Crappy articles of the day

// 16 July 2008

Checking the news today I decided to take a break from the usual suspects and catch up with the world’s happenings via The Telegraph. Granted, its editorial stance is usually not in line with my personal politics, but it’s good to get a range of views.

That is, if you can concentrate on them, amongst the REALLY IRRITATING ARTICLES they publish.

The first was a comment piece by James Delingpole on the Nicola Brewer comments about maternity leave harming women’s careers. Since he’d obviously written it to be an annoying little bastard* and bait people like me, I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but suffice it to say the gist was: ‘men are not genetically predisposed to childrearing, paternity leave is stupid’. This comment in particular struck me:

And now Nicola Brewer, the head of the Equalities And Human Rights Commission, is proposing I should be penalised for being male. She wants a “significant rethink of family policy”, whereby men are given the same parental rights and responsibilities women have.

Penalised for being male, James? By having equal rights and responsibilities in the workplace? You know that penalisation and equality rarely mean the same thing, right? Now the current situation where women are overwhelmingly primary carers as well as (often) full time workers to the detriment of their careers – that’s penalisation on grounds of gender. You don’t know you’re born, mate.

And I’m done rising to that one.

Then there’s Rowan Pelling (who I usually like) opining that parents should be “proud” if their daughters become a Playboy Bunny. I’m sure most parents are overwhelmingly proud of their kids anyway, regardless of their career, but opining that there’s nothing wrong with being a Bunny simply because the application process includes a maths test is oversimplistic to say the least.

However much Playboy try to sanitise their brand image by marketing pencil cases to under-age girls, it’s still a porn brand, and a pretty misogynistic one at that. They own a suite of porn channels which run programmes such as “”Bound, Gagged & Shagged”, “Piss Loving Lesbian Sluts” and “Extreme Insertions”*.

The human, female incarnations of the Playboy Bunny not only enhance the brand for these other activities, they *are* the brand. It’s beside the point that the women working as Bunnies are “strictly vetted, rigorously trained and fiercely chaperoned” – they’re the figurehead for the whole of the rest of the caboodle and, in a way, representative of the entire porn industry. To paraphrase Adhesively Unhallenged: if being a Bunny is so liberating, why don’t men do it?

Finally, still on the sex industry (well of course – it’s everywhere), we have reports that the heavily opposed lap dancing bar ‘Club Redd’ has burned down, just weeks after opening. The fire service have made no comment on the cause, but the club owner places the blame firmly at the feet of anti-lapdancing protestors.

Can I say first and foremost that arson is not cool?

Having got that out of the way – and assuming it was arson – proprietor Lee Valls demonstrates the contempt for women I can only assume is endemic in his profession by comparing the anti-lapdancing contingent to (you’ve guessed it) Nazis:

“With some people it runs to a high passion,” he said. “I compare it to the book burning in Berlin in 1939.”

Except it’s not really, is it, Lee? Because – and I wish this point didn’t need making – poor books weren’t being exploited by rich drunks for jollies on a bibliophile’s night out. Random passing books weren’t subject to being read without their consent. All books everywhere weren’t being degraded by the mere existence of libraries. Do you get my point, Lee? It’s a shitty metaphor, but it’s yours. A heads up: women aren’t books.

(Also – comparing everything to the Nazis is so fucking lazy, isn’t it? Not to mention disrespectful).

Any more for any more on irritating articles of the day? Consider this an open thread for crappy journalism.

*I totally did that to googlebomb him – click on it, won’t you?

**hat tip to Bea on the LFN network for those titles!

Comments From You

Qubit // Posted 16 July 2008 at 4:54 pm

I don’t see how a Playboy club will succeed, compared to most of the alternative offers it seems far too innocent for the price. From what I have read about Playboy bunnies the most disturbing thing was how innocent they were forced to be. It seems odd and almost creepy to have women being sold on their sex appeal who aren’t allowed to enjoy sex.

Why similar clubs don’t exist with men displaying themselves for women is a complex question that I don’t know the answer to. I know I wouldn’t attend one as I find the whole idea morally repugnant and would also consider it cheating. I wonder if it is more to do with the fact women are ashamed of their sexuality so find drooling over men wrong, than men would find it degrading.

E-Visible Woman // Posted 16 July 2008 at 5:08 pm

“Why similar clubs don’t exist with men displaying themselves for women is a complex question that I don’t know the answer to.”

Ooh, ooh, I know this one! It’s PATRIARCHY!

Qubit // Posted 16 July 2008 at 5:26 pm

I am unwilling to believe it is that simple. There are men out there who would be prepared to be a stripper. There may not be as many as women but I can’t believe they don’t exist, the fact it is apparently possible to hire male strippers is evidence for this.

Why there isn’t a club of them then becomes a legitimate question. It might be that the ordinary man would protest against it opening because it makes him uncomfortable but then there would have probably be an ‘amusing’ news story. This leads to the explanation that either nobody has thought of it or that it wouldn’t be successful as no women would go.

I think simply saying it is patriarchy doesn’t look at whether it is a prejudice based on what is acceptable or what people feel comfortable with. I don’t feel completely comfortable with either male or female strip clubs and wouldn’t feel comfortable going to either.

It would be interesting to see if both made people feel equally uncomfortable and whether people thought both were acceptable.

Lynne Miles // Posted 16 July 2008 at 5:41 pm

It *is* that simple. There are a handful of male strippers and, I believe, male strip clubs (or at least touring troupes that do club nights – the Chippendales and all their imitators). But they are so few that they are effectively insignificant. The reason you even hear about them is because – as you point out – male strippers are ‘news’ in a way that female strippers are not.

The ultimate reason that strip clubs featuring men are vastly outnumbered by those featuring women is patriarchy. The mechanisms by which patriarchy is working in this place are (off the top of my head):

* women are economically oppressed and disadvantaged such that they are a disproportionate number of the poor, whilst men make up a disproportionate number of the rich.

* women’s bodies have been commodified by capitalism in a way that men haven’t been thus far (although are beginning to be as women have increasing disposable income and accompanying sense of entitlement) – therefore it seems to men natural that they should be able to pay for enjoyment of a female body in a way that has not been constructed as ‘natural’ for women.

* women are traditionally not sexual predators – or at least not in the same way as the stereotypical male – this is a whole complex discussion best summarised by the (patriarchal) assumption that men are visually stimulated whilst women are not – so, yes, you’re right that its a prejudice based on what is acceptable – caused by patriarchy.

Those are just a quick few – I’m sure others can throw in more.

It’s worth noting that there are plentiful male strippers in gay male circles – that makes me less uncomfortable (although not entirely comfortable) I guess because I assume the power differential to be much less between the man paying and the man stripping than if the stripper were female.

Amy // Posted 16 July 2008 at 6:25 pm

I fail to see how it is liberating to be “strictly vetted, rigourously trained, and fiercely chaperoned”.

tom hulley // Posted 16 July 2008 at 6:46 pm

Loved your piece, Lynne. The quick well worded repartee impressed me too. It is really encouraging to find feminists like you willing to stand up to the crapmongers.

I would like to think that not all men are self satisfied and self obsessed annoying little bastards but most of the ones with pens seem to be.

It is interesting how your arguments care about others while the antifems merely feel sorry for themselves. Best wishes.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 16 July 2008 at 7:02 pm

Another reason is that contrary to myths men are not innately ‘visual beings’ rather they learn as boys from other older boys, adult men and of course society that women’s bodies are sexualised body parts not complete human beings. So, boys learn to associate sexual feelings with a woman’s breast or legs. So boys it is never innate and likewise women learn as girls their bodies are for the male gaze and on no account must a girl ‘look at an image of a full frontal naked man’ because this taboo. Patriarchy ensures that naked male bodies are kept carefully hidden.

The Chippendales did not enact their stripper routine in the same way as women are instructed. I’ve yet to hear of a male stripper engaging in submissive poses or displaying sexual submission to a female audience. Of course it is all about power – men as a group have greater economic power and privilege than women which is why strip clubs and lap dancing clubs are owned by men.

Amy // Posted 16 July 2008 at 7:18 pm

Can I just say – James Delingpole – what a crybaby. “Moo-hoo, the nasty ladies are hating on me and my wang!” Penalised for being male. Ha! Why is it that disgruntled men always say that exact phrase just as they’re throwing their toys out of the pram? Newsflash fellas: removal of privilege does not equal discrimination. I’d hate to be one of his kids: “Gee Dad, so you wouldn’t have wanted to spend *any* time looking after me when I was born? Thanks very much…”

chem_fem // Posted 16 July 2008 at 7:29 pm

Lynne, I’d go as far to say that not only are women not normally sexual predators, but we are so silenced with shame on the subject of pursuing at all (we aren’t supposed to propose, ask men out or stray at all from being the pursued) that the idea of going one step further and purchasing sexual encounters would be beyond shame. Purchasing is so much more than pursuing because the money buys all the control.

sweet // Posted 16 July 2008 at 9:08 pm

on the subject of crappy articles – I usually check out the Daily Mail website to see what crap they’re spouting and this week there were two articles that got my hackles up. One was about a woman who’d had six abortions,(it criticised her the entire way through and intimated she was basically too stupid to use contraception properly) and the other was about a woman who’d been a working mother and regretted it. The Daily Mail are so adept at writing sneaky articles that totally undermine women’s role in society. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Lara The Second // Posted 16 July 2008 at 9:25 pm

From Rowan Pelling’s article:

“Happily, she passed and went on to master her 17 times table – a more valuable accomplishment than many of today’s students glean in a three-year degree course.”

Because the 17 times table is SO incredibly useful HOW?

I don’t recommend the comments section on that one either – its got several “feminists are ugly lesbians, so they’re less than human and should be ignored” comments.

Nonny Mouse // Posted 17 July 2008 at 3:15 am

What exactly is a “submissive” female strip pose Jennifer? Because, aside from the acrobatics and pretty strenuous pole work routines, male and female strip acts have all the same moves and repetoire, each focussing on what the particular audience finds attractive or alluring. And the majority of male strippers I have seen cater mostly to women – and I’ve seen a few. I definitely would like there to be more strip club featuring men – there is a market for them, not only amoung gay men, but also women of all flavours.

JoJo // Posted 17 July 2008 at 2:27 pm

Seriously, his poor children:

“What that male perspective tells me is that however nice and rewarding it is spending quality time with your children, it’s no match for beavering away in your office earning extra money.”

Danielle // Posted 18 July 2008 at 1:09 am

Forgive me if this is slightly off-topic, but this post made me think about something that’s been bothering me for a while.

It annoys the hell out of me when people spout all the “women have gone too far” and “men are now the ones being penalised/ discriminated” crap. My brother once explained to me that the reason white men like him found it so hard to get a job is that employers are giving them all to disabled black lesbian refugees (!)

I grew up and live in a very conservative (practically BNP) town, and I hear a lot of this kind of logic, mostly how it’s not fair that black people “cry racism” and get their own way, because they are also racist to white people (presumably on the same scale), as if that somehow makes racism more acceptable… And apparently it’s now ok for women to be demeaned on a regular basis, because occasionally it happens to men too (a debatable point, but even if it is conceded the argument still fails.)

On a more random note, I heard an interesting variation on the tired old phrase “political-correctness-gone-mad” yesterday from my grandmother, who is quite the anti-feminist. It was “political-rightness gone round the bend” and it had me in (internal) hysterics.

Anna // Posted 18 July 2008 at 11:26 am

I find it really sad how people use the ‘feminism/anti-racism/PC’ has gone too far to excuse their own shortcomings. A vague friend of mine [well, a close friend’s boyfriend] insists that the reason he can’t find work is because he’s a white british male and therefore all the employers would rather employ a ‘woman/paki/pole’ – when if I were hiring I most certainly would not pick him on the grounds he is a lazy, rude, arrogant, misogyist, racist tit.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that it’s wildly ironic that people like that accuse ‘ethnics’ of playing the race card or women crying discrimination/harassment – when they are the first to claim discrimination based on nationality, gender and colour.

Louise Livesey // Posted 18 July 2008 at 1:06 pm

Anna I just had to say your response had me laughing out loud.

if I were hiring I most certainly would not pick him on the grounds he is a lazy, rude, arrogant, misogyist, racist tit.

Oh yes!

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