More Woman-Hating: Via Duwayne Brooks

Duwayne Brooks, the Liberal Democrat Local Councillor for Downham ward in Lewisham said this on twitter tonight: 

Duwayne Brooks ‏@DuwayneBrooksThese prostitutes on Deptford high street make me sick. Where are the extra patrols you promised @MPSLewisham ?

I have no doubt that complaints to the LibDem party will be pointless, after all these are same arseholes who bandied about the anonymity for rapists bullshit and suggested that the answer to the thorny issue of consent in porn is to drop the age to 16; that way pornographers wouldn’t have their feelings hurt by illegally employing 17 year olds. Their track record on women’s rights is appalling.  

It does not matter what side of the prostitution debate we sit on, we can all agree that any man who claims to be sickened by the sight of prostitutes is an asshole. 

This is woman-hating.

This is the war on women.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

I love the ballet. I love the sounds of pointe shoes thumping on the stage. I love the artistry and the strength of the women dancers. I know ballet is one of the least-feminist friendly sports going because of the physical toll on women’s, and it’s mostly women’s, bodies. I know and agree with all of the feminist arguments against  ballet; from it’s origins with its relationship to prostitution to the quite serious long-term health implications for dancers, particularly in relation to the fetishisation of eating disorders within the industry. Yet, I still love ballet. I know I shouldn’t but it’s one of those things I can’t *quite* give up.

I’ve been taking my eldest daughter to the ballet for years. It’s one of the best parts of living in this city: the sheer number of brilliant dance companies that tour here. Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker and anything by Northern Ballet Company remain my favourites. Recently, I took my daughter to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance. It’s the first production I’ve seen by the company and I have to say I found it really quite disturbing. The story of Sleeping Beauty is the story of sexualised violence and the control of women’s bodies. I’ve just not seen it performed in quite so blatant a manner without any attempt to deconstruct the myths. 

There is so much wrong with this version that it’s hard to know where to start. It still uses the modern telling of the myths of “Patriarchal Love” but rather felt like Twilight with tutus.  The “evil fairy” dies quickly after cursing the princess Aurora so it is her son who makes the curse come true by pricking her finger. Aurora is not awoken by a kiss from a stranger but rather by the gardner she’d been fooling around with before pricking her finger. He lives for a 100 years because the good male fairy bites him and turns the gardner into another fairy. The erotic connotations of that “kiss” go unremarked. The son of the evil fairy guards Aurora’s body for a 100 years desperately kissing her to bring her back to life now that he has decided he wants to fuck her. There is a rather lot of rolling about on the stage between the son and the unconscious body of Aurora. In the original fairy tale, Aurora is awoken by the twins she conceived after being rape whilst unconscious by the king. I don’t know if Bourne was actively trying to reference that version but the implications of rape were very obvious. After a 100 years the son tricks the gardner into waking Aurora and then the son tries to ritually sacrifice her. She is saved

by the gardner/ new fairy whilst the other fairies kill the son. Then, Aurora gives birth to a half baby/ half angel.

I don’t expect much from productions of Sleeping Beauty. There is no way to reclaim the story from its original construction of rape but I have never seen a version so utterly problematic before. I’m actually surprised their was no trigger warning or child-viewing warning to the production. The dancing was beautiful but the story Bourne chose to show wasn’t.

The John Lewis Window Display: Anyone Notice the Problem?

Can you tell which side is the boys toys? And, which side is for the girls? Because, personally, I really struggled with this since I did not know that only boys were allowed to play musical instruments. I already knew that girls weren’t allowed to like science experiments or lego and that we were only allowed to play with dolls and prams so we didn’t get confused as to the exact purpose of the uterus but I totally thought we were allowed to play the piano. After all, Jane Austen was forever droning on about young girls being taught the piano in order to be “accomplished”. Have we lost the right to do this too? Was there a memo I missed? Should I donate our piano to the nearest boy in case in makes my girls grow a penis?