Thursday, 1 January 2015

82: 2014 in review

I have really enjoyed blogging here in the last year. It has been incredibly enjoyable to share my love of music here and write a few more things about Turner Syndrome. I have been a bit distracted with Tumblr to post here as regularly as I would like but I have been blogging which is the main thing. I tend to blog more about George Harrison at friarparksoulclub.tumblr.com and have a tumblr especially about Turner Syndrome

I have found it very empowering to discuss the issues I have here in the last year.

Highlight of 2014- seeing Richard Davies live twice! I waited 16 years and he did not disappoint. It allows me to believe anything is possible. I also enjoyed seeing friends in Edinburgh and Liverpool. But trips to my beloved Dublin have been the thing that have sustained me. I may not be able to go as often in next year but I will certainly be going! In particular the trip in June showed me I could turn a day I used to dread into a day of great joy. Here is a photo from this trip from the Botanical Gardens

Monday, 29 December 2014

81. Thinking about my treatment as a teeanger...

As you may have picked up in some of my earlier posts, I have a considerable amount of issues about the way I was treated as a teenager at the Turner Syndrome clinic I attended. I should not have had a naked photo take  of me when I began my treatment at 12. I should not have had a fifty-something year old male paediatrician inspecting my breasts and vagina for several years, and it should not have been normalised by having medical students watching.

I do consider this behaviour, particularly by the male paediatrician a form of abuse. It has had a profound effect on how I view myself.
After several weeks and about three emails to the clinic I got a response from the head of the clinic last night. He was very non-committal and more or less told me to wait until I have my annual appointment in early January (I did not want to go into specifics with him over email for obvious reasons I was not best pleased by this and a somewhat patronising response when I asked to speak to him personally. I raised the issue of women with TS not feeling able to assert themselves in  a clinical setting and issues around power in Doctor/patient relationships. Got a sympathetic (sort of!) response so I will go to the clinic in January and try and speak to him. If I have done nothing else I have at least conveyed the feelings of other women who have attended the clinic that is frustrating to have to see a different doctor each time.
I am going to my clinic in early 2015. I will keep you posted!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

80. Pattie Boyd, 'Shipping, Tumblr and Gail Dines - some thoughts

When I joined tumblr a couple of years ago I did so to follow a couple of George Harrison blogs (which I still love!). However I soon noticed blogs that were 'confession', 'fan fiction' and 'role play' blogs which posted sexually explicit material about the Beatles and their partners or imagined partners. I have written on my tumblr about why I feel these were problematic so I am not necessarily going over this specific issue again

There are two particular individuals who are particular individuals who are the main targets for this type of material- my favourite Beatle George and his first wife Pattie Boyd

The particular tumblr (beatlesgirlsconfessions) where some material was on has been deactivated. It was where people (mainly young women and teenage girls) made ‘confessions’ about the Beatles’ female partners. There were ‘confessions’ such as wanting to see Pattie and George in a highly explicit situations, regular leering comments about various parts of Pattie Boyd's body, a 'confession' leering of naked photos of Pattie by Eric Clapton,and regular requests to have Pattie write full and explicit accounts of her relationship with George. There were even confession about wanting to have sex with Pattie. Other confessions included wishing that Pattie would marry Ron Wood (just look at the recent years headlines around his behaviour to see what this is something you would not wish on any woman) and one where an alleged incident where Pattie was the subject of an unwanted pass by another famous musician was described as ‘cute’(or something along those lines). All  these confessions as far as I can make out were by teenage girls/young women This tumblr was administered by young women. These type of confessions were moved other to another tumblr which is still as far as I know active but that I cannot bring myself to look at.

There are also several forms of ‘shipper’ fiction on tumblr. I am not going to call it fan fiction as the individuals who write this material clearly have not taken in or read George’s comments about the effect of the constant media speculation about his personal life had on him. ‘Shipper fiction’ (As I will refer to it) is a development from ‘Slash fiction’ which imagined romantic/ homosexual relationships between two male fictional characters such as Spock and Captain Kirk, Frodo and Sam etc. However this expanded to include real people – I could write about how the Beatles have been victims of this genre. I have written about why this is disrespectful on Tumblr (but this is a separate concern to what I want to discuss in this post). However this ‘evolved’ into ‘Shipping’ also includes heterosexual partnerships- thus George Harrison and Pattie Boyd.

There are at least a couple (if not more) role play tumblrs which regularly put Pattie in explicit situations or saying sexually explicit things (impattieboyd for one). Again these are run by young women. They are completely unapologetic about what they are doing.

There are at least two 'Beatle girl' 'Femslash' tumblrs. These consist of stories imagining the Beatles female partners indulging in lesbian activity. Again the young women who write these materials are completely unapologetic about what they are doing.

There are at least two tumblrs which writes ‘shipper fiction’ which rejoices in imagining an adulterous relationship between George and Pattie during his happy second marriage to Olivia Arias, the wife who saved his life on at least one occasion and was responsible for helping him put his life back together in the mid 1970’s (pattieboysdiary and wonderfultonightuncensored). Ironically this plays into the exactly same misogynistic constituency that condemns Pattie Boyd for having a relationship with Eric Clapton during her marriage with George by casting Pattie as an ‘adulteress’- i.e. a woman who is having a sexual relationship with a man who is married to someone else.

So... There seems to be a constituency of teenage girls/young women who seem to be behaving in a matter akin to a bunch of leering 70’s rock stars which is deeply ironic as these young women are always criticizing the way certain 70’s rock stars behaved and the sexist behaviour Pattie faced. They also claim to be fans of Pattie and that they are defending her honour. They seem to believe they have a right to publically objectify and sexualise Pattie Boyd and her life story.

I help but feel that some of these young women are working through their sexual identities. However they are appropriating another woman’s life and another woman’s personal history to do this. They ways behaving towards a woman in a way that would be rightfully condemned if it were men were writing or saying the same things.

How on earth did this situation come about?

I cannot help but feel that this is a result of our over-sexualised and p*rnified culture. You only have to look at how easy it is for young people to access hard core p*rnography online as Gail Dines discusses in her book ‘P*rnland’.  I  quote a relevant section from Gails' book

By inundating girls and women with the message that their most worthy attribute is their sexual hotness and crowding out other messages, pop culture is grooming them just like an individual perpetrator would. It is slowly chipping away at their self-esteem, stripping them of their sense of themselves as whole human beings, and providing them with an identity that emphasizes sex and de-emphasizes every other human attribute.

To illustrate  this, Gail uses the case of  how sexualised young female pop stars such as Miley Cyrus, BeyoncĂ© Rhianna and female celebrities such as Anna Nicole Smith and Kim Kardashian are made t portray themselves in the media.  I have heard her talk about Miley Cyrus’ gradual rebranding from wholesome child star to ‘sex kitten’ and how this fits in with the pattern of young women having to be seen to be
xxxxable otherwise they become invisible.

Pattie Boyd fulfil this role in terms of being a woman who fits in with western standards of female attractiveness (blue eyes, blonde hair, tall slim figure). She worked for several years as a model so her physical appearance became in the eyes of the world her most important attribute. I feel this is the main reason she has become the focus of all these fantasies. I could go over what feminists have written and said on the issue of the misogyny of the beauty and fashion industries and the pressure on women to be physically attractive and ‘feminine’.

One aspect of p*rnography is to project sexual fantasies onto women without having to consider that they are human beings with hopes and feelings. I see much of what these young women as doing as a similar form of projection, even though they nominally respect the fact that Pattie Boyd is a person with a history and emotions. They find it difficult to have the fact they are appropriating her story pointed out. As an aside I also see a lot of latent racism in the resentment of Olivia Arias Harrison, George’s second wife. These young women find it difficult to understand that George was with Olivia for 27 years until his death and that he was clearly in love and content with her. I believe it challenges these young woman’s Eurocentric view of what constitutes beauty- they genuinely cannot handle that George had a much longer relationship with his working class Latina partner to an Upper-Middle class Blonde English Rose. It almost seems to be an affront to their world view and they say some incredibly rude things about Olivia (calling Olivia 'Ugly' and a 'Bxxxh'). They get very defensive/angry when the latent racism of the George/Pattie 'shipping' is pointed out claiming that that is just their taste to prefer Pattie. They fail to engage with the fact that we live in a society where there is not just institutionalised misogyny but racism.

If you want a prime example of how 'Erotic literature' written by women reflects how reactionary and sexually dysfunctional our society has become you need only look at the success of the '50 shades of Grey’ novels Theses novels, written by a woman, glorify the domestic abuse of the main character Anastasia Steele by Christian Grey.  Many feminist are heart broken by the success of these novels not just because they glorify male sexual sadism towards women but because ‘Christian Grey’ fits the classic profile of a domestic abuser in all other aspects of his behaviour towards Anastasia. Gail Dines proposes the end of the story in real life would be Anastasia running for her life with two traumatised children to a women’s shelter. Tellingly these novels began as a shipper fiction inspired the also highly popular 'Twilight novels’ (again written by a woman). Many feminists have pointed out Edward Cullen’s behaviour in these books also fits the classic profile of a domestic abuser (Aside here- I have seen a ‘shipper poster’ which casts George as Edward Cullen and Pattie as Bella Swan).

These young women are trying to work out the difference between love and sex. Much of what they write shows their confusion and conflates the two. They are trying to work out the role sex has in romantic love and has in and of itself.  In doing so, they end up focusing on sex. This in and of itself is not a product of p*rn, but the easy access to it has certainly informed this material and upped the ante.

We live in a society where in spite of seeming growing acceptance, lesbian culture and lesbian spaces are under more and more pressure from a variety of areas and it is still difficult to be out as a lesbian. ‘Femslash’ plays into this in a variety of ways. It plays into p*rnography’s hijacking of lesbian sexuality and making it purely about specific acts. Like p*rn, it uses lesbianism for titillation of the audience. Like p*rn, it completely divorces lesbianism from any social, cultural or political context. ‘Femslash’, like p*rn, also regularly has a man involved in the various ‘activities’ described. I do understand that some young women who write femslash may be exploring their sexuality. However, should we view women (who are usually heterosexual) writing explicit fantasies about other women different from men writing identical material?

I find it highly telling that one of the main defenses for posting this material is ‘freedom of expression’/’Freedom of opinion’. The posters often highly defensive/aggressive when challenged about the fact they are posting highly sexually explicit material about actual individuals. Their attempt to defend their actions are very similar to the p*rn industry’s argument that making and viewing p*rnography is a free speech issue, and that p*rn is fantasy with has no harmful effects, be it to those who work in the industry (the diseases Dines lists as prevalent in the industry makes a nonsense of this), to the men who view it and to the wider society. However wider society is rightfully beginning to  become concerned about how easy it is to access p*rnography online and the effect is having on how young men view women and how young women view themselves and their sexuality

P*rn objectifies women and girls, reducing them to items to be serviced by men. These ‘shippers’ at their best ultimately reduce Pattie Boyd in to someone is only defined by relationships she had with the men she was married to. At their worse, they reduce her to an object of lust to be serviced. They take some of the most painful moments of her life and turn them into p*rnography. Is this the behaviour of fans? As a fan of almost three decades of George, I am appalled that he gets reduced to a stud who services Pattie. This echoes  something that Gail Dines says about anti-p*rn activists. They have enough love and respect for men to see them as human and more than their sex organs/drives.

Gail Dines in her book ‘P*rnland’ discusses how p*rnography has become ever more explicit and violent over the past few years. She shows that this is in direct response to p*rn users in effect becoming ‘Addicts’ who need greater and more extreme hits (like drug addicts) the more material they view. Indeed some men movingly describe how their addiction to p*rn has affected their lives in just the same way as a substance would. The p*rn industry is all too willing to feed this addiction. I see these young women as having a similar addiction in needing to project their sexual fantasies onto Pattie Boyd and George. I see it as deeply sad that the only model these young women can find to express their admiration for Pattie is in a hypersexualised manner.

Oddly enough these young women have conservative attitudes to divorce and adultery, as some young people do. They have issues accepting not just that Pattie and George’s relationship broke down but that the other three Beatles 1960’s relationships (I include Paul McCartney’s relationship with Jane Asher here) broke down. They also have conflicted attitudes to extra marital affairs. Some who defend Pattie’s extra-marital relationship with Eric Clapton get seriously affronted by Maureen Starkey (Ringo’s first wife) for her alleged relationship with George towards the end of their respective first marriages. I have seen a post by the young woman who runs Impattieboyd on beatlesgirlsconfessions saying that Pattie’s behaviour was fine while Maureen’s deserved censure. Thankfully some say that it was better for Pattie to leave her marriage to George when it became clear it could not be fixed.

One of the reasons I get so heartbroken by this material is that George Harrison spoke on several occasions about the effect that being ‘objectified’ as a Beatle/Ex Beatle had on him. He spoke in a 1978 interview (in irony of ironies ‘Men Only’ magazine, a p*rn magazine) about his frustration at the amount of focus his personal/love life received in the press and his desire to protect the privacy of his loved ones (i.e. Olivia and his new born son Dhani).

There is one silver lining to this story. Perhaps in considering Pattie Boyd’s story, these young women may actually consider issues around misogyny and domestic abuse. I hope as they grow older I hope that they develop healthy relationships and sexualities. However I cannot help but feel seriously concerned for the future of some of these young women. I may be angry about some of their attitudes but am trying to understand they are trapped in such a toxic culture for women and girls where it is difficult to take ownership of an authentic female sexuality.

As Gail Dines continues from the earlier quote in her book...
These are the same symptoms found in girls and women who have been sexually assaulted; in terms of effect then, we appear to be turning out a generation of girls who have been ‘assaulted’ by the very culture they live in. An there is no avoiding the culture. The very act of socialization in involves internalizing the cultural norms and attitudes. If the culture now is one big collective perpetrator, then we can assume that an ever-increasing number of girls and women are going to develop emotional, cognitive, and sexual problems as they are socialized into seeing themselves and mere sex objects, and not much else.”

Monday, 25 August 2014

79. Turner Syndrome, 'Brain Sex' and Autism- It's personal!

I believe nothing in this life is coincidental. When I first met Lucy in mid-1997 and started getting involved with Turner Syndrome, possibly the biggest ever news story on Turner Syndrome broke. To say it causes something of a stir in the Turner Syndrome is an understatement!

David Skuse published research in ‘Nature’ Magazine in Mid 1997 claiming he had found the reason why women have better social skills than men based on research on girls with Turner Syndrome. He claimed that girls with TS who had got their one X chromosome from their father had better social skills than girls who had received their one X Chromosome from their mother. He claimed that girls who had received their X chromosome from their mother had brains that were more similar to boys, and that they behaved more anti-socially because of this. This was supposedly because there is a particular gene on the father’s X chromosome that confers socially acceptable behaviour. All women who have normal XX karotypes would have this X whereas only some women with TS would have this gene. All men get their single X chromosome from their mothers, therefore would never have this ‘magic gene’ that was supposed to be on the father’s X chromosome. Notice the sexist assumptions that underpin this. Somehow the father’s genetic material is better than the mothers. Note that women are expected to be well behaved, put the needs and thoughts of others (i.e. Men!) before themselves and be socially docile. They are expected to be ‘no trouble’. Women with Turner Syndrome offend against male notions of ‘femaleness’ in the first instance by being infertile. We also offend by being short and often having ‘physical defects’ such as webbed necks and moles, therefore fail to be conventionally attractive. We are an easy class of women to stigmatize. What is even worse is that this research said that certain women with Turners were better than others.

This research was reported in Time and the national press in the UK. I can only find one online press report of the time. We live in a misogynistic patriarchal society which seeks to establish scientific reasons for the treatment of the two sexes. In particular there is a quest for ‘brain sex’ which apparently roots the different treatments and experiences of men in women in purported neurological differences rather than looking at issues of sexism. Cordelia Fine has written extensively about this, especially in her book ‘Delusions of gender’. I have to say this but Skuse was claiming that his research went towards explaining the differences in female and male behaviour http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/12/us/parental-origin-of-chromosome-may-determine-social-graces-scientists-say.html

Imagine how women with Turner Syndrome felt about press coverage like this. As if it was not difficult enough before this to be open about Turner Syndrome. I have heard from friends with Turner Syndrome that some people claim to know all about women with Turner Syndrome and that they are ‘socially inept’ from reports of this research. This research also plays into the idea that somehow women with Turner Syndrome are not fully women or are ‘damaged’ women. As it happened there was an international Turner Syndrome conference scheduled in Coventry that summer. Lucy and myself had booked to attend. David Skuse was scheduled to talk. Guess what, we made sure we attended his talk. We challenged him about his findings and his methodology. We also passed notes between each other making less than respectful com-ments on Skuse! (see, we women with TS are so badly behaved!). The woman who runs the Turner Syndrome Support Society in the UK was and remains very supportive of David Skuse’s research. She did not understand how it creates problems for women with TS and what is worse she affirms his negative portrayal of us. This is one of the reasons I am not involved with the national TS group.

Skuse’s theories have been used in TV documentaries (why men don’t iron on Channel 4 and at least another where a young woman with TS had to say she had awful social skills simply for saying they did not like someone’s haircut- I kid you not). Now I have to ‘fess up. I took part in the next stage of David Skuse’s research in 2001-3. This involved having several brain scans and having a meeting with David Skuse himself. He really enjoyed talking to me as I seemed to explain some of the cognitive/social issues women with Turner Syndrome have. I do not regret doing this. I do not believe David Skuse is a bad person and that if his research had been used differently it could have been potentially helpful. I also feel that I have no right to criticize Skuse if I am not at the same time willing to assist him and work with him.

An unpleasant side effect of this research I inadvertently learned which parent I got my one X chromosome from. This is information that needs to be imparted gently. Yet it was there on a piece of paper in front of me at a hospital check up. David Skuse continues to claim in his research claims that women with Turner Syndrome have autism/Asperger’s Syndrome type behavioural/social issues. He still speaks at TS conferences (apparently Lucy and my Liverpool TS friends had a few things to say to him at a re-cent conference!)
http://hmg.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/suppl_1/R27.full
http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/national-alliance-autism-research-announce-new-project-identify

This continues to lead to Turner Syndrome being reported like this http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2005/feb/04/guardianweekly.guardianweekly11

I have actually had to deal with the consequences of David Skuse’s research. When I was referred to an occupational therapist by my work, he basically used David Skuse’s research to say I had Asperger’s type behavioural issues. I got in contact with David Skuse to ask for guidance as to whether I should get assessed for Asperger’s. It took a considerable time for him to meet me. After our initial meeting, he did not bother to contact me for several months. I eventually got him to arrange a meeting with one of his researchers who turned out to be an undergraduate. I feel that what was offered was completely inadequate.

One of the main reason I am concerned about David Skuse’s pronouncements is that he does not appear to understand the effects of his pronouncements on the lives of women with Turner Syndrome. I had helped David Skuse with his research but when I needed some guidance it was not given. I do feel his research allows for the scapegoating of women with Turner Syndrome. There have been no positive or constructive suggestions to help women with TS leading out of this research.

But my concern here is not just for women with Turner Syndrome. Women are expected to be socially compliant and to be accommodating. Women who fail to do so are seen as transgressive and abnormal. Brain Sex’ does not excuse or explain thousands of years of the effects of women living under patriarchal systems

Sunday, 27 July 2014

78. Going Back

I recently saw a musician in concert who I last saw live in 1998. This brought up some interesting reflections. Back then, I was going a masters in Librarianship at UCL. I was attempting to find my way in the world after University (I have written about this in a previous post). At the time I felt like I was not making a good job of this at all. I really cannot say that enjoyed these years much. But seeing this musician again has allowed me to make a sort of peace with this period of my life. There were a lot of happy times and positive experiences as well as bad times. I am glad for the role this musician has played in helping to form the person I am today. I am proud to be a fan (time to fess up- this musician is Richard Davies)
But there is another aspect to this nostalgia
When I saw Richard Davies in 1998, I was just beginning to connect with other women with Turner Syndrome. I connect particular albums by Richard Davies, (especially Telegraph) with the first three years of being part of the Turner Syndrome community. It helps me to recall get-togethers at friend’s houses and day trips we took. It is to say the least ironic that I finally get to see Richard Davies in concert again when I asking some pretty deep questions about what role I wish to play within the larger community of women with Turner Syndrome and what role other women with Turner Syndrome play in my life.
I have to say as an aside that from 1996 to around 2005 I was deeply into ‘Indie’ music and discovered acts such as Super Furry Animals, the Flaming Lips, several of the ‘Elephant 6’ acts and Pernice Brothers. But it is probably only Richard Davies’ music that I really continue to listen to regularly (Great Lakes is another exception)- this was even before I knew about this summer’s concerts.
I have to say that rediscovering George Harrison’s music in the last three years has allowed me to make peace with my teenage years, and the effect of dealing with Turners Syndrome in these years. George and his music came at the right time and helped me to see that I was capable of determining what was important to me and that I had opinions that were worthwhile. His music made me feel good about myself when few other things did. My school mates found this a cause of considerable amusement (even my best friend from this period). I was made to feel a little bit of a freak, just as I was a bit of a ‘Freak’ for having Turner Syndrome. Well- I am only in contact with one friend from school and she gets that I am a George Harrison fan mainly because she is a Beatles/John Lennon fan herself. It has been a delight to connect with other George Harrison fans and find out what his music means to them. It has also been beyond a delight to discover what a great human being George was. It is also wonderful to discover other George fans who are such thoughtful, kind and intelligent people. Well, if I was right to be a George Harrison fan, perhaps I am not a complete fool.
George also played a role in helping find my way into the Turner Syndrome Community. Back in 1997, shortly after we met, Lucy and I discovered a mutual love of the Beatles and we attended the annual Beatles convention in Liverpool together. Some of the best memories I have of my friendship with Lucy are from the trip. The fact she loves the Beatles is one reason I am so fond of Lucy. I have a very dear group of friends with Turner Syndrome in Liverpool who I try and see a couple of times a year. They are proud of their native sons and glad I am a fan of George.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

77. I am not a 'TS Butterfly'

I recently spent a couple of months as a member of a Turner Syndrome discussion group on facebook. I decided to leave yesterday after a couple of weeks heart searching. I know one of the women who moderate the group and several of my friends are members.

There were some good points. I was delighted to see a post by a lesbian couple, both of whom had Turner Syndrome. I was glad that women with Turner Syndrome were generally being supportive of each other. It also gives us a space to exchange experiences and advice. I also very much approve of the fact that it is run by women with TS and provides a safe space for women with TS. I want to support these kind of initiative. If the board had just comprised of women with TS I would have stuck with it. However the board also includes mothers, of girls with TS. I began to have issues with some of their posts.

On this board women and girls with TS are often referred to as ‘ TS butterflies’. You cannot imagine how problematic I find this. I fully acknowledge that some women with TS are comfortable with this term. But I also know others who also find it problematic. If it was just a term used between women with TS, I would still have an issue with it but not to the same extent. It is supposed to imply the beauty of girls and women with TS and that ‘caterpillar’ girls will be transformed into ‘Butterfly’ women. I personally see this as highly patronizing to us. I also find it quite dangerous as there in an implication that girls with Turner Syndrome need the process of hormone treatment during adolescence to fully realize their femaleness. I also get nervous about using the name of something non-human to describe any group of girls and women (i.e. Birds, chicks, etc.) Feminists have shown how such language de-humanizes women.

However I find it very problematic when parents use ‘TS Butterfly’. It is telling however it is mothers who describe their daughters as ‘butterflies in the same way others describe their daughters as ‘princesses’. It also strikes me as similar to some of the patronizing/pejorative terms that people with disabilities have to deal with such as being ‘Special/differently abled. These terms do not actually challenge social attitudes or treatment of individuals. In some ways they re-enforce them. It also has similarities to the Victorian era convention of ‘Invaliding’ women in order to control them. I am sure that these mothers mean well and do not realize what they are doing. They possibly think calling their daughters ‘Butterflies’ is cute or affirming, without thinking through the implications of such language. It is telling mothers use this term far more regularly that women with TS on this board.

I have written in previous posts about the fact that there are tensions between the needs of women and girls with Turner Syndrome and their parents. Parents can be highly protective of their daughters and tell to see the medical issues of Turner Syndrome, where women and girls with Turner Syndrome feel that the social and psychological issues also need to be addressed. Sometimes there can be actual conflict. I have seen it when some women with TS try to discuss issues around over –protection with parents. I may come back to the issue of the complex issue of the relationships between women and girls with TS and their mothers.

And just as an aside. Not one woman on this board called herself intersex or gender fluid.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

76. For Linda

As I said in my last post I wanted to consider the life and treatment in the media of Linda Eastman McCartney. Specifically I want to look both at the misogyny she had to deal with in life and her ‘canonisation’ since her tragically early death.

Linda Eastman was born the daughter of Lee Eastman (a highly successful lawyer) and Linda Sarah Eastman in September 1941. Her father had show business connections even then and got Jack Lawrence to write a song ‘Linda’ in her honour when she was one (this song was first recorded by Buddy Clark in 1947 but would later be recorded by Jan and Dean.

Johnathan Gould in his book ‘Can’t buy me love: the Beatles, Britain and America’ write about the many similarities in the early life stories of Linda Eastman and Yoko Ono. Both came from wealthy backgrounds. Both apparently had emotionally distant fathers and glamorous mothers who would die early in their daughter’s lives. Linda Sarah Eastman would die in a plane crash in March 1962. The effect on her daughter can be show that in June 1962 20 year old Linda would marry Joseph Melville See Jr. and give birth to their daughter Heather in December 1962. As would be expected, a marriage formed under such circumstances was not destined for success and the couple divorced in 1965.

Linda managed to develop her gift for photography and was eventually asked to be the house photographer at the Fillmore East. She combined this with freelance work such as talking the group portrait of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Alice statute in Central Park which was supposed to be the cover of the‘Electric Ladyland’ album (Jimi Hendrix was apparently appalled by the cover photo full of naked women that was eventually used).This was just one of many commissions she received. As I said in the previous post she was the first female photographer to have a photo featured on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’. It is important to realize that this was a period where rock photography was in its infancy and Linda was one of its pioneers. It is also important to recall she was doing this while raising her young daughter Heather as a single mother.

Linda’s wikipedia page refers to the fact she ‘supposedly became a popular groupie’ during this period of her life. I am not going to speculate but the double standard that applies to men and women in sexual morality seems to be coming into play here. Even if Linda did have an active sex life during this period, this does not mean she was a ‘groupie’ looking to service famous men.Why should it not be she was as in control and enjoying her sexuality in and of itself like her male colleagues?

I related in the last post how Linda and Paul met in May 1967. They would eventually become an established item in September 1968. Of course this was in large part that up to fact that up to July 1968 Paul was in a relationship with Jane Asher (that’s for another post!). Linda, like Yoko Ono, received hostility from Beatle fans initially.A brash Yank had taken the place of an English rose.It is interesting to read in Hunter Davies afterword to the most recent edition of his official biography. This reveals Davies’ initial reactions to meeting Linda . He received a phone call in late 1968 from Paul McCartney asking if he could visit Davies and his family in Portugal. Davies had not been in contact with the Beatles for some months after finishing his official biography. He was not aware that Paul and Jane Asher had split up but not surprised when Paul turned up with Linda and young Heather. He did not know how serious the relationship between Paul and Linda was as he had seen Paul have casual relationships with other women in spite of his relationship with Jane Asher.Davies apologies in the afterword for not realizing how serious were between Paul and Linda. He would not have been the only person though.

It is interesting that in ‘Let it be’, Linda’s visiting the studio with young Heather is not a cause of friction for the other Beatles (As I wrote in my other post, they were happy to have Linda take photos during the recording of ‘Abbey Road’). ‘The long and winding road’ was one very early song inspired by Paul and Linda’s relationship. It was inspired by the long drives they would take together.

Paul made a very revealing comment that he married Linda because where all the other women he had dated had been ‘girls’, Linda was a ‘woman’. (I really do have to feel sorry for Jane Asher).Obviously the fact she had dealt with losing her mother at a young age, as Paul had done, and had raised a small daughter while holding down a career was a large part of this.

It is as well to note that in early 1969 Paul decided that he wanted his business affairs handled by his father in Law Lee. This compounded tensions within the Beatles as John , George and Ringo decided they wanted their business affairs handled by Allen Klein. Paul acknowledges that the other three Beatles may have been right to take that fact that Lee Eastman as his father in law  may not have been entirely unbiased in how he may have treated the individual Beatles. However he did handle Paul's business affairs far better that Allen Klein handled John, George and Ringos!

It is often overlooked that Linda more or less put her own successful career as a photographer aside when she married Paul. The fact that this is seen as unremarkable is a sign of what we expect of women. She concentrated on raising Heather (who Paul would adopt) and her and Paul’s three children Mary, Stella, and James. Mary has become a respected photographer like Linda. I also feel that Linda must have been such a massive influence on Stella and helped give her the grounding that has helped her to achieve the extraordinary career she has had. It also needs to be pointed out that both Mary and Stella are mothers of four children each. No doubt Linda’s example of being a working mother would have been a great example to them.

Now-I want to put on record my perceptions of the way Linda was treated by the media during her lifetime.

I am putting a link to the below article because it is sadly a good example of the misogynistic way some continue to portray Linda even after her death. This article also sadly serves as a good example of a misogynistic portrayal of Linda as being a ‘gold-digger (Why I am not surprised it appeared in the Daily Mail/fail?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1303363/Paul-McCartneys-turbulent-love-life-Linda-snare-Beatle--matter-stood-way.html

Linda was pilloried initially for creating a line of vegetarian food. One example I recall Jonathan Meades sneering reaction to eating one of her lines of Veggie sausages on a programme he made attacking vegetarianism. The media took some glee in discovering meat protein had accidentally found its way in to a product shortly after Linda launched the line. I also recall a snide comment at the end of a 1995 article about Olivia that her work in Romania in 1995 as being better contribution to humanity that a veggie burger. These are just some examples I can think of. No doubt part of this hostility is due to hostility towards vegetarianism. However Linda made a major success of her food line, and Paul and Mary McCartney continue her work promoting vegetarianism.

But the main crime Linda ‘committed’ was her involvement with Paul’s music. I hold, like other, that both Linda and Yoko’s main crime was not replacing Jane and Cynthia as Paul and John’s partners but for replacing John and Paul in the studio/stage.

In all of this there is an underlying assumption that as a woman, Linda should have known her place and kept quiet.There is a line in Jimmy Guterman and Owen O’Dowell’s critique of Paul McCartney where as a postscript they ask the reader to note they have not criticized Linda or her musical skills (while directly doing so!) Even shortly after her death she was pilloried as Victor Lewis Smith used what was allegedly a recording of her singing on stage on his ‘TV offal’ programme. I will not repeat the deeply misogynistic joke about Linda which still gets told.

In spite of all this Paul made it clear that he and Linda were a team. He always involved her in his projects. I have massive respect for him for this. In the end people had to take Paul’s partnership with Linda seriously as it lasted so long.

In 1992, Linda decided to put out a book of her photographs from her period as a rock photographer called ‘Linda McCartney’s Sixties’. It was delightful to see Linda remind the world he had a successful career before she married Paul. There was a good BBC documentary about Linda that was broadcast at the time of the books release which focused on this period of her career. The McCartney family continue to make sure that Linda’s photographic career gets the attention it deserves.
Linda would take the official photographs of ‘The Threetles’ (Paul, George and Ringo) for the Anthology project.

Sadly, Linda was diagnosed with Breast cancer in 1995. The press was supportive of Linda but could not resist headlines speculating about her condition.It was not lost on the press that Paul had lost his mother to Breast Cancer. She died in April 1998 at the age of only 56. By all accounts, especially Linda and Paul’s son James, Paul was completely inconsolable after Linda’s death and it took at least two years before he felt ready to face the public again.  Paul would speak about going to counselling to deal with his grief. Paul, Ringo and George would sing together at Linda’s memorial service – a sign of how deeply both Ringo and George respected and cared about her.

As with many people who should have received the respect during their life time only receiving it when it is too late, Linda has been canonized.A dead woman poses less threat to the established order than a live one. Linda became the ‘good girl’ in opposition to Heather Mills’ ‘Bad girl’. More disturbingly she became the ‘good dead wife’ in opposition to Heather’s ‘bad living wife'. This has somewhat changed since Paul's marriage to Nancy Sherwell.

Interesting some people (I can think of Deborah Orr) criticized Paul for marrying only a few years after Linda’s death.Paul’s woes due to his divorce from Heather Mills may have some part in ‘redeeming’ him

Paul makes it clear that Linda was a major part of his life and composed the oratario 'Ecce Cor Meum' in her memory. It is clear that Linda was such a positive and loving influence in Paul's life and in the lives of her four children.