Just an everyday in a sexist life

It’s easy to say, ‘I’m not sexist, racist, disablist, fattist, ageist’ etc.

But what happens when someone challenges that?

None of us like being challenged so the automatic response is ‘Oh, no, I’m not’.

Except, how do we know? Ruth (and MMJ and Neuronotes) make the valid points that without an understanding of sexism and misogyny it’s somewhat difficult to say whether you have experienced it, or have dished it out.

I’ve read a lot recently about men who aren’t sexist, and there are currently some great posts around on understanding sexism, and specifically, victim blaming and shaming. Links at the end. Well worth a read.

I always swore I’d never do a feminism 101 for people. But here it is, in oldspeak before 101 appeared: ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Feminism’ (I know, ‘idiot’ is so uncool, but really sometimes appropriate). Or, at least a few tips and pointers to think about. Mostly based on personal experience.

The following behaviours are sexist:

1) Wolf whistling on a building site

Mostly this has stopped. Some workers have been suspended on site. The general current view is that it is no longer acceptable.

Yes, I’ve been whistled at.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, who cares what you think about some woman’s appearance? It’s called objectification. It’s not flattering. It’s called signifying approval that you meet the sexual standard for the men.

And of course, if you don’t get whistled at, then you are below par.

Either way, not good.

2) The reverse. Abusing women in public

How about approaching them and saying ‘Dooooog’ and then running off laughing.

Yes. I’ve had that too. It gave me such a warm fuzzy feeling. Thanks boys.

Because making jokes about a woman’s appearance is just Oh. So. Funny. And it is the privilege of the men to do so.

But, that doesn’t mean men who do so are sexist, oh no. It’s just a joke yes? And if you don’t find it funny you lack a sense of humour.

3) Women commenting on your appearance. Usually lack of breasts

‘Is that a boy or a girl,’ they said as I walked past, aged 13. ‘Can never tell these days.’

Gee thanks mum for getting my hair cut, and my fault for being tall and slim.

But, why is it your nosy business, strangers, whether I was a teenage boy or girl? Bad enough to think it, but to say within my hearing?

And the barwoman in the pub, ‘Oh, you’re flat-chested like me.’

Thanks. Just thanks for boosting my fragile teenage ego.

4) Men assuming your sexual status in the street, and commenting on it

‘Oh, German virgins,’ said to me and my French exchange pal in Paris, we were aged around 14/15.

And just what did our nationality or sexual status have to do with total strangers?

5) Let’s move up a little. Touching people

This is a rather sensitive issue. If you know someone, and have a friendly relationship, you may touch them on the arm. In Europe, we do kisses on the cheek. One in Gib, two in Spain.

What we don’t do, is creep up behind complete strangers and slide our hand up a woman’s arse. In a rather secluded place. With no one else around.

Yes, that’s happened to me too. I was in shock for hours. What happened was bad enough. What might have happened was worse.

But no men, you don’t have a right to stroke my arse.

6) Drinking pals. You know, a little alcohol, and oh yes, the woman is drunk and your luck is in

No. If the woman is drunk, and/or you are drunk, sex is a no-no. Is. That. Clear?

It is not a good idea to try and intoxicate a woman, with or without the aid of rohypnol, ketamine and/or GHB to deliberately have sex with her when she is not in control.

Nor is it a woman’s fault if you rape her in those circumstances. It is yours. And if you are extremely drunk or drugged, I would suggest you sober up before you fuck. Or, think about fucking.

Personal experience? Yes, I was drunk once and a ‘friend’ took me to his house. To sleep.

I probably wasn’t too drunk because I refused to play with his ‘toy’ (as he tried to convince me that his cock was just a plaything) on the grounds that I was drunk (at least I knew that) and I didn’t want to regret it in the morning.

It is never, ever, funny to try and make women lose control so that you can have sex with them. That is non-consensual sex. It’s called rape. If a woman doesn’t want to have sex when she’s sober, then don’t try to get her drunk to ‘change her mind’. And if she is already drunk, don’t act the knight errant and then rape her.

A woman who doesn’t know what she is agreeing to, is not consenting.

7) Fun phone calls

You know the ones. Anonymous ones. ‘I know the colour of your knickers.’ Or just the heavy breathing.

Have you any idea how much that freaks the recipient?

Yup. I’ve had those too.

8) Jokes

Because everything about women is light-hearted and whatever we men say is just fun. A laugh. With the boys.

No. Rape jokes are not funny. Appearance jokes are not funny. In fact, anything that basically puts women down, mocks them and scorns them is not remotely funny. It’s not feminists who need to get a sense of humour. It’s sexist people who need to re-evaluate.

9) Opening the door

These is a silly antiquated behaviour, not a symbol of deference or respect.

There’s nothing wrong with opening the door for anyone, regardless of gender, if they have their hands full. Or holding the door open for someone following behind you rather than letting it slam in their face.

But if you’ve ever been in the position of going to a meeting with someone in a strange building, having every door held open for you as you make your way to the room ends up like a farce. The two scenarios that follow go like this:

Scenario One

Man holds door open for woman. Woman goes through and stands there like a spare part not knowing where to go. Man follows through, embarrassingly squeezes past and resumes the lead until the next door appears. Repeat ad infinitum until reaching destination.

Scenario Two

Man holds door open for woman, but instead of squeezing past to take the lead, man then issues instructions somewhat like a driving test, telling woman to go right, left, take the third door on the left, walk straight across the junction, and then stop at the staircase. Assuming she’s made it that far. I have never seen men issue these orders to other men.

It is much easier for the person who knows where they are going to take the lead instead of displaying an unnecessary and impractical form of ‘respect’. Because, when necessary, women are capable of opening doors all on their little own.

And if you don’t behave like that with men, why are you doing it with women?

11) Claiming that there is no need for feminism because it’s all equal now. Yes. Sure it is. Do I need to quote statistics?

Even worse, moaning that men are discriminated against, and women are sexist towards them.

Because men are now the discriminated underclass. Really?

12) Feminists are just men-hating lesbians

I’m not. A lot of men read my blogs. Most of my friends are men. Feminism isn’t about hating men. It’s about trying to achieve equality for women. There is a significant difference. Feminists are not opposed to men. Feminists are opposed to a patriarchal society (invariably reinforced by the three patriarchal religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) wherein the power rests with men.

It’s the system that is at fault. But to change that we need to challenge it and our behaviours.

13) My women friends don’t agree with you, so therefore you are wrong

This one cracks me up every time. This is invariably trotted out by some ignorant (as in not having a clue about the issues) man, who parrots off what I have said to his equally ignorant women friends, and then comes back and tells me they are women, so they must know.

Well possibly if they are radical feminists they might have some idea. But given that radfems are thin on the ground, I find it odd that a man who uses sexist language would have a bunch of radfem friends.

14) And on the language issue …

Using terms that apply to a woman in a derogatory or abusive style is sexist. Here are a few examples:

Bitch (and bitch slap)
Cunt
Slut
Slag

And, infantilising women by referring to them as baby, girl, chick etc when they are 20 or 30 just perpetuates the ‘women MUST keep their looks and appear younger than they are’ stereotype.

In a similar vein, referring to a woman as a lady is not good. Not only is this sexist, it’s inaccurate and classist. More about language on my previous post, mixing ladies and whores.

Language is so powerful. What we say influences others. So, please think about your choice of words. Before you claim you aren’t sexist.

15) And back to the beginning

If you trot out a bland statement that you believe in equal rights for women and you are not sexist, and behave in any of the above ways (or have done and think it was fine) then you are sexist.

If you argue with a woman who says you are, then you most probably are. Instead of arguing, try and work out why.

Up here for thinking, down here for … So use the brain for thinking. Not the other organ.

Some links:

Rebecca’s great post about victim shaming

Her link to someone with a long name who wrote a brilliant post about consent. She uses a great analogy for describing non-consensual sex

And finally, a fem 101 site that has some good posts answering basic questions with some well thought through answers

Posted in blogging, feminism, gender-specific language, Longreads, Religion, WPlongform | Tagged , , | 45 Comments

Just another ripping post into women …

Who couldn’t get excited about going to university?

Leaving home for a whole new life. (Well, not quite, but more on that later.)

Meeting really clever people, wondering if I would make the intellectual mark? (That was another delusion. Everyone else was as ordinary as me. Phew. Still, a slight let-down.)

I crossed the Pennines in the late 70s.

From Yorkshire to Lancashire. Don’t ask me why someone from Yorkshire went to university in Lancashire but I did.

And every weekend I went home to work on my parents’ market stall. Because, they couldn’t manage without me. So they said. I’m sure it wasn’t about parental control. (So, not quite the whole new life, only a weekday new life.)

But my trip across the Pennines coincided with the advent of the Yorkshire Ripper.

He’d started killing in Leeds when I was in sixth form. Leeds was nine miles away and somewhere I went occasionally to nightclubs. He killed first in 1975, then in 1976, and four times in 1977. He usually bludgeoned the women to death with a hammer and either stabbed them with a knife or sharpened hammer.

His initial murders were of prostitutes, often from Chapeltown in Leeds. But his third murder in 1977, ie his fifth one in total, was of a 16-year-old who was not a prostitute.

This put a new complexion on these killings. No woman was safe. Because prostitutes were different, yes? Or as one of my dad’s friends said regarding the other women who were killed, ‘Well, they were only whores* anyway.’ [*prostitutes, hookers, slags, sluts, I no longer remember his word of choice.]

So now, bright, pretty, young teenagers had become targets too.

And in the month I fled the murder stamping ground in the West Riding of Yorkshire for the safe haven of my university across the Pennines, the Ripper killed again. But not in Yorkshire, in Manchester. Across the Pennines.

Speculation grew that this killer was a lorry driver as his murders continued in the same areas: Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester. Did he regularly travel from one area to the other, maybe across the Pennines, ie from Yorkshire to Lancashire, killing en route?

I was in touch with a schoolfriend and went to stay a few times with her in Leeds. In the heart of Ripper area. We went to pubs in Chapeltown and I wondered how she could live there with the threat of death hanging over the place. But, we all have to live, and accommodation was cheap in Chapeltown. So was life, sadly.

He was still killing when I graduated.

One Sunday night in the early new year, I’d gone to the local with my mum and dad. It was the semi-posh local, very old, wooden beams and all that.

Suddenly, John, the landlord, shouted to the whole bar: ‘They’ve got him. They’ve got the Ripper.’

The bar stilled. And then, the feeling of relief spread through us all.

No more worrying about which town or city would be next. Or who would be next. Or worrying about your wife, daughter, sister, mother, whenever they went out at night.

It’s more than 30 years ago but I remember that night.

John was listening to the news and the details that came through were limited. All I remember was a comment about basic policing and stolen number plates from a local scrapyard.

So although Sutcliffe was apprehended in Sheffield, with his potential next victim, he was brought to our local police station to be charged with stolen number plates because the scrapyard was within our area. Love the way the law works!

What other personal memories about this sad and vicious case? Well, the detective heading it up was the father of a girl in my year at school. She was actually our head girl at the time this was going on. The past plays tricks with our memories, but I remember this was mentioned at one point. Search wiki though and there’s no record of her. Search films made and yes, there she is, the daughter being portrayed, same name, studying for A levels, complete with glasses and long blonde hair.

Perhaps slightly more chilling is that the Ripper’s defence solicitor was one of my parents’ former employees. Spooky.

But I’d like to talk about Kerry for a moment. He came from a catholic family who lived on the local council estate. Well, there were lots of local council estates where I came from.

On Saturdays my mum and dad hired someone to help out on the market stall to cut cheese. At one point, Kerry was the cheese boy. Nice lad, quiet, studious and wanting to get away from the council estate. Hoping to study law, which was pretty difficult given his background. His Saturday job gave him and the family of seven or nine or eleven kids some cash.

And he did get away. Last thing I read of him while researching this post was that he retired, aged 62, as a circuit judge. He’d made it as a high court judge which isn’t bad for a lad from one of the most deprived areas in the UK.

The Ripper years dominated my late teens, early twenties. It was no joke to say that women in Yorkshire were frightened to go out.

Let me finish with some facts:

  • Peter Sutcliffe killed 13 women and attempted to kill seven others within a six-year period. Plus an earlier attack on a prostitute in 1969.
  • He was interviewed nine times during the course of the investigation. He was a lorry driver.
  • Sutcliffe claimed he heard god’s voice, telling him to kill prostitutes. Right. That would explain killing women who weren’t prostitutes wouldn’t it? Well?
  • He is serving twenty concurrent services of life imprisonment. But naturally he appealed against all that, because, you really want this nice chap on the streets yes?
  • Sutcliffe is in Broadmoor. This is a high-security psychiatric hospital. He has been assaulted twice while incarcerated.

Let’s look at a little religion here though. God told Sutcliffe to kill prostitutes. Somehow. Telephone? Holy Email? Oh, not then. Well maybe spiritual virtual something.

An eye for an eye.

Sutcliffe duly carried out his god-given duties (failed on 30% of them actually) and gets into Broadmoor only to be stabbed in the left eye. Ten years later, another Broadmoor inmate tries to blind him in the other eye:

You fucking raping, murdering bastard, I’ll blind your fucking other one.

It seems, our fucking raping murdering bastard is not too happy:

Sutcliffe was reportedly “terrified” as he was already blind in his left eye following the 1997 stabbing incident.

Hmm. I wonder how his twenty victims felt as he bludgeoned 13 of them to death and attempted to kill the others? Terrified? Possibly?

This man terrified women in a huge geographical region for six years.

So when Clarkson makes jokes about lorry drivers killing prostitutes, it isn’t funny at all.

  • Killing prostitutes isn’t funny.
  • Killing women isn’t funny.
  • Judging women because they are prostitutes isn’t funny.
  • Reminding women of the fear they face every day isn’t funny.

And telling them there is no patriarchy and everyone is equal is beyond derisive.

Should you want to read more about the Ripper:

http://www.execulink.com/~kbrannen/arrest.htm

And the obv wiki:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Sutcliffe

From which I idly took my material that wasn’t personal.

Please people. Don’t joke about using, abusing, raping, threatening or killing women. It really isn’t remotely funny for us to live a life of fear.

Especially a god-given one.

ETA Don’t you just want to know this convicted murderer became a Jehovah’s Witness this year. Guess all his sins are absolved. I love me this religion. Repeat rhetoric. Forget crimes. That is right, yes? Because, repentenance forgives killing.

Posted in Atheism, christianity, history, journalism, Religion, WPlongform | 31 Comments

Fifty shades of … Vanilla Cinderella

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, but the Cinderella myth is going strong.

For my purposes I’m doing the easy version, no Jung, Freud, nada. Poor girl meets rich prince, disaster intervenes but then they end up happily ever after.

You can read straight romances or sexual ones. You can watch films and TV. You can listen to the soft words of your parents, ‘Daddy’s little princess’, but the blunt truth is, most little girls do not end up marrying rich men. So why do we perpetuate this myth?

*warning*

This rest of this post is mildly sexual in content and may put you off your breakfast/lunch/supper, depending on where you are in the world.

Like many others, I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. This isn’t out of sexual prudishness, but rather that I tend not to read the flavour of the month books. So I haven’t read The Hunger Games whatever they are, I only read Twilight and a Potter book when they appeared in one of my free book bags.

I actually thought Fifty Shades was quite a literary novel for some reason. Probably the title. When I initially heard about it nobody mentioned BDSM.

Eventually, ie a few weeks ago, I ‘looked inside’ on Amazon and it was so riveting (not) that I can’t remember a thing about what I read.

However, I have read other BDSM books. I’m not for a minute going to profess to know anything about the lifestyle so please put aside images of a) Roughseas dressed in a (fake) leather corset and thigh-high boots brandishing a whip, and b) Roughseas naked and chained/tied to the bed submitting to the Dom of her dreams. The only thing I know is that everything should be safe, sane and consensual, which seems a good idea to me. And therefore what consenting adults get up to together is their business alone. Or is it?

However, back to reading the books. Some of the BDSM books are total tat. They are poorly written and either not edited at all or badly edited or someone’s sister or reading group had proofread it. Others are much better. The sexuality comes not from the tedious descriptions of the sexual acts but from the interplay between the main couple in the story. All the ones I have read have been heterosexual, and the books have invariably been written by women. They are basically romance books with some graphic sex added.

And of course, the relationship starts out as purely sexual with Mr Cold and Handsome not being interested in soppy stuff, just having a really good fuck and being totally in charge.

Rather than fifty shades of plot, there only seems to be one. The Dom is always tall, dark and handsome with tight muscles, a wonderful arse, and a huge cock. I lie. Occasionally he is fair-haired.

Clearly none of these Doms took part in the recent survey of penis size which said the average length was 3.5 inches or something. Oh, here you go:

The enduring question now has a scientific answer: 13.12 centimetres (5.16 inches) in length when erect, and 11.66cm (4.6 inches) around, according to an analysis of more than 15,000 penises around the world.

In a flaccid state, it found, the penis of the average man is 9.16cm (3.6 inches) in length and has a girth of 9.31cm (3.7 inches).

Thanks, Guardian. Always good to have this interesting info at ones … fingertips? Let’s hope there aren’t the usual Grauniad errors with those numbers …

But back to the non-plot:

The woman (the sub) either isn’t remotely interested in a D/s relationship and/or she may have a mild interest in it. Handsome Dom is always extremely experienced, incredibly good at sex, and immediately realises our heroine is a natural sub just crying out to be trained. By him.

Skip this next bit if you want to enjoy your boiled egg/lunch/supper.

There is lots of foreplay. It always follows the same pattern, starting with masturbation. And at some point in their foreplay he usually rips off her knickers, gazes at her beautiful arse and says ‘you have a beautiful ass’ (they’re all American, even the odd sexy Brit who appears manages to say ass), and spanks her. Hard.

There is always oral sex. These men love it. Oh and the women are always shaved/waxed. Either fully or almost. No stopping midway through for handsome hero to have a coughing fit on a stray hair. There is no mention of the men being shaved for the other way round though, and the women always swallow. No going ‘yuk, that’s salty’ and spitting it out.

Finally, after twenty orgasms through foreplay for the woman, they have PIV sex when, naturally there are another fifty shades of orgasm. Two very important things to note. 1) the woman is in a permanent state of sexual arousal, and 2) she always has the most fantastic orgasms ever. The man is only interested in her pleasure (???) and he has an impeccable sense of timing.

Sometimes the woman has reached her mid-twenties and is still a virgin. Really? She’s always beautiful, usually with a decent pair of tits, a fit arse, yet she’s gone through school, university, and started her career without one single shag?

If she has had sex it’s not been the mind-blowing sex she gets from her wonderful Mr Best Shag in the World. Either way, she’s def an anal sex virgin. But with the help of our kind and considerate Dom, yes, our no longer an-anal-sex-virgin has yet another wonderful, rather, different, orgasm.

Our submissive heroine is often taken to a club where she gets to see what the experts get up to, although she is only ever tied up, sometimes blindfolded, and always spanked. Nothing heavy.

There we have it really, a quick summary of all the BDSM books that are around at the mo. Invariably part of a series.

Nearly forgot. One other really important sexual attraction. The men are not just millionaires, they are billionaires. Because these days, Cinderellas are going for mega bucks.

And to think Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned.

However, the serious points about these books are:

  • Reinforcement of the myth that pretty women being sexually complicit always end up with the handsome rich prince
  • Handsome rich prince has a big cock (not sure whether money or size is more important, nah, money wins out)
  • Women don’t really want a career, just a handsome rich prince (complete with BC) so they can settle down happily ever after in large mansion and have 2.4 kids (plus maids, gardeners, cooks, chauffeurs etc)
  • Being sweet and innocent always ensures the woman is rescued by the handsome (rich, BC) prince
  • You have to be beautiful, drop absolutely dead gorgeous to even get a look in for the prince

Now, if that isn’t Cinderella revisited what is?

The same tosh is also churned out minus the sex under the so-called genre of ‘romance’.

But while what people do behind closed doors is one issue, I am worried when it strays into everyday life.

And telling women what to eat ie ordering their meals in restaurants, what to wear, what not to wear, is going off the wall. And it is seriously control freakish when it walks out of the bedroom.

Even worse, when it becomes acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. Because some BDSM blogs do mention this. Because the Lord says women should submit to men? Where and when does religion and sex become so blurred?

When you take sex out of the bedroom, these are mind games you shouldn’t be playing. Especially if you involve silly sky fairies. This stops being about sex. It is about power and control. Ah, wait, perhaps that’s what the whole scenario is about …

It doesn’t matter where you go, the story is always the same. Pretty little girl meets rich handsome prince. And does what he tells her. Bad news people. This is not real life. Princes are few and far between. Sensible women think for themselves.

And it really doesn’t matter whether Kenneth Branagh’s production of Cinderella portrays an active or passive heroine with an extremely narrow waist. The end result is the same. She gets her prince.

When will we stop grooming girls and young women to believe in the delusion that they need to be sexually attractive and complicit princesses to achieve their stinking rich prince? And that they should only concentrate on that one unachievable goal in life?

Here’s a suitable song, Esther has a beautiful voice:

Posted in feminism, Longreads, love, relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 85 Comments

Is Clarkson paying the price?

Or, is this about trying to absolve the past?

I have always found Jeremy Clarkson to be the personification of an obnoxious loathsome git. He is the classic rude, boorish, sexist, Yorkshireman.

Because yes, dear reader, said arrogant egotistical 54-year-old boy is a similar age to me, comes from not very far away, and even trained as a journalist in Yorkshire. Shudder. Anyway, I never met him. There were plenty of other sexist, arrogant, obnoxious male Yorkshire journos to contend with.

He has been allowed to get away with sexism, homophobia, racism, environmental damage, and really whatever he has wanted.

Wiki has a long list of his ‘antics’ but I’ll pick possibly my favourite.

In November 2008, Clarkson attracted over 500 complaints to the BBC when he joked about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.

The BBC stated the comment was a comic rebuttal of a common misconception about lorry drivers and was within the viewer’s expectation of Clarkson’s Top Gear persona.

Well clearly the BBC hadn’t been a woman living in Yorkshire in the late 70s, when the *Yorkshire Ripper who was a lorry driver murdered 13 women and attempted to murder 7 others.

I do not think all lorry drivers murder prostitutes because one did.

But one did, and he was a serial killer. And for Clarkson to make a joke about it, is beyond words. For those of you who don’t understand sexism, that is sexism at its finest.

Killing women is not funny.

Killing prostitutes is no different. This is not funny either.

But worse, this buys into the fact that because prostitutes sell sex, they value even less than non-prostitute women.

And making jokes about it is sick and grossly sexist to the point of misogynistic. What on earth is funny about someone being killed?

It is no way a ‘comic’ rebuttal. It is offensive and disrespectful to women who were killed and to their families.

Chris Mole, the Member of Parliament for Ipswich, where five prostitutes were murdered in 2006, wrote a “strongly worded” letter to BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, demanding that Clarkson be sacked.

Clarkson dismissed Mole’s comments in his Sunday Times column the following weekend, writing, “There are more important things to worry about than what some balding and irrelevant middle-aged man might have said on a crappy BBC2 motoring show.”

This is the irrelevant middle-aged man worth an approx £30 mill and who fronts a ‘crappy’ programme with a five mill viewing in the UK and sold all over the world? Very modest Jeremy. Very.

Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of the Eddie Stobart Group, a major trucking company, stated that “They were just having a laugh. It’s the 21st century, let’s get our sense of humour in line.”

This is the 21st century Andrew, let’s stop going back to our caves. Or at least if you do. Just. Stay. There. Preferably with Jeremy.

What’s wrong with this comment by Tinkler? It’s the classic defence to sexism.

It is funny to joke about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes. Really?

No. It is not. And please do not accuse anyone who doesn’t find it funny of lacking a sense of humour. Maybe you lack a little empathy for murdered women and their families. Truckman.

Another sexism quote at its finest. ‘Just having a laugh.’

But anyway, there are more of Clarkson’s Classics on wiki should you choose to read his oh-so-important views.

My real question here, is that, as he has now allegedly punched someone because he got a cold cheese platter instead of a red hot man’s meat meal, why is the BBC making such a fuss?

Of course Jeremy shouldn’t punch people – if he did – and of course the BBC shouldn’t condone it. But they’ve let all his other outbursts go with a gentle rap on those tough macho knuckles.

Or is this about finally catching up with the past? And putting today’s values, guilt and morals (or lack of) onto yesterday’s events.

Because, is Clarkson today’s Savile or Harris? Just using and abusing his powerful position to do whatever he wants. And say whatever he wants? I’m not for a minute saying he has raped and molested children and young people like the other two. So go away Clarkson lawyers. But, the BBC let these things go in the past. Or didn’t know. Or something. And in the case of Savile, not just the beeb, but the NHS and the police.

The bigger issue here, is how much power do famous people have, and how much does their bad, discriminatory, or illegal behaviour get overlooked?

And how much do we, the public, support it?

Could Clarkson end up paying the price for his own obnoxious behaviour? Or, with management’s hindsight, paying the price for that of his egotistical predecessors? There again, should Clarkson have been gone before?

Does the BBC finally think they need to stop letting their superstars rule the roost? Doubtful. As with everything, viewing figures, and more importantly, money, always rules.

For the record, I did like Rolf Harris. I didn’t like Savile. I may even have spoken to him on the phone once or twice as a reporter. Hardly my claim to fame.

*I’ll write about the Yorkshire Ripper from a personal perspective next. It might help to show why jokes about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes are not funny.

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

No one else asked me

My mother was a deputy matron at 19 at the local nursery school. It was during the war, ie 1940s.

The local nursery was so local that it was literally at the bottom of the garden of her parents’ home. I can still remember it now. It was white, single storey, with red paintwork and trimmings. Beyond the nursery was the park. To reach both, one walked out of the wicket gate from the front garden, and turned immediately left down an unmade track towards the park. On the other side of the track was the large vicarage.

My mother was brought up in a council house. In fact, it was regarded as desirable. Relatively new, ‘The Crescent’ as it was popularly known, was the height of aspiration for working class people who could never dream of owning their own homes. My grandfather kept bantams, and during the war, the kids at the nursery got real eggs courtesy of the deputy matron’s father.

My father lived in a one-down, two up, toilet out the back, privately rented terraced house. Contrast this with the standard of affluence of my mother’s childhood home, three bedrooms, indoor bathroom with toilet, oak staircase, gardens front and rear, not just one but two sitting rooms. OK, one was the never used parlour, and the other was the main room complete with coal-fired range. A true living room.

Mum’s old house. Looked better before. And, what happened to the laburnum tree?

Not dad’s, but same terrace, I think. Except three bedrooms? Not in a million years.

Both families brought up four children. Both men (my two grandfathers) were engineers. How come such disparity? Luck of the draw?

My parents were both bright and went to the local single sex grammar schools. My grandmother objected to my mother going, as mum’s role was to be a domestic slave. Something that never really left her psyche. She was totally imbued with the idea of getting married and being the perfect homemaker. But my grandfather and her older brother stood up for her and off to the grammar school she went. Only to be pulled out at the earliest possible school leaving age, 14 back then I think. My dad stayed at school long enough to matriculate, his main gripe was not being able to play cricket on Saturday because he had to work on the market stall. Many years later on, I couldn’t be a ball boy (as was) at tennis matches on Saturdays because … I had to work on the market stall.

Yet, despite my mother’s failure to complete her education (washing and ironing and cooking being so much more important), she managed to get some decent jobs. Many years ago, and well before my time, WH Smiths lent out books and my mother worked there as a librarian. It sounded like another world even as she was telling me. Smiths was where I went to listen to free records under the pretext of buying them, or read magazines that told you about sex.

Not the place where one got preferential library tickets. A ‘pref’ ticket was apparently a paid for subscription where one got new books to read. Unsullied by anyone else’s dirty little hands. Yesterday’s Kindle Unlimited?

My mother loved books and loved reading. Many of my old leather-bound classics come from her small book collection. When I went with her to the library, she would spend ages choosing the four books. When I went with my dad, he would just grab the first four that looked readable.

But her heart lay with children. When she started going out with my dad, the war was over and she was working in a different school in a run-down Irish immigrant area. Many years later I worked there too. By that time it was still a run-down immigrant area, just the Irish ones had changed to Pakistani. Even now, the areas where my parents and I grew up and worked are classified in the top (or lowest) ten per centile of deprived areas in the UK.

Mum had an older teacher as a mentor. Miss Brooke taught her how to complete cryptic crosswords during their breaks. Miss Brooke encouraged my mother to go for formal accreditation as a teacher. She never did.

When my mum got married, the children of these poor working class families scraped together enough pennies to buy her six crystal glasses. They sat proudly in her corner cabinet, long after she’d given up her job, a testimony to the love and affection of those years working with poor children. Until the day my dad’s niece was babysitting for me with her boyfriend and knocked into the cupboard. Only one glass remained. And, yes, I still have it.

My dad didn’t want children. My mother did. My dad came from a Methodist family. My mother’s was Church of England. My dad’s family was politically liberal. My mother’s was conservative. My dad’s mother was divorced. My mother’s parents were together until my grandfather died. My grandmother was renowned as a great cook, my nana (on my dad’s side) was not. My mother liked opera. My father liked Stranger in Paradise but had never heard of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances.

Chalk and cheese.

Fast forward to my mother’s last years and we were discussing life, as you do. I asked her what she’d most enjoyed, and she said unhesitatingly that it had been working with the rough poor Irish immigrant kids in Batley Carr. She could still remember the names of some of them, and felt it was such a shame that bright kids were so disadvantaged.

And yet, she gave up that job. Why? Because my dad was working at the power station, started early, finished early, and didn’t like coming home to an empty house. Bye bye career, independent work, and all that. Hello, subservient slave. At this point I’d been married for more than 25 years, but it struck me as so sad that a woman gave up a potential career that she loved because a man couldn’t handle coming home without the welcoming little woman.

She’d always asked me why I got married. I’m not religious and I’ve never wanted children. To her it didn’t compute. Although she wouldn’t have been happy about me living with someone either. And she didn’t like me retaining my birthname rather than becoming Mrs Husband’s Last Name. She would always address letters to us by our first names, as though the whole postal service would sit in judgement if they saw two different surnames together.

And she died without me answering her question. Hell. I don’t know why I got married. I just did.

But I asked her why she married my dad.

‘No one else asked me.’

For those of you who don’t read my not-a-photo-blog, here’s my mother. She’s the one in black.

My mother

My mother

Posted in family, feminism, life, Longreads, love, parents, WPlongform | 68 Comments

Mr, Mrs, Miss, Dr. But … no Ms?

I was filling out an online application form.

First question, title.

Natch, the first option was Mr. Followed by Mrs, Miss and Dr.

Whoa! This is the 21st century.

And if you don’t see anything wrong with that list, then you can pat yourself on the back that you are truly sexist.

Alphabetically one would put Dr first. Or if starting without academic titles, then Miss would come first. Either way, why no Ms?

Even my nearly 80-year-old Jewish neighbour refers to me as Ms and the chair of our committee.

I move onto another option. The default? Mr.

I’m wondering if I should just scrap this form altogether.

Next up, am I married?

And what, pray, is the relevance of that?

To anyone?

And, as I’ve answered Miss, and given a different surname, will that confuse whatever dimwitted arsehole designed this crass form?

How will legally married same-sex couples be viewed? Imagine Mrs or Miss or Ms whatever surnames fill in this form as married. Or Mr X and Mr Y.

Next, any dependants? Why, two dogs of course. Do I get bonus or minus points for that? Who knows?

Surely you also want to know whether I own my own house(s), have a mortgage, outstanding loans of other types, and what sort of shower gel I use?

I’ve asked for a downloadable form because I can’t possibly give them a correct picture when the shower gel info is not an option.

But, why is marital status relevant to any form?

And why is Ms not an option on there?

Yes. I did ditch the online form and now have a headache.

For those of you interested in a little history, Ms was used back in the 1600s. Oh. Yes.

So it’s not a bra-burning 1960s women’s lib thing.

And it was revived at the start of the 20th century.

Bu of course, those who don’t know their history …

And give me one good reason why we identify women who are married or single by their title and we don’t do the same for men?

Poll time. Fun time.

And, if you want another poll, check out Ruth’s.

https://gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/can-the-frogs-get-out-of-the-pot/

Posted in feminism, gender-specific language, writing | Tagged , | 49 Comments

Comfort zones

How many of us step outside?

A comment by EllaDee made me think about how often I read blogs that have little or nothing in common with me.

Or to put it another way, vegetarian, left-wing, atheist, feminist, environmentalist, veganic gardening, animal rights supporting, childfree women aren’t exactly popping out of the woodwork.

In terms of visiting blogs that are poles apart, the atheist/religious dances are the most fascinating.

Atheists, a number of whom, or probably most of them, are deconverts, happily frequent religious blogs arguing the toss about whether this person or that person really existed, how much of the bible is fiction, and what the latest archaeological survey says.

And it all floats over the top of my head.

My really clever intellectual justification for not believing in any of it, is that religion sounds totally implausible, so therefore that’s that.

But somewhat like people who read gossip magazines, I will confess to visiting religious blogs when I have something else more important to do. Like washing up.

I’m attracted, like iron filings to a magnet. Many times there is lots of jolly backslapping, with comments of ‘Praise be, brother,’ ‘Amen to that sister,’ ‘The Lord truly shows us the way,’ and endless variations on that theme.

Nothing of any substance until the evil atheist appears, and then, it’s gloves off. Or pistols at dawn. Insults are hurled, academic references are cited, 20 interpretations of one word are minutely examined, and no one is any the wiser, nor is agreement ever reached. Plus, there are threats of moderation and bans! Comments are edited, links to sources deleted. Amazing stuff. To which I can contribute absolutely zilch.

But still, it makes a fascinating read on occasion.

The one religious blog where I have been welcomed is Wally’s. I have no idea why, as we can’t agree on anything, but still we seem to be able to do so politely.

On my last visit, I was somewhat upset to find general euphoria that 21 people had been killed by ISIS for not denying Christ. Sounded a bit of a fishy story to me as the 21st person wasn’t Christian but was so impressed by the previous 20 sticking up for Jesus that he did too.

Anyways, the point of all this was that said euphoria was because the alleged non-Christian found the Lord just before he was beheaded.

And that’s good? That’s more important than the fact that 21 people were murdered by another fundamentalist religion?

However, if I can traipse over to Wally’s blog with my ignorant comments and be welcomed, what about Christians visiting non-christian blogs?

Rebecca Meyer is a new blogpal. In fact, she has managed to conduct a civil conversation with Mr SailorDale which says something about her levels of patience and reasonableness. She recently criticised, on her own blog, some pastor’s post about ten women not to marry. I probably fitted in at least 50% of the categories.

As Rebecca said, out of nowhere, a woman visited her blog and started criticising her.

KQ Duane:

This is obviously a clan of feminist groupies patting each other on the backs for their “enlightened” view of the world, at the expense of a man, who’s advice you all desperately need. Have any of you ever considered that you may all be so bitchy and obnoxious BECAUSE you’ve spent your young lives obsessed with proving Christians wrong rather than listening to their advice? Radical, second and third-wave feminism sucks the dignity and humanity out of women’s young lives and you are PERFECT examples of why it should NEVER be adopted as a lifestyle! Get over yourselves!

and,

You don’t have to state specifically that you are a non-Christian, it is obvious from the content of your blog.
And “hate” is a harsh word to describe well-intentioned advice, given by someone who’s “been there, done that”. Someone who knows much better than you, where you’re headed and the deliberate disaster your “radical feminist lifestyle” will lead you to. Your reaction to my comment is symptomatic of the chronic negativity that radical feminism produces in its adherents. It will destroy your life.
Next, you are obviously a disciple of radical feminism and unwittingly regurgitating the same feminist BS that has been disproven time and time again. ” Equal pay” does not exist because the men are holding women back. It is because, thank God, women, of their own volition, choose to leave the workforce to raise their children. This, and only this, tilts the income scale in men’s favor.
Being treated like a human being? Behaving like one goes along way to accomplishing that goal and being a bitchy feminist will kill that chance for you.
Sex object? Come on! Radical, second-wave feminists created the “sexual revolution.” They have been demanding equal levels of promiscuity for women for 45 years! YOU got what THEY asked for.
I’m completely insulting people I know nothing about? Hardly. Radical feminists are all alike and I can pick them out from a mile away. I would say you needed to take your own advice when you laughably tried to demean the pastor’s well-intentioned advice. Maybe you wouldn’t look like such a fool at the moment if you had taken your own advice.
And don’t give me that crap about, aren’t Christians supposed to be nice to people. I don’t buy that when it comes to radical feminists because they are “possessed” and you CAN’T kill them with kindness. You can only hope to shock them back to life.
Again, good luck with your life’s journey. Only with God’s help, not some radical, lesbian, feminist academic’s “help”, will you ever find true peace and happiness in your life.

And from same woman to me:

Obviously you need the advice of a man who loves you to breakthrough the feminist concrete between your ears.

Another good anti-feminist for Christianity.

Full exchanges on Rebecca’s should you wish further enlightenment.

Posted in Atheism, blogging, christianity, feminism, Religion | 70 Comments

Intent v impact?

Six years ago I wrote this:

Browsing on the internet this week I seem to have read a lot about misunderstandings.

They happen every day. We rarely see the world from someone else’s perspective. If we are lucky we occasionally share random points of view.

I thought this:

“impact is more important than intent—whether we meant to hurt is not really the point. It’s how our actions were felt by the other person”

was such a neat way of describing the dichotomy where someone is insulted/offended by words that were never meant to do so. (Credit for the quote to Bird, which in its original context was in relation to sexual harassment training).

It’s hard to apologise when you never intended to do anything wrong. But when you have been hurt and that’s not acknowledged at all, it’s even harder. It stays with you and colours your view of people you once thought were friends.

I know. I’ve been in both positions. I wish I didn’t get it wrong. But I also wish people didn’t get it wrong with me too.

Lack of communication and honesty ruins relationships of all sorts. It would be nice if we could trust people enough to be honest with them, to say when we are offended, to say what we really think. But it doesn’t happen. And another relationship falls off the end.

Sirius picked up on the issue of intent this week, in relation to sexism.

But rather than start with sexism and feminism, let’s look at a couple of other minority groups that are discriminated against.

Over on Sirious’ blog, Ruth related a tale of years ago being pulled up for saying coloured people, in her ignorance, instead of black people.

I was brought up in a racist sexist environment. When we went to a local rugby match and the black player got the ball, one of our friends yelled: ‘Give ’im a banana!’ And of course we laughed.

When a tall black man with dreadlocks approached me in a quiet car park, I wondered whether he was going to mug me, rape me or knife me. I looked around. No one to help me. He offered me his car parking ticket because the time hadn’t been used up. I was no longer a teenager at a rugby match, I was a career woman in my thirties, and realised just then, how horribly racist I still was, even though I professed not to be.

In the same job, I was increasingly concerned about how disabled women were being treated for screening services.

One of my male colleagues had told a female one that if a disabled woman in a nursing home refused cervical screening she should be sedated.

There are a couple of sexist issues in this.

The first, obvious one, is that all women have the right to refuse cervical screening. It is not compulsory. It is not up to a male doctor to make that decision for anyone.

Secondly, my colleague in charge of nursing homes chose not to ask me about the policy. I was in charge of cervical screening. I knew the national policy, legislation, and procedures inside out and upside down. I chaired our local cervical screening quality assurance group which included surgeons, GPs and pathologists.

So why did my colleague choose a male doctor who had no specialist knowledge of the subject instead of me, as the policy lead? We haven’t just got implicit sexism here, we’ve also got differential knowledge, ie that ‘doctor must know best’. Or maybe we just had workplace competition between women?

While chairing breast screening meetings I listened to the radiographers refer to women as wheelchair-bound. This is a non-starter. The intent of the radiographers was good, they wanted to provide the service to women using wheelchairs, but the whole approach was of dealing with a difficult problem rather than thinking about it from the perspective of the women.

I called a meeting, jointly with a colleague who worked with disability groups. It was a fucking disaster. What I intended to do, was to get the patient perspective across so that I could get the clinical side to approach breast and cervical from the women’s perspective. But the best-laid plans of mice and women …

What actually happened was that a formal complaint was sent in against me and I had to go on a disability awareness course. Which was really interesting and involved two days out of the office at a seaside hotel.

However, back to the meeting. I wanted to improve the service for disabled women. I wanted their views on how to do this. I wanted to get the radiographers to change their language and not treat disabled women as second class citizens.

The first disaster was a room change. The reception staff swapped us around at the last minute so we ended up with a smaller meeting room. No double doors. Piled high with junk around the edges. Absolute manna for an irate woman in a wheelchair who took at least ten minutes to be able to get into the room, let alone to the table.

My good friend the radiographer provided the next minefield. Every time she referred to wheelchair-bound ladies, I wanted to dive underneath the desk. My local disability rights activist in the wheelchair criticised everything. Especially me. I seriously wondered why the hell I had bothered.

But, what were the lessons?

Did I have the right intent? I think so, to improve the services for disabled women, and to get their view, not just what I thought was needed.

Did I use inappropriate or discriminatory language? I doubt it very much.

Did I stuff up with the room booking? Originally no. I had booked the main conference room with double doors. But, the rooms were changed for a ‘more important’ meeting. Should I have kicked up a fuss? I didn’t. Pragmatically in terms of politics that was the right decision. Ms Disability Activist was going to complain about something regardless. From the POV of someone in a wheelchair, she was being discriminated against.

Was our policy of room bookings wrong and discriminatory? I think so. But are poorly-paid reception staff expected to deal with the finer political power play points? No.

Was I misinterpreted/misunderstood? Of course. Or so I would say.

Was the awareness course worthwhile? Very much so. The politics around disability were interesting, and I was interested to see how, as in many cases, disability came before feminism.

So let’s return to feminism.

It’s easier to point out discrimination when there is a physical perspective. That person is in a wheelchair, has a white stick/guide dog/ hearing dog, has a different colour skin.

What isn’t so easy, is when discrimination is based on 50% of the population and is aimed at every essence of her being.

It’s not as easy as changing buildings to make sure wheelchairs can enter, or paving stones so that blind people can tell the difference, providing audio tapes or Braille, or remembering to caption blog photos so that software can read it out to people who can’t see.

Would people still laugh these days at ‘Give him a banana’? Maybe they would in working-class Yorkshire. Or would it even be said? more to the point.

Yet, we still laugh at sexist jokes and comments. Because it is still ok to put women down.

Years back, I read a great book about discrimination. The one comment that stayed with me was about how we treat children, or, rather babies/toddlers. Not just the whole colour-coded pink/blue thing, but how we react to and with them.

The example given was of lifting a little boy to the window and showing him the big wide world. For the little girl, she was told to be good and sit in the corner and wait while the world came to her. If it ever did.

But so starts our indoctrination. From childhood about not just our own role in the world, but that of others. Girls do this, boys do that. Or rather boys do this and girls wait nicely to be told what to do.

And it continues though life. We make jokes about ugly women because a woman’s role in life is to look decorative aka sexually attractive.

When we see or hear women reinforcing patriarchal stereotypes then we know we aren’t being sexist, because other women think the same as us, right? Wrong. Women are just as unwittingly sexist as men.

Ever used gender specific language? OK to call a man a chairman because he’s a man? But, maybe think more carefully about a woman? Because, by now, you are aware of the whole language thing. Why not call both a chair? Because every time you call that man a chairman you are reinforcing gender specific assumptions.

It’s not easy is it?

You can support equality from here to Timbuktu and in the next breath, you will come out with one gloriously, funny, hateful sexist comment. Without even realising it.

Before you deny that you are sexist, racist, ableist etcist, stop and listen to what the other person is saying.

I can’t speak for black people, people with disabilities, with diabetes, or even older people (getting there though).

I can, and will speak for women.

Earlier posts:

https://cloudsmovingin.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/an-exchange/

https://cloudsmovingin.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/political-correctness/

Posted in Atheism, blogging, feminism, gender-specific language, Longreads, Religion, WPlongform | 12 Comments

To speak out, or not to speak out …

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Feminists, and I did not speak out—
Because I didn’t want to rock the boat or get laughed at.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

— courtesy of Martin Niemöller

The question is, when does one speak out? Or comment on a blog post? Is it just best to let it go? Why is it even important?

My last post referred to two blog posts which I considered to be sexist.

With the first one, I didn’t comment because a number of other people were disagreeing with the rampant rhetoric of the original poster. Could I have added value? Doubtful.

The second one was a different barrel of fish. This is a busier blog, with a fair amount of sycophants followers, who applaud his every word.

On a blatantly sexist post, that accused anyone who objected to it of lacking a sense of humour, most commenters reinforced the blogger’s perspective.

I have no quarrel with that. We normally gravitate towards people who reflect our own image. Why regularly read blogs we disagree with?

My dilemma was whether or not to wade in and comment. It’s not a blogger I’m on familiar terms with, although I’ve seen his level-headed and reasoned comments elsewhere. Maybe that’s why I was surprised at his post.

I decided not to comment. If he thought it was witty to poke fun at a woman’s appearance, his choice. I’d just end up sounding like a grumpy feminist.

The trouble is, others did think like me. And didn’t point out the sexism, probably for the same mish-mash of reasons.

How about this comment on my blog?

Oh yes, and I enjoyed (and agreed) with your words on Doobster’s horrible piece of late.

Because, in the end, I went back and commented. And received exactly the defensive/aggressive response I expected.

We all blog for a variety of reasons. Fun, money, publicity for whatever, to create a record, to engage. And when we touch on serious topics, we can expect criticism as well as agreement. Our blogs move out of the knitting, cooking, gardening, photography arena into the politically charged one.

Seriously, do not say ‘I believe in equal pay, equal ops and pro-choice so therefore I’m one of the good guys.’ Want a Blue Peter badge for that? Am I and the other 3.6 billion women in the world supposed to be grateful? That should be the norm.

But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the unacknowledged sexism that is ever present in daily life. And quite simply this is what most people don’t get, or refuse to accept. It’s also a nightmare to even try and explain. We live in a patriarchal world and we live within those norms. To be more blunt, it is what we learn, or, how we are indoctrinated.

Anyone who visits religious/atheist blogs will know that neither the twain shall ever meet. In some cases, atheists who were previously Christian understand the perspective of the religious person. They can quote chapter and verse (unlike me). But, the two are never going to agree because they are coming from totally different viewpoints. Religious people, in many cases, are indoctrinated.

To look at a simpler parallel, it’s like someone telling me what being vegetarian/vegan involves. And getting it wrong. Or conversely, me telling someone who isn’t white about racism. Men telling me what constitutes sexism doesn’t cut it. But, wait, it does, because Men. Know. Best. Even about sexism.

Minority groups have a hard time. They are, by and large, ridiculed and put down. It doesn’t matter whether you are Homeless in Seattle (or rather LA in recent days) or an atheist being threatened with hell fire and regarded on a par with a rapist in terms of trustworthiness. Disagreeing with the majority viewpoint is no walk in the park.

But let me end with the final put down:

I suppose I could have just let what you wrote in your original comment go, but you made some incorrect statement in your comment and I felt compelled to respond.

Patronising? Just a little? So my opinions are incorrect? Or my view of feminism and women’s rights is trumped by some white American male? Oh yes.

So rather than taking this any further, I think we should call it a day. I’m sorry that you took exception to this post, but, as I said before, I am not a foe of feminism and there is nothing I do in my everyday life that would lead one to believe I am anything but a supporter of women’s rights.

‘Nuff said, I believe.

Sure. Silencing. Put down. Restatement of own beliefs and denial of what the minority person says.

THIS is why it is hard for people to speak out. And why I tend to write on here rather than get involved in unproductive stand offs.

But let me end with a thoughtful blog post by Maurice. A world of difference.

Posted in Atheism, blogging, christianity, feminism | 53 Comments

We’re all (nearly) equal now …

I so love this very important day of the year where 50% (approx before any pedant gets on my back) of the world’s population gets to jump up and down, wear purple and make asinine tweets or Facebook comments for A. Whole. Day.

Equally encouraging, are the saccharine news articles telling us how much women’s lot has improved.

And then adding, as an afterthought, how much more needs to be done.

Of course every year needs a theme.

The UN tells us:

This year’s theme, “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.

and

“To be truly transformative, the post-2015 development agenda must prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment. The world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realize their full potential. ”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The International Women’s Day website has this to say:

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

That’s great. Flowers and small gifts really help reduce rape, domestic violence, and discrimination.

‘Men honouring their …’ sounds like more patriarchal bullshit.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change … The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

Very good. At least we are getting to something meaningful now. But …

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

… let’s not dwell on the down side? However:

It’s more than 50 years since Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first woman prime minister, quickly followed by Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir. That’s hardly recent progress.

Girls have been going to university since the 1870s.

Many women have to work while having a family to fund that family. And still come home and ‘housekeep’. Is that a real choice?

How about looking at whether women have real choices in fundamentalist religious communities? How about looking at whether women’s right to choose an abortion is continually under attack?

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Fashion parades? Really?

Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.

And just how is this ending discrimination and improving women’s health care and education in developing countries and poor communities in the western world?

The theme on this website is ‘Make It Happen’ and the UN was also using ‘Step It Up’, both are aiming at achieving gender equality sooner rather than later.

Well, I can’t personally make better health care happen in Uganda (Guardian) or stop girls being pulled out of school to fetch water (UN).

What I can do is highlight sexist derogatory comments. Because, while everyone signs up to the laudable principles of better health care and education for women and girls, what everyone does not sign up to is accepting, admitting, and ending discrimination. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, or rather in the eye of the offendee.

So, day after day, I read news items, speeches, blog posts about people who proclaim they are not sexist and then open their mouth and shoot themselves in the foot.

A couple of examples.

Here, because he is just amazing in his sheer lunacy, is the religious blogger I recently quoted:

Our society is really screwed up today! A lot of the problems are the result of the Evils of Feminism!!! The goals of feminism have been to destroy society by destroying the Christian Family- Husband, Wife, & Children. With the Husband going to work, the Wife staying at home being a full time homemaker! Then feminism came along, with it’s lies & telling the women to ditch the home & family for that “Career” The lie of a career being more satisfying for women than the true purpose of women- to raise the Future! The ability to create another life is a PRECIOUS GIFT that God gave to Women! That is far more noble & fulfilling than ANY job can be! And the Husband should be the one to support the whole family, as God intended it to be! Then,along with the feminist goal of wrecking the time tested & traditional family, along comes “The Pill” and casual sex, teaching women to be more promiscuous, and be less inhibited about having casual sex.
and let the men welsh on their responsibility for the kids that were produced in all the fornication that resulted from the pill. Along came Abortion! No problem, you don’t want your baby, then just kill it! And let’s lie to the woman, and tell her “it is not a baby, just a clump of cells, or a fetus, or any other name to de-humanise the baby, so he or she will be easier for you to kill!!! And then homosexuality- Lie to people some more, tell them they were “born gay” and they should be proud of being a perverted sicko- Go marry another perverted sicko!

Women Can’t have it both ways- a career is NOT compatible with Motherhood, and feminism knew that all along, that’s exactly what they wanted!!! To destroy the Christian Family! Oh, yes- we must also remove God from the equation- hence evolution, or just saying “there is no proof that God exists” (which is a LIE) There is plenty of factual evidence to prove beyond any doubt that God is Real!

– Sailordale

Amazing. I have no response to that, except, feminism has no interest in destroying the christian family. Feminism wants equality for women. If christianity doesn’t accept that, well, that’s up to christians to cope with it however they choose. But, and a big BUT, their god-derived view of the world should not impact on women who don’t share those views.

Now, that’s a fairly easy one to criticise. Let’s look at something more subtle and insidious.

I recently read a blog post about Butterface. Like the blogger, I’d never heard the term before. It’s a really witty (?) word usage to refer to a woman with a good body and an ugly face. ‘She’s got a great body but her face …’

And no, I didn’t comment for obvious reasons. Others did. Far more nicely than I would have done.

Now, note, the blogger later added this:

I knew, when I posted this, that some might consider it sexist. ….

It was not my intention to be sexist. …

I hope no one takes offense at this post, but if anyone does, well, all I can say in my defense is that it was a female who used the term. I’m just, in an attempt to be witty, relating the story.

And seriously, if you are truly offended by this post, grow up. When did you lose your sense of humor?

– Doobster

I know 99% of readers do not grasp what feminism is about but I’ll attempt the impossible and try to explain why this is a problem. Because until sexism and discrimination stop being the norm, gender equality won’t become the norm either. Which will suit the 50% in power.

So, what’s the problem with this oh so funny comment?

  1. A woman is being judged on her face and her body. It’s called objectification. We, both men and women, look at women and rate them on how sexually attractive they are. Because that is how women are primarily judged.
  2. I knew some people might think of it like that, but it wasn’t my intention, so therefore it’s ok, EVEN though I knew I might be causing offence. Stop. Seriously. Give me back that shovel you are digging your own grave with. You knew it might be considered sexist, yet it wasn’t your intention to be sexist by repeating it? Um.
  3. Going on the defensive because, yes, it was sexist. However, it wasn’t his fault because another woman made the statement. This is always the number one classic defence. Well that’s all right then isn’t it? Sadly no, it’s not. Because women are imbued with the same societal values and culture as men. Women making sexist comments about each other does not make it better or mean it isn’t sexist.
  4. And the second classic defence is: no sense of humour. ‘It’s funny, don’t you get that?’ It’s really funny insulting women because their physical appearance doesn’t come up to scratch. It’s just a joke. Lighten up.

    Why is this wrong? Because it is not taking women seriously when they complain about sexist, offensive, derogatory comments. And it doesn’t just happen in blogland and on facebook and Twitter (qv the man with his rapetruck), it happens in real life when politicians put women down by laughing at them and taking serious points and turning them into jokes, and then accusing people of no sense of humour.

It is not funny. Just as rape jokes are not funny.

With which:

A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries. In some jurisdictions, male-female rape is the only form of rape counted in the statistics. The attitude of the police in many countries often discourages victims from reporting rape: one study in Turkey found that 33% of police officers agreed with the assertion that “some women deserve rape” and 66% agreed that “the physical appearance and behaviors of women tempt men to rape.”

In many parts of the world, rape is very rarely reported, due to the extreme social stigma cast on women who have been raped, or the fear of being disowned by their families, or subjected to violence, including honor killings. Furthermore, in countries where adultery and/or premarital sex are illegal, victims of rape can face prosecution under these laws, if there is not sufficient evidence to prove a rape in the court. Even if they can prove their rape case, evidence during investigation may surface showing that they were not virgins at the time of the rape, which, if they are unmarried, opens the door for prosecution.

Countries may or may not criminalize marital rape, and, in many countries which do criminalize it, prosecutions for it are exceptionally rare. Sexual activity in marriage is, in many parts of the world, considered an absolute right of the husband that can be taken with or without the consent of his wife; the very act of a woman refusing to have sex with her husband may be considered unthinkable: in one survey, 74% of women in Mali said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him. Though de jure, a rape law may be applicable to any victim; de facto the enforcement of the law often excludes certain victims, such as prostitutes, women who were not virgins at the time of the rape, or other women with a ‘bad reputation’.

Sure it’s from wiki but it’s good enough to make my point about sexual objectification being inherent in all our societies, in both men and women.

When a majority of women find it acceptable for men to beat their wives for refusing sex, we have some seriously screwed-up values.

But that’s in Mali, it doesn’t count. We’re better here … women are equal … butterfaces …

And, here are some basic questions about feminism, not as nuanced as my views, but you may find the surveys interesting. Thanks to Sirius for the alert.

Posted in feminism, gender-specific language, Religion | Tagged | 77 Comments

Civilised societies

As we all know, gays are evil. In fact if we don’t get rid of them, God (the Christian one) will take it out on us. Or maybe the Muslim one will. Or the Wiccan one. Or the Sikh one. Or …

Really?

In a week where I offered congratulations to a gay friend who had a quiet wedding to his partner of some years, I read elsewhere about ISIS throwing a suspected gay man off a roof to his death, complete with typical gladiatorial/guillotine/hanging excited crowd watching this total barbarism.

And in the land of the brave and the free—so long as you’re not gay that is—a lawyer in California has proposed killing all gays. Nice huh? And although his proposal starts off with gays and sodomy/buggery, he quickly switches to anything that includes same sex relations, so no get-out for lesbians either. No mention of transsexuals but I’m sure he’d include those too. Shoot them all. Death by firing squad. Or ‘God’ will take it out on us. A little self-interest there methinks?

And if you are a heterosexual who supports sodomistic propaganda – no writing pro-LGBTQ blog posts in California – you are barred from public office, public employment and public benefits.

image

Mr McLaughlin paid $200 to submit this sick, discriminatory, inhumane proposal. He needs more than 300,000 signatures to support it. The worrying aspect is that he may well get even one signature.

If the USA is meant to be such an example to the rest of the world (and I’ll hold my breath on that one), why is such a proposal even allowable?

Similarly, in a supposedly secular multi-cultural country, why the reference to a Christian God in a legal proposal?

Or maybe it’s just a crass publicity stunt? In which case I’ve bought into it.

ISIS takes arbitrary action. An American goes through the system. The bigotry and hatred are the same. Where is the humanity, decency or respect for one person to another in any of this?

Posted in Atheism, christianity, life, Religion | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

An exercise in creative writing

Remember this:

What do you think you atheists are doing???
You most certainly are “inflicting your views” about abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and every other form of evil your kind worships! You are such hypocrites, but you don’t even see the forest through the trees! You are against Christians teaching our kids our beliefs, yet you want to cram every unGodly evil belief down the throats of everyone???
You are so blinded by the feminist agenda that you wouldn’t know the truth about Christianity if it was in front of your face. The Only thing about the Christian religion you GUYS want to see is the lies & twisted facts that suppress the TRUTH of how much of a POSITIVE influence it has had on Society!!! You go ahead and believe the lies, you will see the truth one day! I pray for you, because you might not be such a bad guy, but you are certainly deceived by the forces of darkness & evil!!! Feminists like you will most likely grow old and be alone, miserable, & lonely. Because you killed your own children in abortion mills, and no guy in his right mind will want an old, shriveled up woman like you….But hey, Congratulations, You are independant…….Please repent of your evil ways! (OK, blast away, I can almost predict your response. It will NOT be original, it will be the same old stuff….Have a nice life…….

Here we have an attempt at a response in like vein. Any good?

And, what might I ask, do you think you fundamental, evangelical Christians are doing??? No, not just you, ALL Christians???

You have no concept of equal rights and how to treat everyone with respect regardless of gender, sexual orientation, personal and political viewpoints, and certainly not religious ones, or lack thereof.

You Christians want to teach that YOUR god created the world because you are so convinced your evil, malicious and harmful beliefs are right!!! You want to indoctrinate innocent children with your pernicious, harmful, discriminatory beliefs!!! You pick on adults who are suffering due to tragic personal circumstances and convert them to your hideous warped view of the world!!!

That’s before I’ve even got into the child abuse and rape!!! I know the Catholic Church is most famous for that, but there’s been the odd sleazy Protestant too. Shall I start on racism??? Dates back to Luther doesn’t it???

You Christians want to make decisions for me as a woman about my body, and for LGBT people about theirs AND THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS, based upon your farcical beliefs in a book of myths!!! Yes!!! A book of MYTHS. Fairy tales. Seriously, who in their right minds believes stories like that???

The auto-da-fé, the crusades, the forced conversion to Christianity by colonial countries??? The killing of natives as sport by Christian countries??? All carried out in the name of your loving god. You are telling ME to wake up and see the truth??? Looks pretty bad to me.

You Christians, along with those other patriarchal brethren of yours, the Jews and the Muslims, are responsible, yes, RESPONSIBLE, for the sexist, misogynist society we have today!!! That’s why women are still deemed as chattels to be passed from one man to another.

I only hope you wake up one day before it’s too late and enjoy the rest of your life here on earth because there ain’t no everlasting paradise, sunshine. Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes. No resurrection for us mortals.

As for you, you are just a fat balding old git with an extremely unattractive overgrown beard. I dread to think what’s nesting in there. Do you honestly think any woman would find you remotely attractive? And that’s before you even open your mouth. I bet it’s a good thing you’ve spent a life at sea, your wife/wives must have been glad to see the back of you.

Because, on first acquaintance I would say you don’t score highly in the personal charm stakes in any respect…

And, I will. Thank you. It’s been good so far. This unwanted old shriveled up woman will be celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary this year……

Kind regards

Roughseas

PS I am NOT a guy.

The question is, had I posted this, rather than my original response, would I have been banned from the original site? One law for Christians, one for the rest of us.

Posted in Atheism, blogging, christianity, feminism, Religion, writing | 50 Comments

Give me that old time religion

I blame The Ark, the scourge of Christianity, for introducing me to barking evangelical blogs.

Seriously, these people have not just one screw missing, they haven’t got a screw at all in them.

Or sixpence short of a shilling. Forget that, eleven pence and three farthings short. And that’s generous.

So there I am, conducting a civil conversation on one blog of a rather fundagelical, and some twerp jumps in. No problem with someone jumping in. But wholesale abuse and jumping to conclusions is a bit unreasonable.

Checklist:

Sexist

Ageist

Homophobic

Describing atheism as religion

Wanting to teach Christianity as fact not religion

Etc etc

Here you go, word for word:

What do you think you atheists are doing???
You most certainly are “inflicting your views” about abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and every other form of evil your kind worships! You are such hypocrites, but you don’t even see the forest through the trees! You are against Christians teaching our kids our beliefs, yet you want to cram every unGodly evil belief down the throats of everyone???
You are so blinded by the feminist agenda that you wouldn’t know the truth about Christianity if it was in front of your face. The Only thing about the Christian religion you GUYS want to see is the lies & twisted facts that suppress the TRUTH of how much of a POSITIVE influence it has had on Society!!! You go ahead and believe the lies, you will see the truth one day! I pray for you, because you might not be such a bad guy, but you are certainly deceived by the forces of darkness & evil!!! Feminists like you will most likely grow old and be alone, miserable, & lonely. Because you killed your own children in abortion mills, and no guy in his right mind will want an old, shriveled up woman like you….But hey, Congratulations, You are independant…….Please repent of your evil ways! (OK, blast away, I can almost predict your response. It will NOT be original, it will be the same old stuff….Have a nice life…….

And, from me:

Dear sailordale

Thank you for your less than polite comment about mine.

Here is my unoriginal predictable response.

1) ‘You atheists’ implies there is some sort of grouping. There isn’t. I don’t go to the atheist church.

2) Inflicting my views? Well, yes, I think it’s fair to say that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law. I’m neither opposing the law, trying to change it, or saying it is wrong.

3) Obviously, being an evil atheist, I don’t worship anything.

4) Why am I hypocritical? And please stop lumping me with a group of people. I am my own person.

5) I think all religions and beliefs should be taught to children so they are aware of the differences and the many types of faith. I don’t think any religion should be taught as fact. What’s wrong with that?

6) I’ll admit I’m short-sighted but it’s hardly due to feminism. More likely due to reading too many books. My ‘feminist agenda’ as you call it, started after I thought the Christian religion was a load of bunkum.

7) I have a degree in Ancient and Medieval History and Archaeology. BA Hons. What I learned from that was how much evil was caused by Christianity.

8) I may well grow old and alone if my husband dies before me. I’m unlikely to be miserable and lonely. And it beats the hell out of some sanctimonious prat preaching at me.

9) I have had no abortions, not that it is any of your ****ing business.

10) Your comment about an ‘old shriveled up woman’ is gross and insulting, as are you. As this is Wally’s blog, with whom I have had a respectful engagement, I won’t reply in like tone. Should Wally give me permission to do so, however …

Your comment is also ageist, as well as sexist. I don’t think you are a very good example of your religion. Again, thank you for your, rude, abusive and unwarranted response.

Was that suitably predictable?

Liked by 1 person

So there we go. A great advert for Christianity.

Posted in feminism, Religion | Tagged , , , | 62 Comments

Post Charlie (and feminism?)

What journalist could have heard the news about Charlie Hebdo last week and not felt the following emotions? Shock, empathy, and a reminder that we choose a profession that doesn’t make us popular.

These journalists weren’t in a war zone, or at least not a literal one, they were in an office having an editorial meeting, the same thing done the world over. But because of what they published, the war zone came to them.

(Guardian article with numbers of journalists, killed, imprisoned, and kidnapped 2014)

I was torn between writing an immediate piece, or letting the dust settle and thinking more about the issues.

And indeed, there are a number of issues in what is a very complex situation, that are now coming up in discussion.

Let’s start with what should be an easy one.

Defence of the right to free speech

Free speech is a misnomer to say the least. One of the components of my journalistic training was law, we had to pass qualifying exams of which law was one before we could go on to take our final journalism exam.

One of the reasons for learning law was to learn exactly what you couldn’t write. It may be OK for national tabloids to risk libel cases but your average provincial newspaper isn’t too keen on it. So defamation was a big one. Court rules, what you can and can’t say in court. Privilege. (That’s legal, privilege, not the social type of privilege enjoyed by rich white men for example.) And, at the time, although now superseded, we learned about blasphemy (referring to Christianity of course) and racism. That’s quite a list. Ten years after I started we were also more careful about how we referred to women who chaired meetings. Society changes albeit slowly, and so do our words, our views, and our values.

So, the obvious discussion item here is: Should Charlie Hebdo have initially published—and then continued to publish after receiving threats and direct action—satirical and blasphemous cartoons about Islam?

And, to what extent are western media being balanced and respectful, or, intimidated and manipulated by not reproducing the cartoons when they report the news story? How is the reader expected to make up their own mind with this rigidly imposed self-censorship by important media?

The secular state

France is a secular country, the one that comes first to mind when thinking of Europe. There is no state religion and individuals are free to practise a religion of their choice or no religion. Religion in theory, has no place in public life.

Yet who can forget the headscarf saga that continued for years? Even a couple of years ago, a Sikh was expelled from school for wearing a turban, and the law banning obvious religious clothing has led to a rise in Islamic secondary schools in France.

The UK is described by wiki as being ambiguous in its split between church and state. Religion is still embodied in the constitution via the Queen, but in practice the country is secular.

[Please note, for anyone unaware, America is described as a secular state, in spite of the statements by many Christians that it is a Christian country.]

Shabina Begum

In the UK we had our version of the headscarf debate with Shabina Begum, a schoolgirl in Luton.

In the 2011 census, the Muslim population of Luton was around 25% (up from 15% in 2001). At Shabina’s school, four out of the six parent governors were Muslim, three of the local education authority governors were Muslim, and the Chair of the Luton Council of Mosques was a community governor.

The school uniform offered trousers and skirts, and on top of that, a uniform based on the shalwar kameez with optional headscarf. No tough French rules here, Brits trying to be multi-cultural and inclusive and all that.

Ms Begum wore the shalwar kameez for two years and then demanded to wear a jilbab, a long gown regarded as a more appropriate or stricter (depending on your POV) form of dress that was compliant with Islamic dress under Sharia law. Because, don’t you know, the shalwar kameez was tight fitting and had short sleeves—shock, horror—seductive flesh on display, the shape of a female body implied.

And then began a nice circus, no doubt at vast cost to the British taxpayer. Begum and her supporters issued a judicial review, under of course, the European Human Rights Act.

She lost the case in the High Court, but won at the Court of Appeal, courtesy of Cherie Booth. The school appealed and this went to the House of Lords.

The Law Lords looked at two aspects:

      A person’s right to hold a religious belief was absolute (couldn’t be interfered with)
      A person’s right to manifest it was qualifiable (that right could be interfered with)

Three out of five Law Lords said her rights hadn’t been interfered with while the other two thought they had. But they all agreed that the interference was justifiable, and one of those grounds was to protect the rights of other female students who might be pressured into adopting a more extreme form of Islamic/Sharia dress.

And the bottom line for all of this comes down to should/could/can religious beliefs trump constitutional law?

Does/should religion get special treatment in a secular society? Not just equal treatment, but special treatment? At what point will Sharia law start to gain sway in non-Islamic countries and Muslims will be exempt from secular law of the state? Or has it started in Britain, France, Germany?

On Sharia law, and an increase in Muslim populations, there is an interesting circular that reappears every now and again, allegedly based on a book published in 2010. I’ve added the link to Snopes.

Presumably one could reasonably produce a similar projection based on Christianity, showing the ultimate measures that would be taken by a Christian state. Wouldn’t look much different to me.

Increasing calls for Europe to resist Islamification

One of the clear problems arising from increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe is the rise of right wing politics and the perceived marginalisation of Muslim communities. Boháček has an interesting (short) paper on this on academia.edu, looking at The Impacts of Muslim Immigration on European Politics.

It’s worth a read to look at the different strands: tightening of immigration policies, lack of integration, unemployment, discrimination, cultural differences, and the resultant radicalisation of both Islam in Europe and reactionary politics in the individual countries, especially Britain and France.

On the ground, away from academia, we can see the rising fortunes of the French National Front (again) and the emergence of the UKIP in response to some of these problems.

And the Guardian looks at the background of the three men who carried out the murders, which bears out some of Boháček’s theories.

So whose fault is it?

Those greedy colonialists, that’s who

I read a blog post recently which mentioned the impact of colonialism on Islam, and the author was ripped to shreds by another commenter for her liberal, soft, guilt-ridden apologetic views. I paraphrase, but you get the idea.

Yet, in Boháček’s paper, he mentions the significant change that occurred when Europeans gained the knowledge (and presumably money) to surpass the Middle East economically, technologically and therefore militarily, which was the start of western colonialism.

Western ideals of liberalism and democracy, human rights, equality of citizens (well, unless you are a woman of course) separation of church and state, led to new values across the western—colonial—world.

Living in a previously Moorish part of Europe, Andalucía and Gibraltar, it’s impossible to forget the heritage left by the caliphates and Islamic rule. And the vicious way Los Reyes Católicos, Ferdinand and Isabella, drove out Muslims and Jews and instituted the Auto-da-fé.

They didn’t exactly do a lot for PR with followers of Islam.

No, no, it’s the radical and strict orthodox Muslims, that’s who

This is the opposing point of view, oft touted by fundamental Christians, who deny that Islam is a religion of peace and that Islam has been seeking to conquer and rule non-Muslim countries for the past 1500 years and western civilisation is just rolling over waving their legs in the air.

Here’s a Telegraph article that lays the blame squarely on jihadists.

And the other big issue – should Obama have gone to Paris?

Well it’s nothing to do with America is it, so hell, who cares?

It’s just an attack on western values (not just European ones) and civilisation, and some of those countries in Europe are the first ones rung by America if the US wants a little support in invading here, there and everywhere helping restore human rights and freedom to countries with oil tyrants and despots.

Summary

The indisputable facts from last week’s incidents are:

      Twelve people were killed as part of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, one of whom, with bitter irony, was Muslim, defending the right to free speech
      A policewoman was killed on Thursday
      A police officer on the investigation committed suicide on Thursday
      Four hostages were killed
      A jogger shot on Wednesday night, and badly injured, is thought to have been another of Coulibaly’s victims
      The three murderers/assassins/criminals were killed. The three had criminal records and had known jihad links
      A German newspaper that reprinted a Mohammed cartoon was firebombed early Sunday morning

Other than that, who can clearly state the cause, or the way to prevent future attacks? Certainly not me.

I am left with some conclusions of my own.

Religion is dangerous and used for evil means. That’s nothing new, I worked it out at university. But, while the majority of religious people may be relatively law-abiding and not sign up to murder people in the name of religion, some do.

Religious groups get financial deals (eg tax breaks in various countries, and in the UK 26 seats in the House of Lords), and special treatment. It is increasingly unacceptable to offend someone on the grounds of religion. Why is someone’s belief in a fictitious (TM) entity more important than my personal beliefs? Imagine the fuss if someone had been given a non-kosher or non-halal meal in hospital compared with me complaining about the non-vegan meals I received in hospital (I didn’t complain). Offend someone’s religious beliefs – black marks. Give the wrong meal to a cranky vegan? Unimportant.

Religion gets the kid gloves treatment, and that’s partly also because it is blurred with racism. The majority of Muslims are not white Europeans/Australians/Canadians/Americans. Sure there are some white converts, often young and from other religions. Check out youtube. Depressing in the extreme. Same old story, something lacking, minimum social life, sense of exclusion, ripe for religion.

But why does religion get singled out as a priority for dispensation, respect and tolerance that it doesn’t afford non-believers? Charlie is already getting criticised from non-Muslims for its offensive brand of satire.

Guardian

And, it’s good to see religion joining forces:

In a statement released yesterday headlined “Muslims are right to be angry”, Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, accused Charlie Hebdo of “intolerance” and its journalists’ “disgusting record” of playing a role in causing their own death.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is an influential group in the United States, with a multi-million dollar budget and assets, as well as membership numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

Independent

Can you imagine if Charlie had published anti-feminist cartoons, and those few of us who are feminist had even complained, let alone firebombed the office or killed twelve people because we were offended?

Would anyone have stood up for women or said, Charlie was asking for it by insulting women? which is what is being said now regarding the continued depiction of Mohammed and Islam. One quote in the first Guardian article I quoted above said that was similar to saying women wearing short skirts are asking for it. (Called victim-blaming if you don’t know.)

Or would anyone have said that we should all be less offensive towards women? Because there is as much offence churned out against women every day as there is against Islam.

And, women make up approx 50% of the population. And, what affects women, affects their children and men. Yes honestly, it does.

A report in the NYTimes yesterday looks at some studies that prove women need to keep their mouths shut. Or if they don’t it won’t help them at work. Men, on the other hand, can talk as much as they want. Because, you know, they are just so much smarter.

But if the greater enlightened gender of our species lets us open our mouths or contribute, apparently, better results ensue. Surely not? The studies must be flawed. Popular article though, currently the one most emailed forward. It’s a good insight into the daily discrimination that persists for women and yet, it’s denied, it doesn’t exist. Perhaps one of the most interesting examples is how the number of women musicians hired to orchestras goes up when blind auditions are held. Can’t see whether it’s a man or a woman? Have to decide on skill and ability not gender?

Which brings me onto my last article from CNN, neatly combining terrorism and gender equality.

Even terrorists have fears. And the prospect of gender equality appears to rank high on their list of worst nightmares.
The logic, for them, is simple. Empowered women would never accept the brutal ideology espoused by terrorist leaders as the rule of their land.

Which then, leads me to my nice simplistic proposal:

Stop giving religion special constitutional status. That’s right. It’s no more important than believing in the tooth fairy. And the tooth fairy does a fair swap. If you want to go to your local club to chat about teeth fairies that’s fine, just don’t make everyone else put their teeth under the pillow if they don’t want. We can’t all be bought for sixpence.

Support gender equality, and no, men and women do NOT currently have equal rights. Discrimination continues, blatantly in many societies, less obvious to the casual observer in others. Giving women equality would achieve far more than supporting hocus pocus.

Posted in feminism, journalism, Longreads, news, politics, Religion, War | Tagged | 19 Comments

The golden rule (a top tip)

Or, the golden PR (public relations) rule.

It is very simple.

Do not reply to something that doesn’t merit a reply. It is beneath you. It takes a lot of resolve, but do not get drawn into arguments about something that is basically ill-informed, skewed, inaccurate, insulting, ignorant, or whatever.

So there we have it. Don’t add flames to someone else’s fire :)

Posted in public relations | Tagged | 32 Comments

Hunting (shooting and fishing)

The Ark pointed me towards a rather unpleasant blog post that linked hunting, women and vegetarianism. Sneaky, he knew I would have a view. And I did.

In fact he pointed all his readers towards it as he devoted a blog post to it. Most of his other readers had a view too about hunting and killing animals for fun.

Some years ago (translates to more than ten but less than twenty) we were Hunt Sabs supporters. By which I mean we gave them money every Saturday when they had a stall in the city centre. As a fine upstanding (by which I mean ambitious and career-focused) public servant I did not want to be caught on CCTV giving money to a law-breaking organisation, so Partner handed over the dosh, and I lurked nearby.

My logic was that my money was more use to them than me breaking the law and losing my job. I really didn’t feel like going to gaol. I wanted to pass go and collect £200. And give it to Hunt Sabs.

Continue reading

Posted in animal rights, animals, hunting, vegetarianism, WPlongform | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

Equality – for women? – of course, so long as it suits the men

Civilisation is surely marked by a country that provides a reasonable level of public services? Eg the odd library, art gallery, museum, sports centre?

But no!!!

If you want those you must pay for them yourself.

Education? Unemployment benefit? Affordable housing? A state pension?

No, you should work for all those too. With any luck you will drop dead trying to pay your taxes and fund your life.

Which may or may not include health care.

The big one

Let me be frank. Even more than normal.

I have no time for insurance-based health care. The concept of insurance companies making money out of ill people leaves me, well, sick.

Restrictions on care. Only this service or that. And only three appointments a month. Some time I spent on American forums left me cringing at the limitations on their care. Brits moan about access to cancer drugs, I read about an American woman dying of lung cancer struggling to get any drugs.

No-one, but no-one, should be entitled to make money out of someone’s ill health.

‘Hey roughseas, broke your ankle? Tough shit. Give me ten grand.’ Or whatever.

‘Want a smear? Need one every year mind.’ (And no you do NOT). ‘Oh, but not on this plan.’

‘Mental health appointments? Not included on your plan sweetheart.’

‘No more cancer drugs for you darling, drop dead sooner rather than later.’

With the exception of the first hypothetical scenario, the others are true. And a little internet research shows that my accident would be minimum twenty odd thousand dollars. And then physio?

My internet friends tell me that the concept of universal health care isn’t popular. Why should you pay for my broken ankle? Why should I pay for your kids’ education?

A communal society means we all put in and don’t necessarily take out. Sometimes we do. Maybe disproportionately to our contribution.

But there is something there to help us all. Whether it is affordable housing, unemployment benefits, free education, free parks, libraries, museums, sports centres, and free health care. If you are lucky, maybe a state pension.

The reason for this post however is, a judgement made by the American Supreme Court. Called SCOTUS. A bit like their president is called POTUS. Why do they need to add US on the end?

Anyway, the crux is, because America has the most stupid health care system in the world, some bleaty-arsed firm has objected to providing certain contraception as part of its employee health insurance programme on religious grounds because it is tantamount to abortion.

And the supreme court, upheld the case. Crazy crazy crazy.

Because, if the employer, providing insurance-based health care, doesn’t agree with something on religious grounds, they can default.

Many others have made the arguments about refusing blood transfusions, vaccinations, transplants, using pig derivatives, anything that might be contrary to religious beliefs may follow next.

Or will they?

This is nothing more than a despicable, disgraceful, disgusting attack on women’s rights.

Is there one good reason why a woman shouldn’t use contraception? Oh yes, of course.

Her role in society is to drop kids, left, right and centre and wear herself out and die early in the process.

Who has the right to mandate what a woman should do with her body?

Because, I’m up for mandating what men should do with theirs.

You keep your hands off my body. I’ll leave yours alone. Assuming I even want it. Unlikely.

http://deadwildroses.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/quick-take-on-scotus-ruling/#comments

Posted in feminism, health, Religion | Tagged , , , , | 45 Comments

Do I really care who is King of Spain?

No. But it seems we have to live with monarchies, or presidents. And presidents are pretty dire, it has to be said. Monarchies may cost the tax-payer money, but who would really want the endless round of presidential elections?

I have never understood the American system. It leaves me totally befuddled and as soon as one president is installed, the next round of elections is already being talked up.

As heads of state go, I can live with a monarchy. Depending on the monarch. They are easier to criticise too. The public has no say about their appointment, so we can cheerfully sound off about their appalling dress sense, their views, their education, their relationships, whether or not they drink or smoke. Just, everything they do, is put under the microscope. Not a job I’d like. Too much dressing up and speaking to idiots. Not enough dressing down and speaking to animals. And not a job you can walk away from – or can you?

In the space of just over a year, we’ve had three royal resignations in Europe. Firstly in the Netherlands where they make a habit of it, then Belgium, and now Spain. Although the pope is technically sovereign of the Vatican City, he’s hardly royalty, so we’ll leave him out of the equation.

All three are in their seventies. Meanwhile, the good ship Elizabeth continues on at nearly 90 and after 60 years on the throne. Quite right too. If my heir was Charles, I’d be unwilling to abdicate. The other monarchs don’t come close in terms of longevity, 20 ish in Belgium, 33 in the Netherlands, and nearly 40 for Juan Carlos.

So why do they all do it? In JC’s case, his elephant hunting trip did him no favours, at a reputed cost of some €10,000 a day, rumours of a few extra marital flings, and his son-in-law’s interesting financial deals.

Urdangarin, the husband of the Infanta Cristina, younger daughter of Juan Carlos and Sophia, and Duchess of Mallorca, has not only been charged with embezzlement, but like his father-in-law, has been associated with, yes, extra-marital flings. Royal privilege even for the in-laws? A best-selling biography of Sophia told of how alone she felt, and given her husband’s alleged infidelities, how they’d not shared a bed since 1976.

So, we have the handsome Felipe and the lovely Letizia. Got to love the hypocrisy of a Catholic country. Not only does the heir to the throne marry a divorcee – it’s OK says the Catholic church because it was only a civil ceremony so she wasn’t really married at all – but she’s rumoured to have had an abortion (when it was still illegal in Spain) before she married Prince Charming, and wanted all the paperwork destroyed. I don’t know. I merely repeat gossip and rumour.

However, here is something factual. Three years ago, when Charlie and Camel visited Spain, note, deliberately avoiding Gib to avoid any contentious diplomatic issues, dear Felipe raised the ‘historic bilateral dispute’ and hoped progress could be made towards resolving it.

I think he meant, Spain lost Gib, whine, cry, moan, and we want it back. Why is it a historic dispute? I mean the UK hasn’t disputed that Gib is a sovereign territory. Nor has Gib. Only whingey moany Spain. Note, Felipe, there are three parties in this one. It is not bilateral, but trilateral. Would any other country get away with this perpetual intimidation? (Argentina comes to mind of course).

But you know, this is not correct etiquette. Royals do not raise politically sensitive subjects when hosting other royals. Much as I dislike Charles, he avoided the barbed comment. Or maybe he shouldn’t have done. Perhaps his naughty father might have said, ‘From one Philip to another, or one family member to another, (sixth cousins twice removed or something via the Greek side, let alone anything else) why don’t you wogs just keep your hands off Gibraltar and where’s the fucking gin?’

This story about the gin is based on a Saudi tale, it’s only third hand so it must be true, but PP was meant to have asked in such forthright terms for the gin, which had been specially shipped in for him.

So based on that one diplomatic faux pas (Felipe’s not Philip’s), I have no high hopes of Felipe. He can only improve. Doubt he will.

If he leaves the elephants alone, keeps his shagging around discrete, and doesn’t stick his nose into politics he may be passable. The world has bred a load of young boring unthinking royals and their spouses, most of whom are judged on their looks. Felipe is just one more of the same.

Please pass the gin.

Posted in animal rights, gibraltar, hunting, life | 43 Comments

Theatres

From operating theatres to real ones. The ones where you sit in a comfy (hopefully) chair, and sit back to be entertained for two or three hours. Or fall asleep if it’s boring. A bit like being asleep in the operating theatre.

My family was not big on theatre. Although we did do pantomime. The Christmas ones at the Alhambra in Bradford were an exciting and magical excursion. Also rare. Interesting calling an Edwardian theatre after the Moorish palace in Granada. Someone was rather prescient given the vast numbers of Muslims that came to live in Bradford in the second half of the 20th century.

But with the advent of senior school, plays became the norm. We acted in them, and went to watch lots of them. Shakespeare of course, the obvious ones like Romeo and Juliet, Caesar, Midsummer Night, Hamlet and Macbeth, and a few less commonly performed, like A Winter’s Tale.

And we ventured abroad with Arthur Miller and his ghastly Death of a Salesman. More to my liking was Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. While the nuances and interpretations went over my head, I enjoyed the play for whatever reason.

At some point, my mother and I decided to go to the theatre in Leeds, The Grand. I think it was a comic detective play, or should that be a detective comedy? It starred Patrick Cargill, known for his role in TV programme, Father, Dear Father. We expected him to be something of a ham and he was brilliant. He totally stole the whole play with his clever and witty performance.

Despite that, theatre failed to become a part of my life until I became a journalist. I was so excited about becoming a journalist the idea of reviewing school plays and flower shows was quite wonderful to me. In fact, I never did get to go to a flower show, we just typed up the results when they were sent in.

But I did do school plays. And AmDram. None of which I really remember, maybe a decent version of Midsummer Night from a local school?

Scarborough, however, changed all that. Just your average east coast Yorkshire resort. Victorian spa town, medieval castle, a few fishing boats still trading, and the home of playwright Alan Ayckbourn. Although born in London, Ayckbourn has made Scarborough his home for many years and nearly all of his plays have premiered there.

What this means, for lucky journalists, is that come opening night when the theatre wants bums on seats, around 5pm, free tickets may – or may not – be suddenly offered for that night’s performance.

Best freebie? Without a doubt, seeing Michael BonBon (yes, I know it’s Gambon, but for some reason one day after watching The Singing Detective, we called him BonBon, and it stuck) in Ayckbourn’s adaptation of Othello. I’m not keen on adaptations, and I had seen a lengthy original of Othello. But AA’s adaptation was good, and BonBon was brilliant.

Somewhat like Cargill, seeing someone on TV and live on stage, is totally different.

The sad news is, I had to pay for The Revengers’ Comedies. No idea why it was booked out, but there were no freebies for journos.

This was Ayckbourn’s play in two halves. You could choose to watch them on consecutive nights or go for the whole thing on one night over five hours or so, a bit like a Wagner opera.

I went for the two nighter. But by the second night I was dancing with impatience and couldn’t wait to watch the second part. It’s an odd tale, but to me it encapsulated London of the 80s. While it did well in Scarborough, it only ran for a few months in the West End. Perhaps Londoners were in 80s mode and couldn’t hack two nights of the same play?

Moving up to Newcastle, the only play I remember was a superb production by the RSC of The Merchant of Venice. I’d not seen it before, but Partner had. I was spellbound.

And, the last play I remember? Yes, more Shakespeare. Coriolanus at some trendy shell of a theatre in London.

Whenever I visit my university friend in London, she seems to treat it as An Occasion. Meals, guests, theatre. Quite honestly a bottle of red wine, salad and bread would do, but no. Well, apart from the time I went once and she was in hospital, so me and the husband had two bottles of Rioja and I don’t remember much else. He was always a good cook anyway, so a good night was had.

One of the last visits to the stately Hampstead home involved a trip to this odd theatre. Much pretentious talk ensued and her long-suffering husband finally got some drinks from the bar, thoughtfully ordering interval drinks too. Do they still allow that? You could get rat-arsed stealing someone else’s drinks. Or drop Rohypnol in there and follow your prey wherever.

Ralph Fiennes was playing the lead role in Coriolanus. From my perch in the eyrie he looked remarkably like Leonard Rossiter. I told my friends this. They laughed. The next day, according to my friends, the Daily Telegraph said …..

And it seems the strange theatre was the Gainsborough Studios in Shoreditch.

A quick hunt for Fiennes and Rossiter shows that not just the Telegraph and I thought Fiennes resembled Rossiter, but a total of four theatre critics (broadsheets) plus me all thought the same.

What does that prove? That my poor eyesight is as good as theatre critics who got better seats? Or that I say what I think? Or that Ralph Fiennes looks and sounds like Leonard Rossiter?

Poor Ralph, portrays a Shakespearean hero and gets compared to a Brit sit-com actor.

It was the last time I went to the theatre. Now, the attraction of sitting for three hours with lots of people has faded. If I want to watch anything, it’s likely to be on a small screen at home.

Happy at home with Happy Valley.

Posted in WPlongform | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Views from a hospital bed

Spending weeks in hospital waiting for an op gives plenty of time for useless musing.

So in no particular order …

Staff

Consultants are the same the world over. No more to be said there.

Similarly porters and cleaners. Pretty much at the bottom of the pile yet always smiling and cheerful. Interestingly while the UK was contracting out cleaning years ago, the Gib staff are in-house. And the hospital was clean. My room was cleaned at least twice a day as was our private bathroom.

Cleaning staff would laugh, chat and sing as they worked through the day.

Beds were regularly made by auxiliaries (or whatever they are called) and frequently changed. As I made a pig’s ear of my bed, I usually told them not to bother making it. Plus it meant I had to get out of bed. I’d got an elevator on the bed for my leg, so that tended to add to the rucking up of sheets.

They brought towels and cloths for our showers on a hit and miss basis so when I wanted a new one I learned to ask for one.

And they provided the meals, the tea and coffee service, and often answered the call bell too.

The nurses were the interesting ones. There was a diverse mix of English, Spanish and Gibbo. One of my nurses – who spoke excellent English – came from a town near my pueblo in Spain, so we would often chat about places in La Axarquia and the famous restaurant in my village.

At one point, he told me I was a good patient. How embarrassing. Me? Good? It seemed I did as I was told and didn’t cause any trouble. Of course not. If I didn’t want to take the silly paracetamol to lower my temperature it was easier to accept them and not take them rather than kick up a fuss. One pesky nurse stood over me insisting I eat them in front of him, but luckily I didn’t see him again.

There were quite a lot of male nurses which is A Good Thing in terms of getting rid of stereotypes. The only female medic I saw was an anaesthetist so it seemed the gender barriers were only falling one way. And it wasn’t in favour of women.

The nurses worked twelve hour shifts from 8-8. They spent most of their time dishing out pills and taking blood pressure, temp, pulse etc. The temp gadget fascinated me. It was a little thing they whacked in your ear. Whatever happened to ‘never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear’?

They would also clear away meal trays, bring pillows and blankets, respond to the call button, and help people to the toilet. They were patient and helpful. If you asked a question they took time to explain.

We’ve known a few British nurses who started work at St Bernard’s but things have changed now. Back then, after a year or so, they would get a perm contract. Now British staff are employed on renewable annual contracts for up to four years. The accom deal isn’t as good either. It used to be free accom for an initial period followed by subsidised rental, up to half as I recall. Now it’s a blanket £300 allowance. Still, better than nothing. Interestingly Spanish nurses have different (less favourable) contracts stopping short of a full year.

The ward sister was British and typically so, as was one of the important staff nurses. The younger Brit ones were less precious and didn’t exude the false saccharine so beloved of older British nurses.

My neighbour in the next bed needed helping to the toilet. I listened to one exchange.

“Just pop your bottom back a bit further.” (onto the chair as she was sitting back down)

“Oh, that’s good. Ve-ry good. Well done.”

God preserve me from hospitals and nurses treating me like an idiot in my old age.

I did bristle a couple of times at:

“How are we today Mrs Roughseas?”

Nowhere on the paperwork does it say Mrs. I corrected them some of the time and ignored them the rest.

But what a stupid question. I’m fine. I really like being stuck in bed for two weeks with a broken ankle waiting for a nasty operation. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. I certainly wouldn’t want to be at home, with my boys, walking around in fresh air and eating decent food.

And that brings me to the paracetamol issue.

Paracetamol

On my notes the doctor in minor injuries had written that I could have paracetamol every four hours as a painkiller.

I have a problem with the definition of pain. I don’t consider a mild throbbing or a few twinges to be pain. I have no painkillers in my house. If I get a headache I wait for it to go away. If I fall over, I normally get the injured limb into a comfortable position and wait for any pain to subside.

Pain to me is serious excruciating agony. Pretty much like when I fell over and couldn’t stand on my left foot. Anything else is to be tolerated until it eases.

Given that I had coped with the setting of my foot in plaster without screaming my head off, I couldn’t understand why I was being offered the chance to pop paracetamol at every opportunity.

Some of the more crazy exchanges I had went like this:

“Do you have any pain?”

“No.”

“So it’s not too bad then?”

What was unclear about ‘no’? ie NO pain.

And

“Do you have any pain?”

“No.”

“Do you want some paracetamol?”

I began to think they were all on commission for paracetamol manufacturers but seriously, why is ‘no’ so difficult to understand?

I accepted some at one point wearing my good patient hat, saying I might need them during the night. Truth is I could have called someone and they would have dished some out anyway, but still it brought a smile to a paracetamol happy nurse’s face. The next morning another nurse spirited them away saying we weren’t allowed to hang onto them in case we built up secret supplies. Just think. I could have built a cache of nearly 50 paracetamol tablets pre op.

Food

When I was first admitted I hesitatingly asked for vegetarian food and cringed at the thought of endless cheese omelettes.

‘I don’t suppose you do vegan food?’ I figured asking for veg was difficult enough.

‘Oh we had a vegan patient last week’.

That was it. I asked for vegan and wondered what I would get.

It started off quite well. My first lunch had a decent salad and TWO pieces of fruit (never to be repeated, only one after that) plus the obligatory soup and some type of main course. Evening meal was the same, except the soup was a different colour and the carb main course changed.

There was a nasty cock-up at one point where I got a bean omelette and yoghurt for lunch. I picked the beans out of the omelette. Trouble was the accompanying salad was … cold beans. I ate the chips. No vinegar. Only tomato ketchup. Another leaning towards Spanish cuisine rather than British. Who can eat chips without vinegar? Partner dutifully called at Morrisons and bought me a bottle of white wine vinegar.

After a week the salads dropped off and only appeared in the evening. An omelette appeared again. I didn’t even bother picking out the beans. I left it. Samosas appeared. They were very good. The kitchen was good at rice and chips, not so good at pasta. They produced couscous towards the end of my stay. I have no idea if they cooked it well as I loathe couscous.

Fruit didn’t always appear for dessert. Again in the second week, we started to get jelly. Jelly? There were no ingredients listed. Gelatine or pectin I wondered aimlessly. And left it anyway. I see no reason for hospitals to provide desserts. What’s wrong with fruit?

And why was there never any bread? Not for lunch or tea. Strange.

I asked about soya milk for breakfast. ‘You’ll have to get your family to bring that in.’

So how was I meant to have cereal? What happened if they had someone who was lactose intolerant? I mean FFS they only had to walk over to Morrisons,literally across the road, to buy a carton of soya milk. Was it really impossible?

But let’s end with television.

TV

When I finally turned it on I was surprised how bad it was. There were loads of channels although they didn’t all work. The main contenders were there:

GibTV (doesn’t start until 7.30 pm or something)

BBC 1
ITV 1

Spain’s Telecinco, Antenna 3, Canal Sur, and a couple of others

Then there were all the rest, Gold, Discovery, Yesterday, Sky News, TCM, Movies 24, Star movies, True this that and the other.

Some of the receptions were dodgy too eg, Gold. First thing I found on there was Only Fools and Horses so that got skipped over pretty rapidly.

I found a documentary about monkeys that pointed out male monkeys at the bottom of the pecking order do what the alpha male says. Also, monkeys are intelligent. Dear me. Is this the level of information now given out on documentaries? Lots of pretty pix but nothing in terms of serious education.

Quiz progs, quiz progs, and more quiz progs. Reruns of Britain’s Not Got Talent. Amazing Greys where a team of oldies takes on a young person.

I pleased myself by beating both the ancient antique expert and the young contender.

Which three of these were the most valuable:

Dickens’ desk, George IV chariot, bullwhip used in Indiana Jones film(?!?), Lexus gold-plated camera, David Beckham’s Porsche, a special Barbie doll, Gandhi’s glasses, JFK’s flying jacket, and one other.

I got the top three. Answers at the bottom.

When TV isn’t showing quiz games or untalented progs, we’re bombarded with antique shows and house progs. Too too boring. I tried drama – Prey and Vera. At least Vera had pretty scenery from Northumberland and a Land Rover. That’s all you could say for it.

Whatever happened to drama like The Monocled Mutineer or The Singing Detective?

I tried the film channels. The Great Escape was on TCM on both Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the available films seemed to be about mutant Stepford wives wandering around their palatial mansions with bouffant hairstyles, HUGE earrings, designer suits, six inch heels, and faces plastered in cement. There’s more reality in a sci-fi film. Or maybe people in America really do live like that.

One film was so bad I had to watch it out. I think it was based on a true story. A mother was so obsessed with her daughter becoming a cheerleader that she tried to take out a contract on her daughter’s friend – who was the main opposition – and her mother. She got 15 years for it, but was apparently allowed to go free on some loophole that revolved around the fifteen years. But what does that say about society? Trying to kill two people so your daughter gets to be cheerleader? JFC. Which incidentally, reminds me said murderous mother went to church. Natch. I rest my case.

British films were few and far between but I did catch The Secret Life of Ian Fleming starring the handsome Jason Connery. That was good, even if it wasn’t wholly accurate. Starting Over with Rutger Hauer was a bit soppy but the Scottish scenery and the Land Rover were nice. A Touch of Class with Glenda Jackson and George Segal was just unsuccessful despite Glenda’s Oscar for her role.

Even the news is of dubious quality. Why does everyone have to be so jolly and smiley and in your face? And have so little to say in far too many words? What happened to restraint, decorum, politeness? I don’t want people on TV to treat me as though we are best friends.

I spoke to Partner one night on the hospital ‘phone that comes with each bed (incoming calls only but still useful). ‘I think we should get a TV’ he said. ‘I think not,’ I replied.

Amazing Greys quiz answer: Dickens’ desk, Lexus camera, JFK jacket.

Posted in breakfast, drugs, gibraltar, health, life, musings, thoughts, vegan, WPlongform | Tagged , , | 95 Comments