Savile should have fixed it but he didn’t.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ A bloke called Edmund Burke said that. Of course, it would have to be a bloke ‘coz he did that men meaning people thing. But that was probably because of the times. In those days men were people. Women were less than that. Tied to domesticity. Excluded from playing any shape or form of meaningful role in society. Unable to vote. Uneducated. Lacking any autonomy over her identity, her body or her destiny, women were most definitely not whole people. Part mirror, part vessel. To reflect his greatness. To satiate his desires. To carry on his blood line.

Fast forward a few centuries and it’s quite a different picture! Women are whole people now. We’re everywhere. Running economies. Throwing general elections. Throwing referendums. We’re in boardrooms and law chambers and university facultys. We have most definitely arrived. This is optimum time in pockets of the West to be a woman. Or so it would appear.

It’s actually a bit more complex. It’s probably not a bad time to be a certain type of woman, I’m just not certain which type. Not poor. It’s absolutely a bad time for women to be poor as is evidenced by the #sexforrent. Some argue that swapping a few sexual favours for a pad in the city is an entirely valid arrangement. I’m sure even they wouldn’t disagree that it’s not as valid as a lease, a third party deposit holder, and a yearly safety inspection.

It’s also not a great time to be a woman fleeing domestic abuse given that they are closing women’s refuges and reducing their access to related support services.

It’s a pretty crap time to be a woman who ages because they are clamping down hard on that. Fighting the signs of aging is not only a legitimate pastime of the aging woman, it’s her moral imperative. Her face a battleground. Her hard earned living a mortal enemy.

It’s absolutely the worst time ever to be a mother. Whilst we wage futile war on our waist-lines and our tits, there is an actual ongoing all out assault on motherhood, and we are indifferent, if not complicit. Whether the British Medical Association is trying to take the woman out of motherhood, or the Women’s Equality Party is trying to sell equal parenting as a feminist objective, or the men in capes are banging on about the golden uterus. For the record, mine is not golden but it is functional making it one hundred percent more effective than the male uterus which does not exist.

No-where is the war on mothers more obvious than in our family courts. No-where is the war on mothers less obvious than in our family courts. It’s that behind closed door thing. We can only imagine what actually happens. For some reason, most people imagine things are ticking over just fine. The absence of free flowing information, combined with the presence of one authoritative narrative seems to be enough to allay most fears. North Korea, anyone?

Samantha Baldwin, and yes I am still banging on about her, is a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with our family law system. The single narrative that now exists about her case comes from the mouth of one man. Not just any man, an important one. A wig wearing high flyer who could site powerful and influential people as referees. Someone who we should trust, solely because of his standing in society.

Then, it starts to sound a bit more like the seventies. Do you remember that time? And anyone who has had access to British media at any point in the last five years will “It appears to me that the culture of the times both within and without the BBC was such that incidents of this kind were not treated seriously.” explained establishment figure Dame Janet Smith. She was referring to the B.B.C’s willful complicity in sex crimes including sex crimes against children over the course of four decades, but especially the seventies. They were real bad. We should all feel real good that it’s not like that now.

Before we reach our hands the whole way round and pat ourselves firmly on the back for our speedy evolution, we should take a moment to reflect. The so called seventies culture existed straight through till 2012, when the Saville story broke. Right up to that point, the establishment, across multiple including very high levels, had protected a paedo.

The Rotterham child abuse scandal didn’t reach public consciousness till a year later. That’s four years ago. As in not very long at all.

What the Saville and Rotterham and every other type of vaguely related inquiry have in common is that no-body believed the victims. They were liars. All of them. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. Until we realised they weren’t. Turns out we were just really crap at believing them, recording their crimes, investigating their crimes, prosecuting their crimes and offering them any chance of meaningful justice, often within the lifetime of their perpetrators.

So we don’t know the ins and outs of the Samantha Baldwin story. But we do know from the state approved narrative that she made a number of very serious allegations against a number of men. I want to know how that initial investigation proceeded. Was it with the speed and precision of an episode of ‘Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit?’ Were there mobile phones and laptops seized at the earliest possible moment? Given that there were allegations against multiple perpetrators in a potentially small geographical area, what special measures were taken to prevent potential suspects disclosing information to each other? How were the children treated? What level of expert training and support was offered to such young potential victims of such a potentially huge and heinous crime?

Now, I know all these things cost money, but what price the protection of our young? Also, we’ve got money. If there’s one thing the hunt for Samantha Baldwin taught us it’s that. If we are happy, as a society, to throw maximum power and resources at anyone who dares violate the orders of a civil court then we should be equally as happy, dare I say happier, to throw everything we got at anyone who is suspected of being involved in a paedophile ring?

When people say they want justice for Samantha Baldwin, what they mean is they want mothers to be able to safely report sexual abuse without fear of losing their children. Which is what most of us assume happens anyway.

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…

View original post 348 more words

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 evolved, 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.