Art v. Dodgy Politics

My dilemma at present is a moral one: what can I, in good conscious, watch of an evening? Royalty pennies from my subscription filter back to films’ creators, each member presumably receiving a proportion based on their contract, if not their importance in the piece. And, of course, the more times a film is viewed, the higher it is ranked via algorithm and thus the more likely it is to be viewed by others. With this in mind, what can I choose?

This is not simply a question of taste and whim, mind you. My views and time are transmuted into financial gain for someone, and I want to make sure that the receiver is someone who I find worthy. The line between worthiness and unworthiness, however, is blurred.

None of us is completely clean. We’ve all committed venal – even mortal – sins. Laws are broken in passion and in evasion. Yet, we often learn from our mistakes, collect our guilt and move on, vowing to not return down that path. We can forgive ourselves if we learned a lesson that improves.

But what if a law was broken habitually – or, if in breaking a law even once, someone else’s life was ruined? If that outlaw was not ourself, would we choose to support that person? How do we deal with a much-loved film or a piece of literature if we learn that the creator/trix lived a life inflicting cruelty on others? What if our hard-earned money went to those who commit atrocities against the most vulnerable?

That’s them, of course. Now to us. Should we be made to forgo what are arguably cultural masterpieces in the face of unspent convictions like the still-at-large Roman Polanski? Is it too extreme to consider that we avoid a film all our friends discuss? Do we forgive them once they’re dead, like the abusive, womanising Hemingway? Or do we simply forgive them because they create art: that highest form of human expression?

While we cannot change our tastes, perhaps we can look for others who embody the same qualities we appreciate, even if their glimpses of genius are still granular, still uncultivated. Hopefully, with the same financial backing and nurturing that those toppled (or, indeed, still standing) paragons of poor virtue once received, the artists in less controversial standing will be able to take their place and create the art that we all need to heal.

The Titty Tax

This is going to get heavy, but I promise it will get better. Just probably not today. Unfortunately, this isn’t even an article about bras.

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For anyone who pays attention to American news, this has been a triggering couple of weeks. Victim blaming has reminded many of us why we stayed quiet in crucial moments. The credibility of those brave enough to speak has been called into question because the women were young, drunk or both. Anger has made me shaky and hot. Then freezing. Then hot again.

I am a survivor of sexual abuse, harassment and rape. All these things happened on more than one occasion, and I never reported any of them to law enforcement. In almost all of those instances, I felt that I shared part of the blame. I gave myself reasons for this. For instance: I didn’t fight back hard enough (even though fighting at all made the agony worse). I was asleep naked (as if that were an invitation). I had been too close to the perpetrator. I was related to the perpetrator. I hadn’t bought myself a lock for my bedroom door.

Add these to a culture which, where I lived, shamed women who were not virgins until they married. My ‘greatest gift’ was gone. I was used. I was that chewed piece of gum held up triumphantly in sex ed to the rhetorical question, ‘And who would want a chewed piece of gum?’ I’d chewed my boyfriend’s gum once, trying to get a raspberry pip out of my teeth. It fell apart in my mouth. No one wants chewed gum.

And yet, telling my mother that I had chosen to have sex was easier than telling her that I’d been forced. It carried an air of rebellion with it, a rejection of the religion that would now reject me. Months later, when I told her the truth, she didn’t want to hear about it – but she did  ask me questions that put me on the back foot. Was it the first time I’d had my clothes off around him? Why was I alone with him? Was it still going on? Rather than feeling supported, I believed that I’d had a hand in my own rape. Never mind that I’d bled for days afterward, or that the stress nearly made me lose my mind.

Not every girl’s ‘loving family’ is ready to give her agency, especially if the family religion belittles anyone without a hymen. Best keep it quiet.

But back to the present day. I write this after Christine Blasey Ford provided testimony filled with vivid detail, including the increased volume of a stereo when two men closed her in a bedroom with them. Her silencing was the most frightening thing for her. She also spoke out knowing that it might not make a difference.

Throughout the internationally reported ‘pre- and post-hearing’, the phrase ‘ruining a man’s life’ has been bandied about with particular abandon. As if barring a man from sitting on the Supreme Court ruins his life (not that he’ll ever know). Moreover, this attitude ignores the women’s lives that have been ruined by male entitlement. The hours of therapy we have paid for, the silence, the learned helplessness, the loss of confidence, even the inability to show complete love to our chosen partners – these are the tax of being a woman with a past of compromised safety.

Blaming women for not reporting their own abuse is fairly standard these days, usually accompanied by the implication that future victims are on the first victim’s head. However, the low rate of conviction (or even belief) also begs the question – which of us are worth protecting, and which of us are to be left without justice, our credibility compromised by our own vulnerability? Within this framework of partisan justice, is it any surprise that so many of us stay silent?

Fear and the Art of New Stasis

My husband and I are currently planning a move to the US. I am reluctant to engage with this decision because I am reluctant to go. Our life in the UK is lovely, and I’m convinced that a move to a less expensive part of the country would solve all our problems. He is unconvinced, and felt that the solution lay in a complete upheaval. It’s clear which side won. Let’s speak no more of.

In complete denial of this upcoming departure, I spend up to an hour a day scanning properties on Rightmove, looking for the perfect three-bed-with-garden-plus-large-kitchen and a view of some sort of watery feature. It doesn’t matter that the husband (and anyone else who knows of this habit) finds this exercise pointless, because maintaining it means something to me.

Yet, I am unsure as to why I am so focused on what is clearly a lost cause. This has happened before, namely after our last move from a flat to our current house. I spent months rearranging our old flat via floor plans so that it could accommodate everything my husband wanted in a place – never mind that a new Mr and Mrs had already settled in between those same walls.

The fact is that I’m scared of too much change. Small changes, such as the local pub changing hands, are jarring at the best of times. Big changes, on the other hand, knock me for six in my old age (30). All I want to do is get to the point at which we’re going to be when the whole mess is sorted so I know where the metaphorical chips lie. Stake out a piece of high land in advance of the flood and learn to grow my own turnips, if need be. But I want that routine now, so I can get used to it before it becomes a requirement.

And I want it in the UK, because the US seems altogether more volatile. Socialist medicine and gun control are anathema, but these are things we take for granted locally. Moreover, I feel we’ve reached some sort of plateau in the amount of crazy within our borders. Of course, this is not true – Brexit hasn’t even taken place yet. But I live in hope that Article 50 will never complete.

In the meantime, I’ll content myself to keep writing and, in spare moments, browse Rightmove. I feel that the breakthrough property – the one that makes my husband say, ‘Ah, that’s superior to anything Stateside!’ – is only an advanced search away.

Changing Tack

For a while now, I’ve been writing strictly about minimalism and getting my life in order by clearing out my space. This has been working well for me, and gradually I am reducing my possessions to have a tidier home. As much fun as this is, I feel as though it’s time for me to branch out with regards to what I write. I have loads of interests, activities, qualifications, etc., which are currently vying for my attention.

Therefore, I will be changing it up around here. I will be holding space for my spiritual growth, discoveries in the complex world of personal health and progression in my ‘proper writing.’ I’ll be doing more tarot readings and eventually create a library for all the tarot card meanings.

I’m also about to move internationally, so I’ll be sharing that experience with you as I blossom in my new life. Things are getting exciting!

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Let’s do this.