How the Tories stole choice

“Choice” is the buzzword of the moment, the favourite word of the Tories. They use that word a lot. I do not think it means what they think it means.

The anti-reality Nadine Dorries was once again given a platform to express her confused opinions in The Guardian’s Comment Is Free section. Her piece is entitled “I want to introduce more choice for those seeking abortion, not less“, which would be a noble goal if that was in any way her intention.

With lies and misinformation, Dorries claims that her amendment to the already-hideous Health and Social Care Bill would increase women’s choice regarding abortion, by giving them access to independent counselling before they make the decision to terminate. Dorries repeats the claim that her amendment is supported by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, which it is not; and claims that counselling provided by abortion services is inadequate and taking away choice from women.

This is not true. Services like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service provide counselling and abortions. 20% of women who approach them change their minds and choose not to have an abortion. This is hardly pushing women into abortions, and is certainly not for the “financial motives” which Dorries declares must be the reason. It is also infinitely preferable that services who are familiar with women seeking abortions to provide counselling services. They are the experts. They have the necessary information and understanding of the psychology of women seeking abortions.An “independent” source may lack such knowledge and provide inferior care.

Dorries asks “Why would anyone imply that I want to make abortion illegal? I fully support quick and easy access to abortion”. Yet this is not quite true. Dorries has said herself she would like to see the abortion limit reduced to 9 weeks.

What Dorries is doing here is part of a long-term strategy to removing access to abortion, starting with something seemingly palatable. This pattern has been seen across the Atlantic, where in many states “counselling” has been made compulsory. The aim of these measures is to discourage women from abortion. This is not widening the right to choose. It is using the language of choice to remove choice.

In this week alone, this is not the only instance of a Tory talking choice when meaning anything but. David Cameron’s White Paper “Open Public Services” hides an odious sentiment inside the pleasant language of choice.

The white paper aims to allow the private sector to take over public services. Cameron declares the aims of the paper to be “choice, diversity, decentralisation, fairness and accountability.”

The first three words, as operationalised in the white paper translate as “increase competition”. Cameron would like to see competition in the areas of the private sector who seek to peck over the remains of our public services. Such competition would not be beneficial to any but the rich and the private sector themselves: in combination with decentralisation, this would lead to exacerbation of “postcode lotteries”–difference in public service provision in different areas.

This is, of course, inherently unfair. Accountability is nothing but another meaningless buzzword from politicians as I fail to see how accountability can be possible if the private sector are not subject to Freedom of Information requests.

Privatisation will not improve our lives: it will make it markedly worse. For an example of this, look no further than Richard Littlejohn’s nemesis: wheelie bins. Rubbish collection is outsourced by most councils to the private sector. With their profit motivation, bins are collected less frequently. This is why waste collection is utter rubbish. The private sector do not provide good services. They provide as little as possible to make as much money as possible.

Imagine if all of our public services were this bad.

According to David Cameron, this is “choice”.

The Tories have stolen the word “choice” and used it as a charming euphemism to describe their imposition of their will on the people: Nadine Dorries with her religiously-motivated crusade against bodily autonomy; David Cameron with his reckless pursuit of a neoliberal nightmare.

It is not choice. It is a lie, and a rhetorical device. To fight this, we may be met with the phrase “do you hate choice?”

We should choose to fight these measures precisely because we like choice.

Kallistei: the curse of Eris

Eris, the goddess of discord and strife, was pissed off. The other gods were having a party and nobody had thought to invite her. Perhaps they had snubbed her; she had a habit of ruining parties by disagreeing with everyone and trying to start a fight. Nobody liked to sit next to the goddess of discord when all she did was whisper gossip into their ears. “Hera finds your hunchback repulsive, Hephaestos”; “Demeter thinks you smell a bit fishy, Poseidon”; “You are literally the only Olympian Zeus wouldn’t fuck”.

It pissed Eris off, being left out like that: a perfectly enjoyable night of low-level discord at a wedding, which doubled the fun. She had been planning on seeing just how much she could ruin the happy couple’s union before the marriage were even consumated. If they had only invited her to the party, perhaps she would have played nice and spent just one evening without deciding that the world needed more wars and it was her job to make that happen.

Eris thought hard about how to spoil the party for those bastards who excluded her. Something simple, something divisive, something that would fuck shit up entirely. Turning an apple over in her hands, a plan formed.

Catfight, Eris thought. A catfight so epic it will be remembered for thousands of years to come.

Taking a knife, she carved a message into the apple. One word, a few letters with the potential to bring down cities.

ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗΙ.

The wedding feast was in full swing. Gods and heroes danced together, wine flowed. They did not see her there. Eris could have joined the party, but she was pissed off.

Eris lobbed the apple, high into the air. It tumbled, glinting gold. Heads turned skyward.

The apple landed with a bounce between three goddesses. Eris stood back to watch; a smile playing at her lips. They read the message.

Kallistei. For the fairest.

Aphrodite, goddess of love, declared that it must be hers. She was beautiful, she embodied passion and love. Surely it must be hers?

Cow-eyed Hera, the goddess of marriage, claimed the apple for her own. Her own marriage was a shambles: her husband Zeus fucked his way around the pantheon. They had never had the conversation about boundaries and limits. If they had, Zeus would not have heeded it, so Hera responded to his transgressions with vengeful wrath. Her insecurities led her believe that someone must see her as the fairest.

Even smart Athene, clever Athene, goddess of wisdom and warfare, fell prey to the apple’s message. Athene wished fervently that she were the fairest. She declared it hers.

To settle the dispute of who was most beautiful, the goddesses took what they believed to be the only democratic approach: they would ask a man to validate their beauty. They petitioned Zeus, king of the gods with a roving eye for beauty.

He refused. His relationship with his wife was fraught enough. Any answer he gave, he thought, would be wrong.

And so they chose a mortal man, Paris of Troy, who had a decent track record in settling disputes. The three goddesses agreed that he could judge their beauty and tell them, once and for all, who was the fairest, and who owned the apple.

Eris smiled.

Paris chose Aphrodite in the end. She had the power of enchantment and love, and promised Paris the love of the most beautiful mortal woman alive. The other goddesses bickered, knowing Aphrodite had played dirty. They were gratified as a war began. Athene returned to her rightful place, strategising over the Trojan war. Troy fell after a war of ten years.

Eris smiled.

The golden apples of the days of gods with human failings shift forms. They were, after all, only symbols of scarcity.

Yet the curse of Eris remains as potent as ever. Kallistei, emblazoned across this season’s must-have Louboutins. Kallistei, tattooed on the arm of the rock star boyfriend. Kallistei, vajazzled across a bald cunt. Divisive symbols, belonging only to the fairest.

We squabble, we beg men to validate our beauty, and Eris smiles.

Revolutionary envy

As I write this, Athens is aflame with metaphorical revolutionary spirit, and literal fire from firebombs and the revolutionary tendency to burn stuff.

They call themselves the Αγανακτισμένων, the indignant. In parallel, the Spanish have the Indignados.

Greece and Spain are doing fairly well in terms of revolution. Srtiking images of crowds of people sick of the parasitic system they inhabit flood the news. Their efforts may prove futile in the future, but they are not without soul. It is a beautiful sight: a roiling mass of faces screaming against their masters. They have, for now at least, had enough.

Contrast with the British anti-cuts movement.

We are not indignant. We are a little bit pissed off.

There are those of us who care, of course there are. We are the ones who expressed disappointment at the failure of the March 26th marches. Some of us tried to occupy Trafalgar Square, imitating the Egyptian example. It seems to be working well in Greece and Spain, the occupation of public squares.

Our revolution is currently confined to interminable consensus meetings leading to small direct actions leading to arrests. We do not have the tipping point, where seemingly most of the population of a city runs riot through clouds of tear gas and smoke. We sit and listen to the same male voices drone about minor theoretical points.

Our “anti-cuts movement” lacks rage, lacks anger. Perhaps it is a by-product of British culture. Perhaps it is because the majority of British people see no reason to be furious.

We are not the indignant. We are the dry, the boring, the floundering; against something, but unemotional.

Is it time to become the Absolutely Fucking Livids?

Cunts, bitches and weeping syphilitic chodes

In a recent post, I called Brendan O’Neill a weeping syphilitic chode, and I was deluged by complaints that I had used a gendered insult. Hypocrite!  Twitter harrumphed. Look at the big mean feminist saying nasty things about men! 

I received more complaints from that one remark than I have ever received for using the word “cunt”, which, Cursebird tells me, has been 640 times on Twitter alone. A more detailed breakdown of my swearing was unavailable, but I imagine a large proportion of that was during episodes of Question Time, where I tend to tweet prolifically about how the entire panel is comprised of terrible cunts.

In fact, had I called O’Neill a weeping syphilitic cunt, I doubt much would have come of it.

I swear a lot, then. I will gleefully throw around cock, cunt, bellend, twat and ballbag with impunity. To me, anatomical terms are, as Forty Shades Of Grey puts it, just words

I use other body parts as insults too: arsehole, and its derivatives, for example. “You big shitting arsehole”; “you sphincter”, “you ringpiece”, e.g. I heard a fantastic anecdote which culminated in a thoroughly odious person being put down with being called a “little finger”.

I am not convinced that using a body part as an insult can be gendered. Gender is, after all, nothing to do with what is hanging between one’s legs. Men can have cunts; women, cocks; and moving beyond traditional binary notions of gender, anything goes. Anyone can have a weeping syphilitic chode.

To me, there are some slurs that do have gendered connotations. They are not disembodied parts of the anatomy. They are the words used to regulate behaviour of those who do not conform to their prescribed gender roles. Take, for example, “bitch”, which, with a variety of different uses tells women how to behave. Don’t set boundaries, or you’re a mean bitch. Don’t show more than the “correct” amount of emotion, or you’re a crazy bitch.

Some of these words are not even rude, but used to tick off women for behaving in a certain way: prima donnas, divas and drama queens. These are women who draw too much attention to themselves rather than sit meekly in the shadows.

Although I walked in the SlutWalk and self-identify as an ethical slut, I have misgivings about the word. We are in the process of reclaiming the word; it is still thrown as a weapon to attack women who fail to conform to society’s sexual expectations. I believe this word to be salvageable–a person who enjoys consensual sex–but we have far to go before the word becomes neutral.

These words are all thrown at men, too, once again to enforce gender-appropriate behaviour: if a man is a drama queen, a bitch, a diva, he is like a woman, which is supposed to serve as doubly insulting. Some feminising words are developed entirely to be hurled at men, like “sissy“. I am unfamiliar with any words which are used to enforce behaviour for men which do not feminise. If there are any, I would like to know.

It is the weapons to force me to behave in a manner which is acceptable to society that I truly find offensive. A floating anatomical part cannot hurt me. Behavioural enforcement can.

Search terms.

 

I occupy my days working on a PhD which includes a hefty chunk of taxonomy development. This blog is half procrastination and half catharsis from said day job. Unfortunately, sometimes they meld together. While looking through the search terms which lead to this blog, I happened upon something worrying: I was mentally taxonomising search terms.

I hereby present a taxonomy of search terms used to find this blog. They are all real search terms.

I. The relevant (these are, unfortunately, slightly boring)

1. Feminism

A. “Straw feminist” statements: “all men are rapists”, “feminists hate men”.

B. General searches for information about feminism: “what is misogyny?” “how many people identify as feminists?” “feminists and equal pay”

2. Psychology concepts

A. Relating to ambivalent sexism: “reverse scored items in the ASI”, “how to measure misogyny”, etc.

B. Relating to evolutionary psychology: “evolutionary psychology”, “evolutionary psychology critique”

C. Relating to Nudge: Only one of these so far, but it made me the happiest woman in the world: “nudge- worst book of the year”. Yes. Yes it was.

3. Names of people mentioned in this blog: Dorries and Roger Helmer MEP. I am glad.

4. This blog– searches for “Another Angry Woman” or “stavvers”. Meta.

II. The irrelevant (In which I extend an apology to all those who found this blog looking for porn, and instead ended up with feminism)

1. Searches for porn 

A. Knicker-based porn: “british woman flashes knickers”, “world’s sexiest woman giving you a glimpse of their knickers”, “upskirt orgasme [sic]”

B. Porn involving belly buttons: “fucking beautiful navels”, “sex with navel”.

C. Porn involving hairy women: “hairy woman in the world naked pic”, “big cock fuk hairy cunt [sic]”

D. The quest for fanny: the top referrer in search terms to this blog is “female fannies”. More so than searching my name.

2. Sex advice for fanciers of angry women

Invariably pertains to sex with angry women, for example, “how to make an angry woman calm by fucking”, “learn how to fuck angry woman”. For the former, I would say that fucking isn’t always the best approach to making an angry woman calm.

3. The downright bizarre

Some absolute blinders here:

“islamic view of wisdom teeth”

“drawing or picture of an angry woman with a tray full of fruits”

“black bloc badminton” I do hope this tactic is adopted at future demos. I am not sure the police would know how to react if a black bloc showed up and started enthusiastically volleying a shuttlecock.

The vast majority of searches were of the not-relevant variety, which leads me to ponder a new tagline for the blog:

“Another Angry Woman: Sorry. You probably weren’t asking for it.”

Accompanied, of course, with a drawing or picture of an angry woman with a tray full of fruits.

 

Porn and creativity

I have several reservations about the porn industry. Some of it is political: I would be completely comfortable with the idea of porn were it no so deeply entangled in capitalism and a system of beliefs with some distinctly unpleasant views about gender and sex–even the term “porn industry” shows how commodified sex is in this system. Some of it is personal–if I am watching people fucking, I prefer to be in the same room as them.

My other personal qualm is that much of the porn I have seen tends to be dull. It is a tedious representation of sex. It is repetitive. And it is repetitive.

There seems to be little room for creativity in mainstream porn: it is like summer blockbusters, a presentation of what the executives think their audience want to see. The plots of porn films are as hackneyed as a Michael Bay orgy of explosions; the sex presented within as thoroughly monotonous as yet another superhero origins film. Everything has been done to death. In fact, there is probably a porn film featuring vampires which is called Done To Death.

It surprises me, therefore, when I see deviations, slight glints of creativity in an otherwise lifeless industry.

Porn puns, for example. I appreciate a good pun, and the porn industry seems to be surprisingly good at delivering rather brilliant sex puns based on aspects of popular culture. It is a rather depressing thought that four hundred years ago, this niche was filled by Shakespeare.

Yet pun-based porn titles often make me laugh. Big Trouble In Little Vagina. Sex Trek: The Next Penetration. Shaving Ryan’s Privates  Prude and Pre-juiced. 

I cannot help but laugh. Faint twinkles of imagination; thought went into those titles. It is particularly apparent when compared to other porn versions of real films, such as the obvious Edward Penishands or the horrifyingly stale The Erotic Witch Project. Even The Bare Tits Project would have been a superior title to that banal title.

A similar vein runs through the dim attempts at adding plot to porn. Bored housewives and naughty students still thrive as the storyline holding together a string of spiritlessly rehashed scenes of fucking. It is only rarely that a flicker of something offbeat is seen. What sometimes emerges is surreal and extraordinary.

For example, one film begins with a Russian tank breaking down in front of Sarah Palin’s house. The Russians wish to use Palin’s telephone to call the Kremlin. Fucking ensues.

In another devastatingly bizarre porn introduction, a couple gush over their new lemon tree and its “endless possibilities”, and bemoan the “damn lemon-stealing whores” which appear to be a problem in their neighbourhood. Unbeknownst to them, a lemon whore is stealing their lemons as this conversation is taking place.

A friend of mine once watched a porno which started with a fish falling from the sky and knocking a man out, necessitating his stay in hospital. At one point, she recalls a scene in which an operation was performed, which involved some interpretive ribbon-twirling dance and a tray of eyeballs.

Following all of these quirky introductions, the fucking is as predictable and mechanical as always. Creativity in porn will only go so far. Summer blockbusters always outsell the more interesting films.

I would like the porn industry better were it not so hackneyed. Under capitalism and under society’s current expectations of sex, the best we will get is the odd funny pun, and the occasional peculiar situation. It all leads to the same old contrived fucking.

 

Rapture

If you are reading this, I have not been raptured, and neither have you. This is a good thing, as it means I will not miss Doctor Who.

It was unlikely to happen anyway, as I am a bit naughty by Magic Sky Daddy’s standards. Even there, I cannot help but blaspheme.

The good news is, rapture is perfectly possible for every one of us. It is another nice thing that has been stolen by organised religion. Go and find a dictionary. Any dictionary. Look up the definition of rapture.

It will, invariably, contain some reference to ecstatic, overwhelming emotion.

Now go and find any piece of literature containing a sex scene. Chances are, the word “rapture” will appear, particularly if it is a poorly-written clichéd romance novel.

And there it is. Rapture is dead easy. You do not need to leap through hoops set by oppressors in the name of an imaginary being or have a temporal lobe seizure.

Have a wank. Fuck.

And that is why religions tend to impose limits on sex.