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.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

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 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.

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