stop, carrying a personal alarm or taking the longer but better-lit route.

Predicatably, many people (in the 'letters' section) responded, stating that this way of life is not just exclusive to women - men fear attacks in public too and plan their routes with just as much paranoia. One person states that this is part and parcel of living in an urban environment. Not that I wish to belittle men's fears, I think that the way some men even try and compare them to womens' fears of sexual attack it just demonstrates what litte understanding they have of what we have to experience. When a man is attacked on the street, the motivation is usually economic - he will be mugged for his wallet or phone, and probably experience some nasty violence. But it lacks the sexual element present in the fear and intimidation that it part of most women's lives. They are targetted for their money, not for their gender. I have been mugged and pickpocketed, I have also had cars trawl me, men follow me home and more than my fair share of catcalls and intimidating sexual comments. They are different - they have a different motivation, take a different form and ellicit a different response in you.

When discussing this issue with my boyfriend, who lives in a pretty grim area of London, he pointed out that some attacks on men ARE related to their gender - those guys you see out binge-drinking and picking fights with everyone, they will target men in order to prove their 'manliness'. Beating up another guy shows just how macho you are. This is a good point, and just goes to show how restrictive and damaging gender roles, stereotypes and perceived notions of 'masculinity' and 'femininity' are to every one of us.

Although, steering away from gender issues, perhaps we should be asking ourselves exactly why we all feel so scared in public every day, why we constantly look over our shoulders at the cashpoint and the bus stop, why we fork out that extra tenner for a taxi that we really can't afford. Statistically, chances of attack are low, and when you think of those living in war zones with none of the luxuries we enjoy, it almost seems laughable. Who does it benefit for us to be this fearful, exactly? Certainly not ourselves. How about those above us - after all, how much easier is it to coerce and control people through fear than anything else?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Living the small-town cliche

I come from a town with a missing genration. When everyone hits 18 they up and leave. Sometimes they return, debt-ridden and with their tails between their legs, after graduation for a few years, where they skulk about, moan about how nothing happens round here then speed away again as soon as they've cleared the credit card. Of course you get a few who never leave, who stay in their little childhood clique forever and think that moving out of home at 25 is, like, sooo young. They also work awful, mind-numbing jobs thanks to the lack of creative industry and graduate opportunities round here.

I am one of those people who was forced to come home after graduating. I work in an office pushing paper around in a job that I am far too over-qualified for, where everyone my age seems to to have getting a mortgage as their main priority in life and has a live-in 'partner', and just love to gloat at how I'm a graduate in the same job as them ('look where your degree get you!'). I also work for satan's nephew - my boss is possibly one of the rudest and most repulsive men I've ever met, and I spend enough time complaining about him anyway so I shouldn't really start typing about it in my evenings.

But despite this test of strength, I have been trying my damndest to make it slightly more bearable. I work on a local arts magazine where I try to scope out local talented creative types (guess what? there's not many) and write what I hope to be inspiring articles, urging the local yoof to get up off their arses and make something interesting happen here. I brought women's rights to the locals attention with our Reclaim the Night march. And now, along with my significant other, have started trying to promote some experimental electronic nights. But, unsurprisingly, people just don't want to know. No venue owners want to take risks in putting us on, and most punters shy away from anything that's not the same tried'n'tested formula. Even the local so-called 'alternative' shops wouldn't put up our posters and flyers, probably as they weren't advertising bland emo/ nu-metal shite. The fact is, when you try to do something different and creative here, you just find yourself up against a brick wall. Anyone who wants to pursue anything interesting heads to london pretty quick, leaving the rest of us hicks with our six-fingered friends and plenty of tumble weed.

All I can say is - thank fuck I'm leaving this hell hole for good in a month's time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Women - Know Your Limits!

Well oh well, what more could we have expected of The Daily Express?

After the first pictures of the victims (and perpetrator) of the Virginia Tech massacre are released, what do they decide to run on the cover? A picture of the woman the killer was supposedly infatuated by, along with the headline 'The Beauty Who Sparked A Massacre'

Just like the paper's reporting of rape cases, it always seems that women are somehow responsible for the crimes committed against them, whether because they were too drunk, too slutty, too ambitious or, in this case, simply too pretty.

Remember, the only ones who should be painted as guilty are the ones who ARE fucking guilty.