Sj7g09's Blog

Archive for December 2010

I’ve been reading a lot on this particular development lately, or as much as I can without throwing down the computer in frustration. It’s partly the proposed legislation, but partly how complacent people are about their freedoms. UK government wants all internet pornography to have to be an opted into – from discussions I’ve read, many people are fine with this. “Well, just opt in”. But that’s not the point. It’s a slippery slope, blocking anything on the internet. Plus, why should I have to give my details – presumably seeing as the whole point is age restriction, this will require ID – to an ISP, who has every right to divulge that to a government that clearly has a very big problem with internet pornograpy?

I would also go further, that this isn’t just an issue of censorship. I’m 20 years old, I still remember what it was like to be a child, hopefully without all the “oh, it was so different in my day!” bullshit. I remember what it was like having the internet as a female child, living in a relatively restricted, repressive household. Firstly, I didn’t see internet pornography until I was 17 (still underage, may I add), and I was a prolific user of the internet – to the point that my parents threatened to throw out my computer, to many tears and shouts of “I hate you! You can’t take away my PC!” They were desperately worried for me, being of a generation that hasn’t grown up with the internet. They did everything right, all of the things that parents are directed to do, save for putting on an internet filter, which technically they had no need to do because the shame and social stigma was enough of a filter for me anyway. Shared computer, in a family room, in a position where the screen could be seen. All that did was change my sleep habits, which infuriated them even more. I’d stay up until 4 in the morning, then sleep all day. On school days, I’d get up insanely early to use the internet without any supervision. And none of this was for pornography. I was far too ashamed to look at pornography – I was a girl, afterall. It was partly that making the deliberate decision to search for pornography was too incriminating, too much of a clearcut choice to see something ‘bad’. So I’d try to search for things that weren’t porn, then follow links, attempting to get to something risque. I never stumbled across hardcore pornography as a child, ever. I would say that all the things that say that children inadvertantly see porn all the time have a very odd definition of porn, or fail to mention that the children were actually looking for it, or are users of torrent sites and other ‘shady’ areas of the net.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/dec/19/broadband-sex-safeguard-children-vaizey

The statistics from this article astound me. 60% of 9 – 19 year olds have seen internet pornography. 19 year olds. Last time I was aware, 19 years old did not constitute a child. I realise that the age of adulthood seems to have shifted from being able to do at least some age restricted activities at 16 to 18 now, but 19 is by no means a child. By 19, you are free to look at pornography, or even be involved in the industry. Also, 60% really isn’t that much, and it doesn’t say whether it was voluntary exposure or involuntary. If it is involuntary, put a filter on your own computer, don’t filter mine.

I’d also like to share how I got around my no-porn household, seeing as pornography seems to be a new evil for children. What is so bad or harmful about seeing some pictures? As I’ve said, I’m a prolific user of the internet, and have been since I was 12 years old, and am a regular porn viewer now, and I have not ever seen any genuinely violent pornography. I’ve seen videos that are obviously acted, but even that is just a few slaps – nothing I haven’t done in my own life, and I think therefore I have a bit of a different understanding of it, seeing as I know that I can’t be the only woman in the world to enjoy this. I’ve never seen anything that could be seen as ‘snuff’ or other such moral panics, even by the most overactive, paranoid imagination. I realise that this will seem to send out the ‘wrong message’, but I feel it’s important to share the truth as it was for me. I’m not saying that this is what it’s like for everyone, but, as a kid, I wanted to see pornography. I knew literally nothing about sex – my parents never discussed it with me, and I basically didn’t go to school, so never had any sort of sex education. The first time I saw a condom was the first time I had sex.

Seeing as I couldn’t watch pornography because of all the shame and stigma and fear of being chastised by my parents (interesting that all the statistics in the studies about underage pornography viewing says that a high percentage feel embarrassed or ashamed, and worry about what their parents will say. That is not the fault of pornographic material, that is our outdated attitudes to sex), I instead used chatrooms. So when I was 12, I was speaking to men, ranging from saying that they were my own age, to in their 50s. Often these conversations weren’t overtly sexual, but talking to older men fulfilled my desire for an authority figure, and that was sexy enough for me. Submission has always done it for me. We pretend that children have no sexuality, but I’m willing to say that I most certainly did, and that I consented to having some dirty talks with older men on the internet when I was a  young teenager. I don’t know whether that would be considered a crime now – “grooming” perhaps, but, at the time, I wasn’t aware of this, seeing as I couldn’t imagine that something I was choosing to do could get someone else into trouble if I’d told anyone else. Fortunately I don’t tell my parents anything, so it was never an issue. I think it’s just outrage from parents at having someone incite sexuality in their child, their beautiful little belonging, when, in my case, it obviously wasn’t this at all. I was the unacceptable face of childhood, the sort of girl who is now branded as a myth in order to give out the right message. Of course I’m not saying that all children are the same as I was, but why do we take the stance that experimenting with sexuality in a safe environment, with pornographic images or a bit of dirty talk on the internet with someone you’ll never meet, is inherently harmful? I really don’t think it is. I wish that I’d seen pornography earlier than I did, because I would have had more knowledge about things earlier, and I would have had so many more years to work on my shame issues.

Obviously there’s no point in trying to argue any of this, because we’ve already decided as a collective conscience that young people don’t have a sexual thought until they’re 18, have no desire to view others having sex until they’re 18 even if they’re allowed to actually have sex themselves when they’re 16. And that obviously it should be criminal to take a picture of yourself having legal sex as a 16-year-old – you need the extra 2 years to make sure that you don’t regret the dirty, horrible, soul-destroying act.

But surely people can unite in saying that they don’t want our internet to be a short step away from the internet of China, or various Islamic states. If you start blocking something, saying people can opt in, how far away are you from just blocking things? This is a matter of preserving rights and freedoms. Why should people have to change how they live their lives in order to protect children, which you individually may not even have? I do not like children, I have no desire to have children, and I have absolutely no interest in protecting the spawn of people who can’t be bothered to learn how to use internet filters by throwing away my rights as an adult to view whatever I want.

I’m just so tired and stressed I can’t think. Want to write down the stuff from my tutorial today, so I have some recollection of it, but feel so tired I feel ill.

Showed some of my photos and videos in a tutorial… I think I’m picking out all the worst things that were said. I’m not sure I even remember there being anything good, although it didn’t feel so bad at the time.

The comments that interested me most were on the videos, which were ridiculously hard to share. I put together something last night… well, until 4 in the morning… that I thought would be reasonably well received seeing as it makes no sense, but it was a tutorial with a different staff member, so the criteria was all different again. I was surprised at how positive he was about it all though. Anyway, I made a video that has all the typical documentary-style filming – closeups of typing on laptop, filming the screen as the words appear, wringing hands, fiddling with jewellery, playing with hair, etc. I’m not really sure why I tried to make it like this, it just seemed apt. From watching videos of myself sped up, I’ve noticed the sort of actions that I continually do, and I wanted to slow these down and make them very deliberate, and thought they were the sort of things that emotive documentaries would focus on. I wrote some text, that is true and my own words, but translated it into Russian, then put it through a text-to-speech synthesizer, so all the images have Russian speech over them. I was surprised that one of the comments wasn’t that it came across as racist. I’ve picked up on using Russian language because of how it’s often insisted by customers that I cannot be British, I’m lying, I must be Russian. I think I use different languages, or a complete lack of speech, to get across the idea that, from an outside view, I appear to have no power. I don’t want to have character either, because of the idea that a group of people who have nothing to do with me can speak for me, and that makes me generic and voiceless. A symbol rather than a person. I wonder about working more specifically with my own experiences because I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to speak for anyone but myself. Really I just want to get across my perspective, seeing as I feel like people are completely unwilling to listen to me because it’s supposedly in my best interests that I have no say, and I don’t want to become that oppressor to other people who don’t agree with me.

p

One comment I found really interesting about this video was that the word for ‘prostitution’ was picked out, and so the assumption was that it was about prostitution, and because I was using an image of myself, I was a ‘character’. He was fair in saying that he wasn’t sure, because he didn’t understand the language and didn’t know what the text was saying, but asked whether I was a representation of a prostitute. I explained that it wasn’t about prostitution, it was about something that the government had termed ‘indistinguishable from prostitution’, and that the images of me weren’t intended as a stereotype. The video of myself was actually just made of me looking into the camera, and I happen to still be wearing the things that I’d put on for the previous videos I’d been making. It was just an experiment to see how pixellated I could make the video look, for looking into the idea that pictorial representations cannot be ‘selling yourself’ – it’s a representation of your image, made up of pixels.

Anyway, he said that the images of me looked like a disguise, like a character, like I was performing. I’d like to look at the line between performance and reality, because the ‘character’ of me as a sex worker (I need a better word for sex worker, because it doesn’t encompass what I actually mean) was seen as fake, completely fictitious, presumably that I was just taking media stereotypes and playing off those to make something totally unreal. The reason it was seen as a disguise was how much makeup I was wearing. What makes this video fake, as compared to when I am infront of my webcam, dressed up in ways that I maybe usually wouldn’t be, for what would be seen as reality? I think if I were to say to my parents that I strip on webcam, the boundary between fantasy and reality wouldn’t be understood – it would be no defense to say “but it’s not real”, because physically it is real. But what makes this different to acting? If you’re on stage and you do a certain action, it’s acting, not reality, but you did really undertake the action. I suppose it’s just the motivations behind doing it, I dont know. I always have a character when I’m being watched – it’s natural, I think everyone does – so why is that a part of who I ‘really’ am, whereas in video made specifically for art, it’s theatrics? I don’t make up a character for when I’m on webcam, but I do have a different name, and it’s therefore a bit of an alter-ego. I don’t want to use that name in my schoolwork, so it gets further removed and my alter-ego has an alter-ego. I use the name Natasha when it’s for school work, seeing as it’s the generic label for the face of the feminisation of poverty. The Natasha trade and so on. I use the surname ‘Dobycha’, because it was the phoenetic spelling of a Russian translation of ‘victim’ or ‘prey’, and then when I translated it back, it came up with all sorts of other words that I felt were fitting – ‘trophy’, ‘loot’, ‘plunder’, ‘kill’, ‘capture’, ‘spoil’… I explain this in the video, using images of translations, so I thought it made some sense even without knowing what the voiceover was saying, but it’s probably not all that clear. I’m never really sure whether to just tell the truth, share my actual experiences of creating what is seen as a ‘character’ academically, and what is sometimes assumed to be real at others, and to present my findings of my own work, or whether it seems too uninteresting to others. I’m the sort of person who adores documentaries for their anthropological and sociological value, but I don’t know whether I’m really that interesting to share findings that are to do with something I’ve done. At least I’d be talking about something I understand, but at the same time it makes me vulnerable, and maybe I seem self-centred.

The other video discussed was an experimentation to do with depicting the idea of rescuing women, and that whole moral crusade to ‘better’ women, as degrading and abusive. Because it is. If anything is abuse, it’s that, because it’s non-consensual and completely denies any rights or autonomy. So I made a video, using cameraphone and torch-light again, where I’m stroked and patronised and infantilised, and the speaker oversteps all the boundaries, all with the best of intentions. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, even if I haven’t found the right way of presenting it yet. The ostensibly reassuring words are contrasted with the torch-light on my face, which I’ve tried to use as a means of objectification – that the torch shows where the viewer, both in and outside of the video, are looking at the time. I don’t know whether I made the right choice in having imagery that looks ‘traditionally abusive’, like smeared makeup, and eventually tape over my mouth, but the makeup was smudged from trying out more aggressive actions previously, and my original idea was that I wanted it to be filmed visually quite like amateur horror, but then there is no violence or abuse or overt sexuality – there are just sickly kind words and invasion of personal space in the aid of being positive and comforting.

Again, I didnt want any sort of voice… I spoke in the original, but have edited out almost all of my speech, because I don’t want that sort of power. This sort of behaviour is abusive precisely because it claims to speak for people without a voice, while ensuring that the people actually involved are discredited and seen as poor little things that may not ever recover, may never be able to be taken seriously. The main thing that came up about this video was that it mentions child abuse, and that will make viewers not listen, or upset them, etc. I’ve been trying to think about this, and I do feel that the lines about abuse are important. I realise that they can be taken the wrong way, but  that’s only from misunderstanding the piece. The actual line used is “Were you abused when you were a kid?”, in the original I say ‘no’ but this is obviously edited out, followed by “maybe you’ve just repressed it”, showing that the only response I could have given was negative. It was suggested that it seems like I’m pretending that I’ve been abused. I think it’s well within my rights to freedom of expression to make a video saying I’ve been abused when I haven’t, but that’s not what this particular video is. I’m not even saying that the on-screen character has been abused – the answer, through reading the responses of the speaking character, must be no. And I feel that this is an important thing to raise, because it’s a way of discrediting people. It’s also a way of justifying ‘deviant’ behaviour – it can’t just be that this person is an individual with varying fantasies, it’s that there must have been something bad that happened that caused them to become like this. Even when categorically saying that you were definitely not abused, people will still claim to have more knowledge about yourself than you do, through playing the repression card. It happened, but you don’t remember it, you poor, traumatised thing. And the scary thing is the amount of material claiming to be feminist that puts forward this view, telling women that there’s a good chance they’ve been abused but just don’t remember it, especially if they have positive feelings towards ‘abusive’ fantasies, or negative feelings towards ‘normal’ sexual activity. I haven’t quite decided how much I want to push to cling onto the abuse lines, because I don’t think they’re the most important part, but they do most definitely highlight a theme that is significant.

I know that the ‘characters’ expressed on these videos aren’t me in my natural state, but are they really characters? To me, they are a lot more just how I react to the stimulus within the videos, and that the reactions are the real reactions to how I myself behave towards the things that are happening while also being infront of a camera. Obviously some of the things I’m responding to can only be acting – when I’m being patronised and infantilised, the person saying the words doesn’t really mean them, but it still felt bad to have them said to me, while being touched so delicately, and the feeling that that character was overstepping my personal boundaries by demanding to hold my hand and such like. So the person I’m reacting to is a character, but a character based on reality, seeing as there are so so many people who’ve made me feel uncomfortable with this sort of ‘affection’ in my life. One thing I’m considering making is something to do with the non-consensuality of being touched as a child. Not sexually, but ‘affectionately’, by relatives, generally because you have to have them touch you or you touch them to pretend that you love them, because they’re giving you money or a birthday present or something. How is that not prostitution?

The first line from the video in the previous post has really captured my imagination. To paraphrase, it’s Gail Dines asking what exactly can be considered artistic about a woman having a cock forced down her throat, and gagging. And I would argue, what exactly is not artistic about that? It makes the viewer feel something – whether this something is arousal or disgust or something in between. It raises so many issues on boundaries between high and low culture and what can be considered ‘art’. It also challenges free speech – that if free speech is worth anything, it must be that people can make material like this, even if it offends people, because that is their right. Free speech cannot just be for the people we agree ‘deserve’ it. Pornography illicits so much more of a reaction, I think, than gallery art. It is such a contentious issue at the moment, and is very tied to free speech, body autonomy, and reflecting, or challenging, mainstream norms and values, depending on your position on this. Like, one of the arguments Gail Dines uses against pornography is that it’s unimaginative and restricting peoples’ sexuality… therefore we should try to minimise pornography, like that isn’t restricting the sexuality and rights of people who want to use pornography… Anyway, I’ve never understood this argument, which has also been implemented by people at my school – that pornography is so completely mainstream and doesn’t challenge anything about society. Then why is there such a furor about pornography if it’s so mainstream? Why is it that people have to fight for their free speech to express themselves in this way? Also, that people tend to think of pornography as one set thing – tanned, blonde plastic young women – and therefore it doesn’t challenge mainstream values at all. But what about all the pornography that doesn’t fit these mainstream standards and is conveniently disregarded in debates – for example, pornography using models that are overweight, old, not fitting gender binary, etc. ? And does no one find it at all interesting how exaggerated the portrayals of ‘femininity’ have become in pornography that they come across as parody?

I think that mostly the point I want to make from the Gail Dines quote is that, in my opinion, a woman with a cock down her throat is certainly art. It may not conform to the aesthetic and coded language of high art, but it deals with the same sort of themes, and probably provokes more response and debate than a piece of ‘high’ art. And I dont think that these debates necessarily have to be just about porn – unfortunately pornography isn’t viewed in the same way as art is. If you see a high art painting of a naked woman, the implicit symbolism within art means that it could mean anything, could make comments on all manner of things, but if you have a ‘pornographic’ picture of a naked woman, it is just literally a picture of a naked woman. I think that pornography has so much to say about gender roles, free speech, the nature of capitalism, body autonomy, and a lot of other issues also, and that it’s missed because of it’s form. So the temptation is to convert these ideas from pornography into a more palatable form, conforming to the aesthetics and codings of high art, but why should it be necessary to do this when it’s quite possible that pornography itself is the best way of illustrating and commenting on itself and the issues around it?

At least it’s made with feeling – whether that feeling from the woman involved is pleasure or discomfort. The main point I want to argue is that even if people involved in pornography or modelling or erotic dancing, or any ‘sex industry’ umbrella term, hate what they’re doing, that shouldn’t mean that the way this is dealt with is to take away their right to do it, or the right of others to do it. Also, something that is very rarely pointed out is that it’s completely insulting to insinuate that porn models, dancers, etc. have no skill, no talent – that what they are doing isn’t artful, that anyone could do it. I think that people completely disregard that there are other skills required in order to excel in these jobs – confidence, assertiveness, independence, social skills – and it’s not just a case of “you have the right sort of body, you’re in!” This may sound a little silly, but why is it that sexual skills are devalued? I realise that they’re probably not much good in other areas of life, or other possible careers, but that if you’re a porn model, then it is skillful and a talent that you are able to perform certain acts. And time for a slightly reactionary comment that I’m sure will come out wrong, but I think perhaps Gail Dines should attempt having a cock put down her throat in front of a camera, then say whether it’s artful or not.

(Funny how violent that sounds when an act like that is applied to someone who clearly would object to it, when it’s not the act itself that is violent, it’s the reaction or perceived reaction. ‘I wouldn’t want to do it, because I think it’s universally violent, so no one else will want to, or should want to, or should be able, to do it either!’ sort of thinking.)

This is one of the best, most informative videos I’ve seen on YouTube about pornography…

It really expresses the different sides to this, and I can’t help but see that those opposing pornography really are trying to take away freedoms from people who just want the right to continue with their career. It seems like instead of porn and pornographers trying to interfere with the lives of people who don’t want to watch porn, it is instead that people who don’t want to be involved with porn constantly interfering in the lives and careers of people who want to be left alone to do what they consider acceptable. It’s nice to have something that isn’t ridiculously one-sided, but instead shows both sides of the argument. Just seems to me that the pro-freedom side of the debate makes a lot more sense.

It always makes me angry to read articles that imply that basically all women of my generation are feminists, but are too embarrassed to admit it. Like the only reason women could ever not agree with feminism is that they’re worried about boys thinking they’re silly, and that it’s the courageous thing to do to be able to stand up and say “I am a feminist.” I am not a feminist, and I would say that I’ve had a lot of criticism and disbelief at my stance, and the idea that the only reason I would say I’m not a feminist is because I don’t understand it, or want to look ‘cool’ in front of my peers is insulting. I think there’s a very big difference between believing in equal rights and believing in feminism – they are not the same thing. Feminism looks for inequalities everywhere, because of the ideology it subscribes to, and subsequently finds inequality everywhere, especially where it is symbolic and there is no proof that it’s oppressing anyone.

I had a conversation last year with one of my lecturers, and said that I’m not a feminist, because I believe in the core value of equality, but that I believe that that is very different to ‘feminism’ in its current incarnation. Just as I would not call myself a Christian just because I believe that murder is bad, I refuse to subscribe to feminism just because I believe in one value that it sets out, but completely disagree with how it suggests this is achieved. People are far too willing to label themselves and change their life according to these labels.

This is a quote from an article in the Guardian, ” You’re not a feminist, but… What?” by Chloe Angyal:

“Feminism demands a complete overhaul of how we think, how we behave, how we talk, where we work, what media we consume, how we vote and how we raise our families.”

To me, this is the essence of feminism. It is completely hypocritical – followers are deterred from ‘patriarchal’ values, but these are simply replaced by other codes as to how you should live your life and form your identity, and this negates the only truly good thing feminism had – the idea that women should have free choice over how they think, how they behave, how they talk, where they work, what media they consume, how they vote and how they raise their families, amongst other things. In my opinion, feminism does not provide that choice, as it sets out other prescribed norms and values that you follow, or face being shunned.

I can only really speak for myself, but I don’t say that I’m not a feminist because I worry about fitting in, or having people say nasty things to me, labelling me according to stereotypes. If this were the case, it would be really stupid, seeing as most people I have ever met would say that they are feminists. This ideology is not the minority any more, and I would say that it’s a lot more challenging to actually go againist it and say that you’re not a feminist. For a start, you’ll have people telling you that you actually are a feminist, you just don’t understand what feminism is. Or people flat out telling you that you’re stupid if you don’t believe in feminism. I think this is the point – feminism is so hypocritical, it’s become what it set out to argue against. Feminists argue that women have been deterred from feminism because of peoples’ reactions and people trying to dissuade them from taking on this new ideology, but now feminism is that deterring force, trying to make people believe in this ideology because if you say that you don’t, you’re shunned, told you’re stupid, told that you don’t understand, guilted, told that you’re internalising patriarchy so aren’t entitled to an opinion.

I am not a feminist, and could never be a feminist, because I don’t believe in how this ideology conducts itself. It is hypocritical and underhanded, denying women their rights to choose if women do not agree with the ideology set out by feminism. I realise that there are different branches of feminism, but that is not enough of an argument to make me reconsider and think “oh, I can just define my views by a different sort of feminism”. That’s just weak. People shouldn’t need labels to validate their views. Unfortunately this means that feminism will pretty much always always win over the people it’s oppressing, because they have their club that most people now have a membership to, but can still claim that they are the oppressed minority, rather than that they’re being oppressive of others. As a woman, I feel oppressed by feminism. I do not want an ideology telling me how to live my life, simply because I happen to have been born female. I don’t want to be part of your club because of my genitals, thanks. I don’t want the extra protection that feminism wants to give me – I don’t want to ban lad’s magazines, or close strip clubs, or make counselling mandatory for prostitutes. I don’t want to lobby the government for yet more ridiculous laws to force everyone to be nice to each other, or come up with legislation that amounts to punishing people for thought crime. I know that this is not all feminism is, but, to me, these are all elements that are so very, very important to me that I could never even pretend to subscribe to an ideology that would make me complicit in these things. Ironically, I have more respect for myself than that. My views are very important to me and I won’t compromise them just so that people will respect me. I don’t feel that people I’ve spoken to, especially at university, respect my views, or me. Overwhelmingly, it’s always that I’m internalising, I’m stupid, I don’t understand, that I think what I’m doing is empowering but actually it isn’t (accompanied by pitying, self-righteous facial expression). Feminism is the norm, and it’s respected. I don’t live according to what looks empowering to everyone else – I really don’t care. I am not a representative of my gender, and will behave however I choose to, whether that looks symbolically degrading or not.

Just watching a BBC interview with Kat Banyard, which is fantastic, to see her views actually being deconstructed and challenged. I think that this highlights the absolute hypocrisy of feminism – Kat Banyard is against the sex industry and feels that it is one of the most detrimental forces in achieving equality, and sees the sex industry as exploitation towards women, conflating stripping, lap dancing, etc. with prostitution. In this interview, she defends womens’ rights to wear a burqa, as a choice that women should be able to make, and denounces how, in this issue, womens’ bodies are used as a battleground. Yet she doesn’t apply this thinking to women working in the sex industry – why can’t women choose to use their own body, which they should be seen as having ownership of, to work in an industry that she feels is exploitative? This is how feminism in general comes across to me – women have the right to make free choices about their own body, e.g. to have an abortion, but as soon as it’s about commercial sex, they’re too frail and vulnerable and exploited to have their views listened to. Particularly shown in Kat Banyard saying that abortion has to be a right for women, as they should have control over their own bodies, but that in the West we don’t label practices that are ‘harmful’ to women as violence, because they’re shielded by using words like ‘choice’ and ‘liberation’…. How can it be that women should not be allowed to make choices about their own bodies that they think are choice, or liberating, but have a higher authority outlawing these ‘choices’ because they don’t believe that they are the right choice?

And that laws changing to make sure women can go into any profession they wish regardless of their gender are good, but revoking this to make sure that women can’t work in the sex industry is good. How does that make sense? The idea that women still have to choose between a career and looking after their children, yet a lot of the time women choose to work in the sex industry because they want the more flexible working hours in order to spend more time with their family, but they’re looking to make sure that women can’t do this, can’t make this choice, and must have a job that they deem non-exploitative. What, exactly, in Capitalist society, is a job without exploitation?

In this Kat Banyard interview, I was hoping desperately that the interviewer was going to keep asking her about womens’ rights to choose abortion, to be a stay-at-home mother, to wear the burqa, with her answer always being that it’s about choice and body autonomy, but then to ask why these same principles can’t be applied to choosing to work in the sex industry. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but the point is still extremely relevant, I think.

 

So, I am not a feminist, but please stop trying to convert me.

Posted on: December 10, 2010

A bit off-topic, but I’ve been thinking about this lately, in regard to the ‘do you want to do art or do you want to do something else?’ issue.  One of my biggest inspirations is the comedian Bill Hicks, who is my absolute favourite comedian, he’s just the best. And the fantastic thing about him is that he’s extremely funny, but not just for the sake of being funny. Pretty much all of the material he uses is political, and about all of the things that I think are really important. And his career sucked for a long time, with his shows getting censored, and always being told that it didn’t make any sense for him to be producing comedy to do with politics. That they were separate things, and people didn’t want to have to think, they just wanted entertainment. I don’t think I’ve ever really had people who I’ve seen as properly influencing me or being a ‘role model’ – whenever I was asked that sort of question as a kid, I’d just have to make something up, because I didn’t really feel that there was anyone who was that important or influential to me, but I think Bill Hicks is probably the closest thing to a role model that I’ve had. A little strange, but hey, anyone who suggests that when you’re on LSD and think you can fly you test this theory from the ground not from the top of a building, is pretty fucking sensible. But yeah, I’m not saying I’m like Bill Hicks, but I am saying that I’d like to be, because at least he stood up for what he believed in and kept trying. And that is such a lame way of putting that, that sounds such like tortoise-and-the-hare morals, but I don’t even think that with Bill Hicks the ‘success’ was from him becoming successful, it’s just that he didn’t compromise.

Video of Bill Hicks being a comedian, or not. He’s more something else than just a comedian, but I don’t know what the word is.

Maybe my work is actually shit. I never spend more than a day actually making anything – I can spend months thinking about it, but the actual process of creating it will never take me more than a day. I woke up at midday today, and I’ve already made a video. And I guess maybe that’s the point – that it’s probably not a very good video.

But, I wish I could get across the point that I want to explore lots of different ideas – pretty much all of the things I make could rightfully be seen as ‘not finished’ in the sense that if I worked on them for weeks and weeks then they’d change and they might be ‘better’. But I really think that the only way in which they would be better is visually. I feel that making lots of different things quickly helps me to develop the ideas, and to see what’s working, or not working, and continue from there. This one of the things I’ve always despised about how art is taught – it seems like there’s the expectation that you will pick an idea and just keep doing it ad nauseum until you’ve found the perfect combination of how to do it, and, for me, that isn’t art. Well, it is art, because I think that most things can be considered art, but that it’s not how art has to be in order to be ‘art’. I don’t want to pick one idea and do it to death at the expense of thinking about anything else, because the only thing that I really, really want to do is transmit ideas, and however the thing is presented, it will have the same ideas. I understand that certain ways of presentation are going to make people think about the ideas more, but I really don’t think that trying to make art more ambiguous is a good way of transmitting a message. It seems like most popular art conforms to the well-respected criteria that it should be poetic, mysterious, and basically unreadable. It doesn’t matter what your work intends to say, so long as it says it in the right way. It seems like most art is ‘art’ because it’s framed in the context of being art, and doesn’t tell the viewer anything, so the viewer leaves thinking that it’s cleverer than it actually was. Art, like drama, unfortunately seems to be suffering “it’s-up-to-the-viewer’s-interpretation” syndrome, which, to me, shows a lot less care and consideration than looking at something with a clear opinion. My work doesn’t show care because I use sellotape, other work doesn’t show care because it’s the done thing to just say “I want the viewer to project their ideas onto it”, which is code for “I have no ideas, so I need the viewer to assume there are ideas and make them up themselves.” Fine, great, by all means do that, but it’s still stupid. I just desperately don’t want to end up creating art that is wishywashy. It’s pointless. I used to paint portraits, and it was pointless. Of course, my parents will always ask me why I don’t paint portraits any more, presumably wanting me to go back to doing something that they understand as art and are allowed to see. I don’t exactly feel much like sharing my work with them, just like I don’t particularly feel like sharing my work with my school, seeing as neither are especially nurturing of what I want to do. “It’s not art. If you wanted to do this, you should have done politics or sociology or psychology or joined a campaign group…” etc. But why isn’t it art?

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that I think if I keep on working how I am, I’ll keep making links between the different ideas, and they’ll keep changing. I made a video today, and it probably isn’t especially good – I feel like the premise is mildly insane, while being unsure whether if I showed it at school this would be interpreted as artistic and poetic, or amateur and pathetic. I think it’s good for me to break away from the prostitution/trafficking clearcut issue for a bit, if only to make the suggestion that that’s not specifically what my work is about. I get the feeling that if you read my work literally, it comes across a lot like a school project, like a presentation on why <“contentious issue”> is <good/bad>, and that’s feels really stupid if it’s viewed solely as that. I wouldn’t mind the work having the feeling of a school project if that was just part of the work – the propaganda is a lot like a school project, expressing the most simple views without really thinking about them.

But I get the feeling that potentially all my work is read as is “sex work is bad/good”, rather than applying it more to the general issue of body autonomy and ownership of bodies. My video from today touches on these issues more, although it’s probably not at all clear. Although, unclear, obscure and saying nothing seems to be the marking criteria 😉 Anyway, I felt faintly ridiculous, not because I’m dressed in Mouse ears, a dog collar, and pawprint gloves, but because I’ve tried to express everything I want to say in the video in ‘meow’s. Yes, it sounds stupid, and it felt stupid, and it really sounds like the sort of idea that someone’s doing just to look quirky, but I wanted to try it because it’d been on my mind for a while, in regard to women seen like animals, treated like animals, ‘human pets’, all linking to body autonomy and who has ownership over you. Like, if you allow an individual to have ownership over you, can you ever really consent to ‘slavery’, ‘abuse’, etc. when our legal system doesn’t allow you the ownership of your body to decide to do that, so really you still belong to the State. With things how they are at the moment, with government and law able to dictate what you can and cannot do with your own body, you do not own your own body. Similarly, no other individual can own your body, because you can’t consent to them ‘owning’ you like a ‘slave’, and consent doesn’t matter in issues of abuse, like with the Spanner case. So the only thing you can ever really belong to is the State, which is interesting considering all the ideas of women ‘selling’ themselves in prostitution, because how can they sell something that doesn’t even belong to them?

The video is all subtitled, because it would have been fucking stupid to just have me meowing at the screen for 4 minutes with no explanation, although I don’t think what is actually said is all that important in comparison to the themes within it. It’s not especially clever or well thought-out, but at least it’s made me think about issues of ownership and buying, selling, consent, etc.



  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se