Sunday, February 04, 2018

Sorry, but I don’t think feminists can fight the male gaze by baring their breasts

Imagine that you have stepped back in time to the 1970s. Feminists are out on the streets of London protesting against the Miss World competitions. There you meet a sleazy men’s magazine publisher who tells you he has a new idea for getting women to show men their breasts. He’s not going to offer them money or fame like Playboy or Penthouse. No, he’s going to get them to take off their tops in the name of women’s liberation. ‘I have seen the future of feminism,’ he tells you, ‘and it has great tits!’

Naturally you think: this man is insane! Surely no woman would fall for that? Wrong. Not only did they, but the link between showing your breasts and serving the feminist cause didn’t come from men but from women themselves! How’s that for insane?

I call it flaunt-it feminism. A key moment in its history was the founding of Femen — a radical feminist protest group of ‘brave topless female activists’ created in the Ukraine in 2008. Their motto and means are summed up thus: ‘Our mission is protest. Our weapon is bare breasts.’

They are the ones behind the first ever International Topless Jihad Day, two years ago. One Femen member was quoted as saying, ‘Our tits are deadlier than your stones.’ It would be funny if women weren’t actually being stoned to death and cartoonists shot dead. But for sheer flaunt-it feminism lunacy you can’t beat the woman in Dresden last year who stripped off her top as an anti-fascist protest to reveal a slogan praising Bomber Harris on her breasts. It read: ‘Thanks Bomber.’

Bare breasts are still at the forefront of the battle against sexism and most recently the publication of naked pictures of girlfriends (revenge porn) and celebrities who have had their phones or emails hacked like Jennifer Lawrence. The ideological justification has been provided by the Guardian. There you can find its ideological champions like veteran feminist Joan Smith, who not long ago wrote that ‘Posing nude is one of the ultimate feminist acts.’

The Guardian, in the name of feminism, recently provided sexy pictures of a naked blonde and her breasts. The pin-up was Emma Holten, a Danish journalist who had been the victim of ‘revenge porn’. (Her ex-boyfriend published naked pictures of her online four years ago.) Holten has been receiving nasty comments and emails ever since and decided that enough was enough; it was time to fight back. So what did she do? Write a complaint to Google? Name and shame her odious ex-boyfriend? No. Holten arranged to have photos of her breasts taken and then posted them online! It’s a curious logic, this — fight pictures of naked women with more pictures of naked women.

The movie actress Jennifer Lawrence has likewise decided to fight nudity with nudity. When last October naked photos of her were posted online without her consent, Lawrence told Vanity Fair magazine she was the victim of a ‘sex crime’. Now that she has consented to appear naked in Vanity Fair (with a boa constrictor covering her private parts), Lawrence defends her actions thus: ‘It’s my body and it should be my choice.’

For Holten, Lawrence and the flaunt-it feminists, choice is everything. The theory is that when a woman chooses to take off her top, she is magically transformed from ‘passive object’ of the male gaze to active ‘autonomous subject’. But the choice argument reduces publication of naked breasts to an act of copyright infringement that has nothing to do with sexism.

And I hate to spoil the party but I suspect that her consent doesn’t change anything as far as men are concerned; that male gaze is still happily pointed at the new Holten and Lawrence-approved photos. As far as men are concerned breasts are breasts, and they’re likely to leer. Even right-on feminist men of the Guardian persuasion are going to look, because Holten’s consent means they now have permission to look and still be good feminists. It’s a kind of Page 3 titillation for people who despise Page 3.

Feminist academics provided the vocabulary — terms like ‘empowerment’ and ‘autonomy’ — for the flaunt-it feminists of today. But it was Madonna who in the 1980s brought the idea into pop culture and public consciousness. It reached the point where you could justify any degrading and sexist image of a woman in the name of empowerment. When Madonna was confronted with claims that appearing in a video wearing a neck manacle and crawling on all fours degraded woman, her defence was simple: ‘But I chained myself! I’m in charge!’

The same defence has been taken up by Page 3 girls, lap dancers, porn workers, prostitutes and female pop stars. Empowerment is the big buzzword in the debates surrounding the film Fifty Shades of Grey. According to director Sam Taylor-Johnson the story is all about ‘empowerment’ — which might seem counter intuitive given that it concerns a girl who is made powerless for male pleasure. Not so, claims Taylor-Johnson, ‘It is all her choice… all decisions she clearly made. That’s the message I want people to walk away with.’

But choice never exists in a vacuum. Women choose to strip off for Page 3, have the breasts enlarged, their vaginas tightened and all sorts of things the flaunt-it feminists would claim are symptoms of a sexist society that seeks to exploit women. Their argument begins and ends with a woman’s right to choose — they never stop to consider that one woman’s empowerment is another man’s erotic pleasure.

I first grasped this with the release of the film Basic Instinct in 1992. There’s the infamous scene where Sharon Stone’s character is being questioned by the police and she opens and crosses her legs, revealing quick flashes of her pubic hair. Some academic feminists — like Camille Paglia — claimed it was an ‘empowering moment’ that was frightening to men — but my friends and I just kept replaying that scene over and over again and squealing with delight.

And that’s what I expect still happens today when women flaunt their breasts in the name of feminism. When five members of Femen staged a topless ambush on Vladimir Putin at the Hanover trade fair in 2013, he merely smiled and gave the protesters the thumbs up sign, while the assembled men looked on with bemused pleasure. Holten is still being ogled and googled. And God knows what men are thinking about the naked Lawrence and her snake. It’s time the flaunt-it feminists really served the cause of feminism — and put them away for good


SHOCKING: Hate Crime Charges Dropped in Paris Trial of Muslim Accused of Killing Jewish Neighbor

A judge in Paris scrapped hate crime charges from the indictment of a murder suspect who confessed to killing his Jewish neighbor.
The move came amid a rise in reported violent anti-Semitic attacks in France.

The Paris Prosecutor’s office said it would appeal the dismissal Monday of the aggravated element of a hate crime in the trial of Kobili Traore, a 28-year-old Muslim man who on April 4 threw his neighbor, Sarah Halimi, 65, to her death from the window of her third-story apartment.

The charge of murder aggravated by racial hatred was excluded from what is now the indictment against Traore by the examining magistrate — a function designed to oversee prosecutors and intercept flawed indictments before they form the basis of an active trial.

Francis Kalifat, president of the Jewish umbrella group CRIF, told Le Parisien daily that the examining magistrate’s move was “an insult” to Halimi’s memory.

William Attal, the brother of Sarah Halimi, denounced the deafening silence and “cover up” over his sisters death
Separately, the Interior Ministry of France on Wednesday reported a 7.2 percent decrease in 2017 in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in the country over 2016. The ministry recorded 311 cases. But of those, 97 were classified as violent assaults – a 25 percent increase over 2016, Le Figaro reported.

The SPCJ watchdog unit of French Jewry, which receives and collects reports independently to the Interior Ministry, has not yet published its report for 2017.

In the Halimi case, Traore was heard shouting about Allah and calling her “a devil” in Arabic. Halimi’s daughter said he had called the daughter a “dirty Jewess” in the building two years before the murder. But the examining magistrate in Traore’s trial, which opened this week, dismissed the aggravated hate crime charge before the trial actually began, Le Parisien reported Wednesday.

For months after the slaying of the 66-year-old Jewish physician, leaders of French Jewry urged authorities to include the aggravated element of a hate crime in the draft indictment against Traore. They finally agreed in September.

The incident occurred months before France’s general election, in which the French political establishment was bracing for unprecedented gains for the far-right National Front party.

Marine Le Pen, the anti-immigration party’s leader, received a historic third of the vote in the final round of the presidential elections, which she lost to the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron.

Many French Jews believe authorities and the media covered up or ignored the alleged anti-Semitic elements connected to Halimi’s suspected murder to prevent it from becoming fodder for Le Pen’s divisive campaign


Gallery removes naked nymphs painting to 'prompt conversation'

John William Waterhouse's painting Hylas and the Nymphs
It is a painting that shows pubescent, naked nymphs tempting a handsome young man to his doom, but is it an erotic Victorian fantasy too far, and one which, in the current climate, is unsuitable and offensive to modern audiences?

Manchester Art Gallery has asked the question after removing John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs, one of the most recognisable of the pre-Raphaelite paintings, from its walls. Postcards of the painting will be removed from sale in the shop.

The painting was taken down on Friday and replaced with a notice explaining that a temporary space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. Members of the public have stuck Post-it notes around the notice giving their reaction.

Clare Gannaway, the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, said the aim of the removal was to provoke debate, not to censor. “It wasn’t about denying the existence of particular artworks.”

The work usually hangs in a room titled In Pursuit of Beauty, which contains late 19th century paintings showing lots of female flesh.

Gannaway said the title was a bad one, as it was male artists pursuing women’s bodies, and paintings that presented the female body as a passive decorative art form or a femme fatale.

“For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven’t dealt with it sooner. Our attention has been elsewhere ... we’ve collectively forgotten to look at this space and think about it properly. We want to do something about it now because we have forgotten about it for so long.”

Gannaway said the debates around Time’s Up and #MeToo had fed into the decision.

The removal itself is an artistic act and will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March. People can tweet their opinion using #MAGSoniaBoyce.

The response so far has been mixed. Some have said it sets a dangerous precedent, while others have called it “po-faced” and “politically correct”.

The artist Michael Browne who attended the event where the painting was taken down said he was worried the past was being erased.

“I don’t like the replacement and removal of art and being told ‘that’s wrong and this is right’. They are using their power to veto art in a public collection. We don’t know how long the painting will be off the wall – it could be days, weeks, months. Unless there are protests it might never come back.”

Browne said he feared historical paintings were being jettisoned in favour of contemporary ones.

“I know there are other works in the basement that are probably going to be deemed offensive for the same reasons and they are not going to see the light of day.”

Gannaway said the removal was not about censorship.

“We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently. It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the gallery.”

Waterhouse is one of the best-known pre-Raphaelites, whose Lady of Shalott is one of Tate Britain’s bestselling postcards, but some of his paintings leave people uncomfortable and he has been accused of being one step away from a pornographer.

Reviewing the 2009 Royal Academy of Arts show devoted to Waterhouse, the critic Waldemar Januszczak wrote of a painting showing the death of St Eulalia, a 12-year-old girl: “I did not know whether to laugh, cry or call the police.”


What We Lose When We Take Down Statues of Men Like Columbus

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council voted to remove a Christopher Columbus statue from City Hall. The California city joins a long list of other municipalities that have considered removing Columbus statues or have abolished Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

So, why did this statue have to come down?  The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

The vote came after activists repeatedly denounced the explorer, whose conquests in the Caribbean led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people, and declared him not statue-worthy.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo backed the move, saying, according to CBS SFBayArea, that “there is no policy basis for keeping a statue of somebody who was not from San Jose in City Hall.”

“Look, I’m Italian-American. I think my grandfather was a member of the group that donated it,” Liccardo said. “But I think that our understanding of history evolves as we learn more.”

No local museum wants the statue, according to the report, so its final location is currently in limbo.

There is a lot to unpack from this absurd decision.

It’s sad that a man who most Americans once recognized as the seed-planter of their civilization has been so unceremoniously cast aside.

There was a time when Columbus was a nearly universally revered figure in the Americas, a man who stood for the bold, entrepreneurial spirit of the New World.

Columbus was a hero for immigrants, a man who risked all to forge a new beginning in a far-off land.

It’s incredible that modern, anti-Columbus activists have adopted the rhetoric of anti-immigrant and white supremacist groups from the 19th and early 20th centuries to denounce the famed adventurer.

As I wrote in October:

… In the 1920s, the [Ku Klux Klan] “attempted to remove Columbus Day as a state holiday in Oregon,” burned a cross “to disturb a Columbus Day celebration in Pennsylvania,” and successfully “opposed the erection of a statue of Columbus in Richmond, Virginia, only to see the decision to reject the statue reversed.”

The Klan and other anti-immigrant organizations hated the growing Italian and Catholic influences in America and tried to portray Columbus as a barbaric and unremarkable figure.

It didn’t work.  Americans adopted Columbus as one of their own and have celebrated him with statues, street names, city names, and a federal holiday.

Where the Klan failed, modern-day left-wing activists are succeeding in, literally, tearing up Columbus’s legacy.

It’s amazing that San Jose, of all places, wants to sever all connection to Columbus.

The Italian explorer sailed under the Spanish flag and thereby opened the Americas to Spanish migration. In many ways, he is the father of Latin America and all of the places touched by Spanish colonization efforts, even more so than the United States.

San Jose is, of course, a Spanish name, and though Columbus never stepped foot in the city, its existence owes a great deal to his voyages. To say that he has no link to it is like saying George Washington has no direct connection to the state of Washington, so its name should be changed.

While there has been a long-term move by academia to discredit Columbus and paint him in a negative light, especially in regard to how he treated the natives he met in the New World, many of these portrayals have been unfair or simply untrue.

Columbus has certainly had his detractors, even from his own time, but he was not the monster many have tried to portray him as, nor is it fair to judge the actions of a man in the 15th century strictly by the standards of the 21st.

“Columbus strictly told the crew not to do things like maraud, or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect,” said Stanford professor emeritus Carol Delaney in an interview with Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus. “There are many examples in his writings where he gave instructions to this effect. Most of the time when injustices occurred, Columbus wasn’t even there. There were terrible diseases that got communicated to the natives, but he can’t be blamed for that.”

The efforts to purge Columbus from every aspect of the public sphere go to the heart of why much of the anti-statue movement has been absurd.

We are now combing through history, searching out historical grievances with little context and even less appreciation for why Americans once paid tribute to these now hated individuals.

The bottom line is that while the city of San Jose has every right to make a decision about who it will or won’t celebrate, it is nevertheless a sad and telling moment in our history when we give license to such ruthless and uncompromising iconoclasm.

Columbus deserves better.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: