Thursday, August 31, 2006

Excellent news

A bill will soon be introduced outlawing possession of violent pornography. This is making me quite happy. However this will be policed, the message this sends is that viewing such material is unacceptable, and that's definitely progress.

Some groups such as TheSpannerTrust are upset because they're worried that innocent people could be criminalised. They fight for the right to physically hurt people during sex if it's consensual. Why is it so important to them? And why should this bill directly affect them unless they're in possession of violent pornography, which they don't need to be in order to carry on what they're doing?

The government haven't made any plans to stop people from doing what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms, but still some groups are worried that they won't be allowed to film it. I say, so fucking what? Do what you want but why the need to film it?
It's all about making money under the disguise of freedom of expression, and it's money made at the expense of people like Jane Longhurst and her family.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And he is still walking free

I thought being taken to museums was part of one's education, not the punishment for racially insulting and beating up two 17 yr old black girls in a subway.

Exposing the violence

Let's hope that the next time an unemployed woman is offered "lap-dancing" at the job centre she gets the full job description.
Extract copied & pasted from here

One hundred percent of the eighteen women in the survey report being physically abused in the stripclub. The physical abuse ranged from three to fifteen times with a mean of 7.7 occurrences over the course of their involvement in stripping. One hundred percent of the eighteen women in this study report sexual abuse in the stripclub. The sexual abuse ranged from two to nine occurrences with a mean of 4.4 occurrences over the course of their involvement in stripping. One hundred percent of the women report verbal harassment in the stripclub. The verbal abuse ranged from one to seven occurrences with a mean of 4.8 occurrences over the course of their involvement in stripping. One hundred percent of the women report being propositioned for prostitution. Seventy eight percent of the women were stalked by someone associated with the stripclub with a range of one to seven incidents. Sixty one percent of the women report that someone associated with the stripclub has attempted to sexually assault her with a range of one to eleven attempts. Not only do women suffer the abuse they experience, all of women in the survey witnessed these things happen to other strippers in the clubs. The overwhelming trend for violence against women in stripclubs was committed by customers of the establishments. Stripclub owners, managers, assistant managers, and the staff of bartenders, music programmers or disc jockeys, bouncers, security guards, floorwalkers, doormen, and valet were significantly less involved in violence against the women. According to the women in this study, almost all of the perpetrators suffered no consequence whatsoever for their actions.

Physical Abuse
Customers spit on women, spray beer, and flick cigarettes at them. Strippers are pelted with ice, coins, trash, condoms, room keys, pornography, and golf balls. Men pitched a live guinea pig and a dead squirrel at two women in the survey. Some women have been hit with cans and bottles thrown from the audience. Customers pull women’s hair, yank them by the arm or ankle, rip their costumes, and try to pull their costumes off. Women are commonly bitten, licked, slapped, punched, and pinched.

Sexual Abuse
Stripclub customers frequently grab women’s breasts, buttocks, and genitals. Customers often attempt and succeed at penetrating strippers vaginally and anally with their fingers, dollar bills, and bottles. Customers expose their penises, rub their penises on women, and masturbate in front of the women. Women in this study consistently connected lap dances to the sexual abuse they suffered in the club. "That’s the first thing men try to do when they get close to you and always in a lap dance." Stripclub owners, managers, and staff also expect women to masturbate them and some have forced intercourse on strippers. Table 2 - Frequency of Sexual Abuse

Verbal Abuse
Customers, owners, managers, and staff alike engage in harassing namecalling. Women are continually called "cunt, "whore", "pussy", "slut", and "bitch". Women in this study charge that men in the stripclub called them other demeaning or degrading names like ugly, looser, fat, pregnant, boy, stupid, crack, slash, snatch, beaver, dog, dyke, lezzie, brown eye, hooters, junkie, crackhead, and shit.

Forty four percent of the women report that men associated with the stripclub have threatened to hurt them physically. These women report from three to 150 threats during their involvement in stripping. Threats range from verbal threats of slaps, ass whippings, and rapes to physical postures of punching and back hand slapping. "When I wouldn’t let a customer grab on me, he would call me a bitch and threaten to kick my ass or rape me." "When a customer grabs and the woman and the girl takes action, they threaten".

Men associated with stripclubs repeatedly attempt to contact the women against their wishes. Strippers are followed home and stalked by stripclub customers. Customers telephone, write letters, send gifts, and follow the women around against their wishes. Women recount stories of catching customers following them to fitness clubs, parks and lakes, day care centers, and even lesbian bars. They describe times when customers have broken into their homes and taken underwear, hairbrushes, and family photographs. Women say that other customers have used their jobs at the telephone company or within the criminal justice system to target the women. The women complain that customers also have followed them home masturbating while driving in the next lane. Women who travel the strip circuit to rural areas report that customers and stripclub owners, managers, and staff alike follow women from city to city and state to state. Furthermore, local men in small towns harass the visiting women by calling and knocking on the doors of the motel rooms and have been caught peeping in the windows of strippers’ motel rooms.

Twelve percent of the women who reported being followed to their cars further reported that they were robbed (5.6 %), beaten (11.1%), threatened with a weapon (5.6%), verbally sexually harassed (66.7%), and sexually assaulted (16.7%) by customers. A customer who claimed he was in love with the woman followed her to her car, called her a "fucking cunt" and strangled her hard enough to cause blood to squirt from her neck.

Sexual Exploitation
Only a minority of women report that they were asked to perform sexual acts on men associated with the stripclub in order to return to work (11% by owners); as a condition of being hired (11% by managers, 11% by owners); in order to continue working there (17% by owners); in order to get a better schedule (6% by owners); or for drugs (17% by customers, 11% by managers, 22% by owners, 11% by staff).
A majority of the women, however, report they were asked to perform sexual acts on men associated with the stripclub for money (100% by customers, 6% by managers, 17% by owners, 11% by staff). Customers and pimps constantly proposition women (Boles and Garbin 1974; Forsyth and Deshotels 1997; Ronai 1992; Ronai and Ellis 1989). Fourteen (78%) women from the survey report they are propositioned for prostitution every day by customers, three (17%) every week, one (6 %) every year. Women comment that customers ask them "Do you date?" all night long. "Infinite…too many too count." Women say that prostitution is influenced and suggested by management. One woman new to stripping was dumbfounded at how little money she was making taking her clothes off, so she asked the manager for his advice on increasing tips. He suggested turning tricks and said he could help her set up dates. Management sets up tricks, says it is good for business, and obligates women to turn over money from prostitution to the club. Women say prostitution is promoted even though owners tell women they would be punished if they turn tricks. Some stripclubs are notorious for promoting prostitution. "You have to be a ‘ho to work there".
Women disclosed that they were recruited into prostitution through stripping. Although the strip industry markets stripping as something other than prostitution, some women consider prostitution an extension of stripping and stripping a form of prostitution. Pimps season women first with stripping and then turn them out into brothels or escort services for more money. Tricks, sugar daddies, pimps, and drug dealers in the stripclub seek to engage women in prostitution. Another young woman said that soon after she became involved in stripping, a pimp who posed as a customer in the stripclub manipulated her into an escort service by promising that she could make more money in less time simply by accompanying businessmen to dinner. She agreed in order to feed her crack addiction and as her addiction increased she slid down from gentlemen’s clubs to escort service to brothel to street and crack house prostitution.
Not only are women in stripping pressured by customers to perform sexual acts on them, owners, managers, and staff pressure the women to perform sexual acts on them, their relatives and associates, on vice officers and police officers. Women explain the pressure could range from being coerced into dancing for the intended with an expectation to put on a real good show with special treatment, extra time, and sexual contact, to engaging in prostitution. Strippers, like other subordinates in worker-management relationships, respond with obedience to directives from management and others with authority (McMahon 1989).

Where it all starts - identifying as female

When my sister was born, my brother (then 5) and I (3) were bought presents from our parents to mark the occasion. My brother got an Action Man and I got a red washing-up bowl with multi-coloured clothes pegs. Not kidding. My parents have since apologised for this atrocity. But I knew then I was different from my brother.

We went camping in Italy in the same year. My brother and his friend (10) dressed me up as Wonder Woman (I didn't mind - I liked Wonder Woman) and put apples on my chest and tin foil around my wrists before showing me off to mum and dad. Everyone thought it was wildly funny (something to do with the apples) and I remember feeling for the first time what felt like humiliation. My brother and his friend didn't dress each other up as anything for our parents to laught at.

At primary school, it was easy to identify the boys from the girls despite our bodies being similar shapes. Girls invariably had long hair and boys short. Girls had to wear dresses or skirts and boys trousers. In the playground, boys called each other "a girl" as an insult. I expect this must have come from a few of their fathers warning against "throwing like a girl" etc. Girls knew who they were and knew they were seen as inferior.

A tomboy at my primary school was the envy of all the other girls because the boys liked her. We believed the boys were somehow better than us and so we needed their approval, and she got it. She played football with them and they all raved about how great she was. This changed in the final year of primary school when the boys liked the girls with budding breasts - but it wasn't quite the same sort of "like". It was more a bra-pinging, teasing sort. The tomboy fell out of favour because as the boys' sexual interest in girls grew, she was found wanting. They dumped her basically, because she wasn't even a real boy and they didn't fancy her either. In their eyes she became nothing.

I've watched children playing in the park with their fathers and the sons are taught to throw completely differently to the daughters. I've seen a father demonstrate an overarm throw to his son, and an underarm throw to his daughter. She knew she was different from her brother.

As an adult, wanting to treat children of different genders the same, I find myself falling into traps all the time. A few months ago, I was playing chess in the garden of my local pub and a girl of about 8 years old was watching intently. She was wearing a very pretty dress. I nearly said, "what a pretty dress" and stopped myself. If she had been a boy, no matter what he was wearing (unless it was a spiderman costume or something) I would have said, "do you play chess?", which was what I ended up saying to the girl. If I had commented on her dress instead of her obvious interest in the game, I would be reinforcing her belief that her appearance matters more than what's in her head. (I am making an assumption by using the word "reinforcing", but I remember being 8, and I remember my friends being 8, and we always talked about being "pretty". It was important.)

I really wonder what the solution is for parents. At a recent wedding there were a number of toddlers; the girls sitting around in impractical frilly dresses and uncomfortable-looking shoes, the boys running around in trousers and trainers. The parents could have put all their children in comfortable clothes, but I would put money on some of the girls wanting to look frilly... like a princess. So, stop reading them fairy-tales? Don't let them watch adverts on TV? Never buy any child of either sex any type of doll at all? Let your son wear a dress if he wants to?

I am childless, but a friend of mine recently said about her 1-yr-old, "he's a real boy."
Whatever did she mean?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dress sizes

What is with the dress sizes in this country? Why do women's clothes go up two inches at a time? Size 10 = 36 inch hip (I think); size 12 = 38. Where did the 37 inch hip go?

Same with bras: 32, 34, 36 etc.

All my measurements are odd numbers because I am a non-conformist. I also find it difficult to get clothes that fit properly. I went into a shop a while ago and tried two different sized trousers and neither pair fit. So I asked the girl working there if they had a size 11. She laughed and said, "Yeah, it's annoying isn't it? I'm a size 9."
Another rebel.

Models have only even measurements on their busts, waists and hips, eg 36, 24, 34 or some such. This is to do with their genetic codes.

When it comes to buying a dress (if you do that kind of thing), what if you are a size 14 on top and 18 on the bottom? How many of us are the same size all over? Is this why not many women wear dresses? Or is feminism why not many women wear dresses? So many questions...

Out of necessity I tend to go for the top and skirt option. But in the winter I need tights or hold-ups and they are expensive and don't last very long and I have to keep getting new ones and the whole thing is pissing me off.

Snap judgements

Arguing with the man in my life is a habit we're both trying to kick. The other day we were talking about the way you appraise someone within a second of meeting them and decide subconsciously or otherwise whether you like them or not. Now, he said this is an animal instinct and unchangeable. I don't know if he still thinks this because I haven't brought it up again in case we argue which we're trying not to do.

I believe that our "snap" judgements are firmly rooted in the prejudices that are instilled in us through socialisation. Personally, I am somewhat lacking in animal instinct; I can't smell an arsehole when he walks in the room. (Although I might think he's an arsehole if he smells.) I remember once meeting a woman who I assumed immediately was unintelligent because of the way she spoke and her hoop earrings. When she started talking about the degree she was doing at Cambridge University I felt a bit ashamed of myself.

When I was very little, my dad was driving the family to some evangelical worship thingammy-jig in London and we drove through Brixton. I think I had only seen one black person before and suddenly everyone was black. I asked my dad why this was and although I can't remember exactly what he said, he started taking the piss out of their accents. Even though I was young, I knew that taking the piss meant feeling superior. I learnt that we were superior to black people. Without realising it, as I became older these feelings were affirmed by unfair representation of black people in the news and mainstream media.

I was unaware that my snap judgements on seeing people of colour were negative - I'm not racist, blah blah blah, I'm lovely me - until I took the race test here .

I took that test a few weeks ago and the results indicated I had a strong preference for white over black. More recently I took it again and it indicated a slight preference. I don't know if this is whether I've been thinking about things or whether the test results are variable.

I believe we can change our first impressions of people, by analysing ourselves and our deep-rooted prejudice, acknowledging the roles that parents, friends and the media have had in creating and reinforcing our attitudes. I still have feelings of superiority over women with hoop earrings and "common" accents but I'm working on it. Perhaps I'll join some fellow bloggers with a post on class on September 4th.

(Disclaimer: Some scientists dispute the validity of the Implicit Association Tests. But they made me think, which can only be a good thing.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Tag...

...anyone reading this who hasn't already done it (the book meme). I know this is lazy but all the blogs I read have done it already and I started going through the ones I don't read, and they'd done it, so I gave up.
I've been tagged by Pippi

1. One book that changed your life. Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevski. Not so much the book itself but the situation in my life whilst I was reading it... but that's a long story.
2. One book you have read more than once. Quite a few, but Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman I had to read again because I didn't understand much the first time round.
3. One book you would take on a desert island. A book of Guardian Cryptic Crosswords should keep me going.
4. One book that made you laugh. Gary Larson's Far Side collection.
5. One book that made you cry. Frankenstein.
6. One book you wish had been written. How to become a chess GrandMaster in five minutes.
7. One book you wish had never been written. Whatever it might be, I haven't read it.
8. One book you are currently reading. Outlaw Culture by bell hooks don'tcha know?
9. One book you have been meaning to read. Still haven't finished Wuthering Heights.
10. Tag five people. I'll get back to this one.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Let's talk about sex

"sexist men must undergo a process of feminist revolution if they want to be capable of satisfying the needs of feminist women who experience our most intense sexual pleasure in an oppositional space outside the patriarchal phallic imaginary. It is this feminist vision of liberatory heterosexuality that seems to terrify men.

"No wonder, then, that women who want to be sexual with men are perversely reinventing feminism so that it will satifisfy patriarchal desires, so that it can be incorporated into a sexist phallic imaginary in such a way that male sexual agency as we now know it will never need to change." bell hooks (Outlaw Culture, p91)

Being sexual with a man myself I sometimes find it difficult knowing what I want. In the past, my biggest turn-on was being dominated because I found - and still find, sometimes - the submission of women erotic. What I also noticed however, was that whilst being submissive I felt I was watching, rather than experiencing it. I would then use that imagery as an aid to orgasm.

The feeling of being in the moment during sex has therefore been elusive. I have also noticed the same thing affecting men - ever get the sense that they just aren't "there"? The eroticisation of power and domination that I have seen all around me is extremely hard to shift; it invades my sexuality and stops me identifying my real desires.

When we do not analyse these things, when we just accept our desires for what they are instead of wondering what they would be in a non-sexist society, we send mixed messages to the world. Do we want men to be our equals, or do we, deep down, just want brutes? This question sends most mens' heads spinning and therefore the only change they welcome is no change at all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jesus Was A Feminist

Thought so. Written by a Catholic no less. Funny how I never heard any sermons on this despite going to church twice a week for 18 years. No, the Christians of the Patriarchy seem to prefer the writings of the "apostle" Paul.
Be done with it and call yourselves Paulians!

Happy Hookers Sitcom

Oh goody, a new sitcom set in a brothel. Much hilarity to be had by all. Yes, apparently Channel Five will be broadcasting this fluffy feel-good show in a couple of weeks, which revolves around the lives of four prostitutes and their madame, working to pay for things like shoes and make-up and having a jolly nice time of it.

In the midst of news about trafficking and "slave auctions", isn't this just a little bit sick?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Queen of the Jungle

Why are female lions called lionesses? Why not just "lions"? Is it because they can't be the King of the Jungle?

We should at least be consistent; how about "pumette", "pantherina", and "cheetahrita"?


"Again and again, I have to insist that feminist solidarity rooted in a commitment to progressive politics must include a space for rigorous critique, for dissent, or we are doomed to reproduce in progressive communities the very forms of domination we seek to oppose."
bell hooks (Outlaw Culture, p78)

I have just started to delve into bell hooks' writing simply because I don't think enough about race and how I'm affected by white privilege. Quite a bit it would seem, as sometimes I think she goes over the top in how black people are victimised by white people. And then it's.... shit! That sounds familiar! What is it men keep saying about feminists again? So I go back, I read again, I try to tackle the prejudices that I must have learnt almost unconsciously and I analyse my thought processes. It's hard but it's necessary. I am a hypocrite if I ask men to question themselves on sexism if I refuse to see my own racism.

The quotation above however, made me think of some arguments in the feminist bloggy-land. The most obvious being the one between porno women and porNO women. As it would be disrespectful for me to go to a pro-porn blog and tell them to change their mind, so would it be disrespectful of someone to come here and tell me to change mine. So we should leave each other be on that topic and assume we came to our decisions all by our pretty little selves. This should leave space to discuss the things we DO agree on, and if we need information on the other's standpoint regarding pornography and prostitution, we ask. As bell hooks says above, we need different voices in this movement. Ostrasization is a way of censoring dissenting opinions and I believe in freedom of speech.

(But not the kind of free speech that involves slapping someone about on camera. Did someone say something?)
adopt your own virtual pet!