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Politics

Jan 15, 2016

Razer: Bowie, 'rape culture', and how feminism became the Westboro Baptist Church

The new feminism, so eager to annul a woman’s memory of sexual pleasure with David Bowie, has begun to offer itself up as a ridiculous cartoon.

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What the tiny Westboro Baptist Church lacks in worshippers, it makes up for with extravagant stupidity. The WBC has picketed funerals of men whose lives were lost to homophobic violence, has remade a version of the charity single We Are the World as God Hates the World and has harangued businesses that carry Scandinavian cleaning appliances for “moral” reasons that cannot be found in any bible.

This week, the church vowed to picket memorials for David Bowie, presumably for his fleeting declaration of bisexuality in the 1970s.  Following the musician’s death last Sunday, the WBC lost little time in making one of its favourite arguments: “GOD SENDS THE CANCER” to those who do not repent.

God sends the cancer. And feminism sends the tedious think pieces. The sexual history of the late musician is being protested not only by Westboro but a significant number of feminist activists.

There are currently no published plans for feminist disruption of Bowie’s funeral. But he has been called an “abuser”, a participant in “rape culture” and a “perpetrator of sexual violence” in print, and far worse on social media. The story, such as it isn’t, has now crossed over into mainstream news discussion, and David Bowie will now be widely remembered as a rapist by extreme progressives just as he is reviled as a pervert by extreme conservatives.

At the centre of this non-allegation of rape is a woman, now almost 60, who makes no claim that she was raped. Lori Mattix, whose name is also recorded as Lori Maddox, first publicly told the story of congress with David Bowie in a VH1 documentary back in 2010.

Mattix says she chose to be deflowered by Bowie in his LA hotel suite when she was 15 and the musician in his early 20s. This of course was statutory rape under US law, but it was also, says Mattix, “so fabulous”. Sometimes, such encounters are.  Last November, she spoke at length with the website Thrillist and again recounted a happy experience. In recent days, her cheerful account has been appropriated as evidence of rape.

Mattix, one of the underage Sunset Strip groupies whose sexually competitive culture was documented in the movie Almost Famous, says she does not consider herself a victim. Rather, she recalls membership in a group of women who actively sought rock’n’roll conquests. This friendly game of one-fuck-manship was recorded in the groupie periodical of the time Star and lives on in the sculptures of Cynthia Plaster Caster, an artist who has been holding and moulding rock’s most notable penises since 1968.

But, the new Feminist Baptist narrative cannot brook these stories of sisterhood and delight.  We must come to understand Mattix as a damaged, self-loathing victim. She’s obviously mistaken about the fun she had, so it falls to us to revoke her consent.

A woman who has made no accusation of rape and has recounted on several occasions a joyous, consensual encounter is deluded.  Whatever she says, we must remember she is in a state of denial because “it is not uncommon for people to sweep this reality under the rug”.  If we forget that this woman was raped, even if she says that she wasn’t, “we become part and parcel of the rape culture we otherwise decry.”

It’s true that Mattix was terribly young and that the age of consent exists for a good reason. But it’s also true that she does not seem to bear the injury many feminists would prefer her to have. She is very glad of the experience, but large numbers of people insist that she should never have had it. Seeing as she did, though, we must make its memory as painful as possible.

Westboro asks only that a pervert be damned. The new lunatic parish of feminism demands both Bowie’s damnation and Mattix’s eternal pain. Feminism in its “rape culture” iteration warns of the wages of sin.

WBC is a hate-group that protests “indecency” with an ignorance so forceful, it loses the case for the Christian right every time. We don’t need Charlie Hebdo to draw us a picture; the WBC is its own brutal caricature. The new feminism, so eager to annul a woman’s memory of sexual pleasure, has begun to offer itself up as another ridiculous cartoon.

The accusations of rape and of victimhood, now as widespread as they are unfounded, make feminism a brutal caricature.

It is likely that Bowie’s legacy will survive this damage. It is unlikely that contemporary feminism will be so lucky. Like Christians who hate “perverts” to the point they will picket their funerals or Islamists who hate cartoonists sufficient to put them to death, this particular hate points to nothing but its own defeat.

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27 comments

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27 thoughts on “Razer: Bowie, ‘rape culture’, and how feminism became the Westboro Baptist Church

  1. reddog

    Thankyou Helen, please keep calling these out for what they are.
    Great work.

  2. AR

    MzRaz – You go, girl. Nice exposition – esp “Mattix as a damaged, self-loathing victim. She’s obviously mistaken about the fun she had, so it falls to us to revoke her consent.”
    Reminds me of Hetty Johnson re some Henson pics – “the girl was too young to give consent and her mother could not give it on her behalf” so therefore, by definition, the only who could is Judge, Jury & Executioner, the aforementioned Hetty.
    “Fear the Monstrous Regiment” as John Knox railed against Elizabeth the Virgin Queen.

  3. nathan rogers

    Well done Helen one standard for people whose music you like and one for people who you don’t know. How do you feel about Bill Cosby and Jimmy Saville, is their behaviour not ok because their ugly or a different race or is it because the children they molested didn’t love it. So effectively you’re saying statutory rape is ok if the child loves it and the person makes pop music you like. I love hearing Led Zeppelin fans trying to defend Jimmy Page, Elvis Fans saying 14 year old Priscilla was just having a sleep over for 2 years before they got married and Essendon supporters claiming James Hird has done nothing wrong. Unfortunately in this world of individual interest and self love people will explain away their heroes behaviour because their grip on reality is at best tenuous and very much keeping their head above water in the ocean of mental illness. Very little is stopping them from bursting into tears every five minutes.

  4. Simon Mansfield

    In Japan there is no age of constent. With the issue being based on the level of maturity of the younger person involved. In California it’s 18 – in Australia it’s 16. SR is a complex area of the law based more on morality than anything else. The term is not even used in Australia.

  5. David Hand

    You are on thin ice regarding the age of consent here. Though it is common for people to become sexually active before they turn 16, the age of consent is designed to protect vulnerable children from exploitation by their powerful seniors.

    By definition, if you are under the age of consent you cannot give consent even if you initiate it. The fact that “she loved it” is completely irrelevant.

  6. Ross Carnsew

    “The fact that “she loved it” is completely irrelevant.” No it isn’t, if the claims are of sexual assault or rape. read the bloody article again David. Oh, and Nathan… you picked it in your second sentence…”the children they molested didn’t love it.”

  7. Kfix

    David Hand, you’re absolutely right in legal terms, but I’d argue that it’s less clear-cut morally – as others have noted the law varies from society to society and time to time. I have a problem with rigid laws in this area as development and circumstances differ so widely, but loopholes can be exploited by determined abusers so my liberal instincts have to be tempered with that knowledge.

    But I think ultimately it is highly relevant morally whether she “loved” and even sought the contact, along with all the other circumstances, whatever the legal situation is.

  8. CarlitosM

    I’ll try again:
    Hellen: excellent piece!
    Biting criticism of extreme fanatical idiocy, especially those “more papist than the pope”.

  9. jay jones

    Really getting a kick out of the two male white knight concern trolls up above telling women “whats for their own good”. AOC laws regarding teenagers are statist paternalistic bullshit. Who exactly are you to deny Lori Mattix agency, and now retroactively recast her as a victim? Do you not even see how absolutely demeaning, and ugly that is? Plenty of teenage girls have pursued relationships with men who technically would have been committing a criminal offense by being with them, and now as women have absolutely no regrets about the relationship, and saw it as fabulous. So, again, who are either of you to tell them otherwise?

  10. Elbow Patches

    This is a difficult area. Some of the people who are concerned about this are not approaching it from sheer ideology, but personal experiences when they themselves were under the age of consent. I don’t begrudge the woman at the centre of the story her happy memories, I also think it’s true that a more sophisticated adult can play on a young person’s desire for acceptance and persuade themselves that the young person ‘knows what they are doing’… some young people are mature before their time, some are easily exploited and vulnerable. Law and our own culture of understanding about ‘what is ok’ have to recognize these nuances. When an adult makes a decision to engage in a relationship with a minor, who are they to judge whether the young person will in the future, have a good memory, or on reflection, feel that they were taken advantage of? The law seems to say – it’s too hard to know, so wait until the age of consent. On the one hand, the feminist critique of the rock star may seem strident, but on the other hand, they have a point – that the powerful and almost universally loved character of Bowie and other admired figures have their faults and should not be deified – he also was young when these events occurred, so I don’t think he should be demonized, but we’ve also got to allow people their right to express concern about an issue.

  11. Itsarort

    I’ve often wondered whether Romeo would have been committing statutory rape if he and Juliet had decided to get it on rather than topping themselves. Controversial as ever HR: beware the crusading Bravehearts!

  12. mikeb

    Don’t you just love the perpetually outraged when their “victim” doesn’t accept they are a victim. It’s like conspiracy theorists who cannot believe the truth because it doesn’t fit their narrative. I have no idea if Mattix is telling the truth (her story has been muddled over the years), but if it is true then so what? There are more important issues for feminists to get upset about.

  13. nathan rogers

    There are a lot of paedophile apologists on this thread I know it’s rife within certain institutions but may be in the general public as well. People really saying that a 13 year old having a drug fuelled orgy with a man is something that’s going to do her good. The mind boggles!

  14. Kerry Mycele

    Yes, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to apply today’s conservative values to the past. And, of course, we have to infantilize Lori Maddox because she doesn’t agree! Actually, speaking as one who was a teenager in the early seventies, I’m continually shocked at how today’s parents infantilize their children, and can see how that’s been internalized by young adults. I suspect that is the very reason they’re unable to imagine a fifteen-year-old with her own agency.
    By today’s standards, almost all parents in the seventies were child-abusers, simply because they let their children spend their days unsupervised – at least, this attitude prevails here in the States. I don’t know if this goes on elsewhere.
    Rightly, or wrongly, people simply had different attitudes then. Having sex with underage girls, (and let us not forget how widely “underage’ varied from place to place), was not quite the “big deal” it is today. To ignore that is to misunderstand the past, and people’s historical actions. But, let’s face it, these kinds of subtleties rarely matter to ideologues.

  15. nathan rogers

    She was 13!!!!!! Type in Sophia Grace into google images and have a look what a 13 year old looks like. This just proves that if your music’s good enough you can do what you like Elvis, MJ, Jimmy Page, Iggy Pop and the list goes on.

  16. elspeth cameron

    Um…..15, I think you’ll find, NR. Possibly even 15 and 364 days. Traumatised today; all fine tomorrow. Let’s not get too absolutist about this.

  17. Kerry Mycele

    Well, Nathan, the number of exclamation points gives your age away. I doubt you’d even believe the stories I could tell of my thirteenth year. We weren’t on nearly such short leashes as children have been the last twenty or so years. You just have to accept that it was a different World back then, and that you’re looking at it in an ahistorical way.
    Also, not thirteen. I think some people have down-graded her age for shock value, (although it wouldn’t shock me much). Believe me, I couldn’t get into clubs at thirteen, so I doubt Lori could, either. I had to wait until I was fifteen to get served, and even then, only in my neighborhood bar. OTOH, I’d been attending concerts since the age of thirteen, but not where liquor was served. No doubt, an enterprising girl could’ve found her way backstage there.
    Here’s a little historical tidbit for you: did you know that, at concerts, people not only smoked cigarettes openly, but pot too? Hard to imagine, eh? Yes, it was a far more liberal time.

  18. nathan rogers

    Um 13 I think you’ll find, elspeth, slept with Jimmy Page when early 14 and claims to be devirginized in middle 1972 in San Fran after born in 1958. Look Kerry, thanks for patronizing me, i’m not here to help you through your troubled childhood where to make up from the lack of love in your life it seems that may have offered yourself up as a sex object to a man at age 13. Don’t tell other people or act like your generation was so much more mature. I smoked pot at 13, I’m now 34 and was keen to have sex at that age as well but not with a 25 year old women and her partner while high. I don’t give a flying f@%$ that you are deluding yourself to keep the dream of Bowie alive that got you through your toughest times but he was at best good for about 7 years and rubbish for the rest. Oh yeah it was pop music he didn’t save the aborigines or destroy communism. Just a popular musician who enjoyed sex with emotionally and physically immature children. Morals, standards change ethics do not I can very much say that what Bowie did was unethical for as far back in time to where humans become a very primitive species and are so emotionally simple that there will be no ramifications when a girl is biologically ready for sex, it bleeds it breeds just like an animal is your standpoint it seems. Also I now quote a few girls who are my age and lost their virginity thirteen and all of them head serious issues the two who slept with men (age 20 and above), well lets just say one is dead from a herion overdose and the other is far worse.

  19. nathan rogers

    Also Kerry, Paedophiles got away with a lot more in that supposedly liberal time.

  20. AR

    NathR – “I can very much say that what Bowie did was unethical thanks for that Urbi et Orbi judgement, we lesser may now get on with things until your next magisterial pronouncement. Or not.
    “I smoked pot at 13, I’m now 34..” – are you attempting to demonstrate that the damage done by too early cannabis use still hasn’t cleared up?

  21. nathan rogers

    No I do not speak like the pope I’d probably be sticking up for Bowie’s actions if I was. I can say that yes, it is so patently obvious as a complete moron or someone who is extremely biased (eg a lover of Bowie’s music) could not see. I’m sorry for your lack of intelligence but I’m not going to back down because to satisfy your beliefs.

  22. mikeb

    I’d also prefer that girls or boys did not have sex at 13 with anyone let alone adults. Nevertheless it happens & I very much doubt that “all of them” had serious issues either before or after. Maybe commentators shouldn’t assume that their experiences are common for everyone?
    As for Bowie being “at best good for about 7 years” – well that’s an opinion. Not a widespread opinion, but nevertheless one you are entitled to have.

  23. Helen Razer

    Mattix’s accounts of the year of the encounter vary. However, she has said both in print and on television that she was 15. You can follow the links. Or, you can verbal her. Chicks love that.

  24. Helen Razer

    Also, Nathan. If you really want to champion the rights of the vulnerable, maybe take a little breath the next time you want to call a woman sexually troubled.
    I am awfully sorry about that, Kerry. Hideous business.
    Jeez.

  25. nathan rogers

    I don’t really give a stuff what Kerry likes if she is championing men sleeping with 13 years olds then she is sexually troubled. Got nothing so play the feminist card. How bout you spend some time writing something important not sensationalised instead of championing the behavior of kiddy fiddlers.

  26. Helen Razer

    1. Mattix has stated in print and on television that she was 15, not 13.
    2. Unfortunate views (although I do not happen to think that Kerry’s are) are commonly the result of bad reasoning. To say that they are the result of bad sexual experiences is not acceptable speech, Nathan.
    3. I believe I have made a reasonable point about moral outrage. That you don’t is fine but I would ask you to argue in the terms of logic rather than hot, quite dangerous emotion if you really care to make your case.
    I know we don’t always appear in text as we wish to and you may be representing yourself poorly, Nathan. But, please. If you are going to argue, please respect the rules of argument. This would include not calling people with whom you disagree sexually troubled.

  27. Kerry Mycele

    “Also Kerry, Paedophiles got away with a lot more in that supposedly liberal time.”

    Again, you have an ahistorical viewpoint, and you seem unwilling to lift your head up to see it. The definition of the word “pedophile” has been greatly expanded since that time. It once meant an interest in prepubescent children. Nowadays, at least in the States, an eighteen year old boy having sex with a sixteen or seventeen year old girl is a sex offender and a pedophile. And vice-versa, presumably. As with rape, this expanded definition dilutes the meaning of the word. I don’t see that as a good thing.
    It is important to write about this because these absurdities, brought about by the current hysterical climate surrounding children, ruin real people’s lives. It’s become so absurd we’ve seen the prosecution of teenage girls for distributing child pornography – because they sent a picture to their boyfriend.
    It’s especially important to see this written about in the media because this began as a media panic in the eighties. Obviously, you haven’t had the benefit of watching it unfold, as I have, so you haven’t the same perspective. Nevertheless, don’t you ever wonder why students suddenly need “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”, simply to attend university? Why children can’t be let out of the sight of their parents, even though crime has fallen over the last thirty-some years? You might also ask yourself, why the need to go witch-hunting in the past?

    Helen: As you know, people resort to ad hominem attacks, or the appeal to emotion, because they have no arguments. Nathan employs both here. I have no problem with it because what they’re really saying at that point is, “uncle”.

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