Monday, 2 July 2012

"I don't know what to do with my rage..."

I received this tonight, after spending a day talking about women's rights, women's visibility, respect for women and women's representation with some brilliant and inspiring sixth-formers from Camden Girls' School and then attending an extremely moving and powerful film and spoken word presentation by the charity Tender, which uses the arts to educate young people about making choices that lead them towards healthy, loving, non-abusive relationships.
Hi - I don't know what else to do with my rage so I'm writing to you. I've just read an advert in the Guardian for Talks Plays and Comedy at the Criterion Theatre. There is a list of 13 names - all men. The excitement over the womanless event is on twitter and on the Criterion's website and not a mention of the fact that it appears to be a men only event. Imagine if all the participants were women. For professional reasons I can't use my own name which is the one above.
I've checked out the Criterion's site and it's worse than what this writer has said: there are 15 named men and no women featured during the venue's summer events, which covers plays, talks, comedy and storytelling. The season, entitled Playing the Games, says that it brings together "leading comedians, actors, playwrights and Olympians" and "celebrates sporting and cultural talent from the emerging to the world-famous." Think in admiration, for a moment, about this impressive diversity of disciplines, types of presentation and performance and levels of fame. How varied, how open, how generously conceived. There will be something for everyone here, unless you like women and want to hear them speak, be made to laugh by their wit, see their ideas brought to life or find out what motivates them. The 15 men and 0 women breaks down like this:
  • There are comedy performances by 3 men and 0 women: Mark Watson, Alan Davies and Stephen K Amos.
  • There are plays by 2 men and 0 women: Serge Cartwright and Adam Brace
  • There are storytelling sessions "designed to champion the love of reading and stories" given by 3 men and 0 women: Brian Blessed, Eddie Izzard and Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry is actually on the board of the theatre; the board has twice as many men as women
  • There are lunchtime interviews featuring "conversations between some of the world's most emininent Olympians, past and present, and an esteemed gathering of actors, writers, directors and presenters." It involves 4 men talking to 4 male athletes: Rick Edwards talking to Kriss Akabusi; Stephen Fry talking to Edwin Moses; Stephen Daldry talking to Haile Gebrselassie; Clive Owen talking to Adrien Niyonshuti
According to the What's On Stage site, the season has been co-curated by producer Sam Hodges (the link takes you to his Twitter stream) and Stephen Fry.

Playing the Games runs from Thursday 26th July to 12th August and has 15 named stars who are athletes, comedians, directors, presentors, actors and playwrights. It covers comedy, storytelling, interviews, conversations. Anything is possible, everything is included, except women. Who made these decisions when all they had to do to make things equal was find 7 or 8 women across 6 categories? And - shame, shame, shame - in a year when so many brilliant women are representing Britain at the Olympics... and not only that, but by the Criterion's own criterion, they needn't be current stars but could have attained greatness in their field in the past - they could be "sporting and cultural talent from the emerging to the world-famous," as the theatre says.

Women are the majority of ticket buyers for all arts events. The Criterion has taken their money and slapped them in the face, pocketed the revenue and used it to help 15 men's and 0 women's careers. What kind of game are they playing with Playing The Games?

Updated: I have now received this fan mail in support:
From: Keiron Noonan
Jul 3
Subject: Your whining contribute​s nothing to the revolution
Just read your latest snit.

What is it with you? Are you a right wing fifth columnist?

Why do you play your endless games of identity politics? Unite for the revolution or take your feminist national socialist rants somewhere else. 
Your "cause" would have some credibility if you were any sort of talented writer. You are not. 
I read some of your fiction and felt the life force suck out of me. Your writing sucks enormously.
Your only talent is one of self promotion. All you ever talk about is you and why you deserve a bigger career you greedy, materialistic, ugly, talentless and selfish bitch.

You are the worst kind of class and race traitor.

Try to redeem yourself by joining a cause and serving something other than yourself.

Solidarity (Not that you know anything about that but try to learn something)

And yesterday I received the below, not from 'Rageflag' but this time from, uh, 'Manplus700', with very similar language, rhythm and tone and echoing various other pieces of hate mail I've received and comments posted on sites like this one. I don't know what makes hatemailers give themselves names redolent of 70s porn stars, defunct ska bands, evil Power Rangers or Decepticons or cameo baddies from a cheap Horror Channel remake of Highlander. Hatemailers should know that all messages sent to me are reported to my Internet provider, to colleagues, to the relevant publications or broadcasting corporation (in the case of messages sent in reaction to an article or broadcast), to my representatives and to the police, or to all of them. It is very, very easy to trace emails, even those with unpersonalised and once-used addresses. Even when a harasser thinks they are being 'random', using Internet cafes around their town, they usually operate within a relatively small circumference or with marked patterns of useage (time of day, duration, type of venue or device used, sites surfed) and with stark similarities in language, structure, tone, reference. I will not be posting up any more examples as they are boring to read. To my female colleagues, if you have received messages/comments which are similar in tone, style, language and approach, please let me know and we can go together, nightclub toilets style.
George Hastings
10:09 PM (4 hours ago)
to me
subject: You need help. Here it is.

First of all thanks for sharing your sense of rage against almost everything.

You said "I hit the glass ceiling and it really hurt".

Not half as much as it hurt when you were beaten to within an inch of your life with the ugly stick.

You really are amusing to so many people. You are a totally clueless, talentless, spiteful and ugly bitch so obviously feminism was going to be your cause.

Because identity politics is the last refuge of beta grade dickheads the world over.

You have literally no idea how human society works. You seem to think that men and women are identical and interchangable.

I'm so glad that you are depressed because you are a class one shit and deserve to be unhappy.

Your crazy vision for humanity is never going to happen.


I'm looking forward to your next instalment of the "Consequence of betrayal". It is pricelessly funny that you blame men and not women for adulterous affairs.

It takes two to tango you silly bitch.

Not that a bigot like you would ever accept that.

No half decent man would fuck you in a million years. You are not even worth a knee trembler in the loos.
I am very glad that a half decent man would not want to enjoy conjugal relations with me, as I really only want a fully decent man. I was thinking, too, that if you strip away the bile and invective, the derision which is explicit in this hate mail is no different from the derision conveyed implicitly by a theatre which has programmed and celebrated a season featuring 15 men and 0 women. Rageflag (Gah! flags of rage, everywhere you look! Stop flapping at me, you angry flags with your semaphore of fury) and Manplus 700 (the sensitive porn studs' fave semi-permanent budget eco friendly henna-based hair colouring alternative to Grecian 3000) have made the effort to tell me to my interface that I am talentless and worthless.

The Criterion Theatre have gone one further and let women know, with their 15 men 0 women programme, that they consider all women to be talentless and worthless.