London Road (2015)

London Road 2015

Recommendation: A Must-Miss.

I would recommend avoiding this film about the 2006 Ipswich (Suffolk, UK) murders of five prostituted women, from the perspective of the residents of the street where it happened – London Road.

I understand that London Road was the main site of street prostitution in Ipswich, and the film opens with an explanation that the real words of the residents of London Road from interviews were used, of their reactions and how they were affected by the murders and the subsequent investigations, culminating in one of the residents of the street being charged and convicted of the murders.

The real words of this local community were used and put to music, (and not very good music either) along with poorly choreographed group routines. I did not realise that Musical was one of the genres listed for this film, along with Adventure. I mistakenly thought it would be a dramatised ‘true crime’ film.

Presumably the “adventure” component referred to the development of a London Road resident’s association, repetitive (and musical) statements about how distressing and upsetting it was to live next door to a murderer’s house with police tape cordoning off the road etc and seeking counselling for their distress.

This all culminated in a community celebration, developing a ‘London Road in Bloom’ garden competition, complete with speeches thanking the police for finally getting rid of the “girls”. One of the ‘pillars of the community’ stated that if she had the guts, she would shake the murderer’s hand to thank him for what he did.

Is it appropriate to celebrate and sing about the deaths of five young women?
Trivialising it down to an appalling level by turning it into a musical garden party.

Apart from being an insult to the women and their families, there is nothing to recommend this film in regard to acting, direction, scripting, the music or choreography. The best thing about it is that it seems to only be on limited cinema release, on the arthouse film and festival circuit.

For those who may be interested in learning about the 2006 Suffolk murders I would highly recommend watching BBC One’s 2010 three-part miniseries, dramatising the events from testimonies of those directly involved, and titled “Five Daughters”.

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Nothing personal, just politics.

Here we go again. The trans- ‘debate’ has been tripping across several blogs in recent times. IBTP banning dude comments was announced, but was subsequently explained as still including trans-males. Last I saw, bloggers were free enough, for the most part, to define their comment inclusion/exclusion criteria any way they – personally – see fit. It’s a personal thing after all. I have no problem with others setting personal boundaries with exclusion/inclusion rules – what gets up my nose, is when they try to claim it as some sort of political policy statement. Get your words right, if you are including trans-males in your personal inclusions definitions in your personal space, then say so up front, and stop trying to pretend its radical feminist. It is not, never has been.

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Rape Culture Films, or Men Behaving Badly

Man (sic) was once called the “Tool-Maker” species, (until they found other species make tools too) but is more like the “Tale-Teller”. We tell stories. But throughout known history, females have not been considered human, not part of the ‘Human Condition’, and our stories are rarely told without male censorship or manipulation. In this section, I use ‘rape-culture’ very loosely, to cover all normalised male-dominance culture, of both social cultural violence as well as physical violence varieties of Man’s Inhumanity to Woman.
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Personal Vs Political Woman-Hatred

I am having a ranting, stream-of-consciousness moment on a late night. I’ve also been reading on the internet too much lately, looking for distraction, maybe even some fun, but unfortunately I have become bored with incessant feminist sniping.

First up, there is the sniping about lesbian feminists being too bossy or het-bashing, or trying to convert other women. Seems many straight women have a personal horror story or two, about a lesbian friend, making sexual advances towards them. A woman friend who they had known for some time, and even loved as a friend, in a non-sexual way. To me, this scenario, or context – begs an interesting question – if a close male friend, who you loved in a non-sexual way –had made sexual advances from say, misreading your signals, would you be so repulsed, disgusted, ready to puke or be so angry and offended? I suspect not. I suspect such men would be given the benefit of the doubt, for friendship’s sake, of having made an honest but embarrassing mistake, just “got the wrong idea”, and would be let down gently, with a sincere no, but thanks anyway.

The moral of this tale is lesbian sexuality is disgusting. Speaking of vulva-phobia, as being talked about over at UndercoverPunk’s blog.

Then there is the common defence when the stereotype cartooned “hairy ugly lesbian” is raised. Het feminists are quick to take on board the hairy-legged, daggy, dykey stereotype image – but always qualify it with ” Apart from being a lesbian…”, or “I’m not a lesbian, but all the rest is true ….” Careful sisteren, your Pavlov’s Dog style conditioned gag reflex is showing.

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KING KONG THEORY by Virginie Despentes

This book is one woman’s story and thoughts on how her life and her ideas on the Female Human Condition, has been shaped by her experiences of sex, rape, prostitution and working in the porn industry. As such, it is a personal story, not an academic treatise for feminist political debate. Although much may be lost in translation from French, reading it to me, felt like sitting down with a woman friend to just simply listen to her talk about her life, the universe and everything, including various side-tracks and tangents. Sometimes nodding along, sometimes frowning, but fully engaged from start to finish.

Virginia Despentes became moderately famous in Europe around 2000, with the release of her rape-revenge fantasy ‘girl-buddy’ film Baise-Moi based on her book of the same name.  It is classic French film noir in its dark-side themes around sexual violence, but also weaves in threads of the heart of female friendship, in its portrayal of the bonding between the two women.

Her book starts with a chapter titled A Gun For Every Girl, and speaking as a girl who grew up in the 70s and came-of-age in the late 80s, from a working-class French background. Virginia as a young woman took many things about women’s lives for granted as she says she grew up with the idea that girls were as clever as boys, and:

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Sex and Destiny: Sexuality

The mythology of the female orgasm could be considered the last ideological push of the heterosexual establishment…….Nothing however, could disguise the fact from women at least, that,
where male sexual response tends to the mechanical,
female response continues to manifest as unpredictable and variable…..
A man who knows which buttons to press to get his partner to come….is seeking to produce in his partner stereotyped factory orgasms rather like his own….

Only lesbians were able to handle the idea that female sexuality might not be symmetrical with male sexuality, and that reconstructing it to fit, might result in a net loss of delight.” Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman1999    

On one level, I have often been amused by sex researchers’ attempts to scientifically describe female sexuality in terms of male sexuality.    As a young woman discussing sexual matters with others, I was often struck by our lack of words with which to articulate our feelings and discoveries, whether lesbian or heterosexual.  Nothing that was used to describe male sexual responses seemed to ‘fit’ what I, or other women, had experienced.

Almost, but not quite.

This reconstruction of female sexuality to parallel that of males, including describing lesbian sexuality in terms of some kind of “mirror-image” of male homosexuality, does seem to parallel the reconstruction of all female biology.

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