7 Dec 2010
Yes, you can see where this is going. Some highlights:
"among the thousands of people who brought chaos to Westminster yesterday, a remarkable turn-out of well-dressed, well-spoken teenage girls swelled the ranks."
"If you had seen them in their short skirts and trendy scarves, you might have thought that a few chants and a bit of banner-waving would be the limit. But almost as soon as some mindless thugs began trashing a police van abandoned in the middle of Whitehall, the girls went into battle."
It wasn’t quite Cheltenham Ladies College, but several of these girls, it emerged, were from respectable schools and decent homes."
"Had this been a girls’ schools winter camp somewhere, it would probably have been quite fun. But somehow the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament – not to mention the police corralling these youngsters with thousands of hooligans, yobbos and criminally minded troublemakers – lent it a rather different beat."
"What made it different was the feminine touch, if that is the right phrase to describe so many young female faces joining the rebellion."
The reasons for the Mail's confusion can be isolated to three main issues. These are:
1) the class
2) the sex
3) and the attractiveness of the protesters.
"Why," asks the Mail, "would a pretty person be unhappy? Why, indeed, would anyone who had gone to the trouble to buy a nice scarf have cause for complaint? What luck if you are a girl, to have a fine face and bright disposition! Your parents are already proud of you, and one day they will offer you to a man along with a good dowry, and he will take care of you. But wait, you want to go to University first? I suppose Kate Middleton did it and it didn't do her any harm, she met a Prince after all, and she was only middle class to start off with! In fact, it is imperative for you to go to University my sweet."
"BUT WAIT! Government cuts slashing arts and humanities budgets??? My little dear, how will you take your Eng Lit degree now? You can't study the hard sciences, and you're not nearly pragmatic enough to earn a living after you graduate. I mean, I never intended you to work a day in your life. If you don't meet Mr Big Income, or Mr Royal, will Mummy and I have to fork out for your needless perusals of Shelley for the next twenty years? That seems deeply unfair, and we have been planning on retiring to the Caribbean for so long."
"No University for you, India, and damn the consequences. India? Oh my goodness, is that her, in her Cheltenham Ladies College blazer, with her arm around a man with Tartan trousers and dreadlocks, shanking a copper? Good god, little India has become a socialist while we weren't even looking!"
Middle class parents - I, Posie Rider, urge you to support the anti-cuts league, protect your daughter's futures! If she doesn't go to University somewhere like Oxbridge, Durham or St Andrews, and study a solid liberal arts degree, god only knows what could happen!
WE KNOW WHERE THIS SORT OF THING LEADS!
PUT THAT WOMAN DOWN!
And better luck this week, girls! Keep smashing, keep looking great! xxx
9 Nov 2010
lEEDs radio 1xTRA
if you want to know where the party is follow the search lights
and if you want to know where Leeds is
follow the search lights
and if you want to be close to me, well, I can't relax
while next door's floodlights cast your erection's shadow
across the bed and up the wall like greenhouse gases
it's not me
it's the planet i'm thinking about
don't hate on me if i ask you to express yourself less
or express less of yourself, i have stuff on, to get through
before the night comes and i take my daily nytol
perhaps my period will be over by then
the slit gunk that cleaves my mystery from you like the beef from its Wellington
the choice to dress everything i feel in mucous membranes is intriguing
but ultimately distressing
during his twilight crumbfast Tim Westwood introduced me to a more radical urban experience than i
had in ten years living in Brixton
now i live on the two red lips on my inner thigh clearence
we live in a small house
are charged tuna for rent
stapling milk to bread and through the postal vote i say
we should save ink and spend Thursday finding flowers
according to my coordinates there is samphire in Fort William
scratching the shore like deep fat, the row that will never erupt,
the significant ideological shift that is occuring right now but which I just don't, like, feel in my guts,
we both accepted the pretext that he was the Crow while you bit his head off
make a bullet hole in my heart for next door's bass player to rest his plectrum
i know what happened to the bees they are buried on Lindisfarne
an ad hoc braille for honeymooners feet from the earth's core that says
hey, tread soflty for you tread on my
women, beware women,
wear distressed denim and tight skirts
and riot for other people's pensions and avoid crash diets
live breath and die on candles, moonshine and white wine
give me a good dress allowance, tight lace and breathing space
let me upstage grime core djs and slip up on grammar school euphemisms
for people who aren't like, black white straight or gay
i'd have to say that my greatest poetic influences are Sister Nancy
the Presidents and the lines i steal from Jow Lindsay
baby, play those sexy tunes and get that birthday sex
baby, call the doctor, all my arms are legs
(hey, Mike, you think it's fucked up that today's anticapitalist twenty-something poets were
tweenagers when SClub7 were storming up the charts? Well, you were probably like 25 when McCauley Culkin got lost in New York,
how fucked up is that?)
backhandhing a bankerite across threadneedle street i note
a deleterous effect upon the crimson surfaces her dread steps expose
the incandescent finale to my protest the fleck of her eyelashes across the wax on
wax off taxpayer my flash mob rallied
it's not our domain they're mastering it's our friends they're slashing
it occured to me today that my aunt and that pervert in the cafe ARE the undeserving poor
gosh, i thought, that's sad but don't let them trap me in conversation
i am not dead while my bones are translating some of your vibrations
into a set text
your celebrated singularity invigorating the essayistic practice of great artists i know including chloe and bex
turn a new page, do the ps & qs, get righteous
open your neck and let me siphon two poisons for my thighs are glass rock
rob reed composed three hundred pages of moving poetry while travelling to norwich
he took the megabus via poland and now he's back in shoreditch
turn up bedtime at the corners
change the tampon, let it be
ask rob reed what he saw
by ipswich's golden mile
did the urbsurburbs break their banks
and weep barely forty minutes into their trial shift
cheryl cole has done all the crying
you'll ever need to do geordie girls
reed turns in his sarcophagus, why,
even now he is trailing in the polls
21 Oct 2010
Can't we have a bloody revolution like in The Dreamers?
I attach some images to inspire you!
7 Oct 2010
23 Sep 2010
Even later August
I return to London. Emergency meeting with my agent Olivia Bloomsdale-Corfu. She tells me to get my bloody useless act together and get the book finished. My mind is in meltdown! I've never had to work before, not properly, this is beginning to seem like all too much.
I jet off for a week to sunny La Rochelle. I eat beef carpaccio with delicious tomato and basil ice cream. Resolve to buy an ice cream machine on my return and try out some exciting flavours. Garlic? Sorrel? Yum!
Olivia is back on my tail. The deadline fast approaches. I feel another breakdown coming on. I notice this article in last month's Guardian, on women in the workplace, and how they're too shy to ask for a pay rise. How ridiculous! I had no idea (having never worked) - is Olivia ripping me off? Should I ask for an advance? It would certainly inspire me to get going on the book...
London Fashion Week! I rediscover HATS! Resolve to buy this season's entire collection of Hedonist Millinery. Winter 2010 is all about HATS!I also Easyjetted up to Edinburgh for the launch of this lovely little magazine, Scree, edited by Lila Matsumoto. A review of the night is here by the lovely Colin Herd, there were ambient sounds provided by glitchy bloop darlings Conquering Animal Sound, shoegazing electromaestro Dead Leaves, the formidable Lamplighter and heartbreaking, wild-fen crying Illiop, which made me feel like the heroine in an Icelandic remake of Wuthering Heights, a feeling to which, you may imagine, I am quite, quite partial. Poetry was provided by ME, also nick-e melville, a cool political concrete poet who gave me a copy of his book and a hug - I like him, & I urge you to find his book. Francis Crot charmed the crowd as ever, but honestly he's such a wonderful and unpredictable performer he could basically just read us sections of last month's G2 at random and we'd be like "Oh how clever, ha ha ha!" He's that good.
19 Aug 2010
Hello lady readers.
Just checking in from the Edinburgh Fringe!. Tragically, my slot on the Poetry Takeaway 'slam' stage on the Royal Mile (due to take place now) has been cancelled due to gross mismanagement (cancellation notification through Twitter? I ask you Tim Clare) so I've taken a moment to fill you in on all my exciting going-ons in Edinburgh, city of arts, theatre and meddlesome twenty-somethings.
I began my tenure in Edinburgh (I'm staying at the Malmaison, no student hovels for me, sharing a bed with a sweaty Tamburlaine from the Cambridge ADC this decade, thank you very much) with a trip to The Kitchin, Edinburgh's only Michelin starred restaurant (can you believe it?) I ate fois gras at least twice, once in my starter and once in my main, and was unable to move by the time the lemon and sorrel tart was effortlessly deposited in front of me by another ninja sommelier. I would heartily recommend the experience, and the food, for anyone of appropriate incomes - don't go if you can only just afford it, it'll be 'a total bum-out', as Melody said when I refused her a second bottle of claret. I could (of course) afford it, it's just important to stall such dependency in one's middling income friends (Melody's landscape gardening company has been hit pretty hard by the recession, and with so many parties to go to on the weekend, she finds it hard to get started at the beginning of the week, and tends to write off all work until Wednesday. It is the Summer after all. Thank god I don't have a job!)
I digress. After stuffing myself silly with bulimic duck, I found myself in a late night stand up session by Dutch rude man Hans Teeuwen . The misogynist gaffaws some of his more risque jokes raised in the baby-testosterone emitting teenagers affront of me belied the complexities of his politics (he's a real defender of free speech and ranted against religion in a eulogy for assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh - YouTube it I dare you), he is probably a feminist, after all, and made everyone who laughed sound very stupid indeed.
The next day I saw Paper Bird's production Others a play about how bloody easy it is to 'other' other women. For those of you who have just been born, or didn't take a degree in the humanities, 'othering' is a term found in Lacanian, postcolonial and feminist theory predominently. It is a way of designating someone as 'other' from yourself and shoring up your own fragile identity in relation, or against, how you perceive your other. My other, for example, is probably some kind of post-feminist, or, god forbid, one of those women for whom feminism is simply not an option. Yuk. And if this play taught me anything, it's to be extremely careful about who you other, because it's desperately important that women try to achieve solidarity rather than marginalising one another in order to feel good about themselves. The play script was put together from letters written by real women who the play writers/actors had previously designated as others. After having explained the concept of othering to these 'real' women (who obviously had not taken a degree in the humanities) they asked them questions like how they felt about themselves, what are they afraid of etc, in order to find ways to identify with them. It was a moving and inventive piece, I immediately liked the actors (not others) but did feel that too little was made of the texts sent up the real women. At moments it came perilously close to dance theatre, something which I will absolutely not abide, and there were a few too many scenes where they repeated the initial premise of the play (Hello, I'm going to ask you a few questions to find out how to understand you) instead of using proper dialogue, which seemed like wasted space (of course I had grasped the premise in the play's first moments, and didn't need it explained to me, although I am very intelligent...). I would ultimately recommend it.
I think now I must leave this computer. I ran into the delightful Armchair Books on West Port because it was raining and begged to use the computer to find out about the cancelled poetry reading (read his bloody tweet if you want to be shocked by human indifference. Too ill to text me Tim Clare? But have enough energy to recommend the play you saw last night you careerist fuck). Anyway, the bookshop people have just offered me tea but I don't think they mean it. Better leave soon.
More reviews to follow - I'm about to head to Climate Camp! Hunter wellies in tow.
15 Jul 2010
12 Jul 2010
Feminist Wall Chart (hang it on your pink Smeg fridge with pride)
Hugs and Pugs x
8 Jul 2010
Look at this shot of her yawning on the pussy grave of Kempa, Hitler's pet.
Charming. Sometimes I think Emmeline's family herstroy might be more thrilling than my own, but it's not of course.
Will keep you posted with any more kitty shots.
4 Jul 2010
29 Jun 2010
It didn't take long to spot another case of World Cup Sexism. This time, childish alcopop for infants WKD have charmed us with their 'women can't watch football' advertising campaign, of which I have found this shocking example.
A more shocking example, as yet not available on the internet (which recoils in disgust) says:
28 Jun 2010
Yet more sexism in the World Cup! The Daily Male have taken it upon themselves to bastardly declare that calling WAGs WAGs is sexist; sexists.
A guide issues by the Equalities Commission says the term WAG is "now in danger of overuse and arguably sexist".
A spokesman from the Equalities watchdog said: "You could argue (that the phrase is sexist), in the way in which it was used, if it was being used in a particularly derogatory way or to pejoratively target a group of women."
True, it's just a shame these women happen to be strumpets.
15 Jun 2010
In celebration of the 2010 World Cup, Lynx have launched a series of 'patriarch' posters, each depicting a 'buxom babe' in a familiar celebratory soccer pose. These will be running in several countries, with the respective flag of each waving in the background.
How RUDE! This really is the final straw. Everyone knows sports bras look nothing like this, and that the woman photographed is probably a model, not a real lady footballer.
Once again, when we were tucked up safely in our beds, snoozing away, dreaming of equality, sexism has struck. Never relent ladies: we must maiden on, never surrendering to the so-called 'hand of man'.
To rebel I have decided to monitor the World Cup in close detail - looking out for any slurs against female kind. I am ready to strike!!
Posie and Out x
11 Jun 2010
You're probably all wondering where my life's intimations have disappeared to in recent months? Well.. I've been decorating!
That's right Lady readers, as well as throwing myself into my poetry, I have also moved house and decided to make yet another fresh start! Naturally I decided to resettle again in the N1 and I can assure that the area is impeccable. I live opposite an organic cheese shop and an Odbins, although there is admittedly the sad presence of a Sainsbury's Local in between them, like some cursed unstylish philanderer ready to come between you and your man.
And talking of men I cannot stress enough that this re-location has very little, in fact it has nothing at all to do with men, nor does my sudden immersion into the poetic scene (I all know what you're thinking: poesy + Posie / the cathartic forests of verse x genius = Depression). But my reasons for moving are purely theraputic. Spending most of my time penning that incredible literary object: A Year off the Ward, has brought back all kinds of memories that I could really do without.
Indeed, I shall be recounting some of them here on this blog. For instance, do you remember the chapter about my eating too much around Christmas time? Yes well that's just one part of my journey into the recreational boarders of insanity. Heaven.
So, I have been spending the last month or so putting the finishing touches to my new, much larger and opulent abode. I have included some 'design ideas' for your viewing pleasure below. But best of all Melody Wittgenstien has found me the most incredible workwoman's hat to wear as I paint, hammer and drill.
Isn't it charming? Why, yesterday I went to Hackney for some reason (to be honest I'd rather forget about the entire expereince- incredibly dirty place) and I wore it there as self defence. It worked a treat and some young people were rather complimentary.
2 Jun 2010
Now, this London-centricity struck me as decidedly unsporting - bloody-minded perhaps - and got me thinking that unless we children of the Capital extend an stuffed olive or two up North soonish, our Caledonian compatriots might just as well devolve off entirely (aka claim independence from the English oppressor) and take all their desirable socialist principles with them, leaving Bohemians like me stranded on a mere bit of an island inhabited entirely by Tories. Clearly, this will not do.
Thankfully, these reflections chime with the exciting news that I will soon be heading up North - not to Scotland sadly, but better near than ... never - to the bustling industrial city of Newcastle, which Melody tells me is a cross between a Jules Vernesque cityscape and Reading: FUN!
The occasion is the launch of a poetry collection to mark ten years since the passing of Newky poet Barry MacSweeney, who also wrote a collection called Odes. The title of the new collection, complied by poetry wizard Linus Slug, is no coincidence, although following in MacSweeney's wake has proved tough (I myself am a contributor) due to the complex historical inheritance of the ode form, as well as MacSweeney's own unique interpretations. Some questions raised include what is an antistrophe? What would Sappho have done? Was Elizabeth I altogether fair to Spencer? To find the answer to these questions, you're just going to have to purchase the beautiful book aren't you?
There's a facebook group which contains a beautiful album of photos charting the books' creation, as well as ample information on Slug's ninerrors blog. Oh, and the reading takes place in Morton Tower in Newcastle on Sunday 27th June. Why not come and drink wine with us afterwards? They tell me its grim up North, but with a Megabus heading staight for Pimlico booked for 8am on Monday, who cares?
24 May 2010
Here's a nice picture of me in front of a display created by clever techy Mike W-H to accompany a reading from my chapbook, tristanundisolde (Arthur [C]hilling Press (at the moment at least!)) It communicates how I feel better than I ever could do myself in words.
Helpful imp Joe Luna over at All Over the Grid / Fallopianyoutube had this to say about my collaboration that night with shouty-man poet and mere part-time patriarch Jow Lindsay:
"Posie Rider & Jow Lindsay’s reading on Friday night (21st May) assumed much less than it would perhaps be safe to assume a Cambridge Reading Series night of experimental avant-garde poetry would assume, but by this very play was able to open up a space in which the performance of the reading constantly flirted with, insulted, disparaged, castigated, comforted and barely became a means of effecting a communitas based upon what was already there, what we already have, and what we might possibly become. Recent national political discourse was both appropriated and mocked, but also re-constituted into the political space of the reading, tracing a line of constant watchfulness over the machinations universally predicated upon and in the name of the folk whilst at the same time tragically powerless to prevent those machinations from organising/mobilising satirical negations & refutations of constructed collective identity. The creation of the radical experimental "we" through such a gathering was tempered with a dangerously isomorphic "we" of satirical invective and absurdist comedy, the laughter of the audience perhaps the most realistic effect produced by the Wagnerian, mythological, polysemous diatribes flitting between the two barely realistic personas of the poets. The potential for a delineation of a universal WE to be reductive and obscurantist is enormous, and these are the precise means by which corporate advertising and party political affiliation seek to homogenise humanity into demographics and target audiences destined only for differences in the vagaries of their consumption and tactical voting preferences. To say, as I believe I heard Posie Rider say, that "we are the poets laureate" in the midst of an exhausting and increasingly overwhelming dialogic code is a re-appropriation of a political right and the creation of, or at least the exciting image of, a fragile community existing, fleetingly, in the heart of the multi-national flux of assumed identity. What is "assumed", that is, taken as given, a priori, implicit, hereby becomes inverted to be that which is passed over in haste, ignorance or ambivalence, and what must be attested in the act of the reading is the human capacity for engendering caucuses of radical community so that we may attain enough trust to assume in the positive sense once more. The figures of Jow Lindsay and Posie Rider are mythological tricksters, ever playing with our trust in assuming that we are assuming the same thing/s as the poets we heed. We are not simply given to assume that we can all trust each other and can therefore sing together the firmament of the new world, but rather the intimidation and awkwardness these trickster aspects produce in the audience (for example, naming specific people in the audience, something I’ve seen Lindsay do a number of times both in improvised performance and in published work) work to make the sense of place more malleable in order that we may mould new ways of listening to and being with each other. Those moments of joyous augmentation, (self-)plagiarisation and re-organisation result in a mixtape-like quality that presents not only a plurality of voice, but voices of real collective experience and instantaneous memory.
Only by carving difference into the universally reductive notion of humanity itself can we become truly human, and by dint of this, humane. That is the axiom at work on the macro-level of experimental poetry communities and the micro-level of the individual reading.
This is also how readings act theatrically without becoming theatre. The creation of such communitas is contingent upon its only lasting as long as the reading itself, its durational nature perhaps the key to the feeling of common endeavour, even if only articulated negatively. Lindsay’s exhaustive prose performances are, I think, a beautifully doomed attestation of the occasion of the reading as the productive mechanism by which communities are made, defining themselves against both an undifferentiated humanity-at-large replete with built-in sensors to detect love, companionship, truth & beauty as well as by more positivist means declaring a space for the activation of radical subjectivities inexpressible within the nexus of the everyday uses of language. The temporality of the reading as play is therefore the crux of the meaning of the performance in terms of its delineation of our time, our language, our wound, our response. It is the proper occasion of song which frames and therefore reveals the event itself as constitutive of a collective grand narrative forged from the desire of those for whom pre-packaged national, gender, ethnic or sexual identities have become useless and restrictive."
Instructive, n'est pas?
14 May 2010
11 May 2010
“But how?” I hear you ask. “Not – how did they run the country – but how did they attack the post-boxes?"
Well, that’s a very good question.
They used ink, pots of ink to be precise, whose corks had been craftily loosened so that when a young lady, incensed by social and political inequality, really had just ‘had enough’, she could throw the ink pot into the post box where the dark liquid would slowly trickle over its contents. Envelopes from the time show that they really did get quite, quite black. As a result people missed their mail and the campaign gained publicity, although it must be said that the postal campaign hardly endeared the public whose correspondence was destroyed; it was a risky move to encourage wider support for the women’s cause.
On a lighter note, postcards (again you must excuse all my witty puns) were also jolly useful to the suffragettes. They ‘postcarded’ comrades about upcoming meetings (sometimes using suffrage code) and sent postcards depicting recent events to raise support for the cause (clever Kodak produced photographic ‘postcard’ film which meant the campaigners could produce images of events within hours). Two suffragettes even travelled to Number 10 as ‘human letters’, i.e. wearing placards, but the patriarch prime minster Asquith described them as ‘dead letters’, or rather letters that were lost, and refused to read them. Oh and it is also probably worth mentioning that they smashed up quite a few post offices too, using stones and hammers- but no one was ‘hurt’.
Dr Watson, a journalist, doctor (in the academic sense that is) and all round renaissance man, has taken it upon himself to explore the history of the suffrage movement in Dundee, and to great effect. For instance did you know that Winston Churchill was the MP for Dundee (isn’t that queer?) and when he gave a speech to his constituency in 1908 the stealthy Pankhurst sisters decided to send him a message (again, another pun) by dropping a pile of slates onto the roof above the patriarch’s head, ruining his address. Hurrah women!
But what the talk really brought home to me was the importance of the suffrage movement at a regional, rather than simply at a national level. The attacks on the postal system really brought this home (unlike those poor inky letters). The attacks on mailboxes were carefully coordinated throughout the country and required the team work and in-depth planning of women’s organisations in all towns and counties, so that their ink pots went flying all the same time in order to create maximum publicity for their cause. Watson bemoaned the lack of research into the activities of WSPU across the country. Indeed he inspired me to research the herstoy of my own town to be entitled, The Feminists of Wo-Hampshire.
HOW TO 'INK' A LETTERBOX
Below I have included a short guide for any of you thinking about ‘inking a letter box’ in protest, although one must remember that it is awfully hard nowadays what with those awful CCTVs everywhere.
(1) Ensure you are carrying a muff in order to disguise your ink.
(2) Ensure the cork in your ink pot is loosened but not totally removed (you want the ink to slowly trickle down the letters), and you should probably carrying a hammer for good measure, possibly some explosives.
(3) Make sure no one is about when you chuck it in, however be sure to choose your time carefully, usually just before the patriarch postman is scheduled to collect.
Run away, fast, after you’ve posted your little protests surprise
7 May 2010
5 May 2010
TORIES WILL LOWER THE ABORTION TIME LIMIT TO 20 WEEKS. THAT'S REALLY BAD. I URGE YOU LADY READERS: STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS AND VOTE FOR ANYONE BUT THAT EVIL WIZARD DAVID CAMERON.
TODAY THE TIME LIMIT, TOMORROW MORE SEXISM, ALL THE TIME.
30 Apr 2010
I was wandering home after a delicious meal at a French bistro in Soho last night when I was confronted with this shocking window display in the shoe shop Kurt Geiger on Regent's Street (the store was worryingly close to Hamley's).
As this image demonstrates, the mannequins were lying on their backs with their legs spread high in the air (modelling the frightful shoes) indicating a provocation for sexual intercourse. They were dressed in corsets and bras; some were wearing no knickers.
But it doesn't end there. Inside the shop, visible straight on through the store's glass door, was a electric neon light 'Peep Show' sign that read "Great shoes available downstairs' - ultimately likening the the sale of sex to purchasing some pretty disgusting, over priced strappy sandals.
It was awful. In the middle of central London / a tourist area / next to England's most famous toy shop.
Sexist stilettos, misogynistic mules, lecherous loafers... what's next?
It completely ruined my coq au vin, which I can tell you now was jolly expensive for a supposedly rustic French dish.
Does shopfront sexism know no bounds? We need to take that jump out of its step.
Write in to Kurt Geiger to complain and berate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
27 Apr 2010
19 Apr 2010
European and American women are too arrogant for you? Are you looking for a sweet lady that will be caring and understanding? Then you came to the right place- here you can find a Russian lady that will love you with all her heart. Can't find a queen to rule your heart? How about beautiful Russian ladies that have royal blood and royal look? Here you can find hundreds of portfolios of these fine women of any age for every taste. Please excuse us if you are not interested.
Beautiful Russian ladies - http://moscowdatings.ru
Can you believe it? I can't believe sexism can travel this far? No I am NOT interested, and just for your information Russia IS in Europe you misogynistic wart. Needless to say I have initiated anther campaign against these male war mongrels. I have been prank calling them on Skype all afternoon with a voice generated message saying:
Vladamir Putin makes me sick and Lenin had a tiny brain.
If that doesn't get their goat then I don't know what will! Female (European) wit rules supreme once more (and no, I don't want to marry you, internet pervert).
18 Apr 2010
I would like to draw your attention to marvellous blog post on Joan of Arc - a key symbol of the American Feminist movement.
"The Suffragette Movement’s Use of Joan of Arc’s Image
Joan had been an important symbol of American patriotism since right after the Revolutionary War, when an Irish immigrant named John Burk wrote a play called “Female Patriotism Or the Death of Joan of Arc.” By 1912, Americans were quite familiar with Joan’s stirring exploits. For any citizen who had missed all the books, plays, and works of art, Ringling Brothers toured that season with a $500,000.00 extravaganza that boasted 1200 actors and sensational special effects.
The following year, Americans marched on Washington, demanding that the Constitution be amended to grant women the right to vote. Suffragette parades in England had been led by a woman dressed as Joan since 1911. United States women happily borrowed the tradition for the Washington march: the Women’s Suffrage Procession featured a progressive attorney named Inez Milholland mounted on a white horse."
Of course they did- I myself have often mounted a white horse to various friends' fancy dress parties. Although arriving on my trusty steed to Melody's nautical themed 21st birthday party was admittedly a little bit tenuous.
The post has actually inspired me to research what symbols my Rider ancestoresses used in their various campaigns against the male race. I plan to psychoanalytically link their favourite animals to their various personality aspects using the Jungian concept of anima.
Of course my psychiatrist friends tell me that the two are totally unrelated - but I shall prove them wrong! x
13 Apr 2010
My Aunt Lily once said that theory is like the backbone of fish swimming down the river of life. I quite agree and I, like a strong willed Tench, have vertebrae packed full with the goodness of precocious thought. Indeed the other day I started thinking the prejudice attached to women consuming greasy food. The result was the mistresspiece below, which would make even Baudrillard blush.
I include the hefty essay 'Women and Kebabs: An Orientalist Perspective' below for your viewing pleasure. After reading it I'm sure you'll be puzzled as I was upon discovering that it was rejected by the Feminist Review. Philistines!
Women and Kebabs: An Orientalist Perspective
Although it was dark at the time, the other night I started to see the world in a whole new light. I was out with some friends and after several rounds of very strong lychee martinis and a bop around the Groucho club I felt it was time for my ceremonious Saturday night kebab.
I have always loved kebabs. At university ‘The Kebab King’ van was permanently parked outside my halls of residence, and even when I once found a little piece of blue plastic in the meat, I kept on eating the stuff; just grateful in the knowledge that I hadn’t choked to death. But on said night, and of mildly discombobulated mind, my decision to order a large lamb doner was not met with mutual adoration.
“Are you seriously going to get a kebab? That’s gross!” my male friends preached, (and these are heterosexual alpha male type men). “We’re just going for the burgers.”
I had to ask myself the question: what’s so wrong with women eating kebabs? In fact the more I thought about it kebabs have become a kind of self-defence mechanism for me. I don’t mean in terms of binge eating or bulimia, lord no, but as a weapon to ward off over-enthusiastic males. I often find that an awkward moment at the end of an evening can quickly be distilled with the words “Cor I could murder a kebab!” Men just don’t like it, and quick to follow male dislike comes the rest of society.
Information in the press about the unhealthy properties of kebabs is all too often framed in references to women’s health. Of course they aren’t good for you. They can contain up to 140g of fat, which is twice the maximum daily allowance for women, and the calorific equivalent of a wine glass of cooking oil. Yet women in particular are penalised for eating them. For instance Kerrie Catona was recently lambasted for eating (quote) ‘a mammoth kebab laden with lashings of mayo after a night out with a female pal in Blackpool’. The Daily Mail was disgusted when the ‘mum-of-four happily scoffed down the unhealthy feast, despite vowing to shed weight after unflattering pictures of her on holiday were printed recently’. Similarly when Jacqui Smith was criticized for announcing that she would not feel safe ordering a kebab in Peckham, one has to ask whether she was disliked for her dismal inappropriateness, or for the fact she likes kebabs?
Okay, so kebabs aren’t good for us and that’s why they’re frowned upon, right? Wrong. If Foucault has taught us anything it is that life’s just not that simple. My friends don’t grimace when I order chips or a jumbo box of chicken wings. In fact when I (occasionally) smoke a Vogue cigarette they think I’m the coolest lady in London N1. From Eve onwards a woman’s relationship with food has been riddled with complications and this is just another far too complex rant about what they might be.
Feminists teach us that one reason women are scorned for indulging in unhealthy foods is because piling on the pounds directly interferes with their so called ‘bodily maintenance’. Shows like You Are What You Eat (C4) starring the witch-like
Scot, Dr. Gillian McKeith, are perfect examples of how the media regulate the female body and force subjects to abide by the rules of dietary control. What’s more, these programs are often violent in their regulation and frequently televise white working class mums being shamed by their middle class rivals (think Trinny and Susanna) for their obesity and for pushing the disease upon their children. In short they are blamed for not understanding the basic principles of nutrition. Now I don’t approve of obesity, but I understand that being fat is rarely a straightforward question of ‘choice’. I was lucky enough to have been raised by an Auntie who was a marvellous cook and grew her own vegetables, so from a young age I was taught how to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle. However, there are some who are just not so fortunate.
In fact ‘make over’ programs such as these are distinctly post-feminist in their outlook, purporting a view of femininity that depends upon women having consumer power, i.e. enough money to buy their organic apples and free range chickens from M&S. In this respect eating bad foods not only demonstrates an inability to regulate ones body, but also implies a lack of education and consumer capital. One could argue that the kind of food you eat symbolizes your degree of social privilege. For instance: Grouse / upper class; Sushi / middle class; Burger / working class. But what of the kebab? It is a dish so badly frowned upon that it must represent more than simply being working class. But what?
In order to understand the stigma of a woman eating a kebab we must first consider its history. The word ‘kebab’ refers to a number of meat dishes in Arabian and Eastern cuisines. Do these eastern origins have something to do with the disdain surrounding its consumption? In his seminal study Orientalism, Edward Siad taught us that images of the east are social constructions that reflect the values of the voyeur as much as the viewed. A long line of feminists have traced links between western concepts of femininity and Orientalism and I believe that understanding the relationship between them could hold the key to unlocking the secrets of Kebab Stigma.
In a fascinating study called Beyond the Frame Deborah Cherry explores the relationship between orientalism and female subjectification in the 19th century. Cherry makes the persuasive argument that the expansion of the British Empire during the reign of Queen Victoria introduced alternate cultures into Britain and this new ‘imperialism’ from overseas provided a physical and refreshing open space for British women to develop alternate modes of femininity. The introduction of Orientalism, Cherry argues, offered 19th century feminists an opportunity to redefine themselves by allowing women to depict their emancipated modernityin contrast to the subservience of ‘native’ women. In fact the occidental trend to dress in Ottoman-inspired clothes became so popular amongst ladies of London that they started stocking them in Liberty's. The juxtaposition between the occidental ‘Other’ and the Western woman allowed feminists to express their independence and defiance. It granted them a social and artistic space within which to act by flouting convention without being improper.
“So what does all this have to do with kebabs?” I hear you ask.
According to my argument, eating a kebab isn’t just about eating a fatty piece of (very tasty) meat in between two slabs of pitta, nor is it’s condemnation based simply upon its high calorie content. Rather the eastern promise of the hearty kebab, which makes it an explicitly non-western food type, means that it acquires a symbolic value that challenges norms within our own society. It is the ‘Other’ of takeaway food types. Yet at the same time the kebab is not only ‘Othered’ simply because it is from abroad, but because, as I have previously mentioned, it is a means of flouting bodily regulation. Scoffing one down also challenges the post-feminist ‘norm’ of the white middle class woman by associating its eater with the working classes. In this respect its condemnation resides in its symbolic status as a food type that functions as a deliberate means of flouting social convention. Think about it: is eating a kebab that different to donning an Ottoman dress and walking round London in the 19th century? They are both foreign and, at times, shocking. But more importantly they are both statements that challenge preconceived notions of western femininity.
It is precisely the foreign Otherness of the kebab, its Orientalism, which makes it the most self-conscious type of fast food. Unlike its American cousins the burger and southern fried chicken, the Otherness of the kebab make its unhealthiness function as a symbolic expression of defiance, as women consciously indulge in corporeal deregulation. Kebabs are self-functioning symbols of her choice to defy these norms. In other words when I get a kebab I am not only associating myself with the malpractice of poor bodily regulation (and subsequently of being working class / poorly educated), but I am positioning myself as a free agent openly ascribing to its means of social defiance. Eating a kebab is like sticking a finger up at society; filming it and then playing it back to society with you in the audience (and if you don’t get post-modernism after that metaphor then you probably never will).
We must take this time to honour the kebab. For it is Othered as women like us are also Othered by the media, by misogyny and even by other women. The kebab represents all of this and more. In eating it we are consciously swallowing down all that is frowned upon. It is the martyr of food types, and so we must show it respect. Go forth, eat, and when you do eat with pride (but don’t have too many because you will die from high cholesterol).