Recent Articles

Why is it easier to cut services for students than elderly?

by Laurie Penny     September 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

contribution by Laurie Penny and Ben Little

In recent weeks, the conservative right has begun to annex the anger that today’s harassed young people are feeling towards the unprecedented privilege of the baby boomer generation.

George Osborne claims that ‘intergenerational fairness’ is a key plank in his rationale for the budget, while Nick Clegg’s argument that it is “morally wrong” to pass debt from one generation to another is a cleverly constrained excuse for his party’s conversion to a narrative of economic cuts.

Simply slashing the state, however, will not solve the problems of what Shiv Malik and Ed Howker call the ‘jilted generation’.
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The government is calling victims of rape liars

by Laurie Penny     May 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm

So the new government has somehow found time in its recession-busting schedule to propose a law that will grant anonymity to men accused of rape, who are of course the most pitiable and urgently un of victims of woman-promoting-marriage-destroying-single-mum-supporting-violence-preventing Broken Britain.

Popular wisdom has it that vast numbers of rape allegations are false, when in fact false accusation is believed to account for only a tiny percentage of reported rapes – no higher than false reports for other crimes.

The Daily Fail have somehow produced both the most table-bitingly offensive assessment of the situation so far – from treacherous misogynist Melanie Phillips, who claims that “after Labour’s reign of extreme man-hating feminism, common sense is reasserting itself” – and the most reasonable discussion of the issues for women, from Susanne Moore.
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by Laurie Penny     May 6, 2010 at 12:16 am

The sky over London is pathetically empathic, brooding and low and just about to break into a weird little squall. I’ve been woking 14-hour days for the past six, and I’m bleeding and I’m tired and pissed off, and Torygeddon seems to be coming, and there’s nothing I can do or say to make that better. No matter how much I scream and stamp I can do nothing to stop what’s coming over the hill, not on my own.

Apart from vote, of course.

Which is the only thing we can possibly do tomorrow that matters.

So here’s how it goes: you. Vote. Yes, you, with your quietly freakish views and your weird opinions that no mainstream party will ever quite understand. Vote.

Yes, you, with your sulkishly correct intimation of having been betrayed time after depressing time, in small ways, with politicians taking away your faith and your fervor piece by piece. Vote. I know you think it doesn’t matter, not where you are. It matters.

I don’t care how much you hate them, every single one, how much you want to tear it all up and sit in your living room and throw guilty glares at the TV and not be implicated in this whole fucking mess. You are implicated already. Now go out there and take some sodding responsibility.

Not that you should vote for just anyone, of course. You should vote for whoever is going to beat the Tories in your area. Not just because they’re evil, or because they’re incompetent, or because (with the exceptions of a few notable people who I know read this blog) they hate you and everything you stand for. Vote for progressives because Tories are scummish and dull and boring. They are boring. Look at that sky. Taste the clammy May air, how grey and hopeless it is, spring sap run to rot. Remember when it tasted like this? That was the early 90s. Do you remember the early 90s? Vote.

Because if you don’t get out there and tick whatever box you need to tick, right now if you’re at home, or as soon as you can get out of work, I shall consider whatever happens tomorrow your fault. And you should too, because it will be. Turn in your internet license, you’ve got no more business ranting at empty cyberspace if you can’t put your shoes on and engage with hard copy the one time it matters.

Which is right now.

Get your shoes on, get out of the house and vote. Put the internet away. This is it. Game on.


Change we’ve got to believe in.

by Laurie Penny     May 1, 2010 at 1:29 am

If you’ve been anywhere near a television over the past week, you’ll have listened to smiling, scared-looking people talk about ‘change’ to the point where the word has lost practically all meaning.

The problem with promising ‘change’ is that it’s the one thing that absolutely every politician can absolutely, 100% guarantee. The only thing that you and I know about the next five years, or indeed the next five minutes, is that some sort of change will occur. The economy will improve, or not. Social unrest will escalate, or not. You might decide you don’t like safeway instant shepherd’s pie after all. Something will change. continue reading… »

Penalised for being young, we have every right to feel apathetic

by Laurie Penny     April 8, 2010 at 12:53 am

Somewhere in all the fuss and rigmarole of the launch of the central party tour buses, the government has just rushed through a bill called the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 2010.

No, it hasn’t made the headlines, and probably wouldn’t have done so even if it weren’t Election Announcement Week, because it’s a very, very boring bill. I know, because I’ve just read it.

In between interminable sub-clauses concerning what types of building may or may not be used to store maggot-infested meat is a slippery little snippet of legislation creating a new dwelling category, ‘Houses with Multiple Occupants’

Which means that any three or more unrelated adults living together now constitute a legally separate form of household, requiring separate planning permission and separate housing administration.

Sounds like an everyday piece of wearisome local-government wrangling, but let’s be paranoid for a second and ask ourselves: who is this set to target?
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Give Your Vote!

by Laurie Penny     March 15, 2010 at 8:00 am

I can absolutely understand why many people around my age don’t want to vote in the upcoming elections, as long as they can understand why they deserve a smack and a dose of Susan B Anthony: suffrage is the pivotal right. If you opt out of the one effort that makes you a relevant civic entity, you have forfeited your right to complain about anything the government does, and you have betrayed all the other young people who do want the right to be heard. Generations of suffragettes, civil rights protesters and trades unionists did not fight and die so that you could sit on the sofa thinking about how the government never listens to you.

But if you’re stil parrotting the line that voting doesn’t make a difference and politicians are all the same – implying that you’ve never actually looked too hard at John Redwood- there is now an alternative. You can give your vote to someone who does care, someone in another country affected by Britain’s policies on trade sanctions, climate change and military interventionism, someone who doesn’t have a voice in these elections, but who just might deserve one.

The Give Your Vote campaign is one of the maddest, most mind-boggling, most potentially revolutionary ideas to come out of the internet age in Britain so far. continue reading… »

What if the world were different for a day?

by Laurie Penny     March 8, 2010 at 9:00 am

Picture this. You open the newspaper one grey morning, and there in a bright pixel smear on the third page is a full-length photograph of a young man. The young man is almost naked; a flesh-coloured thong clings tightly to his hairless cock and balls; he looks over his shoulder at you, his jaw a perfect masculine square, his dark eyes smouldering. Everywhere, this young man is hard, smooth, impenetrable and yet submissive, wanting you to consume him. You turn the page.

There are more young men on each of the pages that follow, naked or scantily clothed, poreless, flawless, with broad shoulders and rock-hard arses and muscles that bunch and gleam under oiled skin. You are used to the sight of these young men; these days, they hardly even arouse you. Their glassy eyes follow you on public transport, on the internet, on television, in the fashion spreads of magazines.

Picture this. Every one of the men and boys whose images you see repeated thousands of times a day is impossibly perfect, hewn from some arcane piece of rock on the platonic plane. Not one of them is over thirty-three. In the shadow of their hard, robotic masculinity, the possibility of paunches and puppy fat and male-pattern balding is unthinkable . They rarely speak, and when they do speak, they ventriloquise; they implore you to look at them, to understand their silent semiotics of commercial masculinity; they threaten and seduce you in a boring parade of billboards, adverts, music videos.

These men don’t seem to be doing very much. Usually, they are moronically thrusting and jerking around cereal boxes, insurance packages, bottles of shampoo and soap. They seem to beg to be penetrated, but it is they who have invaded your body and brain, as if the images were trying to force themselves out through your skin. Some of them are known to you by name or sobriquet, as singers or actors, or as the sons or lovers of powerful women. They grimace beautifully as they drape their impossible bodies over stages and sets, showing off watches and shoes and beautiful clothing that hangs from their perfect torsos in artful folds and flutters in artificial winds. Their images cluster in everywhere , unseeing, bored, as if they can’t quite decide whether to fuck you or punch you.

You know that it’s not real, of course. continue reading… »

Young women aren’t just sexual victims

by Laurie Penny     February 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Something terrible is happening to young women. Despite the dazzling gains made for bourgeois white women by reformist feminism, we’re….well, we’re turning into sluts. Look around you: the streets are littered with half-naked young hussies vomiting their A-levels into spillovers with their skirts hoiked round their waists. At the merest flash of a web-camera, young ladies from nice homes will flash their tits for Nuts magazine.

Conservatives and a small number of high-profile feminists are unanimous in their assertion that contemporary culture has made desperate sexual victims of all women under thirty. The reaction to the Home Office report into the ‘sexualisation of children’ has been gleefully priggish, with Conservative leader David Cameron telling the BBC that: “We’ve all read stories about padded bras and Lolita beds…children are growing up too fast and missing out on childhood.” Oh David, with your nice hair and your nice wife and your house in Knightsbridge, only you can save Broken Britain from the march of the underage slags.
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Resignations, rivalry and the future of the left.

by Laurie Penny     February 17, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Radical politics, like romance, inevitably disappoints. It has become a cliché that liberal infighting gets in the way of liberal action, but this week has been a flashpoint for the British left, struggling to organise itself in the face of an upcoming election which may well bring greater gains for its enemies on the right and the far-right than the country has seen for a generation.

Fifty core members of provocative far-left group The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) resigned their membership yesterday in a dramatic public walkout that has sent shockwaves through the British far-left.

The catalyst for the walkout was the resignation of party stalwart and recent Mayoral candidate Lindsey German after members attempted to block her appearance at a local Stop The War meeting, amid ferocious internal debates.
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Women, political blogging and the future of the left.

by Laurie Penny     February 9, 2010 at 12:44 am

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time these days sitting in sessions about New Media and politics in which men tell women why women don’t blog. The New Media debate at the Progressive London conference this month was exciting, and uplifting, and full of cutting-edge ideas about How to Use the Internet to Re-energise the British Left, and at the end of his speech, Andy Newman made a little, throwaway comment which made me feel as if all the air had been kicked out of my chest in one go.

“Not many women are really involved in blogging, because the blogosphere is quite pugnacious.”
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