A Cromulent Feminist Discourse with Penny, Seymour and Ali G.
Ali G Discourses with Richard Seymour, and Laurie Penny.
Our old comrade Richard Seymour and Laurie ‘Penny Red’ have been well fit getting down on this with guest, Mr Ali G.
Extracts from A discourse on brocialism
On Russell Brand, iconoclasm, and a woman’s place in the revolution: a dialogue with Richard Seymour and Ali G on the question of how to reconcile the fact that people need stirring up with the fact that the people doing the stirring so often fall down when it comes to treating women and girls like human beings.
Richard Seymour. To an extent, he genderfucks, he queers masculinity. He has his hair as a beautiful bird’s nest, and wears eyeliner. His comportment is very ‘effeminate’ in some ways. Part of his attractiveness, then, is that for all his sexual swagger and rigorous self-objectification, he isn’t conventionally ‘manly’.
Laurie Penny. I’d like to say, first off that there are many things apart from the hair and cheekbones that I admire about Brand. He’s a damn fine prose stylist, and that matters to me. He uses language artfully without appearing to patronise, something most of the left has yet to get the hang of. He touches on a species of directionless rage against capitalism and its discontents that knows very well what it’s against without having a clear idea yet of what comes next, and being a comedian he is bound by no loyalty except to populism.
Ali G. Crack cocaine iz destroyin’ our community, so when a bruva makes it through, he deserves our respect. So, let’s big it up for me main man Brand, who has been off da crack now for eight years!
Richard Seymour. So, in place of a unity in which the oppressed preserve a tactful silence, we need a complex unity, a unity-in-difference. This is what ‘intersectionality’ means to me. It is the only strategy that will work. We aren’t asking too much; we’re demanding the bare minimum that is necessary for success.
Ali G. You wanna know ‘ow I make diz country bettah? Iz simple, two words: keep it real!
Laurie Penny. That’s three words!
Ali G. Don’t be a spannah, it ain’t a real word. It’s short for innit, innit?
Richard Seymour My experience is that ‘brocialists’ don’t openly embrace patriarchy; they deny it’s a problem. Or they minimise it. They direct your attention elsewhere: you should be focusing on class. You’re being divisive. You’re just middle class (quelle horreur!).
Ali G. Me woz born in da heart off da Staines ghetto. Me woz failed by da skool system and hated every minute me spent in da classroom. In fact added together, dat time woz probly da most borin 3 hours of me life – altho me do still go to a skool re-union every second Monday at Staines Job Centre… As well as bein unemployed – i iz also got a lot off well important careers. As head of Da West Staines Massive, me control da most peace lovin and violent gang in da hole of Barkshire.
Richard Seymour. The system of patriarchy has a lot of material compensations and advantages to offer those who accept it and identify with it. To me, the rape jokes and misogynistic language – all this is straightforward symbolic violence, ascriptive denigration, and obviously linked to punishment for transgression. Whether knowingly or not, it’s an occasion for male bonding – the ’naughty’ laughter – and the production of a type of masculinity. It’s the exercise of a ‘privilege’ of patriarchy. Of course, not all men like or want such ‘privilege’. But for it to be effective, quite a large number of men and women have to accept its basic inevitability, its naturalness.
Ali G. Do you think all girls should try feminism at least once? ”
Richard Seymour. I think organisations on the Left should have explicitly organised caucuses of women, of LGBTQ people, of black people, and so on – and these caucuses should have real authority, they shouldn’t just be debating societies where issues that are ‘inconvenient’ can be hived off. They should make policy.
Ali G. If this talk teach you anything, it should teach you how to respek everyone: animals, children, bitches, spazmos, mingers, lezzers, fatty boombahs, and even gaylords. So, to all you lot watching this, but mainly to the normal people, respek. West side.
Richard Seymour. You get this weird thing with many brocialists (I think this is true of Brand to an extent) who are clearly hurt by dominant norms of ‘masculinity’, and who resist it to an extent. And yet they still basically identify with patriarchy at some level, they still enjoy its brutality – the rape jokes, for example. yet they still basically identify with patriarchy at some level, they still enjoy its brutality – the rape jokes, for example.
Laurie Penny. That’s the issue that I’ve seen raised time and again when it comes to powerful men within movements and sexism or sexual violence, or to matters of fair representation, often by those seeking to defend or excuse the violence, but not always
Ali G. But what harm has violence ever done?
Laurie Penny. Oh… death!
Ali G. Yeah, but apart from that.