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Links The Guardian / audioscrobbler / Backlash / London for free May 2007
Mon, May. 21st, 2007 10:08 am

Wooo, Let Them Eat Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces (thanks once more to itom for giving me the name) is agogo, thanks to a proverbial kick up the arse from fierceawakening.

I'm pretty excited about this, actually. Apparently a post is already getting a mention on Feministe, so while things are still relatively quiet (because you know the kind of shitstorm some of things I'd like to write about are likely to cause...) we're sorting out moderation and stuff.

Thoughts from experienced blog and forum owners on moderation?

And of course, this is another call for contributions and co-authors, should any of the kinky bunch feel so inclined.

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Mon, Apr. 16th, 2007 12:01 am
Well, the workshop's done. It was tame. The anti-porners all hid, amazingly. What a surprise.

So instead they just released this piece of fucking shit to every paper and magazine:


Check the release on the main page.

Fortunately, Ladyfest are putting something out themselves at last:


Anyway, I feel this debate will be running for a loooong, looong time, so I'm going to move all the warring feminist stuff to:


Sorry for the expletives, but this is some serious business now. I wish there were more anti-censorship feminist activist groups to offer support for this kind of nonsense.


Wed, Apr. 4th, 2007 12:18 pm

Just some points. Leaving this open and posting the link on Charliegrrl's blog. It is clear Charliegrrl is keen to mislead people regarding the Ladyfest workshop as much as she possibly can, so I am attempting one more time to clarify things here.

1. I have never had any intention of bringing up rape porn or rape fantasy in the discussion, nor did I bring it up in my speech at Fightback. If anti-porn feminists choose to start bellowing at us about it, as they did at Fightback, I think it is sensible to warn people that the discussion may go in some directions many will find uncomfortable. We will not stop people bringing these issues up, and will answer questions honestly. Hopefully this will allow other women who are intimidated by this particular anti-porn crew's extreme stance on sexuality (whatever their brand of feminist sex is 'allowed' to consist of is bound to exclude the majority of people at the debate) feel that they are able to express themselves however they choose in that space without being subject to abuse and misunderstanding if their sexuality is not acceptable to everyone.

2. Being a (moderate, I think) pro-porn feminist does not instantly make a workshop run by pro-porn feminists non-inclusive. As far as I'm aware, there are issues other than pornography that concern feminists, and diversity of opinion on single issues should not make for a non-inclusive feminist space. I am still hopeful that anti-porn feminists will come forward as panel members, however.

3. It's frankly amazing that they have made so many incorrect assumptions as to what our exact stance on porn and sexuality is, despite informing them more than once. Charliegrrl has NOT communicated with us, as she has purported to in her little disclaimer, and has continually ignored our attempts at civility and open discussion with her. I can only assume that her/their assumptions are based on the knowledge that we are involved in the BDSM community and they are therefore discriminating against the workshop at Ladyfest because it is to be participated in by people with a minority sexuality they do not approve of. As for her 'I'm a lesbian, so how can I possibly have discriminatory opinions of other minority sexualities?' nonsense (though she has hysterically assumed I called her homophobic, which I did not), it's the equivalent of saying 'I'm black, so I can't possibly be a racist'. They would be sensible to remember that thirty years ago lesbianism was still widely considered a sexual deviance, and lesbian feminists were often thought to give radical feminism a bad name in the 1970s. BDSM HAS become more normalised, and will continue to be. It is even possible to have some radical feminist views while also being pro-SM and moderately pro-porn. I know I do.

4. Ladyfest pretty much fits into a third wave feminist mould and therefore is inclusive of all strands of feminism, including pro-porn, anti-censorship and pro-SM feminism, and less concerned that there are binary right/wrongs on single issues. On past occasions, however, we have been called 'sick psychos' and received cat calls asking us if we've been raped, which I was then forced to reveal to 150 people in order to dislodge some entirely incorrect assumptions. This abuse came from anti-porn feminists. I think they sometimes breed shame in other women at feminist events, especially when it comes to sexual expression, and it's therefore important that there are speakers to counteract these views and, I hope, find new, more moderate solutions. I still have hopes that the workshop may prove a productive forum for discussion on pornography. It's why I set set it up in the first place. At Feminist Fightback, I read, some radical feminists boycotted the event because ENS Women included the International Union of Sex Workers on the agenda. It's all too ironic that they cite the abuse of women on porn sets as a reason for the criminalisation of the possession of 'extreme' porn, and then attempt to prevent these women having rights and seeking solidarity with and support from other feminists. Nope, they'd prefer them to be voiceless victims they can 'rescue' without their consent. It's not how the majority of female porn workers want to be perceived at all.

5. I can't promise this will be my final word on this, but damn it's getting boring. I apologise for letting this drag on and into livejournal.


Tue, Nov. 21st, 2006 02:37 pm

For anyone interested, especially if you're someone who's all for free speech but doesn't feel strongly enough about the violent pornography issue to write to their MP, there's a petition here:


Putting your name at the bottom of the page doesn't condemn you as a filthy pervert forever, by the way (well, unless you want it to...). The fact that I possess loads of these images - and am in plenty too - is not my main motivation for getting involved in Backlash's campaign.

Spread the word!


Wed, Oct. 25th, 2006 04:44 pm

So a few weeks ago, someone from Backlash asked whether I'd be willing to speak on their behalf about the Extreme Porn Consultation and how it might affect feminists. After saying yes enthusiastically and leaping around in excitement for a few days, I realised I knew very little about the anti-porn feminist stances and started reading the typical texts (Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Sheila Jeffreys et al). I was actually stunned by the total nonsense they write and that anyone thinks their arguments make enough sense to publish them. Bearing the other 'side' in mind, my talk was incredibly easy to write, but I decided to talk from a more personal perspective as well, because the proposed laws would undoubtedly have an effect on what Tom and I get up to, and because I wanted to keep it informal and avoid using academic language.

We managed to get to SOAS and after running halfway across London looking for an internet café to print my final (though totally unnecessary, as it happened) edit, and another hour of sitting behind the Backlash stall upstairs, it was time for the Sexual Expression session. I had planned to first explain the technical bits of the law, but to my horror it was totally covered by the first speaker and I started panicking that I'd be repeating everything she said. When it came to my turn, I felt myself going purple and inappropriately stumbled over the word 'consensual' about nine times before I calmed down and got on with it. First ever attempt at public speaking, and it showed.

For anyone arsed, here is a pretty accurate rendition of what I said: Feminist Fightback speechCollapse )

After we'd all said our bit, what was said went to the floor in possibly the most heated discussion I've ever been involved in. It was fantastic to see the room filled to the brim with women who had such strong, but generally intelligent views on porn. And there were the two idiots at the back. Sandy told me later that she'd heard one of them keep muttering "THAT'S not feminist!" all the way through my talk. All they really did was confirm to me how far feminists are in denial when they talk about porn and sex as if it's still the 60s, and express opinions using generalisations that were universally uninformed - much like the government's reasons for attempting to put the legislation through in the first place. When they started talking about the 'kind of people' that watch rape porn, I felt myself almost shaking with anger and disbelief, and when DemRed and rosalee turned around to again dislodge yet another nonsense belief, I joined them and then burst into tears. SO humiliating. I guess it was a kind of adrenaline come-down, but I felt like I ruined the discussion a bit.

I was also amazed so many people came up to me afterwards to tell me how brave they thought I was for 'coming out' as a sexual submissive, as it was the one point in the talk I thought I'd seriously get lynched with. It's made me think a lot about sexual desire. How abitrary it is. How you can't change it with your politics no matter how much you may want to. I felt a kind of closure, that all the shame I've subconsciously harboured as a feminist who likes getting beaten, humiliated and dominated by a man in a sexual context, could go away. There's nothing sinister about enjoying any of those things, I don't think, if they're expressed in a way that brings you joy. It's a million miles from what Vera Baird deems 'abuse'. But it still surprised me that people thought it was brave to admit to enjoying them, and I think there's a real space in the way academics write about SM. People tend to approach it from a queer theory perspective, not a feminist one. Maybe I'll write my MA dissertation on it.

It was also cool to meet realdoll, raggedhalo and elegia for the first time, though unfortunately all very briefly, and fantastic to spot familiar faces in the crowd from so many different contexts. I felt sad when they called the discussion to a halt, but encouraged that a few people also came up to me afterwards to ask more about what they could do for Backlash, and that I was asked to speak again elsewhere. Hopefully next time I'll avoid the crying bit, too.

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Tue, Sep. 19th, 2006 10:35 am

This journal has been sorely neglected of late amidst all the Backlash stuff - though we're still waiting to hear from the organisers, so I'm getting a bit nervous that it's all for nothing or that I've fucked the proposal up.

The last couple of weeks have been full of wonderful people and so many interesting conversations that I feel like I haven't had time to process them properly. Pete came up to stay in Leeds for the weekend, which was lovely. He managed not to have a serious row with either Ellie or I the whole time he was here, probably a first. And we had a couple of really interesting debates about theatre vs. live art. the argument on theatre vs. live artCollapse )

Anyway, the Bretton showcase was on at the Playhouse last Thursday, so I went along. Now, to me, live art/performance art tends either to be brilliant or absolutely unbearable - and not in a clever, confrontational sense. Ellie's new piece was really clever and tender, and unpretentious. Her style is a lot like Bobby Baker's, who I love, without the flying cakes, and with useful plastic gloves. And corsets. It was cool.

Unfortunately, we then had to sit through the most nauseatingly self-indulgent piece of crap I've ever seen, where this bloke basically got into a translucent bodybag on a table and did yoga moves for ten minutes to A Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra before escaping, falling off the table and walking off in his boxers like Christ the resurrected. I suspect it was supposed to be about rebirth, but really, no, it wasn't that big or clever. If it weren't for the fact that I could close my eyes and listen to lovely Canadians, it would have been completely unbearable.

It's hard though: I never know whether live art should be able to stand on its own, or whether it needs explanation, a programme note, something. Ellie kind of makes explanation an ironic part of her pieces, and that works, I think. But there are some things I've seen where I haven't had a fucking clue what's going on, or what I make of it, and that's the most alienating experience as an audience member. But it's strange; a good performer, someone like Ron Athey, can give you no real explanation for what he's doing and doesn't interact with his audiences, but the piece somehow becomes an offering, a ritual. You're never isolated and always mesmerised. I think sometimes it's the curse of postmodernism. Everything becomes a pastiche or take on something else, and if you're not interested or don't find it funny, in terms of watching performers it's like you're not in on their joke, and the whole thing becomes excruciating - like being around bunches of actors in general, actually...


Mon, Jan. 23rd, 2006 10:10 pm

Back from hibernation.

I was saying to someone the other week how little inclination I have to post here for long stretches of time, but I intend to remedy this with one of those tedious numbered posts.

In the last couple of weeks I have:

1. Handed in two modules worth of work, and sat an exam for the third. None were good. What possessed me to write on Joyce and Lacan in combination I have no fucking idea, but I wouldn't repeat the experience.

2. Been to London and back again. I went to a friend's collaring ceremony (more about this soon), to see The Producers (on stage, not screen!) with Simon, the Photographic Portrait exhibition with my mum, spent a lovely evening drinking with beeswing, nicolasix and Rupa, and bought another coat I don't need that's completely impractical for all weathers and most occasions.

3. Changed a module from American Words, American Worlds to 19th Century Aesthetics and excited about the new courses.

4. Did my first whole day stint of lifemodelling (I'm still aching), got paid a goodly sum and almost immediately had my purse stolen on the way to the station. Had to pay £10 for a new student card today, too. Bah.

5. Went and reviewed a lovely folk evening in York, while Tom took photographs. Other Tom felt the evening had been a bit disastrous and wants me to pull out my review and record another evening instead which is a bit disappointing, but I might be able to talk him round.

6. Went and signed up for my five sessions at the student counselling centre after a couple of slightly scary bouts of anxiety. I see this as a pleasurable indulgence.

Current Music: American Analog Set - Postman


Sun, Oct. 23rd, 2005 12:20 am

I've decided to write my frightening 20 credit Literature of the 1890s essay on misogyny and violence and the representation and fantasy of female 'evil'. This decision coincided nicely with an article in Guardian Weekend today about the blur of 'harmless fun' and misogyny displayed in 'lads' mags. I occasionally find it difficult to reconcile my feminist principles with the rest of my life (wearing corsetry, being sexually submissive, etc), but what astonished me is that women seem to have actively devolved when I compare the late Victorian 'New Woman' to the reaction of the amateur 'breast rated girlfriends' who apparently feel empowered. By what exactly? Please tell me what's empowering about your boyfriend sending in pictures of your body parts to be rated out of ten. It's a mindset I simply don't understand.

There's the old Virgin vs. Whore (virgin is always, inevitably, the more lingeringly attractive after the whore is done with) conundrum. A desire for ownership of a woman, and the woman as an exclusively owned sexual property, but in a woman's denial of those 'rights' she becomes a predator, lusting after man's 'seminal essence' and 'transforms' into something more threatening, more evil - even with the ability to penetrate.

I was reading an old scientific journal the other day that amused and horrified me in equal measures. On the subject of (specifically! not women in general!) wives, William J, Robinson, a doctor of Genito-Urinary diseases declared that women who are 'satisfied with occasional relations - not more than once in two weeks or ten days' are considered normal, but that:

'there is an opposite type of woman, who is a great danger to the health and even the very life of her husband. I refer to the hypersensual woman, to the wife with an excessive sexuality. It is to her that the name vampire can be applied in its literal sense. Just as the vampire sucks the blood of its victims in their sleep while they are alive, so does the woman vampire suck the life and exhaust the vitality of her male partner - or victim. And some of them - the pronounced type - are utterly without pity or consideration.'

What's amazing to me now is not that 'lad' mag readers still want the Abi Titmuss whore fantasy while their sweet little girl-next-door waits at home, but that women are so desperate to be part of a fantasy that is, essentially, objectifying them. Is getting voted 'Britain's dumbest girlfriend' and their face on the pages of Nuts a matter of fantasy? Unlike the whore or C-list celebrity, it's not even something they're paid a sue for. Has feminism evolved to a place where people are not only supposed to find this kind of objectification 'ironic' but actively appealling?

It's odd: the better I understand my own sexuality, the more prudish and principled I become. It's not Daily Mail prudishness; I don't think casual sex is entirely unappealling, am active in the campaign against the government's new proposed Internet porn laws, and obviously err on the side of liberal when it comes to what people find sexy. But I've realised, having looked misogyny straight in the face, what it is to be sexually objectified and my reaction to it now is tight and knee-jerk. Whatever breed of feminism 'Britain's sexiest topless students' are flaunting, I feel like their bestockinged, corseted great aunt, chained to a railing and waving a stick in protest.

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Current Music: Decemberists - The Infanta


Thu, Aug. 4th, 2005 10:18 pm

Everybody should do this! I stole it from ultraruby

Make a list of 100 things you like in no particular order. Avoid the obvious (significant other, cake...) and be completely honest with yourself. If you try to think of things that you are curious about and inspired by, you'll end up discovering a lot about yourself and in doing so developing a sort of bank of your interests and ideas.

100 thingsCollapse )


Mon, Jan. 24th, 2005 01:04 am

The dreaded LJ specific entry. I'm going friends only. With the exception of a few entries (that I happen to quite like..) verte is now locked and will mostly stay that way. I'll certainly go back and lock anything I do leave open within a couple of days of writing it. I can't quite explain why I'm suddenly on such a paranoia trip, but because I've generally been writing so much recently I want to be able to actually record something here - the kind of personal stuff I've mostly avoided for so long. Even so it's hard to be as honest as I'd like, but I've realised recently how much I hide from people and would like to at least loosen the barrier, if not break it down completely. I have a few filters I've been using, but while I don't want to exclude anyone who feels they should know this stuff (ego trip a-go-go...) I don't want to bore/disgust any of you, so:

Poll #423644 LJ specific

What would you like to be able to read?

Fetish stuff
Book/film/music/theatre/academic rants
Cheerful day-to-day stuff
DOOM! (self-indulgent crap)

Alex should write more about: