Men, will you stop posting #MeToo on your social media timelines

“The point is, there is a huge historical and social context behind the harassment of women that does not apply to men.”

It’s depressing at the best of times, logging on to Facebook, Twitter or whatever and seeing laid bare the non-workings of the modern human mind. There is an audible grinding noise as posters try to get their heads around the simplest of issues and finally come up with something that has all the charm and meaning of a splash of vomit in a cake shop.

It was bad enough when people who could barely locate the city on a map and knew no more of the language than what they’d gleaned from The Pink Panther flew the tricolour on their profile picture in the wake of the Paris massacre and declared they were actually French.

Now men are posting the #MeToo tag on their timeline as if they had personally had Harvey Weinstein’s hand down the front of their boxers.

Yes, men can be sexually harassed, and it does happen. Yes, men can feel violated by such experiences and it does happen. But no, however disturbing your male experience, it is not the same kind of thing that women are talking about. And in thinking there is some equivalence, you are being, well, a bit embarrassing, really.

Your ‘Me Too’ is not the ‘Me Too’ of someone who has experienced systemic (and sometimes systematic) harassment, abuse, control, or assault. Your ‘Me Too’ is the ‘Me Too! Me Too! Me Too!’ of a small child who has spotted a game the cool kids are playing and wants in.

#MeToo is not a bandwagon. It’s a device that illustrates something that half the world’s population has to deal with and which men don’t.

Rather than seeing this as a worthy trend like an LBGT rainbow on your profile pic, we probably ought to be looking at your timeline and paying attention to the enormous number of women acquaintances who are posting the Me Too hashtag. We might reflect that those messages are the tip of the iceberg, because many women will have chosen not to participate in this campaign.

I am a straight male and I too have experienced sexual harassment. I have had one truly disturbing experience when a man thought he could use what he perceived as a power relationship and what he thought was an exploitable vulnerability of me living and working in his country without proper documentation in order to do things I didn’t want to do. And he did this in a more or less public place surrounded by buddies who seemed to be sympathetic to his ambitions. I think a great number of women will recognise that situation or something very like it.

Although very unsettled and somewhat frightened, I was able to get away from that incident intact, and, better than that, was able to remove myself from that arsehole’s orbit completely.

That was thirty years ago and still today, in the darkest hours of insomnia, that memory creeps out of its memory hole and gibbers at me.

However alarming, it’s still not the same as what women deal with because it was a one-off, it was not a feature of my existence as a male; it had not happened before, it has not happened since; it is not something that happens to my male friends, and crucially, it is not a hazard of being my gender.

As for the unwanted attentions of women, is there not — be honest straight guys — a smidgen of ‘Of course she would want a bit of me, what woman wouldn’t?’ and how intimidated or violated do we really feel after those experiences even when we were (lucky enough to be) groped?

Let’s face it, a great number of men who express outrage at unwanted attentions and intrusive behaviour from women are probably only outraged that a woman has taken the initiative in what the man thinks is his prerogative.

Male Me Too posters can never and should never assume that any experiences they have had are equivalent to what women put up with on a daily basis.

“It’s a bit of a giveaway that men have built around women a cutting-edge, world-encompassing technology of masturbation.”

The point is, there is a huge historical and social context behind the harassment of women that does not apply to men. In various cultures at various times, widows have been murdered to accompany their departed husbands into the afterlife, girls have been sold for dowries because women are, as we all know, unproductive and a burden to men except when cooking their food, washing our clothes, bearing our children, or giving us oral relief. Women have had to fight to get jobs, vote, drive cars, or be seen in public. Women are promoted less, paid less, and more likely to be exploited for such advancements than a man, who only has to put up with matey beers and golf on weekends to get ahead; getting the leg up without the leg over, as it were.

If we as men were regarded by 50 per cent of the human race as less capable, emotionally unstable, and as chattels; things regarded with entitlement; as objects to be touched, prodded, coerced, ordered around, slapped on the bum, told our heads are full of cotton, hay and rags, and then appraised for shagability before being even asked our name, our experience of harassment might be equivalent to that of women.

But it isn’t.

So don’t post.

And men, we might ask ourselves this — and women might ask men the same thing — is this urge to share in women’s trauma a means to bond through sympathy or a means to bond in the hope of getting laid?

Let’s face it, the historical male view of women is a bit single-minded.

It’s a bit of a giveaway that men have built around women a cutting-edge, world-encompassing technology of masturbation. It’s called it the internet and we have networked every possible thing that might have computing power in order to share pictures of bare bottoms. In doing this we have wanked into enough tissues to cause a worldwide crisis of deforestation. Even as I write this, men are creating new technologies in order to build sex robots that will do the things we believe from porn that women should do and that real women are dismissed as slags for not doing.

There is some hope I suppose that the sex robots will be such a turn-on that men will finally leave women alone — after all, when did rubber and aluminium ever press charges or insist on conversation or demand you don’t wear your shoes in bed?

But if that doesn’t happen, we’ll have to rely on men actually learning not to see women as something to neg or grab, and that doesn’t leave much space for optimism. After thousands of years men have not shown much aptitude for learning. We have still not learned, for example, not to have wars, drink pints of creme de menthe for a bet, or insert objects in our own urethras.

To go back to an earlier point, it seems from the proliferation of #MeToo posts that almost every woman has been harassed. Surely that implies that almost every man has at some point harassed a woman. The darker, hidden text of the male #MeToo is that it could just as well mean, ‘Yes, me too, I’ve harassed women.’

So, stop posting that #MeToo. You’re looking like, well, a bit of a twat, really.

 

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Engerland uber alles — a brainspotter’s guide

I’ve been doodling.

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Immigration, immigration, immigration

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In memory of torsos

At the end of Japan’s furious summer, it is cool enough this weekend to actually want to wear a shirt. So I doodled this as a farewell to pale torsos.

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Sounds like TV

It’s a very wet Saturday afternoon, looking at an even wetter Sunday, so what better than a spot of TV? Well, scraping your own face off with a rusty hacksaw is better than TV, and that’s just the first option that comes to mind.

How about some music then?

The Normal’s TVOD was one of the first singles I ever bought. That was in 1978. Does that make me one the coolest people you know. TVOD was apparently recorded in The Normal’s bathroom. And, yes, it does sound like it. Which is part of its enduring appeal. TVOD was backed with Warm Leatherette, which seems to be a musical version of JG Ballard’s Crash. Crash was rejected by one publisher with the words: ‘This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish,’ which Ballard regarded as a score. But I digress.

Frank Zappa. Nuff said:

Kill Your Television. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. We saw these guys when my wife was about eight months pregnant with our firstborn, and, twenty-five years later, I don’t think our firstborn has got the ringing out of his ears yet.

So. There you go. World Television Day, declared by the UN, no less, is November 21st. Won’t be seeing you.

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Mr Holger Czukay. You will be missed.

czukay100So farewell, Holger Czukay, musical pioneer, humorist, inspiration, and a close personal deity of mine. We are going to miss his timeless artistry and zany humour, which made the madness of this world look really silly.

I had the enormous luck and privilege of interviewing Mr Czukay some years ago and then meeting him in person when he subsequently came to Japan.

They say don’t meet your heroes but I came away even more childishly in awe of this one.

Highlight: on hearing my accent, this German, born into the carnage of the second world war, told me that back in the day he used to travel internationally in the uniform of a British naval officer. Because, he explained, no one messes with the British navy.

I learned tonight that Mr Czukay’s wife Ursula died in July this year and was reminded that his partner and collaborator in rhythm, drummer Jaki Liebezeit, died in January.

Can’t sign off without leaving you with one of his songs.

Ode to Perfume (From the album On the Way to the Peak of Normal — one of the best album titles ever.)

OK. Two of his songs. Here’s Paperhouse from CAN’s Tago Mago, one of my favourite albums in the history of the universe.

OK. Three of his compositions. Something completely different, the hauntingly ethereal and beautiful Boat Woman Song from Canaxis, which, incredibly, he made in 1968, before CAN even got going.

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Tweety tweety tweetvert

Tweetverts for the recent book, Sanctioned.

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All my own work (the tweetverts and the book).

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I tracked down the actual fonts used by The Sun and copied their typography for maximum tabloid effect. (Any echoes of Barbara Kruger may not be entirely accidental.)

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Engagement with my tweets has noticeably gone up since I started bleeping out these.

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Made with InDesign, Photoshop, and lots and lots of tea.

Yes, you may commission me for graphic projects. Tweetverts for the recent book, Sanctioned.

 

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So, has someone been posting stuff on social media without checking its authenticity?

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This ominous ‘Welcome to Australia’ image has been doing the rounds on social media, posted and liked by people I would normally consider to be humane and intelligent, who clearly feel — though none of them are actually Australian — that the message has something to say that resonates with them.

One problem here: this photograph isn’t real. The photo isn’t real and the issue behind it isn’t real.

The fact that the ‘sign’ for migrants is posted on a country road in Australia, a nation that has no land borders, probably ought to set those critical thinking bells ringing.

The posters might also have asked themselves why the Australian government would put up such an inflammatory sign at all, let alone on a country backroad. Not very governmental, is it.

Yes, the image is a Photoshop job. No such sign was ever made by the Australian government.

The image was apparently created and disseminated by an Australian race hate outfit called Freedom of Speech Productions (you can see their logo imposed on the picture), which is associated with the Australian Tea Party (still no alarm bells ringing with the people who posted it?)

It’s a shoddy fake too. The quality of the graphics (the perspective is off, too many full stops and there’s a general realism issue) tells you that this was cobbled together by a chap who is disabled by an awful skin disease in between desperate wanks over some not-quite-legal site.

Clearly the image taps into the myth that there are hordes of people coming over ‘here’ (insert name your country) to sponge off ordinaryhardworkingpeopleeveverywhere, and bring the state to its financial knees, steal the gold from your grandmother’s teeth, etc., etc.

You might be interested to know that not so long ago there was a study done to identify these foreign scroungers in the UK, and find out just how much they were costing the country. You might be even more interested to know that the study was unable to find any of these alleged spongers. The problem is, you see, they don’t actually fucking exist.

Not only are they not a millstone on the necks of ordinaryhardworkingpeopleeveverywhere, they just are not.

The scrounging hordes were made up by the tabloids and UKIP and the right wing. Funny how we didn’t hear about that study in the Telegraph, the Mail, the Sun, the Express, the BBC, etc.

Reality check: you can’t claim benefits in the UK if you are not British or an EU citizen. Simple as. Even simpler than that, you can’t claim benefits in the UK even if you are a UK citizen if you are not ordinarily resident in the country. Yes, I know that arcane little nugget because I am a UK citizen not ordinarily resident in the UK. The fact that I actually pay (albeit modest) taxes in the country is irrelevant to the bureaucracy. I don’t live there, so fuck off me!

Still more basic than all that, my children — kids of a UK citizen — cannot use NHS services without paying because they have non-EU passports. Yes, I found that out the hard way too when one got sick on a trip to Britain.

So, if non-resident Brits can’t use Britain’s health and welfare services, what chance does a random scrounger from Foreignstan have?

All this talk of sponging, freeloading, scrounging hordes from other countries is bollocks. Absolute bollocks. And then more bollocks. It is the absolute Platonic form of bollocks for fuck’s sake. It’s all as real as the fake sign.

Of course people admitted as refugees will get limited state support. But it is very small, as is the numbers of people — small handfuls — admitted to the country is minute and will have no discernible impact on the economy (except to contribute to it when they start working).

If we want to talk about freeloaders — and there is a conversation to be had about freeloaders — perhaps we could start with tax avoiders. Google, Starbucks, Amazon, are foreigners who do come over here cap in hand and then pay little or no tax on business done within the UK. Look at the recent deal done between the Conservative government and Google, which let the company off something like 80 per cent of its tax bill. Imagine if you or I went to the tax man and said I don’t feel like paying all this, so let’s do a deal.’ Yes, we’d end up in prison.

While the UK admits fewer than 20,000 refugees per year, most of whom will work for a living, tax avoidance by big companies comes to £120 billion per year. Which do you think is the bigger problem?

So welcome to your reality check. If you want to be taken seriously check your facts. Credibility is not free.

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Bollocks to summer!

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Sanctioned!

IMG_2401The first shipment of copies of Sanctioned (the new novel by Chris Page, for those one or two of you who don’t yet know) has arrived chez Page.

Anyone who wishes to get a copy direct from me, rather than from Amazon, just please let me know on psipook at psipook dot com

Oh, by the way: woo hoo!

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