Ditch the Donald, Dump the Trump

Reading Time: 1 minute

Ditch the Donald, Dump the Trump

free protest signs

Want to carry a super cool protest sign for when the orange menace visits the UK, but you aren’t very artsy? We’ve got you covered. Our art department (the brilliant Red Raiph and Debra Torrance) have created a whole range of  Dump the Trump posters that you can download and print off to use absolutely free. After all, he deserves an appropriate welcome.

 

We’ve got full colour, black and white for cheaper printing, images to scrawl your own slogans on, have a scroll through and take as many as you like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, you are welcome to download as many of these images as you like to use for your own protest signs, give them to friends, use them as posters, share them online, whatever you like, absolutely free, but if you’d like to make a donation, you can find our collection tin at paypal.me/ungaggedleft

Being Wrong…

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Neil Scott

Being Wrong…

 

Admitting you were wrong is pretty difficult, especially when society is so judgemental and in turn individuals at a personal level feel judged by friends, family and peers. So, I’m going to write a wee series of blogs on “when I’ve been wrong.” Please, judge me all you like. I’m 52 and know I’ve made mistakes. Many. I’ve said shit things, thought shit things, done shit things and been an unbearable shit to some people. Not all the time, I don’t think, but I’m going to offer apologies to those I’ve hurt, or criticised when I have been wrong. I can’t ask for forgiveness, and I suppose, on one level, I don’t want it, because being wrong has helped me learn, because when people shout an alternative world view at you when you are shouting your view, it does sometimes register.

 

I perceive myself as politically left, and I think if anything, the political left should be about one thing- analysing society, and perhaps shifting their world view as well as others, in order to stop society sliding into a massive shit hole of creeping Conservative right wing inequalities. Challenging our own view should not be seen as confrontation, but should be welcomed. We should be open to it. The world can only get better if we keep an open mind to change both personally and societally.

Anyway, my first apology is not about politics, well, partly so, but only partly. Though that will come I’m sure. My first apology is about music, and at a guess as I write more of these, my apologies will be about other aspects and choices regarding music.

  • Paula, I wasn’t wrong about Joy Division, but perhaps neither were you.-

Teenage boys can be introspective en extremis. I was no different to many others, and as I discovered music, I thought, “I’d love to share this feeling, this deep, emotion, with other people,” so the stereo was cranked up in the bedroom and when I went to Paula’s house, I brought my Joy Division tapes with me. Unknown Pleasures on one side, with a few fillers like Japan’s “Night Porter, “ and then their other album, “Closer, “ on the other side with a few fillers like “Love will tear us apart,” “These Days,” and The Beatles “Let it Be,” sang by St Paul’s boys choir.

Cheery, and what every girlfriend would love.

Paula wrote all over the cassette, “boring! Snore..!” and other less than enthusiastic words. Although she was of course wrong, it made me think that perhaps my perspective on music might not be everyone’s. What touched me, didn’t always register with other people’s life experiences.

My music taste did develop, though Joy Division and New Order stayed with me. As I became more aware of what went on outside me, I began to love music that dealt with political themes. The Fun Boy Three, and “The More that I see,” about Northern Ireland, The Police “Invisible Sun,” about the same theme, and then stadium music that dealt with Steve Biko, Mandela, Martin Luther King, poverty, starvation etc became the big theme of the eighties and selfish, introspection was out. And I loved to find the roots of the music I loved, the influences etc, so I became a fan of New York punk, and in turn, the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Western US pre punk rock bands like The Doors. I loved the music that influenced my modern day heroes, Echo and the Bunnymen and other northern English bands; The Associates, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and other Scottish bands.

And here comes the main apology:

  • I wasn’t entirely right about The Cure, Sharon and Toby. I won’t apologise for not worshipping the ground Morrissey soiled, but I will apologise for not fully appreciating Smith’s introspection, musical talent and actually laying out his problems on vinyl.

Morrissey did write some scathing political songs in the eighties, but his own reordering of his thoughts have now set him firmly in the category Rock against Racism was set up to counter. I bought The Smiths first album, and although I did like some tracks on it, that was it. The Smiths to me, created some good songs, sometimes in spite of Morrissey’s whiney, “look at me, I’m so your new Dylan, Byron hero thing that the artistic press seek every ten years or so.” Some amazing, sparing singles. Johnny Marr and the others made The Smiths. Morrissey in my opinion, made them unfollowable.

Smith, at a glance, seemed the same. And for me, again, there were songs I liked. But my mistake was I mistook his introspection and shyness as a Byronic feyness ala Morrissey. I appreciate now, I was wrong.

My other gripe about Smith and his music persona, “The Cure,” was that he seemed to follow groups, and imitate them. I remember reading an interview with him in which he said his favourite track was Joy Division’s The Eternal. So, I started hearing The Eternal in everything he did, and his song The Walk, was quite obviously his take on New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Having said all of that, one of my favourite tapes I bought during the eighties was a “best of” The Cure’s early stuff. (I bought stuff on tape I thought was disposable – if I wanted a lasting copy, I bought vinyl and taped the vinyl). I wasn’t wrong in his listening to good stuff and using some of the same techniques, but I was wrong to make this something to diss what was amazing stuff, almost entirely created by Smith himself. Smith, I realise, was a magpie. While his peers applied modern musical instrumentation to what they learned from The Velvet Underground, Bowie, The, Doors, The MC5, unlike his peers, he also picked out what he liked about what his peers were inventing.

Listen to Disintegration and you’ll hear The Bunnymen, New Order, Bowie, the anthemic stadium sound of the time, and even classical influences. But what is clear is it is about Smith, his disintegration, his depression,, his realisation that the joyous, self conscious, certain world he inhabited in his teens and twenties were coming to an end. Friendships and the need to be in a gang, were less certain, but love and commitment and respect were. His emotions, unlike so much that was “indie”at the time, are laid out on this amazing construction.

And mental health, addiction and depression created a joyous, anthemic, beautiful piece of work I had dismissed as a copy.

Toby says this is late night listening. Perhaps. But the current heatwave, the claustrophobia of the heat and slowing down of life, makes this apt, appropriate.

Unlike those who found it at the time, it will remind me of the incredible weather of summer 2018. My memories of 1989 are of The Doors, Australian rock and crashing my dad’s car driving to meet Sharon, one of The Cure’s greatest fans.

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this piece you can read more from Neil on his writing page, or listen to his contributions to our Podcast

Scotland’s Response To Katie Hopkins’ Hate

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Scotland’s Response To Katie Hopkins’ Hate

All decent minded people were shocked and horrified at the murder of 6 year old Alesha McPhail in the early hours of Monday morning.  The fact it happened in Rothesay on the island of Bute, a place most Scottish people associate with summer days out and the last place you would expect bad things to happen intensified that.
 But there was one person who saw this not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to further their hateful agenda.  That person was, of course, right wing Uber-troll Katie Hopkins.
 Hopkins immediately sought to link the murder of this little girl with the fact that, in 2015, 24 refugee families from Syria settled on the island.  There is absolutely no reason to think any of these individuals was in any way responsible for this crime.  Hopkins then posted an article implying a correlation between the arrival of the refugees and a 29% increase in sex crimes.  At first glance this might seem a worrying and compelling statistic but upon closer inspection it falls apart for several reasons.
1. The statistics apply to Argyle & Bute Council, an area that encompasses over 80,000 people of which the island of Bute makes up barely 8% of the population.
2. The relatively large percentage rise between the two years quoted is mainly due to an unusual reduction in the first year, and over a wider period of time numbers of sex crimes have remained relatively constant.
3. The time period she quotes the refugee families didn’t actually arrive until the very end of the year and the vast majority of these crimes were committed before their arrival.
As an island with a falling population, the settlement of Syrian families has been an overwhelmingly positive thing for Bute.  Upon their arrival locals ran welcoming committees to help what must’ve been a difficult transition from Damascus to Rothesay.  There may have been trepidation from some local people initially but that seems to have subsided and three years on former Refugees have opened a barbershop and a patisserie on the island.
Today a graffiti artist summed up the feelings of Scotland rather succinctly:
We at Left Ungagged would like to echo that sentiment and categorically state that Scotland Welcomes Refugees and we agree that we would like Katie Hopkins to GTF.

On The Road Again

Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Available FREE on iTunes and Podbean

In this episode, introduced by Neil Scott, we have news, views and analysis from; Debra Torrance, on the journey to Scottish independence and what that might look like, Em Dehaney on sexism within the music industry,  Damanvir Kaur with updates on jailed Scot Jagtar Singh Johal and Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, Laura Lundahl, on what happens when there no body to bury, Thomas Morris on ethical travel,  Red Raiph on school holidays and mini-beasts Mhairi Hunter gives us an update on her work at Glasgow City council, Sandra Webster, talks about how it’s the journey that matters, Teresa Durran shares a poem, and we’ll be hearing from Chuck Hamilton. Our theme for this episode was “on the road again” and, as always, the collective have taken that theme in all sorts of different directions.

With music from Husky TonesArgonaut, The Merry Jaynz, Milton Star, Cascadia, Gallo Rojo, Phat Bollard, The Kara Sea, Faber Whitehouse, Thunder on the left, and The Bable Fish Project

Pulled together, kicking and screaming, by Neil Scott and Victoria Pearson

Remember we love to hear from you so get yourself Ungagged on our Facebook page, or on Twitter, or check out the latest news, views and opinion right here on on our website.

 

 

Ungagged is a not for profit voluntary collective, and we rely on the generosity of our listeners to help fund our solidarity and charity campaigns, and meet hosting, equipment and advertising costs. If you love what we do and can spare some change, our collection tin is at PayPal.me/ungaggedleft

 

Women on Top?

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Victoria Pearson

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen me tweet this headline from The Spectator:


With the words “is this real life?” so I apologise if this feels like I’m going over old ground for some readers, but I do feel like this sort of headline is harmful on a number of levels, and some important points are being missed while people’s brains are imploding at the idea of Theresa May as a sex symbol.

I won’t be drilling into the article itself – partly because I couldn’t force myself to finish it, but mostly because we live in an age of tweet length news, rolling 24 hour coverage and attention spans more stretched than a whale’s waistband, so the headline and sub-heading is all most people will see of a lot of news stories, whether that’s digitally as we scroll past on our newsfeeds or physically as we walk past the news-stand, or see someone reading a paper in public.

Almost all of the chatter I have seen about this has centred around denial that Theresa May exudes erotic appeal. Personally, my cup of tea she is not, but it takes all sorts to make the world go round, and life would be very beige and boring if we all found the same people attractive. Desirability is entirely subjective – so it’s a bizarre premise to set an article on.

May’s attractiveness or lack thereof aside, what bothers me most about this headline is the casual sexism. This kind of headline seeps into the collective consciousness and suggests that a woman who has been working in her field for over 20 years and has reached the very top of her profession must have done so because of her sexuality. That she is in her position because of the male gaze – that men still very much hold power over women, however powerful that woman may seem.

Why then should we – having internalized this message – have respect for any woman who has risen in her field? Those who have followed my writing in the past know well that I have no time whatsoever for Theresa May. I think she is an incompetent, floundering politician who has achieved her position purely because no one else wanted the poisoned chalice, she’s a terrible representative and an even worse person. But if we reduce even the Prime Minister to “We Britons have always liked a girl on top” nudge wink, Carry On Westminster, what does that say about other women in professional positions?

Why would people not assume the same about female doctors, engineers, mechanics, or any other traditionally male dominated profession? This fosters a societal attitude of distrust of women’s abilities at all levels, implies that we cannot hold power in our own right, and as such is incredibly insulting – both to the millions of competent, hardworking women this attitude impacts on, and to the men who the writer seems to assume voted for someone to run the UK based purely on the fact they’d quite like to bang her.

This creeping sexism is massively disheartening to those of us trying to teach the young women in our lives that they have a world of opportunity ahead of them, and can be anything they choose. This kind of headline teaches them that’s not true. Whether they want it or not, regardless of how they present themselves, or what job they do, they will still have male fantasy projected onto them, and be viewed through the lens of their sexuality, not their achievements. They will not have a choice in the matter. Even if they become a navy trouser suit wearing, “Christian” Conservative Prime Minister, they will still be viewed as wank fodder by so called journalists who can’t imagine for a moment they may have achieved anything without the help of fawning men who fancy them. Why should our young women strive to be anything other than just sexy if that’s all they’ll be judged on anyway, whether they want to be or not?

I’ve no doubt the writer would say, if asked, that the article was meant to be complimentary, and they had no intention of undermining anyone’s authority or indeed implying anyone’s value lies in whether they are judged to be hot or not by the chattering classes. But this smacks of putting the woman in her place, reminding women that they are welcome at the top table only if men put them there, asserting power. It is, as one of the replies to my tweet said, so grubby.

This “article”, as far as I could see, wasn’t written in response to a survey or opinion poll. It wasn’t written to try and make sense of an unexpected bounce in the polls, or as a reaction to a fluff news piece. Perhaps the writer was asked to write a positive story on Theresa May and this rot was literally all they could think of. If so I’m not sure if I despair more at the competence of the PM, or the editor that thought this drivel was worth printing. I suspect though, that this casually misogynistic word salad was turned in with little thought and used to fill inches and sell ad space and generate outrage clicks.

Why then am I giving the piece further attention here? Because words matter. Headlines matter. And once upon a time, in a land that feels far, far away now, journalism used to matter. Our media is a direct influence on all levels of our society. Its about time that responsibility was taken more seriously.

 

You can read more of V’s Ungagged writing here, or listen to her on our podcast

Wonders of the Fair

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Wonders of the fair

Debra Torrance
Image courtesy of Yasmin Parnham

The carnival is in my soul, I love it so very much. The smells, the sights and the sounds. It fills my senses with nostalgia and excitement. I’m sure this is true for many of us. As I wrote last time about Showmen this is another sad tale of a Fair that’s being treated not so fairly.

Feltham showmen have a history spanning over a century, residing in Feltham, in the council borough of Hounslow, just south of the M4 and West of London. On a bit of land that was formerly an orchard and piggery, descendants of the original plot owners today still live in chalets, brick built homes and caravans. Doing the same job their forefathers done. Bringing joy and fun to many areas around London including Wimbledon Common and Ravenscourt Park.

Image by Yasmin Parnham
Image by Debra Torrance

From wee babies to elderly residents, this community of showfolk are under threat. 60% of the land is privately owned by the Showmen families, however Hounslow council own 40%. Hounslow council have been reviewing their housing stock, they say the new London Plan requires Hounslow to provide 21,800 new homes over the next 10 years. It is no surprise then that such a perfect spot for commuting is under threat of redevelopment. But it is a surprise to the hundreds of residents that already live there.

On June 11th, Hounslow council leader Steve Curran said “The Feltham Masterplan… identifies the Station Estate Road ‘Travelling Show Peoples’ site as having potential for redevelopment for housing due to its close proximity to the train station and town centre.”

You can view the full statement on the Feltham Masterplan here:

Furthermore the councillor continues:

“In order to identify a suitable alternative site, we have carried a detailed assessment of the current and future needs of the existing Traveling Show People community at Station Road. We have also carried out a “Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA)”, which is a borough-wide assessment.

We continue to look for a suitable alternative site and engage with the community to assess their needs”.

I wondered about this impact assessment, as I covered in my last article, showmen are a unique culture. Business people who have mastered the art of logistical nightmares, literally living their livelihood. How can a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment take into account unique traits of the showman? Most with a home base, a large static chalet or even brick built homes. Often in yards where they can maintain their vehicles and machines. A showman may move vehicles and machines several times a day from fairground site to yard to stadiums, many will stay with their machines and vehicles on site but many also return home to their base. Where their children attend school and elderly relatives are cared for.Hounslow council say they carried out an impact assessment. So we had a look at the Hounslow Bedfont Lane and Station Estate Road TSP Accommodation Assessment.

This GTAA is a 33 page document, outlining the various types of accommodation that the showman use. The trouble is, without fully understanding the complex working and travelling routines of showmen, it would be easy to misconstrue the facts being presented to us. If the majority of households in the showman sites have mobile homes, then what is the problem with just moving elsewhere?

Except, that isn’t the case. A showman’s household may span several generations, elderly grandparents may reside with up and coming young showmen, some members of the household may travel from fairground to fairground, while others stay at their static site, in brick homes and bungalows, as well as modern chalets, often costing tens of thousands of pounds.

 

Image by Yasmin Parnham
Image by Debra Torrance

Does this assessment give a fair representation of the showman community in Feltham?

We asked showman spokeswoman Yasmin Parnham her opinion on the situation:

“While the GTAA does reflect on us and it does show indeed we have a need for additional yards due to growth within the families and business. We have given Opinion Research Services our full co operation but even though the assessment was complete we had to push the leader of the council for us to see the report even though we knew they had it we hadn’t seen the results.
We have been in total shock after finding out from a councillor Elizabeth Hughes sometime ago that our land was identified for compulsory purchase order, this she told a fellow showman in the local pub, since then we have been trying to get more information about this.
Showmen have lived on this site for 4 generations over 150 years when infact it was originally a pig farm and an orchard, Feltham has built up around us, we are the only ones included in the masterplan to be under threat of losing our homes.
I have been seeking help from all over and our local ward councillor John Chatt told me in a recent meeting how very upset he was over losing his local labour club where he used to drink, he was quite mortified I said ‘John that’s a club and you feel like this imagine how we feel this is our homes and livelihoods!’”

The local community have been rallying with the showmen and residents under threat from this Feltham Master Plan. The local Victoria Junior School Year 4 children were learning about the history of Feltham and were outraged by the story of the Showman’s site and offered to help. Lawyers have offered their services, thousands of messages of support have been flowing into the inbox of Yasmin and now have over ten thousand members (and growing!) on their facebook page. Although it is often misunderstood, the life of the showman is intrinsically linked with the community in which they live for the off season. That home base is just that, their home. Can you imagine being told in the pub that your home was under threat? How would you feel if your neighbour came to tell you that your council was proposing new homes where your home was? If the council have identified like for like alternative sites for this showman community then why don’t they build new homes there and leave this site alone? I asked Yasmin how the whole ordeal has impacted her:

“The threat of losing our homes is taking its toll on our elderly, there has been heart attacks, deaths and some of my friends are now on antidepressants through anxiety and stress, I have been too recently!
My own father has had a heart attack and has prostate cancer, whilst in his hospital bed he said if I manage to get through this we will fight the council…”

Please digest that for a moment. A specific group of people in a community under threat are getting sick through this whole ordeal, mental health is being affected, physical illnesses exacerbated and sick and hospitalised people are fighting for their homes! In Great Britain. In the 21st century.We can’t let these hardworking, community minded, culturally rich and historic folk fight this by themselves. Showmen the length and breadth of the countries of the United Kingdom will be fighting together, have no doubt. Let’s support them. Because remember our communities would be poorer without carnivals and fairs. What is a gala without a bouncey castle? What is a Highland games without a hook a duck? These events are vital boosts to lagging local economies. What is happening in Feltham to the Showman community isn’t fair.

You can contact Steve Curran council leader here:
Write to your own MP and let them know about it all and how you would feel if your home was flagged for redevelopment in an ominously named “Masterplan.”

I want to finish with the words of a Showman, because this is their story, I’m just sharing it.

“In 2018 should we not be trying to integrate our communities rather than making the showmen social outcasts on the edge of town!

Feltham has created what other towns have failed to do, they have a community that is made up of so many diverse groups of people that even though they are very different to each other they do not see themselves as separate groups but as one large community!

Is this not what every borough should be striving to achieve, rather than tearing it apart?”

You can sign the petition to save the Feltnam site here

 

Yasmin Parnham also wrote a moving piece of poetry. You can read it here

 

You can read more of Debra’s Ungagged writing here, or listen to her on our podcast

The Feltham Masterplan

Reading Time: 1 minute
Yasmin Parnham

I can’t believe it that I’m having to fight,
For something that belongs to me by right.

We just don’t rent or set up any where ,
We aren’t gypsys we’re showman from the fair!

We work long hours come rain, blow or snow,
We don’t get much time off either you know.

But that don’t matter Cos it’s our way of life,
We’re used to having a little trouble and strife,

We can take the ups with the down,
Especially with the help from our little town.

The community’s support is overwhelming to us,
We only wanna be left alone without a fuss.

But the council are intent on taking my home from me,
Well I can tell you it’ll be over my dead body!

A showman’s life isn’t an easy one ya see,
Fighting the council will be soo easy,

Cos we’re all made of truly strong stuff,
And stick together when the going gets tough.

So Mr Curran a walk in the park this won’t be,
I’ll make it as hard as I can for you so happily.

For 4 generations showman have lived on this land,
And worked hard for what’s there’s with their own bare hand.

And you think you can just come and take our home?
And stick others in high rise flats that don’t even roam?

What about our heritage and also our Human right?
This isn’t gonna be easy, we’re gonna put up a good fight,

So now is the time to prove you are a good councillor man,
And get the showman removed from The Feltham Masterplan.

 

You can read more about the case that inspired this poem here

Arms Fair Activism: Arts Not Arms

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Arms Fair Activism

Arts Not Arms

By Jay Sutherland

As Britain’s Armed Forces Day approaches Scotland Against Militarism and others are working against the upcoming UDT Arms Fair due to be held at the SEC events centre in Glasgow on June 28th and 29th.

When we tell most people, even those who claim to be fully switched on and up to date about politics they are shocked to hear that an Arms Fair is coming to Glasgow, and sometimes even deny that it could be sponsored and supported by the Glasgow SNP-led council.  This has been one of the biggest challenges for us to overcome, the fact that the council and the SNP group of councillors have done their best to hide the fact that they silently support this.

But as always, money talks.  The SEC, which is 90% owned by the council, will be hosting the event.  It’s important to name and shame who we are dealing with, the key people who are involved in this through the council are David McDonald the deputy leader of the council and public defender of the Arms Fair within the city chambers. He claims that it is simply a technological conference and that Trident is not involved, despite having speakers, displays and information relating to Trident at the conference, as well as a student recruitment drive led by Trident experts taking place at the event.  The logo for the entire event involves trident – you would think they would do their research.

More hypocritical is Susan Aiken’s approach who claimed she only found out about the Arms Fair a few months ago despite being head of the Council and Glasgow Life.  She has defended the Palestinian cause in the past but sees no issue with Israeli Defence Force technology being promoted at the conference and companies which are linked to the IDF being there.  Some of the technology present at the conference will be the same tech which continues to oppress the people of Palestine but also keep them within from the land as well as the sea with underwater detection.

S.A.M (Scotland Against Militarism) and activists from CAAT Scotland (Campaign Against The Arms Trade) have been doing most of the ground work in Glasgow and beyond to try to get the event cancelled or at the very least remove council support.  Recently we have held demonstrations outside the city chambers and outside Susan Aiken’s surgery where we confronted her about her support for the Arms Fair.  She claims that cancelling the Arms Fair would damage the city’s reputation.  The opposite is true, it will show Glasgow doesn’t deal with warmongering/human rights abusers such as Israel.  Also the fact that the SNP-led council will only speak to us when we turn up at their surgery’s unannounced shows a real democratic deficit, despite David McDonald saying he would always be happy to meet with us, he also gave no reason for cancelling his surgery when Scotland Against Militarism announced our day of action.

Before that we met with Green MSP’s who gave their backing to the protest on the 26th of June at SEC.

We have a lot of actions lined up in the days and weeks ahead, we want to make it clear to the council that we won’t stop the disruption until they remove their support for this trident showcase. With the council blatantly lying about the links to trident we have no choice but to step up our campaign.

We urge everyone to get involved by contacting their elected representatives, taking part in actions and attending the protest weekend we have planned. 26th June: Mass protest 8am/10am, 27th: #ArtsNotArms a festival of music and Arts Against the Arms Fair, 28th: TBC

Scotland Against Militarism welcomed the news of the removal of the People Make Glasgow logo, but we won’t be backing down until full support is removed.

Scotland Against Militarism and the Sink UDT Campaign first pushed for them to remove the branding with our meeting with Susan Aitken, this was not a decision that the council came to themselves.

Most of all it shows that people power works and that the council realise they have got it completely wrong, but they are still refusing to remove full support. They recognise that people have claimed the brand but what they don’t realise is that people own the city too and we are not putting up with this.

We won’t be backing down until they remove their full support for the event, nothing less. Otherwise they are simply hiding their interests.

Feminism, My Enemy?

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Euan Johnston

I’m a heterosexual man. I always have been. I was a child in the 1970s and a teen in the 80s. I have made lots of mistakes in my life and my attitudes have evolved over time – I’m sure that despite my trying to live in a better way, I have attitudes and unconscious behaviours that are far from perfect in regards to equality. But I’ve never raped or assaulted women nor have I wanted to.

 

Rape, sexual assault and violence are an extreme end of a spectrum of disrespect and abuse and oppression of women. How can any objective person not see that? That there are links between everyday, humdrum inequalities and the kind of violence that the La Manada* case exemplifies.

* (CW: Extreme Sexual Violence)

 

I think that despite the failings of men like myself, society has changed dramatically in terms of how women are treated and it’s better for everyone that it has. I don’t know about calling myself a feminist – I don’t know if I qualify for that, and its not important, what is important is to support women who are feminists and who have seen that the achievement of equality is political. That feminism is and has been and will be crucial in achieving equality – equality still hasn’t been achieved but is a damn site nearer than it has been in history.

 

I would say to other heterosexual men, don’t listen to those whining little shits like Jordan Peterson and the other men who claim that feminism is their enemy. Support your feminist partners, mothers and daughters. Nobody has anything to gain by women “knowing their place” Not for them and certainly not for men. I find myself sickened by the lad culture, informed by pornography and entitlement. I find myself reading about men acting the victim – we are being emasculated, we are unsure of our role, we are oppressed by feminist ball-busters getting on at us for not doing things their way and I don’t recognise their complaints.

I don’t want to be saying #NotAllMen or trying to make out I’m a saint or anything. I just find that so many of the gains made over my 50 years on the planet are being attacked by a stupid but influential fringe of more or less alt right, conservatively minded, and often childish men who want women to be their fantasy objects, whether in a sexual sense or in terms of how we all interact.

 

The countries with the best levels of equality are also the happiest countries. Feminism is not just good for women it’s good for us too! And I know we have all met counter productive, overly ideological and annoyingly strident and judgemental feminists sometimes, but they are necessary too. Sometimes its just that they are telling truths we don’t like to hear, and like any other political position, the extreme fringes tend to shout louder than the rest – but sometimes the extreme fringe has a point too!

 

We heterosexual men should support and encourage the women in our lives to be political on their own behalf, even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable for us. And we need to not pretend we are victims, but take it like a man when we are criticised for behaviours that we sometimes don’t even see, but which are part of the construction of the inequality surrounding us.

 

There is a demo today, June 24th 2018, against the release of the La Manada rapists, at 6pm at the Spanish Consulate, North Castle Street, Edinburgh

 

You can read more Ungagged writing here or listen to Euan’s music on the Ungagged podcast