This is Feminism

I was harangued out of a Pulp fan group for being ‘too feminist’. They said a Pulp fan group isn’t the place to talk about feminism. Here’s some of the reasons I disagreed:

This is Hardcore album cover 1998. Old news to the ‘hardcore’ fans the cover art by Peter Saville portrays a naked woman from the waist up, recumbent on a couch - we don’t know if she is alive or dead or if she’s been raped. At the time, posters of this on the Tube were written on by feminists saying “This is Sexist” and “This Offends Women”.

My point of view is, if women want to objectify ourselves, fine. Liberation means our choice. This image was conceived by Peter Saville, Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey, viewing women through a male lens after rejecting earlier images for not being ‘hardcore’ enough. I think this album cover reinforces male objectification of women.

Jarvis was apparently critical of the pornography he watched – to some extent the dehumanising nature of porn comes across in the lyrics (to the song of the same name as the album) but not with this image.

A band spokesperson said: "Anyone who listened to the album and thought that Pulp are in any way sexist is a fool." Instead of the band being defensive, that everyone offended by the image is wrong and we should understand their intention, why didn’t they cross the bridge to the feminist’s side and take the time to understand why we were upset, offended or hurt by it?

Women endured decades of our naked image selling album covers of male rock bands in the 70’s, tits splayed across page three of The Sun, in calendars, spreadeagled on cars “sex sells” it seemed exploitative of Pulp to use women’s bodies to sell their albums in 1998.

It’s 2017 and we are still fighting for women’s rights and for an end to violence against women in the face of UK Government allegiances with the DUP, Trump, anti-abortion laws, funding cuts to women’s refuges, victims of domestic violence continue to be killed two per week by partners and ex-partners, Everyday Sexism, human trafficking, trafficking of sex workers, child sexual exploitation, rape, lack of education for girls, FGM and child marriages.

I don’t like the album cover. So you’re seeing one made with Lego.

(a very helpful overview of This is Hardcore with the original album cover and more images is here:

Darren Spooner ‘Relaxed Muscle’

Relaxed Muscle is a fictional band formed by Jarvis Cocker and Jason Buckle. Jarvis performs as alter-ego ‘Darren Spooner’. Spooner is Cocker's satirical vision of toxic masculinity.

‘Darren’s Dream’ written by Cocker appeared in the Christmas 2003 edition of Time Out in which the protagonist has sex with Jane Seymour over an ironing board and tries to have sex with a bound Eva Herzigova (wearing the Wonderbra). Everyone else Darren meets in the dream is a man (or animal) fighting, shooting or doing something macho. The women are there to be fucked. Eva Herzigova is killed but Darren doesn’t get upset. He does cry over kicking a dog. He wakes up with a hard on.

Wikipedia says “Relaxed Muscle’s songs about sex, gambling and domestic violence complement the depraved character of Relaxed Muscle.”

There's a lot of humour in the loathsome misogynist wife beating, threesome fucking, street brawling knuckle dragger character of Darren Spooner, but the reality is there are people who’ll agree with him and it will reinforce their world view. A lyric about "chasing pussy" puts in mind Trump's "grab her by the pussy". It's not just burglars from Doncaster we need to worry about, it's the President of the United States (I was going to say "leader of the free world" but that plaudit has been bestowed to Angela Merkel - woo hoo).

The ‘look’ of Darren Spooner wildly contrasts with this macho image – Cocker wears a skeleton suit and tons of face makeup.

It is funny. But also sad and painful. Growing up around male violence and aggression I know I'll laugh loudest when men like this don’t exist anymore. Here are extracts from some of the lyrics.

Rod of Iron:

I tell you one thing
And I ain't lying
I rule my woman with a rod of iron

I tell you one thing
And I ain't lying
I rule my woman with a rod of iron

Antlers clash at the break of dawn
A stag abase, no man at all
Stir in my porridge
She'll stash your swine
Take your hands off what's all mine, all mine, all mine

Year of the Dog:

If you want, you can do it my style
On all fours, and in any way that you want
It's obscene
It's unhealthy
It's so bad
But I was born in the year of the dog

So come on now you know you've got it cushy
All these years of trying to be something you're not
So why don't you come join us chasing pussy, oh yeah
'Cos I was born in the year of the dog
Yeah, I was born in the year of the dog


3 Way Accumulator:

Gonna put you through your paces
Gonna jump you all night long
Another day at the races
I'm still going strong
Let it ride
Let it ride
Let it ride
Bring a friend
Lay down by my side
Come inside
and let it ride

”This is my Planet” Reebok advert

This sexist 90’s advert from Reebok, features Jarvis Cocker eating chips.

In the advert I noticed there is only one woman who speaks (she's a model in a bath) everyone else is male who talk about playing the game and how they want to be Ryan Giggs - women are only the streaker on the pitch or fans of players / Robbie Williams that he can have sex with. So women don't get to participate and are objectified but men can be the star players.

Repugnant Alf Garnett (the original Darren Spooner) comments on Kate Moss: "what's she know about football, silly moo."

The same day this Reebok advert was shared in the pulp fan group I watched Channel 4’s documentary 'When Football Banned Women' about the Football Association banning women's football (which had been very popular in England 100 years ago, particularly in the north, with tens of thousands of spectators).

It wasn't just a decision made to put women back in our box (the timing 1921 is not long after women getting the vote) - it was a political decision as many teams were working class women who played matches for charity including for miners and their families, who were on strike (it seemed the government wanted to starve the miners into submission over a strike that lasted 3 months).

A 50 year ban on women's football has led to public disinterest in their games (combined with deliberate lack of press coverage).

The overall effect is - as women - we don't know our history. We don't know our sporting history, we're not taught it, in many places sport is still segregated by gender (e.g. hockey for girls, rugby for boys). Women are 50% of the population but we're not 50% of the syllabus for any school subject, we're not 50% on stage or screen or in books or on the pitch.

On (un) equal pay presenter Clare Balding said the top female football player Steph Houghton earns £60k a year. Wayne Rooney earns £300k a WEEK. Many professional female football players still work full time jobs and train in the evening.


My comments about sexism and gender inequality weren’t welcomed by some members of a Pulp fan group. It seemed ironic that a group for ‘mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits’ wanted conformity.

There’s a lot I love about Pulp. Like that they sponsor a female football team as seen in the Pulp film “A film about Life, Death and Supermarkets”. I admire keyboard player Candida Doyle and her determination to be in the band despite suffering from arthritis since a teenager (this is also revealed in the film).

I think Jarvis Cocker is brilliant, complicated, flawed, writes insightful and honest lyrics and he’s also a human being who eats, shits, farts and drinks like the rest of us. I don’t want him to be my pop idol. I don’t think it’s a problem to question his actions or motives so that I can better understand them. I also don’t want to spend too much time thinking about someone I don't know.

What's Going to Change the World?

Jarvis Cocker mastered subversive lyrics: 'Cocaine Socialism' and 'Cunts Are Still Running The World' spring to mind. Edwyn Collins sang "too many protest singers, not enough protest songs" now I don't think we have enough of either.

I think for gender equality to become a reality, institutions and organisations have to change but also we could change in small ways, perhaps with our habits. I want to read more books written by women, to listen to more music written and sung by women (see blog, to watch football played by women - if I don't equally value female contributions to society, to culture, to art, to history, how can I expect anyone to value me or treat me as an equal?

We need to be allies of causes that aren't our own, support marginalised voices and help them to get platforms and listen twice as much as we speak.

I am a Pulp fan and I am a feminist. I don’t mind you talking about both. This is Feminism.