Category Archives: Britain

Papa Needs a Brand New Brand

The thing about Russell Brand is, he’s not a bad fella. I have no doubts that his motives are well-intentioned, if a little (lot) self-serving. His clumsy manifesto seems routed in a genuine humanity and – at times – is well researched, and supported by some strong academic discourse.

 

Also, it’s pretty easy to pour scorn on Brand. He’s a character who admits to his own gargantuan ego, and said ego permeates every facet of his over-worked performance. He’s overbearing, smug, over-stylised, self-satisfied and seems to lack any sort of humility whatsoever, which is at odds with his frequent verbal attempts to be self-deprecating, in a false, “I think this, this and this [showboat face] but what do I know, Guv?” sort of way.

 

Despite all of this, there is something likeable about him. He is genuinely witty and robustly articulate, which has stood him in good stead when arguing with right-wingers and generally proffering his new-found revolutionary spoutings.

 

He’s managed to beguile Jeremy Paxman, Katy Perry and even some yank filmmakers, and there is no denying – even if you aren’t won over by his 19th century porno-pirate costume – that he does have some charismatic charm.

2011 MTV Video Music Awards Arrivals(2)But this new incarnation as leader of the People’s Revolution is fundamentally flawed on a number of levels, and someone needs to nip this shit in the bud before it gets any worse.

 

First, Brand is the sort of figure that the Ruling Class absolutely loves. The reason for this is because he poses no real threat to the establishment. I’m not talking about his ridiculous faux pas about not voting. It was a stupid, ill-advised point though. But it’s bigger than that.

 

Nobody in Whitehall is shitting themselves about Brand’s new brand of politics; they’re pissing themselves. And quite rightly.

 

You could look at the farcical, fucked-uppery of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson and their absurd bumblings, replete with deer-hunter hats and comedic slip-ups, but the truth is both of those people have a clear agenda.

 

Farage is preying on the irrational fears of the disenfranchised, with policies based on a hatred, which is anchored by fear and perpetuated by insidious propaganda.

 

Johnson… well, I’m not sure what the fuck Johnson is doing. He’s just a very lucky idiot and his village is London. Further proof that the north is the real intellectual hotbed of England.

 

But both of these people are politically successful with their gimmickry and personal indignities, because people feel let down by identikit, humourless politicians in too-tight suits, speaking in ridiculous sound bites they’re too afraid to deviate from.

 

Which should make Brand a dream for those wanting an alternative, which isn’t imbedded in racism or offensive gaffes.

 

The problem is, Brand isn’t really offering anything. He talks about revolution, and overthrowing hegemonic imperialism in the very broadest terms. And – put simply – revolution will not be about rhetoric, but action.

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The single most revolutionary event in the UK of the last ten years was the London Riots. It came about as a direct reaction to a perceived injustice over the death of Mark Duggan in August 2011. It was not orchestrated by any spokesperson, it did not need endless discussions about the distribution of power, but it was very clearly revolutionary.

 

More than any organised political demonstrations, sound biting, or posturing from self-appointed figureheads (bumbling, funny or otherwise) it was direct anti-establishment activity that absolutely threatened government and big business and was a clear demonstration of a general dissatisfaction, as well as a commitment (albeit anarchic and unstructured) to change.

 

Does this mean I think rioting is the solution to overthrowing our oppressors?

 

Perhaps not. The truth is, though, that is how revolution begins. And direct action is what’s needed in order to implement radical change. In any country that has achieved revolutionary political change within the last two hundred years, it always begins with the poor – very often the youngest poor (average age of the Bolshevik party members was fifteen) – rioting. It’s not something that will occur little by little through European Human Rights legislation, or workplace laws. Significant change will involve direct action, some of which will be unpleasant and possibly unlawful, because the laws only serve to protect those in power. By any means necessary, and all that.

 

The rhetoric used during the riots by politicians about the “real cost” of the riots being incurred by small business owners was clever, but misleading. The bigger cost came to the government, which is why rioters were so ridiculously penalised in the aftermath, and to insurance companies – who did their best to squirm from financial obligations, but ultimately lost a great deal. But nowhere near the cost that small business owners undertake to protect their businesses, so let’s not get daft about it.

 

I do think those riots were infinitely more meaningful than Russell Brand showboating on the Jonathan Ross Show. And more importantly, so do the establishment.

 

I’m under no illusion that Cameron and Co. are having a giggle about Brand’s antics, and despite the low-level attempts to smear him in the press, he pretty much smears himself because this new-found political identity is really just another vehicle for Brand’s ego.

 

He went from MTV Presenter, to comic, to DJ, to columnist, to full-time shagger, to film star and I don’t begrudge him any of it. Not even the shagging.

 

Do I think that Brand has a disrespectful attitude to women? Quite possibly, but not resoundingly so, and his well-documented succession of sexual partners doesn’t seem to form a pattern of promising women any sort of romantic future – aside, of course, from that one he married, but we can’t condemn someone for a failed marriage – so it’s all fair dos. In any case, I don’t think his attitude to women is overtly worse than any other man in the public eye. In fact, he always seems to be fairly respectful to the opinions of women he engages with publically, which is a step further than many other male celebrities.

 

The problem is though; this politics stuff is a folly. That’s the perception, and that’s the second biggest problem with Brand. He initially warmed us up with talk of revolutionary change in newspaper columns, with Paxman and on subsequent political panel shows and was received so favourably, that he wants to press on.

 

He’s a good orator and the more attention he receives the further he wants to take it. Cinemas up and down the country, screening Brand calling for (a very vague and unstructured) revolution, without equipping us with a strategy for what that revolutionary change will look like is pretty fucked up.

 

It’s actually quite dangerous. Someone who’s in it for the gratifying applause, but without the personal strength and long-term commitment to what is truly needed to lead people into action, is an easy target and a threat to positive change.

 

The other thing – and it’s fairly fucking pertinent – is that Brand is not an ordinary person. He’s from a working-class background, a recovering addict, and from a single-parent family, but he’s also a film star who marries pop stars in elaborate Asian ceremonies. Despite his funny and not-unreadable sports columns and chirpy cockney persona, he’s actually very rich, very well protected by law, and not subject to the same oppressive struggles some of the rest of us face. He’s white, he’s a man, and he lives his life indulging his faddy diets, trendy quasi-religious dabblings, and knocking around on film sets. If he wanted to be truly revolutionary he’d give up his wealth, refuse to work with film companies that operate in intrinsically capitalist ways and reject much of what it is he’s attempting to convince us he is opposed to. That’s the truth.

 

It might sound churlish to ask him to make such personal sacrifice, but if he is sincerely speaking of revolution, whilst living in a way that contradicts this sort of change, how can anyone take it seriously?

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It’s very easy of course, to be cynical and dismissive of those speaking political truths by dismantling them as people. The truth is, much of what Brand is saying is absolutely right. Therefore shouldn’t we just be glad that someone is saying it? It seems that that is what Brand is asking of us. To accept the sincerity of what it is he saying, whilst accepting he is a flawed leader and himself a part of the establishment, without asking anything else of him personally.

 

Let him talk a good talk, which is at the very least progress because not enough other people are doing it well, and because he is a high profile figure? Well, ok except that – and this is my final major point – much of what he is peddling is not his own work.

 

For years, Brand has incorporated little snippets of intellectual trivia into his act so as to make him appear more knowledgeable and worldly. I never really minded, because we all do it to a certain extent and because when he was on Big Brother’s Big Mouth and referring to his cock as a winkle, and interspersing it with throwaway comments about Wittgenstein, it was entertaining. His flourishes could be a bit annoying, but on the whole the whimsy was fun.

 

It’s not fun when you’re using the work of other academics – sometimes successfully, and sometimes slightly clumsily and out of context – to peddle your own career in entertainment.

 

You’re an entertainer or you’re a politician because this shit is too important to use as a public wank vehicle. It might not be as important to you, with your LA mansion, famous mates and blood-type diet. But for the people you’re purporting to represent it really is life and fucking death.

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We All Know What You Are

I’m loathe to write a blog about Ched Evans, given the fact that everyone else has written about him, and also because it’s about the most straightforward thing you could ever write about. It transcends an opinion piece, because an opinion piece suggests several truths and in this case there is only one:

 

A man had sex with a woman who was too drunk to definitively consent. Sex without consent is rape. The end.

 

There is nothing remotely interesting about this case. We’ve seen women defend their spousal rapists before. We’ve seen family members defend their rapist relatives before. I mean – to a very slight extent – there is something very unusual that it is not the crime they’re disputing, but whether or not what occurred actually constitutes a crime. They have been told, in a criminal court case, at subsequent appeal hearings, and by everyone with even the slightest sense of humanity and intellectual comprehension that rape does not fall within a narrow set of behaviours, but is an umbrella term for sex without consent. That should make it easier for people, and yet it doesn’t.

 

The Justice for Ched Evans campaign have systematically embarrassed themselves for over three years and much more significantly, have hounded the rape victim to an extent where she has been given a new identity after being labelled a slag and worse by fellow footballers, and others.

 

Recently released, there is some debate about whether or not Ched Evans should be allowed to play football again, and the answer is: he absolutely shouldn’t. Many job vacancies aren’t open to criminals – even as minimum wage employees – this is an additional price convicted criminals often pay for crime, and personally I’m not sure this is fair, but it is a resounding truth. The idea, however,  that someone earning many times over the minimum wage in a highly competitive industry and being held up as an example for young people should continue gainful employment in the same industry after being convicted of rape, is abhorrent and offensive.

 

The fact is though, he will continue to play football. We hear about the humanity in second chances. We only really hear about the beauty of second chances when it comes to crimes like rape and domestic violence and a plethora of misogynistic crimes, and the reason we hear about the power of the second chance is because those calling for it are usually indulging their own latent misogyny.

 

We do not – for example – hear about giving second chances to convicted terrorists and bank robbers. We also, as a society, tend to overlook the systemic issues affecting drug addicts and the reasons they burglarise us. No, the alarming charitable consideration afforded to people like Ched Evans is because misogynists want to indulge other misogynists.

 

I will not spend any time while I’m writing this focussing on the victim. Much has been made of comments she made after she was raped, but these are irrelevant. Equally, so is her intoxication. I have been very, very drunk in my lifetime, and the chances are, so have you. I do not deserve to be raped. If what we are asking of women is to never be vulnerable to potential rapists, it would rule out almost every conceivable activity on the planet. Women have been raped at work, at school, as children, by teachers, by doctors, by nurses, by spending short amounts of time with celebrities… why do we still consider it reasonable to critique the behaviours of rape victims, as opposed to the rapist every single fucking time?

 

What knickers did she have on? How drunk was she? How many boyfriends has she had?

 

Michael Buerk this week said that Ched Evans’ rape victim, “deserved no credit due to her being drunk.” And Judy Finnegan (I just feel like smacking my fucking head on a wall repeatedly when it’s a woman) said on Loose Women this week that the rape was, “Unpleasant…” but then added that the victim had “…had too much to drink.”

 

Why is the girl the issue? Why has the victim in this case – and many other rape cases – been centralised? What behaviours could we be looking at? What do we all agree as a society are the sort of behaviours and sexual history that constitute reason for someone being able to have sex with you without your express consent?

 

There’s a prevailing sense that some rapes are more rapey than others, when they aren’t. There’s also an idea – usually proposed by men, and even sung about by Robin Thicke – that sexual consent isn’t always explicit and overt and that there is ambiguity in sexual consent.

 

There isn’t.

 

There never is.

 

If there’s any ambiguity, ask. If there’s still ambiguity, don’t.

 

There was also some talk by Judy Finnegan about violence and brutality.

 

Rape is always a violent act, because it’s a violation. It’s a violation if you fucked the person half an hour earlier when they consented and now they don’t. It’s a violation if you’re married, or in a relationship. It’s a violation if you’re on a date, if the girl is absolutely hammered, or if you’re high. Sex without consent is about power, control and violating someone. Rape is used in war and in prisons as a mode of brutalisation. So regardless of whether or not someone is known to you, has chased you down an alley, or got into bed with you after you came home drunk with their mate… if you are incapable of, or have not given your consent, you’ve been raped and therefore brutalised.

 

But as I say, I didn’t want to blog about Evans. I didn’t want to write about Ched Evans mostly because he’s a thick, rapist. He’s from a family of thick, rapist-apologist bores and they’ve all already had too much of our attention. We’ve indulged them into thinking there is any debate whatsoever about whether or not Ched is a rapist. There isn’t, because he is.

 

The Justice for Ched campaign – never a more profoundly ridiculous title was given to a group of such inbred, woman-haters since the Tea Party Movement in North America – don’t dispute the act. Their problem is that they don’t know what rape is.

 

Ched Evans’ mother this week had the audacity to claim Ched had been a victim of online feminists, of which I am one. I find it hard to afford her any compassion, because more crucially I’m a mother. I love my son unconditionally, and would continue to love him if he’d raped someone. But I would live the rest of my life in absolute torment to have raised a creature who thought so little of a woman that he would think it legitimate to not garner consent to have sex with her, rape her and let me spend over three years making a mockery out of other women and myself by trying to defend him.

 

The thing is, Ched could spend the next ten years playing magnificent football. He could win World Cups (unlikely – Welsh) and live in extravagant mansions with a steady stream of pretty women after he inevitably bins off this one who’s made a holy show of herself for three years (although he’s probably going to have to marry her first), and he could get hundreds of awards and accolades. But ultimately, it’s not online feminists who convicted Ched Evans, it’s the British Justice System. The British Justice System who only ever manage to jail around 3% of actual rapists, so it’s fairly fucking conclusive.

 

No, if I were Mrs Evans I’d ask why I failed in my duty to raise a son who didn’t rape women. Perhaps if she were the sort of woman who had a clearer understanding of what rape constitutes, she’d have been able to impart this on her thick rapist son, and maybe… just maybe… none of us would have had to endure this ridiculous, non-existent debate.


No-one likes a Rick Tease

We all know lots of people who hate reality television, because they feel it affords them – by the very rejection of it – a certain intellectual gravitas…

 

“Ugh, how can you watch this shit?” they sneer, as you chuck the remote control at their condescending fucking faces.

 

The answer is of course, you watch it because, whilst you appreciate this is a staged and often scripted reality, edited and -in many cases – directed toward a conclusion that ultimately reinforces patriarchal, capitalist hegemony, you really want to see the fragility of humanity reflected back at you so you feel less repulsed by yourself and, ultimately, less alone.

 

Plus you really like watching people twat each other.

 

But while the Anti-Reality TV crowd – much like the Anti-McDonalds crowd – are miserable, obsessive, neo-liberal twats, there’s no denying they do have a bit of a point.

 

X Factor’s become unwatchable.

 

There’s nothing I love more than watching a Fish Factory worker from Dudley have their dreams dashed after a four-minute sob story about how their dead granddad wanted them to make it past boot camp more than he wanted to recover from a terminal illness, but all the fun has been taken out of dream-bashing by having to watch Cheryl Cole try to squeeze a tear out after a particularly sketchy version of “Get Here if You Can.”

 

Last week reached new levels of bore after Simon Cowell (replete with three-day-old-bloated-corpse face) kept making hilarious gags about how a woman was the “twin” of Cheryl Cole, because she’d worn a Cole-esque outfit and was singing Cole’s hit singles (I’m using the word “hit” here very loosely). And Cole had a sort of “I’ll allow Simon to take the piss here, because I’m clearly spectacularly attractive and an all-round superior human to this woman…” expression as we mocked said elder woman who couldn’t sing, but otherwise didn’t really resemble Cole. But let’s not forget we’re only a decade on since Cole was doing Community Service for drunkenly assaulting a nightclub toilet assistant, so let’s not start queuing for our Damehood just yet, cocker.

Cheryl-Cole32

And there is something very odd about a load of poor people watching a load of poor people being ridiculed by several decidedly unworthy rich people.

 

Jeremy Kyle, for instance. That’s a rum state of affairs, isn’t it?

 

He hates every woman that he encounters, unless he finds them attractive and when he does his surmising of the domestic dispute is that the fella involved “Cannot believe his luck, landing someone like her…”

 

He stands, surrounded by eighteen stone bodyguards, screaming, “I’m not scared of you, mate!!”as spittle flies out of his angry body, shrouded in an ill-fitting Burton suit.

 

“Get a jobbbb!” screams professional oppressor Kyle, as he’s handed those “all-important DNA test results.” A sentiment that is resolutely echoed by the rest of us as we observe the jumped-up little shit in action.

Jeremy Kyle looking aggressive

This bear-baiting thing has been raised before, I’m adding nothing new. But it’s not the actual bear-baiting that most repulses me. I can read between the lines. I know my own political position. I know that I’ve never hated a single Jeremy Kyle guest with the same ardent fervor that I despise Kyle himself, and nor will I.

 

But, what has really prompted my break up with reality television, more than even X Factor and the insufferable Kyle (I can’t watch Kyle) was the recent series of Celebrity Big Brother.

 

Actually, not the whole series, because I just dipped in and out.

 

But there’s a certain scene that plays out on nearly every reality television show that involves romance and relationships. And that is the concept of the Reality TV Pricktease.

 

The Reality TV Pricktease – much like her better-known cousin, Common or Garden Pricktease – doesn’t actually exist, of course.

 

The idea that attractive young women (they tend to be young and attractive) spend their days constructing a situation in which they want a man to feel he is definitely going to have penetrative intercourse with them, in order to willfully and deliberately refrain from said intercourse in a bid to… what? …Humiliate? …Subjugate? …Irritate said man? is as mythical as it is ridiculous.

 

The reason it serves us in wider society is because we all want to fuck the person we want to fuck, and society is weighted in favour of men. We live in a world in which men are more willing to say, “This woman doesn’t want to fuck me because SHE has a problem” (in this case a frankly laughable strategy to want him to fuck her, so she can cruelly refute his advances), than, “This woman doesn’t want to fuck me because I might not be particularly fuckable to her.”

 

Variations of this “Pricktease” problem occur on every Reality TV show (Geordie Shore, TOWIE, Big Brother, Real Housewives of Barrow-in- Furness etc) in nearly every possible permeation at some point, but this recent Big Brother thing just tipped the scales for me.

 

In this series, it was about some mid-twenties girl from TOWIE who had snogged some mid-twenties lad from Geordie Shore who apparently “really liked her.”

 

This resulted in loads of conversations, some of which were initiated by older FEMALE members of the house saying, “It could look a bit like you were leading him on…”

 

Leading him on for WHAT?!

 

What the girl involved tried to assert, but was slightly too thick to do properly, was that she fancied him at one point so she had a flirt, but then she stopped fancying him.

 

AND THAT’S THE FUCKING NATURE OF SEXUAL AGENCY.

 

On a more serious point, this is what people miss about some instances of rape (cue outraged responses that i likened Celebrity Big Brother to rape and that I want to chop dicks off and ‘why do these feminists want equal wages but they still want flowers?’ shite.)

 

We should be teaching women that if you fancy someone and then stop fancying them – for WHATEVER FUCKING REASON WHATSOEVER – that’s perfectly legitimate.

 

Further, flirt with who the fuck you want to for as long as you want to, and your future intentions – romantic or sexual – are completely legitimate and entirely up to you and flirting is not a precursor to ANYTHING.

 

I was genuinely watching women over 30 tell a woman under 30 on British Television in 2014 that she “wasn’t being fair” on some absolute half-wit, because “he really liked her.”

 

I heard the words, “Poor Ricky…” (Ricky is the half-wit’s name).

 

Poor Ricky got to have a snog with someone he really fancied, but she doesn’t want to snog him again.

 

Let’s do a charity gig.

 

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The implication being that it’s unfair to kiss someone if they fancy you, unless the kissing is a precursor to intercourse or a relationship, or unless the kiss signified a mutual attraction.

 

2014.

 

I don’t know the reasons why one woman would even come to the conclusion that another woman is a Pricktease, because a Pricktease is a less convincing concept than The Loch Ness Monster.

 

What could one possibly gain from being a Pricktease? Perhaps we’re buying into this idea that because society has commodified women and reduces them to their aesthetic sexual worth that when women flirt with a man they may gain certain financial or emotional privileges from said man. But what this does is suggest that the man in the situation has either a) gained pleasure from the flirtation – in which case, everyone’s a winner, or he has b) assumed the flirtation releases the woman from her own sexual agency, which is pretty sinister.

 

So why, instead of sitting him down and saying, “She’s using you mate…” or sitting her down and saying, “Stop flirting with half-wit because he fancies you and you’re leading him on”, weren’t the conversations with him saying, “Wayhey you fancied her and she snogged you, you gormless dickhead! Don’t think she wants to shag you though, so stop moping and acting like she is obliged to because it’s 2014, she can do what the fuck she wants with her face and body, and let’s face it mate, you’re fairly unfuckable’?

 

I’m going to teach my male progeny that if a girl straddles your dick and then decides she wants to get off, be pleased about the dick straddle and look forward to an era where a woman’s fanny is her own.

 

And while I do appreciate Reality TV is a staged and often scripted reality, edited and -in many cases – directed toward a conclusion that ultimately reinforces patriarchal, capitalist hegemony and I really want to see the fragility of humanity reflected back at me so I feel less repulsed by myself and, ultimately, less alone; it actually made me feel more repulsed with myself for watching, and I felt infinitely more alone.

 

 


Why I Hate Banter – Rape Culture and Football

I woke up this morning wondering whether I was a megalomaniac arsehole.

And as I demanded family members make me brews and bacon butties, and revelled in the sheer majesty of my own reflection, I concluded thusly:

“No, Goddess. No you’re not.”

I’d been worried because I’d fallen out with some people as a consequence of a few on-line episodes involving misogyny and complicity. Which seems a ridiculous thing to get wound up about. Unless you’re an intelligent woman, in touch with culture and society, and have spent more than 45 seconds online.

You see, I didn’t particularly want to be an online feminist. I just wanted to bore the arse off people with pictures of my dinner and have a few digs at Coldplay like everyone else. But the problem is, I like football.

I like football, and I also like… and call me Mrs Picky… earning the same as men for the same job, feeling safe if I get pissed, not being judged on a different moral compass purely on account of the vagina, not being statistically more likely to be raped, or killed/ battered by a partner and the list goes on.

So where to start…? Ok, here:

Football and Feminism are not incompatible. Far from it.

From 1885 when working class people had successfully fought for the sport to allow professional participants, right up until the late 1900’s when a variety of factors changed the game beyond recognition – working class males were the imperfect audience for football.

Which brings us the combination of factors that have changed the landscape of modern football, to which many of us object. A grotesque mostly deliberate/ part accidental culmination of the formulation of the Premier League, an expensive television rights bidding war and the Taylor Report which resulted in all seater- stadia that led, in conjunction with new money in the game, to huge corporate areas and a focus on families (rich families) planted a seed in football which has led to the entire sport becoming a massive pile of corporate steaming shite that bears little resemblance to football past.

I’ve shorthanded there. Fuck it.

The very worst thing that modern football has done, however is to create a generation of real dickheads who “love” the sport.

These people are often from places like Shropshire or Surrey, and so have been shielded from the effects that football has had on big cities. They started liking football in the 1990s and are ignorant of the inherent politics that underpins football historically.

No sense of pride or value, they instead trawl the internet and use forums to espouse a caricature of manliness that they have been fed since around 1992 from FHM and those other shithouse publications. It’s a new version of misogyny that is directly entrenched in the values of modern football.

New media doesn’t help. The online football fans represent a very tiny minority of those who actually regularly go and watch live football, and very few people I know personally who have a season ticket have any online presence whatsoever.

Which means that a lot of the people we see on the internet participating in this modern football “banter” disease, subjugating women, targeting specific women and then hounding them in groups, tweeting disgusting shite to famous people, mocking tragedies etc… They should be considered victims.

They are victims of modern football, in much the same way others are.

I am regularly engaging with knobheads on the internet about what constitutes Rape Culture. Rape Culture is the prevailing sense that misogyny at a small group level, if not confronted, is connected to rape.

Those older, working class football fans who have a sense of understanding about struggle and a political perspective get it. Of course they do.

You’d have to be dense as all FRIG not to understand that when mates don’t say to their mates… ‘What you’re saying there is wrong” this leaves the misogynist under the impression that they have social approval.

That’s what Rape Culture is  and I apologise for patronising those of you with basic intellect for spelling it out so crudely.

You look at long-term football attendees who are a couple of generations older and they make off-colour jokes, they buy Viz, they have the craic… but there is no fucking way they’d participate in calling women a slut in groups. Online, or anywhere else.

No one I know – not even from rough as arseholes areas of Manchester – no one I know who is over 35 is a) gonna participate in bullying women at the football or b) allow other groups of men to do it.

In terms of football; it’s a new thing.

Every week new footballers are being charged with sexual assault. The focus is aimed at women who are drinking more, because of ladette culture (another media construct – guess which gender and class own the fucking media, fuckos?), not on the fact that these young kids are all over the fucking internet espousing views they’ve directly inherited from this shitehawk modern football, lad culture.

Because football has become so corporate, it’s no surprise that we see the trend for violence in sport being reflected in corporate capitalist America. We saw it recently in the Steubenville Rape case. A very insidious, new media-led misogyny serving to make women the focus of what is clearly a male problem.

Even Richard Keys – the poisonous little gnome – trying to ingratiate himself with the much younger Jamie Redknapp using the infamous “Would you smash it?” The visible look of disdain on Jamie’s face as he tried to hold onto his dinner, under his skinny tie.

George Lineker on twitter every day speaking about women like they are pieces of shite, meanwhile his father – the most prolific football presenter in the country – never publicly bollocks him.

Like I said, those people entrenched in football-fan misogyny are victims. They are victims of modern football, and in a very real sense, victims in life. They live for a football, the roots of which they are not in touch with, God love ‘em. Plus they’re mostly witless.

The real problem I have is with those people who are complicit. This is why I get narked. You expect people who express themselves as socialists, or as intelligent or compassionate to have the balls to stand up to their mates.

But we live and learn.

For the record, if you see a woman being abused by a man in the street it is always best to intervene if you feel able. Equally, if you’re maintaining friendships with people who bully women and you’re aware of it, you’re complicit in that bullying.

I will use this opportunity to say that I am fully aware that misogyny is not limited to football – modern or otherwise – and that footballers and fans have treated women badly prior to 1992. What I refer to here is a very specific sort of woman-hating that is directly linked to football within the last 20 years or so.

On a final note, I am fucking devastated Gandolfini is dead. He was the sort of guy that these new-age misogynists look up to, and would have as a picture on their social network account. Without even thinking for one fucking minute that this hero of theirs would never -in a million yearssss – been caught spending hours on football forums bullying women in order to solicit the approval of other men.


Death of a Tyrant

When you look at the smug, self-congratulatory faces of people like Toby Young (still firmly entrenched in the unrequited love of Julie Burchill) and Louise Mensch (a failure as both a politician and social network figurehead, business partner with a pervert, and mediocre fashion blogger) as they have the sheer audacity to equate the jubilation at the long awaited demise of Margaret Thatcher with a proposed lack of dignity, one can’t help but be reminded of the dignity of the people of South Africa when Thatcher dragged her feet at a trade embargo which might have ended apartheid sooner. One is also reminded of the dignity of the families tortured by Pinochet, Thatcher’s close personal friend and advocate. At the same time we are reminded of the dignity of:

 

 

Nelson Mandela; described by Thatcher as a terrorist.

 

Hundreds of thousands of Irish families who during her reign suffered as a consequence of inadequate and barbaric policy; from Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strikers, to those wrongfully imprisoned for acts of terror such as The Guildford Four, not to mention the millions of families on both sides who suffered as a consequence of an inhumane reluctance to face the responsibility of fair negotiation.

 

The families of those engaged in Trade Union activity during the miner’s strikes of the mid 80’s; when thousands of the very poorest communities stood by one another, united in political opposition to the decimation of their livelihoods, living without a wage in order to try (but ultimately painfully fail) in retaining the working traditions of a great many towns and villages.

 

The people of Argentina who suffered as a consequence of a relatively unpopular politician instigating a war, purely to win it and curry favour for an election win.

 

The many millions of people rendered unemployed during her reign.

 

The families of those who went to prison for non-payment of the Poll Tax – which ultimately led to Thatcher’s political demise.

 

The families of those killed at Hillsborough who fought for over 23 years to receive justice for being characterized as responsible for the deaths of 96 of their own, vilified in the press and effectively ignored and penalized by Thatcher’s government.

 

 

The truth is, if I were to sit here listing those people who have remained dignified during Thatcher’s reign of terror, I could be here for a great number of days.

 

Throughout my life I have had sanctions placed on my life as a consequence of Margaret Thatcher.

 

I knew a woman who died after being beaten to death by her husband, despite trying to seek refuge for which there was no facility available during Thatcher’s reign. I know people who went to prison for non-payment of Poll Tax. I know a Miner’s wife who asked my mum for tea bags, because she’d run out and she was bawling in front of me (I was five) because she didn’t know how she was going to survive. We were robbed so often in one week when I lived in a flat in Manchester as a baby, that the final burglary resulted in them taking the old carpets. We were homeless twice and I had to sleep in one double bed with my mum for six months before we were rehoused.

 

This isn’t gross sentimentality, or bandwagon jumping, or trend-led loony leftism: this is my truth. I don’t know anyone Bin Laden, Saddam, or Hitler killed. But the 1980’s were a climate of destruction that I lived in.

 

I hold Thatcher responsible.

 

Not because I want to gift her with the inaccurate and frankly insulting characteristics being afforded by the media. The truth is she didn’t hold on to her principles, she regularly back peddled. She didn’t stay true to herself, she spent years receiving elocution lessons. She wasn’t autonomous; she had teams of Machiavellian, barbaric, chinless advisors. She was an out and out failure as a parent, raising a vile criminal and celebrity kangaroo cock eater. She wasn’t anything approaching a feminist, as a transparent manpleaser (like all Tory women, engaged in a branch of politics that actively serve to undermine them, just like Dorries, Mensch etc) the purpose of her life was to please and accommodate men, she was regularly described as a flirt and she surrounded herself with male advisors, only acknowledging her own gender when it was personally rewarding.

 

Thatcher must be held responsible not because of anything she was as a person. She was insubstantial, pathetic and fundamentally deeply self loathing – how else does one distance themselves from their working class roots and subjugated gender, than by surrounding themselves by rich men and establishing laws that only serve to protect only them?

 

Thatcher is just a token; she is just a figurehead for evilness. But she is a figurehead nonetheless.

 

And to those who say speaking ill of the dead is undignified, we have to look at the dignity of a woman who died in much the same way as she lived, having spent the last four months in a luxury hotel: lavishly, obscenely and offensively out of touch with the rest of the UK.

 

As for the pomposity of her funeral, let’s take comfort in the fact that the grander the occasion, the bigger the party. Fuck dignity.

 

We should not be silenced at her death, in the way we were silenced throughout her life. We don’t just have a right to celebrate, we have a duty.