23 Jun 2008

Stonehenge - and a lovely weekend in Hampshire

I was utterly appalled by Stonehenge - apart from the fact that it rained (honestly!) the crowd were atrocious. A lot of football hooligans clearly out for a free party and a chance to drink in a sopping wet field and get into a fight and not a weird druid type in sight. There were women walking around in states of near complete undress plus I even saw some people having S.E.X on the grass. Why are the only things anyone remembers about the 60s the most embarrassing bits? Surely the Women's movement aimed for higher purposes than the right to get one's white bits out in front of a lot of strangers. Plus my Range Rover got utterly covered in mud, a nightmare!

Still, the weekend was saved as on the way back from the 'Henge I had the good fortune to pass through Hampshire, my spiritual home and time for a visit with my dear old Aunt Lilly. We had a fine lunch, ale and lamb and stuff, and settled down to reminisce about the Women's movement and to plot our future course.

Now Aunt Lilly was one of the original suffragettes in the late 1950s. She even wore trousers before other women in 1965. She also invented the academic discipline of gender studies (this has been contested by some jealous admirers - can't be helped!) and perhaps queer theory too - although she told me she couldn't be too specific, she was quite spun from 1961-8.

Here is an excerpt from a very forthright pamphlet on the subject of gender theory which she authored in 1962. It signalled a break between herself and the less inspired so-called Feminists of Petersfield and its environs ("The WoMampshire Chapter") who were not able to appreciate her provocative approach to 'gender normativity' (a term she coined). See what you think...

Why Can't a Man be More like a Woman? Lilly Rider-Sharp (Old Athene Press, Pe'ef, 1962)

If it is not rather daring for a woman to accept chivalric displays of etiquette from men, instead it may be rather daring if she comes to expect it. Or, more bluntly, demand it.Most men are not by nature generous, polite, selfless or considerate - all of those qualities we find in excess in that relic of times past, the gentleman.

These are traits unique to a method of civilisation, that is, culturing. They work against the grain of inclination, fraying the nerves and testing the patience as men force themselves to act against their own interests or to locate their interests elsewhere, vicariously experiencing comfort through the comfort of another (usually a stranger). And what is more provoking or more presumptuous to a man not schooled in the art of manners to be accosted by a woman, asked to relinquish his small joys and petty comforts, to be asked to move from the seat of a bus like a second class citizen or to hold a door open like a bellhop?

When one's full instincts demand one blusters forth boorishly, what an agony it is to lash down the spirit like a tarpaulin in a tempest, put a cap on the will and pander to the niceties of simpering women?
Women! I call on you to not fail to demand the small allowances etiquette affords us until men have neglected all of their many grand privileges. And what is more, it is only by forcing them to play out the tired conventions of their gender roles and act against their instincts because of but one thing - the socialised dictates of their sex - will they come to see how vain and false are the Womanish responsibilities they force upon us!

20 Jun 2008

Stone flipping henge!

I've had my cloak drycleaned, I've centered my chakras, darn it I've even rinsed my mooncup! I'm off to Stonehenge to reconnect with the earth and meet some real wierdoes, wish me luck blogosphere, I'm going to bloody need it!

18 Jun 2008

Sexism - Women do it too you know!

In my line of work, as a highly successful Female writer, you encounter a lot of sexism. Sometimes this is frustrating, other times its hella fun and 'all part of the ride', as one would say. If sexism stopped, there'd be very little for us Feminists to do but sit around and enjoy our long-deserved equality - but let's face it that ain't happening any time soon!

Another thing I have to deal with is jealousy, the green-eyed monster, the loquacious snake. Men frequently express their jealousy through the use of spite, aggression, insults, boastfulness and so forth. We've all seen it and I need waste little of my energy in describing exactly how it is that men vent their spleens, frankly a Woman's words are worth more than that! If I was a more hetero-normative Woman I might even feel sorry for them - after all, for centuries men have been treated at best like Gods, at worst like macho-hero types, with Women renegaded to the category of imbeciles, witches, cud-chewing animals, prostitutes, muses and the like. Years and years of ingrained sexism and the memory of all the Women who've been burnt at the stake just for being able to wap out a half-decent poem or sentence in their lives has surely left its mark, both psychically and socially. Now, with a new generation of Female writers knocking the socks off their male competitors, it's understandable that the fallen hegemongers will be feeling a little sore. Like I say, I could feel sorry for them. But I of course don't. A Feminist writer? Hetero-normative? In the words of Simone de Beauvoir, "Do me a favour!"

What's more worrisome is the current spate of misogyny issuing not from men but from Women themselves. Anyone who has had to deal with an irate fellow Sister accusing them of 'deserting their sex', behaving 'like a man' or just 'being embarrassing' will know exactly what I mean. Just because not all Women want to get married in their early twenties and commence a life of drudgery producing offspring to instill with their parents' tired values doesn't mean they are any the less Women, frankly they are more so. Or, what's worse, we find blatant misogyny amongst the highest paid and most successful of Women, who 'o'ervaunt' each other to get to the top, raping their natural capacity for achievement and manifesting their talents only as callous ambition and bitchiness. Why only the other day I was waiting outside my publishing agent's office for a meeting when I got talking to two fellow writers also there to see their agents. One, Geoffrey Clugg, an historian and a frankly charming chap, couldn't have been more pleasant (for a man) and was extremely complimentary of my latest Suffragette endeavour, "Put That Woman Down!" Valerie Shaw, on the other hand, a trashy little bimbo with a frankly tiny red skirt on and far too much make-up to be taken seriously, was highly indifferent to all my chat and admitted that she had never read any of my books and wasn't sure it was really 'her thing'. Well, suffice to say I informed her that I had not so much as seen a copy of her latest 'novel' in any of the Waterstones in North London but I would look out for it if I happened to be taking any flights and had a chance to pop into the W H Smith in Heathrow.

This exchange got me thinking. If Women won't support other Women and encourage other Women, who on earth will? Looking back to the Suffragettes, what is most astonishing is that most of the criticism of the movement came from other Women, confused and trapped by their sex, not men at all. Yes, we've had to fight hard to overcome men in the workplace, but surely we shouldn't have to start fighting each other. Nope, that doesn't sound like equality to me. If we keep this up Women will become little more than crabs in a bucket: as soon as one tries to escape, the others just claw them back down and rip them apart up. Women shouldn't be acting like crabs, they should be acting like sisters, building tents together and 'connecting' and that sort of thing. Women shouldn't aspire to being like crabs at all: they walk sideways and are hard and impervious to empathy. What Women need to be doing now is walking FORWARDS.

13 Jun 2008

Poesy Rider! Part Deux

I find that I am rather good at writing poesy, so I thought I'd treat you to my next 'stab' - who was it that said poetry should be like a hand, it can punch or caress? I don't know, but I do know it should also be like a knife to stab.

leave I am happy!
he (flaunting)
female tendrils encircle
"Why do I want you?"
considering females rather as sauvignon blanc
And I at maturity.
a misery I deplore; my place in the world,
planted in too rich a chantilly cream
you left me drinking
why not leave me my dactyls
“It’s subject to work sweet princess?" "Don't!”
spirits, and I have sighed
their abilities and virtues would
with anxious solicitude, education, and
between man and man, cleave respect.
back into the misery
I deplore; and to have arrived
at dawn rising
planted in too rich a soil
obliged to confess,
why did he leave
around about my thighs
are the most melancholy emotions
and I have sighed from one hasty patiently observed moment,
after having pleased a clawing womb
why did he…
a nobler ambition, and by a fastidious eye, fade, disregarded
screaming out
why did my womb ache like a
back breaking labia

10 Jun 2008

Poesy Rider!

I've started writing poems too! Just like my heroine, Adrienne Rich (see Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev - mind blowing) Here's my first!



the neglected education of my difference between man
flowers that are are only anxious to inspire this subject soil, and when they ought to cherish a nobler strength, leaves.
sorrowful indignation has depressed my spirits,

barren books by men written on the subject of love, women,
the civilized grand source of the misery of woman
bloodsoaked tampon did hitherto take place in the stalk,
long before the season

"do you trust me?"

to worry about minds that are not in a healthy state;
about my thighs; about dawn’s rising. leaves.
you want to work
blooming I am obliged to confess that nature (considering the historic page)
has been so bubbled by

4 Jun 2008

Political, moi?

So, I am in the market to buy a new laptop. I am a writer, I spend my days writing - so much so that sometimes I get funny little ticks in my thumb or dream of the cool clicks of a keyboard which makes me wake up, heart racing, and rush to my computer only to realise I'm still in a dream. So when I need a new laptop, it's like needing a new lung. Or so I thought. ..

Long past are the glory days of yore when a gal could purchase a laptop of her choice with nothing to get in her way except perhaps an oppressive husband or father trying to stop her expressing herself through Word. No, little did I realise I'd be clobbered full frontal in the face by the overt masculinity of the entire electricals market.

Imagine the scene: PC World on Kensington High Street. Insert 'me', Posie Rider, taking a quick break from shopping at the Whole Food Market laden with veg. Now insert a civilisation's worth of chauvinism, clubs, loin cloths and all. Looks pretty bad, I know! You don't need to imagine some of the advise I was given by Paul, our friendly minimum-wage sexist. In any other age Paul would have been cracking a whip over a band of lady-slaves, ignoring their noble pleas for mercy. Not any more, now he works at the Kensington High Street PC World. Cue Paul:

"Hello Madam" (Madam? WTF?? Oh, hello Sire! Knight! Master!)
"Oh you're after a laptop are you, one for the home?" (So, not the office eh Paul? Why would I need one in a place a lady NEVER GOES.)
"You'll want something lightweight" (So my tiny feminine wrists don't snap when I pick it up, so grasping it doesn't damage my lily white hands, so my ethereal fingers can even press the keys)

Disgusted by Paul's merchant whoring I looked around the shop unaided, which caused a great stir among the attendants who were clearly dumbfounded at the sight of a Woman making an 'electrics' decision alone. And it didn't take me long to notice the clear gendering of the products on offer, including the horror: Laptops for Girls! Draped in pink fluff and glitter, dotted with twinkly little lights and fitted with helpful sockets (into which you can plug you GHD Straighteners, I shit you not!) the 'lightweight lady laptop', endorsed by Sex and the City of all things boasts minuscule memory, a laboriously slow Processor and the ability to multitask without significant Hard Drive support to make any of the tasks particularly challenging or purposeful. I've spoken to Women, and sometimes they feel like nothing more than a socket for a range of plug-in electricals, be they hair straigteners, electrolysis 'sensors' or men. So what are you saying about the female mind, PC World? Is this supposed to be a f*cking metaphor because if it is it sucks and isn't a proper metaphor anyway. Go to the Dictionary (online if that's the only one you have. Google it if it's not in your favourites, you Philistine) and look up 'synonym for embodiment', if you dare!

The Laptops for Boys were nearly no better: kitted out like props in some dsytopian science fiction/porn fantasy, all blue flashing lights and chrome edging and unwieldy keys like a bloody brick with a cock strapped to it on top of a motorbike inside a car. I clearly could not buy one of these behemoths. VAIO or "VAgina? I don't think sO!" And no thanks James Bond, I don't want you to come all over my laptop, OR on my face, or to come anywhere near me with your torso. I want you to step away from the laptop so that I can use it to write!

So I left PC World laptop-less and appalled, feeling not unlike poor Jane Austen scrawling her drippy little novels in secret whilst the family were sitting about in the drawing room, pretending they were letters to her girlfriends or whatever.

And I couldn't help but wonder, in the modern globalised world are commodities the last refuge of gender politics? One day maybe we'll have equal pay, support for mothers so that they can stay in employment, criminal justice system that doesn't treat rape victims as criminals; maybe social relations will be enlightened and desexualised and men and women will be able to look at one another as creatures of equal dignity and capacity. Maybe all these things will happen.

But I still won't be able to buy a f*cking laptop!