Posts Tagged ‘Freedom In A Puritan Age’

Write Less, Listen More is a piece of advice given by Megan Morgenson, to people who write about sex work without having much or any experience of actually doing it. Her post here is really worth a read:

It was in response to a piece at Freedom In A Puritan Age here:

The ‘twitter friend’ Megan mentions in her post, who had her comments deleted at FIPA Journal is me!

I find it interesting that there is quite  a heated debate in the comments section, and yet my comments were deemed ‘inappropriate’ for their publication.

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.

David Beckham: "prime exemplar" of metrosexuality

This is my review of Metrosexy by Mark Simpson, published in Freedom In A Puritan Age website/magazine:

If you were to listen to feminists, and the media in general, you might think we live in a culture in which ‘sexual objectification’ refers solely to women and girls. As some would have it, we are ‘bombarded’ by sexual imagery of the female form, and our society is ‘saturated’ with pornified material that demeans and exploits women.

'Metrosexy' — Mark Simpson

Metrosexy (2011), the most recent book by Mark Simpson, British author and originator (in 1994) of the concept of metrosexuality, tells a very different story indeed. In this impressive collection of articles and essays that span the last two decades, Simpson shows how it is men who have come to be the subjects and objects of the ‘gaze’ in recent years, maybe even more so than women. Or, to use Simpson’s own phrase, men are ‘such tarts’ these days.

Metrosexy is a fun read – a lively and humorous romp through television, film, boy bands, fashion, sport, gym culture and advertising. But there are some serious underlying messages. Metrosexuality — masculinity ‘mediated and (self)-fetishised’ — is changing gender roles, relations and identities beyond all recognition.

‘Contrary to what you have been told,’ writes Simpson, ‘metrosexuality is not about flip-flops and facials, ‘man-bags’ or ‘manscara’. Or about men becoming ‘girlie’ or ‘gay’. It’s about men becoming everything. To themselves. In much the way that women have been for some time. It’s the end of the sexual division of bathroom and bedroom labour. It’s the end of sexuality as we’ve known it.’

It’s not just feminists, with their rigid views of women as ‘objects’ (and victims) of (heterosexual) men’s predatory desires who could be threatened by Simpson’s theories. In my interview with him on the release of Metrosexy he said:

‘I think gay men are very ambivalent about metrosexuality.  It’s like a dream come true. And a living nightmare at the same time. All these fit, tarty straight men inviting – no, DEMANDING – the ‘gayze’. Pro athletes like Beckham and Ronaldo oiled up on the side of buses offering us their lunch-packets, and Becks and Gavin Henson bickering over who has the most gay fans. Homoerotics, narcissism and the celebration of the male body are no longer gay copyright’.

In the wake of Metrosexy’s publication, I named Simpson ‘A Roland Barthes for the iphone generation’, the ‘meticulous observer’ of contemporary culture.  This is a vital addition to cultural theory, and a book that should change the way we look at men and masculinity forever.