30 June, 2009

Worshipping at the Altar of Abortion

Which, as Tracy pointed out over at the DMHFFH Facebook HQ sounds like a brilliant name for a riot grrl band, is the best comment so far over at today's anti-choice article:

"Two or more abortions could more than DOUBLE chances of a premature birth next time"

Well ladies, that's you told, isn't it.

However, even the DM admits that fertility doctors have said that the research does not prove a link. As they've not actually provided a link to the actual study, or indeed who carried it out, I did a little internet digging, and found this gem of a quote from Dr van Oppenraaij, the man who headed the research team: "[m]ore large controlled studies, ... are needed to confirm our findings." What the DM also failed to mention - and here's the key part - that the study didn't conclude just abortion caused an increase in premature birth. The list of causes included a range of problems, from previous miscarriage, a history of premature birth, high blood pressure, being over or under weight, vanishing twin pregnancies... the list is pretty long, actually. So it's not just abortion, then.

Back to the article. The DM quoted some experts as saying the evidence was "compelling" - however, obviously, it didn't say who the experts were. Possibly because they might have been from the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a pro-life (of the "let's involve a Christian Priest variety") organisation, according to sourcewatch.org. It's not dissimilar to asking a Tory if Gordon Brown is a good PM.

A few links on the same research:
Teh Grauniad
The research article itself

26 June, 2009

No, Burger King, I don't want your seven inches in my mouth

So Burger King have got a new phallus shaped burger called, wait for it, the Seven Incher (oh hee hee, ha ha, such wit). How are they going to advertise it? By posing a woman like a blow-up doll and shoving into her mouth of course! With clever headline about "blowing" your mind, natch:


*Sigh* Because that's all women are, just vessels, waiting anxiously to take your seven inches, any which way we can get them. Except if you look at this model closely, her eyes are widened in alarm/terror. She doesn't want your seven inches. But your going to make her take it anyway, yeehaw!

Because rape is HILARIOUS, obviously. Maybe that's an extreme reaction to this, maybe most people won't see it as incitement to commit sexual assualt. Hopefully. But what is clear to anyone viewing this advert is that women are subservient, women are here to provide sexual pleasure to men, whether they say they want to or not, women or of little value. Hey we're just a marketing tool, sex sells, after all.

And just when will the cock jokes start to wear thin? I always wonder how men feel about having their anatomy reduced to an un-funny one liner. I guess advertising execs will stop making penis jokes at about the same time they make an advert alluding to the idea that women are sexually dominant over men. I.e. never.

NB: A word to the wise, avoid the comments on that article if you want to avoid the rage. Nobody is implying that oral sex in and of itself is demeaning to women. If you don't get that, you're not clever enough to be allowed access to the internet, imo.

21 June, 2009

Gamin' Ladies: Are there any true Femiheroes in the world of videogaming?

As an avid gamer myself, I have sometimes found myself searching the male-dominated world of videogames for a positive representation of a strong, capable woman. And often, when I feel like I might have found one, something will come along to scupper the revelation. Now, I know the Daily Mail teaches us that computer games are Bad - playing Grand Theft Auto will inevitably lead to a life of drug abuse and crime, and playing Mario Kart will cause children to throw banana skins out of moving vehicles, causing a surge of road accidents. But putting those cautionary tales aside for a moment, let's look at some of the leading ladies of videogames, and their relative femihero merits.

1) Lara Croft. The First Lady of gaming, Ms Croft has amassed a loyal following among gamers - Tomb Raider was one of the first major titles on the original Playstation. And there's not much Croft can't do - she runs! She jumps! She shoots things! She grabs ledges and shimmies over abysses. She's a strong, independant woman, self-motivating and determined. And she certaintly doesn't need a man to help her. Gamers may notice that, in the later games, a male team were assembled at Croft Manor - they talk Lara through some of the trickier missions, although she's always quick to put them in their place if they give her a hard time.
So far, so good. But there's one little problem with Lara, and that's the small matter of her blow up doll appearance. Lara habitually dresses in tiny hotpants and a tight tank top. While Sam Fisher, Solid Snake and Master Chief are dressed appropriately for their physical, violent outings, Lara is very exposed. And with boobs like those, it figures she'd need a little more support. Alternative costumes include a skin tight catsuit and a slashed-to-the-thigh ballgown. So ultimately, to make Lara acceptable to (mostly male) gamers, the strong female angle has been watered down by her sex object appearance - it's almost as if gamers would be unable to accept such a strong woman if she were wearing, say, combat trousers and a sweatshirt.

2) Tifa Lockhart - Final Fantasy 7's leading lady, Tifa is an ass-kickin', bar-ownin' martial arts expert. Part of an underground rebellion against The Man, Tifa is strong, smart and capable of leading, as she proves when main man Cloud is rendered useless through illness. The problem with Tifa, however, is Lara Croft syndrome once again - her strength is diluted by her overtly sexual appearance. Tifa fights in a miniskirt and tank top, with proportions not dissimilar to UK 'glamour model'/freakshow Jordan. Once again, she is made hyper feminine in order to make her strength acceptable - she becomes a caricature of sexuality. The other issue with Tifa is her seeming weakness without Cloud - it's almost as if she's powerless without his support.

3) Jill Valentine, one of the main characters in the Resident Evil series. And in her first outing, she appears to have avoided Lara Croft syndrome: she isn't characterised by her 'hotness', kicks an appropriate amount of ass and gets out alive. By the time Resident Evil 3 came out, however, the designers must have decided there wasn't enough non-zombie flesh on display and promptly redesigned Jill's costume. This coincided with her reappearance as a main character.

I'm just scratching the surface of gaming heroines here, and I may well examine some more key characters in future posts, but today's conclusion is this - all three women abovementioned are strong, capable and (mostly) independent. They can fight as well as any man, and are capable of besting men in combat. They do what they have to do without complaint. For all these reasons, they are excellent role models, true femiheroes. But I can't shake off the nagging anger at the need to portray them so sexually. Can a woman not be strong and attractive without dressing impractically and skimpily? And can we not portray 'attractive' without resorting to the tired old formula of 'big tits, skinny waist, flesh on display'? And, perhaps the biggest question of all - why does a female character have to be conventionally attractive at all? Of course there is nothing wrong with being good looking, but where's our female Gordon Freeman?

I can't help but wonder who game manufacturers are trying to please by dressing their female characters in tiny hotpants and tank tops, and by inflating their proportions - is this really the only way we can make our videogaming heroines acceptable to the mainstream gamer?

18 June, 2009

Horny Hernu vs. The Front Page Campaign

What is it with the name “Piers”? The first that springs to mind is of course Mr. Morgan, but lately it’s been his equally slimy, paunched namesake getting (he wishes) on my tits; Piers Hernu, sometime Daily Mail contributor and, as I have had to hear twice on the radio this week, former editor of Front magazine and contributor to FHM. Journalism is of course the world’s second oldest profession – but no more so than in Mr. Hernu’s case does one suspect it was only an excuse to sidle a little closer to the oldest.

The reason for the BBC’s infliction of his dulcet tones is the Front Page Campaign, which, having recently won lottery funding, is now also receiving some media attention, leading to on-air debate between its founder (Amy King) and Piers Hernu. The campaign’s stated aim is “to protect children from offensive media and restore choice for adults”, particularly regarding “sexually explicit photographs and language”. In practical terms, this is a demand that such material be age-restricted and placed on the top shelf, out of sight and reach of children, but still perfectly accessible to adults. So what’s all the fuss about? Horny Hernu’s ego, apparently.

The first broadcast took place on 5live on Monday. I wondered at first if he's got real live friends to go out with at the weekends, because Hernu still sounded drunk; judging from his second performance on Radio Ulster on Wednesday, he’s either an inept alcoholic or has mugged one for their baseless bravado. When he wasn’t busy sniggering or talking over Ms. King (a tactic most of us leave behind with ill-judged haircuts and notes home from the teacher) Hernu repeated a couple of MENSAesque points over both interviews.

Firstly, lads’ mags are “clearly not sexually explicit” because “um, you know, I think that there’s a, a big, ermmm” – *wheezy silence* – “problem here with, with, with mistaking, erm, toplessness with pornography”. Well, quite. After all, the term definitely wasn’t “sexually explicit” rather than “pornography”, and anyway tits and ass have absolutely nothing to do with male heterosexual arousal – it’s really all just an NHS-sponsored biology campaign. Everybody else can tell that lads' mags are sexually explicit why doesn't one of their own contributors have the Nuts to admit it?

Then, on Wednesday, he squawked that “if you were to suggest this to any other country in the whole of Europe, they would laugh you out, you know, th- they would just laugh at you, because the rest of Europe has a much more enlightened attitude towards nudity and sexuality”.

Question: has Hernu ever been to the rest of Europe? I know it’s a funny foreign place all the way across the channel, but had he ever lumbered aboard a Eurostar, he might conceivably be aware that, actually, the rest of Europe wouldn’t need to “laugh… out, you know, laugh at” anyone for starting a Front Page Campaign, because they simply don’t have a comparable lads’ mag “culture” to protest in the first place. Their “enlightened attitude towards nudity and sexuality” would balk as much at Zoo as it does every summer at its escapees’ yearly migration to Eye-beef-fah. (And if we really had a problem with “sexually repressed morality”, we might have less of a problem with teenage pregnancy which – oh look! – is the highest in Europe).

So far, so dense. But he wouldn’t be a proper little sexist without a good bit of cliché thrown in, would he? Never fear, he’s on the case; “it’s usually some embittered old harridan who’s got- who gets on her high horse about this, and, and, you know, nobody actually listens, ’cause this has come up time and time again, you know, various women have fronted these kind of campaigns and, as usual, it, er, it turns out that there aren’t lots of people up in arms about this, there aren’t lots of children traumatised by this, it’s just, it’s just not the case that people are bothered about it”. Well yes, of course; “women” – the word spat out like curdled milk – taking issue with it is entirely different from proper “people” doing so, isn’t it?

Ms. King’s citation of surveys indicating that 98% of the general public agree with the campaign was met with further bluster, and burblings about young men being “slowly broken in, as it were, to the harsh realities” – *snort*– “of the sexual world”. But whose sexual world? Lads’ mags have nothing to do with the delicate flowering of male sexuality and everything to do with the entrenchment of male sexism. An airbrushed, submissive, surgically-enhanced, Aryan model flaunting her knickers and knockers isn’t sex; it’s wank-fodder. Wank-fodder, no less, for the spotty teenager who can’t get a real girl because he doesn’t know how to - and Nuts and Zoo sure as hell aren’t going to teach him.

Well, maybe if he's really lucky he'll grow up to be as “embittered” about “various women” as poor old Piers Hernu himself. Sexual enlightenment, my arse.

I am NOT selfish because I don't want to marry or have children. Quite the opposite!

I don't want children.
I first said this in conjunction with "I don't want to get married" at the age of 8. I am now 31 and not only do some people (not my Mum, bless her) STILL not believe me, I am being actively critisized by the Daily Fail for not breeding - in the past few days we've had:

"Women should have babies between the ages of 20 and 35 or risk missing out on motherhood, doctors have warned."

This came complete with several of the usual understanding, sensible comments such as:

Thanks but no thanks. I will have a child when I am good and ready. At 18, 25, 35 or 45. No later, as I see it morally wrong, just as I see no right in any government to tell me when and how I should have a child, manage my life, etc.
- Simon T., Right here, UK, 16/6/2009 6:39

Errr Simon, they mean women, you twazzock.

Swiftly followed by this gem:

"Baby, you left it too late: Two women reveal how they gambled on late motherhood...with very different results "

And this is one of the comments that actually greatly upset me:

I am so glad to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and to know that there is a Divine Design, and that marriage and families are part of it, and that children are to welcomed into a marriage, not postponed because of a career. Selfishness. So often, we do reap what we sow, don't we.
- Donna, Calgary, AB Canada, 17/6/2009 5:24

I am not bloody selfish, and I'll tell you why:

I have no problem with children. I have a niece and step nephew who I love dearly. I am always the woman children seem to migrate to at weddings and parties - maybe they like that I talk to them like they have a brain, and aren't morons, who knows - but I am not some bitter old hag who put my career first.

That seems to be the greatest myth - that feminists, and women generally who choose not to have children, are some sort of career driven, materialistic, robot monster bitches without a loving bone in their body. I don't have a "career". I have a job that I like very much, and I have been promoted a few times, but it's hardly CEO...

Also, have any of these idiotic, insensitive commenters considered that maybe, just maybe, not having a child can be a selfless act?
I suffer from severe depression, which my father passed to me. If it's genetic, which I believe it can be, there is NO WAY I am passing that to a child, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I had terrible, terrible acne that had to be severely treated, and I'm almost certified blind. I am NOT passing that on either! My parents (and a disturbing amount of my friends) are divorced - I don't want to get married because it lessens my chance of divorce quite significantly. Divorce messes kids up - I should know!
Finally, I am in a lot of debt and the Fail would be the first to complain if I was getting benefits because of a child.

I didn't know all of this when I was 8, but I was bloody right and I will not accept that I am being selfish.

14 June, 2009

Prostitutes go to Heaven. It's their clients who go to Hell.

Some people say that feminism is all about choice, about giving women the freedom to do whatever they choose with their bodies. That's true, but it stops short of giving the whole story - feminism is about giving women freedom of choice, but it's also about helping them to make the best choices, for themselves and for all women.

That's where the title of this post, a quote by David LaChappelle comes in. There is no supply without demand. It doesn't make good business sense. Many women choose to go into prostitution, few do so because they actively *want* to. They feel they have to. But whether that young woman on the streets is there to feed her two-year-old son or her crack habit, if men didn't offer to pay for her services, if society as whole didn't dismiss serious debate about prostitiution with flippant remarks about it being the oldest profession, with jokes that marriage is "legalised prostitution", with wishy-washy legislation which at the moment punishes only those least responsible for keeping the industry going, far fewer women would make that choice. Maybe more women would be aware of the other options available to them, of the help they could get, until one day, nobody chooses to work in an industry that degrades *all* women.

This is why the proposed legislation on prostitution, which would make it an offence to pay for the services of a trafficked or "controlled" prositute, whilst legalising prostitution itself, are at least a step in the right direction. While men are still willing to pay for sex, desperate women will be willing to sell it, but if that demand dwindles, society will have to step up and look after these women, instead of leaving them to dice with fate, selling themselves to perfect strangers, many of whom have a propensity to violence towards women.

Of course, this legislation doesn't go far enough, because as a country we're not bold enough to say that buying women's bodies is wrong, full stop. But it's a start. The next step is for feminists, and especially male feminists, to stand up and say, loudly: "the purchase of female flesh is wrong and I will not be a consumer."

We are not for sale.

12 June, 2009

Oh dear Cod.

Woman in not 100% utterly perfect shocker.

This article can't be serious. Can it?

I'd love to see "Daily Mail Reporter"'s flawless body, if he/she feels it's acceptable to criticise someone for having a slightly odd thumb.

This is quite possibly the most ridiculous case of body fascism I've ever encountered. From an objective viewpoint, Megan Fox is an attractive woman (not that it should matter whether she is or not), and to write an article trying to claim she isn't purely for having a slightly short thumb is absolutely ludicrous.

Yet, of course, they still find an excuse to publish multiple pictures of an scantily-clad woman, despite simultaneously castigating her for not being quite 100% perfect.

Has the Fail somehow descended into self-parody without us even realising?

Gender and Law: A Bedraggled Law Student's Comment

It'll be about a month ago, during the period of my life I'll always remember as revision hell, when Baroness Hale and Her Honour Judge Case came to speak at my college. Having smarted from yet another kick in the pants arising out of my lack of legal knowledge, I thought I'd take a nice break and sit down and hear the good Lady herself.

For those who may not know, Baroness Hale is the first female Law Lord (Law Lady?) and HHJ Case is a Circuit Judge who mainly works in Chester and is Treasurer of the UK Women Judges' Association.

Right, now I have that out of the way, I should add I would have given you all a transcript of what was said, but I don't know if I'd be allowed to, and my Zen died, along with the recording on there. So you'll have to put up with what I remember.

Anyways, back to the show. Baroness Hale made her speech first, and it was mainly about her experiences as a woman working within the legal world. She'd actually come up from an academic background, which is surprising, considering that most if not nearly ALL the judiciary tend to come up from the ranks of the barristers (with the occasional solicitor slipping through...). A recurrent comment throughout her speech was upon her status as the “second woman” in everything (except the House of Lords capacity clearly), which she'd felt had been more difficult, in certain ways, than being the first woman. She had also given a very entertaining discourse on the meaning of the word “feminist”, with the very first definition confusing the political and social views with femininity, and gradually gaining its proper definition, significant of course because she described herself as a feminist. On the whole, the speech was mainly about her career, but focusing on the difficulties she'd faced coming up through the ranks and the support she had along the way, which was interesting in itself, considering she's been around for years and would have definitely had to put up with a lot grief, not all of it explicit, over her gender. One thing I enjoyed about the speech was the optimism that seemed to radiate from it with regard not just to female judges but also judges from ethnic minorities. But I'll cover that in the questions section.

Judge Case made her speech next, her one being along the same lines as Baroness Hale's, but this time with her doing the law degree, taking time off to have her children and then coming back into the law again. What was interesting to note was what was said to her at the time when she had finished her law degree and decided to have her family. She had been told, in very stark terms, that the career of a barrister would never leave room to have children. It was either one or the other. Perhaps more pessimistic than Baroness Hale's speech, since she had ended on such a note, saying that her advice would be to mothers thinking of a career in the law to think about the choice that had to be made, between a career and children.

Question time came and this was where the most interesting part arose. Someone had actually pointed out Judge Case's pessimism to her and told her that moves were being attempted to help barristers who had children as well, an example being a creche set up in one of the chambers. Her Honour had reacted with delight to this, and I was thinking to myself, I'm surprised they didn't come up with anything like that before. Another question had related to a point I mentioned earlier, about judges from minorities, and how there was talk of putting positive discrimination legislation in to encourage both woman and ethnic minorities into the judiciary. This has always been a particular bug-bear of the right, who feel that their privileged domain is being invaded. Baroness Hale's answer was very encouraging, to say the least.

She had given a very good positive argument for it, stating that this would encourage people from different backgrounds and experiences to be part of the office that would make a difference to the way the country was run. Rather than ruining the institution, it would be enriched by being informed by so many different experiences of life. With England becoming a more multicultural country, this is something that would reflect that multicultural makeup, and all these different experiences would come together to help develop the law.

Well, speeches and questions ending, I decided to return back to my study group. But I came away thinking that with someone like Baroness Hale at the very top, a feminist Law Lady keen on diversifying the judicial complexion of the country, perhaps change is finally happening. Perhaps we can finally get into the positions which matter the most, and not compromise our principles for them. Of course, many obstacles will always remain, not least a Press that feeds on ignorance like pigs on manure (and I have to apologise now... to the pigs that is), not least an entire economic class that fears that change, mistakenly thinking they will be swept away, when that change will do nothing but benefit them.

Are we truly so tied down to the past that we can't look at the future in front of us? Is it really such an impossibility, such anathema to "common sense", for those in positions of power to be from our minority sections of the population? I suppose the word "minority" is facetious in relation to women, since they make up 50% of the world population. Therein lies the nub of it, the contradiction at the heart of everything: those who make up a sizeable portion of our population, women, Afro-Carribeans, Asians, the "minorities" who help keep this country going. Why don't they get a say in running it?

As I say, with a feminist Law Lady, that change is beginning. Now we have to keep it rolling.

Who knows? Maybe we'll have a Lord Rahman up there some day :-P.

By the way, if my blog entry does not do the good Baroness justice, a much better profile may be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/jan/09/lords.women.

11 June, 2009

"The views expressed... are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline."

In this litigious age, guest publications about toothpaste tubes on Have I Got News For You probably feature many a disclaimer, but the Daily Mail must need them more than most. After all, even a police force that is itself still enormously sexist and racist might have to hold them to account if they printed their readers' comments without such equivocation. Of course, anywhere that invites public comment will draw its share of fuckwittery (just look at dear old CiF) but just how much responsibility should the Mail bear for the user-generated bile throughout their website?

Their Terms and Conditions make interesting reading. In amongst all the usual legalese about "waiv[ing] all your moral rights" by submitting content (that must really stick in their self-righteous readership's craw!) they also prohibit anything "threatening, defamatory, offensive, abusive, liable to incite racial hatred, discriminatory or" - of course - "blasphemous". This might seem reasonable enough, but for two things; firstly, the fact that they select what to publish, and secondly, that they deviate from their own guidelines.

Accurate journalism (forgive my inclusion of this phrase in a blog about the Daily Mail) depends upon reporting all angles of a given story, including those you don't like. This would excuse the decision to publish the gamut of submitted comments were there not such a clear, discriminatory bias; even with a wealth of objective and printable comments to choose from, the Mail consistently chooses to publish the most bigoted, even if this means repetiton of the unintelligible. Perhaps most tellingly of all, they would rather publish none at all than any that undermine the party li(n)e; the tale of Hans Blomberg's live televised sexual harassment of his co-host, for instance, remains conspicuously comment-free despite a number of cogent submissions made by various groups and individuals. Thus, although the Daily Mail cannot be held responsible for the content submitted, they are distinctly accountable for its editorial use.

On then to their supposed distaste for the offensive, abusive and discriminatory (I omit the small matter of "racial hatred" only for reasons of time, space and theme - feel free to submit your own treatises on this issue!) Prohibiting something in one's Terms and Conditions would seem to imply its unsuitability for publication, certainly on so controlled a basis as the one upon which Daily Mail commenting operates.

Behold, then, a few pearls of wisdom from merely the previous week that the Daily Mail considers neither offensive, abusive nor discriminatory*:

"She's quite hot, and just the right amount of stupid."

"Looks so much younger and really soft and pretty, just as women ought to be. Take note, girls..."

"people are losing their homes and havent got jobs and this silly women are having cash thrown at them... get some kids, a dog and a tubby hubby"

"Women should realise that men prefer long hair on women. Those who say they prefer short masculine styles are lying (to their wives/girlfriends with horrible short masculine hair)."

"As a red blooded male, I think [Cheryl Cole] looks fantastic, so get to the back of the queue all of you fatties."

"Single British women... are not comparable, most are overweight, bossy and lazy and oh, CAN'T cook"

"only a blind man would prefer UK women to what is the 'average' girl in Eastern Europe"

"There are Not many single women over 25 in the UK that are worth the effort 4 a relationship 2day. Wane be men/Power trippers/ drunks/pretentious, and all the problems they get into."

"Come on English women - start being feminine again!"

"British women...are too forward and not sophisticated."

"You only have to look at what British woman have become to realise why men are now looking elsewhere."

"Woman want their cake and eat it. Sorry ladies, you can do everything we do, but we can't have the kids so make a choice for crying out loud. is this why we have spoilt middle class kids running amok, spoilt little brats the lot of them. is this why marriages are falling apart. JOB OR KIDS not both."

And the award for Most Prejudice In One Post goes to:

"Although it may be easy for people to mock these guys i know exactly where they are coming from.
I am a guy in my early thirties not too ugly and doing fairly well for myself.
However, finding a woman in Britain who doesn't swear constantly, is fairly intelligent, keeps fit and healty and is not engrossed with chav celebrity pap is almost an impossibility !!!! and add to that pretty, single and can cook, no chance.

Its only a matter of time before they cotton on to this sort of business in Africa where i'm sure the women may actually be greatful."

*All comments quoted sic, much as it pains my linguistic sensibilities.

08 June, 2009

Sleeping With The Enemy

Normally I try to offer some kind of comprehensive argument in postings, with background, both sides of the debate and proposed solutions.

But this time I’m just going to put it out there, because I am stumped.

Several conversations have been had recently about the so-called ‘rules’ of dating, and it’s slowly been eating away at me to the point where I am actually pissed off.

Dating etiquette states that women are not supposed to ‘put out’ on the first night, ideally not until the second or third, if you’re actually serious about taking it further: getting down and dirty early doors, apparently, means you are easy and is akin to wearing bells on your ankles the word “unclean” daubed on your face in menstrual blood.

For example, an English friend of mine always goes for it on the first date because, well, what’s the point in going out with someone if you’re not compatible sexually, something a lot of Northern Europeans seem to think too. She has a very good point, but most of the men she dates it seems disagree. “Job done” appears to be the overwhelming attitude. Now neither her nor I would suggest everyone follows her lead but, surely if the man is comfortable getting to ‘it’, then he is as responsible as the woman?

The implication is that that a woman has to act all coy and prim for, like, 10 hours, and then let it all hang out as if some mystical chirpse-threshold has been passed.

The man, meanwhile, is just a cock-on-tap ready to go when the light shines green but is tied inexorably into the ludicrous assumption that somehow following a pointless manifesto makes them any more or less desirable.

This is, well, insulting, to both men and women.

What do people think? Why is it that women are thought of in lesser terms when they do what most men would be prepared to do? Shouldn’t the fact that we are allowed and encouraged to sex each other outside of marriage have rendered such protocol redundant?

I am not sure. I know where I stand (not giving a fuck, if you’ll pardon the pun) but what about my fellow Femis? Answers on a novelty Sarah Palin condom packet please.

07 June, 2009

Last Post on the Sexually-Harassed Bugle

It is sadly common for feminists to be accused of hating men; all the more so feminazis, presumably bitter at male rejection of our Hitlerian moustaches (because all howwid feminininiths of any description are ugly hairy lesbians in want of a man to turn them, doncha know). Over the last few days, this blog could to the untrained eye have appeared to be conforming to this stereotype, what with all our decidedly unwomanly protestation at uninvited male attention. I'm sure we'll be back to attacking the other sort of Mail soon enough, but I couldn't help giving one last hurrah today.

Like any self-unrespecting binge-drinking ladette at the root of 25% of violent crime, I went out last night. I went out in Temple to be precise, which being at the opposite end of London to where I live, involved lots of walking and night buses. I was actually pretty lucky, though; I was only harassed twice all night. There was nothing remarkable about either incident, but it got me thinking, in my remnant rage this morning, about the worst cases I or my friends have encountered before. So, in no particular order, I give you...

Passing Pervert Top Trumps

1. "C'mon... I hit women all the time".

I was 15, he looked about 12. This was the last trick up his salacious sleeve after following me through an arcade in the middle of the day, asking me if I gave blow-jobs. His two little brothers looked on.

2. "But, you are ugly".
She was 15, he was in his early 20s. She was not, and never will be, a minger. He and his friends, spending their Friday nights surrounding groups of underage girls in shitty nightclubs, most definitely were.

3. "I'm not going to stop running until you stop walking".
I was 16, he looked about 14. As I strode back from school one afternoon, he puffed his laboured way along beside me for a good ten minutes before I outran him for the last sprint home.

4. "Ssss, ssss, tsk tsk".

Repeatedly, over the last ten years, in a variety of locations. The most memorable was a middle-aged man accosting we two 14-year-olds in a lunchtime market... with his wife and two children a metre or so behind him.

5. "You look fifteen, let me take you out for dinner... I just wanna know you".
I'm 23, he looked in his late 30s. He was the cashier in my local Tesco's, and spent several months trying to chat me up at the check-out, following me around the shop, and latterly throwing temper tantrums when I persisted in telling him that I was not interested and to leave me alone.

Those are the first five I can think of off the top of my head. Other charming non-verbal advances have included the threat of a hit-and-run when the guy drove his white van up onto the pavement for a closer look, and miming slitting our throats and/or shooting us.

Honestly, I don't know what we silly women are complaining about.

05 June, 2009

Let's talk about breasts...

Partly inspired by the sublime Jenny Mac's post yesterday, I feel like it's time to get this off my chest (oh ho ho!)

Jenny Mac asked why so many people feel as if a woman's breasts are public property, and I completely understand her point of view. We're looking at the issue from different ends of the spectrum - I am underendowed in the boob department. Having grown up in a strongly matriarchal family as the only girl with less than a B-cup, I've long struggled with my 'lack' - since I was 15 and realised that I would not suddenly 'blossom', I have felt inadequate and, yes, unattractive. I spent hours looking at ways to increase my bust, researching lotions and potions and pills that promised to gift me a bosom. I thought long and hard about saving up for implants. I habitually wore a bra with padding so thick it could deflect bullets, wore slimy chicken fillets and tried to convince myself it was worth the discomfort to look like I had a chest.

It took me until I turned 20 to actually question why I felt so bad. I had always assumed that it was simply a consequence of being unlucky, and that I should feel bad. I remember being in Marks and Spencers, getting measured for the eleventy billionth time in the vain hope that I'd grown to a B-cup. I remember almost wanting to cry when, for the eleventy billionth time, the assistant proclaimed me to be a 30A. I was 20 years old and an A cup, and wanted to cry because of it. And, as I looked in the mirror, I remember thinking - "How did I ever let myself feel so awful about it?"

And then I really started thinking about it. From an early age, I was surrounded by propaganda telling me how my body should look. My parents read The Sun, and my main education about the adult female body came from those improbably proportioned women. My mum was, and still is, quite busty. I believed that a woman should have a large bust, and I was offered no evidence to suggest this might be otherwise. And with the advent of plastic surgery, the few small-busted women who might have been role models in terms of accepting myself showed that they could not accept theirselves, and voluntarily opted for risky, painful, invasive procedures in order to rid themselves of their inferior, smaller breasts.

And what's changed? Newspapers still champion the body beautiful, which is still impossibly contradictory - you must be slim, but not skinny. Curvy, but not fat. Busty, but without a hint of sag and certainly not fake. Tanned, but not orange. Tabloids happily print non-stories as long as they can punctuate it with pictures of women in their bras. Sometimes they fail to acknowledge smaller-busted women completely. Such is the public perception of complete ownership of a woman's breasts that, when a busty tennis player decided to have a breast reduction, a petition was immediately set up pleading with her to leave them be.

Breasts have become like kitchen appliances, or garden furniture. They are advertised in all of our tabloids, garishly displayed on Page 3 or in a 'hilarious' nipple slip article. We discuss a celebrity's breasts with complete disregard for the fact that they are part of her body - they might as well be detachable accessories. We criticise Keira Knightley for daring not to disguise her awful small breasts, we drool over cleavage like dogs over meat. Is it any wonder that I, and so many other small-busted young ladies grow up feeling as if we are not good enough?

Dubious metaphors aside, breasts really have become public property, and I hope I haven't come across as bashing my bigger-busted sisters as I completely understand their plight - it is assumed that they'll love the constant stares, comments, wolf whistles, yells of 'get 'em out!'. They are treated as spoilsports if they won't share their breasts with the world, and are treated as sluts if they do show any skin. Our plight is opposite, but inextricably linked: we see boob job adverts on the Tube to work, we're neglected by bra manufacturers. We're invisible next to our bustier friends. We're instructed at all corners to push up, to enhance, to pad out. In fact, the only thing we're not told to do is question: who really has the right to make us all, big busted or small busted, feel bad about the way we were born? Why do we continue to accept this almost fascist attitude to our bodies, to the point where we can't wear what we choose in fear of being judged or ridiculed? Why do we lay ourselves on the surgeon's slab and have bags pushed into our breasts because other people have decided we aren't good enough?

Isn't it time to take back our bodies?

04 June, 2009

Oh for the love of... Breasts, apparently.

I apologise in advance for this blog. I have been out, and had drinks, with work and I am very grateful to be able to work in the current climate. But this riled me right up.

Earlier, in the pub, we were all standing about enjoying a nice pint, in my case cider (or a nice lame fruit or wine based drink for the ladies, allegedly) and I noticed our overall manager (let's call him Bob) was checking out my breasts, in a rather blatant manner.

I was drunk, but not stupid - I called him on it. I'm not worried he's my boss's boss's boss's whatever, I asked him why he had just done that so obviously (it was so obvious other people had noticed and suddenly became able to speak up against our admittedly otherwise cool "leader" who was earlier dissing the Tories, BNP blah blah and being agreeably left wing)...
His response?

He totally agreed he had been looking. Did anyone argue with this? Several other guys claimed ignorance and said "well, we've not noticed" and made "comical" eye shielding gestures. The women? Well in particular one lady, I'll call her Mavis, said "you have the best breasts in the department, they are amazing" or something along those lines. To be fair none of the ladies gave me any grief, but that's mainly because they know me I think.

I guess the whole point of this rather crap blog is: WHY do breasts become public property once they are 34DD or whatever size? Why are ANY breasts public property, to the extent a 32AA woman feels she should have a risky enlargement? Why do women accept this as well and nod along with men who are objectifying women in this way?

I am now home, and even though I was warned "Bob" was a letch (I told him this to his face) I still feel somehow I am in the wrong.

I had a great conversation with a woman in my dept today and she said, how would men feel if they were confronted by half naked pictures of their gender all over the papers and magazines and how she would love to do some sort of experiment where men would understand what it feels like for your body to feel like someone else's property. It is arguably why I didn't punch someone tonight!

02 June, 2009

"Bad Mother" Bad Science from the illustrious author of "A Playdate with Death"

The wittily-named Femail (geddit? geddit? just in case we hadn’t twigged that the rest of the paper is a tad male-dominated) is always a fine emetic read, but they really hit the jackshit jackpot recently with a guest spot from author Ayelet Waldman. Her article – here comes the train, little baby, because it’s really quite a mouthful – “Why it can be good to be a bad mother in a world where modern parenting has become hideously competitive”, unleashed on 28/05/09, boasts like all the best literary works an impressive twist in its tale, achieved chiefly by beginning quite reasonably.

The byline is deceptively encouraging as "Ayelet... argues that no woman is a perfect mother, and the sooner someone stands up for Bad Mothers the better". Was infiltration complete, I wondered on a first reading - had common sense, like MRSA and pig flu before it, finally destroyed the moronic inferno from within? Alas not; the Daily Mail is simply as incapable of balanced reporting of its own content as of the outside world. “Stand[ing] up” for anyone is by no stretch of any imagination (and lord knows their readership’s is a fevered one) what the charming Ms. Waldman proceeds to do.

I must confess, I have yet to delve too deeply into Waldman’s back catalogue, though there have been some passable reviews for her most recent works, such as Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, if not for her earlier Mommy-track Mysteries series (distinguished, if that’s quite the word, by distinctly Goosebumpesque dust jackets and worse titles than you can shake a B-movie at). But from reading articles such as this and the scintillating “Truly, Madly, Guiltily”, I really don’t envy her editor.

The plain and plaguing fact is, she just doesn’t know what she’s on about, as like the proverbial Blackadderian pencil she bounces pointlessly from one self-contradiction to another, without any apparent sense of, well, contradiction. It’s hard not to feel her next franchise should be a Mommy-track pantomime when mummy-bashing is at once “utterly unfair – because… no one hurls criticism like this at fathers” (OH YES, IT IS!) and yet sound grounds for a newspaper article because “so-called Good Mothers can be downright bad for their children” (OH NO, THEY’RE NOT!) until she remembers that it’s really “time we all accepted ourselves for… mothers who do our best” (OH YES… etc). This is no logical pre-empting of a counter-argument to reassert one’s original point; she just can’t make up her muddled mind.

Indeed, the more I eviscerate this article and research its author, the more inclined I am to agree with the reviewer on www.librarything.com who describes her debut novel, Nursery Crimes, as “Waldman's forum for rather nakedly communicating her own opinions and preferences [in a] self-indulgent, amateurish” manner. So far, so livejournal, and it wouldn’t really matter but for one thing; her petulant insistence on dragging feminism down with her.

Waldman is clearly dissatisfied with various things. Maybe it’s her kids, maybe it’s her mother (both get a good raking over in the article) or maybe she just likes a good moan – but none of these is justification for this cack-handed and irresponsible attack on the movement that gave her the voice to deride it in the first place. Like a Pantomime Dame approaching a banana skin, Waldman repeatedly misses her own points; oh yes, it is awful that parenting pressures are centred so one-sidedly on women, that the workplace has not yet caught up with gender equality, but oh no, it’s not her mother –sorry, feminism’s– fault.

The feminists of Waldman Senior’s generation did indeed “[sacrifice] much to give [women today] the opportunities they never had”, such as the right and expectation to work. So far, so fair – until she erroneously blames them for the fact “the workplace isn’t conducive to being a working mother”. If earlier feminists “were convinced they had sorted everything out for their daughters” they have been proven wrong; but they are not culpable for the work they started not yet having been completed. Neither the fact that Waldman’s own feminist ideals were shattered by “punishingly long” hours and missing her firstborn, nor the truth that some women probably do feel they had “better jolly well be Good Mothers” to justify the sacrifice of giving up their careers, are any indictment of feminism, but rather of the very forces it challenges. In attacking the effects of patriarchy and blaming them on feminism, Waldman pulls off a truly extraordinary non-sequitur.

But why? To spout such nonsense generally requires either acute stupidity or spite. In a Harvard graduate it is hard not to suspect the latter, particularly given her repeated reprobation of a mother depicted as the kind of Crazy Feminist™ Pat Robertson so feared. But actually, I don’t care why – and nor should anyone give a shit about Sophie on the swings or anything else Ayelet Waldman says or does or writes so long as she uses personal neuroses to legitimise sexism. You’d think such a self-trumpeting Former Classmate Of Obama’s might know better.

01 June, 2009

Because wanting to be treated like equals is just like invading Poland

The goal of our collective writings as Feminazery is to be a group of free thinking feminists who believe in individual freedom.

Our goal is not to be a group of feminists hell bent on the destruction of the male gene, nor is it to promote any single world-view, to encourage hate, or to sew distrust. At our core is a paper that warps its readers’ minds to suspect, hate and fear anyone who is not "like us", that it promotes an agenda that is devoid of anything worthy, and claims to be reporting the news when all we can see is a hate filled, oppressive, xenophobic, hypocritical, greed loving, freedom hating, fashion fascistic, homophobic, and above all paranoid load of crap - which is unfortunately being read by the largest share of the newspaper reading public. That is the Daily Mail.

So we here at Feminazery seek to blog about the various failings of this foetid paper, but with the focus on women. Women, according to this paper and its readers are too fat, too thin, too misshaped, too old, too poorly dressed, too wrinkly, too botoxed, too flat-chested, too big boobed, not virginal enough, not sexual enough, too skanky, too whoreish, not whoreish enough, too happy, too sad, not working enough, not at home enough, not white enough, not motherly enough, not rich enough, too homosexual, too famous and too masculine. Having read articles and comments to articles that seem to follow these complaints we are sick to death of it and seek to retort in this haven.

Not all of us are female, but we are all Feminists. No matter what genes we have or how we identify ourselves, we recognise that within every intelligent person is a part of them that rejects this hate, this bile and wants to hold up something against it. However not all of us are liberals, not all of us agree to any particular left wing agenda or right wing agenda, we are all individuals with unique political, social and environmental ideals and thoughts. The only real political agenda we all share is that of being on the other side of any debate that seeks to denegrate human beings

The one thing we all stand for is the right of every person on Earth, regardless of sex, gender, race, age or creed to be treated as equal. This is us trying to do something towards that.

And no, we are not waiting for a nice man. Or woman.