This is about rape, and what it means, and what we think it means. As a culture, we still refuse collectively to accept that most rapes are committed by ordinary men, men who have friends and families, men who may even have done great or admirable things with their lives. We refuse to accept that nice guys rape, and they do it often. Part of the reason we haven’t accepted it is that it’s a fucking painful thing to contemplate – far easier to keep on believing that only evil men rape, only violent, psychotic men lurking in alleyways with pantomime-villain moustaches and knives, than to consider that rape might be something that ordinary men do. Men who might be our friends or colleagues or people we look up to. We don’t want that to be the case. Hell, I don’t want that to be the case. So, we all pretend it isn’t. Justice, see?

Trigger Warning Week — Laurie Penny, guest-posting on Zunguzungu

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London, baby, you’re beautiful just the way you are. It’s tempting to see the city the way it sees itself sometimes, as an ageing diva, swelling and spreading and prone to hot flashes, painfully aware of losing its international relevance. London forgets that there is witchcraft in these old bones, and dirt, and the sort of power that accretes in any filthy old body with a tendency to consume its own young.

Laurie Penny, “London, Underground”


In French, the phrase is “Carrément dans le rouge,” meaning “squarely in debt.” That’s why hundreds of thousands of students and union members involved in Quebec’s education strike have taken to pinning little red squares of cloth to their clothes.
They’re wearing them everywhere now, in New York, in London, anywhere that student and anti-austerity movements have been struggling to reorganize themselves after months of police repression. In New York’s Washington Square Park, hundreds of young people gather in a solidarity march with Quebec students wearing the red squares pinned to their bags, sewn on their shirts, dangling as earrings and drawn on their faces. If you don’t have a red square, an earnest young woman with felt and craft scissors will be happy to cut one for you as you both march between rows of NYPD police on motorcycles.

Laurie Penny, “Dans le Rouge”
Illustration by Molly Crabapple. See Molly and Laurie’s past collaboration on Chicago’s Anti-NATO protests here.

In French, the phrase is “Carrément dans le rouge,” meaning “squarely in debt.” That’s why hundreds of thousands of students and union members involved in Quebec’s education strike have taken to pinning little red squares of cloth to their clothes.

They’re wearing them everywhere now, in New York, in London, anywhere that student and anti-austerity movements have been struggling to reorganize themselves after months of police repression. In New York’s Washington Square Park, hundreds of young people gather in a solidarity march with Quebec students wearing the red squares pinned to their bags, sewn on their shirts, dangling as earrings and drawn on their faces. If you don’t have a red square, an earnest young woman with felt and craft scissors will be happy to cut one for you as you both march between rows of NYPD police on motorcycles.

Laurie Penny, “Dans le Rouge”

Illustration by Molly Crabapple. See Molly and Laurie’s past collaboration on Chicago’s Anti-NATO protests here.


When beauty becomes mandatory, it ceases to be about fun, about play. Dressing up, playing with gender roles, doing your braids badly in the mirror, and eating half your mother’s lipstick in an attempt to get it on your face: Do you remember when that used to be fun? And do you remember when the fun stopped? Like any game, the woman game stops being fun when you start playing to win, especially if you’ve got no choice: Win or be ridiculed, win or become invisible, dismissed — disturbed.

Laurie Penny, “Model Behavior”
Originally published in The New Inquiry No. 4: Beauty. Support The New Inquiry. Subscribe today.

When beauty becomes mandatory, it ceases to be about fun, about play. Dressing up, playing with gender roles, doing your braids badly in the mirror, and eating half your mother’s lipstick in an attempt to get it on your face: Do you remember when that used to be fun? And do you remember when the fun stopped? Like any game, the woman game stops being fun when you start playing to win, especially if you’ve got no choice: Win or be ridiculed, win or become invisible, dismissed — disturbed.

Laurie Penny, “Model Behavior”

Originally published in The New Inquiry No. 4: Beauty. Support The New Inquiry. Subscribe today.

On Saturday, journalist Laurie Penny and I were drinking tea and talking about making something together. The next day she took the 17-hour Occupy Wall Street busride down to Chicago, to cover the #noNato protests. Laurie sent me snaps of her busmates: kids who were singing Disney songs as they prepared to be beaten and arrested. So I drew them.
Illustration by Molly Crabapple
Read Laurie’s coverage here.

On Saturday, journalist Laurie Penny and I were drinking tea and talking about making something together. The next day she took the 17-hour Occupy Wall Street busride down to Chicago, to cover the #noNato protests. Laurie sent me snaps of her busmates: kids who were singing Disney songs as they prepared to be beaten and arrested. So I drew them.

Illustration by Molly Crabapple

Read Laurie’s coverage here.


If we spent much time actually thinking through how staggering the daily facts of our technological lives are right now–not just the phones in our pockets but the food on our plates, the clothes on our backs, the forging frontiers of our collective imagination–well, how could we carry on getting up and going to work every day? How could we avoid the delicious, discomfiting paralysis of future shock long enough to fix dinner and file those reports? If we looked too hard at the system, would it start to collapse? This is why science fiction is dangerous. When we hear Slavoj Žižek’s famous aphorism (often mis-attributed as his original coinage) that it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” we should also be asking ourselves the second question, contained within the first: why is it so very easy to imagine the end of the world?

"The Future, Probably," by Laurie Penny  |  Read More

If we spent much time actually thinking through how staggering the daily facts of our technological lives are right now–not just the phones in our pockets but the food on our plates, the clothes on our backs, the forging frontiers of our collective imagination–well, how could we carry on getting up and going to work every day? How could we avoid the delicious, discomfiting paralysis of future shock long enough to fix dinner and file those reports? If we looked too hard at the system, would it start to collapse? This is why science fiction is dangerous. When we hear Slavoj Žižek’s famous aphorism (often mis-attributed as his original coinage) that it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” we should also be asking ourselves the second question, contained within the first: why is it so very easy to imagine the end of the world?

"The Future, Probably," by Laurie Penny  |  Read More

Rootless & Ruthless

By Laurie Penny,

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It’s two in the morning and I’m bent over a laptop watching fifty homeless protesters chant “occupy!” as police drive them out of the old bank building where they were living. This is happening live: One of the occupiers has managed to get a wobbly video link up and running, and the officers guarding the doors are surrounded by a thicket of jeering cameras. Meanwhile, activists in Oakland and New York are being arrested as they attempt to take over empty corporate spaces, turning them into social centers and cooperatives. As the political classes impose austerity across the developed world, the facts of inequality and human need and the determination to do something about them are gradually becoming weaponized.

Precarity is opportunity. Fuck social mobility. Fuck security. Fuck money. Fuck rising above your class rather than with it. Fuck marriage, mortgage, monogamy, and every other small, ugly ambition we were bullied into pursuing. We should have abandoned them long before we were obliged to do so, and now we have no choice. This generation is on the cusp of waking up from the American Dream, just in time to see the urgency of the task ahead of us. We have five years until catastrophic climate change becomes a foregone conclusion, possibly far less time than that before the next massive financial crash, and thirty years of economic orthodoxy to turn around. but we also have each other, we have twenty years of indoctrination into the special sort of ruthlessness that neoliberal self-fashioning breeds in its children, and — most importantly — we have very little to lose. The power generation has no idea what it’s got coming.

Read More.