Pigs 1, Goths 0 (UPDATE)

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The two most read articles on BBCi today give us a fascinating insight into where Britain’s collective head is at.

First of all we have the goth couple who have been banned from the bus because he insists on leading her on a lead. There are two issues here. First of all the bus company are surely only being responsible to ban them on health and safety grounds – the inherent dangers are quite obvious. Secondly, while what people do behind closed doors is fine by me, it is fascinating to compare this issue with the ongoing controversy over Muslim dress codes.

There is much public anxiety these days about Burqas (which I don’t see around anything like as much as I did a couple of years ago – anyone else notice this?) and other forms of Muslim dress. Would we have the same anxiety if like “Dani” and “Tasha” (guffaw!) they merely defined it as a form of sexual expression?

Is it really, as I fear some of my readers may accuse me, illiberal and prejudiced to suggest the two simply grow up, get a life and stop shoving their crass faux radicalism down our figurative throats? Where is the fine line between pointing out that people are making arses out of themselves and celebrating self-expression? Answers on a postcard (well, in the comments below) please.

Meanwhile, a retelling of the Three Little Pigs has been banned from a competition because it apparently is offensive to both Muslims and builders. In the case of the latter, I’m not sure if any retelling of the story can really avoid portraying them in a good light, unless the story is changed so that the houses made of straw and sticks end up meeting the latest tough EU building directives. I wonder if this sudden concern for the portrayal of the construction industry has anything to do with the current domination of Eastern Europeans of it in the UK? Should we all be talking it up with a view to establishing a new generation of eager young British labourers? Maybe studying Auf Weidersehen, Pet should be made compulsory on the national curriculum? Perhaps Bob the Builder should be monumented on the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square?

But I digress. As I’ve blogged before, in what way are piggies offensive to Muslims? Just because I don’t eat horses, it doesn’t mean I think Black Beauty should be banned. I don’t seem to ever hear Muslims objecting to it either; only people claiming to speak “for” them. I think I need this carefully explained to me, preferably with diagrams, but apparently doing so would be “culturally insensitive” so I fear it won’t happen.

UPDATE: Okay, mea culpa. I’ve read a couple of alternative accounts of the goth incident and while my views on the couple themselves haven’t changed, my defence of the bus driver in question certainly was misplaced. Everyone has a right to get on a bus without being abused, verbally or physically.

Sadly, Tasha herself though doesn’t exactly come out of this well: “I am a pet, I generally act animal like and I lead a really easy life. I don’t cook or clean and I don’t go anywhere without Dani. It might seem strange but it makes us both happy. It’s my culture and my choice. It isn’t hurting anyone.” Sounds like low self-esteem to me. Since Mat wants to bark Mill at me, I will refer him to this. You really think I’m the one enslaving people by conformity?

38 thoughts on “Pigs 1, Goths 0 (UPDATE)

  1. Its not illiberal to suggest they grow up, but if the bus company is in any way funded or regulated by the state then it is not private and thus the driver should not have the right to throw them off for looking a bit funny… I also suspect its against the rules laid down by the bus company.

    As for pigs – I believe they are considered unclean, therefore some take any representation of them to be shunned. Considering pigs are ritually unclean in Judaism and I’ve never met a Jew who acts like that (I bet you can find a few though…) I’d suggest they are being a little bit silly…

  2. Regarding pigs and Judaism: an ex of mine’s dad (who was Jewish) used to comment that bacon is ‘the only kosher part of the pig’.

    In a (failed) attempt to win favour, I used to pretend this is funnier than it is.

  3. Tristan: they didn’t get thrown off for what they looked like – they are hardly the only goths in West Yorkshire – they got thrown off for insisting on waving a dog lead around at a height at which it could garotte someone if the bus were to stop suddenly. I also wouldn’t assume the bus route is publicly funded – outside of London very few of them are. And regulated? Are you living in a 70s timewarp?

    I just spotted “Dani”‘s surname is Graves. Yeah, sure, absolutely that was the name he was born with. Twat. Can’t believe I didn’t notice that earlier.

  4. Are any actual muslims complaining about the three little pigs story or is this the same as the banning of baa-baa black sheep we see every now and again in the tabloids – ie made up.

    I’m sure if any muslim was offended they are in a tiny minority of muslims.

  5. The stated safety issue is that it could put other passengers at risk.
    I encounter a fair number of things on buses that are at least as dangerous as this is to me, which is to say not very. Besides, in the case of other passengers they could just be told to stow the leash for the journey which does not appear to have occured. So I really am happy to call this illiberal.

  6. She was asked to remove it; she refused. Given that we don’t have any examples of non-leash-wearing goths being banned from buses, I would put it to you that you have a rather weak case.

  7. Is it really … illiberal and prejudiced to suggest the two simply grow up, get a life and stop shoving their crass faux radicalism down our figurative throats? Where is the fine line between pointing out that people are making arses out of themselves and celebrating self-expression?

    I think it’s mostly on the back of your membership card, the bit about being enslaved by conformity. Why the fuck should they conform to your desire to have everyone conform to your style choices? Should they be allowed on with the chain as is? Probably not. Mill’s harm principle applies in both cases.

    Should they be mocked and castigated for being different? By liberals? No. Grow up? I know people in their thirties and forties with respectable jobs and incomes who dress in similar styles. Would many of them walk around leashed? Unlikely. But if they wanted to, why shouldn’t they? They most certainly do so at times when going out, and it’s not just a sexual identity either, just so y’know.

    I’ll be looking into this story in greater depth when I’ve the time, as we’ve not really got a full picture—did they insist on keeping the lead, or were they simply told to get lost without being given a real option? If the former, they’re a bit dim. If the latter then the bus company is wrong.

    Oh, Graves is a common name, especiallially in N. England, related to Greaves, the southern version is Reeve or Reaves.

    @ Tristan, James is wrong, Dewsbury’s just down the road from where I just moved to, local bus routes are franchised and regulated by WYMETRO, Arriva has a bulk of the routes with First as the other principle firm, both Arriva and First buses stop at the stop at the end of the street. They’re providing a public service and some local routes (I don’t know which) are subsidised.

    @ James, with you completely on the muslim big ban thing however.

  8. Is it really, as I fear some of my readers may accuse me, illiberal and prejudiced to suggest the two simply eat less, exercise more and stop shoving their crass pro-fat lifestyle down our figurative throats? Where is the fine line between pointing out that people are fat bastards celebrating self-expression? Answers on a postcard (well, in the comments below) please.

    Illiberal? Unfair? Pathetic? Comparable to original post? You decide!

  9. Mat,

    First of all, yes, all non-London areas have transport authorities but they have small budgets. It is generally safer to assume that a bus is unsubsidised (or lightly subsidised, or only indirectly subsidised by things like concessionary rates) than to assume it is. There is a very light touch regulation, mostly on, um, health and safety, but Tristan’s argument that that makes them effectively public is bogus since my boiler is regulated but it doesn’t make my house a state utility.

    Secondly, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to go out like that, merely that they need to get a life. I do not subscribe to the Bowlesian redefinition of non-conformity to mean that criticism of the way an individual lives their life constitutes a thought crime and is thus illiberal. This is moral relativism gone mad.

    It is personally reasonable to question whether an individual who insists on walking his girlfriend around on a leash has particularly healthy attitudes towards women. If he was a bodybuilder who breeds rottweillers rather than a goth I suspect we would not be having this debate.

    I drew the analogy between Muslim dress codes and this deliberately. If I were to openly question the soundness of a grown woman’s decision to wear a burqa as a lifestyle choice, so long as I didn’t suggest she should be banned from doing so, I doubt anyone would come here and claim I was being illiberal. Why is it a different matter for a teenager to consent to being lead around on a leash? I don’t remember you objecting to me suggesting that Shabina Begum needs to grow up.

    When I wear loud Hawaiian shirts and people tell me I look ridiculous, my instant reaction is not that I’m being oppressed. Why does a different rule apply to black leather?

    Fundamentally, there is a difference between making a lifestyle choice and striking a pose. Goths frequently confuse the two, particularly teenage goths. When my friends Mike and John used to pour bags of flour over their heads every morning in order to better resemble Carl McCoy strutting around in Hardware (oooh… dusty!), they most fervently believed this was a lifestyle choice. As earth shattering as it may be for me to point this out, it wasn’t; they were just being muppets. There is an element of Emperor’s New Clothes here and I regard it as not only important that I point it out, but a veritable duty.

    Indeed, I hesitated to write this post because I knew someone would get upset by it, which is why I couched my criticisms to the degree that I did. If I didn’t however, I’d be the very slave to conformity you are accusing me of wanting to make them.

    And yes, I’m aware that Graves is a common surname in Yorkshire; Dani however is not a common first name. It could just be a comedy coincidence… but somehow I think not.

  10. sandybikiniaction (or whatever you call yourself):

    Funny you should say that, but speaking personally I pretty much get told to do that every day; either to my face or in the media (indeed, Alan Johnson was saying pretty much the same thing, couched in more diplomatic terms, on the radio this morning). But I although I am occasionally guilty of expressing irritation at this fact, I don’t recall ever claiming to be oppressed or calling for it to be banned.

    It’s interesting that you compare being a goth with being fat, particularly since there is such an overlap between the two concepts. But as it happens I do take personal responsibility for my body shape; I can’t deny I couldn’t lose weight if I wasn’t determined to. If you think I should lose weight, fair enough. I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    But even though I am by no means making excuses, I do think I’m on a bit of a winner when I point out that I have somewhat less control over my body weight than Dani Graves has over his control over the wearing of tight fetish gear.

    And for the record, if Alan Johnson started claiming that goths are a bigger menace to society than global warming, I’d be the first to defend them.

  11. sanbikinoraion:

    Sorry for calling you sandybikiniaction. I’ve just realised I might have infringed on your inherent right to call yourself whatever ridiculous name you like without having to deal with the brutal oppression of light piss taking.

    I will flagellate myself with the pages of On Liberty later and reflect upon my sins.

  12. I will flagellate myself with the pages of On Liberty later and reflect upon my sins.

    But not on the bus, of course.

  13. James, my handle is already an elaborate pig-Japanese pun gone wrong, so piss-take away! (My real name is hardly better…) (And in fact, I think that’s probably the most inventive misreading I’ve seen, so kudos)

    It just seems a bit, well, odd, for you to have a crack at a bunch of people for not “looking like people should look”, when you yourself do not “look how people should look”. I’m really not having a go at you because of your weight – I am not a thin man myself – I just think it’s a bit hypocritical.

  14. My objection isn’t how they look – where have I said that? Okay, the flouring anecdote I referred to is very silly indeed, as the miscreants involved would (now) happily attest – are you seriously suggesting that pointing that out is equivalent to calling someone a fat cunt? I’m fascinated that you think the two are the same.

    My objection is someone treating a woman like a ‘pet’ and then being expected to celebrate it as some kind of lifestyle choice. I’m criticising them in the mildest terms, suggesting it is a pose and a sign of immaturity. I’m not calling for him to be locked up or to bring in social services, merely questioning his right to not be criticised. And I’m suggesting that there is exceptionalism at work here, with people content with the notion that it is one rule for goth couples and another rule for Muslims.

    Clearly this rankles with people. Fair enough. But if you want to sound convincing perhaps you should try engaging with the argument instead of simply hurling abuse? That applies to you too Jennie.

  15. James, have now got back online having had a busy evening, has the Mail article open to link you to as it does give a much better picture. The couple may or may not be a pair of idiots (I suspect his name is Daniel shortened but silly names aren’t exactly uncommon these days).

    My objection specifically was this sentence: “get a life and stop shoving their crass faux radicalism down our figurative throats”

    a) they’ve got a life, it’s one you don’t approve of and I don’t see the point of, but it’s theirs and they appear happy with it (d’you want me to try to meet them and find out, odds are I could) and b) replace three words—stop shoving their weird freaky lifestyle down our figurative throats. Now do a citation search for either of the two news articles.

    Read some of the crap out there. Understand that this sort of thing is stuff several of my friends (who are much less extreme) have to put up with every single day. Friends have been beaten up for being “filthy goths”. Just for what they wear, nothing else, and not even that extreme. One friend feels unsafe walking home to her parents house at certain times of day because of the abuse she gets hurled.

    One of the reasons I’m a liberal, and am incidentally actively trying to recruit more alt-lifestyle types as members (because there are enough already anyway) is because we specifically stand against appeals to conformity. Yes, they may be wierd, but so what? It’s her choice, and she appears to know what she’s doing. “Gothism” isn’t close to racism in scale, but it’s actually not far off from homophobia and it’s actively happening all over the country.

    The real point is that they weren’t asked to rmove the chain while on the bus, they just weren’t allowed on. Arriva are my local bus company now, and this guy simply shouldn’t be in a customer facing role if he’s going to treat people like that while in uniform.

    Meh, I could’ve written my post on the subject by now. Knackered though, maybe another time.

  16. Mat, I’m not objecting to a goth lifestyle – I’m objecting to misogyny dressed up as a goth lifestyle. I really do think that is clear from the context. This is about treating a fellow human being as a slave, in public. If you’re telling me that’s an integral part of the goth lifestyle, it’s news to me.

    You were absolutely right to correct me on one thing earlier by the way; this isn’t about sexuality. It’s about power. I have several friends into BDSM; none of them treat their partners like that in public.

    I just don’t see what there is to celebrate about a woman whose acme of ambition is to be somebody’s ‘pet’. FFS, I have ethical problems with treating animals as pets (and there I am a complete hypocrite).

  17. Where does it say she was asked to remove it? It just says they weren’t allowed on. Also, why did you say he insists on leading her on a lead? None of the articles I have seen say that. The one you link says something closer to the reverse. Some quotes maybe?

    I have seen the same practice with the man wearing the leash, its not unusual either way. It is BDSM, but its also partly because chains and the like are already so common as goth fashion accesories that they use them more visibly.

    You can have whatever ethical problems you like about what consenting individuals do. That in no way justifies exclusion from a public service.

  18. Its not slavery. Its consensual roleplaying. It is not ethically equivalent in any sense, she can withdraw consent whenever she likes.

  19. Tinter (2): I’ve already acknowledged that the issue regarding the bus driver is less clear cut than the BBC article lead me to believe (things have come to a pretty pass when the Mail gives a more balanced account of things than the BBC, haven’t they?). So yes, they have every right to sit on a bus and not be verbally or physically abused in the street.

    On the wider issue of consent, I’m not disputing that it is ultimately her choice. That’s why I’m not saying she can’t do it (sorry Jennie, you can’t be allowed to get away with twisting what I’ve written – I’ve made this plain several times now). If I thought for a minute she wasn’t giving her consent I’d be calling for something much stronger than for them to “grow up”.

    But is he complicit? Absolutely. More than that, he’s an active agent. Her previous boyfriends were right to refuse to treat her like that (see BBC) – all credit to them. It’s clear that “Dani” gets off on the pet thing, comparing her to a cat or a dog (actually, you wouldn’t keep a cat on a leash and you wouldn’t be allowed to use a chain like that to leash a dog), and happily flaunting her in public. It would be one thing if it were in the context of a club, but this is about a very public display of male domination in a public high street. If he insists on doing that he has every right to, but I’m not going to suspend my critical faculties just because he’s wrapped it around an alternative lifestyle.

    Once again, if he was a caucasian body-builder or a Pakistani Muslim, I doubt I would be hearing this refrain “but its her choice” even though I can guarantee that the woman in question would say more or less the same thing.

    As for “she can withdraw consent whenever she likes” – really? You genuinely think that? You don’t think that she’s using it as a safety blanket or that she would be terrified that withdrawing consent would cost her a relationship she is clearly highly dependent on?

    Paris Hilton treating her dog like a fashion accessory is wrong and open to criticism; this is far worse.

  20. James, yes, of course she can withdraw consent whenever she likes. You really have no clue whatsoever about BDSM relationships, do you?

    Still, be proud of yourself, you’ve inspired me to not one but TWO ranty journal entries in less than 24 hours. I’m taking you off my default read list now, because I don’t think my blood pressure can take much more of this.

  21. Jennie, I’ve just read your postings. I’m afraid your values are completely backwards.

    On the one hands, you do logical handstands to justify a claim that by criticising this couple I’m “exercising power” over them. On the other hand you refuse, point blank, that he is exercising any power over her.

    You also seem to think I’ve never encountered BDSM, goths or alternative lifestyles before, making extremely large assumptions about me that you have no way of knowing about.

    The fact that you are incapable of dealing with the arguments in any way other than shooting your mouth off suggests you are rather less secure about your position than you would like to admit.

  22. James, the fact that you are completely unaware that it’s the sub who exercises control in these situations illustrates perfectly well that you have no clue what you are talking about and gives me no need whatsoever to make assumptions.

    Thank you for throwing even more ad hominem arguments at me, though. You won’t be hearing from me again.

  23. I haven’t attacked you personally Jennie, I’ve rebutted your arguments – that isn’t a courtesy you’ve extended to me at all. I keep offering you a chance to actually respond to my arguments, and then you start with the swearing and the name calling.

    Walk away, fine. Bye! But don’t even try to claim some kind of moral high ground.

  24. are you seriously suggesting that pointing that out is equivalent to calling someone a fat cunt?

    I think I said fat bastard, actually, since the latter is a fairly meaning-free insult these days. And you’ll notice that I qualified it by saying that it wasn’t actually an insult anyway, just an attempt to make you see that just because those people are different doesn’t mean that you get a free pass to tell them to grow up. And indeed you seemed to get a bit irritated at someone else criticizing your own lifestyle choice…

    My objection is someone treating a woman like a ‘pet’ and then being expected to celebrate it as some kind of lifestyle choice.

    You’ll note that she is the one who has decided that this is the way that she wants to be treated. You can’t have it both ways: who is controlling who in this relationship, precisely?

    Is it really illiberal and prejudiced to suggest the two simply grow up (a), get a life (b) and stop shoving their crass faux radicalism down our figurative throats(c)?

    Yes.
    a) I haven’t heard a good line from you as to why you consider them immature as opposed to just a bit odd.
    b) Getting a life is, I suspect what they might tell us to do instead of debating about their relationship on the Internet. (As it is said, a flamewar is like running in the Special Olympics: even if you win, you’re still retarded)
    c) I don’t really believe that they are shoving anything down anyone’s throats (in public, at least), which is good, because I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “crass faux radicalism”.

  25. If we’re into the differential sophistry of calling someone a fat bastard or a fat cunt, then this thread really has lost any sense of perspective. Making personal insults but putting them in inverted commas doesn’t magically stop it from being personal insult, as I think you know well. I seem to recall you taking grave offence at me grumpily coming back at you in much milder terms and I subsequently apologised. I’m amazed you don’t feel you owe the same duty to me. But that’s your problem, not mine.

    You can’t have it both ways: who is controlling who in this relationship, precisely?

    Any act between two individuals involves consent, or lack thereof, from both of them. So yes, by definition I can have it both ways. Otherwise every sex act would be a rape, wouldn’t it? Do I really need to spell that one out to you?

    As Jennie has pointed out here, BDSM philosophy states that she is in control. Apparently that should be the beginning and end of the argument. This sounds rather similar to the “it’s in the Qu’ran” line you hear elsewhere. Citing a higher authority doesn’t wash in other contexts, so why here?

    But again, I’m not denying she’s given consent. I’m suggesting that abuse is not something to be celebrated, self-imposed or otherwise. Both of them are welcome to live however they want, but I will not subscribe to this hive mindset that you’re trying to force here that I should be happy that someone should want to live the life of a pet and that to think otherwise is paradoxically both illiberal and a thought crime.

    don’t really believe that they are shoving anything down anyone’s throats (in public, at least), which is good, because I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “crass faux radicalism”.

    It is crass faux radicalism because they are making a statement in the public realm. They aren’t compelled to go out in public with her leashed up, nor are they compelled to go to the papers over this. They’re welcome to, but the idea that this does not clash jarringly with a liberal society’s values about treating people as equals and women’s emancipation is fanciful, as is the notion that they should be immune from criticism.

    Again, context is everything. What is fine and not even worth batting an eyelid about in a club or a private place is a different matter in the public square.

  26. James, I don’t think anyone has asked you to go out and celebrate their lifestyle.

    *You* have compared it to actual slavery. *You* have repeatedly stated that he insists on doing this, despite all evidence showing that its closer to the reverse but that “insist” is the wrong word anyway.

    Why do you continue to bring up womens emancipation? This occurs the other way round pretty often. Its not simply a case of parroting wider societies gender values. I would certainly not attack traditional muslim wives in the manner you are attacking this couple. However, the fact is that traditional muslim relationships only have the balance of power one way, on gender lines. That is not at all the case here, there are many relationships with power exchange either way round. So it cannot be discussed as a form of structured disempowerment.

    Your entire position is based upon the concept that because the relationship is not of a manner you prefer, that she is therefore not making a truly informed consensual situation but rather a victim of abuse. This attack on agency is fundementally illiberal.

    What relevance does the public realm have? It either clashes with values of doesn’t. Given the non-explicit nature of their actions, the public nature of them isn’t at issue. If you disagree with their values argue that on its own, not that the fact they did it on a bus is what makes it open season.

  27. Thanks, Titner, for at least engaging with my argument.

    However, the fact is that traditional muslim relationships only have the balance of power one way, on gender lines.

    That isn’t what a lot of Muslims would argue, men or women. Why should we take this couple at face value and not them?

    Your entire position is based upon the concept that because the relationship is not of a manner you prefer, that she is therefore not making a truly informed consensual situation but rather a victim of abuse.

    No, my position is based on the fact that she talks about herself in language which casts herself as a passive object rather than in the language of empowerment that you would prefer her to talk about.

    What relevance does the public realm have?

    The public realm matters because by walking around leashed in public, they are making a public statement about the role women should play in society. It ceases to be something they do together, by mutual consent, and becomes a value judgement about everyone else. It is a political act.

    You question my right to criticise their values in public, but not their right to criticise mine. Why?

  28. I think I should have picked a name less prone to a certain unfortunate typo, but whats done is done… I’m afraid I’m in too much of a hurry/to lazy to do the italics thing, I hope you can manage with my cumbersome layout.

    You are missing the point with my analogy. The issue isn’t which side has the power in either traditional muslim relationships or this one. The point is, in a traditional muslim relationship the gender roles always fall the same way each time. In BDSM, it falls both ways with substantial frequency, so it cannot be classed as a structural, societal issue as some may class traditional muslim relationships. I’m not making a judgement on either, I’m simply pointing out the flaw in your calling this misogony- I don’t think its misandry when done the other way round, so…

    This applies to your public statement argument also. I have seen men wearing the leash. Its not unusual. Does this also make a statement about roles in society? If changing the way around for the leash changes fundamental views about societal roles, why are they all part of the same close community?

    I think that taking this as advertising a certain view of women is something taken by the observer of one specific incident; within the context of the wider subculture, I don’t believe it works.

    As to empowerment, I think it is important that people are empowered- that they can make decisions for themselves and have control over their own lives. In this social context people can choose to be housewives, pets lawyers or doctors- whatever they feel is best for them. Empowerment isn’t achieved by judging individuals, but by creating a society that embraces a wide range of choices.

    I haven’t questioned your right to criticise them. I have just criticised your criticisms in turn!

  29. As a point of principle, I don’t think the subjugation of men is any more acceptable than the subjugation of women. I’ll admit that it probably doesn’t provoke as much of a response in me as the other way around, but at least I recognise this failing.

    I think that taking this as advertising a certain view of women is something taken by the observer of one specific incident; within the context of the wider subculture, I don’t believe it works.

    But the point is that they have chosen to take it out of the context of the subculture and put it in mainstream culture. At least we agree that context is relevant here.

    Ultimately, I’m actually prepared to accept that she is making an informed choice, blah-de-blah. The tone of my original article certainly would have been different had I read the YEP and Mail articles earlier which put a different slant on things. What I don’t accept is the utterly crass argument that because BDSM philosophy says this, it must be so and must not be questioned. The scope for abuse within that argument is immense and no-one would accept it in any other context. Can we not just agree that I don’t know and you don’t know?

  30. I’m not going to reply to the rest of your response to me, James, because I think that Tinter @ 3.59 and your response to that largely renders it meaningless and, honestly, Tinter is doing a far better job than I of holding you to account.

    However, I would like to make clear that if you were offended by one fat bastard calling another fat bastard a fat bastard, then I am indeed sorry, and I did not intend to offend you, nor insult you.

    What I intended to do was turn your own words about these people into the sorts of words that could levelled at yourself, and in doing so show that I thought both were mean and unfair.

    Finally, I wonder which ex-polytechnic will be the first to offer a BA in BDSM Philosopy?

  31. James, the public realm/political statement argument is interesting, and I’d agree with you if the two could be neutrally viewed, however I think the point of ‘art’ (as opposed to religious or sexual) lifestyles is the deliberate ambiguity that any audience chooses to be confronted with.

    These two ‘Goths’ have succeeded in challenging the black and white assumptions of the power relationships you wish to discuss by polarising commentators into spouting generalities that fit preconcieved and formulaic conclusions – they would be laughing at the crassness of this faux radical debate if they weren’t sitting smugly aloof drinking cooking brandy and consoling themselves with ironic stories of the day the world paid them some attention.

    Yes, we can use their body art as a lightening rod to make political points, but this simultaneously enables them to transcend their position of non-conformist deviance and changes perceptions of their original behaviour to become an action by which their freedom manifests itself. So, the action of creating a debate out of this specific instance has liberated these individuals and subjected them to a cause.

    In other words it is our choice to discuss the ‘Goths’ which is illiberal, although conversely, discussion about the correct response to them by the bus company and the reasoning behind any response is fundamentally liberal and worthwhile. Dani and Tasha’s statement has been duely recognised and noted and will stand or fall depending on the perseverance of their relationship – we should watch with baited breath (though I can’t be bothered).

  32. James, please stop attributing other peoples arguments to me! I never brought up BDSM philosophy. I looked at things from a liberal perspective by looking at the nature of the BDSM community, which may be philosophising about BDSM but is still rather different. I know many people into BDSM, but I’m not so thats not where I am coming from.

    Once again, I would say this is roleplaying of subjugation and not actual subjugation. The key point of the roles being reversed is that it means this is not a reflection of societal misogyny. Couples in the same subculture regularly reverse the gender role, meaning it is a decision taken on a case-by-case basis, which even if you think the entire thing is a crock means it is not misogyny, just a type of relationship you disapprove of.

    Sure, they have taken it out of their subculture. But the context that is relevant is that in which the decision is made, i.e that of the subculture. To say they should only express that behind closed doors (baring being explicit) is illiberal- stating one lifestyle has a right to public access where another does not.

    Furthermore, if the decision to have this lifestyle is not misogynistic in the context in which it is made, then perceptions as such are just that- perceptions- and they speak more to societies prejudice than that of the couple involved. i.e, people may dislike a man being led on a leash, but they would not say it reflected societies gender roles!

  33. I’m not saying they should only express themselves behind closed doors, I’m saying they are making a political act by taking it outside and thus open themselves up to criticism. They haven’t come from Mars; they know perfectly well the context in which they are placing themselves in. At best they are attempting to shock; at worst they are attacking liberal values. The fact that this is roleplaying doesn’t immunise them from criticism; indeed you can’t criticise me for suggesting they ‘get a life’ while simultaneously asserting this isn’t their life.

    And it is an attack on liberal, enlightenment values; it isn’t merely something I disapprove of (and again you seem to be getting confused between me not approving of the subculture, on which I am essentially neutral, and me disapproving of the statement they are making). They are romanticising conformity, not attacking it; they are critiquing liberty not celebrating it. You can claim they are merely roleplaying and putting that in ironic, detached quote marks as much as you like, but then it can hardly not be described as faux radicalism if you are insisting it is essentially faux, can it?

    What you seem to want me to accept, and I will not, is that they are not knowingly making any kind of statement at all. It is utter nonsense to suggest that the only context that is relevant is the subculture. What you are essentially lauding is not liberalism but an extreme form of relativism with everyone living in silos surrounded by Chinese walls. No healthy society could function like that.

  34. No, James, they were making an artistic statement of which you are emphasising the political aspect that they either weren’t fully conscious of or hadn’t properly thought through. Otherwise you give a fair critique.

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