Germaine ‘Bloody’ Greer

I said I’d get to Germaine Greer at some point, and here we are.  I’ve been having emergent thoughts along the lines of ‘what the hell has happened to her?’ for quite some time now: as I’ve mentioned before her comments on trans women (‘just because you chop off your d*ck doesn’t make you a woman’) and rape (‘most rape is just bad sex’) are at best unhelpful and at worst bloody awful.

And yet she was a hero of mine for a long time.  So what the hell happened?

Like most women of my generation ‘The Female Eunuch’ was for me a seminal (perhaps I should say ‘ovulary’) book.  Previously I’d been blundering along, half in denial, half aware that there was such a thing as sexism but not having put together all the ways in which misogyny was embedded in society and how this had affected me.  My sense of myself, of who I was and what I was capable of – my very self-confidence – had been radically curtailed by growing up female in a patriarchal society.  What Germaine did was put it all brutally together and lay it out.  It was liberating, devastating and provided me with food for thought to last several decades.  But now there is a problem.

I can’t understand why Greer would say, as she has done, that ‘nothing has changed’ since she wrote the book.  Things have changed enormously; so much so that I hardly know where to begin.  From women sitting on the board to rape suites in police stations; from the #metoo campaign to the sheer unacceptability of so much everyday sexism that used to be taken for granted, there has been a tremendous shift in attitudes.  Many men have genuinely taken on board the major demands of feminism; some merely go along with it, but what is certain is that the culture has shifted hugely.

Of course it would be ridiculous to assert that Everything Is Now OK.  Everything is not OK: we have upskirting and sexting; we have harassment in the workplace; we have Harvey Weinstein and the Presidents’ Club.  But here’s the thing: thirty years ago these would not have been news.  Everyone would have just shrugged and said ‘what do you expect?  It’s the casting couch/don’t wear short skirts/it’s just a bit of fun/she was asking for it’ and so on ad nauseam.  Men invented countless spurious reasons why women couldn’t do certain jobs (like Paul Daniels saying women can’t do magic because ‘they can’t keep a secret’).  If he said that now he’d be vilified everywhere.  Look at the hassle Christopher Chope got for trashing the Upskirting Bill (he maintains he’s not a dinosaur but I think the jury’s out:)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44513497

Sexism still goes on; the difference is that it’s no longer acceptable.  Look at the mass reaction by women to Trump’s election; look at the change in the abortion laws in Ireland.  Such things would have been unthinkable thirty years ago.

So much for ‘nothing has changed.’  Harder to forgive are the comments on trans women, though it appears here that she’s softened her response a little:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/12/germaine-greer-tells-qa-her-trans-views-were-wrong-but-then-restates-them

But worse than this were her comments on rape.  She began by saying that a lot of rape is just bad sex, meaning really the reverse; that a lot of bad sex (a husband turning over and digging in without eliciting any kind of consent) is basically rape.  I would agree with that.  But she goes a lot further and claims that rape is not a big deal unless violence is involved.  I cannot understand this attitude; it’s as though she’s saying that unless you have physical scars no harm has come to you.  This is how the police used to think: unless you could show injuries they didn’t believe anything had happened.  Of course there weren’t many female officers back then either…

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/30/germaine-greer-calls-for-punishment-for-to-be-reduced

And there’s more: apparently the #metoo campaign is a load of whinging: if a man harasses you, you should just knee him in the balls.  Never mind if you’re alone, scared, intimidated, confused – just knee him in the balls.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/germaine-greer-challenges-metoo-campaign-20180121-h0lpra.html

There’s a sort of convoluted logic to these arguments but it all ends up too close to victim-blaming for comfort.  If Germaine suffers from self-doubt she hides it well, and whilst that in itself is not a weakness she seems utterly lacking in compassion for the timid, the shy, those lacking in confidence.  And it is axiomatic in any liberation movement that you stand up for the weak, the shy, the timid and the nervous.  You act like Martin Luther King getting a black crowd to chant ‘I am somebody’.  You don’t scornfully tell the victim of groping that they should have kneed the guy in the balls.

Perhaps we all become parodies of ourselves as we grow older: or perhaps one characteristic takes over and becomes our defining trait.  Greer always could be perverse and critical; she was also incisively intelligent and – most importantly – fun!  But now the fun has gone and all we’re left with is the perversity.

Anyway, check out this interesting profile of her on the Beeb:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b6q27f/germaine-bloody-greer?suggid=b0b6q27f

Kirk out

 

 

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ArtBeat, Why Do You Miss When My Baby Kisses Me?

It’s Artbeat season again, from June 15th until 25th at Clarendon Park:

http://www.clarendonpark.net

Sadly in the years since I helped run the festival there has been trouble at t’mill – or whatever the CP equivalent is (t’deli?) – and the people who used to run it are no longer in evidence.  The current festival is a valiant effort but really it needs a whole army of people subdivided into regiments, each dealing with a particular area.  Kudos to those now taking up the reins, but it is sad to see Artbeat a shadow of its former self.  Still, we enjoyed Greenshoots Ceilidh Band (playing not ceilidhing) a scratch classical guitar concert (very good) and a beer festival at the club.  I had a half of Tiny something followed by a Blind Badger (or similar) and a third (good idea to do thirds of a pint) of Witch’s Milk.  That’s not remotely accurate by the way because I became totally befuddled by a veritable feast of deliciousness at Chettinad and immediately forgot the names of the beers: I should’ve kept the programme.

If you haven’t been to Chettinad I urge you to rectify this immediately.  It’s run by the same people as Shivalli and the food is utterly exquisite.  For starters we had plates piled high with paneer in a sauce with a small dosa on the side (for me) and something with chicken in (for Jan.)  These starters were so huge they could almost have been a main course and I was beginning to regret having ordered a thali.  Fortunately there was a long gap between courses, during which I finished my mango lassi and we talked about Germaine Greer (don’t ask: I may get to her in another post).  Then came the thali.  Oh my god, I thought.  Am I going to get through this?  The answer was of course no, but I did have a great time trying.  There were the usual selection of curries, ranging from mild to hot, plus chappatis, saffron rice in exquisite shades of orange and yellow; and to follow, a gulab jamun.  I asked them to pack up what I couldn’t manage and I will tackle it this evening.  The service, too, was a delight, full of jokes and anecdotes about Tamil Nadu where the cuisine comes from, and such a refreshing change after the corporate smiles and generic conversation of the average restaurant chain.

http://www.chettinadrestaurant.com/restaurants.php

Back to normal today: Quaker meeting followed by gardening and of course the episode of ‘Casualty’ that I missed.

Kirk out

JAM Yesterday, JAM for Fifty Years but No JAM Tomorrow?

The BBC has been forced to issue statements reassuring people that the world is not about to end.  ‘The apocalypse is not upon us,’ tweeted BBC Head of Comedy Julia McKenzie yesterday as Nicholas Parsons missed his first episode of Just a Minute in the show’s fifty-year history.  Shock-waves rocked Radio 4 audiences up and down the country (‘and around the world!’ as Parsons was so often heard to say) as instead of our beloved Parsons, we heard the mellifluous, unctuous and utterly irritating tones of Gyles Brandreth (for it was he.)

In all fairness, Brandreth didn’t do a bad job; in fact I found him much less irritating as chair than as a contestant as he’s forced to be impartial and can’t squeeze in any of the nauseating tributes to Margaret Thatcher of which he is so fond.  JAM is a difficult game to play, which explains why so few new contestants stay the course: Sarah Pascoe was last night a case in point, struggling to rack up more than a few seconds on any of her given subjects.  But it must also be a hard game to adjudicate as you have to listen carefully and make finely-balanced decisions whilst remembering that this is supposed to be entertainment.  Paul Merton is an excellent foil to Parsons (and toned down his usual piss-taking of Brandreth for this episode) in fact he seems to have been born to be on panel shows, which is not something you can say of every comedian.

The BBC has denied that there is anything wrong with Parsons and said that he just wanted a rest; which at the age of 94 is fair enough.  But one wonders just how much longer he can keep going.  There may be JAM tomorrow – but will it be Parsons JAM?

Kirk out

 

Up and Out and Poeting in Leicester and Thurnby

Well first of all a quick catch-up.  I’m always gratified to see that my readership doesn’t slide into the abyss when I’m absent for a few days, but as you will see I’ve been busy.  First, the gigs.  All poets are basically frustrated rock stars: we talk about ‘gigs’ and ‘touring’ as though we were Mick Jagger or Suzie Quattro (that dates me I expect although someone last night commented that they’d recently been to see the Stones and said they were brilliant.)  So on Saturday four of us (three musicians et moi) took the stage for a fundraiser for Momentum at Leicester’s Criterion pub.  Thirty or so people came along to listen and I did a 20-minute set featuring a poem about Corbyn (JC4PM), ‘Spike’ the homeless poem, a couple of poems about Blair and a couple about Jo Cox and her memorial picnic.  These were very well-received and you could hear a pin drop even when the waitress came in to serve pizza.  I like hearing pins drop.

Then last night I finally made it to TABAC which sounds like some underground wartime group but in fact stands for Thurnby and Billesden Acoustic Club, where a good crowd of musicians assembled.  I’m always slightly dubious as to how poetry will be received at these events but I needn’t have worried; it was received with enthusiasm.  It was a great evening with a terrific variety of instruments being aired including a whole caseful of harmonicas, a piano-accordion played by a retired headmistress; a concertina and several guitars and of course Jan with her recorder.  I did three poems: ‘Is Vic There?’ for Victoria Wood; ‘The Lady in the Van’ and ‘Spike’ again.  The evening ended quite late with a lengthy impromptu rendition of ‘Yellow is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair’ to which my contribution was ‘black is the colour of my true love’s feet’.  And so to bed; except that first we had to drive back from Thurnby with missed turnings and diminishing petrol.

What I missed last night (but will catch up on, thanks to the miracle of iplayer) was the final episode of A Very English Scandal, a dramatisation of the Jeremy Thorpe affair in the ’70’s.  Hugh Grant is a revelation in this!  I had him down as this generation’s John le Mesurier, only good for one particular brand of romantic comedy – but I was wrong.  In this miniseries, a drama with a touch of farce, he is utterly thrilling as the dark and menacing Thorpe; in fact he has the man (appropriately enough) to a T.  Ben Wishaw is also brilliant as his victim-turned-blackmailer Norman Scott and Alex Jennings (Charles in ‘The Queen’) plays his Machiavellian sidekick.

I could also have been watching the latest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.  So I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Toodle pip!

Kirk out

Have You Eyes?

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that in yesterday’s sign-off I said it was Tuesday when it was in fact Monday.  All day.  For some reason yesterday seemed like a long day.  Maybe it was because I felt tired – the close, thundery weather that never seems to break can be quite oppressive – or maybe it was because of the sheer Bank-holidayness of it all, but whatever the reason I became a day ahead of myself.

I also wondered if I’d get comments about the title.  Why Jason?  Then again maybe you’re all far more educated than I give you credit for and had sussed straight away the connection between Argos and the story of Jason and the Argonauts:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=opera&q=jason+and+the+argonauts&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Argos (the store) is of course named after the hundred-eyed monster of Greek myth:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=opera&q=argos+greek+mythology&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Eyes also feature strongly (and disturbingly) in King Lear, the latest production of which was broadcast last night.  More on this later as I have yet to catch up with it since we were catching up with The Handmaid’s Tale having watched A Very English Scandal on Sunday night:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-44259959/jeremy-thorpe-the-true-story-of-a-very-english-scandal

It’s all go.

Happy Tuesday.

Kirk out

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

We don’t have local elections here in Leicestershire but if you do, don’t forget to vote.  Local elections are often run on local issues, viz the trees in Sheffield:

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/local-elections-2018-sheffield-tree-felling-labour/

and in London the issue is more likely to be the Windrush scandal:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windrush_scandal

which impacts on how the government is seen both locally and nationally.  Mind you, the Tories in Ilford don’t seem too worried, if this leaflet is anything to go by:

Image result for conservative leaflet Ilford 2018

https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=opera&q=conservative+leaflet+Ilford+2018&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

(I’ve given the google search so you can be sure a number of sources have reported it: I wasn’t sure if it was a spoof at first.)

But now we’ve had a good laugh at the Tories’ expense I come on to today’s question.  Which is, seriously, what is the point of pages intentionally left blank?  I downloaded an e-book yesterday and had to scroll through about half a dozen pages which said ‘This page intentionally left blank.’  Apart from being a contradiction in terms, since, thanks to these words the page is now no longer blank (a pedant would write ‘the rest of this page intentionally left blank’) what is the bleeding point?  In the old days when books were bound and you had to have a set number of pages it was understandable, but with an ebook you can have anything anywhere, can’t you?  So WHAT IS THE POINT???

This goes in the ‘annoying and futile’ bin along with progress bars that don’t show progress:

(https://lizardyoga.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/the-progress-bar-of-sisyphus/)

and voting Conservative (ho ho.)  So…… make sure you head down the polling station some time today – and don’t leave your polling card intentionally blank.

Kirk out

This Post Will Self-Destruct in Ten Seconds

When I was a child one of my favourite TV series was ‘Mission: Impossible’ (not the films – those came later.) 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission:_Impossible

At the beginning of each programme a disembodied voice would say: ‘Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is…’ and I would be on tenterhooks lest they choose not to accept it and there would be no programme.  In fact one week they did choose not to accept it, though thankfully they changed their minds a moment later.  Phew!  The music was thrilling and there was a fuse burning down across the screen – very exciting:

I must have had a deep attachment to programmes back then (I know my life was ruined if I didn’t get to watch ‘Batman’) but somehow as you grow up the attachment wanes: and one programme I have never been tempted to watch is anything with Matey Popkins on it.  In fact I think as a media troll Matey should get as little publicity as possible, which is why I’ve given her a pseudonym, and why this post will self-destruct once it has been read.

The trouble with trolls is that they feed on attention, which is why it may have been a mistake for Theatr Clwyd to put on a play entitled ‘The Assassination of Matey Popkins’:

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/apr/27/the-assassination-of-katie-hopkins-review-theatr-clwyd-mold

Of course Matey, impulsive little scamp that she is, didn’t trouble to find out what the play was actually about and turned up out of nowhere with a giant billboard saying something about free speech or whatever (yeah, yeah).  But the trouble with satire is that unless you know it’s satire, it can look exactly like the thing you’re satirising: so that if all you know is the title, ‘The Ass of Matey Popkins’, rather than coming across as an examination of social media, seems like something much more sinister and intolerant.

Which brings us back to the world of dear old Matey – who has had enough publicity for one day and needs to go back to bed.  Night, night Matey!

Please click the ‘like’ button, after which this post will self-destruct in ten seconds.  Please stand clear of your computer. 

Ten… nine… eight…

Kirk out