Back in February, Carol Thatcher, a white woman, referred to a black man as a “golliwog”, backstage at the BBC’s The One Show, in a private conversation between her and a white man. She was subsequently sacked from the show, though she was still able to appear on the Andrew Marr Show afterwards and further display her racism.
Fast forward to this month, October, and Anton Du Beke calls his dancing partner on Strictly Come Dancing – a mixed-race woman, Laila Rouass, a “paki”, also backstage, also in a private conversation, but this time between him and Ms. Rouass. This time, the BBC is “standing by” their foul-mouthed liability.
The BBC justifies this on the grounds that Du Beke has apologised. To be fair to the man, he has indeed apologised. It’s a shame he had to spoil it by clarifying it by insisting that “I am not a racist and … I do not use racist language“. It makes one wonder what it is he’s apologising for. The rest of it boils down to him saying that he didn’t intend to be offensive; that he accepts it’s an offensive term; that he didn’t think about how others would react; and that he’s sorry if he’s offended anybody. So it’s a fairly standard industry non-apology, really – bar the part where he accepts that it’s offensive, which most non-apologies don’t do.
Frankly, in some ways I prefer to deal with people like Carol Thatcher, who at least own their racism. She didn’t give the BBC a choice – it would have been very difficult for them not to sack her. Somebody like Du Beke, though – well, as I see it, the BBC are acting like that parent in the playground, who, when they see their precious spawn kick the crap out of you, tells said spawn in a sing-song voice to “say sorry and play nicely“, and then takes the muttered “sorry… that you weren’t strong enough” as a sign that everybody is the best of bestest friends again.
And, being the nasty suspicious person I am, I have to wonder whether it’s really the apology that’s made the difference.
You know, since Carol Thatcher’s a woman in her fifties – practically retirement age for women at the BBC – who insulted a man, and Anton Du Beke is only 43, and, more importantly, a man who insulted a woman.
Valentine’s Day: raises money for Clinton Cards and jewellery companies.
Vagina Monologues: raises money for women’s organisations. Spawned the V-Day movement.
Which is why I’ve persuaded Lee that we needed to get tickets to see Jenny Eclair et al shouting “cunt”, having orgasms and generally pissing about. Yay for friends that you can go to the theatre with! Especially now that the Fems isn’t a weekly thing for him anymore.
I shall of course report in later, probably with a somewhat garbled account involving frequent mentions of the name “Bob”. This will be the second time I’ve seen it. And Sam, who was with me the first time, bought me the script for my birthday. One day, maybe I shall perform it, astounding my old drama teacher, who told me – harshly but fairly – that although I could possibly be a director in a group of my choosing, I was not a good actor. Of course, that was back in the days when a group of sixth-formers performed The Vagina Monologues, which students in our all-girls school were banned from going to if they were under sixteen. Now I’ve seen it, I understand that some of the monologues could be pretty unnerving for a sheltered middle-class thirteen year-old. But at the time, I remember being very indignant, on the grounds that I had a vagina, so why the hell couldn’t I see a play about it?!
Perhaps it is this kind of thing that makes me so enthusiastic about a) decent sex education and b) The Vagina Monologues!
… Which I’d totally forgotten about, then remembered but wasn’t going to do because I’ve already posted twice this evening, but then I found this:
I’m a FEMALE male chavinist – and, if I’m not mistaken, a complete fucking psycho.
Care of the Daily Mail, of course – who else would print this bollocks?
I actually shouted, “you’re having a fucking laugh”. At my laptop.
On Blog For Choice Day, I read the following: “I wanted the key decisions about my unborn children to be in male hands.”
WHAT?!!! Seriously – WHAT?!!!!
Fucking hell – I just – I have no words for this woman.
No, actually, I do have words. Not for her, though. Fucking moron.
I want key decisions about MY unborn children to be in MY hands.
I will be blogging for choice and fighting for choice and talking for choice all the way, because what we’re talking about are the rights of women to control what happens to the parasitic bundle of cells that happens to have taken root in her uterus.
Not, “the rights of the unborn child”.
“Unborn child” my arse.
You can’t BE “unborn”. You can be “born”. You can be “alive”. You can be “dead”. That’s about it.
And the thing inside you ISN’T a child. For fucks’ sake. So, what, it lurks inside you as a child, but once it comes out, it has to revert to being a baby for a couple of years? ‘Cause THAT makes sense.
(Like you can’t be a “born-again virgin”. You’ve already HAD sex, you fool. You can’t un-have-sex, either.)
I want to drown things.
Anybody who actually waded through my rant about sex will have seen that I was planning on going to a public meeting on abortion rights.
For once, I actually did what I said I was going to, and, even better, I found my Mum a birthday present beforehand. Which was useful, as I’d kind of forgotten that her birthday was this month.
Anyway, so I went to the Houses of Parliament – and you know, for somebody that identifies as a Londoner, I’m really not very good. I seriously had no idea how close together everything all was, and, what’s worse, I was genuinely surprised to walk past Downing Street on the way.
Obviously I’m living more on Planet Rachel than in London at the moment.
However. I got there, I queued, I watched the Met. (London’s very own police force, aren’t we lucky?!) get progressively more and more uneasy with the number of women coming to infiltrate the Houses of Parliament, and I wandered around gawping at statues, like a tourist.
We got moved from one room to another because too many of us turned up, and then we kept coming so they started putting people back into the room we’d just left, and in the end, we had two meetings, in two different rooms, with the same speakers at the same time.
Because feminism is nothing if not logical, dammit!
The crowd was excellent, too. A handful of men – mostly young, and nobody over 40, I’d say – trying not to look frightened, or inadvertantly hold posters with the strapline “keep your laws off my body”. And women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colours. Which was nice.
We had the crazy women who sat in the corner muttering, because you always get a couple of crazies at any big event. We had the typical “Chelsea girls”, very fashionable and with very irritating voices (I try not to hold it against people, but when they’re standing right next to me…!). We had a hell of a lot of studenty types. We had the Socialist Workers Party people, selling newspapers as always (I do wonder whether they care what they attend, sometimes). We had women who’d protested about the same thing way back in ’78. We had the radical protesters with mohicans and dyed red hair. Dammit, I want red hair! We had businesswoman types, amusing me greatly when they got fired up. And we had me.
It was wonderful that it didn’t seem to be exclusive. It wasn’t all middle class, or all white, or all old, or anything. It was just women. All different types.
And it was great.
I heard phrases like “the patriarchy” used casually as though we’d all know what it meant.
So I was happy.
I heard that the pro-choice movement had cross-party support, which made me even happier, especially when one of the speakers said “it’s a particular pleasure to have thinking conservatives”. It made me chuckle.
Possibly most amusingly, I was in the same room as a man whose first words after being introduced were,
“I’m not normally known as ‘Dr. Evan Harris’ – I’m normally known by the Daily Mail as ‘Doctor Death’“.*
*Disclaimer: Do not visit that link if you want any sensible information. In fact, the article is so amusingly bad, I may break it down at some point, in order to scoff.
Personally, I found him to be intelligent, articulate and sensible. But hey – I’m a crazy, hairy-legged feminist – what do I know?!
Rather embarressingly, I’ve forgotten the full name of the woman whose speech I enjoyed most. I think she was called Dianne, but evidently I should have written this down!
Her points were beautifully put, and she was fantastic.
Her main point was this: That it is those same people who so loudly and vehemently protest about “the rights of the unborn child”, who want nothing to do with that child once it is born. You will never see them voting for a universal childcare system, or extra child benefits, or anything else that would benefit real, living children. And therefore, since their actions show where their words do not that they do not care about the rights of any child or foetus, one is left to conclude that their attack on abortion is aimed at the only other party – women. Not anything to do with children at all.
She got a very, very loud round of applause for that, as you can imagine.
Anyway. I went to this to get more information, which I have. I feel I have more of an understanding of what is happening, and this pleases me. And I have websites to visit:
- Abortion Rights*
- Antenatal Results and Choices
- British Pregnancy Advisory Service
- Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion
- Education for Choice
- Family Planning Association
- Marie Stopes International
- Pro-Choice Forum
- Reproductive Health Matters
- Voice for Choice
* Abortion Rights has a model letter that you can download to send to your MP, if you live in the UK. The MPs that were present at the meeting say that personal letters really do make a difference, and can help stiffen resolve, so please, if you can do this, do.
Also, it will help to counteract the lovely, intelligent, adult tactics used by the anti-abortion crowd, who last time round sent every single MP a plastic foetus in the post. Nice.
There are going to be rallies, lobbies, general shouty things. If I can possibly get involved, this meeting has shown me how important it is.
And then it’s just one small step before we take over the world!!!!!
Does anybody else remember that song?
I think it marks you out as an ’80’s kid; “Let’s talk about sex, baby/ Let’s talk about you and me”. Or something.
Anyway. I had (have) a kind of love-hate thing going on with that song. Firstly because I only remember those two lines, and occasionally I get them stuck in my head. And they’re bloody annoying. Also, I hate the word “baby” as a term of endearment. If you’re having sex, or thinking about having sex, they should be a grown up, for goodness’ sake!
But then again, at least it’s being reasonable. At least it’s asking to talk.
So let’s talk about sex.
Vibracobra over at Mind the Gap has written lots on the subject, and the need for a new sexual revolution. As has Amy at Scorpio Risen. Which is nice. I suggest that people go and read, because it’s all very well done.
So we have these problems.
That people don’t know what “real” sex is. That they think it’s icky. That it’s two-dimensional and restrictive. That there’s too much choice. That people are “doing it” too young. That they’re not being careful. That they don’t know how to be careful.
Look, sex is… sex.
It’s everything and nothing.
Everything because everybody is different and one person’s fantasy is another person’s joke, one person’s crush is another person’s spotty younger brother, one person’s fetish is another person’s… I don’t know… dirty clothes pile…
and so it can never quite be summed up.
Nothing because it’s not the most important thing in the world. And nothing because it can’t be pinned down, boxed up (unless you like that, of course!) so it’s in some strange way intangible.
It’s everywhere and nowhere.
Everywhere because it’s a selling point. Because breasts make us look at things, because certain women in certain positions can sell just about anything.
Because even the heterosexual sex-orientated magazines for women say that having a sexy woman, rather than a sexy man, on their cover boosts their sales. Because only gay magazines feature sexy men on the cover.
Nowhere because it’s all fake. It’s a myth. Hardly any of us look like, act like, are those women. We don’t have tits like that and arses like that and pouts like that. Men do exist, although you’d find it hard to believe, considering their scarcity in the sexy advertising world. All kinds of different sexualities do exist.
And the world keeps turning, people are still having sex and having the babies to prove it. So the lies that are thrown at us, that we need tits like that and arses like that and pouts like that, that the few men in the world want, need, expect these things – it’s not true!
Think about real sex that you’ve really had. With yourself, if nobody else.
Was it perfectly sanitised, perfectly placed, perfectly proportioned, perfectly choreographed?
Or was it better than that?
Because sex is many things, but generally physical – and one of the nice things about it being physical is the number of different sensations. And isn’t that good, that maybe you could remember the way your partner(s) smelt, or tasted, or sounded, or looked, or felt?
That you could think the same of yourself?
Please, let’s just get over our hang-ups about sex. Seriously. There are more important things to think about.
Oh, I know it’s a meaningful debate and some things do need to be thought about and ….. good. Well done.
Sex is sex. People are different. Don’t punish people for being different. Make sure it’s all safe and consensual and informed. Done. Let’s move on now.
Let’s talk about related things, like rights and responsibilities. Like the way we need to be shouting out about wanting our right to abortion (if you’re interested, please go to this thing. I will be.) Or whatever it may be. Let’s talk about what else we can be doing.
Let’s talk about the way feminism should be for everybody’s benefit. That actually it’s a bit worrying when we all start in-fighting, and the only people that give a damn are the Men’s Rights Activists who are laughing at us.
Let’s talk about the way that despite all of our growling, rich white men are still at the top. What are we waiting for? Do we just stay as we are until they all die off?
Let’s talk about the way we’re still teaching our kids bad habits, that the minute you tell that little boy that he looks “girly” with his hair over his eyes, you’re harming that next generation’s chances to be better.
Let’s talk about sex, baby?
Well…. actually…. yes, but –
Let’s talk about something other than sex, too, gorgeous!
This is American.
The age of consent in America is 18.
That girl is a girl; ie, a lot younger than 18.
And she’s wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Mike’s Girl” above a heart-framed picture of a guy (presumably ‘Mike’) with his arms around her.
And a pair of knickers with the word “Mike’s” on it.
WHAT. THE. FUCK????
She’s practically prepubescant!
And some dickhead has decided to use her in an advert to market “sexy clothing” that clearly implies that both she and her cunt (presumably for sexual purposes) are the property of “Mike”, whoever the fuck “Mike” is.
This is what feminism is about – protecting girls and women from the crap that flies their way every single day, just because their genitalia goes in instead of out.
The man who wrote a four hundred word column entitled My Girlfriend Didn’t Like Porn.
Sadly, I threw the paper away in a fit of extreme irritation, mixed with thoughts about porn that probably would’ve got me thrown off the bus for indecency had anybody else known about them. If only he could have heard them, however, he might never have had the foolishness to write that column.
Because lots of women don’t like porn. In fact, lots of men don’t like porn. It’s just that, like so many things, porn has long been classified as a kind of “boy’s toy”, something that every man should enjoy, yet unnatainable for us weak little hysterical women.
And there are many different reasons why many different people don’t like many different types of porn.
Personally, I harbour mixed feelings.
I don’t mind the idea of porn per se, but the way that porn is produced and packaged means that I don’t really want to go near it, although I have seen some.
It makes me very uncomfortable wondering just how much coersion was used, how much force, how much blackmail. I feel sick at the thought that I might be witnessing a rape – and worse, enjoying it. Especially since venturing onto literotica, which is a site dedicated to erotic literature, funnily enough. Some of the fantasies I read about there – stories of professional rapists, an entire section entitled “nonconsent/reluctance” (I’m impressed by the euphamisms, but really, if you don’t consent, then that is rape) – have shown me that it’s a frighteningly common thought. And I know that rape fantasties don’t always equal wanting to rape or be raped, but even so, it’s not something I like to find so frequently.
And there’s another problem.
It’s all designed to be watched by a certain type of man.
“I went into one shop,” one of my friends told me recently, “and there was a small stand in the corner for ‘gay sex’ – where all of the video covers featured men – and a whole wall full of covers showing blonde hair and big breasts.”
It’s so common. I hate it.
I hate it that the existance of real lesbians is completely denied, because of course they’re just doing it for the man’s enjoyment. As though his cock is the most important thing in the world.
I hate it that every woman is assumed to be bisexual, and that the man who wrote this stupid, stupid column pouted that his girlfriend didn’t want to watch two women, although he point-blank refused to watch two men.
I hate it that all ‘mainstream’ porn is about Teh Menz.
And I hate it that the most sought-after scenes in ‘mainstream’ porn seem to be:
a) a blowjob, which is, by nature, intended for the sole pleasure of the man
b) anal sex – the man penatrating the woman – which is unlikely to give the woman any pleasure, since our G-spot is nowhere near (and ok, I wouldn’t normally pander to stereotypes, but guys, have you ever thought to ask for directions?)
c) the ‘money shot’ – watching the man come, usually over the woman.
I for one don’t find it at all sexy thinking of having a guy shoving something into an orifice of mine that’s only designed to have waste food come out, or indeed getting his come all over my nose.
There. Done. Now if only I could reduce that down to 400 words, and convince the editors of The London Paper that they wanted to print my vitriol, sarcasm and general rage, I would be a woman triumphant. At least until the readers voted on whether they liked me….