Saturday 24th of February 2024

a lot of tears followed...

victory girls

In 1943, Tucker painted "Victory Girls". It is a painting described as a grotesque night image of the young women who roamed the city, dressed in the victory colours of the allies, “making themselves available to the soldiers”.



A police officer at the time recorded these "before-#metoo" events:


"Melbourne with the large influx of troops is experiencing a condition of affairs that has hitherto been foreign to it… we are not able to deal with these young women as they should be dealt with … at night they frequent the streets looking for excitement. It strikes me they have no morals whatsoever.”


And then came the Weinsteins and the Rolf-Harrises who abused their positions to make inappropriate sexual gestures and performances in more recent times. The present counter-current of puritanism and prudent chastity of the #metoo-movement have now become the dead-end drivers of relationships — as well as the safe meeting of “decent”-other-sorts on websites. “Some intelligent lonely beautiful woman over 60 is waiting for you”. Old Gus can wait a few more years…


Against this, the counter-words in the 21st century (late 2018) streets and bars — and music concerts — from old rich codgers and young spunks (some gay) is that 30 (loose unofficial drunken estimate) per cent of men have been “sexually arrassed" by women recently. But there was no official complaints. These men were lucky they were not brought to justice for being deviants, after “refusals".


The association between loose morals and the spreading of venereal diseases by women was common during WW2 and it is still mentioned on slow news days, today. Despite women having “greater independence” at work — sex, before the sexual revolution, was still considered a male superior domain of influence. The men “who took advantage” of the females’ war offering, were thus seen as repulsive predators (or pigs) as seen in the painting.


Then, we entered the spaced-out world of “hippies” and of “free love” 20 years after the end of WW2. This is what the French filosofer and semi-sad satirist, Michel Houellebecq, has seen as the downfall of civilisation — the naked frolicking debauchery being brought on by liberalism, science and freedom from morals, rather than blame the fall of the civilised world on the status of unfinished wars, including the Vietnam war which was an eye opener onto the bad deeds of the West. 


The American Conservative James McElroy writes pith-fully about Houellebecq having entered Ross Douthat’s Yale University class (Douthat — a young filo gun —  also writes for The New York Times) and being beyond redemption…:



Who is the top conservative novelist today? One name that comes to mind is Michel Houellebecq, recently included by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on the syllabus for his Yale University class on conservatism. And while Houellebecq’s books offer interesting ideas on metaphysics, Islam in Europe, and how the market impacts our love lives, if the right is going to allow nihilistic novels of sexual depravity into its canon, there is a stronger author out there….


James McElroy continues:


Cormac McCarthy is the greatest living novelist. It’s actually strange that he and Houellebecq aren’t compared more often since both write from a similar worldview about similar topics. Neither is necessarily conservative but both represent well the “cultural pessimism” portion of the Right. And only by grasping why McCarthy is the superior writer can we see see the proper way this slice of conservatism should be integrated into the larger canon.

Conservative interest in Houellebecq stems from his criticisms of European liberalism, particularly his ideas on social isolation, the sexual revolution, and Islam. These are most clearly articulated in his novels The Elementary Particles and Submission. Houellebecq traces Europe’s cultural ennui to empiricist metaphysics that reduce the world to matter. He describes the sexual revolution of the ’60s and Europe’s recent embrace of Islam as symptoms of this disease.

In Elementary Particles, he sneers at the hippie “free love” element of the ’60s and describes how the sexual revolution represented the intrusion of market principles into human relations. According to Houellebecq, hookup culture is a competitive commodity market that breeds the same inequality seen in global capitalism. Submission recasts bleeding-heart platitudes about diversity and Islam as the apathetic shrug of a people deracinated from authentic culture. Though he once called Islam the world’s stupidest religion, his real target is the West’s cultural ennervation. Houellebecq’s pessimism will appeal to conservatives concerned with the future of the West.

Yet above and beyond those ideas, Houellebecq is interested primarily in Houellebecq. A close examination of his choices as a writer reveal the egotistical aspects of his imagination, which undermine his view of cultural pessimism. All of his protagonists are versions of himself; sometimes they even share his name. A certain amount of autobiography is permissible in novels, but Houellebecq’s self-obsession derails the form and structure of his art. For example, in the fourth chapter of Elementary Particles, the third-person narrative inexplicably switches to first person for a single sentence. This is amateur writing. Houellebecq also likes to plod away from the story to deliver streams of sexually explicit details. Occasionally this results in pitch black comedy, but more often it comes across as trying too hard to shock the pearl clutchers.

In Elementary Particles, this sloppy writing is covered up with a narrative structure designed to entice the reader. The protagonist is a scientist who has invented something that changed mankind, though we’re not told what, a tune-in-next-week tease that drags the reader through Houellebecq’s musings. But this is a gimmick, not a story. If Houellebecq were to place his art above his ego, he might wonder whether there was a contradiction in using the storytelling technique of mass-produced entertainment in order to interest readers in his criticisms of mass-produced entertainment. This lack of artistic vigor undermines his portrayal of a lack of vigor in the West, and the absolute pessimism is belied by the palpable joy Houellebecq takes in his provocations.

On the other hand, Cormac McCarthy seems genuinely anguished by his pessimism. McCarthy writes about murderers, scalp hunters, hobos with sacks full of bats, and cannibals. These nightmares are accompanied by Dostoevskian questions over the existence of God and the nature of evil. Not exactly cheery stuff. Like Houellebecq, McCarthy is interested in the after-effects of the Enlightenment’s metaphysical revolution, and he also casts doubt on the liberal project. But whereas in Houellebecq these ideas are tied together with egoism, with McCarthy they fall within an artistic vision. McCarthy’s primary interest is the limits of language, and his commitment to exploring them forces him to transcend the unrelenting darkness of his novels.




The American Conservative is not here to help the causes of “liberalism”. Nor is Ross Douthat at the New York Times… Nor is McCormack whose writings are more arthritic than artistic. Douthat and McElroy stick to the well-travelled pathways of touristic destinations. Full-on adventure is for the crazies and the sexually deprived individuals. Liberalism alla conservative needs depressive and pessimistic limits, sprinkled with hope.


Talking about the "limits' of languages, this is where we should go and visit Jacques Lacan:



It would be fair to say that there are few twentieth century thinkers who have had such a far-reaching influence on subsequent intellectual life in the humanities as Jacques Lacan. Lacan's "return to the meaning of Freud" profoundly changed the institutional face of the psychoanalytic movement internationally. His seminars in the 1950s were one of the formative environments of the currency of philosophical ideas that dominated French letters in the 1960s and'70s, and which has come to be known in the Anglophone world as "post-structuralism."

Both inside and outside of France, Lacan's work has also been profoundly important in the fields of aesthetics, literary criticism and film theory. Through the work of Louis Pierre Althusser (and more lately Ernesto Laclau, Jannis Stavrokakis and Slavoj Zizek), Lacanian theory has also left its mark on political theory, and particularly the analysis of ideology and institutional reproduction.

This article seeks to outline something of the philosophical heritage and importance of Lacan's theoretical work. After introducing Lacan, it focuses primarily on Lacan's philosophical anthropology, philosophy of language, psychoanalysis and philosophy of ethics.




So we should let Lacan tell us the last (not quite yet) word:


Finally, If I am to rouse you to indignation that, after many centuries of religious hypocrisy and philosophical bravado, nothing valid has yet been articulated on what links metaphor to the question of being and metonymy to its lack, there must be an object there to answer to that indignation both as the provocateur and its victim : It is humanistic man and the credit, affirmed beyond reparation, which he has drawn on his intention.

May 1957.




Gus: It appears that understanding the evolution of language, even for an expert such as Lacan, is far more complex than that of DNA. While DNA is super complex, it’s very precise despite the shifts of evolution over 3.5 billion years — the structure still relying on its original integrity — while languages, the core of philosophical discourses and Sunday picnics, are flexible, foggy and floppy despite our recording of them through illegible writings and oral/noise transmission.


The original grunts have been lost in the mists of time. Latin is deaded. Jacques Lacan did his best to explain some obvious discreet shifts of meaning, some of which were already addressed by Freud in his “Book of Jokes”. 


Sometimes the metonymy can be funny, very funny or serious — and/or be misunderstood unless there is an agreed interpretation on both sides of the transmission, or an impressive quantum leap is made by the receiver. At this stage most of the 20th century philosophers associated “man” instead of “human”, often undervaluing the input of women on languages — including saucy lingo (see Aphra Behn).


Yet, some of the 3500 languages in the human spectrum of communication are not easily disturbed by metaphors, metonymy or unusual associations of words. Precision of communications means survival is assured.


On the other side, some languages easily use new relationships as valid (even if not accepted by the elite dictionaries) additions to the vernacular, sometimes with a defined addiction to the new words — Gus’ stuff included. 


We make puns, jokes and use secret lingo between mates. We create songs and poetry where the meter and the sounds become the essence of the usually succinct but condensed meaning-transfer. Thus we tell stories and we, the plebs, do our best to survive without going to the next level of “trituration” or “fiddling with the philosophy of everything” — otherwise our brain might explode. 


We often prefer being happy in a practical ignorance, where a nice day, a glass of beer in hand during the weekend sausage sizzle while wearing a baseball cap, is a comfortable counterpoint to a paid rewarding routine of work. This barbecue is more pleasurable than asking the hard questions which to say the least won’t end up "paying the bills” nor make us smile large and wide. But we will tell jokes (some about women) that follow a well-oiled philosophical construct, the mystery of which we don’t have to fathom. There is no need to, except when we hurt with pain or start to misunderstand the purpose of our existence — which we could soon do, daily, without our hard carapace of necessary delusive refusal to go “deep”… 


On average, we prefer enjoying the moment of barbecued hissing bliss, rather than being lured, then cooped-up in someone else’s dark deviant corners, such as Houellebecq's and Cormac McCarthy’s — these finite spaces often infected with bullshit (whether satirical or not) that is somewhat depressing and full of annoying deceptive traps — like a dungeon that has been used as a dunny for yonks rather than foster dreams about Juliet.


Here we could make a pun: we are told that Michel Houellebecq took the name of his grandmother in Algeria… But a sarcastic linguist such as my good friend Jules Letambour, could satirise the name as “ou-est-le-bec” which would translate in English as “where-is-the-beak?”. Now, Jules Letambour, translator extraordinaire, would intimate that in the French Language “le bec” (the beak) has many (just a few) under-layers of meanings. “Se casser le bec” for example means "to fail”. And in relation to Houellebecq’s philosophy, this could have plenty of accidental metaphoric meanings, while he miserably raves on.


The other dude, Cormac McCarthy, is a religious conservative, like the other such as that boring conservative horizontal religious bore — I see his face but cannot remember his name (oh I can – Scruton! see: With a bit more distinguished and possibly more “graceful” delivery, Cormac subtlety delivers with a hammer despite the dangerously weird nature of his deviant dreams…


Presently, we are caught in a new puritan world where women hold the high side of the street and we, males, should be ashamed of even thinking having a naughty relationship for five seconds. We can’t even make jokes about such with our mates, because since the invention of microphones, we, the warriors from Mars, can be spied upon by the Venusians — or be dobbed in by police undercover.


The National Party of Australia, The Nationals, has had a few of these men who went beyond the thoughts, and indulged in hypocritical behaviour. The age of “free love” was terminated when Bhagwan Rajneesh's Rolls Royces were repossessed by the tax department. Then we had the rise of “marriage equality”, at the end of a hard fought era when women could touch women and men could touch men without being rolled in front of the courts. But men barely touching women in friendly endearing gestures is now out of bound — full of dangers for these men, viewed like plagued murderers, being sent to prison and raped for 15 years. 


A few bad apples with small dicks, like Trump, killed the fun of the cuddle and flirt. Some actors acted out of fun and in the spirit of their craft, but got hammered for not being puritan enough. 


I must say that, as I get older by the too fast ticking minutes, long time cranky and full of hubris, I get annoyed at some female voices that shriek and talk non-stop drivel — the same important stuff we discussed and had solved at school before god took over Christmas — in a non-stop important radio fizz-fest like the hissing noise of a barbecue. At least we took a breather and played balls. 


Lucky these women don’t talk to me anymore, they talk to their mates in the shops or, having become manager of a charitable enterprise for kids in distress — because all the males who had been screened were deemed deviants, even priests — they drivel on and on with passion at a murdering high pitch. Soldiers of WW2 would not care, as they knew they would soon face bullets hissing pass their soft curled hats — a few days after having attempted to sow their seeds in an uncontrollable urge, to be remembered as a fading photograph on the mantlepiece of a fireplace. 


Love became a fixed point in time. A lot of tears followed the image above...


pinochet supreme...

Right-wing New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, back in his Ivy League college days, wrote an op-ed defending US-backed ultra-capitalist dictator Augusto Pinochet — whose military junta murdered and disappeared thousands of leftists, and tortured tens of thousands more.

Intellectual historian Timothy Barker dug through columns that Douthat penned for Harvard University’s right-wing student newspaper The Harvard Salient between 1998 and 2002.

Barker found a slew of bigoted articles in which Douthat echoed explicitly racist talking points that are popular among the so-called alt-right today, including the idea that white Europeans are “vanishing” and being replaced through immigration by supposed “barbarians” like Turks, Africans, and Arabs.

The future New York Times columnist attacked gay people, warned of “the evils of strident feminism,” and insisted that US “whites, too, suffered because of slavery.”

Already a big conservative with an even bigger ego, Douthat declared in a 2001 profile, “Coming to Harvard, I now have a new sense of the power and success that is at our fingertips – I know I will be one of the 25 richest writers of the future.”

But most striking of all the Douthat articles uncovered by Barker is a November 9, 1998 column titled “Reassessing Pinochet.”


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the end of the affair...

According to an annual survey by HR company Challenger, Gray and Christmas just 65% of America companies were planning to hold a seasonal party in 2018; the lowest number since the recession in 2009. The freeze on festivities, Challenger notes, may be due to worries about “potential liability following the #MeToo movement”.

While #MeToo has helped topple predators and usher in new laws, it has also increased workplace paranoia. Cancelled office parties are just one example of this; a recent Bloomberg investigation found male Wall Street executives are now going out of their way not to be alone with female colleagues, avoiding one-on-one meetings and dinners. (Bloomberg calls this the “Mike Pence” effect, as the vice-president never dines alone with a woman who isn’t his wife.) 

It shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently it does: #MeToo doesn’t mean gender segregation. It doesn’t mean an end to socializing or fun. It definitely doesn’t mean everyone needs to start acting like Pence. On the contrary, educating people about consent and creating working environments in which there are clear boundaries around behavior, is empowering for everyone.

And if you still need persuading that firm boundaries makes for a fun night out, I suggest you take a look at the House of Yes. Voted by Time Out as the second best thing to do in the world, the Brooklyn venue has been described as “the wildest night club on the planet. A night at House of Yes might involve anything from naked hot tubs to drag wrestling to cage dancers – but it also involves adhering to a strict consent policy. The moment you buy a ticket you are told about this and you are reminded of it throughout the venue. Not just through posters but through “consenticorns”; so-called “consent guardians” who wear light-up unicorn horns.

“They wander around the room all night and serve two roles,” explained Jacqui Rabkin, marketing director at House of Yes. “They step in if they see a situation where someone looks uncomfortable or too drunk, and if ask if they need help.” Then, she says, because “they have a light-up headpiece, they also act like a beacon”. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you can quickly find a consent guardian; all of whom have been trained in de-escalation techniques.

With #MeToo setting off a Pence effect, House of Yes’s success is an important reminder that the stricter we are about consent, the more fun everyone can have. Rather than cancelling holiday parties, companies should be working hard to create a culture where everyone feels safe. They should fix the problem, not try and avoid it. That fix might not involve light-up unicorn horns, but it does involve talking about how we talk about consent.


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Though the movement is filling the coffers of barristers and lawyers, talking to them about it is like having a serious conversation with a dead cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo. The most celebrious wigged persons of the law (secretly) "deplore" the way this far too wide netcasting has caught even the poor bastards (male) who comment on the sexy legs of a woman (who obviously wants males to see her sexy legs considering the length of her super-short miniskirt) to a colleague — and be dragged in front of a judge who can send him to a convict settlement for 15 years, on the account of a "witness". 

Soon drinking alcohol at "office parties" will be replaced by prayers to god to prevent us to see legs — help me god. Flagellating tools will be supplied... 

G. L.


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ah women...



Too fat

Too flat

Too thin

Too lean

Too average

Too lying about their age

Too made up

Too pumped

Too flbby

Too snappy

Too aggressive

Too passive

Too bold

Too old

Too young

Too strung

Too dumb

Too bombshell

Too Chanel

Too inconsistent

Too intelligent

Too belligerent

Too sick

Too slick

Too meek

Too plucked

Too tucked

Too Botoxed

Too boxed

Too demanding

Too bartering

Too deceitful

Too full as a boot

Too much in error

Too prone to terror

Too cheap

Too hip


Thank nature for testosterone

Otherwise this species be gone

As beauty is not enough

To attract Paddy McRuff

And me in the mirror

Oh shit!


Robert Still Burns



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Translated by Jules Letambour 

Poem by Robert Cr. Bruley

solutions to end violence against women...


UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman spotlights solutions to end gender violence

Bringing 16 Days of Activism campaign to a close, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, survivors and activists spotlight solutions to end violence against women


Fundraising event for the life-changing work of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women held in Los Angeles, with #HearMeToo voices taking centre-stage

(Los Angeles) - Commemorating Human Rights Day and the global advocacy campaign "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence", the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) today held a fundraising luncheon in Santa Monica, California. In the hometown of the #MeToo movement, the event brought together a power-house of survivors, dignitaries, UN officials, gender experts and Hollywood celebrities.

Hosted by UN Women's Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, the event celebrated the ground-breaking initiatives supported by the UN Trust Fund across the world over the past 22 years and highlighted the work that remains to end this human rights violation, which impacts one in three women worldwide.  The UN Trust Fund is the only global grant-making mechanism dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls and is managed by UN Women, on behalf of the UN system. 

Today's event brought to a close the global mobilization of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. This year's UN  theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and the 16 Days of Activism was "Orange the World: #HearMeToo", amplifying  the voices of women and girls around the world who have survived violence or who strive to defend women's rights-many of them very far away from the limelight or media headlines.

A relentless champion to end the global pandemic of violence against women and girls, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman highlighted why she personally raises her voice on this issue, and why it must be of utmost priority for all: "When I became UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador some time ago, I met with women and girls who had survived violence and who were supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. I saw first-hand the real difference it makes in the lives of women and girls. I'm here today to continue this work and amplify the voices of women survivors through the media and help raise significant funds for programs that address this issue."

"We are witnessing the power of a global sisterhood to end the normalization of violence against women and girls that is telling perpetrators "time is up". We must continue to amplify the voices of all survivors and activists, especially those who are typically marginalized or whose voices have been muted, and come together in global solidarity for change," said Under- Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka underlining the force of the mobilization that has taken hold globally, and the need to propel it further.

Mesmerizing the event guests, actor and activist Gabriella Wright narrated the powerful story of Alice Mathe, a young woman survivor of violence from Zimbabwe, who is deaf. Unlike many others in her situation, Alice managed to access justice by taking her attacker to court, with the support of an UN Trust Fund initiative providing specialist services to girls and women with disabilities, and he is now in jail.

An honoree at the event, the United States former Vice President Joe Biden received the Orange Heart award. Other notable speakers included Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, and Clea Guerra Romero representing UN Trust Fund grantee Flora Tristan Women's Centre in Peru. Sherwin Bryce-Pease, UN Bureau Chief of South African Broadcasting Corporation as emcee and musical performances by David Hernandez, added their unique flavor to the powerful event.

The luncheon highlighted the continued dearth of resources for global interventions to end violence against women and girls and called upon those in attendance to contribute to support interventions funded by the UN Trust Fund, which has supported 460 organizations in the last 22 years, reaching over 6 million people last year alone.

Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund, highlighted the significance of investing in ending the human rights violation of violence against women and girls: "The long-term test for all of us is not whether we bring down a few powerful men, but whether we ensure we do not let down and leave behind millions of women and girls around the world. We now have an opportunity to build on the courage of survivors in the wake of the #MeToo movement, born in this very city, and demonstrate the systemic nature of violence against women and girls."

Since 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women) this year, the 16 Days of Activism have brought together governments, communities, survivors, activists and the public to raise awareness on the urgent need to end violence against women and girls. Over 600 campaign activities have been held in over 90 countries around the world, with iconic buildings and monuments being lit in orange to call for a violence-free future, such as the Angel of Independence in Mexico City, the majestic Giza pyramids in Egypt or the Yangon City Hall in Myanmar.

In powerful public events in dozens of countries around the world, including public concerts in Chile, Colombia and Bangladesh, using murals in Afghanistan and in public transportation hubs in El Salvador, Vanuatu, and The Philippines, global citizens have stood in solidarity with survivors and advocates.

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love is sick...

“Where is the love?” Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack sang in an unforgettable hit from 1972. Their breakup ballad could now double as an odd anthem for American culture. Its people, art, and entertainment have rejected romance and sexual intimacy as subjects worthy of celebration and investment. In a sad commentary on an increasingly dysfunctional society, love has all but vanished from pop culture.

In 2014, the Journal of Advertising Research published a study documenting an odd decline in references to love throughout popular music. The word had fallen below phrases such as “good time” and epithets such as the N-word on the list of most commonly sung terms in the chart topping hits of the 2000s.

Music critic John Blake took notice seven years ago of how R&B—a genre that once gave the world Al Green and Aretha Franklin—no longer produced or broadcasted songs of romantic passion. The only four letter word impermissible in hip-hop is “love.” Sexuality is primarily a means of misogynistic conquest; committed bonds of affection are not worthy of pursuit.

Film is equally sterile and chaste. Leading men are more likely to wear face paint and capes than tuxedos or cowboy hats, and starlets jockey for “transgressive” roles as tattooed, gun wielding action heroes, rather than brides-to-be or even femme fatales.

Esquire recently reported that “moviegoers are tired of romance on the silver screen.” A writer for The Washington Post declares that “the rom-com is dead. Good.” Both articles attribute the lack of interest in love among the moviegoing public to shifting social mores that now render the “clichés” of the boy-meets-girl movie “offensive.” It has become the stuff of cliché to read “cutting edge” cultural critics deconstruct popular love stories like Pretty Woman and Say Anything, reimagining them as predatory tales of women surrendering to sexual harassment. Never mind that the largest audiences for these films were always and will likely remain women.

Any heterosexual male attempt at seduction is now, in the words of one writer, a perpetuation of “society’s unprogressive cultural expectations regarding gender roles.” Even nonsexual expressions of genuine feeling arouse anger. Lindy West, a New York Times columnist, summons all of her brilliance to call a British character in the film Love, Actually, who learns Portuguese and flies to Portugal to propose to a woman who spent a summer cleaning the house where he was staying, “creepy.” The woman accepts the proposal in English, showing that she too took language lessons because she also fell in love with him.

Is it any surprise, then, that in literature, as an essayist for Quillete recently asserted, “men cannot write about sex anymore”?

The Esquire report identifies a generational transformation, citing how Millennials are the least likely to listen to love songs or watch love stories on the screen. Indifference to romance explains why young Americans are dating less, having sex less, and delaying marriage longer than any previous generation.



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G. L.: In this concern, numbers and proportions of what is defined are the keys to the problem or not. There are still people who believe in love and will stick at it, while others play the game of sex or of power — be it supernam or superwoman. Nothing is 100 per cent. We are barely looking at passing trends that can fade away tomorrow or the day after. Read from top.

a casual contract...

The movie: Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008) — the story of the Australian exploitation genre cinema of 1970s and 80s, directed and written by Mark Hartley, was on SBS Vice Channel last night (27/12/18). Once passed the usual rehash of Barry McKenzie's epics (during which I watched the cricket* where the Sixers were being thrashed by Melbourne), The movie/doco went into the Aussie mainstream porno section that would have made the US porno movies look like lollypops for kids. Bring on the dangling bits and the full frontals, the many explicit sex scenes and the witchcrafted orgies! A smorgasbord of nudes, with many famous actresses doing what was natural to them, in their debut to stardom. In this day and age, we turned to total prudishness and prenups.

Meanwhile as our new royals look like kids with lollipops, some other movies explore history with a bit more sex in them. We've already mentioned James and his lover, the Duke of Buckingham on this site. Next we follow the lesbian adventures of Queen Anne...


"No sex please, we're British." It's an oft-repeated adage satirising Britain's glacial pace in shedding its conservative, buttoned-up reputation.

We often assume British attitudes towards sex changed with the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when the contraceptive pill made the NHS (1961) and homosexuality was decriminalised (1967).

In our minds, any time before this was restrained and prudish, particularly when it came to same-sex intimacy in the notoriously rigid Britain of yore.

But two new films, set in the 1500s and 1700s, shake these assumptions. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead.)

Mary, Queen of Scots, starring Saoirse Ronan in the title role and Australian actor Margot Robbie as her cousin Queen Elizabeth I, contains a gay male sex scene. The Favourite, in which Olivia Coleman plays Queen Anne, features lesbian intimacy.

What's raising eyebrows isn't the sapphic or graphic sex itself, but the nonchalance of the characters towards these risqué sexual acts.


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So we come to Slavoj Zizek, a social philosopher often mentioned on this site — who on this occasion must have read the same books as Gus, especially Jacques Lacan's...


Sign a contract before sex? Political correctness could destroy passionIn the West, at least, everyone has become massively aware of the extent of coercion and exploitation in sexual relations.

However, we should bear in mind also the (no less significant) fact that millions of people on a daily basis flirt and play the game of seduction, with the clear aim of finding a partner for making love. The result of the modern Western culture is that both sexes are expected to play an active role in this game.

When women dress provocatively to attract the male gaze or when they “objectify” themselves to seduce them, they don’t do it offering themselves as passive objects: instead they are the active agents of their own “objectification,” manipulating men, playing ambiguous games, including reserving the full right to step out of the game at any moment even if, to the male gaze, this appears in contradiction with previous “signals.”

This freedom women enjoy bothers all kinds of fundamentalists, from Muslims who recently prohibited women touching and playing with bananas and other fruit which resembles the penis to our own ordinary male chauvinist who explodes in violence against a woman who first “provokes” him and then rejects his advances.

Female sexual liberation is not just a puritan withdrawal from being “objectivized” (as a sexual object for men) but the right to actively play with self-objectivization, offering herself and withdrawing at will. But will it be still possible to proclaim these simple facts, or will the politically-correct pressure compel us to accompany all these games with some formal-legal proclamation (of consensuality, etc.)?

A recent, politically-correct idea is the so-called “Consent Conscious Kit,” currently on sale in the US: a small bag with a condom, a pen, some breath mints, and a simple contract stating that both participants freely consent to a shared sexual act. The suggestion is that a couple ready to have sex either takes a photo holding in their hands the contract, or that they both date and sign it.

Yet, although the “Consent Conscious Kit” addresses a very real problem, it does it in a way which is not only silly but directly counter-productive – and why is that?
The underlying idea is how a sex act, if it to be cleansed of any suspicion of coercion, has to be declared, in advance, as a freely-made conscious decision of both participants – to put it in Lacanian terms, it has to be registered by the big Other, and inscribed into the symbolic order.

As such, the “Consent Conscious Kit” is just an extreme expression of an attitude that grows all around the US – for example, the state of California passed a law requiring all colleges that accept state funding to adopt policies requiring their students to obtain affirmative consent — which it defines as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” that is “ongoing” and not given when too drunk, before engaging in sexual activity, or else risk punishment for sexual assault.

Bigger picture

“Affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” – by whom? The first thing to do here is to mobilize the Freudian triad of Ego, Superego, and Id (in a simplified version: my conscious self-awareness, the agency of moral responsibility enforcing norms on me, and my deepest half-disavowed passions).

What if there is a conflict between the three? If, under the pressure of the Superego, my Ego say NO, but my Id resists and clings to the denied desire? Or (a much more interesting case) the opposite: I say YES to the sexual invitation, surrendering to my Id passion, but in the midst of performing the act, my Superego triggers an unbearable guilt feeling?

Thus, to bring things to the absurd, should the contract be signed by the Ego, Superego, and Id of each party, so that it is valid only if all three say YES? Plus, what if the male partner also uses his contractual right to step back and cancel the agreement at any moment in the sexual activity? Imagine that, after obtaining the woman’s consent, when the prospective lovers find themselves naked in bed, some tiny bodily detail (an unpleasant sound like a vulgar belching) dispels the erotic charm and makes the man withdraw? Is this not in itself an extreme humiliation for the woman?

The ideology that sustains this promotion of “sexual respect” deserves a closer look. The basic formula is: “Yes means yes!” – it has to be an explicit yes, not just the absence of a no. “No no” does not automatically amount to a “yes”: because if a woman who is being seduced does not actively resist it, this still leaves the space open for different forms of coercion.

Mood killer

Here, however, problems multiply: what if a woman passionately desires it but is too embarrassed to openly declare it? What if, for both partners, ironically playing coercion is part of the erotic game? And a yes to what, precisely, to what types of sexual activity, is a declared yes? Should then the contract form be more detailed, so that the principal consent is specified: a yes to vaginal but not anal intercourse, a yes to fellatio but not swallowing the sperm, a yes to light spanking but not harsh blows, etc.etc.

One can easily imagine a long bureaucratic negotiation, which can kill all desire for the act, but it can also get libidinally invested on its own. These problems are far from secondary, they concern the very core of erotic interplay from which one cannot withdraw into a neutral position and declare one's readiness (or unreadiness) to do it: every such act is part of the interplay and either de-eroticizes the situation or gets eroticized on its own.

The “yes means yes’ sexual rule is an exemplary case of the narcissistic notion of subjectivity that predominates today. A subject is experienced as something vulnerable, something that has to be protected by a complex set of rules, warned in advance about all possible intrusions that may disturb him/her.

Remember how, upon its release, ET was prohibited in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark: because it’s non-sympathetic portrayal of adults was considered dangerous for relations between children and their parents. (An ingenious detail confirms this accusation: in the first 10 minutes of the film, all adults are seen only below their belts, like the adults in cartoons who threaten Tom and Jerry…)

From today’s perspective, we can see this prohibition as an early sign of the politically-correct obsession with protecting individuals from any experience that may hurt them in any way. And the list can go on indefinitely – recall the proposal to digitally delete smoking from Hollywood classics…

Yes, sex is traversed by power games, violent obscenities, etc., but the difficult thing to admit is that it’s inherent to it. Some perspicuous observers have already noticed how the only form of sexual relation that fully meets the politically correct criteria would have been a contract drawn between sadomasochist partners.

Thus, the rise of Political Correctness and the rise of violence are two sides of the same coin: insofar as the basic premise of Political Correctness is the reduction of sexuality to contractual mutual consent. And the French linguist Jean-Claude Milner was right to point out how the anti-harassment movement unavoidably reaches its climax in contracts which stipulate extreme forms of sadomasochist sex (treating a person like a dog on a collar, slave trading, torture, up to consented killing).

In such forms of consensual slavery, the market freedom of the contract negates itself: and slave trade becomes the ultimate assertion of freedom. It is as if Jacques Lacan’s motif “Kant with Sade” (Marquis de Sade’s brutal hedonism as the truth of Kant’s rigorous ethics) becomes reality in an unexpected way. But, before we dismiss this motif as just a provocative paradox, we should reflect upon how this paradox is at work in our social reality itself.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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*Cricket: we often hear Einstein said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing yet expecting different results.” It is neither an accurate definition of insanity nor a quote by Einstein. Insanity is the definition of cricket, once you manage to survive endless hours of watching the grass grow and hit a ball with a stick of wood. 

brigitte and brigitte...

Rather a lot about Brigitte Macron’s life has been very strange. A bourgeois teacher at a Jesuit high school in the provincial French town of Amiens, married to a banker and with three children, falls for a pupil in her drama class, 24 years her junior. He is banished to Paris to finish school where he begins his rise through the country’s elite institutions. But he refuses to give her up. Eventually they marry. He ends up as president of France.

It is an improbable plot, and over the years their unusual relationship has prompted family censure, popular unease, endless speculation and malicious rumours. Perhaps the most unexpected twist has been the way that, a little over a year after her husband was elected president and at the age of 65, Madame Macron has won popular approval. She has forced the French to question what it means to be a woman and, in particular, a woman of her age. France has a complex heritage on this matter. Born in the 1950s, Brigitte Macron belongs to a generation of French women who grew up when modern notions of sex appeal were being invented in the country. France launched the bikini and Brigitte Bardot to the world. At the same time it was also pioneering feminist theory: Simone de Beauvoir’s ground-breaking work “The Second Sex” was published in 1949.Women in France today have to navigate a double expectation. The French state provides free crèches and nursery places on the assumption that young mothers quit the kitchen for the office; but society demands that they commute in six-inch heels. There has been a cultural acceptance of predatory male behaviour that outsiders find baffling, even disturbing. When the #MeToo movement spread to France last year, Bardot, now aged 83, called it “hypocritical and ridiculous”, declaring that she “found it charming when men told me that I was beautiful or I had a nice little backside”. Her views seemed shocking outside France, but many other French actresses were similarly contemptuous of what they took to be American moralising. Bardot, and others like her, set the tone for those who grew up in the 1950s, and the patriarchal codes that underwrote her success are now being challenged. So the new French first lady, whether she likes it or not, has become a focus for discussion about the way the French see women and French women see themselves, and even how the rest of the world sees France.


Half a century after the May 1968 uprising, a rebellion against the conservative social mores that put France at the forefront of the women’s liberation movement, women today are still fighting some of their grandmothers’ battles. A younger generation of French women will not tolerate what Bardot considers to be a charming part of French culture. Last year 16,400 rapes were reported and there was a 10% jump in reports of sexual assault. Such is the concern that the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, recently ran an anti-harassment awareness campaign with the slogan “Ma jupe n’est pas une invitation” (My skirt is not an invitation). French apps have sprung up that witnesses can use to denounce inappropriate behaviour. Hundreds of thousands have rallied to #BalanceTonPorc.

Brigitte is not publicly part of that movement. Her teenage rebellion seems to have involved the frisson of wearing a mini-skirt rather than upturning underlying social expectations. Though she has rebelled against age conventions, French people seem to relate to Brigitte, a mother of three adult children and a grandmother of seven, as a maternal figure and former teacher rather than a pioneering feminist. Her declared passion for the country’s great writers – her favourites include Flaubert, Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Maupassant – helps to fill out the two-dimensional part she sometimes seems obliged to play. Every day she receives around 200 letters or emails – far more than her predecessors – and they often consist of appeals for help or advice, many relating to education or children’s welfare. Most weeks Brigitte visits a classroom, a hospital ward or a welfare centre, the vast majority of these trips without reporters in tow.

The next four years, under the youngest president France has known in modern times, will be judged on what Emmanuel achieves. But his ability to carry the country with him through difficult times will also depend on the way he embodies the presidency and handles the grandiose “Jupiterian” style he has sought to impose. In this respect, Brigitte Macron will have to navigate a fine line between acting as public consort to a monarchical-style president, and avoiding any sense of entitlement as an unelected spouse that angers voters. She has little choice, as she says, but to continue to be both there and not there.

Sophie Pedder is The Economist’s Paris bureau chief and author of “Revolution Française: Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation” (Bloomsbury)

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philosophical football...

The writer Michel Houellebecq and the twenty-three players and substitutes of the world champion French football team have received the Legion of Honour on January 1st 2019, also awarded to many police officers and firefighters.


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a megalomaniac nonetheless...

In 2008, Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq published their correspondence under the title Ennemis publics ("public enemies" —Flammarion / Grasset). In this book, which has been all often forgotten, and yet is so rich that we regularly go back over it, Houellebecq notes that modesty never held any place in his life. He writes: "As far as I can remember, I have always been a megalomaniac. I had already dreamed of every child to subjugate humanity, to seduce it as well as to injure it, and finally to print my mark on it; but I also dreamed to stay in the shadows, to hide behind my creations. The least we can say is that it's a complete failure."


Houellebecq has not spoken anywhere yet about his new book, Sérotonine...

Maybe he did not tell in full and without the purpose of why the book. While his new novel, Sérotonine, appears today at Flammarion, Houellebecq has not yet talked to anyone about it. Though he did it once, once it is not a tradition. He has not yet given in to the mania of the interview, which is one of the massive pathologies of the contemporary press, and which tends to reduce each text to a pretext, limited occasion of get the author answer about this or that news. Admittedly, it will be said that Houellebecq was given a platform in the American magazine Harper's, where he paid a warm tribute to Trump, but this is happening across the Atlantic, and without any explicit link with the publication of Sérotonine...


Translation by Jules letambour


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Contrary to everything you’ve ever been told, in most developed countries men are actually more disadvantaged than women, according to new research published in one of the world’s leading scientific journals.

The academics behind the new study say current ways of measuring gender inequality are “biased to highlight women’s issues” so they fail to produce an accurate picture. Their new yardstick, snappily named the Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI), instead focuses on three factors – educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy, and overall life satisfaction.


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it's crook to be a male...

Attention boys: bullying, homophobia, sexual harassment and abuse are all your fault, according to new guidelines published by the world’s largest association of psychologists.

While traditional gender roles – under which men are stoic, competitive, dominant and aggressive – have existed for millennia, the rise of social justice culture has seen a new phrase popularized in recent years: toxic masculinity.

This idea, that traditional male traits are ‘toxic’ and dangerous, has largely remained confined to feminist blogs and social sciences faculties, but now the American Psychological Association (APA) has jumped on board.

In the APA’s “first ever” set of guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys, the association states that “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful,” and “causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.”

But what is ‘traditional masculinity’ anyway? The APA says traditional masculinity is defined by “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression.” It’s found in men’s resilience in the face of adversity and insistence on “looking tough” despite mental suffering, and in their tendency to handle emotional strain with anger.

According to the APA, “traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health.”


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even grief is better with butter...

Current trends in self-reproach & guilt serve interests of elites
From Slavoj Zizek


Ethical and political “correctness” have reached extreme levels recently. This suits the powerful perfectly right now, but may come back to bite them soon. 

In a recent commentary, writer Laura Kipnis addressed the ethico-political implications of film critic David Edelstein’s recent travails. Apropos the death of legendary Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, Edelstein made a tasteless “joke” on his private Facebook page: “even grief is better with butter.”

The statement was accompanied by a still of Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando’s infamous anal rape scene from Last Tango in Paris. Edelstein quickly deleted it (before the public outcry broke out, not as a reaction to it!) but actress Martha Plimpton had immediately tweeted it to her followers, demanding “fire him. Immediately.

Of course, this happened the next day: NPR’s Fresh Air announced that they were cutting ties with Edelstein because the post had been “offensive and unacceptable.” Especially given Schneider’s traumatic experiences during filming, which left her battling depression and drug addiction.

So what are the implications (or, rather, the unstated rules) of this incident? First, “there’s nothing inadvertent about inadvertent offence,” it cannot be excused as a momentary mistake since it’s now treated as revelatory of the true character of the offender.

This is why one such episode is a permanent mark against you, however apologetic you might be. “One flub and you’re out. An unthinking social media post will outweigh a 16-year track record.” The only thing that might help is a long permanent process of self-critical self-examination: “Failure to keep re-proving it implicates you in crimes against women.”

Thus, you have to prove it again and again since, as a man, you aren’t trusted: “men are not to be believed, they will say anything.” And this leads to Kipnis’s bitter conclusion: “maybe it’s time to stop hiding behind the ‘speak truth to power’ mantra, when women have power aplenty – we can wreck a guy’s career with a tweet!

Different Levels

Naturally, one has to introduce some further specifications here: WHICH women have the power to wreck WHICH guys’ careers? But the fact remains that we are witnessing a tremendous exercise of power unchecked by what would have been otherwise considered reasonable (a fair trial, the right to reasonable doubt...), and if someone just points this out, they are immediately accused of protecting old white men.

Plus the barrier that separates public from private space disappears here: recently, several Icelandic MPs faced calls to resign after they were recorded using crude language to describe female colleagues and a disabled activist. They did this in a bar, and an anonymous eavesdropper sent the recording to Icelandic media.    

The only parallel that comes to mind here is with the brutal swiftness of revolutionary purges – and, effectively, many MeToo sympathizers evoke this parallel and claim that such excesses are understandable in the first moments of radical change.

However, it is precisely this parallel that we should reject. Such “excessive” purges are not indications that the revolutionary zeal went too far – on the contrary, they clearly indicate that the revolution was redirected and lost its radical edge.

In short, one should struggle to refocus MeToo onto the daily suffering of millions of ordinary working women and housewives. This emphatically can be done – for example, in South Korea, MeToo exploded in tens of thousands of ordinary women demonstrating against their sexual exploitation.

Only through the link between sexual exploitation and economic exploitation can we mobilize the majority: men should not be portrayed only as potential rapists, they should be made aware that their violent domination over women is mediated by their experience of economic impotence.

So, the truly radical MeToo is not about women against men but also about the prospect of their solidarity.  

Migrant motives    

And exactly the same holds for our other big ethico-political problem: how to deal with the flow of refugees?

The solution is not to just open the borders to all who want to come in, and to ground this openness in our generalized guilt (“our colonization is our greatest crime which we will have to repay forever”). Such a stance provides a clinically perfect example of the superego paradox confirmed by how the fundamentalist immigrants react to left-liberal guilt feeling.

Here, the more European Left liberals admit responsibility for the situation which creates refugees, and the more they demand we should abolish all walls and open our gates to immigrants, the more they are despised by fundamentalist migrants.

There is no gratitude in it – the more we give, the more we are reproached that we did not give enough. And it is significant that the countries most attacked are not those with an open anti-immigrant stance (Hungary, Poland etc.) but precisely those which are the most generous.

READ MORE: Sweden turns Pippi Longstocking into homeless Roma migrant living in Stockholm ghetto

Sweden is reproached that it doesn’t really want to integrate immigrants, and every detail is seized upon as a proof of its hypocrisy (“You see, they still serve pork at meals in the schools! They still allow their girls to dress provocatively! They still don’t want to integrate elements of sharia in their legal system!”), while every demand for symmetry (but where are new Christian churches in Muslim countries with a Christian minority?) is flatly rejected as European cultural imperialism.

Crusades are mentioned all the time, while the Muslim occupation of large parts of Europe is treated as normal. The underlying premise is that a kind of radical sin (of colonization) is inscribed into the very existence of Europe, a sin incomparable with others, so that our debt to others cannot ever be repaid.

However, beneath this premise it is easy to discern its opposite, scorn – they loath us for our guilt and responsibility and they perceive it as a sign of our weakness, of our lack of self-respect and trust in ourselves.

The ultimate irony is that some Europeans then perceive such an aggressive stance as the Muslim “vitality” and contrast it to Europe’s “exhaustion” – again turning this into the argument that we need the influx of foreign blood to regain our vitality.

In other words, we in Europe will only regain the respect of others by learning to impose limits, to fully help others not from a position of guilt and weakness but from a position of strength.

Hopeful Gamble

What do we mean by this strength? Precisely such a strength was displayed by Angela Merkel when she extended the invitation to refugees to come to Germany. Her invitation exuded trust that Germany can do it and that it’s strong enough to retain its identity in accepting migrants.

By this thinking, although anti-immigrant patriots like to pose as strong defenders of their nation, it is their position which betrays panic and weakness – how little trust they must have in German society when they perceive a couple of hundred newcomers as a threat to German identity? Crazy as it may sound, Merkel acted as a strong German patriot while anti-immigrants are miserable weaklings.

If we remain at the level of self-reproach and guilt, we serve perfectly the interests of those in power who foment the conflict between immigrants and the local working class (which feels threatened by them) and retain their superior moral stance.

Indeed, the moment one begins to think in this direction, the Politically Correct Left instantly cries Fascism (see the ferocious attacks on Irish writer Angela Nagle for her outstanding essay ‘The Left Case against Open Borders’.)

To put it in old Maoist terms, the “contradiction” between advocates of open borders and populist anti-immigrants is a false “secondary contradiction” whose ultimate function is to obfuscate the need to change the entire economic system itself. Which, in its present form, encourages migration by creating vast regional inequalities and an endless search for “growth.


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The pyres of europe...

fuck #metoo: we shave, you pluck... we....

Gillette, the 118-year-old shaving company, has some mud on its face. (Or maybe that’s shaving cream.) The company just released a controversial commercial as part of a new campaign urging customers to aspire to more than just “the best (shave) a man can get.” Now, they’re supposed to become “The Best a Man Can Be.” What that means, of course, is that men should embrace the spirit of #MeToo, and learn how to support women and girls.

On a level of corporate strategy, this might just be an effort to compensate for the fact that Gillette still advertises on Fox News, even as many other companies have abandoned the right-wing network. They may have overshot though, because the new ad provoked so much anger that some have called for a boycott of Gillette products.

The commercial opens with an image of a man looking in a mirror, as a news reel in the background spouts buzz words: “bullying…violence…toxic masculinity.” A voice asks us, “Is this the best a man can get?” Next we are treated to a montage of stereotypical “bad men,” as they grope and patronize women, mindlessly couch-surf, and stand around smoking grills while their sons engage in vicious brawls. Then comes the dawn: the #MeToo movement stuns our handsy Neanderthals into silence, after which we are offered a tutorial on how men can be better. Mainly, this involves setting a good example for young boys by supporting girls and women and confronting those “toxic” men who haven’t yet absorbed the #MeToo message.


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history is full of remarkable women...

"The history of the world is but the biography of great men," wrote nineteenth-century philosopher Thomas Carlyle.

Carlyle wasn't the first to ascribe history's greatest achievements to men, but he did popularise the "great man theory" — conveniently ignoring the role of women.

BBC broadcaster Jenni Murray remembers being on a family trip as a child, and wondering why women didn't seem to be as celebrated. 

"I remember trailing around all over London, seeing lots of statues of king this, and king that, and sir the other and lord this, and thinking, 'goodness, have no women ever done anything?'" she says.

But history is full of remarkable women.

Murray illuminates their lives in her book, A History of the World in 21 Women.

"Every single woman … flies in the face of the conventional notion that women are somehow the 'weaker sex'," she writes.

Here are five women profiled by Murray; women who "spent their lives in defiance of the conventions that for centuries and across all cultures attempted to confine them to hearth, home and domestic servitude".

Pharaoh Hatshepsut

A royal position traditionally strictly filled by men in Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut cemented her role as Pharaoh by fictionalising her origin story.

She claimed to be the child of an Egyptian god, Amun.

"Obviously the aristocracy knew who she was and approved she should become ruler," Murray says.

"But in order to bring the populace around she had to make up one of the greatest fake news stories ever.


Later portrayed in drawings as a man, complete with a beard, male headdress and adopting poses common to kings of that era, Hatshepsut reigned Egypt with success in an environment distinctly hostile to women.

"It took courage for her to become and remain Pharaoh," Murray writes.

"That implies a strong will, political nous and religious power, not only inside Egypt, but also throughout Asia Minor, because she was determined to establish Egypt as a power in the region."

Artemisia Gentileschi

An Italian seventeenth-century Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi's paintings are "full of rage, of feminist anger", Murray says.

While many women of her generation were expected to be little more than nuns, Gentileschi instead became an accomplished artist. She was the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious art academy, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, in Florence.

Her paintings, Murray writes, typically depict strong female characters — whether they're enacting revenge on men (Judith Slaying Holofernes) or re-imagining biblical scenes (Susanna and the Elders).

As a young woman, Gentileschi was sexually assaulted by another painter, Agostino Tassi.

She successfully pressed charges against him and he was convicted of rape in 1612.

"She used biblical stories to portray, in exquisite paintings, her fury at the sexual violence she herself had endured," Murray writes.

"I have no doubt that much of her work was inspired by events that could only have happened to a woman, particularly the terrible sexual violence she experiences as a teenager."

But, she adds, "it would be wrong to assume her fame and appreciation was purely a result of her notoriety and vengefulness".

Marie Curie

The first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize, Marie Curie's achievements did not come easily.

"Her rise to become the wonderful and famous physicist that she became was such a struggle," Murray says.

From studying secretly in an underground university in Poland, to working as a tutor to support her older sister's tuition and scrambling to make enough to fund her own (later successful) studies in Paris — her career as an eminent scientist was hard-fought.

Curie, along with her husband Pierre, investigated radioactivity and its practical application; but when it came to awarding the Nobel Prize, it wasn't clear if Marie would be among the recipients.

"Pierre defended his wife to influential people on the Nobel Committee," writes Murray, "assuring them that it was indeed Marie who had originated the research, set up the experiments and formulated the theories about the nature of radioactivity".

Later, she became the only woman to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, in recognition of her work in the field of chemistry and discovery of two elements: radium and polonium.

But, Murray highlights, the eminent scientist faced criticism throughout her career — not only of her work, but of her aptitude as a mother.

"Criticism of her maternal tendencies came from disdainful colleagues who thought she spent far too much time in the laboratory and not enough in the nursery," Murray writes.

"She had no wealth or class advantage behind her, and she worked at a time when it was considered impossible for a woman to have a husband, children and an utterly absorbing job."

Angela Merkel

A century later, another woman's rise to fame in Europe would be similarly littered with a familiar brand of criticism seemingly specifically reserved for women in power.

Angela Merkel became the first female leader of Germany in 2005.

Since then, Murray writes, she's been called everything from an "unf***able lardarse" (allegedly by then-Italian PM Silvio Berlesconi) to "frumpy" by the media.

"They say in Germany it's not so much as a glass ceiling as a concrete ceiling and it's really difficult for women to make it," Murray says.

"Angela Merkel made it."

While she faced some criticism in Germany for her migration policies, Murray sees her legacy as that of a steadfast, resolute leader, who weathered the country — and the European Union — through difficult times.

"At a time of huge global change, the financial crash, the Euro crisis in Greece and elsewhere, immigration issues throughout Europe and a rising tide of populist nationalism, she has stood firm," Murray writes.

"For 13 years I have watched in amazement as she has bestridden Europe like a mini-Colossus, wearing what makes her feel comfortable, having her husband firmly in the background and making no concessions to the pressure to look and be 'feminine' that have so dogged other women who've made it to the top."

Cathy Freeman

When the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, women weren't allowed to compete in track and field.

"It was argued that their wombs would be damaged and they could never bear children," Murray writes.

"It's worth remembering that women were forbidden to run in the Olympics in Ancient Greece and married women were banned even as spectators."

Enter Cathy Freeman: the 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medal winner, whose 400 metres win resonated beyond just the spectators at the racing track.

"To run, to take part in sport is a truly feminist act, because for so long people said, 'oh no, women can't take part in sport'," Murray says.

For Murray, the sprinter's "legendary status" isn't just the result of seventeen years of training, or overcoming personal grief after the death of her sister and father — it's about politics.

"Women like Cathy Freeman not only took on their Indigenous self and said, 'I will do this and I will show that I'm an Australian and I belong here and I will fly my Indigenous flag when I win the Olympics'… but she also said 'I'm a woman and I will do this'."

Who else made Jenni Murray's list?
  • Joan of Arc
  • Isabella of Castile
  • Catherine the Great
  • Clara Schumann
  • Dowager Empress Cixi
  • Coco Chanel
  • Golda Meir
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Sirimavo Bandaranaike
  • Toni Morrison
  • Margaret Eleanor Atwood
  • Professor Wangari Maathai
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Benazir Bhutto
  • Madonna Louise Ciccone
  • Anna Politkovskaya

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Hillary does not belong to this list. She is a woman sure, but she is a deceitful warrior. She is a con artist. She is a sociopath. Aphra Behn is a far better bet for remarkable woman. This is why she was buried in Westminster Abbey. Hillary is the pits and should be forgotten by the sisterhood...


Maria Zakharova is a far more intelligent and truthful woman than the Western media and their female minions are prepared to recognise in this full-on "western list" of women. Anna Politkovskaya was a reporter for the "West" in Chechnya, where "rebels" (Muslims aka al Qaeda) were being financed by the US to separate Chechnya from Russia. 

Note that whatever happens, Angela Merkel respects Vladimir Putin far more than she is allowed to express.

la vie en rose...

French writer Michel Houellebecq’s new novel Serotonin would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Released in the United States on November 19, the novel concerns a man in his mid-40s named Florent-Claude Labrouste who’s at the end of his rope. He is profoundly depressed, for reasons that start with his name and extend into every aspect of his life (Houellebecq says he’s “essentially deprived of reasons to live and of reasons to die”). Consequently, Labrouste untethers himself from his unsatisfying relationship with his 26-year-old Japanese swinger girlfriend and his career analyzing apricot sales for France’s Ministry of Agriculture, and goes “voluntarily missing.” He wanders into the countryside in search of a vague reason to keep going and reconnect with old flames. Instead he finds an economy and society in slow-motion collapse.

Labrouste is a victim of his own expectations and past romantic failures. Like Houellebecq’s other protagonists from Whatever to Submission to Platform to The Elementary Particles, he is a sexually messed-up loser who has failed to find any kind of lasting fulfillment or meaning in life.


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Are we seeing the end of a French enthusiasm, now lost for many decades, basically since the end of WW2, and turning into the neurotic despair of a cheese-making artisan industry when the milk of kindness has become a nightly psychological nightmare? Is Houellebecq telling the truth in a mirror, or is he hoping to manufacture a "degringolade" of the last bastion of the French spirit? Are all French people neurotic? Is there a few psychopaths amongst them to salvage a bit of pride, no matter what?


With a general strike now in its second month, with the Yellow Vest having reached one year of weekend protests, with many no-go areas around Paris due to drugs and religious extremism, with the peasants unhappy about the price for their melons due to the US trade sanctions — one can only hope that things will improve for the revolutionary Napoleonians... But of course Macron is still going to increase the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel, while giving his rich mates some tax relief so they can pitch in "his" reconstruction of Notre-Dame. At least the destruction of this edifice was not "deliberate" unlike the demolition of our Allianz stadium on a whim...

Many "real" French people seem to have gone back into their own "coquille" (shell) — a little like snails that hide from a lack of rain. Meanwhile, Houellebecq may not be a great inspiring philosopher but one that holds distorting mirrors like those that stop amusing us at Luna Park, as we crash against an invisible window pane.


Lucky Aussies, we can hope for more blue skies ahead, once the smoke has lifted, then we will lick the multicoloured ice-cream before it drips on our pants... Life is good...


Read from top.

a sick old dinosaur...



“We won’t wake up, after the lockdown, in a new world,” wrote French novelist Michel Houellebecq in May 2020; “it will be the same world, but a bit worse.” This idea — the same, but worse — sums up Houellebecq’s famous pessimism. Winner of the Prix Goncourt and recipient of the Legion of Honor, Houellebecq is one of France’s most prominent and contentious writers, known for satirical novels, such as The Elementary Particles, that register his disgust with the alienation and spiritual emptiness of modern life. “I’m the writer of a nihilistic era, and of the suffering associated with nihilism,” Houellebecq says in the recently published Interventions 2020, a collection of essays, interviews, and other nonfiction, translated into English by Andrew Brown.

Early in his career, Houellebecq was often associated with the Left for his unsparing critique of neoliberal individualism, but since the turn of the century, he has become a more ambiguous figure. In 2002, a French court charged Houellebecq with inciting religious and racial hatred after he called Islam “stupid” and the Koran “badly written” (he was acquitted). More controversy came, in 2015, with the publication of Submission, about a Muslim political party turning France into an Islamic state. Houellebecq’s recent writing and statements (including his views on women) have led to some criticism from the Left. “From a young, highly lucid writer on society, Houellebecq has become a sort of cantankerous old uncle completely overwhelmed by his time,” proclaimed Les Inrockuptibles, the left-wing magazine that originally published some of the writing that appears in Interventions 2020.



Houellebecq, then, cannot simply be cast as a figure of the Right. His novels at times fall into a right-wing critique of neoliberalism, but also contain a more penetrating diagnosis of contemporary atomization.

The best moments of Interventions 2020 find Houellebecq reflecting on the political vision that powers his fiction. At the core of this vision is a rage at the degrading effects of neoliberalism: “We live not only in a market economy,” Houellebecq writes, “but more generally in a market society, that is to say a space of civilization where all human relations, and similarly all human relationships with the world, are mediated through simple numerical calculation.”

Of course, Houellebecq is hardly unique in his hatred of market culture. Even parts of the American right have started to turn on capitalism, since they see it dissolving “traditional values.” (They are only a century and a half or so late in coming to this realization: “All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away” by capitalism, wrote Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848.) The “national conservatives” — and right-wing anti-capitalists more generally — hate the market because it undermines familiar forms of hierarchy and dominance; their solution is usually to reassert those forms of hierarchy and dominance without touching the determinative economic realities beneath them, leading to chintzy regimes like Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, which slap a veneer of cultural conservatism over the same old exploitation and anomie.











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