From Cecil the Lion to a Pig’s Head: Why rich white men do what they do

by Chimene Suleyman

No one seemed particularly surprised. The internet united in glorious pork puns. During his time at Oxford, David Cameron (according to an unauthorised biography) placed his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig.

The Russian Embassy followed the spoof Twitter account of said pig. The French press, on the other hand couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Rumours abound about who it might be that had the cited photographic evidence of him in flagrante. And it all seemed entirely believable. Totally plausible. Very much like the kind of thing that one assumes takes place during initiation ceremonies experienced by rich men and their boys’ clubs.

For hasn’t the wealthy white man’s relationship with dead animals been unnatural all this time? It is timeless in its perversion. Mounting horses and chasing foxes to their death. The far-fetched, tiresome vilifying of the animals as monster-like, stealing children from your grasp, roaming the streets in predatory fox gangs. What a convenient hateful narrative around the elite’s hunted animal of choice.

david-cameron-hunt-839848593

A young David Cameron on the hunt

In rides Cameron, and his plans to repeal the ban on such a thing. Because isn’t life for the possession of the rich? Adorned on walls are the heads of deer and boars. A bear, or tiger head attached to the length of the animal’s pelt stretches out in front of scenes of chateau fireplaces. Cecil the Lion was not alone in animals that had no right to be killed by wealthy Westerners who paid extortionate amounts of money simply to say you had done something to an animal that you shouldn’t have. He just happened to have a name. And doesn’t it all strike you as entirely sociopathic?

Across from the home I once had in Hackney Wick, the early morning walk to the station before work was haunted by the indescribable scent of burning chicken remains. The chicken factory we shared a road with was itself a portal into one corner of hell. The birds: featherless, alive, stuffed into crates then piled one container above another. It was their silence that horrified me the most. They belonged to the rich men who also took our rent, who seemed accustomed to the smell — to the sight of it all — and the birds knew it.

Then there’s the revival of taxidermy squirrels, penguins and the like, in ridiculous poses across hipster pubs and hipster homes. This dead pigeon is dressed like Superman. This dead badger is holding a miniature gun. This dead pig is on the lap of a friend with a future leader’s genitals in it. There is such an overwhelming mockery of animal life.

Enough of that. Listen, it’s just a stupid thing boys do at university. His supporters have shrugged it off as typical. Boyish, drunken behaviour that is underwhelmingly commonplace. It is. They’re not wrong. It is emblematic of university culture, where bodies are treated with disregard and sexual violations are justified as run-of-the-mill, daring, laddish humour. They’re right to describe it as customary. Because university culture really does put boundaries as second place to indulging whatever genital-based deviancy a young man feels entitled to.

There are, of course, photos amassing in their thousands of men with their genitals laid drunkenly on the forehead of a sleeping friend, or animal — dead or alive. On phones, men have taken images of their body parts inserted in passed-out girls at a house-party or in a peer’s bedroom. This is the stuff of frat boys. Of groups of men performing initiations by any means necessary; a culture that breeds sexual violations for this very reason. Cameron did not jump from zero to a hundred. This custom of degrading bodies with a penis has been long-told.

So let the image of David Cameron with his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig be emblematic: some life is frivolous and pointless, mute and motionless. In an embellished room in the 1980s, a network of inclusive high-society men accepted Cameron as one of theirs when he demonstrated a hierarchy. Lesser beings are just that — lesser beings, when you’re dangling your dick over its face. Frankly, Cameron has been nothing if not consistent in his career. Start as you mean to go on.

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Chimene Suleyman is a writer from London of Turkish / Middle Eastern heritage. She writes opinion pieces, contributing to The Independent as well as regularly featured writing for online blog and events organiser Poejazzi. She has represented the UK at the International Biennale, Rome 2011 with spoken word. Her poetry collection “Outside Looking On” published by Influx Press is out now. She collects photos of Canary Wharf. Find her on Twitter: @chimenesuleyman

 

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