The Paradox of Ladies for Philip Davies

 

First published in The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/philip-davies-feminism-istanbul-convention-mens-rights-a7673791.html

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“Tory MP tries and fails to block anti-domestic violence bill with 91-minute speech” read Jon Stone’s headline in the Independent on the 24th February 2017- referring to Philip Davies 91 minute filibuster of The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (or ‘Istanbul Convention’). So why, you might reasonably ask, do I stand before you as one fifth of -the new pressure group – Ladies for Philip Davies?

 

Ladies for Philip Davies come from diverse political standpoints but we all believe in true equality, under the law, and oppose the “feminist zealotry” (Davies’s words) that is ignoring men’s issues and pushing legislation like the Istanbul Convention. You see, the convention is sexist in that it neglects the (at least) ⅓ of inter-personal violence victims that are male and also writes Patriarchy theory into law and into education- a theory that is not based on fact but belief. The preamble states: “that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women”, an assertion I and many others absolutely reject (Feminism is, afterall, a minority identity).

 

Davies was successful in 2015 and 2016 in securing  parliamentary debates to mark International Men’s Day, despite opposition from M.P.s such as Labour’s Jess Phillips, who told the Backbench Business Committee: ‘It seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day… When I’ve got parity, when women in these buildings have parity, you can have your debate.’ Davies pointed out that “there is a big difference between men raising issues and the raising of men’s issues”. Topics discussed included the male suicide rate (75% of suicides are male), educational underachievement and father’s rights. In December 2016, Davies was elected to the Women and Equalities Committee in the House of Commons. There was an angry and stunned response from Feminist Members of Parliament, completely unused to having their narratives challenged. The leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker, recalled a speech to the International Conference on Men’s Issues in which Mr Davies claimed that ‘feminist zealots really do want women to have their cake and eat it’ and Caroline Lucas hoped that his application was ‘a joke’, claiming that his presence would be unconstructive. However, the public appear to be on his side with a poll conducted on The Metro news site [ http://metro.co.uk/2016/12/14/tory-mp-wants-women-removed-from-women-and-equalities-committee-title-6323247/ ] revealing that 82% of readers agreed with Davies, that the word ‘Women’s’ should be dropped and the Committee go forward as ‘The Equalities Committee’.

 

In March 2017, my friends and I founded our pressure group, Ladies for Philip Davies. We aim to support him in his task to bring gender equality to UK governance, beginning with the Women and Equalities name change. Our first action was to write to all 650 MP’s asking for their support for his proposal- and encouraging others to write to their personal MPs as many avoided answering us by hiding behind the parliamentary protocol of only corresponding with their own constituents. Our next action is to set up a petition. If we get 10,000 signatures, the government has to respond- and with the results of the Metro poll, we’re fairly confident we can achieve this. 100,000 would get our proposal considered for a Parliamentary debate (which is needed to actually change the name)- that might require a second petition but- we intend to achieve it. The name change would just be a symbolic gesture to the inclusion of men and men’s issues, but a significant one.

 

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Rantz

Rantz’s (or Charles Strebor) photographic and digital art is a lush exploration of the intersection between the natural and the man-made. His use of technology is playful and distinctive and constantly references the beauty of the living world. A wonderful example of this juxtaposition is his Branchlings series in which images of branches set against sky are layered to create kaleidoscopic effects, both highlighting the organic forms themselves and the auteur behind the art.

#Interactive Branchlings

Interactive Branchlings

Whilst his subject matter tends to be rooted in landscape he is a fierce lover of people and is working on a vast project in collaboration with individuals around the globe called Others’ Worlds.

Heidi's World

Heidi’s World

A “series of interactive images”, it “came about when I was stitching together images to make an equirectangular image of a meatspace setting and I inadvertently mis-named three of the images and noticed that the equirectangular image that resulted from the mis-naming had an aesthetic that I appreciated and decided that I would need to explore this further.

“To date, I’ve created 55 of these worlds and I’m confident there will be more over the coming years. At some stage, I’d like to take this to a space where they can be projected on walls with a tech setup such that those in the space can interact with the images in three dimensions in a way similar to the way one can interact with them on various devices.” He has also created a tutorial to enable others to explore the techniques he uses at: Making Worlds <http://rantz.me/?p=5452>

Persnickety

Persnickety

Charles’ inspirations are surprising: “Though much of my work is imaged based, most of my inspirations are text or music based. William S. Burroughs and Laurie Anderson are two of the inspirations that have been with me since my teens – William as an early teen and Laurie later on.

“I’ve enjoyed all of William’s writings and I possibly enjoy his cut-up work the most.  William is also the person through whom I found – and have developed – my addiction to the number 23. Whilst there are many who like to link 23s to myriad conspiracy theories, my interpretation is that you find what you’re looking for: and I’ve found a plethora of 23s over the years.  In the late 90s, I created a list of 529 (23*23) factoids about the number 23.  23 of them were complete fabrications and I’ve found more than a few of them repeated on sites as fact when they were figments of my imagination.  You find what you’re looking for – and it’s good to verify what you find before you repeat.

“With Laurie, I’m continually impressed with her performance and music as well as her thoughts on how and why she creates what she does. I’ve yet to tire of anything that she has produced and I’ve listened to many of her pieces hundreds and hundreds of times. From the earlier days of “Language is a Virus” to the more recent “Heart of a Dog”, I find new inspiration everytime I listen, watch, experience.”

FFD8FFDB's World

FFD8FFDB’s

He also takes his cues from people he knows and loves: “There are three other artistic inspirations in my life that are people that I know and cherish.  The first of these is Javant Biarujia, a poet from Melbourne that I met in the mid-80s and I’ve maintained a friendship with him and his partner for 30 years now.  Javant has is own language – Taneraic < http://taneraic.rantz.me> – and I created a website for his language in the late 90s and it is has evolved to not only contain lessons on Taneraic but also blog posts.  I don’t understand the language at all – and I’ve no desire to do so.  I do, however, much love hearing him read his language, including the poetry that he writes in it.  The second of these is Julia Robertson, a friend that I met almost five years back.  Julia is a brain cancer survivor, an artist, a student and she does much work in raising funds for various organisations working on finding a cure for brain cancer as well supporting those with brain cancer.  I’ve dyed my beard purple < http://rantz.me/?p=4756> for one of her fundraising activities. The third of these is Paul Pavlinovich, who I met at the same time as I met Julia. Paul is a skilled photographer who is also skilled at sharing his knowledge about photography <http://photographersstudy.blogspot.com.au/> with anyone who cares to listen.  He is also heavily involved in community work with the Scouts movement, abseiling and the Puffing Billy Railway. He’s become a good mate over the years and I’ve managed to pass on my love of fire spinning with him.”

Glitching at the Beach

Glitching at the Beach

A dedicated god father, Charles says: “I’m fortunate to have two of the most amazing boys in my life. My official title is Faerie Goddess Father though we tend to shorten that to god father for commoners.  These boys are also inspirations in my life and I enjoy knowing that our relationship lets them know that it’s perfectly acceptable to be exactly as you are – you can be whatever kind of man you are.

“One of the things that I’ve learned from the lads is the importance of words: some years back, the elder lad had a new shirt.  He asked me what I thought of it and I said, “I don’t like red”.  He didn’t wear it for many months after I said that until one day I asked him why he hadn’t worn it. “You don’t like red,” he said. I then talked more about this and said that I don’t like red for me as it’s not one of the colours that I like and I told him that it looked great on him and he should wear it whenever he wanted.  The next day, he had it on.

“The younger lad is quite the charmer and we spent plenty of time together doing boy things ranging from cooking (he’s going to be able to cook a complete three-course meal for me someday soon), making photos (he likes ‘random stuff’) or reading.  Having read to the boys since before they could talk, it’s a wonderful thing that they can now read to me – and enjoy doing so.

One of the things that three of us enjoy doing together is going to the beach and playing with fire and LED lights to make long exposure photographs. It’s a most enjoyable activity and we get to talk about science, light, composition and having fun.”

Fractalz 26

Fractalz 26

His boundless love of people also finds expression through his intactivism: “I first became involved with the genital integrity movement – or intactivism – through a friend who was born intersex. My friend was born with ambiguous genitalia and the thinking of the time was that he needed to ‘fit in’.  As such, his genitals were shaped into a vagina because that was the easy thing to do.  As he grew, it became obvious to all concerned that he was a boy and this is how he identified. Unfortunately, the stress of living with medical decisions that were made on his behalf were too much and he took his own life in the mid 90s.  Fortunately, thinking about intersex conditions has changed over the years and this practice is not standard everywhere.  It still happens – but not all the time. Growing in my thinking about genital autonomy and bodily integrity, I’ve moved from being concerned with only intersex conditions to the rights of all people to not have their genitals cut without their consent.  Whilst there is much justified activism around female genital mutilation, the activism around intersex and male genital mutilation is not as widely accepted in the wider world.  This has changed and will keep changing until such a time as the genitals of those who cannot consent are not cut until such a time as the individual can make their own choices about their bodies and how they would like them to be.”

Rantz’s images are captivating and engrossing but his earnest and generous spirit is even more so. I will give the last word to him: “There is much stupidity in the world. Far too much. I don’t see this as being emblematic of an end of days – that’s far too negative a stance for me to have as I also see much beauty and hope in the world.  Provided that multinational corporations and their puppet governments do not destroy our shared world through climate change or war, I believe that the human capacity to love, learn and live will lead us to a better world. I can only hope – and believe – that my faith in humanity as a good thing is correct.”

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What Equality Will Look Like

I have a hobby. It is asking Feminists what their vision of equality will look like, as it is grossly irresponsible to embark on a mission without a clearly defined end point. I am yet to get a proper answer. I want equality too, however, I know what it will look like:

When there is an assumption of 50/50 shared parenting in the Family Courts.

When there is an equitable amount of money and effort expended researching cures for ‘male’ illnesses and ‘female’ illnesses. When there are male contraceptives.

When men are valued by society, and we see as much virtue signalling about that as we do regarding women’s inherent value- and as little misandry as we see misogyny.

When we have equitable services for male victims of DV.

When men and women receive equal sentences for equivalent crimes.

When we get rid of affirmative action quotas and let people succeed on the basis of their merits.

When the Women’s and Equalities Committee drops the ‘Women’s’ from their title and the UN Women’s department is either dropped or equal led with one for men.

When we embark on concerted efforts to make the world safer for men, as well as women.

When each sex is protected from infant genital mutilation.

When ‘forced to penetrate’ is classified as ‘rape’ in the criminal justice system.

 

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The House Says Feminism is Outdated

I took part at a debate at Bath University titled ‘The House Says Feminism is Outdated’. Here are my opening and closing statements:

Opening:

Pro-equality does not equal pro-feminism. In fact, the actions and rhetoric of Feminism are anti-equality; and since equality is a progressive value: the house is correct: Feminism is outdated.

It’s actually regressive and also toxic, a danger to men and boys, women and girls and society at large.

The dictionary definition of Feminism, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes” is wrong. What it should say is “the belief that women are disadvantaged as compared to men, that this is a societal problem and needs to be fixed.”

But if you take even a cursory glance at the state of society and the stat’s, it becomes clear that women are by far the privileged sex.

Only women are protected from the abuse that is circumcision.

Women have more reproductive rights and, where a child is born, it’s often effectively up to the grace of the mother whether the father can be involved in the child’s life at all.

Men make up around half of DV victims but receive essentially none of the support.

There is a justice gap that sees men receiving harsher sentences for the same crime as women- and the feminist response to all these issues is to keep campaigning for more privileges for women, such as Baroness Corston’s campaign to close women’s prisons.

Finally, men account for 80% of suicides and this is unsurprising when you bear in mind that, in the words of John Waters, “They live in a culture which terrorises them, they live in a culture which demonises them (and which hides this under all kinds of pseudo-respectable and ‘toleration-based’ ideologies)”.

And, Feminism is supremely powerful. On the one hand, Feminists have installed themselves in all kinds of positions of power and influence: in government, the civil service, the criminal justice system, education and the media etc. So, for example, that Feminist MP Nusrat Ghani can propose The Crime (Aggravated Murder of and Violence against Women) Bill which would outlaw the term ‘honour killings’, require British authorities to prosecute those who beat and murder British women abroad, help bring the women home, and pay for the repatriation of the bodies of those murdered. On the other hand, 100 years of Feminist propaganda has furnished it with power over the hearts and minds of society so much so that when Philip Davies stood up and suggested that the bill was a good idea but that it should be gender neutral so as to protect the 24% of male victims of honour based crimes, he was jeered at by the entire House and his reason disregarded- and this has caused NO public outrage.

Today, Feminism has NOTHING to do with equality. If we want to pursue equality (and I think we should – and, unlike every feminist I’ve asked, can tell you what equality will look like); we need to put Feminism in it’s place (with the other religions)- and we will. We are in a culture war, a battle of ideas, and good ideas have a history of winning out in our civilisation. We won our battle against the subjection of women (and thank God for that) but, as John Stuart Mill said, we must not “suppose that the barbarisms to which men cling the longest must be less barbarisms than those which they earlier shake off” and now commit ourselves to fighting the subjection of men.

Closing:

Equality is great, who wouldn’t want it? Everybody does. Equality- before the law, in dignity and well being- is the goal we should be striving for but Feminism at this point in time is not helping us reach it, it’s actually getting in the way. It has evolved from a fight for women’s legal and social equality to one for special privileges and affirmative action.

It’s time to speak truth to power and let Feminism know that it’s fulfilled it’s useful purpose, thank you very much. Egalitarianism can look after the interests of women and girls but Feminism has proven that it can’t and won’t look after the interests of men and boys. This state of affairs is no longer good enough.

Feminism is out, Egalitarianism is in.

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Letter to MPs Regarding Changing the Name of the Women and Equalities Committee to, simply, the Equalities Committee.

This is a template for a letter I, and friends at Ladies for Philip Davies, are busy sending out to all MPs in the Commons.

The automated responses we’re receiving suggest that it will make all the difference if this comes from their own constituents, so please copy and paste this (or write your own email) and send it to your MP. Don’t forget to include your full postal address. Find your MP and their email address here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

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Dear X,

I am writing regarding the Rt Hon Philip Davies’ proposal to change the name of the Women and Equalities Committee to simply ‘The Equalities Committee’.

The statistics and the real world make it clear that women are not a uniquely disadvantaged demographic. Men are facing serious issues that the select committee needs to work on too. He was correct when he said “You can still look at women’s issues on a committee that’s just called Equalities”- but the present name is explicitly exclusionary of men’s issues.

Not only is Davies’ name change proposal morally right however, but as evidenced by the poll conducted by The Metro (here: http://metro.co.uk/2016/12/14/tory-mp-wants-women-removed-from-women-and-equalities-committee-title-6323247/ and also pictured, as of the 7th March 2017) it appears to be overwhelmingly supported by the public.

I therefore ask you to support Davies in this campaign.

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Hobson
on behalf of Ladies for Philip Davies

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Exploring the Wasteland with Victor Holeček

V Holeček’s pencil drawings and acrylic paintings evoke an other-worldly realm that is earthy and engrossing. His darkly surreal landscapes are deliciously organic but filled with post apocalyptic, dystopian wrecks with outsized bones and skulls littering the environment. Death is a recurrent theme in his work, sometimes in bleak iconography, sometimes with a subversive humour such as in Bobo of Ulthar which immediately appears to be a mere portrait of a grumpy looking cat surrounded by glowing eyes but takes on a different tone when the eye falls to the bottom of the page where a flaccid and grey human hand lays. He also creates these arresting bastardisations of classic images, with targets including portraiture of a Renaissance style angelic woman who is afflicted with a pig’s snout and trotters and absence of eyes (in Das Tierdrama), George Washington with black anime-proportioned eyes and tentacles (in In His House at V’mon, Dead Washington Waits Dreaming) and American Gothic (in Amerikan Gothique, shown). His inspirations include H.R. Giger, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Darius Zawadski, Chet Zar, Lori Earley, Hieronymous Bosch, Aunia Khan, and Glenn Arthur.

 

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Dresden Airship, coloured pencil drawing.

 

Holeček recalls “I have fragmented memories of a book of Czech origin around the house when I was very young that had one particular illustration of Death coming to call at a house as this skeletal figure mounted on horseback. I couldn’t read the book but the image left an impression. [At one point] One of my older step-sisters who had a notable rebellious streak brought home a copy of H.R. Giger’s Necronomicon, and I sat and poured through the pages pretty intensely for the rest of the evening. I had seen Alien, and I’ve always been that kind of kid. I was profoundly drawn to terribly visceral elements, so to suddenly be handed an entire book of images cut from the same primal fabric as Alien was my gateway drug to a whole host of stylistically-related artists.”

“I actually didn’t learn to express myself as a child…at least not artistically. That came later. As a child I obsessed over the raw mechanics of it. I created images explicitly to create an image for its own sake; there was no much further intent beyond that. I wanted to draw things that looked like things rather than concern myself about any sort of message that might be conveyed by it. Even to this day, while I’ve become more expressive, messaging is still secondary to the mechanics of the image. I see the argument altogether too often that art is supposed to be all about expression, and honestly I think that’s asinine. Expression without some semblance of discipline is just puerile narcissism. It’s the mentality of a toddler. A three-year-old is quite capable of expressing, but lacks the order of language to make effective communication. But everyone wants to jump straight to the expressing without putting in the hours and demand to be taken just as seriously as the artist who painstakingly renders a fruit still life. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad if the former didn’t harbor such smug attitudes toward the latter. By the way some of them act you’d think that working that hard on something was some kind of social disease.”

 

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Amerikan Gothique, acrylic on canvas.

 

Of his development, he goes on to tell me “I’m largely self-taught. While I don’t have anything against art schools in theory, I don’t think they serve the purposes of fine artists anymore. Art schools are fine for people studying to become graphic designers or animators or things of that nature, but I think fine artists are really better-served in residency programs. Art school is a waste of time and money for an aspiring fine artist.”

 

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Urlaubsfotos, acrylic on canvas.

 

Holeček says that “We all have our own darkness even if we don’t all deal with it the same way.” and rejects “the idea that liking dark things mean you’re obliged to act like a morose asshole. But I know that there is some resonance in [dark artworks] for some people, each for their own reasons. Some people like anything with angry angles and drab colors. Others are looking for the symbolism, perhaps as a proxy for asserting their own identity in the world. Some people want to push it away altogether while others want to take it out for a walk.

“My clients and patrons seem to come from everywhere and every walk of life. Sometimes they even surprise me. They run the gamut of political leanings, professions, and across borders. I had a client from Boston who just wanted me to do a “ghost taco” (Ghost Taco) with no further direction than that. Another patron from Australia wanted a creepy drawing of his cat (Bobo of Ulthar), and one of my more regular patrons who is also a good friend is a former comic book shop owner who just seems to love everything that spills out of my head. About the only common thread that I can really seem to tie all my fans and patrons together with is that they are buying the art for the art, rather than as a simple decorative consideration. They’re not buying what they think will go with the drapes, but beyond that they’re all over the board. If nothing else it has taught me never to presume too much about a person.”

 

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Beyond the Wall, coloured pencil drawing.

 

In U.S. society (where “the most American thing I can think of is exercising an unrealistically-idealized vision of what being an American means.”) he detects diverse enemies to freedom of expression, “The binding thread is moral authoritarianism. Some days it’s the religious right. Other days its radical feminists or social justice warriors. They all want a lot of the same things; which is to be able to tell you what you’re allowed to say, do, or enjoy. The person who wants to rule the world and the person who wants to save it are altogether too often one-in-the-same. They both employ divisive messaging and cultivate a binary society where everything that isn’t in line with their own message is the work of the enemy, whether that enemy is the Devil, Muslims, the Patriarchy, Big Pharma, immigrants, homosexuals, et al…the practice and methodology are the same. They’re all subscribers to their own flavour of moral absolutism. There is no alternative viewpoint or middle ground. They rely entirely upon appeals to emotion and are undeterred even in the face of any evidence you care to present them with. They are the drones of their respective collectives.

 

v-holecek-medico-della-peste-acrylic

Medico della Peste, acrylic on canvas.

 

“I think that any time two or more cultures become intermingled, a certain amount of assimilation is necessary for both sides in order to establish equilibrium. That’s never an easy process and frequently gets messy in the turbulence that ensues as everyone tries to figure out where everyone else’s boundaries are and what boundaries they should set accordingly. Of course it never actually plays out with that level of self-aware civility, but the process is still running regardless. Like with all processes in nature, it’s not always pretty or idyllic, and sometimes it gets pretty fucking ugly before it gets sorted.”

 

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Landscape VII, coloured pencil drawing.

 

Politically, “I don’t lean reliably in any particular direction. I take each issue as a standalone and decide for myself how I think and feel about it, rather than let some sort of group affiliation make that decision for me. The consequence of that is that people on both sides tend to hate people like me while at the same time maintain a constant effort to get us to either fit into their peg hole or force us into the other. They’re like the cable companies of politics; they want you to buy their bundle package rather than make your own opinions a la carte. To me, that is the greatest act of resistance against the powers that be. That which is amorphous is harder to predict and therefore harder to control.”

Where Presidential candidates are concerned “On the left I’m in the Bernie Sanders camp because of the demonstrable history that he’s always put his money where his mouth has been. The fact that the bulk of the media has been actively trying to ignore him or spin the situation in Clinton’s favour has pushed me further into the Sanders camp. I’ve already voted for him in my state’s primary (Missouri). The fact that he didn’t challenge Missouri being called for Clinton despite a razor-thin margin that could have easily been within the margin for error because he didn’t want to waste the taxpayer’s money on it speaks volumes, although, pragmatically-speaking Missouri already splits the delegates so it’s likely he already knew the outcome would not have been significantly different. At any rate, I like a person who knows how to pick his battles intelligently. On the right, I had my hat in the ring for Kasich or Rubio, respectively, because while I didn’t agree with all their stances, they seemed like the lesser of the crazies and actually seemed like they could hold their own in the general election. Its unfortunate that first they had to survive the primaries, but so far Kasich is still in the game, but I can’t see him making any further significant headway, mostly because of Trump. I’m not a believer in American Exceptionalism, but rather think that it will be our undoing as a nation, so while I think Trump would pair well with our current congress in being all bluster and no substance, I cannot in good conscience put my support behind such a person.”

 

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Drahousek, coloured pencil drawing.

 

Holeček takes an active role in the art scene, moderating the Reddit Artstore (http://www.reddit.com/r/artstore) , where he works to “make the community easy not just for artists, but also for patrons. Getting artists there is the easy part. Artists are usually over abundant in these types of communities, so while do our best to make sure the artists are not being preyed upon in our community (we don’t allow things like spec work posts), we also take a lot of trouble to make it nice for buyers and patrons to browse, otherwise what’s the point?” He also has an impressive resume of collaborative works, having been exhibited widely, contributed to a book called Creepy Romance and designed a band logo and album cover, as well as having “done a couple of projects for an independent filmmaker out of NYC by the name of Omar Iturriaga who I met through one of the Reddit art communities. The first of which was a poster for his film The Rotten Monk (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3767054/). Omar has this lovely dark kind of post-Catholic sensibility. Often-times I’m given very little direction to start with, which is typically how I prefer to operate. The more vague your idea is, the more room I have to expand or explore it from a creative standpoint. But anyone who has worked with me will tell you that I’m very involved and I involve the client in the process a lot because I hate making a lot of progress on something only to find out that I’m headed in a direction that the client hates, so I do tons of progress updates back and forth.”

V Holeček’s atmospheric body of work is a divine nightmare made all the more mysterious by being crafted by such a grounded man. Originals and prints can be purchased here http://schamballah.com/ where you can also pore over his gallery and find out about events.

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