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Saul D
Saul D
4 months ago

Walking through a city, I’ll see people (often young girls) dressed manga-style, living out their online alter-ego as a tiktok fan-magnet. As online becomes our waking-life, predominantly interacting with ethereal beings, reality gets warped to match the fantasy. Inner lives demand that outer lives respect our pronouns and treat our self-image as real.
In many ways, we all heading off into fantasy-led lives. Putting stuff up online to play as an intellectual, or political influencer, or grand entertainer, faking it with picture filters and photo angles to plasticise appearances.
If online was the same as real life, we’d be standing on a chair shouting at the sky, to the bewilderment of an old man and his dog. At least the pub-bore has the comfort of the pub when people stop listening. I’m not sure about online. What will they do when they find out bots are the only ones paying attention?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

Fall into inchoate rage, dress up like the Joker, and blame society for their bad life choices, just like this cheerful band of frustrated misfits: https://twitter.com/CloydRivers/status/1370947816613367808?lang=en

Aurwen
Aurwen
4 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

Children have been dressing up as their favourite pop culture figures since time immemorial. I’m not sure it’s an issue unless the child is seriously deluded or mentally ill. My sister and her friends used to cosplay and now they’re all normal, well adjusted adults. We shouldn’t become so reactionary that we end up pearl clutching over harmless fun. But I see your point with regards to everything else you said.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
4 months ago

Whatever Whatever


Would not have read this piece if it were by absolutely anyone other than Ms. Harrington.

Last edited 4 months ago by Matt Sylvestre
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

Same here. The conclusion seems like, after going to all that trouble researching it, she tries to convince herself it has some real significance. Does anyone beyond a very limited group of troubled women (plus possibly a very troubled male) agree?

David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Totally disagree – find this kind of cultural archeology totally fascinating. Strange as they may seem, these are our cultural forebears.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
4 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s not about whether you, as an individual, agree; my question was whether these things have the wider cultural significance MH wishes to ascribe to them.

David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

And I think they do. I think that many aspects of our culture are sub currents from the past which have come to the surface. Aside from the larger amounts of money involved, the lifestyles and beliefs of many middle class modern women are decidedly “hippy”.

The term Bobo has been dropped over here (though not in France) for that fusion of bourgeois and bohemian currents.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

I suspect not being able to relate to all this has to do with one’s age.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I have to agree with Morley. It’s fascinating to know what odd things other people get up to, and how serious they can be about it. There are echos of all of it swirling around us still today.

M Lux
M Lux
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

Mary’s unfortunately lost some of her verve since releasing her book I find.

Last edited 4 months ago by M Lux
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

Totally agree, me neither. But even so most of it was over my head.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

I’m sorry but doesn’t the fact that the leader was actually a man undermine the whole ‘feminists created a male free environment’ premise of this piece? The author has buried the lead. This was a man who used the feminist ideas circulating at the time to create a sex cult where he was the only man and surrounded himself with women who beat each other and dressed like Victorian schoolgirls. He just brought his fetish to life. It has an interesting twist with the goddess, bdsm, victoriana, and low tech aspect but essentially it sounds the same as any other creepy dude who managed to create an ideological cult and play out his sexual fantasies.

Last edited 4 months ago by UnHerd Reader
David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

it sounds the same as any other creepy dude who managed to create an ideological cult and play out his sexual fantasies.

I know – you’ve kind of got to admire him 🙂

David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago

if you roleplay hard enough, then even in apparent failure you end up shaping the future.

Pretty much in a nutshell the way that the counter culture, hippies and other fringe groups have influenced so much of what now passes for mainstream culture: from yoga retreats, through hummus, to cod spirituality and woke morality.

Aurwen
Aurwen
3 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

God forbid people do yoga. Truly that’s the problem with society these days. Elephant harem pants, nature based spirituality, and yoga.

Last edited 3 months ago by Aurwen
David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago

What a wonderful trip down memory lane.

I only saw this stuff from the fringes, and in milder form, but at one time it was everywhere. You still get a whiff of it in places like Glastonbury and Avebury where ageing narcissists still strut their goddess worshipping stuff. But it’s largely gone.

More on the secret, hidden history of our present culture please!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Goddess worship isn’t any more narcissistic than worshipping a male god.
Edit: lol, downvote me all you like, I’m right. Male isn’t the default no matter what you’ve all been psyopped into believing. The feminine is the other half of our Creator that’s been ignored for too long. Glad to see it rising again.

Last edited 3 months ago by UnHerd Reader
John Murray
John Murray
4 months ago

Reading this a memory popped up of some weird vaguely bdsm house in England on Channel 4 some time in the 90’s. Then I got to the bit about they did a Channel 4 documentary in 1996, so, yeah, I remember this. It was definitely for kinky girls who liked a bit of spanking with their lesbian cosplay (classic Channel 4 material of the period, really).

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
4 months ago

What, then, is the lesson of Aristasia — whether for reactionaries, or anyone else?

I’ve given it a couple of minutes thought, and I’m afraid I can’t come up with anything. I’ll drop by later to see if anyone else can help.

David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

That we have massively underestimated the influence of the St Trinians movies on the feminist movement 🙂

Lancastrian Oik
Lancastrian Oik
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I’m somewhat surprised that it fell apart given that it looks and sounds so eminently sensible.

Betsy Warrior
Betsy Warrior
4 months ago

What a bunch of pseuo-intellectual gobbley gook. Patricia Rice AKA Patricia Califia AKA Patrick Rice Califia was a leading BDSM promoter and porn writer in the early seventies, till presently, with a devoted following of lesbian acolytes. She wrote for gay male publications and
once carved a swastika on one of her girlfriends. Patricia/Patrick wrote about the joys of incest and had a son with her wife. She is now impersonating a male. She travelled around to various colleges like Penn State University giving workshops to promote her ideas and lifestyle to students and was very influential in the “sex positive” movement which spread male supremacist ideas and anti-feminist dogma.

Paul T
Paul T
4 months ago

39 years ago, not 50.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

Why hasn’t CHAMPAGNE SOCIALIST commented on this? It’s just her sort of thing as I recall.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
4 months ago

If only Iris Murdoch were still alive to put all this wonderful material into one of her novels. It reads like a very kinky version of “The Bell”.

Chris Amies
Chris Amies
4 months ago

They tried it first at Hebden Bridge? Well of course they did. But is it the lesbian capital of Britain because of this, or the other way about?

Stevie K
Stevie K
4 months ago

Beautifully written as always, fascinating, and full of insight into the messy things inside peoples heads, occasionally leaking out into the real world. Our dialogue with the subconscious is an enduring struggle of the human condition. Please give us more Mary, on any subject whatsoever that properly grabs you!

Hilary Lowson
Hilary Lowson
4 months ago

More prosaically, I went to a bizarre school called St Brides, founded originally by Anglican nuns – none of whom resembled their cuddly Call the Midwife counterparts. I now feel I should perhaps warn old girls to exercise a degree of caution in announcing their schooling…if they believe me.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

As someone in the Goddess worship sphere who has known about this group for a while, it’s interesting seeing people act like the goddess and feminine-focused aspects of this are the problem and not the BDSM and the abuse.