Workers’ rights

Workers’ rights – on the ground – are not doing too well here in Gibraltar. Life may be different in other parts of the world.

The bizarre cross-border situation that makes up Gibraltar means we have a steady stream of workers crossing the frontier daily who are willing to work for below minimum wage, illegally and in unsafe working conditions.

Want examples? Sure.

  • The firms that promise people a contract on £x an hour and when they start, the contract reflects a couple of quid less.
  • Someone offered a three year contract – to move to Gib – (no exes) and is given one for less than a year when they arrive.
  • The worker given redundancy due to ‘lack of work’ and then told they can go back on temporary three-month contracts (no security, no rights).
  • The workers working 40 or more hours a week on part-time contracts that minimise employer’s contributions and workers’ rights to redundancy claims.
  • The workers who are getting £5 an hour on the black, when the minimum wage is £6.50 an hour. The craft, ie skilled rate, is £7.69, which works out at £61 a day before tax and social. Meanwhile some people get £60 a day cash in hand, others might get £80. More than 30 years ago Partner was getting £50 a day self-employed.

Recently we tried to advertise his business on a facebook forum promoting employment, workers, job opportunities and seeking work. Apparently we couldn’t do this. It was for people who really needed money in their pocket, promoting the black economy at the expense of legitimate businesses, because, people on the black deserve the work more.

People on the black also don’t pay tax and social, don’t pay £20 annually to be registered with the Employment Board, and don’t pay £25 a year to Trade and Industry. In fact, this year, that has gone up to £100 a year to the new Office of Unfair Trading. Although the staff have moved into swanky new offices so, obviously, someone has to pay for that.

I can see why a forum won’t want to be flooded with endless adverts from businesses. At the same time, it still gripes that someone with less experience, less qualifications (if any) can advertise to do the same work, and we can’t because we have a legitimate business with all the costs that incurs. And yet, we would charge the same rates, despite our on-costs.

What about pricing? And lower wages. One argument is that desperate poor people get some money, and the customer gets a good (questionable) cheap job.

The counter argument is that this approach drives down the basic rate for everyone, ignores health and safety, and leaves people struggling to make ends meet. The real winners are the employers.

For those of you who haven’t read Robert Tressell, here is the wiki summary of The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. And for non-linkclickers, a couple of extracts:

Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the inequity and iniquity of society, Tressell’s cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is “not for the likes of them”. Hence the title of the book; Tressell paints the workers as “philanthropists” who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.

The hero of the book, Frank Owen, is a socialist who believes that the capitalist system is the real source of the poverty he sees all around him. In vain he tries to convince his fellow workers of his world view, but finds that their education has trained them to distrust their own thoughts and to rely on those of their “betters”.

As Orwell said, it should be compulsory reading:

Writing in the Manchester Evening News in April 1946 George Orwell praised the book’s ability to convey without sensationalism “the actual detail of manual work and the tiny things almost unimaginable to any comfortably situated person which make life a misery when one’s income drops below a certain level.” He considered it “a book that everyone should read” and a piece of social history that left one “with the feeling that a considerable novelist was lost in this young working-man whom society could not bother to keep alive.”

In Ragged, Tressell writes about people working long hard days and living in appalling accommodation. Tressell died of tuberculosis.

Less money circulating, and more money concentrated in the hands of a few does not make for a good and productive society.

What about unsafe working environments? Construction has always been risky, if for nothing else it involves falls from heights. And sometimes, dodgy scaffolding, unsafe ladders, carrying heavy weights.

Let’s look at European and Australian regs regarding bags of cement. In Europe they were reduced from 50kgs to 25kgs. In Australia they are now 20kgs.

The BWI has been campaigning since 2013 for the weight to be reduced to 25kgs throughout the world, citing lifting loads of more than 25 kgs as the biggest cause for musculo-skeletal injuries to the lower back, neck, shoulders, elbows, hernias and general physical wear and tear.

Let me remind you again of Ragged:

Tressell paints the workers as “philanthropists” who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.

On one site in Gib, Partner was told to carry two 15 litre tins of paint. He refused. Two 15 litre tins of paint well exceed 25 kgs. One isn’t far off 25 kgs.

Many workers are too frightened to refuse to do something damaging to their health, and, maybe don’t even realise the long-term effects.

And to finish on lifting, with manual handling advice from the UK Health and Safety Executive. To meet the provisions of Regulation 4 you:

only need to label a load if there is a risk of injury and it is reasonably practicable to do so.
do not have to provide this information if the effort involved in doing so would be much greater than any health and safety benefits that might result.
should reduce risky manual handling operations by providing lifting aids, splitting loads and telling people not to carry several items at once.
could ask manufacturers and suppliers to mark weights (and, if relevant, information about the heaviest side) on loads if this can be done easily.

Get the bold, mine. Because this is how HSE works (a former employer of mine). The guidance used is ‘reasonably practicable’ which basically translates to, if it costs too much money, you don’t need to bother.

Profits trump health and safety of workers every single time.

And if you argue, you get the sack.

Workers’ rights?

The working class is as downtrodden as it has always been.

      Editor’s note:

      The last time I wrote about Ragged some four years ago, Sonel found it on Gutenberg. So, it is readily available:)

Britons never shall be Slaves. Hmm.

Britons never shall be Slaves.
Hmm.

And in those four years, the working life has got worse. Or in many cases for my Gibraltarian friends, non-existent.

Warning: any replies that come out with trite comments about there are jobs for everyone, if they really want them, will not be tolerated.

Posted in work | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Hot feminist

Browsing The Guardian today wondering what Cameron’s (prime minister of some small islands off Europe) latest cock-ups were, I found Polly Vernon’s piece in the Books section about her book, Hot Feminist, and horrors! the criticism it received. Or rather, she received too.

I knew Hot Feminist would prove contentious when I wrote it. I didn’t write it for shock value alone; or even at all. Why did I write it? To present my version of feminism: wayward, ideologically impure, politically incorrect, un-academic, flawed to hell – and no less passionately held for all that. To ease any potential readers’ feminist guilt by exposing myself as more slapdash than they; to make a case for an ultimately inclusive movement, via the example of my own haphazard, clothes-, looks- and man-oriented adventures in feminism.

I wanted to address feminism as a fashion writer, as someone deeply involved in that complicated, sometimes compromised world, with its myriad messages about women: who we should be, how we should look. I wanted to talk about feminism and sexiness; about how I don’t always mind being objectified by the male gaze, and how I am more than capable of objectifying back. I wanted to talk about my life, my experiences. Hot Feminist is a memoir. I believe a book that incorporates extensive fashion tips, alongside one woman’s experiences of abortion and of violent sexual assault, might make a point about the light and shade of the modern female’s life.

Apparently Hot Feminism received a ‘sustained barrage of hate … on Twitter and elsewhere‘. And, many of these people hadn’t even read the book, merely the negative reviews. (There was a positive review from the Daily Telegraph, which may indicate something in itself.)

So, over I popped to Amazon for a Look Inside.

      Hot Feminism
      Modern feminism
      With style
      Without judgement
      Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2015.

Here we have the intro:

Intro

Intro

Here we have how the name came to be decided upon: because it’s porny.

It's porny :)

It’s porny:)


And here we have Feminist Fatigue. At this point I was reminded of violetwisp’s musings about feminism. Maybe violet would like this book if she hasn’t already read it.

Vernon pays tribute to the feminists of the sixties and then goes on to dismiss that old-fashioned tosh. What’s needed is feminism for today. Fashion! Make-up! Diets! Being objectified! Because today’s woman is so independent she can objectify and ogle right back. Jeez. Is that what feminists in the 60s onwards fought for?

Also – feminism is what you want it to be. And you decide whether or not you are a feminist. By which token you could claim to be a devout feminist if you are a fundagelical, support no contraception, no abortion, and a woman’s place is clearly in the home, tripping over 13 children.

Vernon says journalism is her trade. Well, far be it from me to pick holes, but you haven’t got trade papers have you? You might work in journalism, you might be a journalist, but if you haven’t got shorthand then you haven’t qualified.

I can't even do shorthand

I can’t even do shorthand

A qualification isn’t essential to get a job in journalism, more like persistence and rhino hide. But still, it’s annoying to see someone claiming a trade and then smirking that they don’t even have shorthand.

The devil is no longer in the detail:

I say what I am; therefore I am.

While I’m on the subject, there is nothing worse than journalists, or anyone involved in publishing for their day job, producing errors in their books. Especially in the Amazon preview pages. As for Hodder and Stoughton, suggest you look for some new editors/proofreaders.

Another common fault journalists make is to write a full book (this is some 300+ pages) in the style of a short column on a newspaper/magazine article. A book is not the same. Unless you are John Pilger. (His books are good.)

So have I bought this book? Of course not. Based on the preview it looked vapid, superfluous, over used exclamation points and brackets, and was contradictory. Goodness knows what the whole book is like.

But really, who on earth would write a book called ‘Hot Feminist’ – complete with fashion tips – and expect to be taken seriously?

And this is today’s journalism and feminism …?

Posted in feminism, journalism | Tagged , , | 49 Comments

*Draft* Comment policy

Somewhat late in the day, I realised I don’t have a comment policy here. I do have T&Cs on roughseas which sort of hints at blog policy, so I thought I should make a belated effort to provide something on Clouds.

  • First, the obvious: no homophobia, racism, sexism/misogyny.
  • Second, please don’t use abusive terms that stereotype and insult minority groups, eg calling someone lame, spastic, or various forms of referring to people as mad. I appreciate the last one is difficult when trying to discuss religious fanatics, just please use your judgement when trying to express the state of mind of fundagelicals – of any religion.
  • Third, you are however free to swear. Fuckwit and arsehole are perfectly acceptable.
  • Fourth, there is no moderation on first comments or any others. There are no blacklisted people on here. Currently.
  • Fifth, I don’t usually delete comments but if you are being totally tedious/insulting/a general PITA, I will.
  • Sixth, I don’t usually edit comments either, apart from spelling, especially when people ask/point out their typos. I did edit one comment last week, but wrote to the commenter to explain why.
  • Seventh, if you wish to insult people, or disagree with someone, please don’t have a go at their character or lifestyle (even if it might be accurate). Either criticise their views or call them an approved abusive name (see above).
  • Eighth, if there are links on a blog post, or in comments, and you choose not to follow them, you can expect to be told you should have read the links if you say something crass. It takes time to add links and it is courteous to read them before weighing in.
  • Ninth, again on links, commenters are welcome to add vids. Just be aware that I have no patience with them, but I know others watch/enjoy them. I will read all textual links.
  • Tenth, from to time I take the blog private so I can think about more important things like growing veg, flowers, walking round the beach. Any regular readers are welcome to browse previous posts by requesting access.

On a separate but related point, it should be fairly obvious to people that I sign in as roughseasinthemed. It is, quite frankly, annoying, that some people who also have an alias choose to call me by my first name. Just why? Do people lack the same respect for Arb, Ark, esme/sonmiuponthecloud, Philosophermouseofthehedge, ProfessorTaboo, tildeb? Do you ever see them called by their first names?

Unless you have special dispensation, could you possibly stick to roughseas? Many thanks.

So, there you have it. Probably nothing people didn’t know anyway.

I’ll accept any suggestions for improvement. Whether or not I carry them out is another matter.

PS. I have changed nested comments to five now. Because Arb moaned. So I am vaguely responsive.

Posted in blogging | 65 Comments

Rape

Because it’s a woman’s fault.

A third of Britons believe a woman who acts flirtatiously is partially or completely to blame for being raped, according to a new study.

If the woman was drunk, 4pc said she was totally responsible and 26pc said she was partially responsible.
If the woman behaved in a flirtatious manner, 6pc said she was totally responsible and 28pc said she was partially responsible.
If the woman failed to say “no” clearly to the man, 8pc said she was totally responsible and 29pc said she was partially responsible.
If the woman was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, 6pc said she was totally responsible and 20pc said she was partially responsible.
If it is known that the woman has many sexual partners, 8pc said she was totally responsible and 14pc said she was partially responsible.
If she is alone and walking in a dangerous or deserted area, 5pc said she was totally responsible and 17pc said she was partially responsible.

Yes. Of course, it’s a woman’s fault that a man sticks his penis inside a woman without her consent.

Heavens, why on earth would it not be our fault?!

How about raping a 13-year-old? Her fault too I guess?

But, don’t stop there if you aren’t aware of UK rape cases. Try this:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/07/aylesbury-child-abuse-ring-six-men-handed-long-jail-terms

And,

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/03/professionals-blamed-oxfordshire-girls-for-their-sexual-abuse-report-finds

Or,

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/28/13-men-bristol-somali-sex-abuse-ring-jail-115-years-total

My heart really goes out to men who are struggling with equality and think they are having their rights taken away. Also, I appreciate the ones who give a passing gesture towards feminism. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

Meanwhile, girls are being raped in the UK FFS. This is not Somalia or Rwanda or wherever. It is meant to be a first world country. And this shit is happening. Still.

Defences:

  • Low IQ

Really? I’m stupid so it’s OK to rape women.

  • Growing up without a father figure.

So no daddy means it’s OK to rape women.

  • Doing drugs.

So, it’s OK …

  • Oh, my wife died, poor me.

So it’s OK to rape a teenager and get five years because the 63-year-old thought she was older

  • Having firearms
  • Expressing regret (having committed 12 rapes)

A learning disability and a low IQ plus not taking part in gang rape is a plus.

It’s good that ordinary rape isn’t really an issue any more isn’t it?

Now it has to be gang rape before it matters.

Got to look after the poor challenged men.

Posted in feminism, Sexism, thoughts | Tagged | 98 Comments

An example of sexism

Here is an advert for a mechanic, seen today on FB.

Just. Groan

Just. Groan

While I agree with equal opportunities and that women have every right to be mechanics, this person is neither wearing overalls (note grease on body) nor toetectors.

No. It is not ‘just humour’. It is yet another daily example of reducing women to sex objects.

Posted in feminism, Sexism | Tagged , | 21 Comments

BDSM (and feminism)

I’ll be honest. I have a slight issue with women consenting to abuse. I mean, of course, to consenting to delirious pleasure that involves a fair amount of pain that results in ecstasy in the end.

Now, for those of us who aren’t au fait with whipping, flogging, bondage, handcuffs, ballgags, choking, suffocating, rape fantasies, being leaded up on a collar, et al, perhaps a little explanation is needed.

It seems even the BDSM world is no longer clear about terms.

We have tops/bottoms, doms/subs (dommes for women), and masters/slaves.

The distinctions vary between tops/bottoms only for a ‘scene’ (ie a BDSM encounter which may or may not involve sex), dom/sub which may be more permanent, and master/slave which is a total 24 hr relationship.

But, reading around, these lines vary.

Anyways, the key thing here is about TPE. Total Power Exchange. One person trusts another to do what they want with their body. In the case of so-called ‘breath play’, they go for choking, strangling, and suffocation. Because the person in charge knows what they are doing. Similarly when they beat the shit out of you.

In return, the bottom/sub/slave gets to go into a euphoric zone known as subspace. It’s a bit like when people hang themselves and have a wank and sadly, kick the chair away, and hence literally kick the bucket as well. I’ve been to enough inquests.

Mostly, luckily, this doesn’t happen in BDSM scenarios.

BDSM involves lots of ‘play’. Lots of pain infliction, humiliation and subservience.

It is, of course, consensual, so that makes abusing each other OK.

There are lots of fantasies. The obvious, schoolgirls, French maids, pirates, prostitutes, and, um rapists. I can not, for the life of me, work out why anyone fantasises about being raped.

Apparently they do. They didn’t live in Yorkshire in the late seventies.

Then, there are the daddy ones. This has me hitting the roof. Who on earth wants to fuck their father? Seriously? But we have ‘daddy’s little girl’. What is that all about? Maybe Ayckbourn had the answer with Wildest Dreams. One of the most disturbing plays I have seen. Yes, she says casually, of course I saw the world premiere for free. A perk of working for the local paper.

But, of all the fantasies, wanting to be daddy’s little girl has me thinking WTF. That and wanting to be choked, and raped.

On a lighter note, we have people who want to be pets. Leaded up like a dog or acting as a pony. Each to their own.

For those of us who live a derisory vanilla life this may be beyond our wildest dreams. Nightmares more like. Occasionally there is more to a relationship than an intense subliminal BDSM encounter. Fidelity? Companionship? Trust? Humour? Love?

Natch. All this whacky spaced-out stuff is pre-agreed. A contract is signed. Disclosures are needed. Anal. Swallowing. Fisting. Plugs (anal). Blindfolds. Nipple clips. Wax. Ice. Any type of shower (no, not water). Multiple penetration. Group sex. Rope. Chains. Body bags. Crops. Whips. Knotted whip. Paddle.

The options are endless. Not forgetting the obligatory medically certified confirmation that one is STD free.

I tell you. I’m glad I’m boringly married.

Meanwhile, on with our BDSM tour, it seems married couples go down this route to improve communication, aka he really wanted to be dominant. Oh dear.

Our relationship is more intense and we have opened up communication and blah yak blah WHACK!

It’s so good that now we do this 24/7. He orders my food at restaurants. He gives me a list of tasks for the day. I ask permission to speak or to go to the toilet.

Really? You wait to ask for permission if you have diarrhoea?

I have no idea where these women come from but it sure as hell ain’t Yorkshire.

Someone else tells me what to do 24 hours of the day? I think not.

I respect everyone’s consenting sexual preferences. No issue there. Even if they want to pretend to fuck their father or whatever. Rather them than me.

But, what concerns me about BDSM are these aspects:

  1. the perpetuation of woman as sex objects, slaves, submissives, because, however you look at it the ratio of male dominants to female submissives is higher than vice versa
  2. the rape fantasies. Jesus. No woman asks to be raped. Yet, the idea of this being a fantasy just fuels the idea
  3. the daddy fantasy. Just yuk again. Paedophilia incestual dream.

But all of this is OK because it is sane, safe and consensual (SSC)
Or, it is risk aware consensual kink (RACK)
And the BDSM community doesn’t judge. Rather, it supports these fuckwit abusive fantasies.

My underlying problem about all of this, from a woman’s perspective however, is, how much of this is deeply ingrained in us, that we are taught that a man needs to be dominant, strong, demanding and so we buy into this sexual mythology. How much of BDSM, from a woman’s submissive point of view is really consensual and not just a product of indoctrination?

This, is not acupuncture.

Fun!

Fun!

ETA some links:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/could-cindy-gladue-have-consented-to-what-killed-her-299009131.html

http://bigthink.com/focal-point/sex-games-vs-sex-slavery-who-can-tell

BDSM FAQ (Frequently Asserted Quibbles), Part 2

https://snowdropexposed.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/hello-world/

Posted in feminism | Tagged | 75 Comments

Feminism and male homosexuality

Musing about feminism and men’s reactions, I asked my former neighbour and blogging friend of some years, Mr Merveilleux, for his views on homosexuality and feminism. From time to time, he posts on feminist issues, and, to me, it seems that male homosexuals and women both suffer under the patriarchal system because we don’t conform to gender stereotypes.

And, while he replied to me in a comment, I think it’s worth a post of its own, as it shows a similar ideology from a very different person.

Thanks to Mr M for permission to use this as a post.

………

My perspective on homosexuality and feminism? Not enough time for a decent post, but enough for a detailed comment.

Just two weeks ago a fifteen-year-old boy was thrown from a tall building to his death in Deir ez-Zor, one of Syria’s larger urban centres. His death sentence was dictated by an ISIS Sharia court. His crime? He was raped by senior commander, Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi. The latter’s punishment for being a rapist was to go on a mission to Iraq.

The explanation and justification for this monstrous injustice is Patriarchy, the traditional variety. It goes as far back as ancient Greece and Rome where a man who “allowed himself to be penetrated by another man” could lose his citizenship. Rape included.

So the young man in Syria was murdered because, in the patriarchal view, he allowed himself to be treated as a woman.

This odd interpretation of facts is unusually common all over the world, not just in ISIS-controlled regions of the middle east.

As a gay man I’ve lost count of the times heterosexuals have asked me: “In your relationship, who’s the boy and who’s the girl?” That question is used to ascribe value to the individual according to traditional gender roles. If one answers boy, that means one is the superior specimen: masculine, provider, virile, mows the lawn, fixes things around the house, drives. And that leaves the other gender role to the other guy who people assume cooks, cleans, irons, spends money, watches soap operas and depends on the superior being for his survival.

The ultimate fight for all minority groups should be and should have always been feminism. It’s the only struggle which genuinely subverts the patriarchal system. All others have had to, in one way or another, submit to the conformist, hierarchical standards of WMCD (white-male-christian-dominance).

In fact, gay rights have come contingent on the adoption of those values. In the past 20 years the great LGBT battles have been about being allowed to be in the military, bourgeois marriage and having one’s homosexuality ignored/overlooked rather than respected. That means we’re allowed to be gay, as long as we emulate the lives of middle-class conservative heterosexual couples—adopted babies and all.

Posted in Atheism, christianity, feminism, Sexism | Tagged | 27 Comments

Feminism 101b – What about the men?

Or, what about teh menz? as it’s more frequently called.

This follows on from The Arb’s guest post about mansplaining, as it is a) a jargon term within feminist spheres, somewhat like mansplaining and b) is another facet of male privilege with regard to women, and specifically feminism.

So, what does it mean?

Well, in essence, the phrase normally refers to a discussion, usually in a feminist forum/environment, where women are talking about an aspect of inequality/discrimination, and a little male head pops up and says, ‘But men suffer that too!’

It can be anything. Rape, domestic violence, education, health, employment. Whatever the topic, even if one man suffers from something, it is valid to derail the discussion and talk about men instead. Not about women and their continued oppression, but we must talk about the men. Because they are more important. And equality means everyone, right?

There is no argument that men do suffer from patriarchy. The difference is, men also gain and have always gained from patriarchy. Women, as a social class, do not.

Feminism is trying to redress a historic imbalance. Men are not in that position. They are not the underclass.

Some random anecdotal examples of men saying they are being victimised:

Employment

Years ago I read on a forum a post by a white working class Brit who was complaining that it was increasingly difficult to get work in his chosen trade. Printing. And there was lots of publicity about equality for women but it was really unfair that he, as a man, was struggling to find work. Because you know, employment was his entitled right. And he wasn’t getting those rights. Therefore, something needed to be done to look after the men. [See the references below about how hard done-by men are regarding employment]

Health

We hear about the high rate of young male suicides, but in fact in the UK it’s older men who have the higher rate of suicides. The rate for female suicides is consistently lower than the male rate.

What about heart disease? Traditionally labelled as a male illness. Yet, this article says it kills more women than men, but it has traditionally been underdiagnosed in women for cultural reasons.

When women talk about health issues, it’s not relevant to start quoting statistics of higher male suicides if we are discussing underdiagnosis of heart attacks in women. Not. The. Same. Topic.

Education

Boys’ academic results fall behind girls. It’s no good trying to help girls if they perform better than boys. Shock! Horror! The system is wrong! Do something. Not: girls might possibly be more intelligent and/or more studious than boys.

Shakesville (link to short but succinct post below with other links) sums it up nicely.

and “women earn far more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than do men” (a pointless observation as long as women still need at least one degree more than their male counterparts to make as much money

Yup. At my level as Assistant Director, I was the only one with two degrees. None of the men had them. Including medics and accountants. Yet, there were also women below me who also had two degrees. Academic qualifications don’t mean shit when it comes to employment.

Plenty of links below explaining WATM. If you only read one, read badreputation, this quote comes from there:

“Women perform 66% of the world’s work, earn 10% of world’s income and own 1% of the world’s property.” What about the men? Fine. Let’s reverse that for a new quote:

Men perform 33% of the world’s work, earn 90% of world’s income and own 99% of the world’s property.

They also suffer much less domestic violence, rape, genital mutilation, sexual shame, sex trafficking, and have far more control over their lives and bodies. Their options for work aren’t limited, they are not considered to automatically have a duty to represent their whole gender if they reach the top of a profession or political office, and aren’t scrutinised as mercilessly if their partner does.

Sums it up nicely.

But, just in case, let me say it again. Men in society have power and privilege. Women (as a class, rather than the minority number of women leaders of state, or CEOs, etc) do not.

So, when women talk about the major issues they face, eg the list from badreputation above, it simply isn’t appropriate to say, well men have problems too. It reads like an attempt to invalidate and derail genuine problems that women face. Please, don’t do it. We are pushing a rock uphill as it is. ‘How can I help?’ would be much better than whining from a position of (often white) male privilege. Or mansplaining.

A final quote from vagenda:

Men still aren’t oppressed. Men still aren’t the real victims. Men’s problems – and they can be big problems – are still experienced from within a societal and cultural context of indisputable privilege. We are portrayed as incompetent buffoons around the house because it maintains the legitimacy that housework is a female thing (we’re rarely shown being useless at sport or business or flying space shuttles are we?).

Thanks to Madalyn, whose post reminded me I was due to write another fem 101 post:

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” -Gandhi

An excellent resumé:

https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/phmt-argument/

A humorous but accurate British pov:

http://vagendamagazine.com/2013/11/the-penis-perspective-but-what-about-teh-menz/

Short and sweet:

http://www.shakesville.com/2009/05/but-what-about-menz.html

Very good:

https://badreputation.org.uk/2011/03/24/but-what-about-teh-menz/

A kiwi perspective:

http://thehandmirror.blogspot.com/2013/02/what-about-teh-menz.html

Posted in feminism | Tagged , , | 89 Comments

Best seller! Read the bible!

What’s more pitiful than that vacuous, bankrupt statement is the fact Ms. roughseas admits to having never read the Bible.

From, theancients on colostorms’s blog. Oops, Colorstorm.

Now it is fair to say I have not read the bible. I have read some of it in RE classes. I have even read Matthew 2: 1–6 at a school nativity.

Nor have I read Fifty Shades of Grey. Do I need to do so to form an opinion on domestic violence and BDSM? I can find better objective sources elsewhere.

I haven’t read the qur’an either. Nor the vedas. Nor the bhagavad gita although, like the bible, I have a copy of it. Nor the kojiki. Nor the popol vuh.

Does one really need to read every mythical tome to decide whether or not to believe in a religion? Or to disbelieve in it?

Will reading the bible make me more likely to suddenly believe in God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit? Extremely unlikely.

But how would one choose which religious text to believe in? The oldest? The newest? The majority viewpoint? And then, which sect? Which branch of Hinduism? Catholic or Protestant? The dilemmas are endless.

And Me! My religion is the only one! doesn’t quite do it for me.

Why, is my statement about not being able to discuss something without a Christian invoking the bible bankrupt or vacuous? Honest perhaps. And pitiful?

What is pitiful is people who can’t live without a badly written rule book. People who can’t live within themselves. People who don’t respect the rights of others. People who are hypocrites. People who lack sufficient thinking capacity to work out a moral code for themselves.

People who believe in presidents who say god sends them to war. That is truly pitiful.

People who discriminate against homosexuals are pitiful.

People who discriminate against women are pitiful.

Now. Tell me again. One. Good. Reason. Why I should read 1041 pages of the RSV?

And what happens to people who study the bible in detail? Just ask the deconverts.

Posted in Atheism, christianity, feminism, Religion | Tagged , | 126 Comments

Guardian Angel

Me? Never.

The other night I was walking up one of the back streets. I heard shouting and sounds of distress.

Not my business. Not mine to interfere in a ‘domestic’ dispute.

I walked on.

And battled with my conscience. How would I feel if someone walked on? I walked back.

The man was walking away. That was a good start.

The woman was halfway up some steps leading to the next level of streets. We have a lot of steps in Gibraltar.

‘Do you need any help? Are you OK?’

‘Yes please. I’m not really OK.’

Could have been worse. She wasn’t bleeding or bruised.

A domestic spat? Whatever, she was in no fit condition (alcohol) to get home alone with shopping bags.

So Ms Roughseas Who Really Still Can’t Walk Properly and Struggles With Steps climbed up to help. Somehow I took her shopping bags, gave her an arm, and we clambered up the remaining steps together.

Then we lurched up the street to her home.

‘Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me? Why are you my Guardian Angel?’

Many of us have been there. For whatever reason. Too much to drink, and … well … the world is not easily negotiable.

I took her into her block, she couldn’t find her flat keys so I looked in her bag for them, opened up the flat, put her bags down, suggested she go to bed (she wanted to go out again!), introduced myself and left.

Partner was a bit worried when I returned home, I’d been out longer than normal. ‘I met this woman who needed help.’

‘Oh yeah, I know her. Really intelligent. Got a good job. Needs to chill out by drinking. Lives with an arsehole.’

Well there you go. I meet a random stranger and Partner knows all about her!

I’ve not seen her since. Would I do it again? Of course. Would I wait for the man to piss off? Advisable.

Mario Lanza. Guardian Angels fell a bit short for him:

Posted in Atheism, christianity, feminism, life | Tagged , | 76 Comments

Oh dear

From Violet’s blog about MRAs.

Insanity wrote:

Actually Carmen, many of those men are genuinely having lots of sex, which than begs the question, why are there so many stupid women in the world?

It also answers another of your questions, why do I believe in God? Because the evidence of His existence is all around me, but also because I have learned that we all have a God sized hole within us, that can only be satisfied by His presence. In the absence of God people will instead pour everything else they can into the abyss of their souls, like those ‘spherians do with women.

And:

Re: Holes

I can only speak for myself when I say no orifice on my body is anywhere near deity-sized, but I will acknowledge IB and say, any woman with a ”God-sized hole” is most definitely going going to get screwed by Christianity.

This is not good.

Let me explain why.

Looking at IB’s comment, she referred to ‘we all’.

Did she make that gender specific? Male or female? No.

Now, let’s look at Ark’s response.

He dismisses the fact that he can get screwed (by christianity or anything/one else) but says a woman with a god-sized hole will (get screwed).

  1. why does the man not have a large (god-sized) hole and the woman does?
  2. why should a woman be more susceptible to christianity than a man?
  3. because, a man could just as well be screwed by christianity up his arse (who is to say the size of one’s deity-sized hole) as a woman could up her ‘god-sized hole’. So why don’t we have that analogy?
  4. why, why, why, is a religious/spiritual reference denigrated by referring to screwing women? Because, that’s how we demean life. Screwing women takes us down to the lowest common denominator.
  5. seriously, please do not use screwing women as a way to deride christianity. Women have enough problems as it is.
  6. men are just as likely to succumb to Xtianity: W, J, D, CS et al
  7. total fail, using a woman’s vagina for ‘humour’, suggesting women are more malleable than men, and actually choosing to misinterpret what IB originally said. In a not good way.

So to all of you who found it funny, you have free rein. Comment away.

And if you think you know about feminism, dream on. Your words betray you.

Posted in Atheism, feminism, gender-specific language, Religion | 32 Comments

Eve teasing

Most of my readers, as far as I know, have English as their first language (South Africans excepted), and come from so-called advanced white western societies.

In the pursuit of feminism, many people think because women have got the vote and we have equal opportunities legislation in force, that there is no need for feminism. After all, there is no disparity. Is there? I’ll look at this in more detail when I write a post on ‘What about teh menz?’

For now though, hold that thought, and let’s look elsewhere. Because feminism and women’s position of inequality, is worldwide.

When I grew up, there were three women Prime Ministers. India, Ceylon and Israel had all beaten Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA to elect a woman as leader of their country.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was in power from 1970–72 and Indira Gandhi held office from 1966–77. It was the late 80s before Benazir Bhutto was elected prime minister of Pakistan, and the first woman to become head of state of any Muslim nation. Like Indira Gandhi, Bhutto was assassinated. (Note to self: not a good idea to become a woman prime minister of India or Pakistan.) Khalida Zia became the first woman prime minister of Bangladesh in 1991.

I mention these women specifically because this post is about south Asia, ie the India sub-continent, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan primarily.

One of the sillier arguments against feminism, is that, when a woman achieves a powerful position, ergo, there is no further need for society to do anything. If a woman can be prime minister, surely that proves we have equality between the sexes?

Well, simply. No. Especially when they get killed.

Back in the UK, we had a political drive to ensure our boards were made up equally of men and women (it didn’t last long). My chair, who was a woman, said: ‘As I’m a woman, we don’t need any other women on the board, do we?’

No, Syl. That is not equal representation. One woman lording it over eight or nine men does not equality represent. Typical Queen Bee syndrome.

Although a recent study debunks the Queen Bee. Grauniad reports on this study by Columbia University.

But in the groundbreaking countries of South Asia with their early women prime ministers, we have ‘Eve teasing‘ which I learned about via Carissa’s fascinating Mumbai-based blog.

This was a new one on me, so I thought I would share it with my dear readers.

It’s basically sexual harassment that can range from verbal to physical abuse, ie from sexually suggestive comments to groping.

In itself, the name, is an excellent example of sexism in language.

It comes from Eve as the temptress, because it’s always a woman’s fault, right?

And it’s teasing. It’s fun and flirtatious to be on the receiving end of sexual comments, be regarded as an object for someone else’s sexual pleasure, and be sexually assaulted. This is not teasing. At all.

But, wait, the solution to this is to dress conservatively, or ensure one has a man with one after dark. Or probably at all times.

Carissa’s account here.

For the record I had no problems in India in 84/85, although I did have problems in Italy the same year and in the Phillippines. Morocco has been fine too, although years before he met me, my partner teamed up with a couple of women who were getting unwanted attention aka sexual harassment.

We should call these criminal offences what they are. They are not attention or teasing. They are at best insulting, but the bottom line is that they are sexual harassment, which in the case of physical contact, becomes sexual assault/aggression. Because, no, men do not have a right to touch a woman’s breasts or bottom. Or any part of her body. Or tell her what they want to do to her.

So you see, we can have all the legislation in place to promote ‘equality’, we can have women leaders, but until we change societal attitudes, we will not eliminate the discrimination against women and their status as sexual objects. (Obviously when they pass the useful sexual stage they no longer have status). And the rights of men to regard them as such.

‘What about teh menz?’ will be up soon. Ish.

Posted in feminism | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Feminism 101a – The Weary World of Mansplination

The Arb offered to do a guest post for me on feminism. Who am I to refuse? So here it is, on ‘mansplaining’. Unedited. All credit, copyright and my thanks for such a thoughtful post to The Arb.

*******

As this is an educational piece, let us begin with some definitions. What is ‘splaining in general and then let us move to Mansplaining. Definitions can be found at Geek Feminism and the Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia. See below.

Splaining or ’Splaining: is a form of condescension in which a member of a privileged group explains something to a member of a marginalised group — most particularly, explains about their marginalisation — as if the privileged person knows more about it.

Mansplaining: To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether. Named for a behavior commonly exhibited by male newbies on internet forums frequented primarily by women. Often leads to a flounce.

 

Ah, mansplaining, where do you come from? The answer can be found in the socially constructed gender roles women and men are more or less forced to exist within. From a very early age men are encouraged to engage, be active, and generally be ‘hands-on’ with everything around them. Said another way, “Boys are rewarded from an early age for going out into the world, solving problems, achieving, and competing.” The hated saying, ‘oh boys will be boys’, is a good example of the socialization and reinforcement of typically shitty male behaviour.

Contrary to male patterned socialization, female socialization is much more about being proper, quiet, not taking up space and not offending people. A small disquieting peek into what female patterned socialization is as described by Simone de Beauvoir:

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine.”

This makes it clear that what de Beauvoir is concerned with is the process by which ‘human females’ are transformed into culturally constructed ‘femininity’ by [patriarchal] ‘civilization.’ What follows in the subsequent chapters is a detailed and quietly gruesome description of the ways in which patriarchal civilization breaks young girls and turns them into appropriately feminine and subservient wives and mothers.”

Traditional Gender Characteristics
feminine characteristics masculine characteristics
submissive dominant
dependent independent
emotional rational
receptive assertive
intuitive analytical
timid brave
passive active
sensitive insensitive

The take away here is that males and females are rewarded in society for behaving in very different ways and thus based on this socialization, grapple with society in very different ways as well, hence gender stereotypes.

The sociology 101 is necessary in the understanding of mansplaining because mansplination happens almost at the unconscious level. When a man is speaking people tend to listen because, obviously, he has important things to say. Women, on the other hand, are expected to be the listeners, not the ones laying words of wisdom on the masses. It isn’t their role to make conversational waves like men and the normative values of our society reinforce that notion, repeatedly.

Thus, the verbal playing field at its most basic is not level. This intrinsic inequality is the everyday, it is the expected, it is the norm. It is the reason why women often find it so difficult to participate in conversations and often find themselves socially sanctioned for having the audacity to participate, as a man would, in expressing themselves verbally (the assertive/bossy trope).

This unequal situation persists in almost every social venue, and almost certainly every day, of women’s lives. The social reality of this situation is stressful, annoying, and generally a drain on a woman’s cognitive resources. It is like wearing a weight belt while swimming at the pool, extra attention and energy is required just to keep afloat, thus it is harder to achieve what the other unencumbered people are doing. Now imagine that the weighted belt is invisible and represents women’s social position in the hierarchy of society and what is required on her part just to keep up with those who don’t get the weighted belt as part of their gendered expectations package. Many inferences about Feminism begin with this image, but we should stick to the topic at hand, as this is a brief introduction, and not an essay.:)

So, if you’re a dude and thinking to yourself, “Gosh, that sucks. I’ve never even thought about stuff like this, what can I do?”. The answer is surprisingly easy.

  1. Be quiet and listen to what a woman has to say.
  2. But but but… I know the solution to her problem/I have the right answer I need to tell her. See point #1.

This is not to say that males shouldn’t speak at all, but rather, provide the base courtesy and respect that is automatically given to other males when speaking. Make the space you give automatically to other dudes to the woman who is currently trying to express herself. You would be surprised how appreciative people are when you respect them as human beings.

 

—–

Posted in feminism, gender-specific language, Sexism | Tagged | 100 Comments

Eating vegetarian and vegan at Pizza Hut in Gib …

I found this great sheet from Gib’s Pizza Hut about food allergens info.

It includes whether or not food is suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and details whether food contains gluten, soya, nuts, lupin, sesame, celery, mustard, you name it.

I read excitedly down.

image

At this point I should add that I don’t use Pizza Hut, but I’m interested in what appears to be very good practice.

Firstly looking at the bases they are all suitable for vegetarians. But not vegans because they have mozzarella cheese.

Examining more closely, I’m wondering why ‘garlic sprinke’ (sic) contains milk products yet garlic butter spray doesn’t.

But moving onto page two and toppings.

Both mozzarella cheese and string cheese are suitable for vegetarians, which is credible as mozzarella is often vegetarian. No idea what string cheese is. Comes on a ball to unwind maybe?

Meat toppings

Well, while chicken and ham aren’t suitable for vegans, they are suitable for vegetarians. Uh? Are they using pretend ham and chicken perhaps?

But look, even more adventurous, peperoni, bacon, beef and pork are all suitable for both veggies and vegans. Wow! Well done Pizza Hut. Where have you sourced those from? I do hope the carnivores appreciate they aren’t eating real meat.

image

Fish

Anchovies and tuna are of course, suitable for vegetarians, because we all know vegetarians eat fish, although vegans don’t get to eat these. That’s because our (fake?) fish contains milk. Uh?

And then I looked back, and discovered that the reason chicken and ham aren’t suitable for vegans is because they contain milk too. Ah. That explains it of course.

Vegetables and fruit

Well, it’s news to me, but apparently mixed peppers, jalapeno and pineapple contain … yes, milk. Luckily mushrooms, red onion, sweetcorn, sliced chilli, black olives and tomatoes don’t. Red onion and pineapple also contain soya.

I tell you. I have learned so much from Pizza Hut.

Dips

These are all made by Heinz. Just. LOL.

Pasta

None of these are suitable for vegans as they all contain eggs and milk. The only pasta that doesn’t is risotto (?) but that was fish-based anyway.

And my favourite: melanzane alla parmigiana. Suitable for vegetarians. Oh. No. It. Isn’t.

Do I have to mount a crusade to tell every single Italian restaurant that Parmesan is NOT vegetarian?

image

Get the small print. The yes/no for the vegan/veg info is based on info provided by the product manufacturer.

And: ‘please ask your server for details’. Really? Details of the vegan beef and the vegetarian chicken? If they are reciting from this sheet of shit I wouldn’t get much sense out of them.

Amazing. Just amazing.

Should I contact them? Maybe I’ll get a free vegetarian chicken, ham, bacon, pepperoni, beef, pork pizza? :)🍕

This is on a par with La Sala at the Sunborn.

Source: http://www.pizzahut.gi

And in the UK? … https://www.pizzahut.co.uk/content/pdf/campaign/P12W3_1415/IngredientsAllegens.pdf

Posted in animal rights, food, vegan, vegetarian, vegetarianism | Tagged , | 27 Comments

I told you so

So don’t say I didn’t. All you religious fruitcakes, who think making abortion difficult to get/illegal etc, are responsible for the situation in Tennessee where a woman stuck a coathanger up herself in the bath to try and carry out a home abortion.

She’s now been arrested on the grounds of attempted murder.

And, hospital staff delivered a baby boy, weighing 1.5 pounds. But not a healthy baby boy.

This is what happens when religious fuckwits and republican arseholes tell women what to do with their bodies.

I so wish men got pregnant. I’m sure the world would be very different.

Here is a blogpost that pretty much sums up the situation. Saves me writing any more.

Posted in feminism, politics, Religion | Tagged , , | 48 Comments

Legal drugs

In this case, ibuprofen.

Nurofen.

Ibuprofen is an NSAID, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. In other words a painkiller, and one of the weaker NSAIDs, so, at low doses, it carries the risk of fewer side effects.

So we have so-called specific pain meds here, which all have exactly the same proportion of the active ingredient – ibuprofen – being sold for an inflated price. Great marketing!

One of the good things I learned in my health service years was about genetic prescribing.

A few years ago I had an Internet ‘discussion’ with a friend about Zovirax, a treatment for cold sores on the lips.

I pointed out that Morrisons’ own brand was half the price.

‘No, no! Zovirax is the real thing. It’s much better.’

No, idiot. The active ingredient is exactly the same. I compared the friggin’ boxes. The pharmacist actually suggested the own brand one interestingly, and when I started asking she said the AI was exactly the same. I still needed to check, mind.

The point is, people really need to wise up on active ingredients not marketing. Read. The. Label.

Well done Australia. And, when will the British government do anything? Sometime never.

List of companies owned by Reckitt. Who, obviously test on animals. A company to avoid.

Posted in animal rights, animals, consumerism, drugs, health, money, public relations | 30 Comments

Addicted to …

No, Ark, not Robert Palmer, addicted to love.

But rather, drugs, alcohol, gambling, and perhaps one can add, shopping and work.

I’ll leave it to scientists to continue arguing about what causes addiction, instead I’d like to consider our reactions to people who have an addiction to … whatever.

Gambling

I’ve met very few gamblers. But sadly, one of them was a boy from prep school, in my class from Kindergarten, aged 4. His birthday was two days after mine, and we caught the bus home together. I got off the bus before him, and frequently left my regulation school beret behind. Next morning, he would return it, having safely retrieved it and taken it home with him.

Fast forward a lot of years, and we’re both visiting a local pub. It was one of our locals, although obviously not his. But it was rather trendy. And very twee, in an old beamed, low ceiling, tiny windows sort of way.

Whether I accompanied my parents or not, he always acknowledged them, and was respectful. His father owned some type of business dealing in leather coats, as far as I recall. My good kind schoolpal worked for his dad, and stole the coats to sell them to fund his gambling at the casino in Leeds. I was gutted when I heard this. Truly utterly gutted. The info was from a reliable source: his sister.

Why, would a young man, who came from an affluent family (lived in one of the two best streets in town), had a good private education, turn to gambling, and steal from his family to do that? Maybe because he didn’t cut it academically, when siblings did? I don’t know.

But moving onto a different type of gambling, Australia’s famous pokies.

World’s biggest gamblers

Armed robbery to fund pokies

We knew someone in Sydney who was banned by his wife from using the pokies. Nice guy. He still did it though.

It’s here in Gib too. We know people who will put in more than £100 and then go and get money from the cash machine to put in even more. Where is the sense in that?

Partner chucked in a fiver once to a group play, and someone won £200. Shared out, that was £40 each, less £5 = £35 profit.

The rest of them put the money back in, but Partner hung onto his £35.

Gib, has a gambling culture.

Drugs

Friends at school starting smoking dope. I was banned from a planned Saturday night at a trendy club because my mate’s parents had heard about Evil! Drugs! at Chiaroscuro. I was devastated. So the place to go. Never did get there.

For those who hadn’t done soft drugs at school, there was always university. Or travelling round the world. But I went better than Bill Clinton, I never touched it at all. Maybe comes of being a non-smoker.

What I did enjoy were legal medicinal drugs in hospital. Oh yes. Morphine? A dream. In fact it felt like a dream as I drifted out of body and looked down on myself, as I floated happily betwixt body and ceiling.

The next day, I asked for more nice painkillers (this was the first ankle op, nearly 40 years ago). Sadly, nurses were clearly wised up to potential young druggies and I got something utterly boring. I didn’t ask for it after that.

Readers of roughseas will have read about attempts to force feed me paracetamol when I was in hospital last year and didn’t even have any pain.

But post-op, the spliced ankle had the odd twinge or two. Or more. Nurses explained to me that I could ask for pain med. There were some analgesics but if it was bad, there was … morphine. Or if the analgesics didn’t work, there was … morphine. Mmmmm. I took the analgesics and left Class One alone. They worked anyway. Tempted? Very.

As I lay in my bed, I listened to the muffled conversation in the bed next door. The woman, who’d had breast surgery, sounded in agony. A helpful relative pointed out that she didn’t want to take morphine, it was addictive. Yeah, well, if I’d had my breast lopped off and it hurt, I’d go for morphine. Every. Single. Time.

But, my mediocre broken ankle wasn’t that painful. Did I want morphine? Yes? Did I need it? No. So … dear reader, that was why I refused the delicious morphine.

And also, why I haven’t done drugs. My head is whacky enough. I don’t need it skewed any more than it is. I can totally see how people get addicted to drugs. That out-of-this-world experience is amazing.

I’ll briefly touch on addiction to shopping and work. I loathe shopping. I do not understand this one. ‘Tis like gambling. Just throwing money away. For what?

Work? Yeah, along with a lot of colleagues I worked 12 hour days and longer. Addicted to work? Doubt it. Just wanted the money, and that meant doing whatever was needed.

Finally, the curse of the working classes. Drink. Or, as darling Oscar said: Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Alcohol

I grew up with parents who drank every day. Sunday lunch involved white wine for starter, sherry for soup, white wine for fish course, red wine, usually, for main. My father had a classy wine cellar. It wasn’t a cellar but it was still classy. We had Lafite, Latour, Mouton Rothschild. We had Dom Perignon and Diament Bleu. We had white burgundies coming out of our ears. These weren’t bottles. These were all cases.

When my father died, I told my mother it was time for us to open their last bottle of champagne. Or nearly last, or something. Because that was their hedonistic life. And that was how to best remember him.

But, while good/fine wine with a meal is nice, I loathe the drinking culture. The lads at football matches. Men in the pub together. Just. No. Men coming home for meals late. Pissed. Abusing women. The chat with the male mates over ‘a few beers’ beats spending time with a wife? Don’t get married.

Some years ago, I heard of the term functioning alcoholic. In a derogatory sense, of course.

While I don’t think drinking endless vodka, smoking cigarettes and dope and eating little food is a bright idea, if people function like that, who am I to say?

I’ve met more than one person who’s done that.

Recently, a friend was having problems. Strange outbreaks of what looked like acid burns on his legs. The doctor said he must have fallen into something, because our friend was living on a boat.

Partner went down to visit him. ‘Fuck off!’ He said. So Partner did.

He was later admitted into hospital and put on kidney dialysis. There is only one machine in Gib, or so we have been told. So every time someone else needed it, he was taken off. His kidneys didn’t recover.

In fact, not just his kidneys were shot, his liver wasn’t too healthy either.

He was a nice bloke. He never said a bad word about anyone nor did he harm anyone. His funeral service was packed.

But, some people criticised and judged him. He drank too much. Well yes, he did drink half a bottle of vodka a day. Who are we to judge?

On the back of his neck was tattooed, che sera sera.

And, whatever, happened. He enjoyed his life and it was, what it was. No judgement.

And this is my point. He lived his life as he chose. Don’t judge.

The same for people who choose drugs, or gambling, or, shopping, or work, or just anything.

Don’t judge when you haven’t been there.

Don’t judge. At all.

Posted in life | Tagged , , , | 48 Comments

Clouds’ Feminism 101

I thought an open post for people to discuss their view of feminism might be worth a go.

But first, as this is the blog of a historian and a journalist, let’s set feminism in context with a quick summary of recent history (UK for specific examples) and differing types of feminism.

Most of us tend to think the start of feminism began with the suffragettes campaigning for emancipation.

However, that would be to ignore the C18 writer, translator, and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792, in which she calls for women to receive education, instead of being treated as beautiful objects without a brain.

Education is, and always has been, critical for women seeking reform and equality. In the nineteenth century, reformers of both sexes continued to fight for the opportunity for women to have access to education. And not just education: suffrage, marital law and property rights started to become topical as reformists of both sexes sought to campaign against existing discriminatory legislation.

Let’s have a look at the Contagious Diseases Acts. For some reason I didn’t learn about this in my O-level history classes at school. These acts were passed in the 1860s to look after the British armed forces. Police officers (men) were given powers to arrest prostitutes, who were then checked for VD by doctors (men), and the women were locked up for three months, which was then later extended to a year. This was important because it protected the innocent men from contracting VD from prostitutes. Men were not checked. Logic there? None. These acts were repealed in 1886 after considerable public support.

But from one extreme to another. If working class prostitutes were being arrested to stop men contracting VD, what about the middle classes still fighting for educational equality?

While women were admitted to study and pass exams at university in England, they weren’t entitled to take degrees. The University of London was the first to admit women to degrees in 1878, some 30 years after taking in women students. By 1900, over 30 per cent of the 536 graduating students were women.

In contrast Oxford did not award degrees to women until 1920, and Cambridge was a very tardy 1947/8.

The first woman to gain honours in a University examination which was intended to be equivalent to that taken by men for a degree was Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers. In 1877 she gained first class honours in Latin and Greek in the Second Examination for Honours in the recently instituted ‘Examination of Women’. In 1879 she followed this with first class honours in Ancient History.

Annie Rogers returned to Oxford to matriculate and graduate on 26 October 1920.

Oxford University Archives October 2007

But the suffragettes in the UK, and elsewhere in the world where women sought the vote on equal terms with men, are what we consider to be the really significant activity in the women’s rights movement.

In 1918, women over 30, with property, got the right to vote. At the same time the act extended the right to vote to all men over 21. Double standards or what? It took British women another ten years to achieve parity. Well behind many other countries.

And that is a brief selective summary of what has become known as first-wave feminism. Much as I hate labels, I might as well admit they are there.

So, moving on, what is second wave feminism? Well, it’s loosely described as 60s–80s. It includes a period of names such as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Mary Daly and Germaine Greer. Women like these, and many others, thought that getting the vote (not that all countries had, or even now have, equal voting rights for women) wasn’t quite equality. There was still considerable discrimination both de facto and de iure.

This is when reproductive rights come into płay. Yes, other women had advocated for birth control, think Stopes and Sanger, but our second wave feminists want total bodily autonomy for women. (Stopes and Sanger were not in favour of abortion but advocated for birth control for that reason.)

We see in the UK and the USA, the approval of the pill (free contraception in the UK for women), legal abortions, equal pay acts, sex discrimination acts, and laws to protect pregnant women at work.

Laws against domestic violence and marital rape came into force. Rape and crisis shelters were set up.

In publishing, we had Spare Rib, Ms, Virago Press, all to promote women’s rights and women writers.

And then what?

Second wave feminism fell out of fashion.

Why? Well it was white and middle class of course. And clearly, working class, poor women, lesbians and women of colour don’t experience the same oppression.

So then, we have so-called third wave feminism which focuses very much on intersectionality, ie all the things second wave feminism was criticised for not focusing on. Class and colour became more important.

Third wavers are also less rigid, feminism is whatever a feminist wants it to mean. It’s OK to wear girly clothes, make-up, and high heels. Pornography and prostitution can be a choice. Because choice is the way to destroy the gender binary established by the patriarchal society. These feminists also espouse slut walks and reclamation of language. Eg, bitch, slut, cunt, etc.

And … the so-called fourth wave, is pretty similar to three.

Three and four look to soften the messages of two. They speak for equality not women’s rights, or feminism per se, because equality for everyone is more important. The prime message here is equal rights for every minority group. No one group takes precedence. We should all fight together.

But let’s look at two big issues within feminism before I finish.

Sex

One is the status of pornography, prostitution/sex work and sadomasochism. This one splits feminists right down the middle. Some think it is OK for women to work in pornography or sex – both can often involve sexual activities – and, consent to total sexual submission within BDSM rules where women give total power to a male dominant.

The one feminist group considers such sexual activities to be detrimental to women, it perpetuates their objectification, continues to reinforce the power role of men, and the use of women by men as mere purchasable items, pornography and (female) prostitution for the pleasure of men. The other group thinks women have the right to choose and enjoy how they sexually express themselves, including making a living from it. This includes legalisation of prostitution and safe working environments. Any restriction smacks of censorship. This second group, initially known as sex-pro feminists, is now commonly referred to as sex-pos feminism.

Radfems

Finally radical feminism. In essence, radfems wish to dismantle the current patriarchal society whereby dominant males oppress everyone who doesn’t fit in with that model. (Lesbians, gays, trans men and women, queers, intersexuals.) If that’s difficult to grasp, think Marxism, which says the working classes are always oppressed by their capitalist bosses. Same principle, different groups of people. Radfems tend to see the prime tenets of feminism as bodily autonomy and economic independence (from men). They are rarely ‘sex-pos’ as they see the sex industry as degrading, humiliating and objectifying to women, that merely serves to gratify male desire.

Summary

Early feminists worked for equality in education, suffrage, property rights, marital laws.

Later feminists worked for equal pay, reproductive rights, pregnancy rights at work, overturning domestic violence, marital rape, setting up refuges, and, attacking the implicit societal bias of gender discrimination.

Late C20 feminists pushed for intersectionality including within feminism: the rights of working class and poor women, lesbians, women of colour, trans men and women, and reclamation of language and appearance, while still challenging the gender binary.

Some feminists don’t agree with the sex industry. Others do.

Radfems just want to change society.

Conclusion

And … how many women in how many countries still do not have suffrage, equal rights to education, bodily autonomy, or affordable health care?

This is a relatively short and objective summary. I’ve not cluttered it up with sources, or, sadly, my opinion.

Open forum, for your views on feminism.

Posted in feminism | Tagged , , | 171 Comments

Feminism comes last – again

Here is a very silly outmoded comment, written, unsurprisingly, by a right-wing religionist.

Pronouns: We avoid, as much as possible, the hideous “he or she” and we try never to use the atrocious “they” when speaking of a single unidentified, generic person. To a man (:) ) we find the gymnastics writers use to coddle the various grievance groups “out there” are execrable, and we strive to stay far away from them. If the subject being referred to is an unidentified person who could be of either sex, use “he.”

This is from the style guide for the Praetorian Writers Group, who to a person, seem to be a bunch of antediluvians (can that be used as a noun?) to me.

I had the he/she/it argument years ago. Firstly at work, and secondly, more recently, with a friend in the Royal Navy, who made the standard excuse that it refers to men and women. No it doesn’t, and by implication it assumes male preference and denies women’s presence. He later admitted perhaps it wasn’t inclusive. Readers of roughseas will note that ‘they’ has not only made it into the Oxford dictionary, it was on the shortlist for word of the year in 2015. That’s good. I was using it last century in public information leaflets and documents. Get over the grammar people. Words change.

So while the fossils in the Writers Group may refer to people of unknown sex as he, the rest of us have moved on somewhat. Of course one could equally use zie, but I suspect that would be even worse to those of anti-feminist persuasion. Or anti dismantling the gender binary persuasion.

*Explanatory note*
Dismantling the gender binary, ie getting rid of the distinctions between men and women, or traits regarded as being ‘male’ or ‘female’ tends to be associated with feminism, as women tend to suffer more under this classification.

Tildeb posted an interesting link over on Violet’s.

Now, while I don’t agree 100% with tildeb on everything (or with anyone else as far as that goes), I thought this was a very interesting post that shows the knots we tie ourselves up with. (Or up with which we tie ourselves😉 )

Back in the days when I was on a radfem forum, people (ie American women) were discussing whether to support Clinton or Obama, and there was a lot of support for Obama. Every little thing Clinton had done wrong was criticised, everything Obama did was idealised. And this is on a feminist forum FCS.

So, why do feminists put other causes before their own? In the case of Obama, black man trumps white woman.

In the case cited above by tildeb, feminists decided to put Islam before feminism. Uh?

Speaker Maryam Namazie is Iranian born, has worked with refugees, is a human rights activist, and campaigns for women’s rights in Iran. She opposes Sharia law in the UK and denounces Western acceptance of women’s oppression and violation of human rights when we say it is part of ‘Islamic culture’. She thinks otherwise.

She was briefly banned from speaking at Warwick University, and in her talk this month at Goldsmiths, she was heckled, shouted at, whistled at, students walked out, and her projector was turned off. (Projector? Do people still use those?)

She, and another lecturer were issued with death threats.

[Source: Wiki]

In recent months, we now have two strong proponents of feminism who have been initially banned, and criticised for their feminist views. Greer offended transgender people, Namazie offended Muslims.

Why do women always get pushed to the bottom of the discriminatory heap? And by other feminist women too?

Race trumps feminism. Religion trumps feminism. Feminists are only allowed to speak if they don’t offend anyone.

And yet, it’s ok to offend women and feminists and disrupt a presentation? Would that have been allowed if the speaker was male? A Muslim? Black? A member of the university faculty? Well, anyone really, apart from an ex-Muslim woman?

Why do feminists feel the need to support other causes/movements that have stuff all in common with feminism? And to give those causes precedence? Female conditioning? Someone else is right/more important/more deserving?

One of the principles of feminism is that one doesn’t criticise women who subscribe to patriarchy. After all, they are mere pawns like the rest of us.

Women have a brain. If they buy into bullshit, play the little woman card, then they are making my job and that of every other serious feminist, that much harder. Whether that is wearing frilly clothes and high heels, supporting Islam above feminism, racial discrimination above feminism, or anything else above feminism, then yes, I will criticise other women. Oh, and that includes sex workers and women who work in pornography too.

So women, and those few seriously good feminist allies out there (I can think of three of you), don’t short-change feminism. It should NOT take second place to anything.

*ETA* I should have added Sarah Ditum to the list of feminist speakers who gave been no- platformed. In this case Bristol Feminist Society uninvited her on the grounds that someone, somewhere had called her transphobic.

Posted in feminism | Tagged , , , | 180 Comments

God Bless America

Pontificating from my sofa about Syria is not my thing. I know stuff all about it, except I would not want to be fleeing a war-torn country with nothing. Reviewing Port of No Return was an eyeopener in that instance.

But, seriously, some of the comments about Syrian refugees are classic. Apologies to the original commenters, I’ve forgotten who or where they were.

Here is the first:

The Obama approach is the right one – to support and encourage Europe and the Persian Gulf states to take care of their own backyard.

Ah. I should have said, of course, both commenters are American.

OK, let’s look at backyards. I mean America really, really, really looks after its own backyard and keeps out of everyone else’s doesn’t it?

For the record:

List of countries the USA has bombed since the end of World War II

China 1945-46

Korea 1950-53

China 1950-53

Guatemala 1954

Indonesia 1958

Cuba 1959-60

Guatemala 1960

Belgian Congo 1964

Guatemala 1964

Dominican Republic 1965-66

Peru 1965

Laos 1964-73

Vietnam 1961-73

Cambodia 1969-70

Guatemala 1967-69

Lebanon 1982-84

Grenada 1983-84

Libya 1986

El Salvador 1981-92

Nicaragua 1981-90

Iran 1987-88

Libya 1989

Panama 1989-90

Iraq 1991

Kuwait 1991

Somalia 1992-94

Bosnia 1995

Iran 1998

Sudan 1998

Afghanistan 1998

Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999

Afghanistan 2001

Libya 2011

Source: Global Research/Huffington Post

A more up-to-date list here includes Syria.

And there is no involvement in the Middle East by America is there? Much.

Here is a link (written in 2001) that looks at US military interventions after 1870. Well worth a read.

A couple of extracts:

The following year, the U.S. deployed forces in the Persian Gulf after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which turned Washington against its former Iraqi ally Saddam Hussein. U.S. supported the Kuwaiti monarchy and the Muslim fundamentalist monarchy in neighboring Saudi Arabia against the secular nationalist Iraq regime. In January 1991, the U.S..and its allies unleashed a massive bombing assault against Iraqi government and military targets, in an intensity beyond the raids of World War II and Vietnam. Up to 200,000 Iraqis were killed in the war and its imemdiate aftermath of rebellion and disease, including many civilians who died in their villages, neighborhoods, and bomb shelters. The U.S. continued economic sanctions that denied health and energy to Iraqi civilians, who died by the hundreds of thousands, according to United Nations agencies. The U.S. also instituted “no-fly zones” and virtually continuous bombing raids, yet Saddam was politically bolstered as he was militarily weakened.

Here we have America intervening in the Persian Gulf States. Exactly the words of the commenter. Europe and the Gulf States should be looking after the aftermath. When America has gone home?

Intervene, Americans, and take the consequences. But don’t wring your hands in total innocence that you haven’t been there, invaded that, and killed civilians. And tell everyone else to look after ‘our’ backyard.

There is a good summary under a heading of ‘Common Themes’.

Here is the final par:

One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that “people like us” could not commit atrocities against civilians.

  • German and Japanese citizens believed it, but their militaries slaughtered millions of people.
  • British and French citizens believed it, but their militaries fought brutal colonial wars in Africa and Asia.
  • Russian citizens believed it, but their armies murdered civilians in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere.
  • Israeli citizens believed it, but their army mowed down Palestinians and Lebanese.
  • Arabs believed it, but suicide bombers and hijackers targeted U.S. and Israeli civilians.
  • U.S. citizens believed it, but their military killed hundreds of thousands in Vietnam, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Every country, every ethnicity, every religion, contains within it the capability for extreme violence. Every group contains a faction that is intolerant of other groups, and actively seeks to exclude or even kill them. War fever tends to encourage the intolerant faction, but the faction only succeeds in its goals if the rest of the group acquiesces or remains silent. The attacks of September 11 were not only a test for U.S. citizens attitudes’ toward minority ethnic/racial groups in their own country, but a test for our relationship with the rest of the world. We must begin not by lashing out at civilians in Muslim countries, but by taking responsibility for our own history and our own actions, and how they have fed the cycle of violence.

Other reading about American intervention:

http://www.countercurrents.org/polya050713.htm

http://www.sott.net/article/273517-Study-US-regime-has-killed-20-30-million-people-since-World-War-Two

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/america-war-93-time-222-239-years-since-1776.html

http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/casualties_of_war.htm

Here is another American comment:

Yes, when it comes to policing migration I prefer a strong government. Things like controlling the flow of migrants is why we have national governments in the first place. A government can allow people to risk their own lives, but it can’t risk their lives for them.
Thanks for sharing your litany of faith about how you think the world works, essentially that Muslims have no personal responsibility for anything and everything is the fault of evil anglophones and Jews. Touching in its simplicity, really, but I just don’t give a fuck right now.
Bush should not have invaded Iraq? I happen to agree. But I just don’t give a fuck anymore, understand? Keep terrorists out of my country.
Iraq having been invaded, Obama ought not have given Iraqi hegemony to Iran? I agree. But I don’t give a fuck. Keep terrorists out of my country.
Saudi Arabia and Israel don’t want refugees? Maybe they have good reasons. I don’t want them either unless you can prove to me they are not dangerous.
A Sweede shot up a school so that means we shouldn’t care if an Arab we import shoots up a Synagogue or gay bar? What the fuck is wrong with you?
Finland has a wonderful Muslim population? Who the fuck cares? Tell that to the dead people in Paris.
When the refugee crisis started the leaders of the EU laughed off people’s fears about ISIS infiltration. Then Paris gets shot up. The EU leaders are calculating how many of their own citizens can be murdered as collateral damage for the sake of cheap labor. And here you are convincing yourself that they are making the right choice.

One word comes to mind here immediately. Selfish. In the extreme. Arrogant, selfish, racist, and fascist.

Keep terrorists out of my country? Keep America out of the rest of the world might be more appropriate.

But, let’s look at another aspect. Why are European countries that are crammed to the gills in terms of population density, accepting refugees when those with big wide open spaces are equivocating?

Map of US states taking/hesitating/refusing Syrian refugees.

Just to put this in context, Gibraltar is the fifth most populated state/territory in the world, with 11,000 people per square kilometre. I’m not sure we’re in a position to accept a few thousand refugees. But I think we have a better argument than America does for refusal.

Netherlands, 1000 per sq km

Belgium, 953

UK, 679

Germany 591

France, 306

Spain, 238

USA (at position 182 out of 244), 85

That is 85 people per square kilometre. For those of you who like miles, 32.8 per square mile.

Canada, 9.3

and, Australia, 8.07

I had to add the decimal points for the last two as the figures looked so small. In square miles, they both hover around three.

Maybe America might want to take Australia’s previous line? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28189608

Wiki gives some context as to who takes who and ‘pledges’. It’s a good enough broad-brush perspective.

Disclaimer: I have American blogging friends. This post is not directed at them. Rather, at the wagons-in-a-circle mentality. America, if you want to genuinely espouse the role of world leader, it takes more than bombing the shit out of countries far away from you (possibly with oil), and then running home saying the fallout is nothing to do with you.

But here’s Ark with a similar but different take …

Posted in christianity, Religion, War | Tagged , , , , | 115 Comments