26 February 2009

Food, and a rant

After a very long pause, I will continue with this blog. I was moved almost to tears by the grand final of Masterchef this evening (I can be quite highly strung at times), for many reasons. I really, really love that there is a reality TV show about cooking. It is one of my favourite occupations - planning meals, choosing ingredients, the action of preparing the food, and finally eating your creations. Little in life is more satisfying (mathematics can be, at times). I love watching truly talented chefs cooking their hearts out, which is what all three finalists did.

On top of this, I think we as a nation need to think more about the food that we eat. I know that to anyone who knows anything about health/obesity/nutrition etc. that is not news, but I feel it needs to be restated frequently. We have lost sight of the pleasure of good, fresh ingredients cooked simply and well, in favour of uniformly (mostly orangey brown) fast food.

I am so glad to see a TV show that celebrates real, genuine, talent, as opposed to the facile, shallow 'celebrity' shows favoured by ITV (in particular - other networks are guilty too). It is one of my pet hates that so many people who do important work in this country are so undervalued (teachers, nurses, binmen...). So I'm glad that we are being entertained by people who actually have something to offer us, for once!

Anyway, this brings me neatly onto my next point - the thing I am currently feeling most irritated about. One of my housemates, an Australian gentleman of curious views, said as we watched the penultimate MC show last night that he believed cooking was a 'low level skill', and that he believed this was true because 'chefs don't get paid very much'. This shows a depth of ignorance on two, entirely seperate, levels: firstly, this comes from a guy whose idea of cooking is breaking carrots in half and dropping them in boiling water, so he clearly has no idea whatsoever of the skill involved, and secondly the valuation of everything in monetary terms.

I do not understand the wilful ignorance of people such as him. It is as if he celebrates his ignorance, and endeavours to become more so (is it possible to deepen one's ignorance?). Anyway, as Feministy can surely imagine, I unleashed my feistier side on him, and I hope he rethinks his views.

25 August 2008

Antifeminist day at the beeb

So, I come out of my lengthy blogging break to point out two BBC articles which pissed me off this afternoon. Firstly, poor old Jeremy Paxman is being discriminated against! I know, I know, it certainly doesn't seem that way, with his comfortable Newsnight position, and lucrative interview possibilities. However, apparently this is all totally irrelevant, as, because Paxman can name 5 women prominent in broadcasting, it seems that suddenly white middle class men are being horribly discriminated against. Hmm. I seriously disliked him anyway, he is so arrogant, but I am sad to see that my worst suspicions have been proven true. He is also a pathetic misogynist who is clearly intimidated by the fact that white middle class men might be forced to actually prove their talents in future, rather than just relying on their gross overprivilege. So, get over yourself Paxman, and realise that you are not as entitled as you would like to think, and hopefully soon everybody will come to view you as an irrelevance, as I do.

Secondly, there is to be a Nun's beauty pageant held online. There is so much that is fucked up about this that I really don't know where to begin. It just goes to show what happens when you have a patriarchy. Firstly, women must be dressed 'modestly' in order to avoid inflaming the passions of men, who apparently, are incapable of self-control. Then, reproductive choice is systematically opposed, with the ultimate goal of reducing women to being walking incubators. Finally, it seems, despite all of this, women must still be sexy. I try not to put anything past the catholic church these days, however, even I was pretty surprised to read this story today. They utterly disgust me with their hypocrisy, and their shocking treatment of women.

24 May 2008

Law exam blogging

I am in the middle of exam hell, but here is a quick link that is of interest. Another example of how the patriarchy hurts women: cars are not tested with crash dummies of an appropriate size/shape for women, only for men.

21 April 2008

The Right to be Grumpy

Why do men think it is acceptable to shout things at women on streets? The other day, I was walking through Bath, and a Big Issue seller told a woman walking in front of me, who had, incidentally, very politely refused the magazine, to 'Cheer up, you might be quite pretty with a smile.' Why on earth did he think he had the right to say that? Any intentions I may have had of buying the magazine myself were instantly quashed; it is absolutely that woman's business why she was not smiling, and it was in no way his place to comment on her appearance in any way.


Apparently, "bosses weigh up pregnancy risk" prior to employing someone, and only 5% would employ someone if they knew that they were already pregnant.

At the moment, I am too angry to blog about this (although its hardly news, it still makes me mad). Hopefully later I'll have calmed down enough to write something sensible.

20 April 2008

Pasta Bake

Ok, so I know that its just a bog standard student dish, but it is just so comforting on a cold and rainy night!

Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)

2 rashers bacon, chopped
1 large chicken breast, in smallish cubes
1 big leek, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
5/6 mushrooms (depends how much you like them, I, for one, absolutely love them!)
3 big tomatoes, sliced
Generous handful of grated cheese
100g pasta shapes (penne/fusilli always good)
Heaped teaspoon of flour
A dash of milk
Some hot water


Soften the onions, seal the chicken, soften the leeks and then add the bacon. Fry until the bacon is cooked but not browned, then add the flour. Stir until you can't see any floury bits, and add the milk. Meanwhile part boil the pasta, until al dente. Add the hot water to the meaty bit until it is thick and creamy, but not too runny. Drain the pasta, and stir into the sauce. Pour the whole lot into a baking dish, and place the tomatoes on top so that the pasta is covered. Sprinkle the cheese lightly on top, and cook in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is browned and the tomatoes cooked. Serve with a green or mixed salad. Delicious.

Mmm...Greek salad

Thats what I had for dinner last night. I really like how all the flavours really compliment each other.

Recipe (for 2)

I Romaine lettuce
4 inches of cucumber (how do you quantify cucumber in general?!)
12 cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 red pepper
olives (I prefer green, but black is more traditional)
Feta cheese (I use the pre-cubed Apetina stuff, and its pretty good)

Mix all the ingredients together after chopping/washing etc. I used french vinaigrette on mine, which is not very purist, but you could use whatever you wanted. Waitrose sell a yummy sweet balsamic and red pepper dressing which goes well with it.

I served mine with warm olive ciabatta, because I can't live without carbs. Delicious (and very easy!)

18 April 2008

Abortion as art?

Bitch PhD has written about an art student who, for a period of nine months, artificially inseminated herself frequently, and then took abortifacients in order to induce miscarriages. She has used the blood from the miscarriages in order to create a piece of artwork, and has also created videos of herself having miscarriages in her bathtub, which will be displayed as part of her exhibition.

The Yale Daily News carries the story in full.

I really don't know how to feel about this. On one hand, I feel that it demonstrates that women can - and do - have abortions, and are able to continue to live their lives without regrets. It shows that abortions and miscarriages are events which happen to women everyday, and they don't have to be the big deal that the press makes them out to be. However, it does make me feel uncomfortable, and I'm not sure why. I am quite a squeamish person, and perhaps thats why.

I am an advocate for women having full control over their own bodies, and I guess that Aliza Shvarts (the artist) has taken this argument to its ultimate conclusion. The YDN carries a couple of comments which include;

Sara Rahman ’09 said, in her opinion, Shvarts is abusing her constitutional right to do what she chooses with her body.

“[Shvarts’ exhibit] turns what is a serious decision for women into an absurdism,” Rahman said. “It discounts the gravity of the situation that is abortion.”

I disagree - if you have a constitutional right (or in the UK, perhaps a Human right) to do something with your own body, then by definition, that means that you cannot be abusing that right, even if you use that right in ways which some people disapprove of, or if it is an unconventional use of that right.

I think that what makes me uncomfortable about this, is that it will just fan the flames of prolifers who want people to believe that women only have abortions for "frivolous" reasons, or are too stupid to actually know what they are doing. I don't think that there is actually a "good" or "bad" reason for having an abortion - I trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, but this is an extreme case, and is almost certainly not going to be well-received by the mainstream press.

I'm still thinking about this one, and hopefully I'll be able to read some more opinions on this.

Update: Feministing report that the University have said that Shvart's art was a hoax. However, the artist herself has rebutted this, and insists that she did artificially inseminate herself, and take herbal abortifacients.

I really, really don't know what to think about this.

Update 2: Amanda Marcotte and Majikthise have got some very good reasons why this art project is a hoax.

Sanctimonious Monsters...

...is an excellent way of describing both Pope Benedict and George Dubya Bush, as this post by Phrayngula describes.

The hypocrisies inherent in George Bush's version of Christianity, alongside his actions as President of the US, never fail to amaze me. As for the Pope, well I think that reading Feministy's post about his reactions to the sex scandals to the rapes committed by priests within the Catholic Church gives you a good idea of what sort of a man he is.

17 April 2008

Fascinating video about the effects of a stroke.

I really really can't do this video, or Dr Jill Bolte Taylor justice. She provides a fascinating, moving, and completely new analysis of how our brains function, and how the two hemispheres interrelate to one another. Watch it!

h/t Feministing

Dispelling myths about feminism

OK, so I'm feeling a little lazy about blogging today!

This is what a feminist looks like!

Who knew?

Who knew the Surrey Comet had such a diverse and passionate group of commenters?

via Alas, A Blog

Idiot of the day: Silvio Berlusconi (again)

Second time in a week! This time, he has criticised the Spanish Parliament for being "too pink". The Telegraph reports that he went on to say that;

"Zapatero has formed a government that is too pink, something which we cannot do in Italy because there is a prevalence of men in politics and it isn't easy to find women who are qualified for government."
Firstly, I assume that by calling the Spanish Parliament "too pink" he actually means to refer to the fact that Zapatero has appointed equal numbers of men and women to his cabinet. A prevalence of men in politics is a problem, but I'm not sure that Berlusconi sees it that way. He appears to be using the fact that there are a lot of men in Italian politics as a reason why women are not, and can't be, represented. Not excusable Mr Berlusconi. Just because someone is difficult to find, doesn't mean that they are not there. Perhaps women in Italy who are suitably "qualified" for politics are few and far between, but as a member of a privileged majority in Parliament, you should be seeking out these women, and actively encouraging them to become part of the political life of Italy. Only when everybody feels enfranchised and represented will you enjoy genuine democracy.

One quibble with the reporting of this in the Telegraph;

Mr Zapatero has championed equality since he first rose to power in March 2004 and consolidated his position as self-confessed feminist with his choice of cabinet in his second term, saying: "I feel very proud that there are more women ministers than men."

Emphasis mine. Why is feminism something we have to "confess" to? That implies that there is something wrong with Zapatero being a feminist, which in my opinion, there certainly isn't!

via F Word