Julie Bindel, I can fuck who I like. You can go and fuck yourself.

Julie Bindel is largely famous among feminists with decent politics for her continued commitment to transphobia. Perhaps she has a bigotry bingo card to fill in, but it also transpires that she expresses some fairly staggering levels of biphobia.

In an article in the Huffington Post, Bindel presents a somewhat intellectually incoherent argument which veers from “bisexual women don’t exist” to “bisexual women shouldn’t exist”.

First, Bindel’s “evidence” that bisexual women don’t exist: almost 20 years ago, some lesbian and bisexual women were interviewed, and some self-identified bisexual women doubted bisexual women existed. “Some” is a useful quantity in the hack counting system, denoting a figure larger than one and smaller than “many” to inflate a small numerical fluke into a¬†soup√ßon¬†of pseudoscience for a column. This is aside from the fact that the notion of a bisexual woman doubting the existence of bisexual women is paradoxical enough to make Bertrand Russell stop worrying about who shaves the barber.

Perhaps even Bindel realised that this assertion was a bucket of distended¬†haemorrhoids, because she then goes on to say this: “if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men.” See, apparently, queer women who fuck men are “living under the tyrrany of sexism” and for “liberation” we need to “choose” to be lesbians.

I fail to see anything remotely liberatory about having some hack with bad politics dictating who I can fuck. It comes in an ugly pincer manoeuvre: on one side, the conservative hets think that my gulps from the furry cup are somehow corrupting their children. On the other are the radfems, who think I’m being oppressed by the cock.

And both lots can fuck off. Removing the autonomy to choose who one can and cannot fuck is not feminism and it never can be.

To respond to Bindel’s rubbish, the brilliant Deborah Grayson has decided to match the 400 women–some of whom doubt the existence of bisexuals–with 400 women who believe bisexual women exist. Because it would be a piece of piss to find that, Deborah’s made it a little harder: they need to be called Sarah. So if you’re a Sarah and outraged by what Bindel’s been saying, join up. If you know any Sarahs who might have an opinion on the matter, invite them.

It is fortunate that the argument Bindel puts forward has little currency. It’s time to kill it completely.

This is how seriously the police take rape

I will confess to having a very low opinion of the police’s ability to handle rape cases, having written several times before on the matter. Even I was surprised, though, by this story. It shows things are even worse than I thought.

A second detective working in the Met Police’s Sapphire unit–a specialist unit for rape cases–has been arrested for falsifying documents in order to get rape investigations shelved. The recently-arrested officer was involved in over sixty cases, and in almost two thirds of them, he claimed the investigation was over. The other officer falsified statements and reports, and wrote to survivors telling them their investigations had stopped, even though this had not happened.

It’s a disgusting business. The people who sought help through official channels–who are already in a minority of rape survivors–have been thoroughly let down by some men covering the backs of rapists and working hard to preserve rape culture through any means possible.

This goes beyond not taking rape allegations seriously, which is enough of a problem in and of itself: the Sapphire unit also managed to miss at least two serial rapists through sheer negligence and not investigating properly.

Even the police have realised they might have a bit of a problem. They have said they have had their “Macpherson moment”–a reference to the Macpherson investigation into police racism following the Stephen Lawrence case. They promise to tighten up supervision and sack any officers who aren’t up to scratch. We all know the impact of Macpherson: police racism totally stopped overnight and they got better and certainly never racially abused anyone ever again. I have very little faith in the police’s ability to mend this and make it right.

So what can be done? Ultimately, the system needs to transform. Rape culture is why allegations are not taken seriously, and some turn to actively foiling rape investigations. It is rape culture–every tiny aspect of it, not just the ones we can see–that needs to go, not a few “bad apple” policemen so the Met can pretend they have done something.

Update: Gherkingirl has written a very powerful (though triggering) post about her experience of negligence and forgery from Sapphire. Her bravery and persistence has led to positive change and this story going public, though it’s sad that this ever had to happen to her in the first place.

Lesbian sex: IT’S A TRAP! (apparently)

AskMen.com is one of the darker corners of the internet. I last turned my fire on them for presenting pick up lines to run away from really quickly, but this time they’ve excelled themselves with an article entitled “SCIENTIFIC FACT: HOW SHE TRICKS YOU INTO CHEATING“.

So, how are these conniving bitches tricking men into accepting infidelity? Apparently, by fucking women. Twitterer @cwhelton has illustrated this conjecture admirably.

According to “science”, apparently men are far more likely to accept a woman partner’s infidelity if she cheats with a woman rather than a man. AskMen offer this scientific analysis:

Research shows that part of the problem is that the male’s perception of two women getting it on is erotic, and envisioning themselves joining the party is like the double rainbow of sex fantasies.

Out of morbid curiosity, I hunted down the original study, “Sex Differences in Response to Imagining a Partner’s Heterosexual or Homosexual Affair”, which can be downloaded from the author’s website. The study takes an evolutionary psychology tack, and the AskMen article is therefore an instance of the “human centipede” approach to science reporting: regurgitating a shit study into even shittier shit.

The authors hypothesised that men would be less likely to forgive a female partner if she cheated on them with a man than with a woman, because of the risk of her getting pregnant from a heterosexual affair. They weren’t really sure about women’s responses.

To test their hypotheses, they administered a survey to some students, in two parts. In part one, they were asked to imagine a scenario wherein a partner was cheating in either a same-sex or heterosexual affair, and then quizzed on how likely they would be to forgive the partner. As a point of comparison, they were asked if they had ever experienced infidelity and whether they forgave the partner. In this section, they were never asked if it was a same-sex or heterosexual experience of cheating, which sort of blows any real-world significance of the results right out of the water. Also not asked: whether the participants were heterosexual or somewhere on the queer spectrum. Also not asked: anything to do with why they would forgive or not forgive the real or imagined partners.

On the whole, women were less likely to forgive infidelity than men. This was probably skewed by more than half of the male participants saying they would forgive a female partner who cheated with another woman (although only 22% would forgive cheating with a man). The results skewed the other way with the women participants: fewer would forgive a partner cheating with another man than with another woman.

In their discussion, the authors return to banging the pregnancy drum, an analysis that their own results don’t really support: if it were entirely down to risk of pregnancy (and all the childrearing shit that evolutionary psychologists obsess over), then, surely, women would also be more likely to forgive a same-sex affair.

It gives me great distress to announce that AskMen’s analysis of the experimental results–lesbian sex is hot–is actually a better analysis than that provided by the authors of the study. There are a lot of societal prejudices at play here: lesbian sex isn’t seen as “real” sex by many heterosexuals (poor them), while sex between men is still subject to a lot of stigma. Lesbians are hot; gays are icky.

This attitude pervades not just the Normals with their tedious concerns about cheating, but also the poly/open relationship community: it is still far more common to see men with harems of women, men defining terms of their relationships wherein women may only play with other women, and the dreaded Unicorn Hunters. It’s everywhere, and it really needs to fuck off.

With some better science, it might be interesting to get to the bottom of why so many are squicked by gay sex but turned on by lesbian sex. And then we can make the myth die forever.

__

Tip of the masochistic hat to @syn who found the AskMen article.

Support CeCe McDonald

CeCe McDonald is a young African American trans woman. Last year, she and some friends walked past a bar, and two cis white women and one cis white man began to hurl abuse at her. They used racist language. They told CeCe she was “dressed as a woman” to “rape”. One of the aggressors smashed a glass into CeCe’s face, causing serious facial injuries. A fight broke out, involving more people than just CeCe. What happened is not clear, but the white male aggressor was fatally stabbed.

CeCe was arrested, spending much of the last year in solitary confinement in a men’s prison “for her safety”. She was repeatedly misgendered by the media.

Two days ago, CeCe was sentenced. Under pressure, she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. She has been sentenced to 41 months, which she will have to serve in a men’s prison.

CeCe’s case lays bare some of the pervasive prejudices which permeate USian society. This bright young woman’s gender is accepted by neither the legal system nor by her aggressors. The abuse she received on basis of her gender is the same old tired shit that needs to die: the myth that trans people are disguising themselves as women to rape is perpetuated by right-wing zealots and radical feminists alike. It’s all just unacceptable bigotry. Likewise, the legal system have given CeCe two options: to serve out her sentence alone in solitary confinement, or to live at risk as a woman in a men’s prison. These are not choices.

The colour of CeCe’s skin plays a role. In the USian prison system, people of colour are disproportionately represented. The abuse CeCe received at the hands of her attackers and the legal system alike is related to her race. That she ended up pleaing guilty to a lesser offence for a shorter sentence is hardly surprising: this is all part of a coercive “justice” system.

In all this, though, we must remember that CeCe McDonald is not a political symbol, a synecdoche of a corrupt system. CeCe McDonald is a person who is suffering, and there are things that we can do to help her. Forty Shades of Grey is organising two letter writing campaigns: one to write to CeCe to let her know that she is not alone in the world, and one to the bastards who put her in prison. Please read her post and follow the links. Please support CeCe McDonald.

How Prometheus could have worked: an attempt at salvaging a train wreck

Warning: this post contains major spoilers for¬†Prometheus.¬†If you haven’t seen¬†Prometheus¬†yet, don’t bother.

I love the¬†Alien¬†films. Both of them. I therefore spent the best part of this year buoyant on little guffs of excitement that its prequel,¬†Prometheus, was on its way and OHMYGOD IT’S GOING TO BE SO FUCKING AWESOME. I was delighted that Ridley Scott was back in his rightful place doing an Alien film and OHMYGOD IT’S GOING TO BE SO FUCKING AWESOME. I yelped with glee on discovering its cast consisted of some of my favourite actors all together in the same film and OHMYGOD IT’S GOING TO BE SO FUCKING AWESOME.

About half an hour into actually finally getting to see Prometheus, the crescendo of crushing disappointment began. It had absolutely none of the subtle brilliance of its predecessor. It was trying to do too much, far, far too much. It was an incoherent arse-splatter of special effects with a bunch of cardboard characters doing stupid things that made no goddamn sense whatsoever.

Ultimately, perhaps, its biggest undoing was its budget. Alien was magnificent due to its shoestring budget forcing it to be all about reaction rather than action. Aliens, while more a straight-up action flick, managed to be great as it was still within the constraints of the special effects of its time.

Meanwhile, Prometheus felt like Ridley Scott looked at his cheque and said “OHMYGOD THIS IS GOING TO BE SO FUCKING AWESOME! I’m going to have a jars of alien-juice and aliens in someone’s eyeballs and a man possessed by zombie-alien-rage and some aliens that look a bit like snakes and an alien in someone’s tummy and gigantic white different aliens and a massive fuckoff facehugger and fuck it, let’s show a whole alien because we can do it with CGI and it definitely won’t look shit.”

Well, Ridley, thanks to all that, your film was a complete pile of shitting arses. And the CGI alien did look like shit.

The thing is, though, there were ideas in that film that could have worked. There were scenes that could have worked. Had Scott been constrained, he might have actually had to think about ideas rather than various high-budget body horrors happening to people we didn’t really care about.

In a conversation with Mediocre Dave–who possibly humoured me in any attempt to salvage that film because I paid for his cinema ticket–I began to think about how it could work. I will sell this pitch to Hollywood for a complete refund of our cinema tickets, a written apology from Ridley Scott for¬†Kingdom of Heaven, and an evening in the company of Michael Fassbender. It will be much better and much cheaper than Scott’s¬†Prometheus.

The premise remains the same: Noomi Rapace and her boyfriend who is probably a famous actor too find another cave painting and persuade some rich dude to let them go to a far away planet to find their ancestors. On this ship are also Idris Elba and Charlize Theron and android-Fassbender (who was by far and away the best thing about that film), and the rich old dude, who can actually be played by an old dude, because I’m not sure why they bothered with covering Guy Pearce with prosthetics. We don’t need to worry about any of the rest of the characters, and Old Rich Dude isn’t hidden away in a box, there in the open, having co-opted Noomi Rapace’s misson for his own, like he did in the film except without some shitty attempt at a plot twist.

Several themes will be explored in this version of¬†Prometheus,¬†many of which I suspect Scott was attempting at doing if he hadn’t got all overexcited by the myriad ways he could literally ram xenomorphs down people’s throats. It will explore patriarchy, a robot’s attempt at understanding human emotion and the perils of curiosity.

We’ll keep the scenes of the android studying languages, playing bicycle basketball and learning to be human from old films, because they were cool. The aesthetic of the ship, though, should be¬†less swish, as should all the technology: recall this is taking place before¬†Alien, after all. We don’t need any fancy drone-ball things. And when the humans wake up, it would be nice if they could establish some relationships with each other.

So then they all get to the planet, and Noomi and Boyfriend and Space Stringer Bell and Robo-Fassbender go and explore the big creepy Ancestor-Cave. Old Rich Dude and Charlize Theron stay aboard the¬†Prometheus, with Old Rich Dude barking orders of where to go and Charlize Theron being pragmatic. Our characters have a poke round the cave, realise it’s terraformed and start taking off helmets while Charlize Theron perhaps suggests that this is a terrible idea.

But they do it anyway, probably with Old Rich Dude egging them on.

Down in the caves, they realise Something Is Terribly Wrong and the ancestors are all horribly deaded, and the water’s moving, and they get the fuck out of there. Unfortunately, by some accident, Boyfriend ingests some water.

Back on the ship, everyone’s very disappointed, except Robo-Fassbender who is kind of baffled by this. Crucially, though, they never leave the ship again, thus radically reducing the film’s budget and adding some dramatic claustrophobia. Also, this neatly does away with the utterly ghastly “meeting the creators” theme which never works, as is beautifully explained here.

In this version of¬†Prometheus, Noomi’s infertility and the impact it has on her relationship with her boyfriend is better explored and discussed in more depth than a few lines before they have a misery-fuck. In general, there’s a lot more character development and dialogue other than “AAAUGH IT’S BREAKING MY ARM”. But, nonetheless, Noomi and Boyfriend have their misery-fuck.

Trapped miles away from any safety, Boyfriend realises Something Is Horribly Wrong when he notices Alien Eyeball Worms. Naturally, everyone freaks the fuck out over this (except, probably, Rich Old Dude, who is fascinated and curious), and pop him in Magical Medi-Pod, which gives him a once-over and reckons he’s all right. Charlize Theron is sceptical about this. Boyfriend and Noomi are terrified. Space-Stringer just wants to get the fuck out. Robo-Fassbender is politely baffled by mortality and sickness.

Naturally, Boyfriend gets progressively worse, and our characters continue to freak the fuck out as Something Is Dreadfully Wrong. Eventually, this all culminates in him shoving Noomi out of the way and getting flamethrowered by Charlize Theron. Who then airlocks him for good measure, which obviously rather upsets the people who are closer to him.

They check themselves for contamination, and Robo-Fassbender announces Noomi’s pregnancy to Noomi, who, of course, freaks the fuck out. Robo-Fassbender is befuddled, knowing about her upset about her infertility.

Off she goes to the Medi-Pod which is only configured for treating men, and therefore cannot give Noomi the abortion she desperately needs. With the right set-up, this can suddenly be metaphorical for patriarchal access to medical care: my¬†Prometheus has already shown a bit of men exerting their dominance with Rich Old Dude and Boyfriend. And obviously, it’d be better set-up than what I puked out in a late-night blogpost. So she goes for the excruciating abdominal surgery and attempts to immolate the facehugging foetus.

Unfortunately, all this is in vain, as the bastard gets loose and crawls around the ventilation ducts generally causing a menace. We never get a good look at it, we don’t want to.

Ultimately, our characters realise what they have to do. Their ship lacks weaponry, and they can’t survive to tell their story because that’d fuck up the rest of the¬†Alien¬†canon. They discuss this. Perhaps Robo-Fassbender with his confused emotions proposes it. Eventually, they take the decision.

The film ends with the ship exploding and the “last transmission of the Prometheus” playing in voice-over.

In this slice-and-dice, I attempted to preserve as much of Prometheus as possible, while hacking out the very worst. Were I to cut any further, it would be two minutes of Robo-Fassbender walking round a spaceship.

Nationalism is sexy (for small values of “sexy”)

As London prepares for the Jubilee, it begins to resemble Nuremburg, albeit with a flag with far worse¬†Gestalt than the original. Flags are draped everywhere. Bunting crosses streets, gold-trimmed flags hang vertically from lampposts, windows and police watchtowers. If it’s static, they stick a flag on it. Even if it moves, they’ll probably find a way of bunging a flag on it.

Capitalism and nationalism often make comfortable bedfellows, so it is hardly surprising that manufacturers of cheap tat with a tacky Union Jack on it stand to make a killing. It should also come as no surprise, then, that this flag-waving nationalism is trying is best to find its way into our bedrooms–and, in some cases, our cunts.

Perhaps the guiltiest party in this is Ann Summers, who are still falling over themselves to be the worst sex shop in the observable universe. In their flagship Soho store, posters proudly proclaim they are celebrating “60 YEARS OF GIRLS ON TOP”–a tragic misunderstanding of the difference between The Queen and queening. They encourage customers to put on Jubilee-themed Ann Summers parties, standing to win a bit of wine and a special edition Jubilee vibrator if they take over ¬£200. Their limited edition Jubilee vibrator, incidentally, looks like this. Were it not for the name “Diamante Jubilee Bullet”, one would never know it had anything to do with the Queen. It’s like they had a stock of low-grade bullets and needed to get rid of them by any means necessary.

For the more overtly nationalistically-inclined, Ann Summers offer a Union Jack bullet, which apparently no handbag should be without. I’m glad we’ve cleared up the matter of what the Queen carries in that mysterious clutch of hers, then. Incidentally, I use the term “jack” rather than “flag” not to troll the pedants, but because there are no clear guidelines as to which one to use when the symbol is flying between someone’s thighs.

For the nationalist who prefers better quality vibrators, with more power and the possibility of insertion, I’m afraid I couldn’t find anything. Likewise, I am not aware of the existence of any butt plugs, which means puns about anal nationalism will not be forthcoming. However, for nationalists who find their sex lives enhanced by adornments, there are plenty of options.

First up is the “sexy pout lip transfer“, which turns a minor erogenous zone into something resembling a BNP rally. It’s a niche fetish, but someone’s probably into it. That, however is not a sign of the apocalypse. This is:

For the lucky people who do not know what a vajazzle is, stop reading here. Preserve that beautiful innocence. Basically, a vajazzle involves removal of the pubic hair and replacing it with stick-on gems. In this case, gems celebrating the Queen’s amazing prowess at living for a really long time. This product comes from Lovehoney, who generally sell a mix of low-end fetish wear and mid-range dildos, and I’m thoroughly disappointed in them as their USP is “a bit better than Ann Summers”.

If you want your nationalistic vajazzle slightly less seasonal, never fear. You may also adorn your cunt with these Union Jack hearts, which look frighteningly similar to coasters made by small children.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ, you cry? Unfortunately, there don’t seem to any nationalistic products catering to men. Perhaps we really are celebrating 60 years of girls on top?

It’s not all bad, though. For the next round of bread and circuses, the discerning gentleman may like to demonstrate his support for the Motherland with this:

That right there. The Olympic Cock Ring. I would be far more in favour of the Olympics if the opening ceremony consisted of Boris Johnson and four LOCOG representatives getting in to that contraption. Given that the vendors of the product are no longer selling it, I suspect that the Olympic branding lot have issued a swift C&D, and somewhere a designer of patriotic sex toys is rotting in a police cell.

Nationalism and sex. We have moved on slightly, perhaps, since the days of cheesecake girls painted on bombs, but not as much as one might think. It is  sexy-lite which is sold to us draped in flags, the socially acceptable high-street sexy which is more about appearances than pleasure itself. It is the sex of More Magazine rather than anything else.

This Jubilee weekend, why not riot instead?

Update: @MediocreDave has brought to my attention some nationalist-sex I have missed: Zoo Magazine’s “DIAMOND BOOBILEE“. Between the disembodied tits and the fact the headline was clearly written by a six year old, I have three words: Fuck. This. Shit.