I read two articles on two different mainstream propaganda-vents, yesterday. One shameless vent of Normative Neoliberality, The Guardian (UK), presented a text about the Mark Field scandal. The other vent, Slate (US), presented an advice column dissecting a picayune corner of the ethical minefield of 21st century dating (I still kiss the ground, and my Wife’s feet, in gratitude that I escaped the dating arena so early, in 2004: I spontaneously nuzzle my Wife’s neck and stroke her hands, and tenderly grab her boobs and arse, all day long, and She grabs my arse and my balls –gingerly— a couple of times per day, neither of us ever asking permission first: Xanadu).
If you’re a Yank you probably have no idea what Mark Field is or who he’s done (sic), so, to fill you in:
They came wearing red evening dresses and sashes, like something from a bygone age of suffragette protests. Or perhaps that should be suffragists, the more peaceful wing of the movement. For the climate crisis campaigners who set out to disrupt the chancellor’s annual Mansion House speech to the City had done all they could to look unthreatening, knowing that politicians are understandably jumpy about personal security nowadays. The protest was female-led, Greenpeace explained, in the hope of keeping it calm.
Some hope. The police are investigating precisely what happened when protester Janet Barker walked behind the Conservative MP Mark Field, apparently heading towards the top table holding the great and good. But film of Field leaping up and grappling with her, before frog-marching her out with a hand around her neck, has gone viral for good reason. Whatever the police investigation concludes, it is hard to think of a more toxic image of Conservatism than an angry-looking man in black tie manhandling a woman away from a fancy banquet. Brute male force versus plucky female resistance; cosy privileged club versus outsider somewhere she wasn’t invited. No wonder we can’t stop watching and re-watching it.
I think we all remember a time when Protesters expected to be hosed, clubbed, teargassed, Tasered, Half-Nelsoned or worse, upon executing a plan to disrupt a Corp/Gov event or for hijacking the visibility of a Corp/Gov event to send a Counter-Cultural message to a large audience. I mean, if your protest doesn’t piss THEM off, it’s so harmless that it’s pointless, right? Not that I believe that any protest that doesn’t feature at least a million people, jamming things up for at least a week, will have any impact…
[Sidebar: which brings us, temporarily, to the interesting dilemma of The Hunger Strike, which is never chosen, it seems to me, because it’s ever proven to be an effective method for forcing a response, but merely because for prisoners, it’s the only tool or “leverage” at hand. Anyone who stages a Hunger Strike who isn’t also in prison, where protest options are terribly limited, is making a serious tactical blunder that can only either end in a loss of Face or Life.]
… but, let’s pretend, for a moment, that I think a Protester wearing a message-bearing sash, at a “fancy” dinner for posh bloodsuckers (who are of the bizarre unanimous apparent opinion that when they shit (if they shit) it comes out just great) isn’t wasting her time*. Does our Protester not take her Protest, and the Evil of the Enemy, and the Stakes of her Issue, seriously enough to walk in that room expecting some shit to hit the fan? Does she think she’s dealing with her parents? Does she think the issue is on a par with demanding her parents rescind her dating curfew? She went into Enemy Territory and the evil old bastard hustled her the fuck out. So? Did we expect him to say, “You raise an interesting point and I applaud your chutzpah … perhaps we can discuss this quietly over the main course…?”
The hyperbole of the “reporting” on the “scandal,” is, of course, cynically Political. But some columnists and readers seem to be taking Mark Field’s simplistic act quite seriously on an esoteric level, because, you know… did the Protester even sustain a bruise? No, it’s not that: a man has defiled a Sacred Cow by daring to touch her! Taboo! Haram!
I’m seeing the distinct outline of a richly irrational, luridly atavistic Religion shaping up. I’m quite sure it will center around Virginity and, obviously, it will feature, among its style-tools and devices, sleek Western Purdah-Burkas. Perhaps with attractive Smart Features. Not to enslave the Virgins but to protect them from the defiling auras and gazes of penii.
Makes all the diff, yes?
And next (and related) I read, at Slate, a letter from a reader seeking advice:
Dear How to Do It,
Recently, I went on a date with a woman I met on a dating app. It was pretty normal—we saw an exhibit and had a couple drinks. As we were leaving, I leaned to kiss her. She pulled away and was visibly distressed. I apologized and said I misread the situation, and she quickly made an excuse to leave. It was embarrassing and a little deflating, but it happens. I figured that was that. I didn’t hear from her for a few days, when she suddenly texted me a long and detailed message saying, among other things, that I had nearly assaulted her and it was never OK to go in for a kiss without asking first. She requested a phone conversation to talk through what happened, and I agreed. It was fine; she basically repeated what she had texted and I apologized and told her that I meant no disrespect. She said I should look hard at my understanding of consent. I was tempted to tell her she was being over the top, but she was upset so I rode it out. Am I right to think she was being over the top? We were not drunk, and I was not aggressive—I literally leaned in to kiss her, she pulled away, and that was it. It’s fine if she wants men to ask her before they kiss her, but I do not think that is standard practice. Is it?
Regarding which a Panel of Experts (one Gay Male and a Woman I couldn’t parse) squandered a few pages of analysis without once remarking that, for example, “This woman sounds like a Control-Freaking Narcissist with Delusions of Grandeur who’s calling you on the carpet to rub your nose in the puppy shit you didn’t even leave on the carpet… it was her shit and she moved it to the carpet and rubbed your obsequious nose in it. You were too fearful of the implicit threat of a social media Witch Hunt to be frank with her about her self-obsessed response to your wholly human, awkward, non-threatening and harmless attempt at kissing her, and your response to her rejection of said attempt. Knowing what we know now, her rejection of your sad kiss was incredibly lucky for you.”
With the caveat that this is all contingent on the possibility that the fellow’s letter was an honest description of the event. Which goes without saying for the questions/ problems sent in to any such “advice column”. But what we all read these things for is not the veracity of the original question-poser but the feeling-tone of the response or “advice”. Which will often key rather closely to the overall ambience of the Kultcha…
… which is in a horrible place, as we know, and rapidly deteriorating.
*[Sidebar 2: the really interesting thing about a supposedly-progressive Protester interrupting a vampire’s banquet with a “Climate Change” sash is that brainwashing Serfs into being terrified of C02… aka, Plant Air… is a NeoLiberal scheme to protect fossil fuels by “regulating” them instead of replacing them with effectively-limitless Solar, a blindingly (no pun intended) obvious solution the technology for which has been sabotaged, diverted and discouraged by the same industry secretly behind getting us all in a panic about C02, which isn’t even a real problem. A thousand other knock-on effects, and byproducts, of Fossil Fuel are genuinely poisoning the biosphere and degrading the landscape and distorting society, among which being Super Highways, Sulfur Dioxide and Oil Wars… but The Fuckers in Charge have got everyone hypnotized into thinking that cutting C02 emissions will do anything but retard the life-giving cycle of rain forest growth and oxygen regeneration. Big Oil is a wing of the Real (not just ceremonial) Government and, while wearing a mask, is advocating for a useless form of “regulation” (of C02) which they will not only be in charge of but will profit enormously from (in the Carbon Trading market, for starters)… When was the last time Solar Energy got a headline? Why aren’t adorably “Aryan” Norwegian schoolkids advocating for Solar? The double-dividend-paying genius of “Global Warming… er, I mean… Climate Change” Alarmism is that it positions the Sun (the solution to all our energy needs for the next billion years), subliminally, as an enemy. These (Right Wing) people are not The Stupid Ones. Ahem. We are.
Where was I…? Ah yes.
So, in effect, the Tories are aligned with the Right Wing machinery behind the Useful Idiot who wore the sash to their blood lunch… ironies, as ever, abound, permutate and ramify. But THIS should be your takeaway from this digression: do NOT “regulate” C02 with the Right Wing cash cow of Carbon Trading… ABOLISH fossil fuels and replace them with Solar. Period. Ignore the little voices piping up, here and there, about “reconsidering nuclear”… these voices are Fossil Fuel plants (no pun intended) inserted to scare us back into the awful arms of Coal and Oil and natural gas…]