Tag Archives: feminism

Pondering Courtney Love #1

Title: Courtney Love and Hole: Reflecting Contemporary Strains in “Gender” Relations

Opening question: How is it that Courtney Love, via the Hole era or any other for that matter, is not celebrated for her musical talent the same as artists such as Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Patti Smith, Prince, and many others?

Added controversy: Courtney Love suffers at the hands of the media and the public alike because she is a woman, and precisely because she smashes societally enforced boundaries that try to dictate how a woman should “be,” “act,” and/or “behave.” The sort of misogyny that did for Yoko Ono (effectively pinning all the blame on her for what happened with The Beatles and Lennon, and never being truly recognised as the artist she is, that sort of stuff) is a factor, where men beat up on women (metaphorically in this instance) because they’re doing stuff that “boys are supposed to do” (Courtney is as good in this respect as any Iggy Pop, David Bowie, or Ozzy Osbourne, for example). But we can also factor in a sort of lazy/tired misogyny that feeds through to those you wouldn’t necessarily think would be capable of misogynistic ways – basically, other women who adopt the attitude of “she’s a bitch/whore/slut/etc.,” which is unfortunate but is a fact of life.

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Principle argument: The first three Hole albums are as good as any produced by any other artist(s), either living or dead. Courtney Love’s voice is as powerful and raw as Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Thom Yorke, and Amy Winehouse, respectively. Her lyrics are on a par with Lennon/McCartney (not a fan of The Beatles but am aware they are credited with good writing). Women who swear, fight, contradict themselves, do drugs, and are open about sex, for example, are punished in ways that men are not: think Jim Morrison, Keith Richards, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Axel Rose, and so on, in order to recognise the hypocrisy here.

Parting shot: If Courtney Love had done what she’s done in a man’s body she’d be lauded like a Lead Belly, a Lennon, a McCartney, a Franklin, a Van Morrison, a Jagger, maybe even a Dylan.

And extra bit (for free): The Slits also suffer in the same way as Courtney Love, and for pretty much the same reasons, though the circumstances are different.

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Gender Trouble, and the recent case of Laura and the V1

Just what sort of crap do you have to put with on a daily basis just because you are a woman? That’s probably something the women reading this have had cause to ponder on a regular basis, whereas the men reading it may not be quite so attuned to the annoying and unnecessary stuff that goes on in everyday life. Three things happened today to inspire this post. The first was booking on to Dr. Lucy Jackson’s lecture on “Gender trouble / troubling gender” at University of Liverpool @livuni. The second was sitting on the V1 bus between Manchester and Leigh @FirstBusNews, just prior to travelling into Liverpool to hear Dr. Jackson’s talk, listening to the “banter” directed at Laura from two young men – both under the influence of alcohol, and showing signs of poor, socio-economic upbringings (but none more so than my own, as it happens), and perhaps a good deal of substance abuse, judging by the state of their teeth (which Laura herself commented on, btw (the state of the teeth, not the substance abuse)). And the third, which came prior to the second, as I travelled on the V1 into Manchester from Leigh in the AM, reading the Metro @MetroUK and an article about how staff at Stevenage FC @stevenagefc subjected female supporters of Grimsby Town FC @officialgtfc to public bra checks by male security attendants (in front of fans of both sides, the police (who were present, but did not intervene in what, effectively, was a mass sexual assault), and Stevenage officials) #BraGate.

Dr. Jackson’s talk touched on such things as #GenderPayGap, #ReproductiveRights, #EverydaySexism, #PoliticalGenderDisparity, and stuff (why are more people not up in arms about such things?).

Laura, a woman in her mid to late thirties (she said so), and her mum, who was sitting separately until the woman sitting next to me alighted the bus so that she could join her daughter, had to endure around 50 minutes or so of “harmless” banter in front of everyone on the top deck of the bus (the young men were quite drunk and very loud): you’re beautiful; you’ve a lovely smile; the way you bite your lip; she likes a bad boy; can I have your number; I’d love to share a bed with you; and on, and on… On the face of it, not all that extreme, nothing too vulgar, and probably far tamer than many women experience on public transport, but really irritating for Laura, I imagine, who, given the situation, kept her cool, played along with the “banter” (because sometimes it’s just easier to), and eventually got to leave the bus with the two drunks still on board, to her relief, again, I imagine.

So, ask yourself: how annoyed are you by all of the above? And then ask yourself: what do you plan to do about it, moving forward?

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Esta es Voluntad?

Just a very quick post as I’m finding it hard to tear myself away from the figure of St. Theresa of Avila, whom I’m reading about because of the reference to Bernini’s sculpture, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. And so this post manifests itself in the aftermath of Reggie Yates’ documentary, more on which here, the second in his series titled Extreme UK (#ExtremeUK), which deals with a certain kind of anti-feminist rhetoric (wryly titled “meninism” by some Twitter users, a term I happen to like, funnily enough).

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Should we be surprised at the “disenfranchised,” “disempowered” men speaking such anti-woman (as much as anti-feminist, if we’re being honest) sentiments? After all, it seems to hail from a tradition dating a long way back into our shared human history; in fact, we may pause to consider Paul’s words here: “The women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

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Some doubt Paul’s misogyny, and in some respects that’s really beside the point, for it is in the countless ways in which such words have been used to keep women “in their place” over the centuries that the key issue is to be found – we need only look to St. Theresa herself for a concrete example of this. Anyway, back to the book (Alison Weber’s Theresa of Avila and the Rhetoric of Femininity (which is very good)).

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#feminism [AND] #sport – another collection of personal musings whilst conducting research of the #davidfosterwallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center, UT, Austin, TX (Day One)

On the flight over to Texas I managed to watch four films, one of which catching my eye purely because of its title: The Battle of the Sexes. It may have caught my attention anyway, but having just returned from a conference at Durham University entitled, ’50 Years of Sexism: What Next?’ (#sexism50), I think my senses were particularly tuned to pick up on this kind of subject matter. The film, primarily concerned with the ‘battle of the sexes’ tennis match in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, is well worth watching whether you happen to like tennis, feminism, and/or sport, for it is beautifully put together from pieces of old interviews merged with recent interview footage and there is enough of the tennis match in question to give you an understanding of what actually went on, which is helpful because if like me you had never even heard of the match, or Bobby Riggs, it helps to contextualise the whole event.

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The match itself seemed to have been surrounded by much hype (100 million TV viewers in the U.S) because of Billie Jean King’s commitment to the feminist cause, and because this period was marked by the resurgence of feminism as a movement (also known as second-wave feminism, although I believe that’s not always a popular term). For the sake of not wishing to spoil the film for anyone who chooses to rent/stream it, I will refrain from divulging too much about what went on because I sat riveted to the end, not quite knowing how it was going to pan out (I was only born in 1973), and it would be a shame to spoil that for any interested would-be viewers.

The reason for mentioning the film is that at the time there was a battle going on in tennis where the U.S. Tennis Association refused to acknowledge that women should be paid as much as men per competition, prime feminist territory here, whilst not doing anything to remedy the fact that men had access to far more competitions than women did, and thus the men had even more opportunity to make money. Reacting to some of the women’s insolence over the matter, the U.S.T.A even went so far as taking steps to ensure that women could not play for a time at competitions such as the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, in the hope that the women would just shut up and get on with accepting crappy pay cheques. Some 42 years on I find myself asking the following, perhaps controversial question on a regular basis: Why is it that sports are not yet integrated, with women competing alongside men, and men competing alongside women?

What I think is fascinating about such a question is that it highlights the continuing need for separation that seems to exist in sports and athletics. But why? Why the need to confine sports in heavily ‘gendered’ ways? A very recent development in the world of triathlons sees men and women competing in the same teams, a move that is viewed favourably by both the men and women competing in said triathlons, but I can think of few others to mention. A key criticism of integration, I imagine, will be the kind of argument that led to the Billie Jean King versus Bobby Riggs match in the first place – women just aren’t as good at sports/athletics as men are, but that’s a bit 1973 don’t you think? To counter such a view I would ask: How do we know? There seems to be an obvious answer to this question that involves stating the names of the strongest, fastest, etc., sports people in the world, but to counter that argument I would suggest that by keeping men and women separated, in terms of sports and/or athletics, those arguments are moot. Consider how it is that the world’s best sports stars and athletes get to that position in the first instance – they train and compete alongside the best.

Training and competing alongside sports persons and athletes who are stronger and faster is a tried and tested method of ‘raising one’s game.’ If men are stronger and faster, and whatever other sporting method of comparison you can think of, then what is the problem with integrating sports and athletics so that women compete alongside them? Is it possible that a woman could run as fast as a Usain Bolt or a Mo Farah? Is it possible that a woman could beat a Mike Tyson or an Evander Holyfield? Is it possible for a woman to play alongside a David Beckham or a Lionel Messi? Is it possible for a woman to beat a Roger Federer or a Rafael Nadal? If they never get to compete against them, regularly, day after day, week after week, year after year, how will we ever get to know? And why the separation in the first instance – is it fear?


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