Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fluffy pits: reflections on #Armpits4August

Today is the last day of Armpits4August, where women grow their armpit hair throughout the month to raise money for Verity, a charity for people with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Before I continue, let me provide the obligatory link so you can donate.

As the month draws to a close, I’ve decided not to bother shaving it off again. I rather like it.

I always found it strange how leaving one’s armpits in their natural state could possibly be a political act. Thanks to patriarchal beauty standards, though, it is. Patriarchy and capitalism got drunk together one night and found a really good way of oppressing women while forcing them to shell out money on thoroughly unnecessary products. After that, they hugged, expressed their glee at being on the same page, then ended up awkwardly snogging until capitalism passed out snoring. The next morning, avoiding eye contact, they decided to pretend that the tonsil-hockey hadn’t happened, but the getting women to remove hair from their armpits was Definitely A Good Idea and they should totally do it. Unlike most drunken plans, they totally did it. 

Growing up under this system, I started shaving my armpits the second hair started growing there. Maybe even a bit before, just because I thought I should. When the light went on and I realised how preposterous this was, I didn’t stop shaving, even though I knew I didn’t have to. It would always get to That Awful In Between Stage, like growing out a fringe. It was stubbly and awful, and it itched like fuck. So I’d shave it off again.

Armpits4August gave me the opportunity to finally force myself through that barrier. After a month of growth, I now have about half an inch of lovely fluff. I’d never even been able to gauge what it would look like, given my history of shaving. It turns out it’s soft and dark, with a little patch left bare where the joint is. You can see a photo here, and while you’re on the page you might as well sponsor me.

It’s no more or less trouble than shaving it off. It doesn’t smell, and it’s kind of fun to wash because you can shampoo it. When I sit in front of a fan, the breeze gently tickles the hair. But perhaps best of all, it’s a really good filter to identify arseholes.

Most people have been fairly positive about the whole armpit-hair growth. The majority of those who are less than enthusiastic are, at least, completely neutral to the whole thing, because it really is no big deal what anyone else does with their body. Nobody I’ve had sex with has run away screaming; it’s been greeted largely with, at best, an “I like that” and at worse complete indifference. This is because I tend to have sex with cool people.

I’ve only received a tiny bit of negative feedback. Some of it comes from trolls, who would still find reason to attack me if I lived their dreams and got married to Julian Assange at an EDL rally. The rest comes from sexist men, who are probably rather menaced by women not existing solely for their entertainment and amusement. In short, the negativity comes from people I don’t care much to know anyway.

And so I’m keeping my fluffy pits and it will be exciting to see what happens next. I’ll finish by saying DONATE DONATE! IT’S ALL FOR CHARITY!


GOLD! Somehow it tightens your hole

This is an actual product that actually exists.

A cream being marketed in India promises to make women feel “like a virgin” again. Apparently its mechanism of action is not by restoring sex to awkward fumbling, but, rather, by tightening the vagina.

Its ingredients are all-natural and include gold dust and pomegranates. I have no idea how gold is supposed to firm up one’s cunt, but pomegranate might have an indirect effect as it has historically been used as a contraceptive (admittedly a pretty pisspoor one) so I suppose theoretically it could stop things getting looser by preventing childbirth. But, basically, it sounds like snake oil, unless it provokes a horrid allergic reaction which makes everything swell up a little. Cynically, one would guess that the presence of the gold is merely to bump up the price a bit.

The more crucial issue with this product is not how silly it is, but its intended purpose. Beyond tightening the vagina, it is touted as making women feel “like virgins”. While its marketing department argues that this is purely metaphorical, we live in a world where this is unmistakable for truth. After all, hymen reconstruction surgery is on the rise in India, virginity is prized, and it is still linked to marriageability.

This set of attitudes is not limited to India, though. It’s everywhere, it’s a pervasive part of patriarchy. Hymen reconstruction surgery originated in the West, and virginity is just as fetishised. All over the world, a woman’s sexual behaviour is still seen to be a Big Thing, and factors into relationships, response if she is raped and so on. While virginity might not be the focus, not being a big slutty slut is. There’s still an emphasis on purity.

It’s nonsensical, this archaic patriarchal belief, but sits there humming in the background and we don’t even notice it until we see something as preposterous as a gold-tinged fanny-tightening cream. Yet it’s there, quietly shaking its head at women who enjoy sex.

The publicity material for the gold-tinged fanny-cream says it will empower women, basically allowing them to fuck before marriage and without societal effects. This is a hollow form of empowerment, though; it does not overturn the belief system which prevents women from doing this in the first place. Rather, it continues to perpetuate this cultural fetishisation of virginity and regulation of women’s behaviour, all the while financially fleecing women.

I doubt anybody thought a cream could solve these problems; there is no salve to soothe the problems of patriarchy. The only solution is a revolution.

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Big, big tip of the hat to @MatofKilburnia for thinking of that headline


I went to the Notting Hill Carnival

I witnessed police violence and racism at the Notting Hill Carnival. I wrote up my experiences at The Multicultural Politic. Trigger warnings for descriptions of violence.


Guess who’s a weeping syphilitic chode? That’s right, it’s still Brendan O’Neill

Trigger warning for rape apologism

I confess to having experienced moments of levity in the last few days. This was, I now understand, because I’d forgotten that Brendan O’Neill exists and is still a weeping syphilitic chode.

It’s taken him a while to articulate an opinion on the George Galloway/Julian Assange shit of the last few weeks, and that’s probably because he is so much of an oozing poxy micropenis that he’s had trouble working out what he thinks, because both figures are popular with the stereotypical left-wing person, and there’s nothing Chode of Chode Hall likes more than to shout about how much he hates left-wing people.

I’m surprised it took him so concoct who the real enemy is here. It’s the feminists, of course. Not real feminists, but the imaginary ones that hide in Brendan’s cupboard and eat his favourite crisps in the night but Brendan’s mummy won’t believe they’re real and she thinks he’s eating the crisps and she won’t let him sleep in her bed and that makes Brendan sad.

His line is thoroughly, tediously unoriginal and anyone with a passing familiarity with rape culture tropes will recognise it. Apparently the feminists are trying to redefine rape.

He argues this by, erm, redefining rape.

So it is quite wrong to say “sex without consent is rape”. It is more accurate to say that “sex pursued in defiance of a lack of consent is rape”.

According to the nasty little weeping syphilitic chode, pointing out that not establishing consent during sex can be rape is hard on the poor little men who can’t be arsed to establish consent and we’re lumping them in with criminals, because what really matters is the intention to do it.

And that’s just plain wrong. If you’re going to fuck someone, you have a responsibility to check everyone’s consenting. It’s what makes you a good shag (nobody’s as unsurprised as me that Brendan O’Neill has outed himself as a terrible lover). It’s pretty fucking easy to not rape someone if you make a modicum of effort.

In this particular offering, Brendan O’Neill displays an obsession with the justice system which is prevalent in thinking about rape, and thoroughly unhelpful for the most part. Rape is, after all, far more than just a legal situation: after all, the majority of rape survivors do not ever engage with the legal system as it’s not really set up to deal with rape particularly effectively. When talking about rape, we need to separate the act from the crime, as it is so much more than an abstract legal concept.

A lot of people get this. Many others don’t, and, of course, some of them will purposely miss the point like this weeping syphilitic chode. Sex without consent is rape. And that’s not a radical redefinition of anything.

 

 


Republican says more stupid shit: are we missing the point when we respond?

Another Republican politician has said something remarkably stupid and offensive about rape and abortion. This time, the blandly-named Paul Ryan has referred to rape as “a method of conception“, clarifying that rape isn’t really a pressing concern for him, as he’s more interested in prodding around in uteruses. Obviously, there’s been a bit of outrage and a few people calling for his resignation, but really, that seems to be missing the point.

The US is embroiled in an all-out war on choice. It is carefully stage-managed, and, as I noted the last time some Republican said some stupid shit, fits in with a complete rejection of women’s bodily autonomy, which also allows rapes to happen. It’s not enough to seize upon some specific words someone has said and call for their individual resignation from politics/public life/the human race.

It’s a systemic set of beliefs we’re fighting, not just some awful people saying some stupid shit. It’s  culturally ingrained that women shouldn’t have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. Sometimes it manifests in the anti-choice rhetoric, the desire to force women into a chronic medical condition to keep the population up. Other times, it manifests as a society which facilitates rape by repeating myths about blame and attempts to redefine rape to benefit rapists. And these beliefs can be articulated at the same time because it’s all part of the same myth: women shouldn’t control their bodies.

And so we need to highlight this system every time the opportunity arises. Rather than cry out for the Akins and Ryans (and, indeed, even the Dorrieses) of this world to go and fuck themselves, we need to point out how unoriginal they are, how they are merely replicating cultural lies.

It’s that we need to attack if we are ever going to win, not the individuals.


People I will never have sex with ever: those who don’t “get” enthusiastic consent

There’s a bit of a backlash going on against enthusiastic consent. I noted it a while back, and it’s become more and more abundantly clear as the rape apologists crawl out of their lairs to rally around Julian Assange.

Enthusiastic consent is vitally important for two reasons. The major one, obviously, is that it’s a far better way of establishing sexual consent and therefore not raping anyone. The other, though, is that sex with people who don’t do enthusiastic consent is just rubbish. Even when it’s not rape, it’s shit sex. 

The thing with enthusiastic consent is that it’s not difficult. There is absolutely nothing hard about asking “Wanna fuck?” or “What do you want?” or “Would it be hot if we did this?” During good sex, it’s generally pretty easy to ask “Oh god, come on my tits,” or “Would you like it if I bit you?” or “Hey, why don’t you two fuck while I watch?” This level of good communication between everyone involved in a fuck is a prerequisite for good sex, and it’s basically all there is to enthusiastic consent. Of course, not everybody’s going to be up for everything suggested, but if you’re not a dickhead, you’ll be cool with that, and with good communication, you can often devise a different fun activity together.

You can plot and plan things to try in future: sharing fantasies can often turn into making realities. With this model, you can then work out how to safely play, negotiating boundaries for temporarily suspending consent: consciously choosing that in *this* particular scenario “no” wouldn’t mean “no” (and the safe-word is “Thatcher”). And then talk about how it went afterwards, because talking is good and hot and makes your sex life so much better. And yes, enthusiastic consent can even apply to the sleeping scenario. “Hey, darling, would it be hot if you woke up and I was fucking you?” “Fuck yeah.” *next morning* “Hey sleepyhead, how’s this feeling?” “Very nice thank you.” See? It’s that simplebut the importance of that first conversation is often neglected.

There seem to be so many people who think this essential level of communication to make a fuck truly mindblowing will somehow ruin sex. They think it’s a chore, that it’ll ruin the flow of sex to check with a partner that everyone is on the same page. They think they can magically read a situation.

They’re wrong. At worst, they might be rapists–the “Reddit rape thread” is riddled with stories in the vein of “I saw her face and realised she was crying so I stopped”: all of these could have been averted by a bit of simple communication beforehand, a “hell yes, let’s fuck” from everyone. At best, though, those who can’t be bothered to communicate are crap in bed.

They’ll try one-size-fits-all sex moves, which really don’t work for everyone, due to each person being unique in their set of turn-ons and turn-offs and quirky little sweet spots. They’ll gruntingly hump away until they think they’re done, without ever bothering to check if you’ve had fun. Some of them even freak out over a little “dirty talk”, my frantic attempt to turn a dreary shag into something more fun.

They might think they’re the best fuck in the world, but if they don’t get how to do enthusiastic consent I can guarantee that they are not.

 


Failed pop star explains why rape culture works for him

Trigger warning: this post quotes rape apologism and descriptions of behaviour which does not appear consensual

Angry readers, cast your minds back to 2004, and try to remember a brief blip on the pop cultural horizon. Recall the glorious supernova that was Steve Brookstein, a bright-burning star sadly lost to us. Drawing a blank? Don’t worry. Even Wikipedia describes his career as “very brief“, and I exaggerated somewhat over his success. He won a TV talent show, which I’d happened to watch, and managed to forget about him before the credits had even stopped rolling.

Until last night, when suddenly and unexpectedly he crawled into my Twitter replies. I have no reason to believe it’s not the real him, as it’s an established Twitter account and who the hell would impersonate a washed-up cruise-ship singer? Anyway, he came from nowhere, with rape apologism followed by misogyny.

To clarify he was a definitely full-on misogynist rather than merely a rape apologist, Brookstein continued to make some very triggering about the possibility of emotional abuse and blackmail forcing survivors into spending time with their rapists.

That night, he continued to make some truly frightening misogynistic remarks to a number of people, demonstrating a clear lack of understanding of consent, all the while suggesting that it was somehow pathological to care about consent.

Brookstein’s profound lack of understanding of consent was made particularly clear by this tweet, where he suggested even a “no” was not sufficient, and only physical violence could be taken as a signal of a lack of consent:

Along with the deep misogyny is Brookstein’s pervasive believe that he is Doing It Right. Apparently, while feminists are unfuckable, &C &C, Steve Brookstein is doing exceptionally well because he’s been married three times.

That bit signals the break, the point where you should have a laugh, because it’s about to get really dark. Why is Steve Brookstein so vehemently defending rape and rape culture?

Because Steve Brookstein is quite possibly a rapist.

Yes. Steve Brookstein thinks it’s perfectly fine to have sex with someone who is not conscious, particularly if that someone is a spouse.

I’ve said many times before that rape culture and repeating rape culture myths only really helps rapists. Brookstein dismisses consent because it allows him to do something his partner may not be comfortable with (and probably wouldn’t be comfortable with him announcing to a social networking site in the middle of the night). This is what rape culture is for. 

It’s time, I hope, for Steve Brookstein to disappear back into obscurity. He failed pop music and now he’s failing at the basics of being a decent human being.

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Accessibility note: The lovely @KinkShaman has transcribed the screencaps:

//1

A screenshot of a twitter conversation between myself (@stavvers) and Brookstein (@stevebrookstein)

Brookstein: “@stavvers Did the woman Assange ‘rape’ [sic] see him again on a date? That would be strange behaviour for a rape victim. No?”

Me: “@stevebrookstein No it wouldn’t. Apparently you’ve never heard of emotionally abusive environments.”

Brookstein: “@stavvers here we go.. Poor women. Boo friggin hoo.”

//2

A screenshot of a tweet from Brookstein: “@stavvers any women [sic] who doesn’t get what she wants can claim “emotionally abusive environment” load of bollocks.”

//3

A tweet from Brookstein: “@magiczebras so if your boyfriend touches you when you’re sleeping in bed together is that sexual harassment? You are crazy people.”

//4

A tweet from Brookstein: “@GemieMac the idea is that you get them in the mood… but according to nutjobs on here that is “emotionally abusive behaviour”

//5

A conversation between Brookstein and twitter user Charlie Baker (@Girlpantsx).

Brookstein (to the timeline in general): “This assange [sic] rape allegation has blown my mind. Soon men are going to have to get women to sign consent papers before every session.”

Baker: “@stevebrookstein Or they could just understand that no means no?”

Brookstein: “@girlpantsx no doesn’t aways mean no. It can mean “I want to but I shouldn’t.” A kick in the balls means no.

//6

A tweet from Brookstein addressing a number of twitter users: “@opinionatedpavs @GemieMac @BolliBolshevik @Inbetween_Girl good luck getting men. Talk to me when you are on your third marriage. #kids”

//7

A tweet from Brookstein: “@blunt_knives commonsense tells me my wife would expect the occasional stealth raid at night. [smiley face]”


Hey baby, want to share my unsafe space?

Craigslist is a stew of people I will never have sex with, ever. Most of it is thoroughly unremarkable. It’s only the most special ones who warrant mention in this semi-regular gallery of awful, awful human beings who are not worth a sniff of my mooncup.

Meet Mr Creepytent. That’s not his name, as Craigslist is fairly anonymous, but it suits him fairly well. Mr Creepytent has posted in the “men seeking women” section, with a particular type of lady in mind, as Mr Creepytent has a rather specialist need. Put down those eyebrows, dear readers, as it’s not any sort of filthy fetish from your foetid fancies. It’s creepier than that.

“Are you going to be protesting at the Ecuadorian embassy alone?” asks Mr Creepytent. A faint scuttling sound is heard as he approaches. “Well what a coincidence, so am I” He wiggles his eyebrows.

“I’m heading there friday evening and staying overnight the whole weekend leading up to Assange’s statement on Sunday at 2pm. I don’t have any camping equipment so my plan right now is to sleep on the pavement, but if you want to share what you have, I’ll be infinitely grateful,” he continues. How can you say no? You can’t allow this man to sleep on the streets when there’s hero-worship of an egomaniac to be done, and pizza to be sent to an alleged rapist!

Honestly, I can’t think of a better place to pull for a creep than in an explicitly unsafe space such as camping outside waiting for Julian fucking Assange to emerge. AssAngels are hardly known for a nuanced understanding of consent, either.

So congratulations, Mr Creepytent. I will never share your tent. I hope nobody else did either.


Dear George Galloway

Trigger warning: This post links to descriptions of rape

Dear George Galloway,

Let me start by saying I admire your unending capacity to be a premium-grade tosser. Whether it’s getting snuggly with all-round fuckbags like Saddam Hussein and Assad, or whether it’s you claiming that gay people executed in Iran have committed “sex crimes”, I am perpetually impressed by your ability to fart around like an arseweasel and not have found yourself with an icepick lodged firmly in your occipital lobes.

Anyway, given your previous track record, I can’t say I was surprised when I noticed you defending Julian Assange. You’re both egomaniacal wankers in a similar manner, and you’d probably be well placed to form a comedy duo in a sitcom. By sitcom, of course I mean “gulag”.

The thing is, Gorgeous George, you seem to have got some facts twisted in chumming up to St Julian. You said “if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100 per cent true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don’t constitute rape.” Now, while I fully appreciate your right to defend anyone you like and forge links with Ecuador’s future propaganda minister, there’s a few minor factual inaccuracies in what you’re saying.

Let’s start with the small stuff, that you’re coming across of something of a shitbadger by repeating tired old toss about this magical way of “verifying” rape allegations with some sort of “objective proof”. That isn’t how it works, and it’s kind of creepy that you think people should film their sexual encounters all the time. I mean, I know you don’t mind arsing around in a leotard pretending to be a cat, but really, George, exhibitionism isn’t for everyone. The fact of the matter is, decent people know there’s no such thing as this mythical “objective proof”.

And that’s precisely because of things people like you are saying, George. See, the allegations definitely do constitute rape. Let’s have a little look at what your pal Julian is accused of:

  • On 13-14 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm. Assange, by using violence. forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs whilst lying on top of her and with his body weight preventing her from moving or shifting.
  • On 13-14 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity. Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge.
  • On 18 August 2010 or on any of the days before or after that date, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity i.e. lying next to her and pressing his naked, erect penis to her body.
  • On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enkoping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep. was in a helpless state.
  • It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange. who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used. still consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party’s sexual integrity.”

So, the first point outlines pinning a woman down in order to force her into sexual activity. The second is tricking a woman into sexual activity to which she had not consented. The third is non-consensual–albeit non-penetrative–sexual activity. The fourth is having sex with a woman who is completely unable to consent. The fifth is exactly the same as the second.

You’ll notice, George, that the recurring theme throughout all of this is that the women were not consenting. There’s a word for sex without consent. Rape.

I find it rather concerning that you dismiss this as merely, as you put it, “bad sexual etiquette”. Bad sexual etiquette is not saying “thank you” before leaving. What Julian Assange is accused of is far more than that. It’s rape, George. It’s rape.

And it’s precisely due to arse-gargling ballfarters like you that this imaginary “objective proof” can’t work. Because there’s always scum like you who refuses to call a rape a rape. You’ll cloud the issues with rancid squid-ink because… actually, I have no idea how this state of affairs could possibly benefit you unless you’re a rapist. Would you explain to me why you so fervently pretend that none of this is rape?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

With contempt,

Stavvers xoxo

P.S. Apologies for the quality of my profanity. It tends towards the surreal when I’m furious.

P.P.S. I retract my remark towards the end of my letter comparing you to a squid. I like squids.


Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment is smarter than it seems

Trigger warning: this post quotes some horrible rape apologism and anti-choice rhetoric

Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin seems to be going for gold in the Offensively Stupid Shit Said By Politicians Awards. In one short sentence he has managed to say something so awful it’s almost impossible to work out where to start. When talking about abortion in the case of rape, he said:

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing [pregnancy] down.”

In the order it appears in the sentence, we have the rape culture myth that some rapes aren’t actually rapes, anti-choice rhetoric and a huge honking misunderstanding of how biology works. I’m not convinced he would have come across as more profoundly misogynistic had he just flat-out said “By the way, I hate women.”

The thing is, while it appears at face value as some completely ill-informed woman-hating, what Akin is actually doing may be much, much smarter than that. It could be a very well-constructed way of dragging discourse into a more misogynistic direction.

In the US, the war on choice is going strong, and a rather common battleground is the discussion surrounding “abortion only in the case of rape”. This position does not represent a fully pro-choice perspective, but it’s quite common among moderates and is frequently brought out in debates in a bid to get the anti-choice camp to concede some ground. Akin’s comment is his way of shutting down this particular avenue.

At the same time, rape culture thrives on the belief that rape is a stranger in a balaclava leaping out in a bush and violently taking the virginity of a good girl, and that’s all there is to it. There’s “rape rape” and there’s the stuff that isn’t really rape, which is perpetrated by powerful men like Polanski, Assange and Strauss-Kahn, and survived by sluts who were asking for it somehow. It’s a very pervasive belief, and one which benefits an awful lot of rapists.

What Akin has rather effectively done is say something which is difficult to argue against concisely without giving way on one of these two points. One can throw around statistics about just how many pregnancies are the result of rape, or one can argue that there’s no such thing as a “non-legitimate” rape, but it’s very difficult to do both at once.

What obfuscates matters even further is the very tempting distractor of the anti-reality terrible science. It’s a low-hanging fruit wherein it’s very tempting to say “THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS, FUCKNUGGET” without drawing attention to everything else that is wrong with the statement. Because that’s not how human biology works, and it’s gratifying to see that everybody is aware of this (except Akin, who didn’t even bother drawing attention to it in his non-apology).

In fact, Akin’s non-apology allows him to further elaborate upon his anti-choice, pro-rape culture position; while claiming he “misspoke”, he doesn’t acknowledge why there’s no such thing as a “legitimate rape”, and further espouses his view that women shouldn’t have control of their bodies.

The interesting thing is, his comment does lay bare how neatly the anti-choice position slots into rape culture. At their crux, both issues are about a complete disrespect for women’s bodily autonomy. People who want to force women through pregnancy and childbirth are less likely to be fazed by other violations. Again, though, this is a difficult position to argue concisely, particularly when the dominant cultural narrative is so heavily set against  bodily autonomy.

Far from being another Republican saying something else silly, Akin’s rhetoric may prove to be more dangerous than expected.

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Thanks to @JamesGraham for a brilliant Twitter conversation which helped me collect my thoughts on this issue.


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