Lady and the Trump (Or Trump Up the Sham) – Donald Muck and the Dysfunctional (American’t) Dream

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Living in Great Britain, it is easy to become so preoccupied with politics on our own pond that we neglect the caustic campaigns and repellent rallies produced by our simpatico states. Over here, we’ve had David Cameron nervously shredding anything remotely to do with Panama (including a real waste of a summer hat), Jeremy Corbyn working through a steadfast setlist for Glastonbury (we pray his time slot doesn’t clash with Clegg’s acoustic set) and Iain Duncan Smith weeping like Kate Winslet on William Hill. Over there, though, it’s slightly different.

We’re all aware of Donald Trump’s tumultuous campaign to become the next US President, in a move so concerning some people are beginning to remember the salad days of Mitt Romney. Not since World War II has there been such an unpopular candidate as Trump, who is currently behind Hilary Clinton in double digits and his recent loss in Wisconsin revealing even his alleged target voters, white people with college degrees, have turned their backs on him. He is deflating quicker than his fringe in a fridge, and yet here’s the rub – 26 per cent would still vote for him. And to allow your gasp to permeate further, that 26 per cent is of women.

With his campaign running out of puff, the only way he can hope to keep the cubic clout he’s amassed as a “political heavyweight” is that he falls short of winning the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. With that, he can return to his other hobbies, namely The Apprentice and getting married.

At present, though, Trump is far from spent, and he’ll spend to avoid such a pitfall. Not in monetary terms, though, but in women, Muslims, Latinos and even some Americans. His current plan is to build a wall separating Mexico and the United States, but to rub further salsa into the wounds, he is also asking Mexico to pay for it. It’s almost like when a gang of youths come and wash your car, despite it being scrubbed diligently by Sainsbury’s own the evening before, and then cheekily say since they’ve done it, they deserve something to show for it. “Ring the door after, not before” should be Trump’s motto.

The whole hare-brained scenario brings to mind an episode of The Simpsons (I’m sure I am not the only one who has to align most cultural calamities to this show), when Homer proposes a similar barricade. “Like the one in Berlin?” Marge gasps. “Yeah, we can call them and get the guys they used,” Homer innocently, yet offensively, remarks. You can almost imagine Trump and his tribe feverishly fingering through the Yellow Pages to find a contractor with less than liberal beliefs. Building the “Trump Wall” will allegedly right all the wrongs that have strangled the United States over the years, but Trump himself has already built a wall, one that is surrounding and choking his vision, blocking out the multi-cultural, modern eclecticism that is the United States.

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Women have been a target for Trump, and not in terms of voting – Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly and even his own daughter Ivanka have been playthings to be pilloried (or disconcertingly worse in Ivanka’s case…methinks Trump has read between the lines of Girl, Interrupted), resulting in such vitriol he makes Todd Akin look like Tim Allen. He claims to have hired and fired thousands of women over the years – and he’s married and divorced just as many – so how can be labelled sexist? However, what Trump fails to coagulate is he should be championing the cultural clout, dignity and diligence of the women he’s namedropping, as opposed to their faces and menstrual cycles.

Despite it being 2016, the topic of abortion continues to divide America. Opposition continues to grow in certain areas of the country, where evangelists reign with an iron cross. The correlation between the Republican Party and anti-abortion began all the way back in 1976, with the Party’s policy platform proposing a ban on abortion. Forty years later and Trump is doing everything he can to fan that fragile flame, saying those who have an abortion will need to have “some kind of punishment,” though he has yet to decide which.

Since Roe v Wade in the ‘70s, hard-working and intelligent women have long lobbied for the Supreme Court and politicians in general to keep their noses out of such a sensitive issue, but Trump’s remarks have once again reared the ugly head of vapid, rich white men with all the power but no premonition.

“Let’s make America great again,” Trump has offered, but that has become more and more of a caveat as time has gone on. He won’t win, but the fact he has been entertained has been bad enough.

 

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Bad Habits – Why Miles Kane’s Faux Paus Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Miles Kane

Recently, the world doffed their fringes and showed appreciation for all things female on International Women’s Day. Trailblazers from all corners of culture were freshly anointed and adorned, and Instagram was alive with filters of Courtney Love, Emma Watson and Polly Jean Harvey. For Miles Kane, though, he was having to face up to swallowing some considerable humble pie.

International Women’s Day is an important movement, and not just a Facebook frivolity (there were, natch, a few statuses appearing on Facebook denouncing “yet another special day…when’s Oatcake Day?” or the typically anti-feminist boilerplate, “yeah well when’s National Men’s Day appearing?” It’s in November, guys, hush). But one thing the day did highlight was that we’re still considerably far away from reaching gender equality, and surprisingly, one of the biggest setbacks is the world of music.

The medium of sport is still wrestling (or should that be ‘foxy-boxing’ – gender insensitive ed) with accepting gender equality, with full-time football coach Annie Zaidi admitting to facing taunts of sexism and Islamophobia as she tried to negotiate a career in the world of sport (she originally gave up all hope aged 14). But music is all about acceptance, progression and diversity…isn’t it? Sometimes, it really doesn’t seem that way, for lately there has been a slew of sexism sound tracking the current state of music.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 18: Recording artist Kesha attends the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP)

Kesha has been put under a considerable amount of stress and discomfort after judges ruled against releasing her from her contract, despite the strong allegations of sexual assault and emotional abuse from producer Dr Luke. It seemed Sony Music had finally seen sense when, after an inordinate amount of time, they announced they were “dropping” Luke from their roster. But even then, it was because of a “public relations headache” – it’s like allowing your dog to defecate your rug, and then blaming Ikea for having such “substandard absorbency”; the two barely correlate, and it seems Sony only acted because of intense, and rightful, pressure, rather than the actual allegations.

But now Dr Luke is vehemently denying he has been dropped, remonstrating he has a strong partnership with Sony and that he and Kesha can work “without interaction.” So, in other words, it is okay for Luke to continue to prowl the perimeter, but Kesha must be on her constant guard should he decide to permeate the water cooler. It’d be like letting Jeremy Clarkson stay on at the BBC, as long as the BBC restaurant changes from modern European to a Miller & Carter.

Another blot on the equality copybook has come in the shape of Miles Kane. Despite having a decent solo career and periods in semi-successful indie bands (The Rascals being the most notable), arguably Kane is best known for The Last Shadow Puppets, whose Bacharach-meets-Morricone appreciation of ‘60s fervour gave him, as well as cohort Alex Turner, a new string to his indie bow.

The now-infamous Spin article presented journalist Rachel Brodsky the kind of discomfort that should only be displayed when trying to ask Mark E. Smith for his bar tab. Not only was Kane’s perverted presentation of Turner’s seemingly bulging crotch not especially amusing, he spent the interview engaged in some sort of tossed-off, smug honeytrap, in which he blatantly – though tried to make it nonchalant – propositioned the journalist and then ensnared her into an awkward goodbye kiss. Later, he sent a note apologising for his “Carry On” behaviour, as if that would make it all go away. But it doesn’t, because what’s the use in a note? It doesn’t erase the sour taste or the discomfort Brodsky would have felt during and after the interview. It doesn’t excuse Kane’s conceited come-ons, nor does it quell the belief that he really is sorry. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again.

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It’s like having a one-night stand with a girl who loves you, then realising it’s wrong and sending a conciliatory Kik a week later – musicians, and men in general, need to learn it’s foresight that’s key – being reactive is pointless. To be proactive is to prevent.

Throughout the Spin interview, Kane and Turner seem, simply, bored – bored with fame, bored with interviews and bored with promotion, and thus decide to make it fun, and that’s what makes Kane’s behaviour worse – it seemed he was asking her to “butter (him) up” and casting her meaningful, disconcerting glances to make it more fun for him. Even if he meant any of it, it would be inexcusable, but on the surface, it plays out that Kane wanted a bit of a laugh and decided to treat this woman with flagrant disregard, and then, when the guano penetrated the fan, urgently scribbled a ‘sorry’. It’s like at the Year 10 piss-up, when your mates egg you on to try and finger the nerd, and later on you’ll make sure your digits do not dared to be doused on a towel.

“I’m going to shag more in my thirties,” “I’ve got a hard-on for Alex Turner” – since when did Miles Kane become the real-life Jay Cartwright? At least in The Inbetweeners, it was pushed to such a pathetic degree that I could laugh about it. Miles seems to think being Turner’s pompadour polisher gives him clitoral credence.

The sad thing is it’s a sorry indictment of the music industry. We may have powerful female figures in music (off the bat, there’s the Deal sisters, Liz Phair, Warpaint, even the always overlooked Juliana Hatfield), but half of their ‘admirers’ would cease spinning their songs if they let their skin sag. Even now, if I say one of my favourite bands is, for example, Alvvays or Best Coast, it is often followed by a quick Google search and an approval of “she’s fit.” I doubt I’d get the same response if I told them to Google a pic of Mac DeMarco. There was also a time when I wanted a female guitarist in a band, but even that led to a Pandora’s Box of analytics, explanations and assurances – it seemed no one could overcome their salient belief this was only because I wanted to start a “Fleetwood Mac” and get my end away.

Freedom does come slowly at first, but in the music world it should be arriving a lot quicker, and Miles Kane’s actions have left a sour taste. But, to paraphrase TLSP’ new record, it’s everything we’ve come to expect.

 

Feminism Isn’t About Appendages…It’s About Acceptance

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We go through different stages in life. At some point, we decide that drinking out of a toilet bowl and urinating into an empty Ribena carton isn’t acceptable. We begin to adapt to social norms, but the interplay between two genders is still an interesting one; when we’re ten-years-old, we live in fear of the opposite sex; we dread being accused of fancying someone, we avoid them like the plague and, in America, ‘cooties’ is always around the corner.

But what about the change that happens with adolescence? Or, rather, the perception that occurs? For when puberty strikes and we become stumbling vessels of hyper hormones, all of a sudden members of the opposite sex no longer become someone of the opposite gender, they become targets.

And that’s not me talking from personal experience. That’s me talking from experiencing typically ‘male’ viewpoints. All of a sudden, the notion of becoming friends with girls is ridiculous, a frivolous pastime where the end result is like tipping a bus conductor; it’ll get you nowhere, fast. Unless you plan to sleep with them, then you’re making an idiot out of yourself. Forget making meaningful conversation, sharing common interests and enjoying one another’s platonic presence; if you’re not secretly working on some sexual subterfuge, then you might as well move to Brighton and scour Will Young’s LinkedIn page.

I spent eighteen months working within a cramped, typically male office environment, wherein it contained its own pool table and work finished at 12pm on a Friday for four hours of beer and pork. Not a problem as such, but women were viewed with disdain and carnality; on Christmas, they were given ironing boards as a present while the guys were given aftershave, every Monday morning was a conversation on who’d they slept with and the best sex they’d had period (and they’d later be referred to as “slags”), and their complaints about the pool table itself were laughed off, with the men proposing they could install “foxy boxing.” To add to that, strippers were regularly hired for birthdays and interviewees were judged on their looks.

One time, a co-worker eavesdropped in awe at my Facebook thread, in which I’d engaged in several conversations with different women. Disappointingly, the first thought that crossed his mind was that I was a serial ‘player’, rather than just someone who had female friends. They began surreptitiously hunting for tips. “How many are you shagging?” they asked. “None,” I replied. “And I don’t intend to.” “There’s something wrong with you,” came the crestfallen riposte. And, being naïve, I believed him. When you’re young and you enter a workplace like that for the first time, you start to unwillingly mould yourself to their alpha males.

Surrounded by guys who kept their craniums in their crotches, I began to think maybe the typical male representative should be ripped, randy and risqué, with a disposable attitude to women. I began to study their methods, and all of a sudden, my conversations with women changed – I was no longer genuinely conversing, I was no longer discussing similar interests and just passing the time innocently; I was instead urgent and full-on, with every response being sexually suggestive badinage that geared the conversation to only one place.

Of course, the guys in question admired me for it. But soon enough I finally realised that this wasn’t what I wanted. I’d begun adapting to what I thought society wanted in a man – someone that is cocksure, confident and concupiscent. But if that’s what a guy is meant to be, then I didn’t want it. I’d lost so many interesting conversations with girls, all because I was after something I didn’t even want. I was like a 12-year-old boy buying his first Rizla, only to discover he’d rather have spent it on some Haribo.

It opened my eyes to how some men think – social media can be a sexual fortress, where you can begin a conversation with a random girl and try your hardest to get their numbers. You can dare to send a dick pic in the hope it will “speed things up.” But is this what we want the female generation to think? That every time a guy pops up and says “hi”, that it’s merely a matter of time before they unleash a barrage of clunky catcalls and the dreaded wink emoticon. Nowadays, I do sometimes speak to girls on Facebook or Twitter, and even though my goal is just to talk and nothing more, I have a pang of guilt that I know half of these people will think I just want sex.

Some people view feminism with a degree of mistrust – if you’re not a girl, it doesn’t apply. But feminism isn’t about what’s in your pants, it’s about what’s in your head. It’s about acceptance – I’ve spoken to girls who are genuinely inspiring and innovative, and conjure up ambitions in me that a lot of men wouldn’t. I’ve met girls that are driven and energetic, with opinions and interests that coagulate with my own. To simply tut at them, ask them for sex and then buy them an iron is ridiculous. One day, we will be able to completely whitewash the phallic-shaped elephant in the room, where a male and female can walk across the room, shake hands and talk, without either party thinking about sex. Unless they want to. In that case, go ahead.

One day, a guy will be able to list Emma Watson in their heroes without people saying it’s because she’s “fit.” Do we ask the same if a girl lists Barack Obama in it? Perhaps we do flippantly, but we never mean it. To judge feminism, and girls too, by their gender assignment is insane. It’s an open book, a fascinating world where we can do away with sexual oppression and start anew.

One day, we will be able to ask this question – “what if a guy can talk to a girl, be friends with them and the thought of sex never cross their mind?”. And one day it won’t be greeted by chauvinistic snickering.