I am an oppressor

I’m just back from having a read over at the Guardian of Julie Bindel’s latest rant. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Lesbianism can (and should) be a political choice
  2. All men are evil

Now, number one on that list, I happen to agree with. At least the “can” part.

Seems like a bit of a strange choice to me – why not just love whichever sex or sexes you happen to love, and not stress about it?

But I can see that if you dislike men and the patriarchy that much, you might want to restrict your relationships to women. Fair enough. Good for you.

But then we get to the second point. I’m taking evil as shorthand for violent oppressors here – please feel free to substitute the second phrase for the first if you feel it too strong. I don’t.

Here’s a few phrases to show why that’s the message I’ve taken from the article

“I also suspect that it is very difficult to spend your daily life fighting against male violence, only to share a bed with a man come the evening.”

Personal opinion, no evidence to back it up – but we’ll give her a pass on that one, as it’s obviously flagged as just her own thought.

“We live in a culture in which rape is still an everyday reality, and yet women are blamed for it, as it is viewed as an inevitable feature of heterosexual sex.”

Um. Hold on, you lost me there.

Rape is viewed as an inevitable feature of heterosexual sex? When did that happen? By who?

A vague generalisation without a source is useless.

As, for example: Piers Beckley is viewed as a better writer than Julie Bindel.

Without further evidence, it’s positively misleading.

“Domestic violence is still a chronic problem for countless women in relationships with men.”

And for women in relationships with women. And men in relationships with men.

Well, lookee here, it’s some academic research: Apparently 40% of women in this survey had experienced violence in a same-sex relationship. Or this research gives a figure of 22% for women experiencing domestic violence in same-sex relationships.

(There’s more research here, if you want it.)

Either way, it’s not the “none” implied by the article.

Assuming that domestic violence moves only one way – from men towards women – doesn’t help. Broken Rainbow provides help and support for LGBT people threatened by domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is still a chronic problem for countless women” is true. But when you add the words “in relationships with men”, it begins to look like wilful misinterpretation.

Then again, it doesn’t seem that Julie believes that academic rigour is necessary in order to make bold claims.

I, however, do.

Some people in the comments section have labelled the piece hate speech against men – and I actually think that’s a fair call. Especially given her past form (trannies, in this instance).

Because it’s basically: Men are evil. Become a lesbian. And there’s no justification for the first of those two sentences contained in the article.

However, I don’t believe that censorship is sensible, or just. I think anyone from the BNP, Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Theorists, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all should be allowed to say whatever they like.

But if what you say is basically stupid, then you deserve to be mocked. That’s the corollary of Free Speech. And that’s why I’ve taken an hour out of my day to mock this piece, which is truly stupid, and does not reflect well at all on either the writer, or whoever at the Guardian thought it worth publishing.

But then again, I would say that.

I’m an oppressor.

Letters From America: Good News For Comedy Fans

originally sent on the 19th February, 2004
the original URL now gives no information; replaced with the copy referenced at http://www.dibbukbox.com/

My name was not picked out of the hat this week. I shall return each week
until they damn well do.

In the meantime, why not draw up a seat closer to the fire – yes that’s
right, just there – and listen to the spine-chilling tale I like to call
“The Terror Of The Haunted Wine Cabinet”.


Don’t have nightmares.

Oh, all right then, do.


Dear John

Paying a reader to give you notes on your script is like paying a prostitute to give you notes on your sexual technique.

Yes, they’re a professional.
Yes, they’re good at what they do.
And yes, if you’re just starting out there’s a case to be made that advice from someone who’s been around the blocks a few times is going to help.

But in the long term, both of them have a vested interest in continuing to receive your custom. And that means two things.

One: You’re never going to be told you’re that bad
Two: You’re never going to be told you’re that good.

To keep your custom, they have to always see that there’s room for improvement, while also approving of your current skills and grasp of technique. Especially the techniques that they happen to like.

Now, if they’re being paid by someone else to judge your work, then you can trust ’em – to a point at least.

They might not like redheads, or muscleboys, or people who dress to the left, but that’s just life. If someone else is paying them to evaluate your performance and they don’t like you, that’s just incompatibility. Bad luck. And they can be as sharp as they like with their critique, because you never get to see it.

But if you’re the one paying for the evaluation, they’d be a fool not to give you what you’re asking for. Really asking for, which is recognition of the skills you’ve got, tips for improvement, and a haven’t-you-done-well.

Whether you actually have any skills, or need any improvement.

In other words, you get what you pay for. Not necessarily what you need.

Good and Bad

Memed by the delightful Lara to answer the following question:

“When it comes to writing, what do you know you’re good at, and what aspect of writing are you worst at? (Procrastination is not permitted as either part of the answer.)”

What do I know I’m good at? Nothing, for sure yet. I’m still moving through my apprenticeship here, so there’s lots of work to do in all areas.

But I’ve just spent the last half-hour or so going through various bits of feedback over the last couple of years, and the answer right now seems to be:

Good at: set-pieces, high concept, story.
Less good at: creating characters. (I’m fine working with other people’s, but I get notes on characterisation for those I’ve created from scratch.)

So I guess that’s what I’ll be trying to improve in 2009.

Passing on the question to Gallagher, Smith, Arnopp, and Perry.