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July 01, 2014

Comments

Frank

Quite simply, semi-educated and barking.

Karen M

Is that what womanliness, your womanliness, is like?

Er… no.

Or… is there something not entirely representative about Ms Penny and her lurid mental adventures?

Er… yes. Next question.

Lancastrian Oik

"Study after vaunted study"

That's like English, only different.

Karen M

Sometimes we get called rebels and degenerates and troublemakers, and sometimes we are known to the police. And sometimes, in the narrow hours of the night, we call ourselves feminists.

Ha. That's how Penny Dreadful describes *herself* all the time - 'radical', 'reprobate' - and hasn't she tried her damnedest to be "known to the police"? It's her fantasy reputation.

Trail after Darius

Don't worry: demographic trends mean that Laurie Penny and her ideology are utterly doomed. As the average IQ of the UK rises and the average tendency to vote for left-wing parties falls, she will increasingly be seen for what she is: a shrill fantasist disconnected from any kind of reality. And when the day comes, I'm sure there'll be recognition a-plenty for those (such as yourself/ves) who helped sweep her and her fatuous rhetoric into the dustbin of history.

This also applies to the United States. The left are blind in many ways, but particularly blind about how to encourage more power and influence for the left.

David

That’s how Penny Dreadful describes *herself* all the time… It’s her fantasy reputation.

Yes, it’s a bit rich to spend years desperately cultivating an image of radicalism – from Wadham College “riot girl” to “occupier” to whatever it is this week – and then pretend that reputation is someone else’s doing. As if anyone else cared half as much as she does.

Bart

"Sometimes we get called rebels and degenerates and troublemakers, and sometimes we are known to the police"

Yeah, she got us. Whenever I visit my local Secret Patriarchy Hideout, my fellows are forever tugging their muttonchops in frustration and yelling "what is to be done about this dangerous radical Laurie? None of us think she's a rather silly person from a nice background whose unconvingingly LARPing at being a rebel. Rather, we think she's a genuine subversive whose seemingly cushy media gigs for establishment publications are, in fact, every bit as radical and outrageous as the stuff people like Pancho Villa did. I bet she gets into loads of trouble with the police and everything."

We then all harrumph in disapproval.

Smudger

Gah. Again.

And these people presume to tell us what to do. (That's totally my Phrase of Derision this season).

rjmadden

I'm confused. Is she trying to tell us that women can cope or that they can't?

Lancastrian Oik

Women have all this equality and opportunity now, but we can't handle it. Maybe we weren't meant to have it in the first place.

Oops.

Waving goodbye to the friends I'd made there from the window of a taxi taking me hell knows where...

Let me get this straight- she was discharged from a psychiatric ward as a minor, got into a taxi and said to the driver "Just take me somewhere. Anywhere". That's like some sort of alternative ending to "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". It just didn't happen, did it?

David

I’m confused. Is she trying to tell us that women can cope or that they can’t?

It’s hard to tell. She does seem to be having her argument both ways. And so it’s definitely a myth that young women are “terminally unable to cope with the exigencies of adult life” – a “myth that pleases the powerful” – and yet women as a class of beings are apparently riddled with neuroses about weight and are starving themselves, and dreading whatever lurks in “patriarchal space.” All according to a young woman whose own coping strategies included quite serious self-harm.

As an exemplar of her own claims, and of womanhood in general, I fear Laurie isn’t ideal.

Watcher In The Dark

"the bewildering array of life choices modern society offers us, from vaginal butchery to jobs in the service sector"

'Vaginal butchery' is a choice? For who, exactly? The very young girls subjected to it 'for cultural reasons' perhaps? Or do Ms Penny's women friends -- when they are not applying for those public service jobs we need so much -- slip away to a friendly 'doctor' and ask to be done, thus exercising their rightful choice?

Perhaps Ms Penny will eventually publish an exhaustive A to Z of all these bewildering arrays so we lesser mortals can appreciate them fully.

sackcloth and ashes

'Let me get this straight- she was discharged from a psychiatric ward as a minor, got into a taxi and said to the driver "Just take me somewhere. Anywhere". That's like some sort of alternative ending to "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". It just didn't happen, did it?'

She has form. She told a few tall tales about her time as a burlesque dancer that were Hariesque, to put it mildly.

R. Sherman

Well, that excerpt gave me a headache. Reading it was like confronting a box filled with the pieces of ten or so different jigsaw puzzles. Is this bit from the Grand Canyon or Neuschwanstein? Who knows? Time to just throw the whole mess away.

David

She has form. She told a few tall tales about her time as a burlesque dancer that were Hariesque, to put it mildly.

Yes, Laurie does have a history of being caught taking liberties with reality. It’s a strange thing to watch in real time.

splotchy

I do genuinely fear for Laurie Penny's sanity - this is more than the usual narcissism and self-promotion which typifies her work. The absence of supporting evidence or balance is also quite usual for her.

There is real undiluted paranoia and complete disconnect with reality in this latest piece. Most young girls (and indeed boys) have tried to emulate what they see around them, whether they are from cartoons, storybooks, films, magazines or other media. But the thing is virtually all of us mature out of it. Most realise that Keira Knightley's pared waist is about as implausible as Penelope Pitstop's, ie a recognition that the meedja are selling us a fantasy - one which can entertain and of which there is the choice to enjoy or avoid. In other words, people grow up and get a sense of perspective, and get on with their lives. No-one compels anyone to look at, or buy, or run their life according to any sort of image, let alone that of starvation & self-harm.

But not Laurie. Nope, it is all a devious machinating plot against wimminhood and against her in particular where she is compelled to gaze for hours on end at those 'front pages of celebrity magazines'. Nothing to do with her, her choices, her reactions, how her parents reared her or what she decided was important to her. No, it's the evil patriarchy with its crosswires malevolently focussed on one Laurie Penny. I feel terribly sorry for her; she must be incredibly, needlessly unhappy.

pst314

"And sometimes, in the narrow hours of the night..."

Are the daytime hours somehow wider? Oh, she's being lit'rary. Or thinks she is.

pst314

"...the bewildering array of life choices modern society offers us...so overwhelmed by the range of options that it has an ungrateful tantrum..."

As a matter of fact, I have known feminist leftoids who were very unhappy that grocery stores offered such a large variety of foods. (More than one brand and variety of chicken soup! More than one of so many things! How can anyone choose from this oppressive variety? And they were bewildered and offended by the presence of a coffee shop on "every" block: Why not just one large coffee shop, operated presumably by an efficient people's collective?

"Freedom of choice is what you got. Freedom from choice is what you want..."

David

Sometimes we get called rebels and degenerates

Let’s see. Laurie thinks it’s cool to spit at women she doesn’t actually know. She also thinks that abusing polite security staff is something to applaud. And of course she thinks that smashing other people’s property, their windows for instance, isn’t an act of violence. Even when terrified people are cowering inside.

Not exactly rebellious in any meaningful sense. But degenerate… well, maybe.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

My Battle With Toast

By Laurie Penny

The toast just sat there passively, on a plate, like a virgin bride on her wedding night.

Waiting to be devoured.

I looked at the toast. She had once - only minutes before - been an innocent slice of Hovis Best of Both. Now she lay defiled, tanned to an artificial bronze by a DeLonghi toaster and tarted up with a smear of sugary jam. Her innocence destroyed. Forced to be delicious for others to consume with orange juice or perhaps coffee, exactly like a girl.

Moments passed. The toast remained conspicuously silent.

"What the fuck do you want me to do?" I implored. "I'm just a fucked up girl in a fucked up world. Have you even seen Girl, Interrupted? I'm exactly like Winona Ryder, only younger and prettier and less shopliftey!"

If the toast had any thoughts on that, she was keeping them to herself.

"Fine! Be that way!" I folded my arms and stamped my foot.

The toast was as stoic as ever, but I thought I saw a slight quiver in her glistening jam. Men would be terrified of the obvious menstrual symbolism, which is why all men hate jam. But I'm a feminist.

I tried a different approach.

"I'm really very sorry. You see, we're both victims here. The powerful want me to starve - to diet away till I'm so light that I float into space, like John Lithgow in Santa Claus: The Movie, except he was a patriarchal capitalist bastard and deserved it, and I'm beautiful and good and pretty!"

"It's not your fault that they made you so delicious and programmed me to want you with adverts of Yorkshire boys pushing you up cobbled streets to Old Ma Peggarty. But I need your nourishing goodness. One day I shall avenge you, but today I must snaffle you!"

The tears burned hot down my dainty, elfin features as I ate the toast.

"Forgive me..." I murmured, my mind already roiling at the next daunting ordeal I would be forced to confront that morning: what shoes to wear?

The life of a girl in 21st century patriarchal Britain is a symphony of agonies literally played on the flesh of the powerless by the sadistic conductors of Con-Dem austerity. But some of us fight back, one slice at a time.

Lancastrian Oik
Chris N

I have to confess, after being introduced to Ms. Penny's work, not only have I come to rely upon her razor-sharp analytical skills, keen-eye, and biting wit, I've become a convert. She's converted me.

Is there a Mr. Penny in the picture?

Can anyone but Marx's big red ghost stand a chance?

Mojo

Another book? Jumping jeebus, how many can she exude?

I always liked Harper Lee. She had something to say, she said it extremely we'll, and then, when she was done, she shut up. Never wrote another book.

Some people could learn from her example. But probably not.

Tim Newman

I always liked Harper Lee. She had something to say, she said it extremely we'll, and then, when she was done, she shut up. Never wrote another book.

Margaret Mitchell too. Maybe there's something about these Deep South American women that contemporary British radical feminists could learn from?

JuliaM

"She told a few tall tales about her time as a burlesque dancer that were Hariesque, to put it mildly."

Thanks, Sackcloth & Ashes, now I can't get the image of Johann Hari in a burlesque routine out of my head.

RNB

"Margaret Mitchell too." Getting run over by a taxi cab probably slowed her down.

David

I can’t get the image of Johann Hari in a burlesque routine out of my head.

I’m sorry, madam, but if you’re getting a hit off that mental image there will be a handling charge.

dicentra

in the narrow hours of the night, we call ourselves feminists

Not for love or money.

I hate women. Whiny, entitled bitchez anyway.

David

di,

I hate women. Whiny, entitled bitchez anyway.

Heh. That’s the irony. If you were to base your estimation of womanhood on Ms Penny and her peers you’d probably arrive at conclusion deeply unfair to almost every woman I know. The other irony being that if you wanted to unhinge a young woman’s mind and make her impossible to take seriously, you might do it by encouraging her to cultivate the endless tics and neurotic signalling of Laurie’s own political theatre.

Hal

. . . . . . . . Dear Penny.

While we note that you have succeeded in printing out a bunch of pages of random text, Nanowrimo isn't until November . . .

Theophrastus

In the midst of an obesity epidemic, Laurie Penny believes that most young women are starving themselves...

Dr Cromarty

Women according to Penny: passive, powerless, lacking self-control, cowering, complacent, docile. She must really hate women.

johnd2008

Most of the women round our way are certainly not starving themselves.

splotchy

I don't think Penny hates women. But she has a terribly low opinion of them - she assumes they have no brains, no choice, no preferences and are forever in a vortex of submissive confusion whenever they do any of the following:
-eat
-get a haircut
-shave their armpits, or heaven forfend, anything else
-have sex
-go to work
-walk past a magazine
-go shopping
-go to a bar
-watch sport
-play sport
-talk to anyone
-write anything
-think

Amazingly, all the women I know are in contrast, strangely unbothered and just seem to be getting on with life, myself included. Which makes Penny seem rather unique in her anguish, and in the continued absence of any reasoned explanation, something of a mystery.

Hal

Which makes Penny seem rather unique in her anguish, and in the continued absence of any reasoned explanation, something of a mystery.

It's nice to have a hobby.

dicentra

Which makes Penny seem rather unique in her anguish, and in the continued absence of any reasoned explanation, something of a mystery.

Imagine the device that illuminates the screen of a movie theater and you'll have your answer.

Henry

I hate women. Whiny, entitled bitchez anyway

That's several months in the correction booth, right there, for saying that.

(I do so like the correction booth)

witwoud

Oooh, now I want to go in the correction booth. Is it plush? I bet it's plush.

Hal

Oooh, now I want to go in the correction booth. Is it plush? I bet it's plush.


Oh, it's just the comfy chair all over again . . . .

randian

Is she using "vaginal butchery" as a synonym for "childbirth"?

Dom

"Amazingly, all the women I know are in contrast, strangely unbothered and just seem to be getting on with life"

I wonder if more men than women read her stuff.

Henry

Oooh, now I want to go in the correction booth. Is it plush? I bet it's plush

Nay. It's somewhat more rewarding sending others there. Prolonged exposure can turn the hardest of men into this

You don't want to mess with the correction booth.

(it's been a hard day. Come heavy sleep)

splotchy

I wonder if more men than women read her stuff.

I wonder what her target market is? For sure, even at the graun, judging by the comments on CIF, with about a third moderated out and the majority of the rest somewhat scathing, her present article hasn't exactly set the world alight. She has a sycophantic entourage on twitter, but who doesn't?

I know of a few men (young, bearded, sandalled, dim, virginal), who will try to sound reverent of Penny, but this comes across as a strategy to enhance their chances of getting laid, given their female peers lean towards clonish leftism.

I don't know a single woman above the age of 25 who wouldn't be mortified by Penny's passive submission to media/marketing, her anger, and 'poor oppressed me' brand of female victimhood.

David

[ Laughs at the word virginal and heads for bed. ]

Hal

I don't know a single woman above the age of 25 who wouldn't be mortified by Penny's passive submission . . . .

Ehn, I would argue that I probably don't know of any women of any age who would be mortified at all . . . Then again, of the lot I hang out with on multiple occasions, one in particular recently noted that hipsters are proof of the existence of the autonomic nervous system; When you've got someone of either gender who is clearly too stupid to remember to breathe, then _something_ has to be holding off the asphyxiation . . . . And the rest of us don't feel the least bit mortified at the existence of an exercise in herding . . .

splotchy

The mortification is that of being tarnished by association, given that Penny speaketh for all women, with her regal "we".

It is just possible there are gullible souls out there who read her nonsense and conclude that the women they meet are in constant torment should they spot a magazine or a tube of immac. Or dare to scoff a patriarchal slice of cake. Her silly feminist hyperbole demeans women and I object to that!

TimP

The thing I note about most radical feminists is that if their view of women was accurate (a bundle of neuroses controlled by the pretty pictures on the TV, ready to have at least a mini-breakdown at the slightest provocation), well, benevolent patriarchy would be the only moral social structure, but yet they are basically trying to bring in a matriarchy, which given their view of women is blatantly insane.

As an aside we do see the same problem to a lesser extent in general society too; women are equals to men right up until a woman has to face the consequences of her poor or immoral decisions (and women, not actually being perfect despite some of the claims, do make poor decisions just the same as men), and then it's "She's only a women, we should make sure she doesn't suffer". Most people never actually express these two opinions in obvious terms, and especially not in the same article though.

JeremiadBullfrog

Whenever I read this kind of Leftist ranting, I wonder how much contact with a variety of real people these defenders of diverse/multicultural society actually have.

Society understands that young girls are fucked up. That's part of their charm.

When I was younger, I dated some young girls who I later found out were pretty fucked up. "Charming" is not the word I would use to describe my experiences.

From boardrooms to the streets, women's anxiety to keep our body mass as low as possible is based on legitimate fears that we will be punished if we attempt fully to enter patriarchal space.

Ace had a great post a while back about how popular social ideals of female beauty have much less to do with what men desire than with inter-female competition. While it's true there's a rail-thin ideal out there, I know for a fact that lots of guys aren't really into that. Many of us favor a woman who won't snap like a twig.

dicentra

Oh, it's just the comfy chair all over again . . . .

Huh. I didn't expect that.

dicentra

popular social ideals of female beauty have much less to do with what men desire than with inter-female competition

Oh, God, yes. Women do not — I repeat DO NOT — dress to impress men but to intimidate each other. All other women, especially those in the magazines (women's or lad's) and movies, are the competition.

Straight men are not impressed by women's clothing except to the extent it reveals what's underneath. Men don't give a rip whether shoulder pads or pleated skirts or earth tones are in style.

It's all to tell other women to Look Upon Me And Despair, ya wannabes.

Dennis Prager goes to great lengths to tell women that when a man looks at a lingerie magazine, he's not comparing those women to his wife/girlfriend; however, Dennis he fails to understand that we women compare ourselves to those woman and we know how gorgeous, flawless, and sexy they are.

He's admiring The Competition, see. If he likes them dames, then he can't help but notice how dowdy we are in comparison.

Right? RIGHT?

MikeG81

As an aside we do see the same problem to a lesser extent in general society too; women are equals to men right up until a woman has to face the consequences of her poor or immoral decisions (and women, not actually being perfect despite some of the claims, do make poor decisions just the same as men), and then it's "She's only a women, we should make sure she doesn't suffer". Most people never actually express these two opinions in obvious terms, and especially not in the same article though.

Cue my cancer researcher/professional student sister who blathers about equality, but when the garbage has to be taken out or needs assistance to avoid the disaster of the canopy blowing off the deck at the cottage, well, that's "mans work".

David

The toast just sat there passively, on a plate, like a virgin bride on her wedding night. Waiting to be devoured.

Heh. Quite.

If Laurie’s rise to minor stardom has revealed anything, it’s that sound argument (or any argument at all) is much less important than emotional hyperbole and “radical” attitudinising. Presumably her audience likes her conclusions and doesn’t much care how one arrives at them or whether they’re supportable. And so Laurie is on speed-dial at the BBC and is asked to write books of this, um, quality. Someone is buying this stuff. Not enough of them for Laurie to make a living as an author, but enough to raise an eyebrow.

Patrick Brown

I think "vaginal butchery" might be a reference to labiaplasty, otherwise universally known in the media as "designer vagina" cosmetic surgery. Which provoked a piece on the Daily Mash entitled "Your vagina is not a kitchen, women told", including such classic lines as:

Dr Julian Cook, a gynaecologist from Cambridge, said: “The vagina is, essentially, a part of the female reproductive system, rather than a bright yellow MFI catastrophe from the mid-70s.

“Unfortunately a lot of women want the lovely farmhouse vaginas they see in the Sunday Times magazine and before you know it there’s a couple of dodgy plumbers up there.

“You end up spending thousands of pounds on a vagina that’s filled with fancy accessories, when all you really need is a place to keep your yoghurt.

“So unless you’re planning on showing it to your dinner guests, I’d leave it as it is.”

May have some relevance to the "women competing with each other" conversation. As a heterosexual male I quite like vaginas, and this kind of thing makes me feel a bit ill.

JL

When I was younger, I dated some young girls who I later found out were pretty fucked up. "Charming" is not the word I would use to describe my experiences.

Amen, Brother.

Bart

Are you in a fledgling death metal band? Struggling to think of a good band name?

"vaginal butchery"

You're welcome.

Dr Cromarty

It's no wonder Laurie Penny looks peaky. All that posturing must be exhausting.

Surreptitious Evil

Is she using "vaginal butchery" as a synonym for "childbirth"?

I think "vaginal butchery" might be a reference to labiaplasty

I think Patrick is thinking too sensible and not enough "Penny Dreadful". I suspect Laurie is referring to vajazzling - something she deeply despises as yet another oppressive patriarchal weapon against the poor, powerless women.

It would be FGM, because that would require her to examine her support for multiculturalism. Which is, in fact, a point. If vajazzling (consensual, mostly harmless, most men utterly oblivious) is so evil yet FGM (mostly inflicted, serious side-effects, mostly enforced by women) is, well, a matter of honouring different cultures ... I would actually welcome (for once) her opinion. I'd note that she has form approving of gender segregation for "cultural reasons".

GC

Anyone who uses the term "genderqueer" deserves no mercy whatsoever.

Tim Newman

I had a hilarious email forwarded to me today by a colleague. He was working on a project run by a consortium of Russians, French, and Norwegians based in Moscow with the Russians being the major shareholder (the gas field is in Russia).

As is normal in Russian companies, the Communications Department decided to brighten things up by holding a "Ladies in Spring" photo contest, whereby female employees were invited to submit pictures of themselves in springtime with flowers. Quite a few pictures of outrageously good looking Russian girls were entered, before first a Norwegian man, and then a Norwegian woman, went apeshit, saying the whole contest was degrading to women who had fought hard to earn respect and equality in the workplace.

The problem is, Russian women aren't interested in western feminism, they like being feminine and ladylike, and submitting pictures of themselves with flowers. The Norwegian woman said "March 8th is a day when women celebrate being equal with men". Erm, not in Russia: there women sit back and wait for men to buy them flowers and champagne, congratulate them on their beauty, and then go off and get smashed. Nothing to do with equality, and it was the Russians who started it this whole International Women's Day (or at least made it a national holiday).

The funny thing is, we are always being told to be tolerant of other cultures, particularly when in their country...and nobody thought to hold even basic cultural awareness sessions for this consortium. But it's doubly funny because the rules state that the Norwegian should have respected the Russian cultural norm of having their women send in flower pictures; never before have I seen a foreigner so openly attack a cultural norm in such a manner, and I'm sure she only got away with it because it was a feminist issue.

I also have the sneaky suspicion that the objections arose due to the quality of photos being sent in...had they been fat cows in shell suits, Miss Norway wouldn't have said a word.

Nikw211

This seems perfectly reasonable:

    "I believe that the presence of urinals in men's rooms, along with a few stalls, allows these rooms to accommodate more users than women's bathrooms for approximately the same cost of construction. Men would say that this is economic equality. Granted, economic considerations are valid, but I contend that economic claims mask the deep-rooted reasons for inequality of access: men's desire to keep women at home."

From Toilets as a Feminist Issue: A True Story, which I confess I haven't read, here.

Trail after Darius

The funniest thing about Penny is that she doesn't see the sword of Damocles hanging above her head. A tidal wave of razor-sharp conservative intellects is about to trample her into the dustbin of history like a swarm of Uzi-toting Wildebeest on crack-laced steroids. Indeed, the tidal wave already has, on multiple occasions (see archives here). And she blithely continues spouting her nonsense to an international audience, year after year. After year. After year.

Thornavis.

From Toilets as a Feminist Issue: A True Story, which I confess I haven't read

Thanks for that link Nikw, I've skimmed it and it's as bonkers as you might expect. This for instance

I am sure some men find public urinals offensive.
Perhaps my male friend is so uncomfortable in public toilets because he
fears that his neighbors at the urinals are covertly comparing their genitals
to his, urinal curve notwithstanding. If this is the case, then the men most
likely to use public restrooms are either those who are secure enough that
they do not care about the size of their genitals or anyone else's, or those
men who like to look at men's genitals. Either way, perhaps women should
spend more time looking at who is using the men's room.

Of course the possibility that blokes use urinals because they need a piss is too fanciful to contemplate.

Here's the lowdown on what it's really all about, from a sporting perspective but definitely applicable in all circumstances it's the only way to get a proper measure of a chap.

http://www.kingcricket.co.uk/alastair-cook-opts-for-the-end-urinal/2014/06/18/

Nikw211

Of course the possibility that blokes use urinals because they need a piss is too fanciful to contemplate.

Buh-ha ha ha ; - )

David

When I see all these sullen dorks standing like political prisoners holding their “I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE…” signs, I wish that one of them could be honest and say they need feminism because they’re not naturally attractive to women.

Ouch. Reminds me of this strapping alpha male, who was ostentatiously fretting about whether his straightness might be oppressing people on Twitter.

Jonathan

"I believe that the presence of urinals in men's rooms, along with a few stalls, allows these rooms to accommodate more users than women's bathrooms for approximately the same cost of construction. Men would say that this is economic equality."

No. Men would say it's because urinals are smaller than cubicles.

dicentra

Men would say it's because urinals are smaller than cubicles.

And that these small urinals suffice because no disrobing is involved for male urination.

I attended a software conference once and lo, the men's bathrooms had long lines whereas the women's bathrooms were practically empty.

First time I'd seen that.

Wien1938.wordpress.com

To be honest, LP strikes me as a typically narcissistic attention-seeker, probably with a form of NPD. She writes this stream-of-consciousness bullshit to impress her audience and to gain approval.
There are so many of these deranged poseurs on the arty/pseudo-intellectual left that she has just succeeded in making a name for herself.
What is depressing is discovering that otherwise sensible women fall for this rubbish.

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