I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You

A staggering 6 weeks ago, when lock down restrictions were beginning to ease, our TV screens and minds were illuminated by: ‘I May Destroy you’. I, myself, who fared badly from the pandemic, was starting to recover from a long tail case of Covid-19. This drama series was the primary broadcast I was desperate to watch. Its impact is set to last far beyond the 6 hours of air time which the BBC allotted. 

The main narrative centres around the rape of the Arabella; the feisty, strong-willed, leading lady. Michaela Coel who wrote starred and co-produced the series plays Arabella. The realistic screenplay leads us through flashbacks of her being raped. In reporting the matter to the Police they were able to establish that she had been subject to date-rape drugging. Perhaps not so realistic: the Police are shown to be professional, compassionate and supportive. Inevitably the case had to be shelved until a DNA match presents itself to the investigation. However, what is ground-breaking is we see Arabella: a hard-partying recreational drug user, convincingly being able to differentiate clearly between being secretly drugged, then subject to intercourse and simply, narcotic indulgence followed by consensual sex. At no point is the viewer directed to blame Arabella due to volatile lifestyle choices or to consider her to be unreliable as a consequence.

Arabella’ response to the violation could be considered from varied viewpoints. Promiscuity as a result of a sex attack liberated sex-positive behaviour or further examples of not fully consensual sex as a result of drug and alcohol usage. This leaves her vulnerable to a further sexual assault, interestingly in the form of stealthing: removal of a condom without the consent of the sexual partner. I and many viewers, male and female, were unaware that this was a criminal matter, the show was surprisingly informative.

We are offered some reasoning as to why Arabella’ sexual conduct presents us with a large variety of partners, many of whom are little more than acquaintances. The series takes us back to her infancy, parents who reside separately, but are still in a relationship. A father who indulges in a ‘Fancy Woman’ and to a degree, neglects his parental duties.

Breathtaking to see greater diversity on our screens, the main characters all being from ethnic minorities (Within the UK, not Globally). I found Arabella immediately appealing, the funky jacket and the wilds of pink hair. Terry, the loyal friend that every girl need to have, both are: fun, alluring, party goers. In opposition to this, the only more than minor white female: Theo, is overweight, unattractive and morally warped. A wondrous mid-series episode takes us back to secondary school, only done successfully in Romy and Michele’s High School Union during the late nineties. The retro-fun element of camera phones being new, hilarious in comparison to the multi-faceted smartphones of today. We see the only significant white, female character, falsely accuse a black man of rape. Equally to this, it becomes clear that Arabella’ rapist was white, herself being of colour. Is this a lesson for white supremacy, are matters being transformed in terms of traditional villain, victim roles in terms of race?

As a white female, I found some of the script a little isolating, the dialogue of:

‘I don’t like white people.’

stated by Terry. The scene in which Arabella takes extreme offence from being referred to as being from an ‘Afro-Caribbean background’ as opposed to simply of ‘African background’. This combined with making the medical professional linger while they shoot a podcast. This did not appear to be an act of standing up to racism, more the conduct of adolescents that belonged in a classroom seated next to Catherine Tate’s Vicky Pollard.

The range of taboo subjects brought to the drama was radical, in the extreme. The casual use of sanitary towels, menstruation no longer to be hidden and ignored. However, I found the scene in which she brings home a Man which she has just met in a night club off-putting. They endeavour to have intercourse while she is on her period. This combined with them both playing with her heavy, ‘Squishy’ discharge bordering on vulgar.

We are introduced to group sex on several occasions and internet dating, which pre-Millennial’s didn’t indulge. Significantly, the concept of social media addiction is raised, something we are all beginning to ponder over as a result of lock down and periods of isolation. Primarily, we are embraced by the subject of male rape, a major taboo, the public only being widely aware that this happened since the turn of the Millennium. Although the male rape scene was convincing, I was deterred by the response of the character. Devastation, regret and self-blame were not conveyed convincingly.

Although there were some downsides, this is a monumental step forward in challenging the many failings within our society; primarily rape culture. The ambiguity of the concluding episode adds to the mental turmoil over violation and redemption. The series instigated discussions and debate, a drama which will get us talking about rape.

Set to take the short trip over the pond, let’s hope Arabella & Co, can do the same for the Americans!

Watch the Series

Stealthing

Missed: Mrs America?

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Wednesday night saw the TV series Mrs America hit our screen in the UK. The series dramatises, more than documents the path of second-wave feminism in the United States.

The initial episode centres around Phyllis Schlafly, played by the Hollywood great: Cate Blanchette. Schlafly, a staunch anti-feminist who lead the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Many hold Schlafly accountable for the bill never being passed and eventually abandoned in the early eighties.

Schlafly, the women who Betty Friedan, mother of seventies women’s movement, insisted should be burned at the stake. The Republican who led a league of housewives, home-makers and churchgoers against the progressive feminists of the day.

Growing up during the great depression, Schlafly had a modest upbringing, her father of long term unemployment. Motherly support of her education steered her towards a scholarship place at the now named Maryland University. In tangent to her studies she worked as a model, but she also ‘Test fired machine guns’ for the largest munitions factory in the US, World War Two raging across the Globe. Eventually studying post-grad at Harvard, then becoming a researcher for the Republican Party.

Marrying a wealthy lawyer, fifteen years her senior, resulting in six children. Author of many publications the most notable: ‘A choice, not an ego,’ selling over 3.5 million copies, highlighting matters in opposition to National defence strategies.

After another unsuccessful run for Congress in the early seventies, she turned her attention to women’s politics and battled successfully against the ERA. The main policies were in favour of women remaining exempt from the Draft, Vietnam was at war and American troops were being sent East. Other motions looked to protect social security benefits for dependent wives. Although her eldest son was openly gay she stood by conservative policies against single-sex marriage and anti-immigration.

The dramatisation brings the seventies to our post lock-down TV screens. Brown patterned floral prints, chunky jewelry, twin sets and hand knitting. Hairnets and curlers creating the bouffant of the day. Although an anti-feminist, Cate Blanchette portrays a strong, capable woman, more than a little opposed to being assigned the role of note-taking. We see a true beauty parading the national stars and stripes in the form of a bikini.

In opposition, we encounter bad sex aesthetics not spoken about during the decade. When exhausted she submits to undesired intercourse with her demanding husband. Lying back motionless as he ploughs internally with no regard for her pleasure, indulging in merely his gratification.

What next for the series?

Although slaughtered by Gloria Steinem in person, her character was introduced and takes the limelight in the next episode.

A drama to be indulged, not a doco to be scrutinized!

Watch on BBC iPlayer

Recycled Tampons + er, do I have to?

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So you’ve moved with the green revolution: recycling, re-using carrier bags and you endeavour to sort waste for compost. Due to lock-down you’ve reduced use of the vehicle and invested more time to walking and cycling. The next step: they want us girls to use re-cycled tampons, your first thought?

Someone else’s discharge! ew…ew…ew.

Your initial intention: to reduce your carbon footprint by all other means keep sanitary produce; new, pure and cleanly raped.

It’s time to re-think the matter of eco sanitary products, they are not what you imagine!

1.5 billion sanitary products are flushed down the lav every year in Britain. An average woman will use 11,000 sanitary items over her lifetime. It’s time to consider greener alternatives.

Okay, I understand recycled tampons are actually made from used tampons, but aren’t they less pure?

Wrong – many are actually made from organic cotton and often, unlike regular varieties, free from chlorine bleach. They frequently exclude rayon and chemically produced fragrance. If polymers are used, medical-grade is usually stated. Further claim to be hypo-allergenic, highlighting their superiority to standard produce.

Are there genuine environmental benefits?

So, so, many: regular tampons are around 90% plastic and ultimately not biodegradable, taking up space in landfill and the oceans of the planet. Green alternatives use cardboard applicators, paper wrappers and compostable film. Some utilise re-usable applicators which are purchased separately.

Any other plus factors?

There are animal cruelty-free and vegan alternatives, some donate to charities that act against period poverty and FGM.

Then there’s straightforward vanity: the packaging looks amazing. A luxury supplied in a 5-star hotel or first class lounge at the airport.

So are you with me?

Yeah, I’m with you, recycled tampons are for me and forever!

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The Eternal I

Brests

Explicit content warning

The Eternal I

I am the all
I am the only
I am an example for others
I am all that matters
I am my ultimate muse

Standing, average size in height. Pleasant facial features, nothing extraordinary, a relatively forgettable portrait shot. Plastered on layers of make-up, a full face, foundation, powder topped up continually. Lip liner, lipstick, where possible drinking through a straw avoiding a devastating smudge.

Hair parted to a standard off centre, cut to a dictated norm of long, slightly below the shoulders. Bleached blond, the only way to be, flaxen supremacy achieved through beautification. Regular root touch up, straightened and set at the salon weekly. Modified, hairbrush heat, a week of keeping dry to ensure the best of my appearance.

Bust enhanced cosmetically, cheap but not in the financial sense. The bigger the better, the instruction given to the consultant. Thousands parted to become a sexual commodity.

Chest ripping through tops cut low, then lower again. The breasts are tools of control, they make her desirable. She plants them in faces, pushing them into vision, projecting them into power. Eyes are drawn into cleavage, manoeuvre to manipulate.

Under the bosom, there is nothing of consequence. Dressed in smart blacks to look slimmer, pulling in the extra few pounds. In conversation, little to say other than on the subject of herself. No real family or friends of sorts, though little of by colleagues, another new partner with her unintentionally. Sex is something she endures, lying back as he penetrates, ejaculating into the rubbish bin of her female form. Vagina a goal, her pleasure of no concern.

I am ego-centric to the core
I am my subject matter
I am an acquisition
I am my cleavage locator
I am my breasts.

I am only my breasts…..

 

‘The Eternal I’ is the latest flash fiction works from Alison Little. Written as a response to the Errant Muse exhibition held at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool.

 

More about The Errant Muse

Convict Blanket

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Convict blanket is the latest art activism works from concept-based arts practitioner, Alison Little. A sensation to shock and stand against rape, rape culture and the authorities put in place to tackle sex crime within our society.

Convict blanket confronts us with the homage style of using material available, in this case, the humble scratch provoking woollen coverings of the bed. The use of blanket stitch and appliqué reminiscent of techniques used in prison protests where all resources must be reclaimed from the sparse provisions available when incarcerated. The blanket is floor-based, slightly raised to one side. The text and images locate with the nearest edge in which they are placed, allowing the viewer to read the statements as their paths encircle the form. The use of hand-embroidered text reminiscent of the marker pen on corrugated card portrayals commonplace throughout activism. Texts vary in scale, case and font in regards to the emphasis placed on the statement which is being presented. Large bold statements often present definitive assertions, small joined-up style wording is often examples of dialogue and opinions of the minority. The black text looks to address how to reduce the numbers of sex attacks by convicting more rapists. In opposition, the red highlights issues within society and the authorities put in place to tackle sex crime which are failing at every given opportunity. Although male rape is equally as relevant, this identifies with female rape which is statistically committed in greater numbers.

The first of the black text presents a printed abbreviation, ‘HMP‘. This is commonplace within the UK, ‘Her Majesties Prisons’ being the full term and the title for units of incarceration. The larger appliqué fonts present ‘Convict‘ and ‘Rapist‘, indicating an intention for more sex offenders to be serving custodial sentences. This is emphasized in greater detail by a well-defined corner based statement:

We must press for the conviction of more rapists.’

A powerful sentence, stating the motivation behind the activism, the use of the second person to engage the viewer with the protest.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is common among rape survivors is raised within smaller statements. Dressing down as a result of being raped is proposed, backed up by an image of a ‘Hide under’ hoodie. Larger texts draw attention to statistics:

‘1 in 10 rapes are reported to the Police, of these only 1 in 10 lead to a conviction.’

Due to current changes within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) this figure is currently much lower. The statistic highlights how rape is one of the most under-reported crimes. The statement is reinforced by the pie chart indicating that only 1% of rapes committed lead to a conviction.

Patriarchy is addressed, male supremacy being a factor in why rape is not being tackled effectively. Police apathy over sexual assault cases is presented. Demands towards the recruitment of ‘Strong, capable women,’ are made, requesting women who will prioritise rape over trivia to be brought into the Police Force. Drawing attention to the vulnerability of the rape survivor, showing how there needs should be prioritized. The black statements concluding with the most vital statement of them all, the rapist being ‘100%‘ to blame for rape.

The red text looks to highlight why our society is failing to reduce numbers in terms of sexual assault and punishing more sex offenders through the penal system. The large appliqué terms read ‘Rape Culture’ and ‘Victim Blaming’. Across the blanket, we have statements which highlight examples of victim-blaming, itself a factor within rape culture. Projections of low morals, promiscuous clothing, the rape survivor being presented as ‘The Whore’ and extreme example of ‘Slut-shaming’ are identified. Misconceptions around PTSD are given, many are still not aware that this condition is commonplace with rape survivors. The second delusion of rape being unusual is also stated. Narcotic and alcohol use are presented, suggestions that mild cannabis inhalation could result in hallucinations an example of ignorance. Again, blaming the victim through alcohol consumption, the concept of consenting to sex being overlooked.

Patriarchy being stated, showing the focus of the law to be on protecting men from being falsely accused of rape. How the Police Force is male-dominated, the notion of many of these ‘Men’ having little intentions of acting against rape, in this, recruiting weak, feeble women to actively fail rape survivors. This is developed by drawing attention to the actions of many Police Women, their sole contribution to a rape enquiry to be establishing what happens when they get dressed up, thus providing the opportunity for them to reflect on their superior beauty. The trivial nature of operatives, examples of attire being copied being prioritised as opposed to communicating the nature of the sex attack. This is matched by their counterparts, Policemen, many are only interested in their prowess, continually falsifying reports on how the rape survivor is attracted to themselves. Looking at the attitudes of Police personnel, those who feel that they are not expected to do anything in a rape case, the extremities being the role of the rape victim to protect and shelter vulnerable officers.

Ultimately, the saddest statement of all:

‘It was my fault I was rapped.’

The victims who blame themselves, a factor in why so many crimes are not reported to the authorities.

‘Convict Blanket’, innovative works, at the helm within the spectrum of art activism. Artwork which can challenge misconceptions around rape, concepts which can address issues in society and confront the authorities put in place to act against rape. Ultimately, ‘Convict Blanket’ will lead to the conviction of more rapists, reducing rape crime and proposes a safer society.

Convict Blanket will be exhibited from spring 2020.

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Quotes from Catherine MacKinnon

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Catherine MacKinnon, a mother of second-wave feminism, led the US movement alongside greats such as Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem. Primarily, a legal scholar, lecturing at institutions such as Harvard. Specialising in sexual harassment, pornography and prostitution. We take a look at some quotes from her acclaimed 1980’s publication, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on life and law.

”One of the advantages of male supremacy, along with money and speech and education and respectability, is sexual access to women, of which pornography is one form.”

”Marriage is women’s destiny, she defends and seeks to extend. Now, three out of five marriages end in divorce after about five years, leaving the woman with approximately one child, approximately no income, and a standard of living drastically below that of her former husband.”

”A recent study shows that the only difference between hookers and other women with similar class backgrounds is that prostitutes earn twice as much.”

”We resent being blamed for what men do to us, being told we provoked it when we are raped or sexually harassed, living in constant fear.”

”Men see rape ass intercourse: feminists say much intercourse is rape.”

”Sex blindness”

”The rule said that if Native American women married outside the tribe, the children of that union were not full tribe members: if Native American men married out, there were no such consequences.”

”Neo-Victorian prudery’

”What is not considered to be a hierarchy is women and men – men on top and women on the bottom.”

”Reproductive freedom”

”The problem is, the State has never in fact protected women’s dignity or bodily integrity.’

”Most rapes are intra-racial and committed by men the women know.”

”The purported plot of Deep Throat (Linda Lovelace) is premised upon rearranging the woman by putting a clitoris in her throat, so she gets sexual pleasure out of giving oral sex to men.”

”A critique of pornography is to feminism what defence  is to male supremacy.”


”This is what it means when feminists say that maleness is a form of power and femaleness is a form of powerlessness.”

”Women’s desire to be fucked by men is equal to men’s desire to fuck women.”

 

Quite simply, a great feminist icon here to inspire and move humanity forward.

 

 

Catherine MacKinnon

Feminist Unmodified

Barbie Must Die!

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The top 10 reasons why Barbie must die and be with us no longer.

10 Goes out with Ken.

9 Drives very slow cars.

8 A bit too fond of Pink!

7 Delicate and brakes easily.

6 Does nothing other than leisure activities.

5 Injection moulded, resulting in her looking like every other injection moulded Barbie.

4 Her only function is to play dress up.

3 Is a stereotypical babe, cliché of straight, blond 3/4 length hair, fair-skinned and       representational of Aryan culture.

2 Literally an airhead, she has nothing between her ears.

1 Not a real woman!

1950’s Girls Annuals: the Homemaker

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Seventy years on from when the girls annual of the 1950’s were being read in the  pink bedrooms of the post-second world war generation we look back at there content. Where they looking to inspire the girls who would grow up to lead second-wave feminism through the seventies, or were they looking to indoctrinate the next generation of Housewives?

Girls literature of the 1950’s painted a world of domestic bliss. The role of sewing, the adoration of flowers and the wearing of impractical clothing prevailed across the pages of mid-century girls annuals. Poems encourage the practice of cleaning, baking, being house-proud, having the most perfect hair and awaiting the kiss of a man. The role of the party planner is put forward, a caregiver role projected. However, not to be forgotten in Britain, the concept of making tea in a crisis is ever-present.

Pressures on young girls to be lady-like

The continual pressures on young girls to be lady-like. Any matters of rebellion from this notion are lame and akin to stories of naughty schoolgirls. Images of impractical sports clothing, skirts worn for tennis and golf. Dancing is in full costume and skiing is shown to be gentle and relaxing. With sports like rowing, women simple sit back as men take the oars. Similar scenes are shown with motor vehicles, males are strong and take the wheel, steering away from danger and girls watch on. Generally, the women are beautiful, appear to be sunning themselves as the men do all the work. They are gorgeous, pale-skinned, flushed cheeks with bouncy blond hair adorning their slim bodies. Looks of women pleading with men as they carry all the heavy items. Delicate women prevail as they receive kisses on the hand from admiring men. Many of the tales inscribed simply escalate to men saving the day as the women look on in awe.

Boys literature of the period was in starch contrast to that of girls. They masqueraded daring adventures, escapades and the dangers of warfare so prevalent on the minds of those growing up in the years which were the aftermath of World War Two. Presenting depictions of action sports, space exploration and tackling monsters. Many of the tales bore similarities to the ever-popular Westerns of the time, cowboys, Indians and hunting. Cops and Robbers was an ever-present theme. We were also introduced to the world of large, expensive motorcars, Bentley’s of the era. Top athletes, racing and highly competitive sports dominated the pages of the 1950’s annuals. Men were shown to be strong and capable, getting into fights and adventures took place across the globe. Incidentally, many of the representations of black people were tribal in origin. Images of women seem simply to depict a gorgeous girl who sits there as the man wins her with his actions. Cigars are also present, as a male indulgence, not something to be discouraged. Work and logic puzzles were headlined around ‘Shoot’ and ‘Hit’, evoking a strong sense of competition. Practical skills were encouraged through narrative’ around tools and making exercises were played out.

Contemporary girls literature has modified immensely from the 1950’s. Positive, empowering statements ‘I can’ and ‘You can do anything’ embrace our pages. Girls are now dressed as action figures and take on space exploration. Females from ethnic minorities are now included and girls vary greatly in their appearance. We are presented with different faith groups and the idea of unconventional family groups are put forward. Those with disabilities are shown and take on powerful roles.

Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them.

Inspirational positions and occupations are presented as life choices. Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them. Positive real-life role models are presented through photography and text. Girls are shown to be practical, using tools and building projects. The former male domains of math’s and science are promoted, the aesthetics of wearing goggles for experiments put in a positive light. Environmentalism is a new agenda, current affairs and politics are embarrassed. Tea parties are now of the fair trade variety and healthy pursuits of foraging for food are encouraged, taking from the male hunter, gatherer role. Making projects develop skills in science, numeracy levels and encouraging activism.

The nostalgia of the fifties is enjoyable to re-collect, the role of the mother and the home-maker not to be discredited, contemporary girls literature id clearly more inspirational. Modern-day girls Annuals promote positive female aspirations, leadership and activism, not being lady-like and waiting for a man to save the day. Female literal sources which will create a more positive power balance for women of the future.

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A Respectable Woman

Wedding

A Respectable Woman is the latest poem penned by Alison Little around the theme of Truth for National Poetry Day 2019. It was performed by Alison at the Life Rooms in Walton and for Sefton Slams at Crosby Library.

 

A Respectable Woman

Respectable, woman I am
Married, my working man
Toddler hand, baby in pram
Nightly, I cook up scran

Cleaned daily, house gleams
Sparkle, blinds align
Domesticity, I beam
Other tasks benign

Respectable, woman I am

Indulging, drink I never
Curse those who do
Frolics, not me, ever
Bars, the fallen go

Narcotics blamed for all
Because of drugs!
The route of all downfall
‘She’s off it’ I shrug

Respectable, fat through childbirth

Gateaux, farm food supply
In fat pants, I squeeze
For dinner I deep fat fry
Weight gain ease

Obesity: giving birth
Fat blamed, motherhood
Woman’ purpose on Earth
Hefty means good

Children, reflect parenting
Ensure they behave
I scream, shout, demanding
Blamed, early grave

Mortgage renders responsible
Better than those amid
Marriage equals respectable
Only role, provide kid’

Respectable: I got Married

Every bride is beautiful
Fat pant’ looks, dismay
Nightly groom uses tool
Every dog has its day!

Alison Little

More about National Poetry Day

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