My Top Ten Rock Memories: (Rock Icon Saturday June 1, Sky Arts, 8pm)

brian car

So tomorrow night on Sky Arts, 8pm, I’m coming out of the closet as a fully-fledged metal head.

This shot is of me getting into a race car with Brian – one he’d reassuringly told me was called “The Widowmaker” right before I got inside. I’m trying not to hyperventilate.

You haven’t lived til you’ve been fighting the G-forces on a Florida racetrack with your life in the hands of Newcastle’s biggest megastar.

So to celebrate, my top ten memories in rock (that I’m prepared to print, anyway)….. click post to read!

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Reality based feminism?

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This blog was inspired by two of my favourite feminist opponents on Twitter, @pennyred (the journalist Laurie Penny of the New Statesman and the Guardian) and @jonanamary, the activist, who was so delighted by my comment about her that she “raises intersectional bollocks to an art form” that she put it in her Twitter bio.

There has been lots of debate about Conservative feminism but I want to talk about the way that most of the modern feminist movement, at least on line, appears to be wasting most of its time in frenzied internal debate about absolutely nothing, and in the process, solving absolutely nothing. It has come to be alien to the vast majority of women, who do not self-identify as feminists, and yet who, if asked, would support feminist goals.

“Intersectional bollocks”, in other words. “Check your privilege.” “Cis”. “Are white middle class stories the only ones worth telling?” and so on and so forth. Notable from their absence from these debates about terminology and frame of reference are male feminists; at some point even the most left-wing and right-on guy just tunes out. We have the unfruitful spectacle of some of the most left-wing commentators in Britain wondering if they are being left-wing enough, or if their background even gives them the right to make an argument. “Check your privilege”, for example, is a profoundly stupid trope that states that only those with personal experience of something should comment, or that if a person is making an argument, they should immediately give way if their view is contradicted by somebody with a different life story. It is hard to imagine a more dishonest intellectual position than “check your privilege”, yet daily I see intelligent women who should know better embracing it.

Laurie Penny is an absolutely prime example; she does it all the time. The other day on Twitter she told people not to rise to what she felt was a race-baiting article by Rod Liddle in the Spectator. She was quite right. Everybody with a blog knows what “don’t feed the trolls” means. However, she was angrily contradicted by the black comedian @AvaVidal who told her that people of colour were striking back and they should rise to it. Instead of defending her position, Penny caved, recanted, and commented mournfully that “having your privilege checked” was painful. Not for a minute did she consider that another person of colour might have agreed that you shouldn’t feed the trolls. Or that she was just as entitled to her opinion as her interlocutor. No, the woman debating with her was a woman of colour and therefore, despite being clearly and obviously correct, Penny had to back down.

@jonanamary (to give an example I’m just pulling directly out of her twitter stream) approvingly RTed an article by one Shelly Asquith, objecting to mockery of the racist EDL (English Defence League) thusly:

What #EDL really represent:
Beer bellies
Bad tattoos
Thuggery
Tacky ‘designer’ clothing”
We mustn’t do this, she says, because it is a class-based insult. Now we must watch how we insult racists. Never mind that a) the insult is a bang-on accurate description of EDL members and b) she is effectively saying that all of the above epithets are somehow working class, which seems more classist to me than the purported original insult.
 Jonanamary took issue with an early unfashionista blog over on Jux in which I said in passing that “vertical stripes don’t make you look thinner, jogging on the treadmill for half an hour five times a week makes you look thinner.” Why would I want to look thinner? This was fattist. Why should anybody want to have a healthy body weight? How dare I say that fashion models aren’t “normal women”. What about those women who are just naturally the size of spaghetti sticks? Anyway, what are normal curves? This is cis-ist to transsexual women who don’t have wombs…
At this point, I had drifted off into Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where Stan and Judith are debating whether they should stick up for Stan’s “right to have babies” even though he can’t have babies.
And that is what the modern feminist movement has become. Full of intersectionality, debates about middle-class privilege, hand-wringing over a good education (this is again “privilege” and not well deserved success), and otherwise intelligent women backing out of debates and sitting around frenziedly checking their privilege.
It does nothing. It accomplishes nothing. It changes nothing.
American feminism gets organised. It sees where power lies, and it mobilises to achieve it. It gets its candidates elected. Feminism here is about running for office, founding a company, becoming COO of Facebook or Yahoo. It is power feminism that realises that actual empowerment for women means getting more money, since money and liberty often equate, and being able to legislate or influence. Hillary Clinton shifted from First Lady to Senator. Before that she was a powerful lawyer. Before that she went to Yale. Today’s keyboard valkyries would be sneering at the graduates of Yale and asking them to take a long hard look at their privilege before offering an opinion to somebody not as high-achieving as they are.
Ultra-feminism’s mournful obsession with words and categories is making the movement a joke. In my piece below about What Men Want: Identity  I pointed out that Penny’s recent article on how masculinity oppresses men (yes really) had come up with the eye-popping “myth of the male breadwinner”, when men have been the primary breadwinners in all cultures at all times in history. Today, we must apparently check not only our privilege, but also reality, at the door. Men are not providers and are oppressed by the idea of providing, we would like to thank Big Brother for the increase in the chocolate ration and we have always been at war with Eurasia.
And by the way, reality-based feminism – where you achieve, try to earn lots of money, run for office, campaign for measurable goals like defeating Sen. Todd Akin – is not a province of Conservative feminism alone. When I think of a true feminist of the left that I admire I think of Stella Creasy MP and her campaign against payday loans. She’s doing something. She ran for office. She got involved in the Labour party. She matters immensely. She will change things.
This is not to say I don’t admire the two women I’ve singled out – I do, because they both write very well. But for now, they and all those like them leave the impression of a feminist version of Monty Python’s splinter groups – the Judean People’s Front screeching “Splitters!” at the People’s Front of Judea.
The picture at the top is of me at school aged 14. Big glasses, nerdy, feminist, ambitious, idolising Thatcher, and determined to be famous, to be an author, and to be rich. I was at private school my parents couldn’t really afford because I bust my ass and won a 100% academic scholarship. I always believed in myself and I had and have no intention of checking my privilege for anyone. I earned it. I hope the next generation of young women feel the same.

Facebook Rape and Feminism in Action

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During Memorial Day weekend, the journalist Jane Merrick alerted me to something truly horrific. A website by women in media listing graphic depictions of violence against women on Facebook. Images so violent I can barely describe them. Images depicting women with their faces smashed in, cowering in corners, knocked down stairs, being sexually assaulted while out cold drunk; images glorifying rape, murder, incest and domestic abuse.

I tweeted Sheryl Sandberg who up until then I had considered a role-model, and Nicola Mendelsohn of FB Europe asking what they were going to do about it. The #FBrape campaign was in full flow. Knowing that we were on Memorial Day weekend I planned to weigh in with my followers on Tuesday (but was distracted by the below).

Tuesday night, to my surprise and pleasure, I found that Facebook had posted (unlike previously) a full settlement with women’s groups and a changing of their guidelines.

It was those guidelines, posted on Gawker, that had allowed sex-based hate to reappear on Facebook so soon after being deleted; violence was OK in images whereas sex was not. 

Facebook initially denied there was a problem – but after that, they U-turned and changed policy.

In fact, they Leaned In. It is my hope that the women in executive leadership positions, including Sandberg and Mendelsohn, had something to do with this. The brave campaigners behind the #FBrape hashtag, including Jane Merrick, surely did.

Here is a case where the #1billionrising rose and achieved something important – given Facebook’s ubiquity, and how it shapes the generations and their attitude to women.

Would that overturning all injustice was that easy. I would like to commend Nissan to blog readers thinking about a new car; they pulled advertising until Facebook tackled its domestic violence problem.

Conservative feminists love those free-market solutions. 

photo by Benicio Murray

“Feminism, plastic surgery” – Rock Icon and the Times “exclusive” (Sky Arts, 8pm, this Sat)

last week I gave an interview to the Times set up by Sky Arts to talk about Rock Icon, our show with Brian Johnson of AC/DC out this Saturday at 8pm. I remember telling the PR that I wasn’t sure it was a great choice. The show explores heavy metal, our passion for it, why critics sneer at it and fans love it. Are heavy metal heads great readers of the Times? It’s not that known for a love of the dark stuff. More popular papers like the Sun, Mail, Express etc might be better. Plus, they’re behind a paywall.

But she was adamant and she’d agreed to an exclusive, saying they would concentrate on the show and touch on other stuff. So I went along with it.

We talked about the show – not as much as I would have wished – and moved on to questions about me. When this got a bit much I tried to steer it back to heavy metal and got something of an eye-roll. He asked about the plastic surgery row and I answered.

Today, the Times 2 tweeted this:

“Louise Mensch on feminism, plastic surgery and why she really moved to New York. Exclusive interview in tomorrow’s T2.”

You will note the glaring absence of the words “heavy” and “metal” there. Or of Brian Johnson, or of AC/DC.

The British press loves to accuse me of being publicity-seeking. This a prime example of the hypocrisy; I agree to an interview about a topic (metal) and another person (Brian Johnson) and the wonderful documentary we shot and it is printed as another navel-gazing pile of bollocks concentrating on my beauty treatments. Not by my wish.

There’s a basic trust that interview terms will be agreed to, especially if somebody (not me) has arranged and agreed an exclusive. They clearly ripped that up. So, social media allows me to at the very least print every single thing I told that journalist that could be of interest and to do it this afternoon/tonight.

And in case anyone thinks I’m being harsh, I had him on the phone just now “fact-checking” something and he confirmed the breaking of the interview terms – “I was told to profile you. We mention the documentary.”

Janice Turner of the Times (who has had many well-publicised run-ins with me) tweeted that I was being “spiteful” in writing this blog post. Really?

Well, I’ll tell you one thing; it makes a pleasant change for me to hear the press crying that they’ve been treated unfairly.

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Access All Areas

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Peter and me this summer at Coachella, headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whom he co-manages. It was a pretty awesome backstage, with visitors including legendary producer Rick Rubin and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, whose son Patrick is a fan.

As you will note, I am wearing a white body from TopShop with a picture of a black tiger on it. I also wore a pair of shorts and FitFlops.

There’s something about rock and roll, and heat, and rock and roll combined with heat, that makes you think you can get away with anything. I kept that TopShop body in my drawer for years after buying it going “What are you thinking? You are 39. You cannot wear a body with a tiger on it.”

But I did wear it and I looked great in it.

Elsewhere I’ve blogged that exercise is the fountain of youth. Well, I want to add rock to that. It keeps you young, and fit, and connected with the purest part of yourself, the animal pleasure in both music and belonging to a rebel tribe. So we wear black leather and studs and tiger bodies.

On stage, Flea and Anthony Kiedis were bouncing around with quite extraordinary athletic ability in front of the sea of worshipping fans that stretched out as far as the eye could see. Peter lifts. Brian Johnson from AC/DC, and his wife Brenda, who looks 25 years younger than she is, work out fanatically too. They showed me their gym. He works, he drives, he races cars faster than speeding bloody bullets, he pumps iron and he can still sing his guts out in any gig or world tour. AC/DC’s Black Ice tour grossed almost a half a BILLION dollars. $441 million dollars. US, that is, not Australian. 

The fitter you are the harder you can rock. Hey, listen, Axl Rose used to be sexy. Not so much any more. And his stagecraft is as bloated as his chin. Come to think of it, all the musicians I know work out like the devil. You ever seen Rob Trujillo from Metallica, who I toured with as a 22 year old back when he was in Suicidal Tendencies? The dude is cut. 

I think fitness and rock go together these days because both bespeak a huge zest for life. Knocking you out with those American thighs…

Rock Icon: AC/DC’s Brian Johnson – Sky Arts, Saturday, 8pm.

from AC/DC to the Black Keys
from AC/DC to the Black Keys

At 26, my husband Peter scouted AC/DC for management. His first record with the band was “Highway to Hell.” He identified Bon Scott’s body in the morgue when he was found dead in his car, and he was there when Brian Johnson joined the band and took them to a wholly new level with “Back in Black.”

Sadly they fired him right after that. But as AC/DC went on to global superstardom, Peter and his partner Cliff thrived as managers. His firm Q Prime now manages, amongst others, the Black Keys.

It meant a lot to me to wear this t-shirt as we filmed this documentary. As a huge rock fan I’m incredibly proud of my husband. “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll” – except if you’re Peter Mensch, in which case it’s a bloody short way to the top and he’s never come down off the heights.

Before this documentary, Peter and Brian hadn’t spoken in over twenty years. Nervous? You bet I was.

Tune in to find out what happened on Sky Arts, this Saturday, 8pm.

Fit is a Feminist Issue

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This was no fun. Not meeting Lady Thatcher – that was one of the greatest honours I could imagine. But looking at myself in the photo afterwards; ; heavy, crumpled, tired, like I’d just given up.
The title of this piece is a takeoff of the famous book by Susie Orbach, “Fat is a Feminist Issue”, 2006. http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Feminist-Issue-Susie-Orbach/dp/0099481936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361449961&sr=8-1&keywords=fat+is+a+feminist+issue

It’s a worthy tome, discussing body image pressures and the uselessness of dieting. I’m certainly with her on the latter. And on the former, women are bombarded with contradictory pressures. The biggest ones come from the fashion industry, of course. Models are grossly underweight, and magazine images are airbrushed. No, you’ll never look like those women – *those women* don’t look like that either.

But unfashionista does believe in fitness. When I started

the blog, I got a tweet from “intersectional feminist” @Jonanamary onTwitter (no, me neither) saying that the line “half an hour’s jogging a day” is what makes you look slimmer” was sexist, fattist etc etc. I should not criticise fat, but celebrate it. Equally, I should not make the observation that most models are too skinny and not like real women.

We debated back and forth for a bit until I asked her if she was saying that it is wrong to advocate healthy body weight as a goal. If so, unfashionista rejects that totally.

Nobody should ever be ashamed of their body. unfashionistas love their curves and dress to show them off – see Plus Size Style gallery – or of very skinny they play that up too. But accepting your body and being proud of who you are does NOT mean you don’t also try to change it.

What does fitness do for style and beauty? Everything. Even before you lose weight, you firm up. If underweight, you will get a better appetite from a brisk walk. Your skin clears up. You sleep better. You raise your self-esteem, and that leads you to dress more confidently. You will become less depressed – aerobic exercise has been shown in study after study to have an anti-depressant benefit equal to talk therapy. You will be at less risk of osteoporosis in later life. You’ll have great legs and a nice, firm, round tush.

In the day with your kids, or at work, or both, you’ll have more energy, You will achieve more at work because of your extra energy and confidence. It becomes likely you’ll live longer. You will reduce anxiety attacks (something I know all about). You’ll drink less alcohol because you’ll be less stressed. If you could take a pill for ‘half an hour’s exercise a day’ it would be the most successful drug ever invented.

So why don’t women work out? Why is our average size (for both men and women) overweight? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/8302176/British-women-become-the-fattest-in-Europe.html

I think you can blame all kinds of factors. Modern life is sedentary. Gym memberships are expensive, and mums feel shut out. Why join a gym? You have to pack your stuff, get there, work out, shower, get changed and get back to home/work. So a half hour jog on a treadmill is 1.5 to 2 hours time commitment. No mum has that time to spare!

Then, exercise doesn’t seem to work. You start out in January with your resolutions, full of hope. You kill yourself jogging, hate it, feel out of breath and freezing, and don’t go again.

Exercise as usually practised is unpleasant. Women join classes with much fitter, slimmer women, and it’s a pain. Women kill themselves following DVDs with intricate steps. They literally try to run before they can walk. Exercise is thus to be dreaded, and guess what?

You can never consistently do anything you hate. Nor can you consistently refrain from anything you love.

There is only ONE way to get fit and stay fit if you’ve never done it before. Find exercise you either positively like, or don’t hate, and do it every day, or at least five days a week.

The stuff the papers feed you is rubbish. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week won’t help. If you only work out three times a week, you will never feel the true improvements that will make you stick at it. Also, you will relapse so that each time you start it’s as tough as the time before. Work out Monday-Friday or Mon-Sat, and within one week (by Sat, or by Fri) you will feel ‘this is easy, I can do this’.

I was so depressed when after birth I weighed nearly 180 lbs. I felt fat, exhausted, unattractive and gross. No way was I heading outside in a tracksuit to be laughed at. Plu

s I wanted to be near the baby just in case. I was breastfeeding, I was tired and I had neither the time nor the inclination to get to a gym I couldn’t afford and workout with all the superfit heroes.

Here’s what I did – Lesley Sansone. You see her 5 minute walk break elsewhere on unfashionista. She revolutionised exercise for many, because she produced DVDs that literally any able-bodied person can do and can do every day. £12.95, and your life will never be the same again.

Just read those reviews, ladies!

Get a pair of running shoes and a sports bra and get this DVD. It contains two walks. The one mile walk is just 15 minutes. Start with that. the two mile is 30 minutes. Once you get to the two mile daily you will be really seeing changes in your life.

This is how I started. And

eventually I progressed to outside in the spring, walking a bit then jogging a bit, then jogging, then running, and now adding w

eights. It was a slow progress over a couple of years, but always getting better, always a journey, always progress. It changed my life and made me so much happier.

With Sansone’s walking, I could do it. The blood flowed. It was private. It fit in around ME and MY schedule. When I had half an our or even just fifteen minutes and the baby w

as napping, on went the trainers and the DVD and off I started.

Please consider giving yourself this gift. It’s beauty, style, and happiness all at once, and all in thirty minutes. Best of all, that time is time for you – nobody else. No boss, no kids, no husband, just you, and your body and your life.

Just do it – five days a week, not three. It will be the best beauty decision you ever make.

 

What Men Want – Dress

So what do men want from how you dress?

Of course this article comes with all the normal caveats; some men are different, some want tattoos and biker leathers, that’s all true. But what do most men want?

I think the answer is simple enough.

1. they like their women feminine. Consider wearing dresses if you usually stick to trousers. A dress these days is rare enough that a woman in one always looks elegant. It says “I bothered”.

2. They like you and want to see you. This means fitted clothes that flatter your shape, including plus size. No hiding away. Men are more visually stimulated than women and are attracted to the female form, so display it by form-fitting clothes.

Make sure whatever you wear shows your waist. Waist to hip ratio is a scientifically proven quotient of attractiveness to men throughout the ages, no matter what your size. Many plus size pieces are cut to show that waist.

3. They operate a double standard and don’t want to see you in anything too revealing. We can debate all day long as to why this should not be so, but the fact remains for most men it is, in fact, so. Don’t go too short, too low-cut, or too clingy or see-through.

4. They want to see you look pretty, elegant and groomed. As well as appreciating you, men are territorial. There is a big part of them that wants to be proud of the woman they are with. Rightly or wrongly, they feel she reflects on them. The unlovely term and concept “trophy wife” comes from this basic idea; a man wants to be proud of the woman he’s with.

5. This means, good fabrics and cuts, blow-dried hair, simple make-up that looks like a more polished version of you.

And that’s it. The basic, elegant, feminine look most men want. They envy another man whose wife or girlfriend looks like that. Yes, I believe women should dress for the man they love. This fundamental idea of caring about, and acting on, what your partner wants is attacked by many as unfeminist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for women. It is not about seeing men as an enemy; it is nor about denying the urge women have to please the men they cherish.

And of course, it is not a one way street either. You expect your man in a suit at your sister’s wedding. I like men who lift weights. In a love partnership, each does not consider themselves alone, but what the other likes and desires. Women are less visually stimulated than men, so you may not have an opinion on Hugo Boss for him, but he will be obliged to do things for you purely and solely because you are into it.