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I'm back with bus shelters

So my computer monitor stopped working so I had no computer I could blog on. Now I've borrowed one from Dick Smiths until our one is fixed or replaced or something.

Also I had another baby which I guess has been taking time. Some days she eats continuously and other days she sleeps continuously. I guess my blog may be a bit sporadic.

In any case, I've been meaning to talk about bus shelters. Wellington bus shelters are bizarrely incompetent. If they were subject to the Consumer Guarantees Act we could get our money back. A shelter after all should shelter.

The bus shelters are now called Adshels. Their main function seems to be a place where people can insert those very very large posters. Last time I was at a bus "shelter" a van pulled up and two barefooted young men changed the poster from something to do with rugby to an ad for diet coke. They used a special key (maybe a bit like a allen key you use for bikes) to unlock the plastic that allows access to the posters, but I'm pretty sure I've heard you can slip it open with any old key. Because the posters are such a large size it's lovely to have the lovely white expanse on the reverse side of them for placards or banners or whatever. I almost asked the young men if I could have the All Black posters but I had a week old baby in a not very comfortable front pack.

The woman sitting next to me had about a four year old boy with her. She explained to him how the posters were really good for making water slides as they were made out of a cool sort of plastic and she knew someone who had made a really cool water slide out of them.

The van and swapping of the posters at the Victoria Street bus shelter interlude cheered me considerably. The boys able to work in cut off jeans and bare feet, the woman who, like me, saw the poster purely in terms of cool stuff you could do with the large bit of paper / plastic.

I needed cheering. It was a hot day. The bus shelter provided no shade. I had my week old baby I wanted to keep in the shade. I sort of swathed her head in muslin. You'd think the shelter construction would provide some shade without intention, maybe even by mistake, but no: the seat was entirely in sun.

The seat also was stingy. Instead of stretching the length of the shelter it stopped a good foot and a half clear on one end, depriving someone of sitting space.

When it rains, the rain comes into the shelter as there are large gaps between the edges of the shelter. The shelters are drafty in wind.

While one end of the shelter is taken up with the wrong side of the water slide, banner, the other end of the shelter is made of a particularly nasty perspex type thing frosted with some council type design. On many wet nights in Courtney Place, a busy Wellington Street and bus interchange type place I've waited for buses and been infuriated because car and street lights reflect on the perspex in such a way that it makes it utterly impossible to see which bus is coming.

So my complaints are:

Ok the usual one about public utilities being used to allow nasty companies (where unionised employees in Latin America have a mysterious habit of getting shot or disappearing and which pollute and use up scarce source of fresh water in India) push their unhealthy, sugar filled products for a profit (okay all this is pretty specific to coca cola but probably only because their evils are more well-known)

Next the shelters aren't at all sunproof.

Next the shelters aren't rain or wind proof.

Next the shelters are stingy with the seating.

Next the shelters inhibit exactly the sort of visability you most want when waiting at a bus shelter.

Three Overtly Horrible Anti-Women Things-Part Three

Pimp My Bike - WHATEVER

So I somehow ended up on a list where someone from the Wellington City Council (WCC) was promoting the annual ride your bike to work day and the WCC will give you breakfast.

All well and good.

BUT part of the promotion of the day was a competition where some lucky punter (peddler) got to convert his or her bike into a "commuter's dream". The name of the competition was Pimp My Bike.

So somewhat infuriated by the normalisation of the language of pornography and prostitution into everyday events, I wrote to the promoter and said that I objected. I've lost my email but essentially I said that I could find no other reading of 'pimp my bike' where an ordinary bike gets converted into something ideal than that was considered similar to a pimp converting an ordinary woman into something ideal like a prostitute. And that being concerned with human rights, where most prostitutes are forced into it for economic reasons, or through slavery, and being committed to women being valued for something other than sexual or commercial availability to men, I found it offensive.

I said that while I recognised that they were trying to make the event cool and exciting, they may wish to reconsider aligning themselves with those people who endorse the idea that the ideal woman is a prostitute.

The promoter wrote back (quoting from Wikipedia no less) saying the meaning of "pimp" was now used as a term meaning to pretty up, or something like that, and THAT meaning was popularised by the MTV show "Pimp My Ride" and was nothing to do with endorsing prostitution. S/he did say that they would take my concerns into account when naming the event next year.

I wrote back and said I hardly thought that MTV was a great promoter of equality, or a bastion of women's freedom. I said most people would still associate pimp with prostitution. And that it was off-putting to me, and may well be off-putting to others who, like me, support sustainability and cycling. So, yes I liked the idea of them renaming next year.

While supporting my action, Joe, my partner pointed out the Pimp My Ride thing was actually about converting ordinary cars into cars that look like pimps' cars. Even though it is a sort of step away from converting women, it's still about promoting the idea that what pimps have is attractive and worth pursuing.

I'm sick of it.

And bored silly with it.

YAY for The Roundtable on Violence Against Women

November 18th, 2008 (11:46 am)

Just a little celebratory note about an overtly pro-women thing among my chronicle of the anti-womeners.

Tonight a group I'm involved with is launching itself. The Roundtable on Violence Against Women is like a dip in a lake on a very long hot day.

Recognising that many women's efforts are going into support services for women experiencing violence, the Roundtable will be a community voice in the media, with the public and policy makers on violence against women. It will make the links between different sorts of violence against women, and will re-inject discussions on violence with gender. Strangely lacking in much analysis of late.

Their brand new website is at www.roundtablevaw.org.nz.

Three Overtly Horrible Anti-Women Things-Part Two

November 18th, 2008 (11:14 am)

Boobs on Bikes...

To my joy, after great razzmatazz, the transportation of the Boobs on Bikes Parade from Auckland to Wellington by anti-women entrepreneur Steve Crow fell a bit flat.

Its failure is no thanks to local Wellington rag Capital Times which ran an article called 'Hooray for Boobies' on page two of its 5-11th November edition.

The Parade is nothing to do with celebrating women's bodies, and everything to do with promoting Steve Crow and his cronies' pornography businesses. He puts porn stars on motor bikes with no tops on and claims it is something to do with anti-discrimination.

Besides its ludicrous title, the gushing one-sided CT article calls the parade titillating, quotes Steve Crow as saying 'everyone likes a bit of sexy flesh' and crows along with him about how supposedly conservative communities in Palmerston North and Christchurch crowded out the event.

Disregarding for a moment whether Palmerston North and Christchurch are indeed conservative, let's examine the idea that naked women on bikes is some kind of challenge to conservative ideals. I'd say a deeply conservative attitude towards sex and sexuality and gender relations is firstly to say that men are overtly sexual creatures who require women (who are naturally passive) to fulfil those needs; secondly, that the natural state of being is that men get to control women and women's bodies; thirdly that women, acquiescing to the particular role assigned to them are fulfilled and made happy by this.

The Boobs on Bike parade does nothing but fulfil and reflect a deeply conservative agenda. The smiling picture of a porn star on the back of a motorbike in the CT article, the parade itself, the fallacy that this universally constitutes 'a bit of sexy flesh' that 'everyone' will enjoy are all attempts to normalise the idea that women's sexuality is all about men watching them.

It is in my mind uber-conservative. It is the reinforcement of one very boring notion of sex, sexuality, gender and power.

It's enough to make me blog-Three Overtly Horrible Anti-Women Things-Part One

November 12th, 2008 (09:03 pm)

So I've just finished work to have my second baby. The first one, Abbie, turned three last month and is excellent and cool in all possible ways.

Three overtly horrible anti-women things going on have made me want to blog again and heavens to Betsy, to my joy, I have the time.

These will probably be separate blogs as, while I consider them related, I am annoyed in a myriad of ways about each.

Overtly Horrible Anti-Women Thing One

Six women who work in Nelson providing care for intellectually impaired people say they were told they should masturbate their clients. This article from the Nelson Mail, 21 October 2008 covers it pretty well.

Such instruction is symptomatic of a pervading belief that sex is a human right. A screwed up, myopic misinterpretation of the real issues around sex and sexuality and one sadly often put forward by those considering themselves progressive, permissive or liberal on those issues.

Sex involving another human being in anyway is no-one's human right.

Sex with someone else can be joyful, exciting, liberating, empowering and a jolly good thing. But it's not essential to our humanity. And just because some people have sex doesn't mean everyone has to, or are entitled to it.

One of the women making the claim said the basis of being told they were contractually obliged to masturbate their patients was because clients "have a right to feel like everybody else and if they want to be masturbated, that you are there to do their care".

Fostering a sense of entitlement to sex, the belief that sex is a right, belies the idea that sex, like any human interaction, needs to be negotiated and chosen by everyone involved.

I haven't had it confirmed but I suspect that the clients involved were men, and I know the caregivers were all women. It seems this is more particularly about the idea that men are entitled to sex or sexual acts from women. I doubt if a male care giver would ever be instructed in the same way. I also doubt if the clients were women, there would be the same assumptions about their needs and rights.

Sexual rights are about people being able to choose who and when and how they have sex, and when they don't. But only on the condition that other people involved also get to choose.

The person who gave the training to the Nelson woman says there's no truth in the claims. But she also says that while she wouldn't expect those women to masturbate their clients, she'd encourage the use of sex workers. Bleagh. I've heard this before, prostitution justified on the grounds that sex workers are doing a favour to society by having sex with the people no-one else wants to. (It's not far from the idea, less favoured nowadays due to its obvious logical flaws, that prostitution reduces the rates of rape.)

Give us a break. No-one needs sex. It's archaic and sexist and reminiscent of blue-balls, cave-man, rape is a biological urge bullshit to suggest otherwise.

Because we live in the sort of gendered society we do, anyone promoting the idea that sex involving someone else is an entitlement, needs to take equal responsibility for promoting the familiar idea that men are entitled to controlling women and their bodies.

Aotearoa freshwater....going down the gurgler

October 8th, 2006 (09:15 pm)

On Wednesday night I went to a talk by Moana Jackson on the government’s new Sustainable Water Programme of Action. He’s a compelling speaker who I’ve heard now and then for years. He speaks very quietly, and quite slowly, and being someone who talks loudly and fast when I’m passionate about something, I admire that. People shut up and listen hard to hear him.

Jackson argued that the water strategy was a more sophisticated attempt by the government to do to fresh water what the Seabed and Foreshore legislation has done to the beaches.

The government posed the seabed and foreshore debate as one where nasty Maori wanted ownership of beaches transferred to Maori so they could make a buck, while the nice government wanted to create legislation to ensure the great Kiwi traditions of fairness, egalitarianism and beach barbeques were preserved for all New Zealanders. I’m no expert but as I understand what was actually going on was that one Iwi wanted to have a claim to a strip of seabed and foreshore heard by the Waitangi Tribunal. The government panicked and brought in legislation to prevent ownership of seabed and foreshore. I think the legislation blatantly targeted Maori owners, as it prevented collective ownership of seabed and foreshore (as in Iwi) while ignoring individual ownership (as in Pakeha farmer). The Seabed and Foreshore legislation transferred contested seabed and foreshore into Crown ownership.

Jackson says that rather than introducing legislation that transfers title to freshwater to crown ownership, the government, having learnt lessons from the Seabed and Foreshore debacle are instead creating a regime which rests on the assumption of Crown Ownership. He said in the latest Treaty settlement involving freshwater, the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill. a new concept was invented that of the Crown Stratum, with the accompanying statement that the Crown Stratum will remain in crown ownership. The Crown stratum is used to refer to the space occupied by water and air. And Jackson, alongside other Maori are arguing that it is a sneak attempt by government to undermine Iwi and Hapu customary rights to fresh water.

Jackson also talked of the way that the government is s simultaneously stating in the new water strategy that water will not be privatised and stating that they will introduce tradeable water rights, rights that can be traded, sold, leased or mortgaged. Hmmm.

It was interesting for me partly because I hadn’t caught up with what was happening to water since I spent a year researching and writing a research essay on the commodification of water in 2003.

Under Pakeha law, water in this country has been traditionally considered an unowned or publicly owned resource. There has been unease from early colonisation when private interests have attempted to interfere with that tradition. The role of the Crown has been to ensure protection of that unowned or public resource. And so it is interesting to see the government interpret that role as ownership rather than guardianship or protection. And the implications of a government owning water are frightening, as ownership, unlike guardianship, allows the owner to sell its possession. Within weeks of the Seabed and Foreshore legislation coming into force the Crown had sold to foreign interests the rights to mine a stretch of seabed. And should the rivers and lakes be sold by the Crown, the chances of them ever being returned to the control of those who never ceded their rights to them is minimal.

The Last Picture Show I saw -

August 18th, 2006 (11:58 am)

I watched a good movie a couple of nights ago. I say it casually, like one of those people that once or twice a week will watch a video they later recommend and call good, or pretty good. Actually I hardly ever watch movies and think they’re good. Sometimes I won’t see a good movie all year.

I think I’ve said before I seldom watch movies and am not offended by them. I was analysing Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with a friend once, and she said sometimes you just have to turn off that political analysis, and enjoy. I just looked at her. It’s got to the point where I’m grateful when I’m not offended. I’m often quite offended by movies I haven’t even seen, and am thinking of starting to provide in-depth and revealing reviews of these.

Anyway, we watched The Last Picture Show a couple of nights ago on DVD and I think it’s good. Directed, edited and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich it was released in 1971. It unravels the perverse social, sexual and class relations in a small Texas town of the 1950s. High school kids get it on with adults. The male lead has an ongoing relationship with the coach’s miserable lonely wife, the female lead gets it on, or more accurately is got on by a friend of her father’s who is also shagging her mother. The young men band together to pay for the local simpleton of their age to get laid by a prostitute, raising the shackles of their mentor and friend, the local pool hall owner. And so on.

I liked it. The depiction of adolescent-adult sex was not shown licentiously. There was no underlying sense of tantalising forbidden fruit. The lives of the adults and the kids were desperately achingly sad. You got glimpses that their behaviour was just a last ditch attempt to feel more connected, or more alive or just to feel more. The town is desolate. Momentous things happen and the town remains desolate. It’s beautifully shot in black and white, with enormous depth. The major characters are complex, each capable of nastiness and beauty.

We watched an overly long retrospective interview with Peter Bogdanovich about it. I didn’t like him much, and resented he’d made such a good movie but by the end of the interview he basically revealed that he realised it was his one and only brilliant movie, so I felt sorry for him as well. He said they drove all round Texas looking for a town to film it in, and finally chose the one that the author of the book the movie was based on grew up in, and was writing about. Peter Bogdanovich drove to the town after many days and said this place is perfect and the author, Larry McMurtry, said well it should be.

Apparently people were quite grumpy about the movie when it came out. It got lots of Oscars. I’m amazed that once good movies got awards. What the hell happened to that?

Sustaining activism

July 22nd, 2006 (12:42 pm)

Here's a talk I wrote in a huge hurry which I gave last night at the launch of the Poneke Black pages, a directory of activist groups in the Wellington region. The organisers asked me to talk on how I sustain my activism.

I've been asked to talk about how I sustain my activism, and in thinking about this in the days before I am to talk I have to suppress a great wave of panic, that I am in fact not sustaining it, that I haven't sustained it, that I am unconfident that if I am keeping up with anything that constitutes activism that I can continue to keep it up. That quite often I feel fed up, and exhausted and misunderstood and underachieving and a bit useless and sad about being an activist. And I don't think that's all that sustainable.

But after all here I am 36, and still getting grumpy and inspired and upset and occasionally joyful about working for change with other people. That for my whole adult life I've never quite, despite a few feeble attempts, been able to abandon, a wild belief that what I call activism is worth doing. And not for a moment do I think 36 is very old, but I recognise it is old for this particular group of people.

I think there have been some things or some ideas that have helped me keep engaging with working for change. And if I'm not actively working for change then I'm actively thinking about why I'm not, and thinking about what activism or working for change is and isn't.

For me, and I recognise this is probably entirely specific to me, and perhaps utterly un-useful and irrelevant and possibly dull for all of you, but you did ask, for me there' been a few epiphanies that have really helped.

I think they're related points. But given the time, I figure that rather than presenting a well-crafted speech that ties all the following points together with appropriate moving anecdotes, smooth and lyrical transitions and tops it off with a snappy ending, in a good proper empowering and anarchic way. I'm going to allow you to work out the connections

One was in realising that working for change was an actual active and deliberate choice on my part. That I wanted it. That the stories that I told myself for a while that I had to do it because no-one else would, or because the issues were so urgent and important that I was forced to act, that the work needed me, that I had A Calling, were quite attractive and liberating and exciting and empowering on one hand, but quite damaging on the other. . If I have to do something then I'll put up with a whole lot of conditions to do with it. I'll be the martyr that sits through countless pointless meetings, I'll suffer dodgy decisions, and doubtful decision-making. I'll tolerate put-downs and personal attacks, and attempts to undermine me from supposed allies, because the work is Very Important and Very Necessary.

But If I do that same work out of choice then things change. I'm going to make the work and my involvement in it as pleasurable and meaningful and as possible. I know I can leave, So I make sure that things are in place to make the work worthwhile and fun and sustainable, And that I achieve some of the things that I want to. And I work with people who support and nurture and respect me as well as challenging and irritating me.

My next epiphany was in realising that the distinction between activists and non-activists can be a bit pompous. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't be proud of the work that we do do, but that I don't think it's useful or sustainable to decide that there's us who care about the world and do stuff, and them who don't care and do nothing. I have a basic assumption that most people give a shit. And that most people, if they could, would be doing work that means something to them, and that helps them make a world more enjoyable to live in. that my life has turned out that I can be very explicit in working for change is a reflection not of my moral superiority, but of a privileged position I hold in society. I've been able to make some decisions in my life that allow me to do the sort of work that I want. At times I've been able to be living okay off a benefit and organise stuff that means something to me. That I've had the ability to actively choose the sort of relationships I have with my partner and my friends, and to choose when I had my daughter. There are a lot of people cleaning loos, and donning suits, who've got demands on them I can't possibly dream of. A lot of people who would like to be working for change in the ways I sometime have been able to.

There are also a lot of people working for change in ways I can't possibly imagine. On their Marae, or the way they're bringing up their kids, or the way they support their friend in leaving an abusive marriage, I believe the network of people working for change is large and significant and for me I find that moving and that makes me feel that there is a support network much wider than the group at 128, or those listed in this directory.

I had another epiphany (it's a particular hobby of mine) when my friend Marie in Dunedin said to me Pakeha culture is in crisis. Suddenly I understood something that had been bugging me. It's related to this idea that I'd heard for a while about the distinction between power and privilege. Yes, Pakeha, and particularly the sort of Pakeha family I come from, are privileged. But I've spent an awful lot of time among Pakeha middle class who have a lot of privilege but sure don't feel powerful. They feel helpless, and disempowered and guilty as hell. And quite a lot of my friends in this position have done activism, or are doing it. It's twelve past six as I'm writing so I'll try to get to my point. And lots of my Pakeha friends have got to the point of realising they need something to sustain themselves in their work for change, or in their lives, or to hand on to any semblance of mental health, And I think this understanding that we need to sustain ourselves is general and crosses cultures and some Maori, and I realize that it has not come to easy to them, have been able to find in their culture some tools and some support mechanisms still in tact despite the ravages of colonisation. That some Maori, when looking for the things they need to sustain them, have a place to go. And I think what Marie was saying was that for all the privileges that Pakeha like me hold in this society, for all the dishonour and dishonesty and nastiness done in our name, when we're looking for a place to go to sustain us, we can't find it. Pakeha who want to live in a society based on principles of choice and respect and community are lost and are in crisis. In no way am I trying to minimise the incredible challenges for Maori, and other non-Pakeha, and I'm not ignoring the fact that many Maori are a long way from being able to access their culture and its associated support. But for me I agree Pakeha culture is in crisis. And for me working for change is my response to that crisis. That in working for change with other people, I am looking not to reform society for other people but for myself. I want desperately a community based on values of respect and freedom, and I want methods of accountability, and people to support me in political and other work and craft and ambitions and relationships that I work for. And as a Pakeha, I have quite a lot of work to do to start establishing the sort of society I want to be part of.

Perhaps my final epiphany, (it's now 6.34) so let's say the final and most important epiphany, well maybe it's not an epiphany, but a slow growing realisation, is that really, deep down, I'm quite a decent person. And this sense of decency, a sense of self-worth is I think crucial to sustaining myself as someone who likes to do stuff. And I do worry that there seems to be a bit of an element of self-hate among a lot of people who probably define themselves as activists. And I think self-hate is incredibly sad and incredibly damaging to people being sustained in any movement for change. Of course it is understandable. We do live in a society that encourages it. Or that leads to it.

But I think if we are working for change because of a basic sense that we are deep down bad and indecent people then the movement we are involved in is bound to suffer. I worry about people realising their own inner lack of self-worth also assume that other people are similarly deep down bad and worthless. And so we set traps for each other trying to catch each other out, trying to trip each other up and so ha we can say, just as we thought, not only do you like mainstream music, you're George Bush's love child, Ha, not only do you eat meat, you are personally responsible for the destruction of Amazon rainforest equivalent to 2 and a half rugby fields and that was just last Thursday. You mispronounced the word Maori, it was you wasn't it? You signed the seabed and foreshore policy.

I think I have been able to sustain myself to the extent that I have because of friends I've made through working for change. And for basic nurturing, and respect and honouring by the other people that the work I do is important and that my motives are good. And when I don't get that sense any more, and I don't find the gems of people that nourish and nurture me in the work I do, and when the accusations or presumptions or blame or hostility, either personal or general in any community I work in, outweigh the fun and the love and the friendship then I don't stand a chance and I don't fancy anyone else's either.

So I think I'm all epiphanied out now.

themariablog returns

July 7th, 2006 (07:47 am)

There is a theory around town. That internet providers are deliberately running down their dial-up service in order to lure people over to broadband. They've lured me! For a while my dial-up was working most of the time, then some of the time, then not much of the time. maybe one out of seven times. Then not at all. Then they told me it was my modem's fault nothing to do with them. Then it was my cables. I bought new cables. I tried to download new modem software. To no avail. I had no internet so there was no blog.

I have broadband and a great deal of moral indignation.

Pornography: the great big turn off

May 17th, 2006 (10:00 am)

In the 1990s I was involved in Women Against Pornography (WAP). At the time, within leftish feminist circles, there was a clear distinction made (or at least debated) between erotica and pornography and WAP was definitely pro-erotica and anti-pornography. Talking to a few younger women recently this distinction seems to have been almost entirely lost.

I think the distinction is useful and powerful. If all images or depictions of sex and sexuality are lumped under the title of pornography then everyone who challenges any of those images or depictions are also lumped together. So a homophobic christian objecting to a picture of two naked women kissing is lumped in with someone who objects to an image of a woman with a knife being pushed into her vagina. Or someone upset by an erect penis is lumped in with someone upset by picture of a woman dressed in pigtails and in a school uniform surrounded by a group of older men. Or someone morally disturbed by consensual threesomes is the same as someone disturbed by the endless repetition of women shown always with her legs apart, always on her back, always skinny with large breasts. All of us can be dismissed as prudish and uptight and anti-sex.

The analysis I hold to is that pornography is stuff which depicts sex and sexuality and that involves a power imbalance or objectification. This can be through the eroticisation of pain or the eroticisation of lack of consent. Or it can be through focussing on a particular aspect of a woman's body, and objectifying a part of a woman. Or through promoting the idea that when women say no they mean yes, or promoting the idea that children want adult sexual attention.

Pornography is also about context. A picture of naked kids running round at a beach in a family album is obviously not pornographic. Put it in a pornographic magazine, a magazine marketed as sexual, then it becomes something sinister. If a couple decide that they want to watch themselves having sex, and want other people to as well, and video themselves going for it, and put it up on a website for voyeurs then I don't think that's pornography. But I think the relationship of the couple is relevant. What if the man psychologically bullied the woman into it? Or physically threatened her? What if the camera was hidden? What if he made her wear underwear she hated but thought she'd go along with it because getting a man's sexual approval has been valued highly in her upbringing. What if he got her out of it and turned the camera on?

Being part of WAP definitely didn't make me widely popular with my contemporaries. I was constantly amazed at how people would defend practically anything demeaning women in the name of freedom of speech. Somehow there was an enormous amount of legitimacy around abusing and hurting women, and there was something in their minds inherently sexy or sexual about it. I know none of them would have defended the right of any local fascist group putting out soft focussed posters of lynching of Afro-Americans, or centrefolds of people in uniforms whipping native americans, or say black men giving blow-jobs to people in KKK costume. They would rightfully declare these images hurtful, and racist and contributing to general ideas that white people are better than people of other colours. But when it came to women being shown in pain, or whipped or hung from meat hooks or put through meat grinders, or frightened hat being put in a sexual context, or the tedious repetition of the visual cliche of a female secretary desperately wanting her male boss to fuck her, or every single female nurse wanting to go down on her patients, or every school girl wanting a hard cock, and all this being shown in an approving manner, these same people would get terribly righteous about people's rights to expression, freedom of speech. And me showing disapproval of an industry that showed in every "article", in every cartoon, in every photograph, in every short story, that women were there for men to do what they wanted with, that they were women's chattels, proved me to be somehow Victorian in my attitudes.

So I'm pretty sad that analysis and the distinction between erotica and porn is lost. And I'm sad the way porn seems more not less acceptable now. People around me keep using porn as shorthand for describing something really exciting and cool. I feel sad about it. Nice pictures of a forest = tree-porn. Good op-shops=frock-porn. Whatever. And practically every poster for alternative type dance-parties seems to have a picture presumably meant to be quirky retro-irony of a woman with no clothes on, in a vulnerable position, with large breasts. Yawn, yawn. I don't think they're any different to the Penthouse Pets posters, and the Penthouse Pet posters incidentally, never used to last in this town more than about 45 minutes because there was a hoard of women, unknown to each other, but nonetheless in solidarity, pulling them down. Now I think I'm the only one ripping them down. Is somehow the idea of women as pets (ie small fluffy things that are quite a lot dumber than their owners (men presumably) less offensive now than it was ten years ago? Or have lots of women somehow been connived into believing that destroying images of women that contribute to the idea of our inferiority is somehow inhibiting the free expression of our sexuality. Pornography with its belittling, limited, cliched lies about women and about our bodies and about sex is nothing to do with freedom or sexuality or sex. It's boring, It's the anti-erotic. It's everything about some men's desire to continue to control women's lives and the stories that they tell themselves and us about our lives.

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