Lez Miserable: "Is a lesbian coup about to hit Britain?"

Welcome to the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain.

The Lesbian Apocalypse is upon us. According, that is, to the President of the Center for Marriage Policy, David R Usher. The CMP is an American right-wing Christian group and one of the many voices against marriage equality in the US. Usher has warned us, in his column for Renew America, that if same-sex marriage is legalised in all fifty states, the men of the US will be doomed to enslavement by Machiavellian lesbian sex-maniacs. These women will, according to Usher, underhandedly get pregnant by men and, in doing so, entrap them economically. Sounds like the plot of a porn film written by a heavily armed survivalist from the safety of his bunker, right? But what if Usher has a point? What if Valerie Solanas’s man-hating SCUM Manifesto was actually a Nostradamic prediction of a new world order? And since same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK this year, is a lesbian coup about to hit Britain?

Cat flaps are being installed in the Houses of Parliament. Burly women in hardhats are replacing Big Ben with a mildly nauseating, yonic art instillation. The rainbow flag flies atop Buckingham Palace, which has been converted into a giant performance poetry and “knit your feelings” venue. Led by Jane Hill, an army of lesbian journalists have seized control of the media. The streets run with soy milk and gin. The sound of atrocious Tracy Chapman covers has become grasshopper-like background noise. Welcome to the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain; the Big Mother state.

So, what’s on the political agenda in the SRGB? I think I can safely say that lesbians are a bunch of lefties. Granted, conservative gay women are a thing. I met one once. It was strange. But let’s say the lesbian takeover happens tomorrow. Military intervention in Syria? Yeah, right. Nationalisation of pretty much everything? You’d better believe it. Hell, we’d nationalise cake. And state produced Ms Kipling fondant fancies would be more than exceedingly good. It would be nice if we could retain a democratic system, but hey, we’re trying to install a matriarchy here and could really do without the likes of Cameron and Clegg manning shit up. So, apologies to all you ballot fanatics out there, I’m afraid we’re talking one-party state. Don’t you worry though, lesbians know how to party.

The Sapphic State would be policed by formidable, Amazonian types who would arrest anyone found selling overheated lattes (bad coffee is offensive to lesbians), dancing non-ironically to Robin Thicke, or watching the kind of lesbian porn where women with long nails jab at one another’s fannies with cucumbers. These dissidents would be sent to Group Therapy. This is where you’re forced to sit in a “trust circle” with other enemies of lesbianism and, fuelled only by herbal tea and sesame snaps, talk about your feelings until you pray for death.  

Now, hetero folk – fortunately for you, being straight will be legal in the SRGB. In fact, we have no problem at all with your bizarre sexual practices. Sure, a lot of us would rather you kept it between the sheets. But the SRGB won’t discriminate, except against cat-haters, perhaps (they’ll be sent to re-education centres where they watch hilarious YouTube cat videos until they crack). You know what though? We’ll even let straight people get married. What’s more, the state will provide support groups for those struggling with their love of the opposite sex. There are going to be a lot of support groups in the SRGB. You’re absolutely right, David R Usher, the lesbians are coming for you.

 

In the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain, the streets will be paved with rainbow. Photo: Getty

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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Levi Bellfield, Milly Dowler and the story of men’s violence against women and girls

Before she was so inextricably connected to the phone hacking scandal, Milly Dowler was one of many women maimed and killed by a violent man.

The name Milly Dowler has meant phone hacking since July 2011. The month before that, Levi Bellfield (already imprisoned for the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy) had been convicted of killing her, nine years after her death. But almost immediately, she became the centrepiece of Nick Davies’s investigations into Fleet Street “dark arts”, when it was revealed that News of the World journalists had accessed her voicemail during the search for her.

Suddenly her peers were not McDonnell, Delagrange and Sheedy, but Hugh Grant, Leslie Ash, Sadie Frost, Jude Law. People she could only have known from TV, now her neighbours in newsprint. Victims of a common crime. She had attained a kind of awful fame, and remains much better known than McDonnell, Delagrange and Sheedy.

There is a reason for that: with Milly Dowler, there was hope of finding her alive. Weeks of it, the awful hope of not knowing, the dull months of probability weighing down, until finally, in September 2002, the body. McDonnell, Delagrange and Sheedy were attacked in public places and found before they were missed. It is not such an interesting story as the schoolgirl who vanishes from a street in daylight. Once there were some women, who were killed and maimed by a man. The end.

Even now that Bellfield has confessed to kidnapping, raping and killing Milly, it seems that some people would like to tell any story other than the one about the man who kidnaps, rapes, kills and maims girls and women. There is speculation about what could have made him the kind of monster he is. There must be some cause, and maybe that cause is female.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton (who worked on the McDonnell and Delagrange murders) has said insinuatingly that Bellfield “dotes on his mother and her on him. It's a troubling relationship.” But it was not Bellfield’s mother who kidnapped, raped, killed and maimed girls and women, of course. He did that, on his own, although he is not the first male killer to be extended the courtesy of blaming his female relatives.

Coverage of the Yorkshire Ripper accused his wife Sonia of driving him to murder. “I think when Sutcliffe attacked his 20 victims, he was attacking his wife 20 times in his head,” said a detective quoted in the Mirror, as if the crimes were not Sutcliffe’s responsibility but Sonia’s for dodging the violence properly due to her. Lady Lucan has been successfully cast by Lucan’s friends as “a nightmare” in order to foster sympathy for him – even though he systematically tried to drive her mad before he tried to kill her, and did kill their children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett. Cherchez la femme. Cherchez la mom.

I know little about Bellfield’s relationship with his mother, but one of his exes spoke about him earlier this year. Jo Colling told how he had terrorised her while they were together, and stalked her after she left. “When I knew he was with another woman and not coming home it was a relief, but now I know what he was capable of, I feel guilty,” she said. “I did get an injunction against him, but it only made him even angrier.”

Colling fears that she could have prevented Bellfield’s murders by going to the police with her suspicions earlier; but since the police couldn’t even protect her, it is hard to see what difference this could have made, besides exposing herself further to Bellfield’s rage. Once there was a woman who was raped, beaten and stalked by the man she lived with. The end. This is a dull story too: Colling’s victimisation is only considered worth telling because the man who victimised her also killed Milly Dowler. Apparently the torture of a woman is only really notable when the man who does it has committed an even more newsworthy crime.

Throughout his engagements with the legal system, Bellfield seems to have contrived to inflate his own importance. Excruciatingly, he withheld his confession to murdering Milly until last year, leaving her family in an agony of unknowing – and then drew the process out even further by implicating an accomplice, who turned out to have nothing at all to do with the crime. He appears to have made the performance into another way to exercise control over women, insisting that he would only speak to female officers about what he did to Milly.

It is good that there are answers for the Dowler family; it is terrible that getting them let Bellfield play at one more round of coercions. And for the rest of us, what does this new information tell us that shouldn’t already be obvious? The story of men’s violence against girls and women is too routine to catch our attention most of the time. One woman killed by a man every 2.9 days in the UK. 88,106 sexual offences in a year.

Once there were some girls and women, who were tortured, stalked, kidnapped, raped, killed and maimed by a man. Dowler, McDonnell, Delagrange, Sheedy, Colling. More, if new investigations lead to new convictions, as police think likely. All those girls and women, all victims of Levi Bellfield, all victims of a common crime that will not end until we pull the pieces together, and realise that the torture, the stalking, the kidnaps, the rapes, the killing and the maiming – all of them are connected by the same vicious logic of gender. Then, and only then, will be able to tell a different story. Then we will have a beginning.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.