What is normal? Who decides? This series questions the notion of normal and transgresses the irrational boundaries imposed on society.

Groupies And Predatory Adolescents

In the past I've written extensively about 'rock chicks' because they transgress several boundaries. Just recently a friend sent me a link to a Huffington Post blog written by a former groupie from Australia, Nikki McWatters, provocatively titled Predatory Teenage Girls. Unsurprisingly she came in for the usual, cliched criticism that she was endorsing paedophilia and teenage rape. Bizarre. What she was doing was talking about an inconvenient truth, namely that adolescent girls develop crushes on older men and sometimes actively pursue a relationship. In certain circles this is taboo. The politically correct line is that until they reach an [...]

The Museum Of Erotic Art

I had my reservations about visiting the Museum of Erotic Art in Paris, mainly because of where it is - close to the Moulin Rouge and surrounded by porn shops. Guilt by association might suggest it would be tacky, seedy even. It was a pleasant surprise. The museum grew from a private collection. What I hoped was that it was a reasonably comprehensive collection from around the world. It was. The lower levels are dedicated to the erotic art from cultures around the world, Africa, South America, etc, with particular attention paid to India, China and Japan. The upper floors [...]

The Gladiatrix

The more I find out about the Roman empire the more I'm impressed. Yes, it was brutal and there are things for which it is rightly condemned (especially infanticide and its treatment of children). Yet in many areas it was quite remarkable. Eva Cantarella, the eminent professor of ancient Greek and Roman law declared that Roman women of the 1st century ACE achieved a level of autonomy not seen until recent history. Under Christianity all of the freedoms were reversed. This is not to say that Roman women weren't subjugated, just that they were given more opportunities than later [...]

Kembra Pfhaler And The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black

So, whilst we're talking about vag... Kembra Pfhaler is a NY performance artist, model and lead singer of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. This group is notorious for being clean shaven and getting their vag out in public.

Beyonce, African Dance And Sexualisation

Something's been nagging me - it was the inclusion of Beyonce in Gail Dines's list of inappropriate role models. On the surface Beyonce seems an obvious choice but a closer examination suggests some politically incorrect assumptions. As I have argued many times, sexualisation implies a deviation from a norm. But what is the norm? The more I look at it, the more the 'norm' looks like white, middle-class values. So when you look at a Beyonce video it looks sexualised from a white perspective. But when you look at it in the context of the tradition of African dance and [...]

Hedy’s Folly

This one ticks a lot of boxes; a gifted child, a transgressor, pre-war Germany, Austria in the 20's. It's the new biography of Hedy Lamarr called Hedy's Folly. Turns out she was intellectually gifted and is credited with inventing frequency hopping which is now used in a number of applications. The book is now firmly on my holiday reading list and I'm interested in three areas of her life. Her childhood in Vienna and her exposure to the art and intellectual arguments of the period. Apparently her father encouraged her studies. She studied ballet, piano and obviously acting. She was [...]

Gifted Kids: Amy Lee

I've been a bit tardy posting about Amy Lee, given she's a perfect example of the type of talent that Bliss from my novel Wild Child has. Amy is the lead singer of Goth Metal band Evanescence, well actually, Amy IS Evanescence. Amy started learning piano at a young age and by 11 she had already written her first song and formed an ambition to be a classical composer. When she was 13 she met Ben Moody at a youth camp and they decided to form a band (eventually Evanescence). They released their first EP when she was 17. Their [...]

Sexualisation And Dance

In his book The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances, Mark Knowles explains that Christianity has always, periodically, had a little moral panic or two over sexualised dancing. This perfectly illustrates my point about how meaning changes over time and between cultures. For where there is dance there is also the Devil. For God has not given us our feet to use in a shameful way but in order that we may walk in decency, not that we should dance like camels. St John Chrysostom. According to Knowles the waltz was once considered sinful and provocative. Compared to earlier [...]

Dakota Fanning And The Controversy Over Oh Lola!

Here's a good example of a conservative (and absurd) reading of an image. The British Advertising Standards Authority have censored this image of Dakota Fanning advertising Oh! Lola perfume.

Fashion And Transgression: Citizen K

Citizen K is a French fashion magazine. The current 'international' issue features Australian androgynous model Andrej Pejic and Hannah Holman - presumably because they look similar. This magazine sits in the women's fashion section - uncovered and without controversy. Below are two shots from the editorial.