David Bowie and the issue of statutory rape

*** note*** I wrote this the day David Bowie died. I took it down after months and months of rape threats. I’m republishing now, with more links to media coverage of Bowie’s involvement with the ‘baby groupies’ scene.

 

In the 1970s, David Bowie, along with Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger and others, were part of the ‘Baby Groupies’ scene in LA. The ‘Baby Groupies’ were 13 to 15 year old girls who were sexually exploited and raped by male rock stars. The names of these girls are easily searchable online but I will not share them here as all victims of rape deserve anonymity.

The ‘Baby Groupie‘ scene was about young girls being prepared for sexual exploitation (commonly refereed to as grooming) and then sexually assaulted and raped. Even articles which make it clear that the music industry ” ignor(ed), and worse enabl(ed), a culture that still allows powerful men to target young girls” celebrate that culture and minimise the choices of adult men to rape children and those who chose to look away. This is what male entitlement to sexual access to the bodies of female children and adults looks like. It is rape culture.

David Bowie is listed publicly as the man that one 14 year old girl ‘lost her virginity’ too.

We need to be absolutely clear about this, adult men do not ‘have sex’ with 13 and 14 year old girls. It is child rape. Children cannot consent to sex with adult men – even famous rock stars. Suggesting this is due to the ‘context’ of 70s LA culture is to wilfully ignore the history of children being sexually exploited by powerful men. The only difference to the ‘context’ here was that the men were musicians and not politicians, religious leaders, or fathers.

The basic requirement for a good person is taking responsibility for their choices and the consequences of their choices. At no point has Bowie, or another of the men involved in the sexual exploitation and rape of ‘baby groupies’ has taken responsibility for the consequences. I have yet to see a statement saying, “I participated in this culture. I hurt children by participating in this culture and I apologise to the children I abused and those whose abuse I ignored.” A man with Bowie’s financial wherewithal could have taken the second step and donated funds to rape crisis centres, funded programs working with vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation.

It is perfectly reasonable and rational to mourn a man whose music made a huge impact on your life. It is neither reasonable nor rational to pretend that that person was a ‘god’ and erase their illegal and unethical behaviour because you love their music. I wrote my undergraduate thesis and first MSc to the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album Californication. That one album has had a positive impact on my life and I still play when working. I’ve since read Anthony Kiedis’ memoir Scar Tissue and know now that he has a history of sexual exploitation of teenage girls. I had been under no illusions of his misogynistic behaviour before reading the book, but I was not aware of the full extent.

David Bowie was an incredible musician who inspired generations. He also participated in a culture where children were sexually exploited and raped. This is as much a part of his legacy as his music.

 

 

 

#womenwrites: women in prison, leftist dudebros, & male bumblers

86 percent of women in jail are sexual-violence survivors, by Rachel Leah

According to a recent study, 86 percent of women who have spent time in jail report that they had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. As well, while women represent just 13 percent of the jail population between 2009 and 2011, they represented 67 percent of the victims of staff-on-inmate sexual victimization. Sexual violence is so pronounced among jailed and incarcerated women that Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ,) labeled the overarching phenomenon as “a survivor-of-sexual-trauma to prisoner pipeline.”

These numbers come from the Vera Institute of Justice, which authored a survey last year titled “Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform.” Given the rising numbers of incarcerated women, specifically in local jails, and the lack of research on them, the Institute wanted to examine who those women were and what adversities they faced. Other findings were equally alarming as those above.

Two thirds of the women in jail are of color, and the majority of that population is also low-income. Further, nearly 80 percent of the incarcerated are mothers, most of them raising a child without a partner. Eighty-two percent were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, while 32 percent have serious mental illness and 82 percent suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Finally, 77 percent of those polled were victims of partner violence and and another 60 percent experienced caregiver violence. …

The myth of the male bumbler, by Lily Loofbourow

Male bumblers are an epidemic.

These men are, should you not recognize the type, wide-eyed and perennially confused. What’s the difference, the male bumbler wonders, between a friendly conversation with a coworker and rubbing one’s penis in front of one? Between grooming a 14-year-old at her custody hearing and asking her out?

The world baffles the bumbler. He’s astonished to discover that he had power over anyone at all, let alone that he was perceived as using it. What power? he says. Who, me?

The bumbler is the first to confess that he’s bad at his job. Take Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who testified Tuesday of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team, which he ran and which is now understood to have been in contact with Russian agents: “We were not a very effective group.” Or consider Dave Becky, the manager of disgraced comedian Louis C.K. (who confessed last week to sexual misconduct). Becky avers that “never once, in all of these years, did anyone mention any of the other incidents that were reported recently.” One might argue that no one should have needed to mention them; surely, as Louis C.K.’s manager, it was Becky’s job to keep tabs on open secrets about his client? Becky’s defense? He’s a bumbler! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ …

“Dear Men on the Left,” by @GappyTales

It was sometime in 2006 that I remember sitting on my sofa, watching George Galloway pretend to be a cat. Enthralling and disturbing in equal measure though it was, (poor Rula) it was not what struck me about the man. Lodged in my mind far more firmly are the comments he made regarding fellow housemate and glamour model, Jodie Marsh: that perhaps some might feel it sexist, but he believed deep down she likely longed for nothing more than a quiet life of marriage and motherhood. I remember I gasped in disbelief. Had he really just said that? The man on the left beside me didn’t even flinch.

I wish I could say that were the first time it had dawned on me that some men supposedly on my side were not, but the instances are too many to name. The tale of one visiting man, loaded into a shopping trolley and forcibly wheeled off site by exasperated Greenham women, was a staple of my childhood. …

#womenwrites: on Kate Millett, capitalism, and sexual harassment

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/07/kate-millett-pioneering-second-wave-feminist-dies-aged-82-sexual-politics
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/07/kate-millett-pioneering-second-wave-feminist-dies-aged-82-sexual-politics

Feminists Attend Kate Millett’s Memorial in New York, by Penelope Green

Ms. Millett died Sept. 6 in Paris, a week before her 83rd birthday, with Sophie Keir, her spouse and partner of 39 years, by her side. The memorial was held Thursday afternoon at the Fourth Universalist Society, a Unitarian church on Central Park West.

Before the service, friends and family traded war stories. Barbara Love, the lesbian activist, remembered a protest 50 years ago when she, Ms. Millett and others demonstrated against The New York Times and its gender-segregated want ads. And Ms. Love recalled, hilariously, the many actions Ms. Millett attended with a toilet. “It was arrested several times,” said Ms. Love of the toilet, though not at one famous demonstration in front of the Colgate-Palmolive offices on Park Avenue, when Ms. Millett and others dumped soap flakes into it to protest the company’s treatment of women on the assembly line.

Ms. Millett’s final demonstration was the women’s march last January in New York City, Ms. Love said. She attended in her wheelchair, holding a sign with her name on it. The police opened the barricades for her, and the march’s organizers led her to the front of the line, where demonstrators approached Ms. Millett to pay their respects and give thanks. “Even the police knew who she was,” Ms. Love said. It was a fitting tribute to the woman who some have called the most famous feminist you’ve never heard of.  ….

Men behaving inappropriately, by @wordspinster

“… Yet if recent events have shown us anything, they have surely shown us that the bureaucratic approach to sexual harassment has got us precisely nowhere. All the policies and procedures and guidelines and hotlines have not delivered justice to the complainants who tried to use them, or curbed powerful men’s enthusiasm for behaving ‘inappropriately’. By contrast, the stories which have circulated under the banner of #metoo have been specific, visceral, and shocking–and they have forced at least some organisations to take decisive action. …”

The end of necro-capitalism (but not necessarily capitalism), @sunnysingh_n6  via @WritersofColour

” … In 2006, I began using necrocapitalism to describe USA’s military-industrial complex and its expansion into sectors as diverse as insurance, medicine, leisure. However, as I traced economic histories, theories and practices, the foundation of our current economic model on slave trade, colonial wealth and yes, death became clearer. Since then, necrocapitalism has evolved to denote wider practices of the current capitalist model. It now seems an apt term to describe an economic model that is collapsing and devouring itself but that given its foundational premise could have had no other end. …

For a fairer share of wealth, turn to the 13th century, by Felicity Lawrence

Ordinary people increasingly shut out from the means of subsistence; a rich and powerful minority privatising and extracting rent from common resources – it is 800 years this week since the sealing in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral of the Charter of the Forest and these were the grievances it addressed. Its resonances today are so strong that this ancient document from 1217 is providing the inspiration for a new political settlement at events around the country.

The Charter of the Forest, the lesser-known but equally significant twin of Magna Carta, asserted the rights of ordinary people to access from “the commons” the means for a livelihood and shelter, whether it was grazing their livestock, cutting wood for housing and fuel, fishing and hunting, creating water mills, or sharing the other resources of the forest. It restricted the rights of the king and nobles to privatise and exploit the forest while guaranteeing the rights of the commoners. It represented an early constitutional victory for ordinary people over a wealthy elite, and as such was hugely influential in the writing of other constitutions around the world. The battles in England continued of course, and waves of enclosures across Britain through subsequent centuries stripped away many of the rights. …

Hollywood Normalizes Sexual Infatuation with Children, Declares 13yo Girl ‘Sexiest Actress’, by Rachel Blevins

Millie Bobby Brown is talented, composed and precocious, but at the end of the day, she is just a 13-year-old girl. When the entertainment industry begins to give her the label of “Sexy,” it teaches both Hollywood insiders and the public that it is acceptable to sexualize a child.

While the current Hollywood sex scandal became public with the allegations that producer Harvey Weinstein had an extensive history of sexually harassing and assaulting women who were typically in their early 20s, it has since expanded to include the revelations that actor Kevin Spacey has had sexual relationships with and attempted to sexually assault teenage boys.

When child actor Corey Feldman attempted to speak out about the ongoing problem of pedophilia in Hollywood on an episode of The View in 2013, Barbara Walters interrupted him, saying, “You’re damaging an entire industry!” Now, the increasing number of sexual assault allegations against some of the most prominent directors, producers and actors in Hollywood is serving as a reminder that Feldman was not attempting to damage the industry—the industry had already damaged itself. ….

Miscarriages in Flint: ‘I Really Believe It’s the Water’, by Auditi Guha

…  Researchers studying the water crisis recently found a high number of fetal deaths and fewer pregnancies in Flint since April 2014, which is when the city switched its water supply to use water from the polluted Flint River without adding anti-corrosives to treat it.

Comparing health records with 15 other Michigan cities, David Slusky from the University of Kansas and Daniel Grossman from West Virginia University found that fetal death rates jumped by 58 percent and fertility rates dropped by 12 percent in Flint, according to the Detroit Free Press. Their working paper is yet to be peer reviewed.

Nakiya Wakes, 42, one of the women portrayed in a movie about Flint that debuted last month, has faced two miscarriages, including one last month, and is convinced they were caused by her exposure to the lead in the water.

A mother of two, she moved to Flint in June 2014, and was pregnant with twins a year later. Five months into it, she lost one; and in her second trimester, she lost the other, she told Rewire. …

The Westminster Allegations Redux.

Michael Fallon lunged at me after our lunch, by Jane Merrick

When the story first broke last weekend that a secret list of “sex pest” Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers drawn up by researchers was circulating in Westminster, I decided to talk about my own experience of being lunged at by a Tory MP. By publicly discussing how it felt to be in that position, and how it was not acceptable, I thought it would help others to come forward to report sexual harassment. Yet because my incident happened 14 years ago, I decided not to name the MP in question.

A week on, things have changed. The MP has denied some allegations against him, and minimised others as somehow acceptable because they date from another time. His lack of contrition has made me change my mind. It is time for me to say publicly that the MP who lunged at me was Sir Michael Fallon. …

Bex Bailey, Labour activist, says she was raped at party event and told not to report it, by Rowena Mason, Anushka Asthana and Matthew Weaver

Allegations of sexual misconduct in Westminster took a new turn on Tuesday as a Labour activist spoke of being raped at a party event after a woman had described being assaulted on a hotel bed by an MP last year.

The two women both criticised the lack of proper processes for reporting their allegations, as political parties struggled with a fifth day of serious revelations about harassment and abuse in British politics.

The second woman, who said she was sexually assaulted by an MP on a hotel bed last year, criticised as “inadequate” proposals announced by the government on Monday aimed at enhancing existing reporting systems in parliament.

The Westminster staffer, who works for another MP and asked to remain anonymous, said there needed to be a “credible independent body” to investigate complaints about politicians’ behaviour that was not connected to the parties. …

Damian Green denies making sexual advances towards young Tory activist, by Matthew Weaver*

Theresa May has ordered an investigation into allegations that her deputy, Damian Green, made inappropriate advances to a female activist in the last two years.

Kate Maltby, who is 30 years younger than Green, the first secretary of state, told the Times he had “fleetingly” touched her knee during a meeting in a Waterloo pub in 2015 and sent her a “suggestive” text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in the newspaper.

Green, one of May’s closest political allies, said any allegation that he made sexual advances to Maltby was “untrue [and] deeply hurtful”.

One Tory MP has called for Green to be suspended while the allegations are investigated. Green is the most senior politician yet to be caught up in a wave of allegations and rumours relating to sexual harassment and abuse swirling around Westminster. …

This is why I came forward with my experience of sexual harassment by an MP – anonymous testimony

I am a member of the Labour Party. I was a delegate for my local CLP at the Labour Party Conference this September. I am a Corbyn supporter, a feminist and an activist. And I am also the anonymous woman who has lodged a complaint with the Labour Party over the inappropriate actions of an MP who “squeezed” my bum at our incredible conference in Brighton.

Of course, for the past few days the final statement has eclipsed all the others. Because that is how this works. It is the “bum squeezes”, the “knee touches”, the “lift lunges”, the “handsiness”, and then of course the denials, the silencing, the gaslighting that inevitably follow, this is the arena in which men keep women (and sometimes other men) in our bodies and, ultimately, in our place.

Was I traumatised by having my bum squeezed at conference? Of course not. Do you honestly think a bum squeeze gets anywhere near the list of the ways in which men have violated my boundaries, used their and my body against me to exert a subtle, or sometimes violent power over me? …

BBC News – Lib Dem member ‘referred to police over rape allegation’ 

The allegations emerged in a series of tweets over the weekend, which claimed an alleged victim’s complaint had been “hushed up” by party HQ.

The party said a member was suspended “pending the outcome” of a police probe but gave no further details.

It is the first allegation involving the Lib Dems in the misconduct scandal currently engulfing Westminster. …

Kate Malby wrote about her experience of sexual harassment for The Times. Unfortunately, it is behind a pay wall. You can find it here. 

This is the current list of Westminster sexual misconduct allegations: the MPs accused so far, written by Haroon Siddique for the Guardian. Here is a collection of articles I collated last week:

https://storify.com/EVB_Now/sexual-harassment-in-westminister