Friday, 14 October 2011

Horror Stories

Ok, so a lot of people have been posting about the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, which is pretty damn sickening in itself, but I've just come across another utterly horrific piece of legislature under consideration in the states.

That would be the H.R. 358 Bill, which, among other things, overrides something called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. Under EMTALA, hospitals must stabilize a pregnant patient who, for example, is facing an emergency obstetric condition or life-threatening pregnancy and either treat her--including an emergency abortion--or if the hospital or staff objects, to transfer her to another facility that will treat her.

Even the staunchest anti-abortion people that I know (or have argued with on the internet) will make exceptions for situations where the mother's life is at stake. And yet this bill is attempting to overturn current legislature which guarantees that.

Quite seriously, if this bill were to become law, it would be completely legal to leave pregnant women in labour to die, rather than perform an abortion that would save their life.

I'll let that sink in.

Now try this one: This bill has PASSED in the house of Representatives.

It has not yet gone before the senate, and Obama has (quite rightly) said that if the bill lands on his desk he will be exercising presidential veto, but the fact that this bill has, not only been proposed, but has gone this far is an enormity beyond words.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

All just a little bit of History Repeating...

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Julian Assange v2.0.

Or should that be Polanski v3.0?

Yet another story about how if you're powerful or rich enough, you can get away with... well, not actually murder, but certainly rape. Which is at least a similarly heinous act.

This guy is described - even by this woman's *mother* as "otherwise warm, sympathetic and extremely talented"... honestly, this guy tries to rape her daughter, and she still thinks he's a decent guy for the most part? It's just sickening, the whole idea that only "good" people can be raped, and otherwise "good" men can't be rapists. News flash, people - rapists are not some special kind of person who can be easily identified because of their stench of evil and horrible behaviour at all times...

Dear God... I'm half tempted to draw up a bingo square of cliches surrounding rape, and see how many this case checks off, just to keep from banging my head against my desk in despair.

The whole thing is another (as if we needed another) example of how victims of rape are pilloried - or at the very least disbelieved.

People who go on about how a charge of rape ruins a man's life should take heed. When a) someone brings up as a reason for not reporting a crime that they, not the criminal, will be branded with the stigma of association forever, and b) the threat of being reported for rape has no effect at all, we really need to take a good look at our preconceptions here...

I'm sorry this post hasn't been as coherent as usual, but I'm very tired of having to bang the same drum again and again and again and again ad nauseam. This has got to stop.

Oh, and I would have posted this link on my facebook while I was having a discussion about these issues earlier, but I think I would have ignited a flame war from people who wouldn't appreciate its tongue-in-cheek-ness, and its value as a thought experiment.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

I know this trick

Wait, where have we seen this before?

I have a horrible sinking feeling that what's going to happen here is much like a trick that an unspecified person I knew used to play on her parents as a young teenager.

What would happen is she would go to a clothes shop with her mum - who was somewhat conservatively minded - and pick out the worst thing she could see in the shop. Her mum would immediately go balistic; "you can't wear that! That skirt is too short/ neckline is too low / that's far too expensive / you'll look like a street walker!" at which point said friend would look crestfallen, reply with an "ok mum..." and then would bring out the clothes that she actually wanted. And she would get them. Because, ok, the skirts were still a bit too short for Uber Conservative mum, but at least they weren't as bad as the first lot, and she felt guilty enough that she couldn't say no a second time.

I have a horrible feeling that the NHS reforms are going to do something similar. There's been massive outcry with what's been proposed, so, ok, they decide not to do that... but what are they going to propose next? And are we going to have to like it or lump it, because they've already changed it once, like we asked, and we ought to be happy because they've done what we asked - despite the fact that they may well just make it worse.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Not. Enough. Expletives...

What the FUCK!!!???!?!?!?!?!?!?!



Ok, let's take the caps-lock off for a minute, and look at this a little more sanely.

Academics are said to be furious (YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT THEY'RE FURIOUS - THEY HAVE BLOODY GOOD REASON TO BE!!) over the fact that the AHRC funding - which any PhD student will tell you is like gold-dust made from hen's teeth at the best of times - is now only contingent on academics researching what the government wants - ie this Big Society BULLSHIT to try and give it some sense of legitimacy. THAT'S FUCKING BLACKMAIL!!
Seriously, Camoron (BASTARD, FUCKING BASTARD) and his cronies have "clarified" - yes, the Guardian are using scare-quotes here - a major piece of principle (The Haldane Principle) which says that they aren't allowed to dictate what research money is spent on. And by "clarified" we mean "trashed".

In the words of one Cambridge Academic (professor Peter Mandler):

"The government says they have rewritten the Haldane principle but they have junked it, basically. They say it is now their right to set the priorities for how this funding [is] distributed. They have got the AHRC over a barrel and basically told these guys that they cannot have their money unless they incorporate [these] research priorities. Willetts was negotiating nominally, but the word is that it has come down from the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable. Almost everyone who hears the story is upset about it."

And in the words of another (A principal at an Oxford college, who did not want to be named) :

"With breathtaking speed, a slogan for one political party has become translated into a central intellectual agenda for the academy."

I just... I'm so angry I can't even speak coherently.
This is not, as one individual who is not going to be named, has said "the government's money" - if it were, I would have less of a problem with this. I would be happy to see David arsewipebastardshitforbrains Thatcher Camoron digging into his own overly-deep pockets and providing funding for whatever research he likes, thus keeping people in much needed employment, but that's never going to happen. This is taxpayer's money he's wielding like the sword of Damocles. And how DARE he. He - and this government, quite frankly - is wreaking havoc upon our society, with no fucking mandate to do so. How long before he starts attacking democracy itself, so he can stay in power? It would be a supreme irony to have helped out in Libya, all the while not noticing our own little home-grown fascist bastard of a leader.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ethnic Minorities Can Wear Wellies as Well...

I was going to do a big old post about this debacle - but I think most of what's wrong with True-May's statement has already been adequately covered by the article.

I just want to add one little thing.

Culture and "the media" plays a massive role in, not just reflecting societal norms but creating and enforcing them. The images we see around us every day help to form our attitudes and prejudices. If we see a sleepy little English village on TV, and the Kumars on the corner and Mr Smith the (black) GP, are an integral part of it, then we are going to start seeing this as normal - and crucialy as acceptable. And can't we all agree that this is a good thing? Ethnic minorities are, and have been for a long time, part of England, and valuable contributers to this country. They have as much right to be a representative part of it as closeted, bigoted, middle-class, white dudes.
I don't care if the countryside is still mainly white* and MM is "just" a reflection of this - The Media has the opportunity to challenge social norms and the duty to be inclusive.

It all comes down to this: Do we want to challenge racism in our society? Yes? Then include non-white people in our culture to the extent that we want them included in society.

*Actually, I do care; I would love it if rural England was seen as welcoming to people of all colours and creeds, but that wasn't my point...

Friday, 25 February 2011

Boys will be girls

Ok, I have to admit that this worries me.
Not because I have any problem with transvesticism or androgyny; I'm a supporter of both, and I think on many levels it's a great thing that Pejic is able to express that side of himself in his chosen career. I have no problems with what his success means for men - quite the opposite - but I am concerned about what this means for women.

Statements like " Pejic has captivated designers, with his build regarded as nearly perfect for modelling high fashion looks. Couture wear is made for the tall, twiggy and flat bodies that most women, even models, don't have. Essentially, the clothing is quite suitable for a lean man or even a boy" are a stark admission from the fashion world that female beauty is not good enough. That women aren't "the right shape" to model clothes, because they are women. Because they have hips and breasts and it's a rare woman who can manage 5'11''. (I'm the tallest woman of my aquaintance and I'm still only 5'10''. Plus I have hips like a cello and thighs a baby elephant could be proud of.) Those things that make women women, and not men or children, are the things that the women's fashion industry can't stomach.

And that is a very damaging trend to be encouraging, not least because it encourages the dangerous dietary habits that have seen models actually starve themselves to death, and promotes a fashionable ideal of beauty that is damaging to the self-confidence and self-image of over 90% of women exposed to it, but also because of the latent mysogyny it exposes. I don't even think mysogyny is the right word, because this kind of admission seems to betray such a hatred and loathing of women's bodies that in order to make them palatable they have to be shorn of everything that makes them distinguishable from a pretty boy, and I think that goes a step or two beyond what I feel the word "mysogyny" encompasses.

People wonder why there aren't so many women designers in the fashion industry - I want to say that's because the industry isn't about women any more. It's about men, designing clothes - really - for other men.

Friday, 28 January 2011

What about Teh Menz in Football!

Am I the only person who thinks, in the wake of all this uproar about Grey and Keys being deservedly sacked from Sky, that it is either indicative of our society and all its ingrained sexism, or at least highly ironic that the Guardian, most lefty of newspapers, has put out a call "Men... Have your say on Sexism!". Because they're really the most un-biased of people on this issue, and the ones most likely to understand how sexism operates in the real world, and may even have been targets of sexism themselves giving them a unique insight into today's gender politics.

The views that actually come out of that call aren't too bad. They certainly aren't brilliant, but they're not too glaringly awful. The general thrust is mostly in the right place - though one commentator does start whining What about teh menz with his piece about how negative male stereotyping is widely tolerated. For the record, yes, I think men are stereotyped badly in the media and it is something we need to tackle, BUT a) most of those stereotypes actually hurt women just as much, if not more than men*, b) the fact that NMS exists does not mean that we shouldn't also tackle prejudice and actual discrimination against women and c) This is totally off topic. I agree that NMS needs to be discussed, but it's not relevant here, and is just derailing.

The other thing that came up, and seems to be coming up a lot at the minute, is this idea of "banter". That something is "just banter", and hence Ok. Thing is, that's like saying that there are some forms of prejudice that are socially acceptable - and that's just not right at all. If something is prejudiced and wrong, then it's prejudiced and wrong, no matter what context it's in. You cannot use the excuse that "it was just banter" or the fact that you are among friends who ostensibly feel the same way (or at least talk the same way) to excuse your own complicity. It's just fostering a culture of Public PC, Private Prejudice, which is just as bad, if not in some ways worse.
I'm going to have to quote my favourite post again:
  • every time you don’t tell your buddies it’s not okay to talk shit about women, even if it’s kinda funny;
  • every time you roll your eyes and think “PMS!” instead of listening to whya woman’s upset;
  • every time you call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt instead of a halfwit demagogue;
  • every time you say any woman–Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, any of us–”deserves whatever she gets” for being so detestable, instead of acknowledging there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;
  • every time you joke about how you’ll never let your daughter out of the house or anywhere near a man, ’cause ha ha, that’ll solve everything;
  • every time you say, “I don’t understand why thousands of women are insisting this is some kind of woman thing”;
  • every time you tell a woman you love she’s being crazy/hysterical/irrational, when you know deep down you haven’t heard a word she’s said in the past 15 minutes, and all you’re really thinking about is how seeing her yell and/or cry is incredibly unsettling to you, and you just want that shit to stop;
  • every time you dismiss a woman as “playing the victim,” even if you’re right about that particular woman

You are missing an opportunity to help stop the bad guys.

You’re missing an opportunity to stop the real misogynists, the fucking sickos, the ones who really, truly hate women just for being women. The ones whose ranks you do not belong to and never would. The ones who might hurt women you love in the future, or might have already.

‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates womento the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on

his side."

What you say in private matters.
I'm going to state for the record that I take people's right to privacy very seriously, which is why it's even more important for people who are publicly prejudiced to be called on it. And even more important than that is the everyday work of undercover Male Feminists**, calling people out over the unacceptability of Private Sexism. The fewer forums we have where prejudiced "banter" is acceptable, the fewer prejudices we will be handing down and around to other people.

Some people have been going on that it's not fair that these two have been pilloried like this for one little slip up - but let's not forget that this isn't just one little mis-timed comment; this is a comment that belies an attitude that is just not acceptable any more, and needs to be publicly seen as such. No, it's not fair. There are plenty of other people, more sexist, more racist, more despicable than them who ought to have been pilloried first, it's just bad luck that these guys got caught first. But what's even less fair, is that women should have had to put up with sexism from these two -or anyone - in the first place.

On one final note though, I think we have to end. Let's not overlook the fact that Grey and Keys are out. Football - that "dark spot in the universe that feminism is furthest from" - has taken a step towards saying publicly that Sexism is Wrong. Ok, I do worry that it's more of an exhortation of "don't get caught being a sexist prick", but it is progress. It's only a bitty baby step in the right direction - but look where it is.

* ie stereotype "men are all lazy slobs" is just as much about promoting the ideal of female domesticity as anything else. Yes, it's insulting to men to suggest that they can't clean, but look a little deeper at the implications...
** And white anti-racists, and abled anti-ableists, and everyone else who works against discrimination in all its forms, who are able to participate in private discourse and shut down the avenues of prejudice. Right On, people.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Oh Nick...

Be still my heart... it seems Mr Clegg has some Lib Dem principles in there after all! And here I thought he didn't have any more to betray.

As you can tell, I'm utterly stoked about the plans to reform paternity leave... though Nick isn't quite back in my good books yet after the whole tuition fees/Education mainatainance payment fiasco. Mostly because the immediate reforms aren't enough, and though he sounds like a principled dude, whose ideas on this tally with my own, that could all just be honeyed words, and we'll have to wait for the further reforms he says he's planning to wheel out by 2015 to materialise before I'll let him off the hook just yet.