Flesh eating coffins and women in masks

28 Dec

by Rochus Wolff, flickr

Seeking respite from the Assange material last week, I opened an article in ABC’s The Drum irresistibly titled “Who says female corpses aren’t sexy?” written by Melinda Tankard Reist.

The article turned out to be the author’s objections to a 30 second video clip teaser of rapper Kanye West’s latest song. The author describes the video clip as “gendered violence”, and claims it is fetishizing “female pain, female passivity, female suffering and female silence.”

Tankard-Reist continues:

Expect to hear boys singing along to it soon. This is the message they are imbibing:

Women are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even in death. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women. Men enjoy dead women as sex and entertainment. The female body is to be devoured, reduced to the same status as meat. Female bodies should be displayed before men as a great feast for their consumption.

That was quite a lot to glean from a 30 second video clip, I thought admiringly.

But then it turned peculiar. I read: Then there’s these lines: “I put the p-ssy in the sarcophagus” (which, in case you’re wondering, is a flesh eating coffin) …”

What? I shouted, though I was alone except for the dog.  A flesh-eating coffin? How can that be?

And anyway, what about all those pharaohs buried in sarcophagi who when disinterred still had their flesh?

Dried, maybe, but certainly not eaten.

I then made my next mistake. I got onto the Comments. I used a pen name I’m not stupid enough to let these people know who I am. Quite quickly I became an embattled defender fighting off a full frontal feminist attack. (They said they were feminists but they aren’t like any feminists I know and love).

You’re pro male, they told me. Why aren’t you pro woman?

I’m actually pro human I replied. And there’s no such thing as flesh eating coffins, I added. You aren’t doing your credibility any good adding in rubbish stuff like that for effect, I told them.

You need to read Susan Faludi, they said.

I’d rather have needles in my eyes than RE-read Susan Faludi, I replied.

She writes about people like you, they said, she says you pro male collaborators in the gender wars are Uncle Toms.

Really, I replied. A few years back radical feminists used to say a “pro male” woman had a pr**k in her head. That was far more picturesque, I said. Dali-esque, in fact.

But the moderator didn’t publish that. They seem to have inconsistent moderating rules at The Drum. I can’t work them out. They let someone make nasty remarks about my “corrupted” children, and a few people got told they were sleazy pornographers who should crawl under stones and all that was published.

You people aren’t a feminist’s bootlace, I finally told the pro Melindas. Where are your manners?

(I refer to them as the pro Melindas because their posts included:

Melinda could be said to be awakening others to the suffering of women, and many have pilloried Melinda for her point of view, and Go Melinda! Many of us love and applaud you!)

Then someone posted the following:

What you need to know about this author:

1. She believes in god

2. She believes in flesh eating coffins

3. She’s up close with the Australian Christian Lobby.


Well. It was on then. Not a stone was left unturned. Derrida, Barthes, Picasso, Christians, lions, ethics, necrophilia, disclosure of religious affiliations, domestic violence, grandmothers, sex of all kinds, censorship, children, science, and the un dead; Madonna, archaic patriarchal religion, PhDs, Finns dancing, Finns singing, accusations of racism about Finns doing stuff; 70’s music, Tropic Thunder, Russian politics before the end of the cold war, corpses and raw meat. Oh, there was no stopping us. For four days and four nights we kept at it, we barely ate or slept. The ABC should award us with something.

The increasingly hostile exchanges between a pro Melinda poster and someone called Amazonia ended thus:

Pro Melinda Person: Those in favour of the video under discussion are getting fanatic. Now I’ll turn my thoughts to the homeless in our society and their extra plight with extreme temperatures about to begin.

Amazonia: I hope somebody warns them you’re coming.

The day before I succumbed to all that madness I had to go to the dentist. Uneasy in the waiting room, I picked up the October Cosmopolitan magazine as a distraction from what might be going to happen to me. I found that Cosmo are conducting a competition for the year’s most influential woman. The contestants were displayed in a three-page photo shoot. They were all young. Almost all of them wore killer stilettos, some with slave girl ankle bands. Most skirts were high on the thighs. The women wore masks, as if they were going to a masquerade ball or something much darker, and I think some of them were armed.

I studied these pages for a long time. It seemed to me that in order to be considered as eligible for this competition you first had to satisfy another set of criteria that has no obvious link to your ability to be influential and mentor young women.

I continued to think this through as the dentist apparently drilled into my brain. God moves in mysterious ways, and blessed distraction comes from the most unexpected places.

Now, I have nothing against killer heels, except when you watch someone trying to walk in them they inevitably lack grace, tilted as they are at an unmanageable degree from the earth. From behind, it’s not a good look. Wear them, darling, by all means. Just don’t try to walk in them. Maybe one of those nice men will carry you.

And I really am the last person on earth to tell anybody what she should or shouldn’t wear for any reason other than the aesthetic, and mostly not even then unless I know them very well.

But I do deeply object to the demand that before she can be considered to be influential, a woman must fit a certain physical profile.

This is the message sent to women who read Cosmopolitan. You can be as influential as you like. You can be an outstanding mentor to younger women. But if you don’t have the look, forget it. Whatever skills you’re offering, we aren’t buying.

I thought this was a pretty good example of mainstream objectification and denigration of women.

So, because I can be thick sometimes and not see what’s coming at me, I brought it up in the comments about the flesh eating coffin and the video clip.

Who are you to tell a woman what she can or can’t wear? The hostile forces howled back at me.

I suppose you want everybody to go round in a burka? They spat.

Stunned at how quickly I had become cast in the role of the clothes police, ousting the pro Melindas to whom it seemed quite naturally to belong, I didn’t reply for a few hours. I ate dinner, took the dog out, watched TV and thought that I really didn’t have to bother with these people any more. This last was encouraged by my household, which by now was heartily sick of me lurching obsessively from Assange to Melinda, and just wanted me to focus on buying their Christmas presents.

At bedtime, I couldn’t hold out any longer. I sat down and I wrote:

Well, I wasn’t saying what women should wear. I was just pointing out an example of sexism in a very popular women’s magazine. I thought it would be of interest to you as your goal is to eradicate sexism and the objectification of women. (Eradicate was their word, not mine. I objected to it on the grounds that it sounds like pest control).

You really need to stop lecturing people, replied one of the pro Melindas, and who wants to be in Cosmopolitan anyway?

What? I yelled at the dog, seeing as nobody else would talk to me about it.

Aren’t they supposed to be campaigning against sexism in the media?

Then I wrote: Well, if you’re going to be like that, who wants to be in a cruddy rap video, anyway either? Huh? And BTW does being pro male just mean you don’t want to kill them?

It’s been quite a year. Many of us are very tired.

P.S. It’s not over yet! Now a male poster has hit back: Just look at all the magazines in the supermarket talking about orgasms, he typed. Whose orgasms? Well, come on, whose orgasms? Women’s, he crowed triumphantly. Not men’s, oh no not men’s! All women’s!


This article first appeared in On Line Opinion, December 23 2010



22 Responses to “Flesh eating coffins and women in masks”

  1. Martyn January 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Ooo you are awful, but I like you.

    Be fair though – I hardly *crowed* that line (and your quote is a bit on the inexact side too). It was simply a (very easy) counterpoint against a pro-Melinda poster’s histrionic claim that “all we ever seem to hear about is what men want from sex”.

    No dramas – I laughed out loud several times – good piece.

    It was a magnificent tussle though, that thread, wasn’t it?


    • Jennifer Wilson January 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Aaaaaargh!! I’ve been outed!!
      Bit of poetic license, sorry, Martyn, – no, you didn’t crow that line, but it did read well as a finale, eh?
      Yes, that was a brilliant thread, quite one of the best I’ve seen – hope the Drum immortalizes it in some way, but if they don’t, I’ve done my best to achieve that goal.
      Did you twig “Joyce’s” identity?


      • Martyn January 5, 2011 at 6:05 am #

        Ha ha! It’s all good. I’ve certainly seen the general point made in the more breathless manner you describe. 🙂

        *coughMTRcough*? Certainly I twigged that she wasn’t up to the general level of the debate, sad to say. >:-) However I also found that she’d posted some much better considered comments in other threads on the Drum, so…perhaps a different ‘Joyce’, of course.

        Aside from that, there was a heck of a lot of general sockpuppetry going on in the thread. And the censorship issue was just utterly bizarre and inconsistent. I resorted to reposting items at different times of day, to see who was on duty. It worked about 70% of the time, so you can get your views aired if you’re ridiculously tenacious.

        But my speculation regarding MTR’s possible simple ignorance of the meaning of the word “sarcophagus”, and ensuing accidental fixation on its derivation rather than its meaning, was denied publication at least 10-12 times before I finally managed to get it through, in dribs and drabs.

        What on Earth was *that* all about?


  2. Jennifer Wilson January 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    I once got barred from MTR’s website. I got into a fight with some posters about a decision made by the Tasmanian DPP not to prosecute some individuals involved in the sexual abuse of a young girl sold by her mother for prostitution.

    The Melindas were baying for the DPP’s blood, which on the surface of things seemed reasonable.

    But when I investigated further I found that the girl had refused to identify the men, the DPP had insufficient evidence to build a case against any of them, and even if all the ducks had been in a row, the girl would have had to endure some eight separate trials that likely would have gone for a period of some twenty years. This she had understandably refused to do.

    The Melindas completely ignored these facts and abandoned themselves to an ideological frenzy. These men should not be allowed to get away with it, etc etc,all the while impervious to the fact that the cost to the child of bringing them to justice would be unthinkable. And that the chances of her achieving any justice at all were negligible. All in all, it seemed to me the DPP had made a wise decision.

    I got a damn good kicking for having the presumption to express this perspective on MTR’s website. I got in two or three posts before I was barred. My last unpublished post said something to the effect that I thought the website was meant to inform women so why was it only prepared to give one side of this particular story? I posted this in spite of my cracked ribs, bleeding head, and damaged eye. They also set fire to my hair.

    One poster, with the unfortunate name of “Bray,” took umbridge at me referring to the girl as a “child.” As I went down for the last time in a hail of fiery arrows I yelled that I wasn’t required to be aware of her personal or political difficulties with the word “child.”

    But I did refrain from remarking on the appropriate nature of her surname. I’m quite proud of that.

    Ideology. it’ll bring us all to the brink of destruction.


  3. Matthew January 6, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Wow, so I’m not the only one who has had their IP barred from adding comments to her blog. My crime was to call her out on a Crime Commission report which she claimed a rise in children sexually abusing each other in Australia and the obvious solution was to ban Penthouse and Hustler from newsagents. I corrected her that the report was about children in indigenous communities only, that pornography including R18+ magazines where already banned in indigenous communities under the “intervention” and her conclusions were not those of the report (which were to provide “comprehensive provision of specialised therapeutic services”), I was banned. She ignores all reasonable debate and criticism of her work. What pissed me off was her tweets about her the criticism on her Kanye West piece at Unleashed; “i like abc unleashed and am pleased to be published there. Its the trolls who colonise the comments section i dont respect”. ‘Cause you know, you’re a troll if you disagree with her.

    Surprisingly MTR does allow people to have opposing viewpoints a lot of the time, but I’ve found if you mention any of her previous such as her work with Senator Brian Harradine or Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, your comment will be deleted in its entirety. It seems that Melinda does not want to be associated with the religious right, despite the fact she has spent the last decade and half in the thick of anti-abortion and far right Christian groups, and she dog whistles to the conservative Christian right all the time. And don’t those dogs come running? She also was co-founder of the group Women’s Forum Australia, a Trojan horse “feminist” outfit. Most women rejected the group due to their anti-abortion stance. Surprisingly MTR seemed to deny she was part of the group in a message posted to one of the blogs on Crikey a year or so ago. Her new thing though is the Collective Shout project, essentially a lobby group to pressure a diverse range of companies to stop advertising and selling products which they find a bit too sexual. “Collective Shout For a World Free of Sexploitation”, my arse.


  4. Martyn January 6, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Tip: anonymous proxy servers are your friend. 🙂


    • Jennifer Wilson January 15, 2011 at 12:24 am #

      Martyn, Matthew has alerted us to MTR’s website where she is conducting a pornography special, with Clive Hamilton featured (!!!???) as a guest writer.

      I’ve asked him if he’s interested in writing something for the blog about it, and remembering your wonderful comments on the Drum, would you care to check out the porn special and review it as well?

      As a form of fighting back the increasingly powerful wave of illogical reasons to censor everything the Christian right objects to?


      • Martyn January 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

        Willing to have a go…and thanks for the praise; mind you it’s no false modesty to say my best moments are few and far between, and mostly come at the expense of others (i.e. opportunistic potshots). 🙂

        Speaking of ‘remembering my comments’, it seems that’s all that’s possible: the thread has been wiped. The top of the page is still showing the ‘1106 comments’ tag, but they’re gone. Please, please let it be a glitch…


  5. Matthew January 14, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    I just had a look at MTR’s Unleashed article today, and they’re still at it. Up to comment 1101. Unbelievable. Also it’s porn week at MTR’s blog, even Clive Hamilton did a guest post because he found a book on Playboy at his local bookshop. Just terrible. I liked how he didn’t know what the content of a 2010 Playboy magazine was like, so he just used his imagination. I suppose it was a bit hard to walk into a newsagent and look, or even look at scans online. Poor duffer.

    Martyn, I have used free proxies before, but really reading the comments, it’s a lost cause. Logical arguments and facts don’t work.


  6. Jennifer Wilson January 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Matthew, I admire you for checking that website out – I still can’t bring myself to go and have a look at the porn special.

    Hudson in MTR/ABC comments pointed out that setting women up as “pure” and bringing women down in porn are the two extremes of a continuum – both fueled by misogyny.

    I thought that was a good observation – the Madonna/whore dichotomy.

    Is there anything we should look at and comment on in the porn special?


    • Matthew January 14, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

      I think the most interesting thing on MTR’s blog this week is the appearance of Clive Hamilton as a guest writer. This is the guy who ran for the Greens in the by-election for the federal Victorian seat of Higgins back in 2009. With his environmental credentials and the fact he supports euthanasia, why does he align himself with the Christian right on issues to do with sexuality? I think blogger and writer Stilgherrian said it better than I ever could (written in relation to a Feb 2009 piece Hamilton did on net censorship); “I simply don’t understand it. Clive Hamilton is capable of writing articles like today’s Crikey piece Fires spark a new front in the culture wars, in which he systematically dismantles the dodgy rhetoric of the anti-environmentalists. Yet when it comes to sex, he resorts to exactly that dodgy rhetoric. He lumps a variety of well-within-normal-range sexual activities in with the sickest he can imagine as part of his scare story — and then goes on for five full paragraphs. It can’t be merely titillation to rope in the readers, can it? There’s just got to be something else going on here”.

      I actually discovered MTR by complete accident about a year ago because I was following the continuing saga of the internet filter. I couldn’t work out what was going with her as she claimed to be a feminist but was some weird stuff at times. It all made sense once I found Brian Baxter’s fantastic Unbelief.org website. Somehow I’ve become addicted to her blog. I find it fascinating and extremely irritating. Maybe it’s for the shock value and reading about the bizarre world that her supporters live in. Judging from the comments on her blog there’s this alternate version of Australia where porn is everywhere, children are being sexualised and turned into paedophiles playthings, men are stupid hulking beasts who rape women after seeing a Lady Gaga video and abortions are the worst thing on the planet. However thanks to MTR, I accidentally discovered the world of independent female porn producers and performers and their blogs as well as the female pro-porn movement and well as feminist porn blogs. It really rips a large gaping hole out of MTR’s assertion that in all porn women are exploited and women don’t watch porn.

      MTR is featured quite often on Sunrise and the Morning Show. Along with Hamilton, Julie Gale (Kids Free 2B Kids) and others, I’m really concerned about an increase in censorship in the country under the guise of “protecting the children”. They already have the ear of a lot of sympathetic politicians. Their points of view are gaining traction with some people, though seeing what happened at Unleashed, it gives me hope that people are beginning to see through their crap.


      • Jennifer Wilson January 15, 2011 at 12:20 am #

        Would you consider writing a review of the MTR porn week special for No Place for Sheep?


  7. Jennifer Wilson January 15, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    I just checked out the website.
    There’s a post about a photo shoot in French Vogue, featuring little girls dressed up as adult women. Won’t critique that just now.

    But what is extremely interesting is that there’s a comment on this post written by one of the women who featured in the Cosmopolitan influential woman contest I wrote about in “Flesh eating coffins.”

    She’s critiquing French Vogue’s pictures, but what I’d like to know is, how come it’s fine for her to appear in a Cosmo competition that defines a woman as influential firstly by her appearance, in this case in stilettos and masks and thigh high skirts?

    Is there something about not walking the talk happening here?


  8. Martyn January 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Oh god. Reading the blog now. Or I should say, *giving up* on reading the blog now, for now.

    It’s hard to know where to start when EVERY SECOND SENTENCE contains some leap of logic so insane it’s worthy of a three-para deconstruction in its own right.

    I don’t have the stamina tonight. I’m going to have to digest this over two or three nights of nights. 🙂


    • Jennifer Wilson January 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      I can’t find Drum comments either, I wanted to leave another one.
      Oh no! That thread was epic! How could they!
      They’ve had some technical difficulties, it will come back, it will!


  9. Martyn January 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    P.S. eh, you see what I mean. “two or three nights”, period. Cut and paste disease there.


  10. Jennifer Wilson January 18, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    I’ve accidently posted a comment I copied from MTR’s website this morning to the article “Feminist Christian reproduces sexualised images of children.”

    It’s a long comment that contradicts in detail MTR’s description of the full length Kanye West video, and it’s now been removed, along with all other comments from her website.

    There were three other comments contesting her descriptions. Sorry, I only got one before they disappeared! But it’s quite informative about what she doesn’t describe.


  11. Jennifer Wilson January 18, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Ah! Here it is:

    This appears on the MTR Kanye West comments. It’s worth a read as it offers another POV:
    (I still haven’t seen this whole video so I’m keeping my comments to the way the objections are handled).

    I can see why Melinda didn’t provide a link to the video. This because she’s omitted a lot of facts and taken a lot of images out of context. The women are obviously all zombies (mostly) in the video. At one point two zombie women are seen eating the intestines of a white male. Anther scene has one woman in stilettos dragging what seems to be a dead white male. She stops and implants her heal into his stomach. There’s also the scenes of Mr West trying to stop the zombies coming through a window as they’re obviously trying to break through and eat him in the vein of scenes from George Romero zombie films. Also note in the six minute leaked video, the scene with Rick Ross eating the raw meat is completely absent. I also note that all the depicted violence is done by females to males or other females. There are no scenes of violence by males to females. The aftermath, yeah that is what is implied, but there is no actual violence. I readily admit it’s weird, rather sexist and has creepy erotic horror overtones. I readily admit that Melinda should be able to criticise Kanye West. However when she misrepresents what the video contains, her argument starts to fall a bit flat. Melinda you say that you “have no desire to increase the hit rate for Monster which numbers in the thousands”, but thanks to you, you have. I really wouldn’t have seen this crappy video has it not been for the “controversy” by people like you. I try to avoid anything Kanye West related as much as possible usually.


  12. Jennifer Wilson January 18, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    Oooops! I found the comments, they just aren’t on the front page – sorry!


  13. Jennifer Wilson January 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Martyn, the Drum comments are back this morning.
    Have downloaded them to Word in case they disappear again.



  1. KanYe West, Melinda Tankard Reist, and the control of the representation of desire. « No Place For Sheep - February 26, 2011

    […] Flesh eating coffins and women in masks […]


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