Archive for June, 2012

This week I am hosting the @londonisyours twitter account. Inspired by the success of  the @sweden twitter project, a different Londoner can tweet about London and their life for 7 days. I am in the middle of my week on the job, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

London is a big, overwhelming city, especially to someone like me who is not born and bred here. So in order to make the subject more manageable, I chose some themes that I am very familiar with. I have been asking people to nominate their favourite #londonbookshops , to tell me examples of writing about London #londonwriting , and to share some of the best #londongigs they have been to in the capital.

On Monday night I went to see Saint Etienne at the Palladium, a great London venue and a wonderful classic pop band.

If you’re on twitter, do follow the @londonisyours tweets, not just while I am doing them!

And, if you live in London and would like a turn hosting the account, check out the London Is Yours Blog for information about how to apply.

I don’t know how long I am going to be living here in this metropolis. It is definitely growing on me. And I am glad, that even if one day I do up sticks and ‘leave the capitol’, I have participated in a positive project celebrating the people and attractions of the city.

Nadal won the French Open tennis tournament this year. But after his victory he returned to his hotel room to find the £240,000 watch he had been modelling in France for a fashion brand, had been stolen.

The watch was retrieved in the end and the thief identified. But what is interesting to me is just how much of a priority advertising, modelling and sponsorship is to the young Spanish tennis ace.

In metrosexual culture, sports stars, especially the men, are not just athletes and competitors. They are also ‘brands’ themselves, and they spend a lot of time and energy securing work making money advertising products and being sponsored by big companies.

Federer advertises Rolex, Beckham advertises anything he can, Djokovic advertises HEAD sports equipment.

Nadal’s ‘metrosexy’ earnings and work are so important to him that he did not compete in the Queens tennis tournament in London recently, because British tax laws mean he would lose too much of his sponsorship cash as a result of his participation in the competition.

And Tom Daley’s coach a few months ago expressed concern that the young diver does too much media work, which takes him away from training.

This is all interesting, not least because the ‘received wisdom’ is that it is women and women sports stars who are ‘objectified’ in our culture, and who are treated as glamorous models and objects of desire. When in fact, the men are developing careers in ‘passive display’ that seem to be equally important to them as their sports.

Some links about these stories here:

Metrosexual references here:

This is a poem by Mervyn Morris, I think it speaks for itself.


Flaunting his gym-toned pectorals,

washboard stomach,

fashion- conscious locks,

he worked the image of philanderer,

every woman’s fantasy or threat.

But something tremulous inside

his gravelly baritone exposed

a small boy quivering in the dark,

his mother dead, his father gone away,

groping for explanations.


I have found myself returning again and again to the question of how machismo relates to metrosexual masculinity? I don’t know if I can answer it. But the above poem is definitely as good an attempt as any.

Punk music was  very male-dominated but there are some great women punk artists such as Siouxsie Sioux and Poly Styrene.  I have written about punk and metrosexuality before!

Someone claims that Brigitte Bardot would ‘rip Debbie Harry to shreds’, showing simultaneously that they know Blondie’s work whilst also being able to gently put down the peroxide artiste.

But I have news for them. Debbie Harry is as hard as nails. She would have to be, to make a name for herself in that ‘male dominated’ arena of punk pop music! NOBODY would rip her to shreds.

SO I am going to list my favourite hard as nails punk WOMEN who are as strong, provocative and downright scary as those punk boys are pretty.

Apart from Debbie Harry, there is of course PJ Harvey, wielding her guitar like a massive cock or a chainsaw:

Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland, screaming and writhing her way through the Riot Grrl revolution like no other:

Pauline Black who is a ska singer (ska is influenced by punk) but her attitude is 100% PUNK ROCK:

And finally, the amazing, the fearless, the poetic, the slightly unhinged, Patti Smith (who I am going to see live in concert in September):

My piece ‘Against Feminisms’ explaining why I think feminism is wrong about pretty much everything, has been one of the most controversial on this blog.

Last night @allyfogg  gave a point by point response. Before I reply I thought the #QRGMassive could take a look and see what they think!

1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.

No, it doesn’t have to be based on this assumption, although I accept it very often is. Feminism <i>could</i> be based on an assumption that there is structural, systematic discrimination against women of a different nature to structural, systematic discrimination against men.So it could be other social forces holding power, not “men.” Marxists feminists like Lindsey German would probably tell you that the ruling class holds the power, not the male gender. Selma James would probably say it forces of cultural socialisation or something woolly like that.

Anyway, I should point out that even feminists who do believe in simplistic patriarchal theories are not necessarily misandrist. They could like and love men but hate the system that accords gender roles and power (as they see them.)

2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)

It doesn’t rely on it at all. All it requires is a recognition that the dominant society (or a significant part of it) believes in a binary view of gender and acts unjustly upon that belief, false or not. If society were to arbitrarily decide that people whose surname begins in the second half of the alphabet were to be deprived legal and democratic rights, one could point out that it is ridiculous because it is an entirely false premise and social construct, but that wouldn’t make the discrimination any less real or less worthy of challenge – it wouldn’t make it untrue that alpha-mus hold power over nu-omegas in practical terms.

3) e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’  and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and  ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people

No,this is deeply, deeply wrong and, ironically enough, I think you slip into out and out misandry of the type you’re accusing feminism of. Those concepts rely on making out <b>the men who do those things</b> are not decent people. There is no need for it to be generalised to all men, and some feminists are quite good at clarifying that. Also,in this paragraph (also your GMP piece iirc)  it is *you* who is associating rape culture, VAWG etc with masculinity. Fuck off with that Elly, seriously. Rape, harassment, violence, domination are in no way essential to my gender and I spend a considerable chunk of my life trying to detach the associations. Saying campaigns against violence against women are de facto anti-man is saying that violence against women is part of masculinity. I’m not having that. Rape is a crime against a woman and also a crime against masculinity. Same for all the rest of it. Violence, harassment, abusiveness, whatever, is not decent behaviour. The people who do it are not decent people. I have no problem condemning them for it and trying to prevent the behaviour, however I can. That doesn’t make me a self-loathing man-hater.

4) The focus on men’s power over women in ‘patriarchal’ society ignores other divisions between people

That’s not a logical necessity at all. Someone could be primarily engaged with economic class dynamics or race dynamics, see all of their politics through that lens, and yet still identify as feminist by any definition. Most Marxist Feminists and anarcho-feminists would be utterly baffled by this claim. Yes, a lot of feminists do ignore (or downplay) other power dynamics but it is by no means a logical necessity that they do so. Their politics can still be entirely coherent if they do not.

Finally, and as with the last one above your numbers (5) and (6) are commonly true in practice but quite obviously don’t need to be true, politically.

Now after all that I should say, it is a perfectly decent list of reasons as to why you don’t call yourself a feminist. I disagree with some of it but hey ho.

What it does not do is rebut the claims that <i>”‘feminism is not a monolithic group’ ‘there are many branches of feminism’ </i> etc You haven’t done that at all.

Nor, to go back to our Twitter chat earlier tonight, have you demonstrated that feminism is by definition and necessity man-hating and misandrist. Not by a long chalk.

I find these comments on Jezebel, white middle class feminist online magazine funny and astute.

But I think some ‘feminist critics’ like to differentiate between ‘bad’ feminism and ‘good’ feminism. Whether the ‘bad’ feminism is the #radfem2012 conference or the privileged girls at Jezebel, there is still an inference that this contrasts with good feminist struggle.

As you probably know by now I make no such distinctions. I am against feminismS…

h/t @allyfogg @furrygirl