Tag Archives: sexism

Witty but woebegone

Woody Allen rant

If 2016 was the year of celebrity deaths, 2017 was surely the annum of celebrity downfalls.

Sparked by the toppling of one of Hollywood’s most prolific alleged sex pests Harvey Weinstein, an entire balustrade of power-wielding, pussy-grabbing men has come tumbling down in recent months; Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and Brett Ratner head up a very lengthy list. Of course, the most powerful man on the planet has had many a finger pointed in his orange direction, but so far, to no avail…as has another wormy, smarmy, self-obsessed star.

For some bizarre reason, Woody Allen is still being allowed to make movies. Every fucking year. Despite having been openly accused of kiddy fiddling by his own adopted kiddy, and then going on to marry another adopted kiddy, the man still is given free rein to populate our cinemas with inane, pseudo-intellectual babble about himself, his ego and his unquenchable libido. Hell, Allen has even come out in support of the unanimously maligned Weinstein, causing chip-off-the-old-block Donny Trump Jnr to wade into these murkiest of waters and slam the weedy, wordy, whiny comic. When The Donald’s spawn is providing the voice of reason, you know you’re headed up thon creek without thon paddle.

Now, these allegations against Allen are of course highly disturbing, and shouldn’t be trivialised or swept under the carpet. But there is a case to be made for the idea that the personal life of an artist shouldn’t interfere in the appreciation of their artistry. Throughout history, genius scumbags have gotten off scot-free with their scumbaggery precisely because they were capable of rising above it in their professional life. Caravaggio was a do-badder of the highest order, Picasso reputedly bullied and battered the fairer sex and Michael Jackson’s status as the King of Pop was briefly compromised by his inability to stay away from the royal play pen. Despite this, all three are hailed as prodigies and virtuosos – and they’re by no means the only ones. Hindsight in particular has a habit of encouraging us to look past a man’s faults and assess his creative output apart.

Applying that dictum to Allen, we can shelve the (unproven) allegations about inappropriately touching his seven-year-old foster daughter Dylan and the (very much proven) allegations about inappropriately cheating on his partner with her latest adoptee Soon-Yi and inappropriately marrying said adoptee at a later date. Put the philandering and paedophiliac accusations aside, and assess the man’s art with the cold, analytical eye of a movie lover…and the point still stands. How the fuck is this man still being allowed to make movies?

For one thing, he has a serious hard-on for the Big Apple. Sure, no problem; New York is a vibrant city, who wouldn’t love to live there? The thing is, Woody does live there – and he won’t fucking shut up about it. He has 77 writing credits and almost as many directorial credits on IMDb, and the vast majority of those are set in or around the iconic US city. Sure, he had a brief spell over the last decade where he tried to branch out with stories set in major European metropoles like Barcelona, Paris and Rome – but he’s returned to his old stomping ground of late. There’s a new movie in the pipeline for 2018, too. Of course there fucking is. Guess what it’s called. A Rainy Day in New York. Shock horror.

Indeed, that title could even be a microcosm for the career of this cringe-inducing cynical upstart with a preoccupation for all things sexual, especially if it involves far prettier and far younger things than himself. Allen never tires of casting himself in the lead role as a witty but woebegone writer/actor/comic/megalomaniac who is irresistible to the most beautiful ladies Hollywood has to offer. Without doubt, he’ll include more than one wrangling, hand-wringing monologue on the foibles and frustrations of modern life, pretending to address hard-hitting philosophical questions but really just showing off his ability to construct a wordy shell of a joke without a substantial punchline of an interior. What’s more, nasal kvetching about the injustice of life rings more than a little hollow when it’s delivered inside the grandest of New York apartments, which more often than not feature a grand piano or a chaise longue. If things were really that bad, Woody, you’d have put an end to them long ago. A bullet to the head would be infinitely more effective in curbing your woes than squeezing pithy, cynical one-liners out of them.

Yet for all his repetition and irritation, the man is still revered as one of America’s finest directors. He regularly reels in all manner of A-list glitz and glamour to tart up his dreary cinematic turds. How can this happen? How can the flesh-and-blood incarnation of Arty Ziff continue to thrive in the 21st century? Weinsteingate is an opportunity to still Allen’s “busy hands” once and for all, yet his unabating ability to crank out filmic faecal matter by the wheelbarrowload just demonstrates that even the current epoch of scandal and censure isn’t enough to topple this wiry-haired weasel off his perch.

With new stories emerging every day, there’s still time for him to come unstuck – and let’s hope he duly does. If not for his victims, at least for future generations of cinemagoers. For God’s sake, won’t somebody please think of the children?

No ghost

I finally know what it feels like to be a man. Specifically, I know what it feels like to be a man watching superhero movies, or Bond, or Star Trek, or pretty much any fucking movie ever. I’ve seen the new Ghostbusters, and I swaggered out of that cinema feeling like I could punch a lion in the throat.

Is this it? Is this how it feels to watch representations of yourself kick several shades of ass on the big screen? And if so: how has it taken this long? Do you know how cheated I feel that I had to wait until I was thirty-bastard-eight years old before this happened? And how many levels of angry I am with all the whiny manbabies who hate the concept of a female Ghostbusters? I mean, I was angry with them before. But now I’ve seen it, and now I know how great it made me feel, I’m beyond furious.

Continue reading No ghost

The wounded antelope

You’ve probably already read the statement by the woman who was sexually assaulted by former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who last week was given six fucking months for the crime. If you haven’t, you know where to find Google. Go and read it. I’ll be right here, waiting.

Back? Good. Six fucking months. He could have got up to 14 years. Prosecutors asked for six years. The judge gave him six fucking months in county jail and probation because, quote, “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him”.

That’s why I told you to go and read the statement by the woman he assaulted, to realise the “severe impact” it had on her. When she woke up in hospital after a booze blackout, she gradually found out she been left half naked behind a dumpster after Turner had fingered her so severely she had internal abrasions. Oh yeah, and this shining beacon of humanity ran off after two guys spotted what was going on and intervened.

One thing – among many horrific things – in that statement stood out for me.

Continue reading The wounded antelope

Private property

I, along with many other people, recently became aware of a waste of oxygen going by the name of Roosh V. Roosh V is a “pick up artist” – in other words, he uses pressure and tricks to get his dick wet and then tells other men how to do the same. Because sex is a right, you guys. And those bitches don’t want to give us our rights, so let’s take it anyway.

Truly, in the words of Germaine Greer, women have very little idea how much men hate them.

One of the more appalling ideas Roosh V has suggested is that rape should be legal if done on private property. Of course, now this has got mass media publicity, he’s pulled out the favourite last-resort of all douchebags, which is ‘lighten up would you, it was a joke’.

If you actually read this piece of crap, you’ll see it appears to be telling women not to drink and “follow a strange man into a bedroom”; thereby taking the onus off men not to rape women, or get women drunk and then rape women, or find a woman incapable of making rational decisions and prey on her in order to rape women, but on women to protect our bodies like the delicate, precious flowers that we are. And let’s not even get started on the fact that most women are raped by people they know, not strangers.

But here’s the thing, Roosh V. Your ‘satirical’ blog post doesn’t even work as satire. You’ve not thought through your premise carefully enough for it to be funny. I’m sorry that it’s taken a lady to point this out, but here we go.

All private property, Roosh V? All of it? So if I go to a male friend’s house for dinner, have I consented to sex with him? What about with his flatmates? If he rents, have I now given the landlord consent to have sex with me? Or just the tenants? Or not even the tenants? After all, it’s not their property. If you’re proposing a new form of droit du seigneur then I expect buy to let sales to go through the roof, and that’s the last thing London needs right now.

You, Roosh V, say I should never be unchaperoned with a man I don’t want to sleep with. How about if I go to a female friend’s house and they go to the loo, or nip out to Sainsbury’s for some more pitta bread? Is it OK for the other, male, guest to rape me while they’re out?

What about at work, Roosh V? Offices are private property. Can Bob from accounts pin me to the wall by the throat in the stationery cupboard and have his way with me without fear of reprisal from HR?

And how about private public spaces, Roosh V? More London, that area around City Hall in the big bad British capital, is technically private property. If I’m admiring the view of Tower Bridge, can any passer-by unzip himself and grapple beneath my skirt as the whim arises? Or is that pleasure reserved for the security guards who tell people to stop taking photos of City Hall?

There’s just too much ambiguity in your ‘satire’, Roosh V. You would never make it as a stand-up. You probably think women don’t have a sense of humour, don’t you Roosh V? Sadly, you’re just not funny. Even though you’re a joke.

Hey sexy

Let me tell you what happened to me: I’m walking down my street after leaving my flat, dry cleaning in hand, bag and laptop slung over my shoulder. It’s a Friday afternoon in a busy and bustling area of east London. My neighborhood is half working class and half artsy-hipster crowd. Not that where you live should have any bearing on what happened. I have had equally humiliating experiences in neighborhoods of every socioeconomic stripe.

My neighborhood is a good neighborhood where I feel safe 99 percent of the time. But not today. As I walk down the street I notice I am coming up on a group of men standing around near the end of my apartment block. I don’t know them, have never seen them or spoken to them before.

Yet as I approach, they murmur to me, ‘Hey sister…hey baby…hey beautiful.” I knew this was coming – I have a sixth sense for these situations now – and tense up immediately, my eyes forward as I continue down the sidewalk.

I turn the corner. A drunk, homeless man mumbles something. I am polite, so I stop and say: “Excuse me?” He repeats what he said and I am immediately sorry when he asks me to perform an activity that starts with F and ends with me feeling a gross mixture of surprise and disgust.

I continue, stopping at the dry cleaner. On my way out I run into a group of teenage boys, who start making noises I’m already determined not to hear. As I rush past them, one of them tries to grab my hand crooning, “Hey sexy…where you going?” I shake him off and keep walking, the color rising in my cheeks.

I stop at the post office to mail my postcards and as I leave a delivery man on a scooter waiting for a traffic light shouts, “Sweetheart!” and gives me what could only be described as a lascivious gesture. I throw up a hand to signal to him to leave me alone and continue walking, now head down, determined to get to the library.

My heart is racing, my blood is pumping, shame and anger is rising within me alongside rage and frustration on a fundamental level. I get to the library and exchange my books without incident. My shoulders start to relax a little as I leave. Finally I see my destination. As I walk towards it, almost running, I don’t even have the thought, “This is London, wtf?” Because it doesn’t matter. It never matters. This is the world women live in. I am shaking when I reach my final destination. There are tears in my eyes.

Do men know? Do they know what this does to women? How it makes us feel? Even when we know we shouldn’t, even when we know it’s them that’s the problem and not us, do they know the shame, the degradation, the embarrassment it produces? How threatened we can feel? Do they know and just not care?

Or do they honestly not know? Can they not put themselves in our place and think, “She’s someone’s mother/wife/sister/daughter” and then not do that stuff? Do they realize how on edge we feel, never knowing how to respond? Whether we should or not? Whether it will lead to violence if we do? Or violence if we don’t?

Then there is always the fear, the apprehension that accompanies these interactions. What to do? If I purposely cross the street before I get to a large group of men who I am worried will harass me, will they come after me or catcall me anyway? Or should I just brave it out and walk through them hoping they’ll be kind? If they make a comment and I put my chin up and pretend I’m not fazed, will they do it again the next time they see me thinking I like that kind of thing?

Will it get worse in the moment as they try to get a reaction out of me? If I yell at a man who says rude or disgusting things to me, if I push a man who’s grabbed my hand as I walk past, will he call me a bitch? A cunt? A whore? Will he hit me? And if he did, would anyone step in and help me? Most men are bigger than I am. I take it for granted they are stronger.

If a man or a group of men whip out their camera phones and take pictures of me, what do I do? If a man or a group of men says horrible things to me or touches me, however slight, I can, technically, yell at him or fight back. Technically. But how likely is it that I would come out on top?

And what if it happens at night? Just me and him, or them, on a dark street? What might happen to me then? Might I get some ‘corrective’ treatment at the hands of men with hurt pride and damaged dignity? Would I be killed?

And even if I were rescued or I went to the police after, what are the odds of anything positive happening in my favor? There is a backlog of rape kits, verbal abuse against women is tolerated in broad daylight, and many cultures and places tolerate physical and emotional abuse of women, in private if not in public. There’s violence against women all over Facebook. Look it up sometime.

I can’t tell you how many ‘jokes’ I heard when I worked in the school system and how many parents, fathers and mothers, tried to excuse it with: “It’s just words….kids…you know…it was a joke…it’s nothing…”

Is it? Is it “nothing”? Would a “joke”, would “nothing”, provoke these kinds of reactions in women? How many women do these things happen to? Trust me, none of them are fucking laughing.