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Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Friday, 17 June 2011

O dear, why did I expect anything different?

Well, The Sex Researchers on Channel 4 last night pretty much did all the things I was assured they were not going to do when they approached me to do an interview and advise, in terms of being simplistic, sensationalistic, cliched, and condescending. Not to mention muddled and full of self-contradiction, heterosexist, male-gazey, and full of annoying little 'amusing' animations and comic reconstructions, busy-busy snippets from films of various periods, etc etc (which I suppose are all part of some belief that tv docs have to keep things moving all the time).

A detail-by-detail critique of its failures as history would be very long indeed, so I'll just mention two particular gruesomenesses.

They disseminated and perpetuated in a particularly crass and mangled-up form the canard about C19th doctors, hysteria, masturbating women and vibrators.

Condescension towards Virginia Johnson, who was surely one of a long line of women in numerous fields who found herself in the right place at the right time and thus enabled to fulfill the potential that women were largely supposed not to have and given no encouragement to develop (hello, it was the 50s - a lot of very intelligent and gifted women were being shunted off into the secretarial pool at that period). It's not as though there was a formal set of qualifications for anyone doing sex research at that time, man or woman.

I was also stunned that they could leap from Havelock Ellis to Masters & Johnson without mentioning anyone in the decades in between: not even Kinsey.

Maybe this is not much more embarrassing than finding my comments on Victorian prostitution, etc, intercut with live-action dramatisation of scenes from 'Walter''s My Secret Life. It still doesn't qualify as a high point in my career.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Sex Researchers, Channel 4

A series of 3 programmes on The Sex Researchers is being broadcast on Channel 4: the first one tonight at 10 pm and the others in a week's and a fortnight's time. I recorded an interview for this but have no idea what, if anything, made the final cut.

Dr Petra Boynton (who was also interviewed for these programmes) reflects on the media depictions of sex research in her own blog and considers some of the problems and pitfalls for academic researchers in the area engaging with the media, as well as the possibilities.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Probably rather brief media appearance

Last year I recorded an interview for this programme, BBC4: Time Shift: Crime and Punishment - The Story of Corporal Punishment.

As they've just rung me up to alert me to its being shown on Monday at 9 pm, I guess they've included at least some of my thoughts on the subject.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Women's Day

Shout, shout*, up with your song:
Dame Ethel Smyth (neither of those bios strikes me as altogether satisfactory), The March of the Women - lyrics (which often get overlooked in the attribution to Smyth) by Cicely Hamilton (though Dame E apparently copyrighted them to herself along with the music).

I first heard this when it was the theme song for the 1974 drama series, Shoulder to Shoulder (1974 was a good year for television drama with feminist content - it was also the year of the good version of South Riding).  What would be a nice thing for 100 years of International Women's Day would be for this to be available once more on DVD, which it isn't (rights issues? deterioration of the originals? - surely there would be interest in it). I'm sure I'd find things now to criticise in its depiction of the suffrage movement (i.e. very Pankhurst-focused) but there was so much in it that I still remember fondly that I'd at least like to see how it held up. It might at least open up debates about the iconography of the suffrage movement and the way it's remembered.

*And how much do I like that exhortation to women to shout? particularly when articles in the Observer Magazine on Sunday, in what was presumably intended as an IWD-themed issue, invoked the 'strident' motif as a negative symbol of feminism.

Friday, 4 March 2011

A quote a day for Women's History Month: 4th March

It is agreeable to distemper ones' own nursery, bake crusts, squeeze oranges and mix nourishing salads; it is not agreeable to sit on quarrelling committees, listen to tedious speeches, organise demonstrations and alter systems, in order that others -- for whom such wholesome pleasures are at present impossible -- may enjoy them. Yet women are praised for the maternal instinct which makes the care expended on their own children natural and pleasant; they are criticised for the political activities which result in the safeguarding of other people's children as well as their own. Winifred Holtby, Women and a Changing Civilisation (1932)
Winifred Holtby (1898-1935), another on the list of interwar middlebrow women novelists and a friend of Stella Browne, alas taken from the world so very soon. An extraordinarily full life of writing and assorted activism, etc. Currently, her greatest novel, South Riding, is being horribly travestied in a dreadful TV adaptation - 3 hour-long episodes for a long novel full of intertwining characters and plots just does not work, and is reductionist. If you can, get hold of the DVDs of the glorious 13-episode 1974 Yorkshire TV version (Dorothy Tutin as Sarah,  Nigel Davenport as Carne, Hermione Baddeley as Alderman Beddows).  But while the 1938 movie version has some renowned names from the ranks of British thespians, the plot summary has always deterred me from seeking this out. Holtby was writing against romance conventions, not with them. Even if Sarah Burton is one of the few true legitimate descendants of Jane Eyre.