Woman as witness

‘The idea that somehow I would invent it – why would I?’ asked Harriet Harman, when she was accused of lying about an encounter with a sexual predator whilst at university.

There are several answers to that question. Harriet may have made it up to sell more copies of her autobiography, because a career spanning over three decades as a serving M.P. would be of little interest, were it not for a sex scandal.  Harriet may have made it up to further her feminist agenda, not in an immediate policy on the table sort of way,  but in a more vague spitting on the good name of the male dominated culture way. Harriet may have made it up because she knew she could, the tutor in question is dead, and therefore not in a position to defend himself. Harriet may have made it up, ‘coz she f***ing hates men. Any of one of these motives impacts on Harriet’s credibility, and who could blame a cynical public for calling her out as a liar? Also his ex wife, though not actually present during the alleged encounter, says she’s sure he wouldn’t have done that.

So, to summarise, if you are going to accuse a man of sexually deviant behavior, you must not do so in an auto biographical form, you must not so if you are a feminist, you must not do so if he is no longer breathing and you must not do so if he has a living relative or ex relative who can testify to his soundness of character.

This kind of reminds me of when Amber Heard accused Johnny Depp of assaulting her.

There were compelling reasons to disbelieve her too. The most obvious being that he was Johnny Depp and Johnny Depp is not the type of guy that goes round hitting women. There was the issue of alimony, though Heard has since pledged to donate the seven figure sum to charity  (if he ever actually pays her), that shouldn’t detract from the fact that alimony was on the table and therefore goes to credibility. Heard had previously been in a relationship with a woman, I’m not entirely sure how this impacted on her integrity, but it appeared to. Heard was arrested, though never prosecuted, for domestic abuse and there you have it boom! Loads of reasons to call her a liar. Also, Johnny’s ex, the lovely Vanessa Paradis, hand wrote a note calling the suggestion that Johnny was violent ‘outrageous’.

To review if you are going to accuse a man of domestic violence it must not be Johnny Depp. You should not also be seeking alimony from him. You should not now be, or ever have been bi-sexual. You should not ever have been suspected of committing domestic abuse and you should be confident that none of your ex’s lovers like him even a little, or that they have any strong ties, like for example children, with him.

It’s a very similar story to when Woody Allen’s biological daughter Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter accusing him of child abuse, and accusing Hollywood the machine of being complicit in maintaining the hero status of a pervert.

To give this story context, it wasn’t the first time that Allen had been accused of this crime. Dylan’s mother, Mia Farrow, had made the same allegation over twenty years previous during what is described as ‘a bitter custody battle’, like there’s any other kind. So on these grounds alone we can dismiss the validity of Dylan Farrow’s accusations. We don’t have to call her an outright liar, ‘coz that seems somehow crass after an allegation of pedophilia, we can see simply note that she’s delusional, a victim of a fury so great that hell cannot contain it.

To put it succinctly, if you are going to accuse your father of child abuse, you must first make sure he is not involved in any form of legal battle with your Mother. It’s a bit of a catch 22 really ‘coz one imagines allegations of child abuse have prompted the break up of many a marriage.

So, to conclude, accusing men of stuff is a dangerous business, though not as dangerous admittedly, as the stuff they are being accused of. In order to maximise the chances of being believed, women should carefully vet all aspects of their lifes, all the time, on the statistically probable chance, that at some point they will fall prey to a dangerous or deviant man. It’s a tough call, to ask an entire sex to maintain a permanent state of self policing, and downright implausible two hours past happy on a Friday night, but what’s the alternative? That we start to believe them?

Everyday Feminism? I’ll take mine to go….

So my new years resolution is to blog more regularly and so far that hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Blogging’s hard. You have to think up stuff to write about and then write about it. You have to have an opinion and be sure where you stand on something and the older I get, the less certain I become about where I stand on anything.

Take feminism, for example. I used to be so sure of what feminism was. Then I discovered twitter. Some time later, I came to realise that my own understanding of what feminism was, which had come largely from the academic writings of the second wave feminists, was no longer relevant.  Feminism had morphed into something entirely different. It had been re branded so that it might appeal to a broader section of society. And in theory, that’s a good thing, surely?

Everybody knows you’ve got to de-radicalise to maintain viewing figures. Remember New Labour? But, at what point, do you lose all credibility? At what point are you looking from the misogynist to the feminist, and then from the feminist to the misogynist and scratching your head?

‘Course it could be simply that the movement has evolved too fast for me, and I’m stuck in the rigid thinking of a by-gone era when feminism was all about fighting for women’s rights. Most especially, their right to control of their womb. Their right to live free from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to protect their children from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to an education. Their right to be self defined autonomous individuals, with control of their own destinies. Their right to live free of oppression and fear. It was a very rights based time. And these sisters got shit done! Between all the toking and the dancing around naked and hairy in the gardens, coz  body hair is a very political thing, they achieved practical, massive stuff. They got us divorce and abortion and contraception and women’s refuges. They got us better pay and working conditions and opportunities. They radically changed our lives. Then, as far as I can tell, they packed up and moved back to suburbia, in time for rush hour at the fertility clinic. There endeth the second wave.

Now, we’re in the third wave, I think, it’s hard to keep up. Some even talk of a fourth, so it could be like a tsunami soon. Only, that’s not the feeling I get.

This third wave seems very sketchy to me. I’m not even convinced it’s a wave, more of a series of ripples. Okay, enough with the ocean metaphor! But you get my point. Feminism is having a moment. Everybody’s feminist right now. It’s not just Emma Watson. Teresa May is a feminist, she literally bought the t-shirt and that Canadian prime minister bloke, and of course Obama and also Ryan Gosling, though that could be an irony thing. There’s even talk that Kim Kardashian is a feminist. They are f**king everywhere! So, here’s the thing? How is it that patriarchy can withstand the force of their numbers?

‘Coz latest update on the patriarchy is, it’s still standing strong, holding its own, making gains in many areas. Globally and locally it continues to win a war many feminists on the ground will tell you no longer exists. So, what’s up with that?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I’m not, I’d say that patriarchal thinking had infiltrated the feminist movement to such an effective degree as to render it neutral. The movement is now so lacking in threat that it is allowed to grow, wild and without nurture, in the corners of the most feeble brains. Feminism is an ever evolving concept, we are told. There is no need to know its history before you sign up. Only, there is, and it’s there in those very words. His Story. And he owned the words. And as long as he didn’t educate her, she might always believe he was smarter than her.

‘Course these days she’s educated, in some countries, and in many she can get her hands on the internet. And how must he play her now?

Yesterday the Gaurdian ran a story about a feminist that attacked a life size statue of Trump during its unveiling ceremony in Madrid.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/17/topless-feminist-protestor-femen-donald-trump-waxwork?CMP=twt_gu

She was one of that femen crowd, so she was topless. Femen, you may remember, was the topless women’s rights movement, set up by a bloke. And yes, origins matter, as anyone who is familiar with the tale of Adam and Eve, can validate. What I want to know is why?

I know that makes me a philistine, ‘coz art, especially performance protest art speaks for itself. And also, to be fair to her, she was very clear. She wrapped her fist around Trumps plastic, clothed crotch and painted ‘grab patriarchy by the balls’ on her naked back. I still want to know why? To what effect? For what purpose has she stripped and risked arrest? Greater purpose that is, than five minutes of twitter notoriety and a story to bore her dinner guests with in a decades time. And, when you break it down, what was her real, exposed body, groping a plasic effigy actually saying? Her slogan echos very hallow against the stark portrayal of her powerlessness. And, I don’t think that was the look she was going for.

I’d like to compare the lone wolf femen agitator for social change with the more logical, considered and ultimately liberating Irish feminists, who in 1971, took a train from Belfast, carrying contraceptives where they were restricted but legal, to Dublin where they continued to be completely illegal for another eight years.

http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1666-women-and-society/370226-contraceptive-train/

In fact, it wasn’t until 1993 that condoms became freely available. Picture that, folks! A world without johniees! This huge publicity stunt co-existed with the underground provision of contraception, thus the grassroots and the political, working together, created meaningful social change. And he quaked in his boots, ‘coz she created laws to stop him kicking her.

And that takes us the full circle back to what is feminism for? Take this Everyday Feminism, and after a quick scan of their vision I’d rather leave it.

http://everydayfeminism.com/about-ef/our-vision/

Wtf are they selling? Seriously, it reads like a cross between a brahma kumaris leaflet and an early draft of some HR speech on political correctness  for octogenarians still in the workplace. See, I like my feminism a bit more feminist, you know? I mean, its all well and good to save the dolphins and recognize the rights of indigenous people to self identify, but what are you doing about the rapists and perverts and the paedos? What’s your plan to keep the refuges open? When they close, more women have to remain living with violent men, and it’s really hard to find your zen when you’re not sure if you or your kids will make it though the night without a beating. How’s the fight for reproductive control going? ‘Coz if we lose that, on top of the refuges, and the legal aid, well then it’s going to take a lot more than a spot of yoga to redress the balance, don’t you think?

https://www.verywell.com/do-these-10-yoga-poses-every-day-to-feel-great-3567179

So, to summarise, yoga is great if you want to detox and re energise, but has proved singularly ineffective when used as a weapon of war, as the exiled Tibetan monks would surely testify. Feminism is a movement to agitate for the rights of women. When working properly it can change laws, create new laws, allow women autonomy over their own bodies, generate finances and power, facilitate education, free women’s minds and empower them to self realize beyond the confines of their patriarchal jailers.  When defunct, it can’t do much, except spit out mindless art or intellectually warped philosophy and distract. And oh, how he laughs, but these oh so clever people, they don’t get the joke….

Using Tinder to Promote ‘Mary’s the Name’

Ross Sayers

(Please note: all screenshots were taken with the other person’s permission)

These days, everyone’s after new ways of advertising and promoting. More importantly, everyone’s after free ways of advertising and promoting. My publisher, Cranachan, asked me to think of as many creative ways to publicise Mary’s the Name as I could. Having used Tinder (not very successfully) before, I knew what a large amount of people could be reached with just a few swipes. So I figured, why not re-download (as everyone eventually does) but this time, I’ll make Tinder work for me!

The rules I set myself were:

  1. Always stay on message (e.g. Ah, you’re a horse doctor? You know, that reminds me of MY BOOK.)
  2. Swipe right on everyone, even girls I know in real life. This was the only fair way, I thought. Fair to say, some swipes were nerve wracking stuff..
  3. Don’t message…

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First world problems #FeministAFilm

The irony of protesting the Ocean 11 remake, on the grounds of it being an all female line up, cannot be lost on anyone who thought thought the last remake was shit. Seriously, if you’re going to protest something, why not protest that?  Hollywood’s pathological fear of the original, untested idea, #MakeNewStuff.

Instead #FeministAMovie sprang up round the Warner Bros press release. In a nutshell, angry men, with large egos and low self esteem, venting their spleen, because that’s like, the second major movie to be female led this year. I think it’s important to clarify that Ghostbusters ,the other one, has been released and Ocean’s 8 is in pre-production, so there hasn’t been and won’t be a whole two female driven, major Hollywood movies this year. But such absence of imagination is ever prevalent in the twitter mens’ rights warrior, otherwise known as the troll.

There’s a very good reason for this. What the f**k do they actually have to complain about?

See, men’s rights is actually an oxymoron. It’s also clumsy English with the additional, unnecessary word ‘men’s’ in the term. There is no elusive set of men’s rights that need to be fought for, over and above the rights they already have, which form the blueprint  for the rights all oppressed groups, including women seek to obtain.

Let’s briefly review a small but telling amount of the evidence. Women still do more, women still earn less, women still own less, they are still underrepresented in all positions of power and over-represented in all domestic fields. Women are still being harassed, assaulted, abused, raped and murdered, and not just by the Hollywood stable of the stranger at the door, but by members of their own families. In the overall scheme of stuff that actually merits complaining about, women still have the absolute monopoly.

No-where is this fact more self evident than in Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

Brexit – The Mother of all cleaning jobs – Use Blitz Original!

I’m not known for my love of product endorsement, but given that I’m an unknown writer, I feel I can keep my integrity intact and inform my readers of the best invention ever. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Blitz Original by Regina. It is currently on special offer at my local Scotmid for the implausibly low price of £1.34 per 100 sheets, making the cost of an individual sheet a little over one penny. But, even when they put it back to its original price, I’ll still be buying it, because not since John the Hoover ( a little known relative of Henry, sold by John Lewis for £99), has a product so altered the course of my existence. There are some among you who will no doubt sneer at such mediocre merchandise having a spiritual dimension, but you who sneer betray your own sloth, and unmask yourselves as the one in the house who doesn’t clean shit! Anyone who is tasked with the relentless responsibility of having to keep shit clean will know that household appliances and effective paper towels are the gateway to personal freedom. If you don’t believe me turn your hot water and electricity off and go clean your house, come back in four days and we can talk about how right I am.

With this in mind, I can’t help but feel that Leadsom missed a trick, when making her recent, highly controversial remarks on Motherhood and leadership.  By saying that she had children and those children’s children kept her directly invested in the future, she sent twitter into meltdown, and her own insanely fast tracked career into reverse. Motherhood, it would appear, should never give one an edge politically.

Personally, I don’t see why not. My own life divides neatly into pre Motherhood, when I knew fuck all and could do very little, and post Motherhood, when I learned most of the stuff I know, including the limitless resources of any woman when she is compelled to care for a new life. Such knowledge may be difficult, even impossible to quantify, but there isn’t a sane Mother alive that could deny its existence.

Of all that I have learned and every new skill I have mastered, there are none so great as my ability to keep shit clean. Before they let you take a baby home, they give you a few basic tips on keeping said infant alive, and right up there with feeding it, and keeping it warm, is keeping its surrounding environment sterile. The new baby, not yet acclimatized to germs and dirt may become very ill and even die, if exposed to them. There’s nothing like the threat of inadvertent infanticide to make even the most committed slob change her ways and so, just as new life is born, so too is a lifelong obsession with hygiene. By the time the babies immunity system has devolved, so too has their ability to move, and with every stage in their growth cycle comes new and exiting ways they can create mess, and you, the carer, evolve into a an ever more efficient cleaning machine.

I wonder, if Leadsom had offered this spin on Motherhood, might the outcome have been different. Had she simply said ‘Unlike Teresa, I’m a Mum and know how to clean shit up’, would there have been the same public outcry? She could then have gone further with the metaphor, explaining what a horrible mess the boys have made of everything, how toxic an environment they have created, and how it needs someone with years of practical experience in basic hygiene management to clear up the debris. All this fuss over her actual C.V., when her Motherhood C.V. alone showed she has the perfect qualifications for the job in hand!

Actually, I don’t wonder, I know, twitter would not have taken such a quote lying down. There would have been equal, possibly greater indignation, had Leadsom reduced the benefits of Mother as Leader to ‘have experience, will clean’, than there was to her suggestion that those with children have a greater stake in the future. Only, I’m not quite sure why. It is a statement of absolute fact that Motherhood creates a greater awareness of dirt and understanding of how to keep shit clean, which takes me right back to the origin of this train of thought, the ultra absorbency and uncanny durability (you must remember it’s paper!) of Blitz Original. If you are in Scotland this week and pass by a Scotmid, I urge you up pick up half a dozen. You will be so blown away by the effectiveness of this product that you may find yourself knocking shit over, just to watch the power of Blitz Original as it soaks it up.

 

 

Domestic abuse and the persistence of excuses.

So twitter’s on fire with the news that Amber Heard, soon to be ex wife of Johnny Depp has been granted a restraining order, because she alleges he hit her on the face with an i phone and she’s got the bruises to prove it. ‘Course the bruises aren’t enough for the naysayers who reckon they’re self inflicted, ‘coz that’s what women do when they leave their partners, walk into the nearest door and cry domestic violence. It’s not that some men routinely beat their spouses, and this tendency towards violence escalates when she leaves or threatens to.

Heard’s got an uphill struggle if she hopes to prove that she’s the victim here, for many reasons. The first being that it’s always a struggle to prove you’re the victim of domestic violence. If you want to be taken seriously as a victim, you need to get yourself mugged, or your house robbed, or your car stolen, or if you’re going down the assault root you need to hope it’s a stranger, in daylight, in a public park, where all the present witnesses are willing to acknowledge you didn’t do anything to provoke it.

In Heard’s case there’s the further problem of making these allegations and an application for spousal support simultaneously, and that’s a big no-no. Victims of domestic abuse should never care about anything as crass as money. Also  Heard has committed an even bigger sin by filing for divorce three days after Depp’s Mother’s death, which according to twitter is morally repugnant. But then I’m guessing twitter’s never lived with an unstable man, because if they had they’d know intense emotional occurrences rarely bring out the best in them.

As Heard is taunted and vilified over the coming weeks, by strangers on twitter and by some of Hollywood’s most elite, because like night follows day she will be, she should know that there is nothing she could have done to prevent this from happening, other than to not speak out at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing compares to her… Why you gotta love Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor’s having a hard time and refuses to suffer in silence and that’s what I love about her. It’s very inappropriate, this constant public airing of what is still considered fundamentally private stuff, and that’s what I love about her. As most women age they become more discreet, mirroring consciously or otherwise a society that still prefers it’s women docile, but the controversial singer seems to have missed that memo.

Of course maybe I’m giving her too much credit. Fact is, she’s had some form of breakdown, and as anyone who’s ever broken down knows, self censorship is for the clinically well. Maybe at some later point she’ll regret being so open about her family situation, but then again maybe she won’t. Either ways, it hardly makes me psychic to speculate that we haven’t heard the last of this woman’s no holes barred opinions and that dear readers, is a good thing.

The world needs more women like Sinead O’Connor willing to stand up and shout about stuff that’s happening to them, when it’s happening to them, not in carefully edited articles after the fact.  Yes, it makes us uncomfortable, but I think that’s her point.

It’s been over twenty years since she ripped up a picture of the pope on live T.V, becoming overnight one of the most reviled and revered women in the world. I was definitely on the revered side, my eighteen year old self gasping in awe at her wondrously brave actions. See, these days criticising the catholic church is so passe that even the Irish taoiseach (head of state) has got in on the act, but when O’Connor did it, it definitely wasn’t done. In spite of half the homes in Ireland housing victims of child abuse, whose pain could be directly (paedo priests) or indirectly linked to the catholic church, nobody was pointing a finger at them. Nobody that was, besides this petit Irish singer, with the voice of an angel and the courage of a lion.

I saluted her then and I salute her now, confident that she’ll ride this wave of personal crisis, like so many others she’s experienced and hopeful that she’s not done shocking us, because if you read between the lines of what O’Connor is saying, you’ll realise that what she has suffered is a lot more shocking than her refusal to shut up about it.

 

 

 

 

On the preservation of ‘satire’.

Now that I’m an international brand, I know it’s only a matter of time before all my dirty secrets become public knowledge and anticipating this trend I have decided to fess up to being an Alanis Morissette fan. ‘Jagged Little Pill’,on full blast, provided the sound track to many a drunken binge in my early twenties and yes, of course I knew how ironic it was that she didn’t understand the word ‘irony’, but I continued to play her tunes including ‘Isn’t it ironic?’ anyway.

Truth is, I never gave Alanis Morissette’s grammatical short comings too much thought, until recently. Now, in a world where no-body knows what ‘irony’ is, I wonder if this Canadian Diva wasn’t some kind of language pioneer, the linguistic equivalent of Che Guevara revolutionising words, enabling them to break free of the limitations imposed by meaning. If I’m right then she’s been very successful with the word ‘irony’ and not so successful with other words such as ‘chair’ and ‘superfluous’ which still retain the same meaning as they did before Ms Morissette’s bold attempt to subvert definitions.

She shouldn’t lose heart though. In the wake of the virtual redundancy of the word ‘irony’ other nouns seem to be slowly following suit. Take ‘satire’ for example, a word closely associated with ‘irony’ and indeed back in the days when ‘irony’ meant something, it might feature heavily in a satirical piece of writing.  As recently as yesterday ‘satire’ showed signs of going down the same path when it was used entirely out of context by a bloke who calls himself Roosh V. For those of you lucky enough not to have heard of him, here is my synopsis.

Roosh V is a professional misogynist. I’m guessing it’s his Mother’s fault. She was probably a whore or failing that she may well have been frigid. He’s never read Genesis and therefore reckons it’s revolutionary to agitate for the legalisation of rape. He’s got himself a global following of disenchanted men who also assumably have never had access to a King James bible and think he’s selling something new. A lot of people don’t want to buy his wares. Some have even suggested there’s enough organic misogyny in the world and we don’t need to be clogging up our brains with his processed type. All of this has left the once proud misogynist defensive and this is where his incorrect use of the word ‘satire’ comes into play.

Having correctly calculated the level of public and political outrage his provocative drivel would incite (seriously who ever heard of him before this week and now he’s so notorious that he is the subject of strangers blogs) he has now decided to back track on his most infamous blog ‘How to stop rape’ where he suggests this could be achieved by decriminalising rape on private property. The article, he says was very obviously ‘satire’ only it’s even more obvious to me that Roosh V is trying to morissette the word ‘satire’ and given how quickly and without warning ‘ironic’ went from being a word that people understood and used in context to being a non word, I think we should keep a sharp eye on ‘satire’. Roosh V, you have been warned!