The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Models? We’ll give you models

When the Lady Gardeners saw this piece by Martin Van Beynen in Saturday’s press, there was shouting, sick feelings, and someone may have broken some of the tiles out by the pond. And so, we decided to shamelessly steal an idea from Femininsting and do a round table of sorts. (Not like the round table in the Garden where we sit and drink kir royales and talk about boys! and periods! and our slutty, slutty sex lives. Apparently.)

Tallulah: I attended SlutWalk in Wellington. I was not scantily clad, far from it, and I can report that I could count on my fingers the amount of women that were. Of course, you and I may have very different definitions of what “scantily clad” implies. Because, I would suggest, if not wanting your daughter to see women in their skimpies, you might want to keep them away from the ballet. Just sayin’. Also, if you’re looking for role models, how about NOT Cinderella, a simpering child who doesn’t stand up to her family, is basically the posterchild for domestic abuse, and waits around for a prince to rescue her. Unless, of course, that’s what you want for your daughter. I suspect if is, given you suggest the way forward for women is Redemption Through Housework.

The thing is, you really don’t like women very much, do you? We should be hard-working and chaste, and stand by our men, agreeing with them, no matter what. Apparently at all the “dinner parties” I go to with my “husband” (I live a very different life to you, Martin) I should just let him spout his “brilliant and noble” ideas, and keep my pretty little mouth quiet. Because that’s supporting him. You know, Martin, no man worth his salt, no man worth my time, has ever wanted that kind of support.

There is actually too much in this column of yours for me to argue with, and I am sure some of the other ladies will pick up the slack. But you know how you want women to hit the books? Perhaps you could do that yourself, and find out what SlutWalk was about, why your victim-blaming bullshit is harmful, and why it wasn’t about our right to dress like tarts. Go on, I dare you. Learn something.

Emma Honest, ‘Lulah, it’s like van Beynen read my How to Be an Opinion Columnist column as a genuine how-to, because he’s done every single thing in there. Factual inaccuracies: check. Strident opinions offered on things you know absolutely nothing about: check. Treating groups you don’t belong to as if they don’t contain people: check.

So yeah, van Beynen’s characterisation of SlutWalk couldn’t be more wrong. He clearly just didn’t care enough to pay attention to its actual message. And of course he had the assistance in his ignorance of people like that Stuff photographer by the bridge who was only taking pictures of women in fishnets.

And here’s the thing, for me, the reason I get so fucked off when people tell lies about SlutWalk. Anything you say about SlutWalk you say about rape victims. There were people there for whom being on the march was a huge emotional strain, but who felt it was so important that it was worth putting themselves through that, worth standing up in public for the first time and saying “Yes, I was raped, and no, I am not in any way to blame for that.” I’d like van Beynen to try putting himself in that position, imagine being one of those people, and then I’d like him to read what he said about them.

When women take to the streets to pursue the right to dress like tarts, you can see why I am often forced into the realms of fiction to find exemplary womanhood.

Those people, male and female? Would make fabulous role models for children.

Also, the car crash metaphor? Fucking seriously? Also, you know what? If I’m walking down the street and I get hit by a car, nobody gives a FUCK what I’m wearing.


[We have emailed Mr van Beynen for a response to this post. Fingers crossed! TS]

[Update: Mr van Beynen did not respond to our email, nor did he bother to join the conversation here. Mainly because I’m sure he’d like us to shut our mouths along with his wife. His ‘response’, such as it is, is here

I (Tallulah) have just one question (for tonight) Martin, did you really just tell rape victims to stop being so touchy? Jesus. ]

21 responses to “Models? We’ll give you models

  1. LadyNews July 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I love how when SlutWalk happened the news and print reports all used the phrase “scantily-clad”; every piece on the news that talked about scantily-clad marchers would pan over the crowd to reveal…people in coats. And regular clothes. And a few people who were “scantily-clad”. But as a person who saw it on the news and wasn’t at the walk in person, it was almost funny how hard they pushed the “slutty outifts!” line while obviously struggling to provide any evidence for the claim. (And, obvs, even if everyone there was “scantily-clad” there would be no problem with that).

  2. Deborah July 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I’ll add something in a day or two, as a comment. I’ve been a bit out of touch with moving and no internetz.

  3. Psycho Milt July 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Weird – I get the feeling it’s meant to be funny, but it’s not. And if it’s not meant to be funny, WTF?

    • tallulahspankhead July 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      I know. It reads like something out of the 1950’s. Ladies, stand by your man! Housework will free you! Be chaste and virtuous!

      I mean, OK, if it is meant to be funny – well it’s not, but maybe it is a BRILLIANT piece of satire, and we’ve just all missed it. If not, it’s just completely bloody awful.

  4. Jackie Clark July 27, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I’ll leave the Lady Gardeners to tackle his appalling attitude to the Slutwalk, since I wasn’t there. But the bit that got me was this: “Actually I would like to see young women devoting a bit more time to books and cleverness and less to friendship.” Astounding. I’m clever, read books, and am a great friend. I suspect this much could be said for a large proportion of women. I do wonder how friendships – which are about community, and collaboration, and support – could possibly be harmful to anyone, let alone a young woman, who in those tender years needs friends, true and loving friends, much more than anything else.

    • Amanda August 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

      Jackie, it’s the old “Divide and Conquer” attitude. Misogynists have realized that if women gather together in big enough groups, they’ll start comparing experiences, or offering advice on how to deal men, or *gasp* teach each other about feminism.

      Therefore, devaluing friendship and community, upholding the trope that women are only “bitchez out to steal each other’s husbands”, and insistence on formal education (with it’s patriachal slant in politics, history, economics etc) is a way to keep parcelling out the “right” sort of information to women.

  5. Isabel July 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I can’t be the only one who doesn’t see Hermione Granger as a model of chastity? I always assumed there was plenty of stuff going on off stage that just wasn’t explicitly in the books/movies due to the youth of the likely audience. Hermione always struck me as the sort who, while she wouldn’t go rushing into things, would be far too sensible to deny a natural urge for some out-dated notion of propriety.

    • Hugh July 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      I think there are two schools of thought – either the fact that there is no depicted sex or even references to sex in the books should be taken literally, or it should be considered literary license/dog-whistling and we should assume that there’s a bunch of nookie going on off-screen. Either way, though, Hermione isn’t a model of chastity – if we take Option A, everybody is chaste and she isn’t exceptional in this, and if we take Option B, well, yea.

      • Isabel July 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

        Going by what JK has told us about Dumbledore I think we can safely assume it’s the latter.

        • Hugh July 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

          Can we? Rowling told us Dumbledore was celibate since World War II.

          • Isabel July 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm

            Burnt by having your true love turn out evil is different from being anti-sex though.

          • Emma July 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm

            Is: but it really, really can be. It’s a common fate in the bury your gays trope. If there’s one(1) gay relationship and it ends in death and/or betrayal? Yeah.

            I don’t think, at all, that’s what Rowling’s doing, but I’m not prepared to give her all that much credit re: Dumbledore.

          • Isabel July 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

            Emma – you’ll forgive me if I don’t dive into tv tropes this close to needing to make dinner šŸ™‚

            I have reasonably mixed feelings about the whole Dumbledore thing but I do think it’s a reasonable assumption that if writer has given one character a sexual history that isn’t overtly stated in the books that she’s thought about such thing for the other characters too.

    • tallulahspankhead July 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Just popping in to say Sady Doyle on Hermione Granger is predictably interesting.

  6. Hugh July 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I dunno, I think Dumbledore’s whole “If I get emotionally involved with somebody I’ll inevitably lose my sense of right and wrong” is pretty anti-sex, or at least anti-relationship.

    What least impressed me about Rowling’s “outing” Dumbledore was that it was done outside the books. I think this was actually pretty calculated. The fandom is almost unanimously extremely gay friendly, but the general audience, a lot of which consists of parents buying books for their kids, is less so. So she got the gay-friendly credit from the gay-friendly fans, while the less gay-friendly fans are likely to be unaware of Dumbledore’s orientation and thus won’t potentially be put off by it.

    • tallulahspankhead July 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      I dunno, I think Dumbledore’s whole “If I get emotionally involved with somebody I’ll inevitably lose my sense of right and wrong” is pretty anti-sex, or at least anti-relationship.

      Emma’s point about gay characters notwithstanding, I’m not sure that’s true. First of all, Dumbledore is one character. It’s a long bow to draw to suggest a whole series is anti-relationship.

      Second, people in real life can be hurt by relationships and put off them, or scared away. Could Dumbledore not be the potterverse iteration of that?

      • Hugh July 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

        Oh sure it’s certainly realistic and makes him a more interesting character. Dumbledore isn’t perfect and there are many other characters who do have healthy relationships that fulfil them and actually help them achieve a steady moral compass. I’m not criticising Rowling’s decision to write him that way. (I am criticising her decision to -reveal- him that way, but that’s the medium, not the message). All I was saying that Dumbledore’s sexuality doesn’t really provide evidence for the idea that there was a lot of sex going on behind the scenes in the Potter books and that Rowling just didn’t want to write about it explicitly.

  7. lessonstobelearned462 August 3, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I completely agree with you about the car crash metaphor, as if they even bear a resemblance. Looking both ways before you cross a street is completely different to changing who you are, where you go and how you dress in case you potentially get raped.

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