Tag Archives: rant

Consent, Kink and Community

♦ I mentioned recently that I’d been to the Bristol Alternative and Burlesque Fair and had a few qualms with the compering of the event. Now (especially as the compère himself left a comment and seems like a really nice guy), I don’t want to badmouth what must be a very hard job that I likely couldn’t do, but I want to set out what it was I had a problem with and why.

Because (although I didn’t like his style anyway) it isn’t about personal taste, though it may be about personal ethics. It’s about something which I feel has big implications for the kink community and the people, whether part of that community or not, who were there. And because, though not everyone may agree with me, hopefully raising these qualms might get people to examine these issues.

The compère had what seemed like a pretty tough job to get the crowd going (I myself am practically allergic to audience participation), but I wasn’t that impressed. I mentioned “cheap “saucy” humour, being patronising, and displaying a seeming ignorance of informed consent” in my earlier post and it seems I even cleverly put them in order of importance too!

Though I didn’t like the humour and tone, that’s just my taste. Just because I don’t really like the “Phwoar! I love a bit of cock!” sort of attitude to sex, doesn’t mean much (though I do wonder to what extent the “saucy postcard” mentality might hold back wider acceptance of sexuality, but that’s a topic for another time) and no-one need pander to me more than anyone else. I also personally don’t think than audience really needs to be told to applaud when a woman takes her clothes off. Isn’t that second nature? But again, it’s likely a rhetorical trick that just didn’t land well with me.

No, it’s the consent stuff that really bothers me.

The early parts involved saying hello to people you didn’t know next to you and paying them a forced compliment (already too un-British for me). The problems, though, started with getting everyone to stand up (I was hovering near the seating area at the time) and turn to face to their right. Then the compère instructed the audience to give the person in front of them a small spank. Now, from my poor vantage point (and the fact I was quite busy cringing), I couldn’t tell you how many people did this, but that’s not the point. Did anyone know what they were getting into when they stood up?

Look, I’m not trying to sound the prude here. Nothing wrong with spanking, nothing wrong with public spanking. I like both myself (and got a twinge just writing the latter). But none of these people consented (or rather communicated consent: for all I know they were fine with it, but consent has to be communicated somehow) to even being touched, let alone being spanked. As I said to Crush at the time, my response to the person behind me would have been “You fucking touch me…”.

Later (by this time my friends and I were at a table), we were told that each table should get someone up onto it on hands and knees. No-one at our table, even the hardened kinksters, were having any of it and it’s at least good to see that, general cajoling to everyone aside, when only about three tables produced participants, no issue was made of it. We were then told that the aim was to spank the volunteers as a table and whichever table produced the most moaning (oh, so hard to fake) would get a prize.  Again, none of the volunteers OR the people supposed to spank them knew this when they were called to be involved. Sure, I suspect no fuss would have been made of anyone backing out, but that’s not really how healthy consent works.

Now, this might not seem like a lot to get angry about, but consent is paramount in all things, especially in the realm of kink. And consent isn’t just volunteering. No. To be true consent, consent must be informed. To be good kink, kink must be negotiated. It doesn’t have to be long and involved and stuffy, but people (whether being done to or doing to or both) should know what they’re getting into, boundaries should be made clear and consent should be given enthusiastically with clear ways to withdraw that consent (such as safe words).

A hypothetical person in that line of unknowing spankees had no way in the circumstances to be informed, give enthusiastic consent to what could be a complete stranger, or indeed withdraw that consent in the time between the instruction and the incoming spank. Am I the only one that thinks this dodgy?

Not only this, but this was a mixed fetish and non-fetish event. They carefully made sure to split the fetish stalls off from the alternative/burlesque ones, so some concern for the muggles must have been in the planning somewhere. But there was no mention of any fetish play, no matter how light and innocent, in the programme of events as far as I saw. Surely it’s people’s right to decide what they see and don’t see?

What sort of message are we giving off to non-kinksters, who thanks to bad press and bad books might have a warped idea of BDSM anyway, of public play among complete strangers with no communication and no consent? These spaces are a perhaps rare opportunity for our kinky community to speak for itself to people who might otherwise not get to hear us (and to teach good kink practice), shouldn’t we be a little more careful about how we use that voice?

I’d certainly love to know your thoughts on this, kinky or not. ♦

Blacksilk, Porn User?

Or, what’s the use of using “user”?

♦ Those of you who keep up with sex positive news may have seen the ruckus caused recently when BBC’s Newsnight changed the title of one of their commenters from “Dr Jude Roberts” to “Jude Roberts – Porn User”. There’s since been an article by Dr Roberts herself about it, in which she explains that she doesn’t feel the slight was intended or malicious, nor does she even feel it as a slight. It’s just A Thing That Happened.

But the “porn user” incident, along with the recent debate around porn filters, made me really think about the phrase used itself. Porn user.

Porn user?

"Porn User"  - Dictionary definitions of "User"

I find it such an unnatural turn of phrase. Surely we don’t “use” porn? We watch porn. Just like, even if you wank to it, we read erotica, not “use” it (but honestly no-one is talking about erotica here, it’s pretty clear that’s not what they mean when they say “porn”). No-one would say “use”, surely?

Indeed, when I asked people, the response was that they’d describe it as they “watch porn” not are a “porn user”. I think most people would, in fact. So I find it weird, and unsettling, that the media and the government seem to have a picked a different phrase entirely.

It’s clear that Jude Roberts feels the same way:

I’m happy to be labeled a ‘porn user’. I am a user of porn. Although the connotations of the word ‘user’ are somewhat unnecessary. I use porn in the same way I use other forms of culture – for stimulation and entertainment. These, after all, are what culture is for. And make no mistake, porn is a form of culture, just like any other. Just like TV, films, books, computer games, theatre and the visual arts, porn reflects and reflects on the ideas, concerns and attitudes of the culture in which it’s produced.

So why do we treat it so differently?

Why indeed?

Some suggested that it’s because porn comes in many forms: moving images, still images (both photographic and drawn), the written word… But so do, for example, cartoons and no-one would ever say “cartoon user”, even though cartoon can mean film or book or animated or still.

Some suggested that “porn user” is similar to calling someone an “Internet user” or computer user as above, but that just can’t be the case. Surely, if it’s similar to anything, it should be like a “TV viewer”. You certainly do “use” (or browse, of course) the Internet, but “using” the Internet is a far different experience to watching porn (even when you get to your porn via the Internet, like many of us).

And while we often certainly “use” porn to get off, I’m still certain the correct verb for just looking at some porn is “watch”. Just think of it as a point-and-click adventure game. When you mouse over the pixellated porno on the screen, would the pop-up text say “Use Porn”? Really? Come on, no.

I mean, technically, sure, “use” is a pretty general word that can apply as a sort of supergroup to lots of better, more specific words like “read” or “eat”. Technically, you “use” books, you “use” food, you “use” signs. But no-one says that. It’s unnatural to describe watching a (porn) film as using a (porn) film just as it is to describe eating food as using food.

So, why do the media and government, despite what seems to be all common sense, want us to be porn “users”? Is it to make it sound a bit like a drug habit? I think it miiiight be!

Because I remain convinced that this word has been chosen purposefully. Because the goverment, and certain sections of the meeja, has an agenda. Because I think “user” really has some connotations that are being intended here, as per the dictionary quote above. Drug use, for one. Perhaps “user” as in emotional use. Drugs, abuse, someone who does something dirty, something wrong, something exploitative. I’m convinced that employing the word “use” in this way serves to try to render watching porn as grubby, grimy and akin to substance “abuse”.

In fact I’d say the anti-porn types, like the government, are certainly using (in the exploiting sense) the connotations of the word quite well. So, I agree with Dr Jude when she says the connotations of “user” are “unnecessary”, but I just can’t go as far as her in saying I’m happy to be labelled a “porn user”, an addict, an exploiter. And thus Blacksilk, Porn Viewer, I shall remain. ♦

Bindelphobic Bisexual

♦ Julie Bindel is a bitch. There, I’ve said it. The ad hominem that sheer anger wants to force on the page is out there, we can get it out of the way.

It’s tongue-in-cheek, sure, but I do have a point there, which is: I don’t think I have ever seen Julie Bindel (writer for the Guardian among others) write a single thing I don’t find wrong-headed and absolutely hateful. So it shouldn’t surprise me that she recently wrote something that made me apo-fucking-pleptic and I probably shouldn’t dignify it with a response.

But I’m going to. Because when someone with an impressive platform spews abhorrent bollocks, people need to shout “NO!” in reply, just to be seen. The last thing I want is for some poor bisexual to stumble on that ‘article’ and actually believe a word it says.

It is beyond biphobic and beyond ridiculous. She starts her HuffPost piece with a question “What makes some of us uncomfortable with bisexual women?” I was discussing this on Twitter not that long ago and find it really hard to conclude that it’s anything other than biphobia or narrow-mindedness and Bindel hardly helps here.

In today’s post-modern, queer-focused world, bisexuality is being promoted to lesbians as the latest fashionable trend. This has resulted in lesbian politics, namely feminism, being passed over for sexual hedonism, where the only thing that matters is sexual pleasure and desire. Similarly, bisexuality is sold to heterosexual women as some type of recreational activity far from their “natural home” of straight sex. It is seen as “temporary lesbianism.”

Oh, there is so MUCH wrong with this. Firstly, I’m not entirely certain how she thinks the world is “queer-focused” or what that even means. I can’t understand how a world where queer people have it so hard and where probably the majority of people don’t even understand the word can be called “queer-focused”.

Secondly, the “passed over for sexual hedonism, where the only thing that matters is sexual pleasure and desire” bit can go right to hell. Bisexuality, she implies, has meant we all care purely about fucking instead of feminism or politics. (Heck, I even feel like her wording suggests that lesbian politics = feminism and vice versa, but I could be wrong) Oh, of course, because being bisexual is just about being greedy and wanting lots of sex and that’s it. I’m bisexual because I only care about sexual pleasure. You’ll probably find that’s why I don’t really love Crush and am just using him for sex. Bollocks.

The idea that bisexuals are just greedy or are shallow (she likens a bisexual fling to getting a new handbag later) is so old and so untrue. I’m sure you all know this, but just because you like more than one gender, doesn’t mean you’re going to fuck more people. And even if it did mean you were going to fuck more people, that wouldn’t mean you only cared about selfish pleasure and nowt else. This is basic stuff, Bindel.

Thirdly, there is absolutely no way, whether bisexuality is sold or promoted to women or not, that it’s seen as “temporary lesbianism”, that’s just insulting to both bisexuals (the idea that you’re “just experimenting” or are indecisive) and lesbians (the idea that that’s all it takes to be a lesbian). Her twisted notions of  the most basic concepts don’t get any better:

Whatever our views and politics about lesbianism may be, we cannot deny that women face compulsory heterosexuality from birth. Despite huge progress since I came out in 1977, it is still not really acceptable to reject men and choose not to live under their guardianship, whether you are in Saudi Arabia or the U.K.

Er, yes we can deny it. Do you know what compulsory actually means? It means required by law or driven by force. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never EVER been forced straight in my life in this country and if non-het sex is illegal, I might be in trouble. It is legal and totally acceptable to “reject men” (what this has to do with bisexuals, I don’t know) and definitely fine to not “live under their guardianship”. I mean, I do that now. I live with men, sure, but I’m not “under their guardianship”. I’m a young professional who sorts herself out, like most of the women I know.

The weirdest part of her article comes when she tries to tell us that it’s not just lesbians or even straight women who mistrust bisexuals, it’s also bisexuals. Yes.

One U.S. study of bisexuality, which draws on interviews with 400 self-identified lesbians and bisexual women, found that a substantial number of bisexuals prefer to hang out with lesbians instead of other bisexual women in social situations, and have greater political trust in lesbians than they do in other bisexual women. It was also found that “[s]ome bisexual women actually doubt whether bisexual women exist at all.

Not only do bisexuals not trust bisexuals, they apparently don’t believe in them either. What. I mean, does that even make any fucking sense? Genuinely, can anyone actually explain this to me?

Not that it matters. Only “some” of the 400 women studied didn’t believe in bisexuals.  There’s already a lovely group on Facebook which shows that far more than 400 women who are called Sarah believe in bisexuals, a la Project Steve. Sorted. Turns out, we do exist. But although that’s the most bizarre part of her diatribe, it’s not the most out and out offensive. I’m not sure what is, but she really gets into gear in the last half and the winning sentence has to be from among the ones below.

I personally feel that straight women are missing out on the best sex on the planet, but that is their choice.

Ms Bindel, you do realise that this is the same sort of thinking applied by arsehole men who claim that all a lesbian needs is “a good dicking” to turn them straight because “they don’t know what they’re missing out on”, right? They’re NOT missing out BECAUSE THEY DON’T LIKE VAGINA! The idea that there can even be such a thing as “the best sex” is ludicrous. This is why I get equally pissed off at the few sanctimonious idiots into BDSM who feel vanilla sex is just inferior and look, aren’t we the best because we have the best sex, definitively. All that matters is the sex that’s right for you and much as most lesbians won’t enjoy cock, most straight women won’t like doing it gaywise.

For bisexual women living under the tyranny of sexism, choosing to be lesbian is a liberatory act. […] I believed then, and I believe now, that if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men.

How on Earth will be restricting my sexuality down to only loving women (and given Bindel’s views on transgender, only cis-women) be liberating? How will caging my sexuality, my desire, my heart, set me free? I am attracted to men, I am attracted to women, I am attracted to people who don’t fit either of those categories. I am attracted, pretty much, to people. Just not all of them. Why should I change that? I love my Crush and he loves me. He makes me happy and supports me and I enjoy being with him. Should I give him up just because he has a cock? Doesn’t the very idea that I should judge and ditch my partner based purely on the fact that he has a penis go against the very ideals of the equality that feminism should be promoting? The idea that our bodies define and limit us?

As a comment on this counter-argument says, “I’m sorry, but if Julie had an ounce of sexual politics, she’d understand that sexual politics is about the revolutionary idea of sleeping with & loving the people you WANT to sleep with & love instead of the people outside forces tell you that you SHOULD sleep with/love.” And that’s basically it, really. Sexual politics is about no-one being in my bedroom except those I let in. Not the government, not religion, not my peers or parents or the public and not Julie Bindel either. The idea that I couldn’t possibly know or care about sexuality and sexual politics because of who I am and who I fuck is so very oppressive and shallow. After all, “What do you know? You’re a bisexual” is on the same level as “What do you know? You’re a woman.”

Bindel’s article is muddled and destructive, like a Pokemon attacking itself in its confusion. She as much as states that bisexual women are greedily hedonistic, shallow and fickle without any sense of sexual politics whilst at the same time implying that they may not even exist. She promotes lesbianism as the ONLY way to be a true feminist, to be a thinking woman, to be independent and free and also as the only way to get THE sex. You know, the only kind worth having.

Bisexuals and others alike, take note, this is trash of the highest degree. Your sexuality does not define you. There is no “right way” to fuck or to love. Bisexuals are people too. An it harm none, do what ye will.  ♦

e[lust] #36


Photo courtesy of A Couple of Wankers

Welcome to e[lust] – The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at e[lust]. Want to be included in e[lust] #37? Start with the newly updated rules, come back June 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

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The Cheshire CatAlice felt whiskers tickle her skin and was wracked with sobs of fear. “Oh, little girl, don’t cry. You can stand much more than you think you can.”

Vaginal Overexposure?I see a lot of vaginas. A lot. One of my favorite things to tell Vincent and his friends is, “I see more vagina that you ever will!”

Marionette“I’m writing out a fantasy of mine, but I’m not sure what to do with some of it. I’m hoping you can help me figure it out.” “Yes Ma’am.”

~ Featured Post (Picked by Lilly) ~

JourneysThese insecurities are at the root of my fears. I don’t know how to combat them, how to turn those tapes off in my head.

~ e[lust] Editress ~

I’ve found a new secret to my G-spotThis g-spot thing might be hard to find since it can’t be mapped, but believe me it is real and with time, exploration, a good clitoral orgasm and a willing set of fingers and/or dildos you CAN find it.

Read More…

What Is This, I Don’t Even

♦ You might remember me ranting to you recently about jelly sex toys and why they are completely horrendous. Well, my housemates and I went into town just recently and discovered some vibrators that are a different kind of horrendous altogether.

Heck, you might have even seen me commenting on my Twitter not too long ago taking the mickey out of the product descriptions of some sex toys (mostly vibrators) with a hashtag I call #StupidSexToyBlurb 1. We don’t even need to get to the blurb stage here (though, fuck it, I will). These products alone are awful enough as it is.

Now, admittedly, we weren’t in a sex shop. This wasn’t, like keyboard cat comments, serious business. This was the “adult” section of the kind of shop that sells lava lamps, slankets, head massagers, scraper foil, magic tricks and rubber dinosaurs all at once. I suppose in a shop selling basically tat (though admittedly I did buy some tat because I am a big child), I should have expected tat.

And I did, but this was pushing it.

Nestled in amongst the penis drinking straws (don’t judge too soon, shops like Ann Summers and Lovehoney sell this stuff too y’know) and giant breast pillows were two sets of boxes that drew my eye:

OK, so the first one is likely to be something you’ve seen before (we’ll move on to that terrifying second one in a moment), I think I’d vaguely heard of the concept, but really? Really? A chocolate vibrator?

Well, no, not really. It’s not even got the balls to be actual chocolate. By ‘chocolate vibrator’ we apparently mean ‘rubbish brown piece of plastic that might vaguely smell of chocolate’. I don’t think I understand. It smells of chocolate? What’s the point of it smelling of chocolate? Am I supposed to be using it on my nose? You do realise that the nose and the vagina are actually quite far apart, right?

Why on Earth would someone make a basic plastic vibrator and have it smell ‘like chocolate’? Well, let’s have a look at some of that blurb (told you) after all and see if we can glean anything, shall we?

“What do women love? Sex and Chocolate!”

Ah, right. Incidentally, do you carry any vibrators that also function as working guns?

Of course, of course, it is a truth universally acknowledged that women like chocolate. If I had to think of the two things off the top of my head right now that women love, it’d be sex and chocolate. It wouldn’t be, say, love and happiness or acceptance and success or friendship and peace or maybe sex and hope or I don’t fucking know because we’re not a hive mind. Of course, it’d be really hard to make a vibrator out of any of those, so resorting to a lazy stereotype that rings with a sort of marketing-truth is probably a lot easier. After all, the materials for love and happiness haven’t really been pinned down yet, so our best hope for a pair of things-women-love that could be made into a sex toy material is when carbon nanotubes allow us to make vibrators made out of Win and Future.

But I digress (into SCIENCE!)… What the fuck is going on with that second one?

I mean to write a post soon about vibrators with faces (as well as glitter, gems and gawd-awful girliness), but this is really taking the biscuit! This isn’t a cute little disturbing-in-its-own-way mushroom man face like the one sadly under my rabbit vibe, this is a full-on I-will-kill-in-your-sleep-and-wear-your-skin-like-a-cape face. It looks like a cross between Ghostface and Dr Frankenfurter.

WHY WOULD YOU PUT THIS NEAR YOUR VAGINA?!

As if it isn’t bad enough that I will be having nightmares about that face tonight, the vibrator also talks and it seemingly isn’t too happy about it. To quote from the box: “Usually he’s your friendly, faithful servant, ready to do your bidding, but sometimes…………. he’s just plain grumpy!”

Because that’s what you want. That’s what you really need. Oh, hey, I feel like having my inanimate (dear God, I fucking hope so) objects berate me for using them tonight, let’s get the talking vibrator out! Because what I really want is for my vehicles to sexual satisfaction to resent me as a person.

And grumpy he is. Here’s the four phrases that lucky lady is going to hear every time she opens the box:

“Go away, I’ve got a headache”  – No. No, you don’t. Nor are the voices telling you to kill, kill. You’re a sex toy, you don’t get to decide you don’t want to make me come.
“Mmm, you’re looking cute tonight, honey” – Your skin looks great on you, but it’d look better on your bedroom floor…
 “Hell, can’t you get a real man?” – WHAT.

Nearly every single website that mentions this product goes on about how this is such a great gift for a friend. With friends like that, you would not need abusive psycho-bitches, I can tell you. What kind of friend gets another friend a maniac-faced vibrator that has a 25% chance every time she uses it of telling her that she will, essentially, die alone and unloved? Ooh, yeah, baby, my inability to find a man gets me so hot! I get so horny thinking of my own feeble inadequacies!

Worse than that, this fucking sex toy is making the wonderful assumption that women only use vibrators because they can’t get ‘the real thing’. Because, of course, the myth that to own sex toys is to fail at flesh and blood relationships and therefore your purpose in life as a woman (to find a man, naturally) is really one that needs perpetuating. THANKS, MANUFACTURERS.

So, to sum up, Winter is Coming  and the festive season is drawing near: why not buy a nice gift for that special woman in your life? She’s bound to be grateful, patronised or terrified at the thought. Just so long as it’s not me. I was bloody freaked out enough by Lilarcor the mad-but-harmless talking sword in Baldur’s Gate 2.

Of course, if anyone is still actually thinking they’d make an acceptable gift for someone you genuinely like (how?), then please, do yourself and them a favour and go spend the exact same amount of money on this instead. ♦

Notes:

  1. Which I’m considering turning into a proper thing somehow, only I’m not entirely sure how. Ideas? If nothing else, I’d do something myself, but having others able to contribute ones would be great too. Or should I just stick to hashtagging Tweets? I just feel this kind of stuff needs to be ridiculed and that people’d find it funny to see some of the stuff they write!

Living Dolls

I took an intellectual history class in my final year of university. I’ve always been interested in that kind of thing and talking to Fractal had increased my interest in it even further. It was, as I hoped it would be, intensely interesting, largely because we studied several ideas which I enjoyed analytically ripping to shreds: Sartre and existentialism, Foucault and subjectivism, de Beauvoir and feminism… In looking at feminism we were assigned to write an essay about one particular course text, an article by author Natasha Walter.

It was frankly ludicrous; a pile of über-feminist nonsense about socialisation and inequality and women in the sciences. It was fun to pull to pieces. So, skimming over an article on Comment is Free today (which attacks another angle from Walter’s book and is pretty darned good and well worth a look), I was almost gruesomely pleased to see a link to an extract from Walter’s new book, Living Dolls. I figured I’d take a look.

Walter describes the situation of forty-year-old Jim, a “self-confessed pornography addict”. Jim came across porn before the advent of the Internet, finding his father’s dirty magazines, and later videos, at a young age. As he attended a boys’ school, he devoured this material obsessively long before having any real contact with real girls. He found himself “unable to think of women except as potential pornography” and looked at them “in a purely sexual way”.

He finds the porn now available on the Internet to be, as Walter puts it, “dehumanising to women”, saying “The stuff I saw as a kid was what we called hardcore, but the idea in the text alongside was that it was based on mutual consent — mutual pleasure — but what I see now is more male domination”. He claims young men are seeing worse and worse images which change their attitude to sex for life.

Jim now finds nothing which can match up to porn. His long-term partner left him because he only knows how to “perform” sex, not feel it. Obviously, she is now very wary of the effects of pornography and its “threat” to intimacy. She says that its prevalence means that “all the innocence is lost”.

Where to start with this? Firstly, I *hardly* think that the personal testimonies of just two people who have had a bad experience with the consumption of pornography are a sound basis for any kind of theory or any claims about the effect of porn on *anyone* except the two themselves. Anecdotal ‘evidence’ is not exactly intellectually rigorous, is it, Miss Walter? (What’s the betting that that should actually be a Ms.?)

So the man is terrible with women, obsessed with porn and impersonal in bed and that is clearly and solely the fault of his early contact with the dreaded vice of seeing some people have some sex? It couldn’t *possibly* be one or more of the *many* other elements in a person’s personality and background? When someone is predisposed to obsession, do we blame the object he is obsessed with? Always? *Really*?

We also find Walter sneaking words into her witnesses mouths (“dehumanising to women”) and even blithely inserting her own viewpoint as if blessed by the speakers, attempting to connect it to their views on the matter, saying: “not only is the tone of pornography so often reliant on real or imaginary abuse of women…”

Sorry, *is* it? You can’t just say that kind of thing without some substantiation, seriously! Find me something to back that up, I’m certainly not going to take it as true. If I browse aimlessly for porn I will *not* find the vast majority, or even the majority, of it based on abusing women in any way. Heck, I only really find that stuff if I *look* for it and that’s because I happen to *like* it and I happen to be particularly searching in that specific niche. And believe me, it *is* a niche. BDSM is by no means mainstream. So, where on Earth is all this supposed abuse?

Jim says he now sees “male domination” where he once saw consent. Again, I’m really looking for some kind of substance to this claim. Show me it. Go on. Not to mention the fact that the term ‘male domination’ is so incredibly subjective and ambiguous.

In any case, Walter takes a bit of breather to talk about the prevalence of porn. She claims that “once upon a time, someone who was truly fascinated by pornography might have found, with some difficulty, 10, or 20, or 100 images to satisfy themselves”, whereas nowadays the Internet means we can get tons in just one click. I may be wrong here, but I really think that Walter has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. Pornography was never as hard to get hold of as she thinks, OK, so the Internet certainly has made it easier, but it isn’t as if we were all innocent wee bairns before that. Has she never heard of the ‘photography clubs’ that used to be meeting places for men to share piles of dirty photos with each other? Where does she think all those hundreds and hundreds of photos of Bettie Page in bondage came from? Long before the Internet, my dear.

She claims that many people are now seeing strangers have sex before even vaguely having sex with anyone themselves. And? So, what? *I’d* certainly seen pornography before I ever had sex or even did *anything* sexual. Up to that point it was kisses only. What harm has it done me then, hmm? Not a jot. And it’s not just me. Chances are that you saw sex before having sex too. Did it do you harm? Likely not. The thing is, Walter, is that yes, many people do see sex before having it, but that’s hardly a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for a few years now. This generation of children are not the first to experience this. Quite a large number of my generation, the one before the current one, did too. So why aren’t we all sexually messed up? Why haven’t we seen a soaring rate of people with bizarre, impersonal, degrading notions about sex, love and relationships?

Don’t you think it better that children learn about sex before attempting it? Isn’t it better to learn how to operate the gears and the brakes before you get behind the wheel on the M4? Seeing sex can only help young people understand how the whole thing works, as long as they remember to take certain things with a pinch of salt. Coupled with a good sex education and support, it can only help them prepare for the real thing with less trepidation and upset.

Walter claims she rejects the classic feminist view of pornography which says it “necessarily involves or encourages abuse of women” and that she can see why some are now trying to create a pornography which gives women more opportunities. However, she sees porn as a threat to “many erotic relationships” and as characterised by “a vein of real contempt for women”, encouraging men to see women as objects and women to focus on “their sexual allure rather than their imagination or pleasure”.

Again, I’ve no idea where she’s getting this idea of contempt from, nor does she back up her claim that men see women as objects due to porn. Do I really need to rant about objectification again or does everyone already know what I’m going to say? I’ll assume the latter, but to sum up: sexual objectification does not exist on such a huge scale as many idiots imagine and where it does exist it is in no way more malignant than buying an apple.

The part about women focusing on their looks though, that she can back up – by talking to some university girls who agree they’d never have sex without shaving their ladybits. Wow. Good evidence. They want to look good for their men, how despicable! Those poor, poor creatures! Where is the harm in trying to look good for your sexual partner, hmm? Don’t we all do it? Don’t men do it? I know damn well they do, though perhaps without so much preening and fussing. What is wrong with trying to be more beautiful? If a woman wants to go and shave or put on make-up or even get bigger boobs because she wants to look better, why not? Walter seems to want to deprive women of the power to improve themselves physically and the right to alter their own bodies. Both sexes have wanted to be more attractive since the dawn of time, now it is easier for everyone to actually achieve that.

And apparently women focus on their looks rather than their own pleasure. Do they? *Really?* That’s why all those magazines like Cosmopolitan and Scarlet never tell you how to enjoy having sex, right? That’s why they never have, *without fail*, an article *every issue* telling you how to make your orgasms better or how to feel more pleasure in bed or how ‘your man’ can make you come more easily. Frankly, if there are women out there who are sublimating their own pleasure to look good, more fool them, they can hardly blame men for their own lack of sense.

She also writes of porn: “no wonder we have seen the rise of the idea that erotic experience will necessarily involve, for women, a performance in which they will be judged visually.” For women? Not men then? Not any? Never? Sorry, are you saying that men are the only ones who care about how their potential partner looks before deciding whether or not to fuck them? Bollocks. Men are judged on their looks just as much as women are. Look at Sex and the City and its constant references to big packages.

Secondly, the judging doesn’t really go all that far. Men don’t really care all that much about cellulite or a spot here and there or hair where there shouldn’t be, on the whole (yes, I do know that makes an awful pun, I’m leaving it there :P). Fractal didn’t care if I’d shaved or not, though he preferred the smooth look. When I asked Crush about this the other day he said he preferred my legs, and between them, to be smooth because it felt nicer, but he didn’t really care about my armpits. And? I prefer him to have recently washed his hair because it feels nicer. Is that a crime? Don’t we have the right to prefer things of other people? Don’t they then have the right to conform to these preferences if they want? Besides which, I know damn well that when it comes down to it, and by it I really do mean ‘it’, no-on cares if there’s stubble on your crotch because everyone’s too damn busy having fun.

The misleading, misdirected and almost entirely anecdotal talk then turns to lap dancing and prostitution. Ooh, I can see *this* is going to go well. Ellie is a girl who turned to the former when she wanted to be an actress and jobs were hard to get hold of. I’m not entirely sure what Walter thinks her story is trying to tell us, but it’s telling *me* that lap dancing is a growth market which the pretty and unashamed can make some money in, whether or not they might have to, shock horror, get a fake tan and dress like a tramp. Woe upon this poor woman and her completely free choice to make a decent amount of money on her body by stripping, an industry which, by the way, has very limited places for men.

Next we have Angela, a woman who turned to chat rooms to find no-strings encounters with men. Oddly enough, when she met random strangers on the Internet for casual sex she found that they were only interested in, would you believe it, casual sex. Which she then gave them, willingly. I think this story is trying to suggest that men these days are corrupted beast who ask for anal on the first encounter, but what it says to *me* is that chat rooms are rarely the place for a serious relationship and that many people expect casual sex to be about casual sex. Angela didn’t find her experiences with promiscuity all that engaging, fulfilling or empowering, so did she quit? No, she started to charge them money for it, prostituting herself. Of course, how silly of me.

So, from what this long extract tells me, this is going to be a rip-roaring book full of anecdotes, lies, misleading statistics, soundbites, wrong-headed theorising and, of course, cherry-picking. I mean, you did notice how all those quoted fit nicely into Natasha Walter’s own view of the world, right? Wasn’t she lucky to only find people who agreed with her!

It’s all a load of old tossycock, as Bernard Black would say. Walter wants to present a world where society’s increased openness, freedom and access to information leads the creators of pornography and the debasers of women via the media and adult entertainment to encourage men to objectify, degrade and mistreat women as the women themselves play the living doll and pander to their whims ever unaware of their own self-harm and corruption. It’s dark stuff, but thankfully entirely untrue.

Admittedly, this is just an extract, but it seems the book as a whole is going to be poisonous, harmful nonsense full of the usual narrow-minded scare tactics about sex, youth and the Internet, the usual feminist twisting and misogyny-tinted glasses and the usual dose of “young people these days” and  “Oh Noes! Teh Future!”. It’s almost like Walter isn’t aware that they were claiming society was apocalyptically debased centuries ago.

Stop whining about the Meeja and inequality and go and have an ice cream or something. ♦

Abuse – No, I Mean the Bad Kind

“I’ve been stabbed with scissors in my thumb and my wrist. I’ve had a marble chopping board smashed over my head which needed 12 stitches… You know that you’ve got to leave but you have to go through a whole process to get to the point where you’ve actually got the strength to walk out that door…I don’t think I’ll ever recover. I know I won’t recover from what I went through. I’ve just learnt now how to live with it. But I’ll carry the scars for the rest of my life…”

Another battered wife?

Not this time.

Mark suffered from his girlfriend’s physical and psychological attacks for nearly ten years and the BBC have finally given a little attention to male victims of partner abuse.

It’s just a shame it’s all too little, and horribly late.

My mother was abusive to my sister, my father and me for years: mostly psychologically, but on occasions physically. Fractal’s mother was abusive to him, his father and his siblings too, more violently than in my case. Fractal also suffered abusive behaviour from his previous girlfriend (though to a much lesser degree) who he thankfully soon left.

Perhaps all this makes me more acutely aware than most people of female-to-male, and indeed female perpetrated in general, domestic violence and how badly it is ignored. Either way, it is a problem. Women are not the only ones being abused by partners they thought they could trust.

Domestic violence knows no gender boundaries.

The issue often gets press, but in these cases the crying victims on the posters are always female and publicity always refers to them as ‘she’ and the abuser as ‘he’.

The bias in this has finally been minorly highlighted by coverage from the BBC. But even this has its problems.

I posit that even in its attempts to highlight male victims it shows a worrying tendency to belittle their plight.

The article tells us that recent statistics show “men in their early 20s are just as likely to be abused by their partners as women”. Just one problem, look at the statistics: in England and Wales 6.4% of men said they were victims in the last year, compared with 5.4% of women.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that 6.4 was a sort of bigger number than 5.4. Men in their 20s are not ‘just as likely’, but in fact more likely.

I honestly wonder how the hell this elementary mistake was made and worryingly I can only conclude it was a deliberate choice of words: surely only an idiot couldn’t tell when one number is bigger than another?

The BBC further provokes my suspicion as it continues later with:

“Women are still more likely to be repeatedly abused in the home than men and to be physically harmed. The latest Home Office figures for 2007/8 show 2.2% of women of any age said their partner used minor or severe force against them over the last year. The figure for men was slightly lower at 2.0%.”

So, a difference of 1% is ‘just as likely’, but a difference of 0.2% is ‘more likely’? Would someone mind telling me why this is?

The BBC are by no means the only ones to continue to show women as the bullied and men as the bullies. At least they seem to be trying to report the truth behind the matter, if a little ham-fistedly. Across the nation, organisations and campaigns run by the government, the media and others fail to recognise that men too can suffer and women too can harm.

Research by the Men’s Advice Line states that gay, bisexual and transgendered or transsexual men “experience domestic violence and abuse at similar levels to heterosexual women i.e. 1 in 4 within their lifetime.”

Why then are men almost entirely missing from campaigns? Why does the topic of domestic violence seem to assume an almost purely heterosexual male-to-female phenomenon? Where are all the straight male victims, where are all the men and women being abused in homosexual relationships?

Mankind, a male health charity, believes that the government, the police and the mechanisms used by women for support in cases of abuse are simply ignoring male victims, saying: “there are 500 refuges for female victims and that is probably not enough… There are only 12 for male victims”. The LGBT domestic violence charity Broken Rainbow points out that the current services ‘fall short’ for LGBT people.

The Home Office, however, believes it is making ‘significant progress’ towards stopping domestic violence, citing the funding of both the Domestic Violence Helpline (which it emphasises is 24-hour and free) and the Men’s Advice Line.

What it fails to emphasise is that the Domestic Violence Helpline is in fact strictly a female-only service. They will refuse to accept calls from male victims. No matter that the circumstances are essentially the same: that they are being abused by their partners, that they are scared and isolated and need help. They have testicles and thus are banned.

The Men’s Advice Line, to whom male victims are referred, far from being open-all-hours, operates only 30 hours a week.

So, what of this £3.5 million being spent ‘to help victims of domestic abuse’, eh, Jacqui Smith? Could it be that you’re talking out of your arse again? Because in the article detailing how the money will be used, straight female victims are mentioned consistently and exclusively until the 14th paragraph, where Broken Rainbow are finally allowed to point out that: “domestic violence is not a gender issue but a human issue”.

Not that everyone seems to see it that way.

The Men’s Advice Line is good enough to take male perpetrators under its wing as well as male victims, recognising that men can often be the abuser as well as the abused. But what of the main women’s helpline, run by Women’s Aid?

Clearly someone needs to deal with women who abuse, if the helpline for male victims also deals with male abusers then surely the helpline for female victims are the ones to deal with female abusers? Not so, it seems. The perpetrators page on the Women’s Aid website says:

“The vast majority of perpetrators of domestic violence are men, who deliberately use abusive behaviour to control their partners and former partners.

If you are a man who is worried about your behaviour towards your partner, or if you have been abusive or violent, you can get information from the Respect Phoneline.”

Assuming a female abuser even bothers to follow this link after basically being told they don’t exist they get to a page which does, somewhere in the small print, also claim to welcome calls from straight women, gay men and lesbians who abuse their partners. The two links actually offered for help on the page? Female victims and male abusers.

Ho hum.

Excuse me if I hope that some of you are feeling rather depressed, grumpy and cynical right about now. Lord knows I am.

It’s a disgusting situation. Men and women can both harm and be harmed. Men and women who are being abused need help and support, men and women who are abusive need to learn how to change. We need to look at why it is that female victims get so much press and men get ignored, laughed at, in the worst cases, criminalised for being abused.

After all, it isn’t a gender issue, it’s a human issue.

Read more stories of domestic violence against men on the BBC’s ‘Have Your Say’ page.

Odone and The Observer

♦ This blog will return to sexies soon, I promise. But I’m currently finding that my dear friend Comment is Free is taking up a good deal of my time. Puzzlebobble directed me towards this last article, and a more jumbled load of tosh I have not read.

Odone

Needless to say I commented but I really don’t know why I bother.

Lucikly this time probably 98% of comments also thought she was an imbecile. ♦

Why Women Disgust Me – Part 2

♦ My anti-feminist rant continues, huzzah! For the first part of this see Why Women Disgust Me – Part 1

So, this is the first debate about the points I moaned about from the Ann Summers party. Me and a couple of people who I shall name Bint and One Post, just for kicks :P

Bint said she’d rather continue being a feminist as she wanted gender equality. Not just for women, but for men as well.

Bint: There are guys around that believe women like being roughly-handled and have no feelings in our boobs or nether regions. A single experience with that kind of guy is sufficient to convince you of the ‘vibrators Vs men’ statement being true. You’ll probably come back with “why not just re-educate him?” to which I’ll just shrug and tell you that some guys just don’t wanna listen I guess.

Blacksilk: Odd. I rather like gender equality as well. Which is exactly why I hate feminism. Anyway, I really *do* like being handled roughly. Of course, not so much that I’ll exclude everything else, but I like it.

I’ve had encounters with a couple of men who were like that, but I didn’t even consider thinking the ridiculously ill thought-out notion that this instantly means that men are inferior to vibrators. If nothing else that idea ignores all the extra bits, besides sex, that a relationship brings. Sex is not everything. And even if it were I’d always take a real actual man over a bit of silicone and a motor.

Whether there are guys who are crap in the sack or not, and I’m sure there are just as I’m certain there are women who’d get nil points, to generalise that “you can do infinitely better on your own” is not just simple-minded but incredibly offensive. It sets back how men are viewed, and indeed how women are viewed, by a large amount.

Can it make a decent cup of tea?

Can it make a decent cup of tea though?

Bint: Mind you, the few men that I’ve had experience with were brief flings and so there was no real point trying with them. I just moved on and I got over it. Personally I’m not keen on sex toys as they seem like too much hassle for so little.

Anyway, the key reason I’d say I’m a feminist is because “feminism is not grounded in the basis of one’s gender, but in rejecting and refuting sexist oppression politically, socially, privately, linguistically, and otherwise.” (Blacksilk: I’d like to point out that this quote comes from Wikipedia. Truly a woman who knows where to get her facts from.)

Blacksilk: If feminism isn’t on the basis of one’s gender then why call it feminism? Why not call it egalitarianism or something like that? Anti-sexism, I-want-everyone-to-just-shut-up-and-be-equal-ism, whatever, but when you bring gender into the name that’s not a good sign.

Feminism is based on women. And it isn’t, on the whole, an equality movement. Feminists do not endorse, with equality, men’s rights. Feminism is, in fact, extremely sexist. And not just sexist to men, but even to women. Personally I think that much of feminism is more about women being ‘special’ than equal.

At this point it seems that Bint gave up and went home or something. Either way she didn’t have anything to reply to this. What worries me is that she mentioned she has a man. And a kid. I worry, really I do.

At this point some wandering passer-by seemingly decided to add their single comment.

One Shot: It’s incredible that there are any kids being born, when there’s so much man-hating. Not even the harshest dictators hate HALF the population, as these feminazis do. Let them live on their separate island in grass huts, free from the civilization ‘the patriarchy’ built for them. They can pleasure themselves all night, and claw at each other all day. We can definitely do without them.

Seemed like a decent sort, tee hee :P    Anyway….

Tune in next time for the third part of this little anti-feminist, Ann Summers-related tirade where we shall see the debate between yours truly, dear Fractal and the mighty ‘Femme’! ♦