Feminism For The Few, Guardian-Style

Stripper Edie Lamort
Photo of Edie Lamort, courtesy Millie Robson Photography www.millierobson.com

Welcome back MoronWatch guest-blogger and Striptease Correspondent, Edie Lamort, as she takes on the Guardianista approach to “feminism”

Occasionally on those Sunday morning TV discussion shows, there will be a topic entitled ‘Has Feminism Gone too Far?’. A rather patronising title as no-one would ever have a discussion entitled ‘Have Civil Rights Gone too Far?’ or ‘Have Rights for Homosexuals Gone too Far?’ Better questions to ask would be something like ‘Why is Feminism so divided?’, ‘Has Feminism lost its way?’ or ‘Why is Feminism Obsessed with Moralism?’

The recent resurgence in a certain type of ‘feminism’ has certainly polarised debate and alienated a lot of women due to its anti-sex stance. This has been pioneered by fanatical fright groups like Object who are given a voice by media such as The Guardian. The patron of Object is the ever-angry Polly Toynbee so this is not surprising. I no longer even bother to read what she writes as it is just so negative. The same goes to Julie Bindel, who seems to be so full of righteous rage and venom, that I can no longer bear to listen to what she has to say. Her recent tirade against Dr Brooke Magnanti was appalling and surely cannot be called journalism? Dr Magnanti’s response to this was far more magnanimous and reflected positively on her.

The article was entitled Brooke Magnanti Vs Julie Bindel so I clicked through, thinking it would be an interesting debate between two strong women, who both describe themselves as Feminists, but come from very different ends of the spectrum. I was shocked to read the one-sided, abusive rant from Julie Bindel and wondered why The Guardian would print such a thing. Why employ this provocateur to write in this ‘playground bully’ style? Isn’t this supposed to be a reputable paper?

Then I read the comments below, which generally condemned Ms Bindel’s bile, and realised how many clicks and comments this article had generated. Could this be the reason? As we know, many forms of media have suffered large revenue losses in the past decade, due to free online media and recession, so have to rely on dwindling advertising revenues. I wonder if the only reason they print these kinds of articles is to generate unique page visits and up the volume of clicks on their website? People always love a good cat fight don’t they?!

Imagine how much good this is doing for the web stats of the Guardian and how they can use this to sell their brand. When presenting the medium as a good place for advertisers to raise brand awareness, they need to demonstrate a healthy readership, who also interact with the medium, thus increasing advertising revenue. Call me cynical but it’s always worth looking at the financial angle. The prohibitionists and rescue industry have long been making careers and money out of the workers in the Erotic Industries. Stanley Cohen, in his groundbreaking book, Folk Devils and Moral Panics describes this phenomena as “deviance exploitation”. It is where the control culture financially exploits the current “folk devils”, supported by the tool of moral panic.

Another major contradiction in this paper is the question of who has the ultimate control over a woman’s body. The main theme of Feminism has been about women gaining ownership over themselves yet the Guardian takes differing stances depending on the debate. It depends who we’re talking about: women wanting abortions, those choosing to wear the burka and then those choosing to strip for a living.

In Guardian World the right for a woman to choose whether to abort or not is sacred. Fine within reason and I agree. The right for a woman to wear a burqa, as long as it is her choice, is not questioned. OK, banning an item of clothing is a silly idea and it can be argued that the symbolism of the burqa is changing. From the ultimate objectification; saying a woman is a black hidden mass, fit only for cooking, cleaning and breeding. (Full burqa only applies here because if you can see someone’s face you can see who they are.) To what is now sometimes a political stance, an anti-establishment gesture, especially in countries like France, that have banned the burqa.

However if you’re a stripper, your right to choose what you can and can’t do with your body, is forbidden in Guardian World! We must be roundly condemned as poisoning society and leading to the abuse of women. You will be told that you have been brainwashed and suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. To dance naked and celebrate feminine beauty is a betrayal in Guardian World. To enjoy and exhibit your sexuality is seen as ‘bad’ and ‘corrupt’.

I find this new slut-shaming ‘feminism’ ridiculous and unhealthy. I don’t want to be part of it. A feminist revival that alienates and denounces other women is not the kind of angry and divisive ideology I want to sign up to. They say Feminist, I say Witch-Finder General, stoking the bonfires of moral panic.

Silk Road: The Free Drugs Market Is Here

ecstasy pills
The Silk Road Giveth…

The typical retail recreational drug dealer isn’t the most ambitious of characters. The job offers a decent income, short working hours and the chance to spend all day getting high on your own supply and watching porn; no doubt the dream job for many teenage males, but a little bit sad if you reach your 30s and you’re still doing it. The skills required are minimal – find a supplier and a set of digital scales, spread the word through friends (carefully, mind) and the customers start to roll in. Thanks to the prohibition of drugs, there’s no need to provide good customer service, or a quality product. Competition is minimal, and the free market limited – customers have little choice but to come back, however bad a service or product they receive.

The stupidity of prohibition really hits home when you realise what kind of morons end up dealing drugs for a living. According to Drugscope, British “coke” is only about 26% pure when it reaches the customer, and can contain any blend of a dozen or more substances. In order to keep his prices keen and his margins high, the dealer will cut in other, cheaper (and sometimes more dangerous) drugs and fillers. The buyer has little idea what he’s actually buying – and the same applies to other drugs from heroin to hashish and pills of various types.

The official line is, of course, that prohibition exists to protect the public, but this is nonsensical. Most “drug deaths” aren’t caused by the substances that customers think they’re buying, but by the unknown substances that are sneaked in by suppliers, or uncertainty over dosages. In just one of many examples, Lancashire police warned users a few years ago that cocaine was possibly being cut with a carcinogenic substance. Cocaine itself isn’t a particularly dangerous drug (far less so than alcohol, for example), but moronic attempts at prohibition have made it into one. If this happened in any legal business, the authorities could step in; but our moronic leaders have decided that the recreational drugs trade will be run by criminals, with no regulation whatsoever.

Many recreational drug users are well-informed about the substances they choose to use, and thanks to the Internet, reliable health information (which should be provided by governments) is shared among users. Drugs deaths are extremely rare – the real killer drug, alcohol, kills ten times more people than all illegal substances combined. Alcohol is a dangerous substance used by the majority because they have no other legal drug options, and little understanding that safer substances exist. A large minority of people choose other drugs, but find trouble with sourcing clean and reliable supplies because they are illegal.

A genuine free market in recreational drugs would give users the control to buy what they want, from trusted suppliers, instead of basing their drug choices on what is legal, or easily available.

That moment has arrived. No: political leaders haven’t overcome their stupidity, corruption and cowardice, and decided to legalise, regulate and tax a drugs market; instead, technology has stepped in to fill the void. The Silk Road marketplace is a web site set up by unknown geeks and run from unknown places. It makes use of state-of-the-art technologies in encryption, anonymisation and digital currency. It allows sellers to list products, and buyers to browse, check out vendors, and purchase safely. By use of an eBay-style rating system, vendors can score suppliers by reliability and product quality. Just as with eBay, the rating of vendors allows the “wisdom of crowds” to help reliable, honest vendors to be identified.

You want ecstasy, LSD, ketamine, cocaine or diazepam? Heroin, cannabis, hashish or morphine perhaps? They’re all there, and many more. The site can’t be accessed via a regular web browser; it uses the Tor browser to route connections through multiple servers and prevent them being traced, and the Bitcoin electronic currency to allow anonymous payments. The marketplace has been around for over a year – Gawker reported on it on 1st June 2011, and it still appears to be thriving.

I’m far from being an anti-government, fundamentalist libertarian. It’s true, as the Silk Road demonstrates, that markets are often good at creating freedom in the midst of repression, and that competition tends to lead to better, cheaper products and better service. But I also believe that good regulation makes for better markets; governments have a duty (which they currently shirk) to control the quality of recreational drugs and inform customers of what they’re buying. Government negligence in refusing to regulate the drugs market destroys millions of lives, and entire countries; there should be global outrage against the “war on drugs”, but the corporate media does a great job in persuading the majority that drugs, rather than the “war on drugs”, are the real menace.

The Silk Road presents an opportunity for governments to accept that the “war on drugs” never had a hope in hell of succeeding. They could destroy the system overnight by offering their citizens legal, regulated, safe supplies of drugs. As I’ve blogged previously, they could reduce the damage caused by alcohol by offering legal alternatives. But politicians are too badly informed, or cowardly, and vested interests too powerful, so rather than do the sane thing, authorities are no doubt trying to track down and arrest the operators of the Silk Road. In the interest of liberty, and of saving yet more countries from being torn apart by the “war on drugs”, let’s hope that they fail.

Since prehistoric times, almost all human societies have used drugs. They’ll never go away; our leaders can only ensure that they are as safe – and as good – as possible. The Silk Road is a technological, market-based attack on the “war on drugs” – it may not be ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction.