Just before Christmas I received a lovely email, from the editor of Freedom In A Puritan Age online journal, enthusing about the book, Metrosexy by Mark Simpson.
The editor asked me to write a review and of course I agreed. I am the only person who has properly reviewed Simpson’s brilliant survey of the rise and rise of men’s tartiness over the last twenty years. So while everyone was finishing off the left-over turkey and port, during the arse-end of the Christmas holidays, I wrote, unpaid, a succinct and positive review of Metrosexy which Fipa journal published.
The year 2012 began with a court case that I thought would be of interest to FIPA. R v Peacock has been called ‘the obscenity trial of the decade’. I wrote an article on it, the long version of which I entitled Puritanism In A Permissive Age, a play on words with FIPAs name. The online journal as I expected they would, published a few articles on the case: including one by Brooke Magnanti of Belle de Jour fame, and one by the academic and brilliant blogger Chris Ashford.I left a few comments on the articles about the trial at FIPA. I posted one of the comments, almost word for word, under Chris’s copy of his FIPA post on his own Law and Sexuality Blog.
However, FIPA never published my comments on their website. I was perplexed, especially as I had only just had contact with them, and it was very positive, about Metrosexy and my review for them.
Then I noticed FIPA were on twitter. I followed them but they didn’t follow back which seemed strange considering I had just contributed to their journal. So I emailed the editor and asked why. This was her reply:
‘I do run the FIPA Twitter account, yes, but to be honest I’d rather not follow yours.
I’d seen some of your blog posts on Mark Simpson’s work, and liked those, but I had no idea about the disruptiveness and the bickering you do with/at other people. That’s not something I want anything to do with personally, or that I want associated with FIPA.
I gather you take exception to being called a ‘troll’, but the “extraneous and off-topic” posts do disrupt and prevent effective discussion so you do seem to fall into that broad category. Your views aren’t unacceptably offensive, but your method of delivery would be a problem for us.
Thank you, again, for the review.’
As you can imagine I asked her to take down my Metrosexy piece immediately. She did within the day. But I was incredibly angry about the behaviour of FIPA because:
A) The subject I was commenting on concerns a trial over somebody’s sexual and economic ‘freedom’. Being ‘censored’ by the people supposedly supporting ‘freedom’ in that context seemed incredibly ironic and made me wonder about their motives in supporting the defendant in the case at all.
B) I had worked for them unpaid over the Christmas holidays. To then be dismissed as a ‘troll’ – which incidentally I believe to be a slur used in a similar way to words like ‘faggot’ and ‘whore’, to suggest someone is not quite human – was quite upsetting to me.
C) The ‘sex positive’ community is riddled with politics and tensions. I was being cast as an ‘outsider’ from the group who take on the role of campaigning for people’s rights in the sexual sphere. Nobody from that sphere stood up for me, and in fact, some of the other writers at FIPA seemed to find my mentioning the incident annoying and unnecessary. So much for ‘solidarity’.
Well I have mentioned it. And I have pointed out the irony in an organisation with ‘freedom’ in its title censoring people on its website like this.
I’ll seek mine and others’ freedoms elsewhere.