The Heat: Good Female Buddy Film; Shame about the Disablism

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I really, really wanted to love The Heat: a female cop buddy film starring two great actresses. And, it was really funny in places. The relationship between the two women was lovely but it was too dependent on stereotyped constructions of “good” and “bad” women. It was also full of fat jokes, comments about frigid dry cunts and liberal use of the fucktard.

Because it’s apparently completely impossible to make a film with a woman who does not meet Hollywood’s standards of acceptable without constant references to her weight and oh-so-hilarious clips of her getting stuck in cars.

And, really, fucktard? Do we really have to have disablist words to mark out a character as “low class”. Because that’s what Melissa McCarthy’s character represents: a fat, lazy, stupid, low class women. And, Bullock: a frigid bitch with a dried up cunt.

This is Hollywood’s version of a feel good buddy film: cliched stereotypes, misogyny and disablism.

Russell Brand and the “Perfection” of Feminism

I’ve seen a lot of criticism on Twitter today from feminists angry at feminists who believe Russell Brand’s No More Page 3 photo op is nothing more than a publicity stunt that will actively harm feminism. Apparently, requiring men to support feminism by taking personal responsibility for the  sexual assault and misogyny they have personally perpetrated is asking too much of them. We are “over-thinking” feminism and ruining it for the rest of feminism.  We are, in fact, being mean to Russell Brand.

Well, you know what? I don’t give a flying fuck if Russell Brand does think we’re being mean. The man prank-called a rape crisis hotline on his radio show for laughs. You know who else prank calls rape crisis hotlines? Rapists and porn-sick fucks who like to trigger victims of sexual violence. Ask a volunteer at any rape crisis hotline and they will tell you about the men who phone them wasting their precious time as well as committing sexual assault. Brand called a man live on a national radio show to publicly shame and humiliate the man’s granddaughter.  Having his photo taken with a NMP3 t-shirt doesn’t even begin to compensate for the abuse Brand has perpetrated.

This isn’t about demanding perfection from feminists. It’s about not including men who commit sexual violence within the movement just because they’ve bought a fucking t-shirt. I’m not exactly fond of men trying to pretend their feminists at the best of times; I’m certainly not including a dude who once sexually assaulted a female member of staff because he wanted to see her ‘tits’.

If that makes me a perfectionist or exclusionary feminist, then I’ll wear that t-shirt with pride because it means I’m not a hypocrite. NMP3 didn’t exactly have a choice in acknowledging Brand’s tweet once it was sent out. Personally, I wouldn’t have posted it on the website but that was their decision and it’s their campaign. However, I’m not willing to see women questioning the motives of a man who has a well-documented history of misogyny be derided by women desperate to claim Brand for feminism.

Brand isn’t a feminist. He just isn’t. Buying a t-shirt is a shit entry price for membership of a social justice movement. We are selling out feminists and feminist activism by pretending Brand’s t-shirt photo op is a real sign of change in behaviour.

It makes a mockery of feminism.

#CatsAgainstPeta : Because Cats are Awesome and PETA is not

Because who doesn’t love cats and hate PETA?

PETA doesn’t campaign to protect animals. It runs advertising campaigns glorifying male violence against women. How many of the celebrities involved in PETA’s campaigns wear leather? Use products which are tested on animals? Even know what PETA’s campaigns are about? How much does their intended audience care about animal rights? Who are their intended audience? Do they even know?

So #catsagainstpeta because I’d rather look at pictures of cats than stare at another image of a woman’s bruised and battered body that PETA thinks makes “edgy” advertising.

#catsagainstpeta storify now available!

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(Big thank you to Roweena for inspiring the tag!)

 

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These are links to some of PETA’s more disgraceful campaigns:

More Extremely Offensive Images from PETA

PETA and Racism

Has PETA gone too far? Sexism, Pornography and Advertising

Because Menstruation is Just Gross and Dirty

Try to Relate to Who’s On Your Plate

Eat Factory Farmed Chicken and Save Women: A Feminist Response to PETA

The “Angels”

Fur Trim is Unattractive 

The KFC is Animal Cruelty Campaign

I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur

That Superbowl Ad

Eat Factory Farmed Chicken and Save Women

Stay Firm and Fresh

Bunnies are More Important Than Women’s Rights

Women Are Just Pieces Of Meat

PETA Comes Out in Support of Domestic Violence

 

 

Russell Brand: I’m just not buying it

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So, Russell Brand‘s no longer a misogynist because of one image of him holding a t-shirt supporting No More Page 3. That’s all it takes nowadays to wipe out a lifetime of misogyny and homophobia: a photo with a feminist t-shirt.

Well, I’m not buying it. Anyone can pose with a t-shirt and claim they’ve changed their ways. This isn’t evidence that they actually have or that they actually even understand why their behaviour is disgraceful.

This is a brief snapshot of Brand’s ‘comedy’:

A man who thinks it’s funny to phone a rape crisis centre or phoning a man to, live on the radio, to sexually harass their granddaughter isn’t someone who understands that women are human too. Suggesting that “the love of a good woman” has cured him of sexism  actually proves that he’s still a sexist; that he still views women as not-quite-human.

Yeah, Brand can string a sentence together and he has a passing acquaintance with the word ‘revolution, although with a remarkable lack of understanding of the history of revolution, but so can lots of other people: people who don’t demand the right to sexually assault a female member of staff before they start work.

When Brand starts to publicly apologise for his previous behaviour, and really mean it, I might start to reconsider but tweeting a picture holding a feminist t-shirt isn’t proof of change. He can start by apologising to every single woman he has ever met who weren’t “good” enough for him to treat as human before this photo op.

Because, really, that’s all this is: a really good photo op for a man with a lifetime of misogyny.

 (Sequel: Brand and the “Perfection” of Feminism)

OMFG: Women AGE shocker

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It turns out women get OLD. Actually OLD. And look it. Even supermodels. Even Kate Moss!

Who the fuck saw this coming? Kate Moss looks different at 40 than she did at 14. I, for one, am shocked, boggled and in desperate need of a nap to recover from such an emotional roller coaster.

And, desperately happy that I’m not yet “paddling in the shallows of Old Lady Lake.”

Because if Kate Moss is decrepit at 40, the rest of women must be such mingers that we need to be, well, something.  They haven’t actually said women should be put down at 40 so as not to scare men but it was probably just an oversight on their part. Cut out because of the word count rather than anything else.

(Thank you to whoever first tweeted this image out!)

Ways in which Celebrity Big Brother and No More Page 3 aren’t the same.

I’ve had a couple of wiseacres responding to my piece on Racism, Misogyny and Celebrity Big Brother where I suggest we all need to stop watching bullying for entertainment  with the “ohhh, but don’t you say  it doesn’t work like that No More Page 3. That telling people to stop buying it does’t help.”  So, for those who are dim or bored trolls:

1. Places you see the Sun

  • cafes
  • the bus
  • the tube
  • the grocery store
  • some asshole in the school playground
  • and any other public place where you don’t want to see it.

2. Places where you see Celebrity Big Brother:

  • in your living room when you turn on the television

I would have thought the difference was patently obvious but I guess not.

So, once and for all, women can’t stop seeing The Sun in public because we have no choice. We can choose to stop watching Celebrity Big Brother in our own home [obviously, we haven’t got much choice with women’s magazines and TV guides, but, hey, if it’s not on TV, it’s not in the mags!]. We stop watching, Endemol stops airing homophobia, racism and misogyny as entertainment.

Misogyny, Racism and Celebrity Big Brother

I hate reality television. I watched one episode of one of the singing ones with my Nana a few years ago and was horrified at the very clear bullying by Simon whats-his-pickle of a teenager with mild learning difficulties who couldn’t sing and had only been brought before him for the prospects of “humorous” bullying. I’ve also sat through an entire series of Sweet Sixteen horrified at what passes for appropriate parenting. I believe that reality television is nothing more than the 21st century circus freak show. It is bullying. I get that lots of people enjoy it and it’s their ‘guilty pleasure’. I just can’t get over the image of that teenage girl sobbing her heart out on national television.

All this is to say, that I haven’t watched any of this series of Celebrity Big Brother. I caught the entry of Jim Davidson with disgust but not surprise. The Big Brother franchise isn’t noted for it’s women-friendly format. A contestant in Brazil was charged with raping a fellow housemate last year. This was the response:

 “Big Brother examined his behaviour without jumping to conclusions and with the utmost care. The images showed a breach of the rules of the programme.”

Raping a fellow contestant only constitutes a “breach of the rules”.  Accusations of sexual violence aren’t just confined to the Brazil edition; the South African edition faced a similar controversy. Even without the issue of sexual violence, the entire premise of Big Brother is to shove a group of people who wouldn’t like each other in real life, ply them with alcohol and torment them. Things aren’t supposed to be all happy bunnies knitting scarves for each other. The premise is to cause tension and let the contestants rip each other apart.

I disagree with the conclusions in Rebecca Reilly-Cooper’s article in the New Statesman. I don’t think our nation did a whole lot of soul-searching after the racism accusations during the previous edition of Celebrity Big Brother. I think a whole lot of people talked about racism to be seen talking about racism but nobody actually did anything. Well, except for everyone who promptly tuned into Celebrity Big Brother to watch the racism unfold increasing the profits of Endemol exponentially. Yeah, the female contestants involved weren’t evicted to huge crowds of people but that was part of the spectacle rater than actually caring about racism.

That’s all raising awareness of misogyny in this version of season of Celebrity Big Brother will do: it will increase the profits of those who deliberately chose this group of “celebrities” to create controversy. They don’t care about racism or misogyny or homophobia: they just care about profits. Ofcom may investigate the homophobic comments made by Holyfield but what will happen: a small fine? Nothing really in comparison to how much money Endemol makes pitting people against one another for the ‘entertainment’ of others.

If we want to actually challenge the culture of misogyny and racism (and disablism, classism, homophobia etc) in reality TV, we need to stop watching it. We need to take responsibility. Not just talk about racism and misogyny and homophobia but take responsibility for the fact it is the audience who keeps Celebrity Big Brother profitable.

No audience. No profit. That’s all Endemol cares about so hurt them where it actually hurts.

Dear Nick Clegg, We really need to talk about John Hemming

Dear Nick Clegg,

We really need to talk about John Hemming. I know the open letter is considered passé now but Hemming is still making troubling statements about child protection years after concerns were first raised with your party.

When are you going to take concerns about Hemming’s comments seriously? Are you waiting for a family to take a child overseas and that child be hurt or even killed by an abusive parent?

Don’t get me wrong. There are some serious problems within child protection; problems that have increased since your political party voted to cut services to families, communities, education, social services and health care. Your party voted to put more vulnerable children and families at risk. You’ve increased the likelihood that children will need to be removed from their homes by decimating programs to help families. Chronic under-funding leads to poor training and support for social workers and other working directly with families.  You’ve helped to flog the NHS to Cameron’s mates which will put more mothers at risk of post-natal depression and psychosis: which can increase the risk of child abuse. We continue to criminalise mothers instead of dealing with their mental health issues; putting women in prison for crimes of theft forces children into foster care. Support programs to help mothers with substance misuse problems are gone; as are programs to help women recovering from domestic and sexual violence.

The cuts your party voted for has increased the risk to vulnerable children; and this is without examining the cuts to services for children with disabilities and extra support needs within their families, schools and healthcare.

It’s not like I’m advocating the belief that Labour was a major improvement. I’m a radical feminist. I  believe a fundamental failure in our child protection laws is that we still view children as possessions of their fathers and refuse to acknowledge the gendered nature of violence and how children, young girls in particular, are groomed to view violence and male control as normal. Until child protection genuinely becomes child-centred, too many children will continue to suffer at the hands of their abusive fathers.

At least Labour tried to do something to help vulnerable families. It wasn’t good enough; not by a long shot but at least women got legal aid to help in cases of domestic violence. There was a basic recognition that the Welfare State and the NHS were the basis of a truly civilised society (even when the practice was a tad off).

But, Hemming’s statements  are truly concerning. This is from the BBC today:

John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said the system is now unfair to parents. He has been contacted by hundreds of parents suspected of harming their children who are going through the family courts.

He said the process is so unfair that parents should leave the country to avoid social services and the family courts.

“All the cards are held by the local authority. It has large resources to fight the cases – it does all the assessments,” he said.

“My advice to people if they can afford it is just to go abroad. You can’t get a fair trial here, because you can’t rely on the evidence being fair.

“It’s best simply to go if you can, at the right time, lawfully.”

These are statements that Hemming has been making for years. Before his somewhat ignominious ejection from Mumsnet, Hemming could be guaranteed to show up on any thread referencing social services or adoption making these very statements. I am aware of at least one Mumsnetter working under the umbrella of child protection who made a formal complaint to you personally after Hemming made some deeply offensive statements about adoptive parents and social workers ‘stealing’ babies.  He has used his parliamentary privilege to name family members involved in a child protection and custody case despite children being given anonymity under the law.

Suggesting parents who are being investigated for child abuse flee the jurisdiction is not about protecting children. This appears to be nothing more than a vendetta by Hemming against social services after the mother of his child was briefly investigated whilst pregnant. In all the articles and Mumsnet threads I’ve read, I’ve never heard Hemming talk about the rights of a child. It is always about the parent. I find this frightening.

Louise

 

 

Baby Pacifiers: Porn Style

Seriously, people? This is what we’ve arrived at: pornified soothers for babies? Way to teach baby girls they have no right to bodily autonomy and that their only value is in how well they flirt. What the hell kind of creepazoid comes up with this product in the first place? And, who approves this shit? No one, at any point in the production or distribution, thought that sexualising babies might just a little bit creepy?

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There is a petition on change.org to have the product removed. Frankly, the dudes who came up with it should be thinking alternative employment as well.

The text of the petition by Owen Lloyd is below:

 Recently, my wife and I were looking around a Target store for shoes for our 13 month old daughter, Violet. In the process we came across many disturbing products on your shelves, one of the worst of these being “sexy” pacifiers for baby girls, one with a lipstick mark on it, the other with the word “flirt”. We find it repulsive that you would think it is appropriate to openly sell products that represent infant girls as sexual objects for men’s pleasure. 

More than that, we find it terrifying that you are selling products that normalize rape against children by selling products that send the message to abusers that little girls are sexually interested in men. Abusive men are constantly looking for ways to justify their abuse to themselves, and your product provides them such an opportunity.

Young girls like my daughter, seeing a product like this in a popular national chain store, are being told that it is appropriate and even expected that they engage in “sexy” behavior. And while you might think your product is just some quirky little harmless joke, girls who have survived assault are receiving the message that it is normal or even “funny” for men to abuse them.

Take these products off the market.

 

 

 

Aristocracy, Feminism, and Class: Does Primogeniture Still Matter?

I never would have bothered to read The Downton Bill is for all our daughters by Liza Campbell in the Guardian had I not come across Karen Ingala Smith’s critique in her twitter timeline. I’m a republican and for the complete abolishment  of the aristocracy and the return of all estates, art, books to the government (but not until we’ve got rid of the dingbats currently in power. The last thing we need is Osborne given complete control over disposing of the Queen’s personal collection of Da Vinci despite the fact that it would more than cover our welfare bill). I’m all for no member of the aristocracy inheriting anything that is only “theirs” through accidents of birth and corruption throughout history.

As a feminist, I believe the practise of primogeniture is misogynistic and needs to be legally abolished. I’m just not comfortable with a campaign on primogeniture which only targets aristocratic women without looking at the bigger picture for all women.  As feminists, we can’t just assume that a campaign aimed at a relatively small group of women will be beneficial to all women. We have seen time and time again how marginalised women are left out when we don’t contextualise our campaigns properly. Do we believe that increased political power for a statistically insignificant number of women within the UK will have a positive effect on the lives of the majority of women?

The following are just some brief thoughts on the problems arising from failing to contextualise the campaign against primogeniture within a larger context

As a rule of thumb, I firmly believe that everyone has the right to leave their ‘estate’, whether that be £10 or the Duchy of Devonshire, to whomever they choose. I do not believe anyone has the ‘right’ to inherit their parent’s estates on their death. I believe that the obsession with home ownership in the UK in order to bequeath their house to offspring as an inheritance has come at the expense of sensible retirement planning and sensible spending habits now. Far too many people are still trying to buy houses that are out with their finances. I’d be a much happier bunny if we got rid of this obsession with our children inheriting ‘estates’ from their parents and if more people starting bequeathing their estates to bird sanctuaries, Rape Crisis, or whatever they like. Yet, like primogeniture, this policy also negatively effects more women than men.

I know far too many women who have grown up knowing they will inherit nothing from their father  because their brother gets everything; these women are all white, church of England members so please don’t come here blithering on about practises of ‘other’ people somewhere else. It happens here because white, British culture privileges sons over daughters. These women will never inherit anything from their fathers because these men don’t believe daughters are important enough and, legally, these women aren’t in a position to challenge the wills.

If primogeniture were outlawed within the aristocracy, would this allow other women the ability to challenge their parents wills based on misogyny? And, don’t start with the ‘there are already legal policies in place which allow people to challenge wills. It requires money to do so and guess who has less disposable wealth than men?  Would we legally recognise misogyny as a valid reason to challenge the will of a parent? This is the basis of the campaign against primogeniture so are we willing to extend it to all women? (and reinstate full legal aid to allow women to challenge their father’s wills).

I say this, but I believe that capitalism is an inherently misogynistic economic theory that is predicated on the abuse of the labour of most of the population of the planet for the benefit of a few and that women are disproportionately punished within capitalist practises. I don’t see how transferring some money and political power to a few women will improve the world for the rest of us. Trickle-down economics has never improved the lives of the poor; it’s just allowed the rich to consolidate their wealth and power.

As a radical feminist, I believe that eradicating primogeniture in order to ensure that women are also legally allowed to inherit aristocratic titles and estates simply reinforces our heteronormative, patriarchal practise of marriage which privileges a blood relationship over real family bonds. After all, if Prince William were married to another man and adopted a child, that child would not be allowed to inherit the Crown. Primogeniture is based on a blood relationship between parent and child. Will the law be changed to take into consideration adopted or fostered children?

Will there be any acknowledgement that the institution of marriage is inherently harmful to women? That marriage itself depends on ownership of women’s reproductive capabilities? Will it recognise, despite changes to legislation to legally recognise homosexual relationships, that the survival of our capitalist-patriarchy is in no large part due to the control of women’s reproduction? That these depend on white supremacist constructions of who is an acceptable “breeder”? Eradicating the practise of primogeniture without questioning the function of marriage itself does not help women.

But, I’m also a huge supporter of things which annoy misogynistic rich white men. Ending primogeniture is clearly going to fuck some of them off and, despite my reservations, I rather hope this campaign succeeds. Just to piss off those whiny men.

At least, until we get to the point where we can dismantle capitalism and the patriarchy.