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

16 April 2008

Yet another sickening angle on the Iraq War

Reading Raving Black Lunatic's blog about female US Military workers being raped in Iraq, and the links he posted, actually made me feel nauseous.

Obama fear

from Salon

Idiot of the day: Boris Johnson

No actual particular reason why I have said this today. This link on The F Word demonstrates what a nasty piece of work he really is. Don't let the bumbling buffoon act fool you.

A sample of some of the disgustingly offensive things he has said over the past few years:

Conservatives: ‘accept that material inequality is inevitable, and
that trouble comes from too zealous an attempt to change
this.’(Lend Me Your Ears p126)

‘We seem to have forgotten that societies need rich people,
even sickeningly rich people, and not just to provide jobs for
those who clean swimming pools and resurface tennis courts.’

‘When I shamble around the park in my running gear late at
night, and I come across that bunch of black kids, shrieking in
the spooky corner by the disused gents, I would love to
pretend that I don’t turn a hair…

If there is anyone reading
this who has never experienced the same disgraceful reflex,
then - well I just don’t believe you. It is common ground
among both right-wingers and left-wingers that racism is
“natural”, in that it seems to arise organically, in all
.’ (Lend Me Your Ears p210)

(taken from the F word)

Sex and the City

After reading Feministy's post entitled 'How to be a Feminist Boyfriend' a couple of days ago , and then finding this article on the Guardian website this morning, I have been thinking about what it is I want from a relationship. I have been single for a very long time now, and have never (yet!) had a serious relationship. This is not because I can't get a boyfriend - I have probably been asked out more times since being at University than most of my female friends put together, and have been out on lots of dates with a variety of different men. I realise that the reason I am still single is actually very simple; I haven't found a man I want to be with, yet.

I think that Feministy's list of things that a thoughtful and caring man should consider on a reasonably regular basis is very perceptive. So many men that I have met over the years take so much for granted. I am not saying for a moment that this makes them bad people, or automatically unsuitable for me as 'boyfriend material', just that it is so easy to be thoughtless. I spend a lot of time worrying about a whole spectrum of different things, and I suppose I would like someone who shares at least some of my concerns.

The article in today's Guardian asks the question "Is it the case that a strong women can't desire a husband?" Obviously, for me this is a long way in the future, but I really think that a strong woman can desire an equally strong man in her life. This question, to me, is the first step on the path to that old feminist 'man-hating' stereotype. Of course it is possible to want to have a steady, secure relationship with a man.

Having such a relationship does not mean forfeiting your feminist beliefs. As Feministy says, what is important is that you have that relationship with somebody thoughtful, who respects you. I suppose that if I were to have a relationship with a disrespectful, egotistical and misogynistic man, then that would be forfeiting my feminist values. But I can't believe that I would feel secure in such a relationship, or remotely happy. Being a feisty and intelligent young woman, I would not last long with someone who tried to push me into an old fashioned 'female' role, which would not suit me for a moment!

So, in conclusion, I suppose what I am trying to say is that while I would very much like to find myself a boyfriend, it is not something I am going to rush into. Reading Feministy's post on Monday made me feel better about this decision, and I feel that, as a strong woman, I should stick to my guns.

Pope really worried about the damage rape scandals have done to the Catholic Church

The Prada Pope made some revealing comments, which were reported in yesterday's Guardian, revealing his true concerns about the priests who committed countless rapes in the States during the nineties.

"It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the Church in general and for me personally that this could happen," Benedict said aboard a special Alitalia airliner, nicknamed Shepherd 1.

Yeah, because when I read about priests raping little kids, my primary concern is for the Church and for the Pope. My heart is bleeding for those guys. Fuck those whingeing victims who have cost us so much money in compensation, and damaged our reputations!

But he does have a point, the child abuse scandals did damage him personally, as there is an increasing body of evidence which suggests that he was involved in trying to cover up the scandals.

14 April 2008

How to be a feminist boyfriend

Feministe feedback had a really interesting thread the other day, answering the following question:

Your most recent entry - on what a feminist relationship looks like - is primarily pitched at female feminists. I, as a well-intentioned but nonetheless male participant in relationships, would really like to know the answer to that question. i don’t commit the obvious sort of mistakes that non-feminist guys do, or at least i hope i don’t. Nonetheless there are certainly crimes of ignorance, so to speak.

In fact, you should write a book answering this question - “how to be a feminist boyfriend.”

There were loads of really great responses, and you should go and read them for yourself, but it reminded me of a conversation I had the other night about privilege with The Boy. He is definitely the most non-confrontational man I have ever met, and certainly strives to be fair and egalitarian, not just in our relationship, but in other aspects of his life too.

However, I sometimes feel that he doesn't examine what male privilege does for him on a daily basis. He generally doesn't analyse himself too closely anyway - thats not the person that he is - but I tried to impress on him that we all have a duty to be aware of our privileges (for example, in my case, being a well-educated, white, middle-class, straight, cis, woman), how they have smoothed our paths, and how the experiences of other people differ based solely on factors which they have no control over, including gender, race, sexuality, gender dysphoria, and a million other different things which can affect out experiences, and our treatment by others.

So, in order to be a feminist boyfriend, or indeed, a person who cares about others, here are some things which I think that The Boy should think about when he goes about his daily life:

  1. I am lucky that my genitals look how I want and expect them to look.
  2. I am lucky that when I do something badly, people don't put it down to my race, gender or sexuality.
  3. I am lucky that when I get turned down for jobs, I don't have to wonder whether it is because of my race, gender, or sexuality.
  4. I am lucky that people take it for granted that I can do things well, and competently.
  5. I am lucky that when I turn on the TV/look in a newspaper or magazine/watch a film, I find many people or characters represented who I feel I can relate to because they are the same race, gender and sexuality as me.
  6. I am lucky that my combination of race, gender and sexuality is so well-represented in the Houses of Parliament, the judiciary and other instruments of the state
This is obviously a far from exhaustive list, and if you want a far more exciting and complete list, Ampersand at Alas, A Blog has more. My point is not to write a full list of the privileges that white, straight, cis, males enjoy, it is to point out that thinking about these things, and incorporating this awareness into the way that you think about the world, can make you a better feminist ally, and of course, a better feminist boyfriend!

Where is my Babydaddy?

The Guardian reports today that the Fatherhood Institute has published a report stating that 7 out of 10 people believe that fathers should be able to stay in hospital overnight to support the mother of the child, as well as develop a vital early bond with their baby. The NCT and NHS have both approved the idea in principle, but point to practical difficulties which could result in this idea not being introduced.

I think this is another way in which men can start to assume greater and greater roles in caring for children. I think that it is vital that men get all the opportunities that they can to take an equal role in the upbringing of their children. In my opinion, having the early chance to bond with their child, as well as to help to support their babymama, can only be a good way of furthering this aim. What do you think?

13 April 2008

Maths? But thats a boys' course!

That is a reaction with which I am all too familiar, as a female Maths undergrad. And you know what? A small part of me believes it. And a little bit more of me believes it every time I struggle with work, but my male friends appear to be sailing along. Despite the fact that at most good Universities in the country, and I suspect across the world, the number of female Maths undergrads equals that of the males, sexism remains unbelievably prevalent when people consider the subject of Mathematics. A particularly gobsmacking example is that of the views of Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, outlined in this article. I am incredibly glad I am not studying there!

So why do people cling on to this outdated view that women are more talented verbally, and men more talented mathematically? Why can both men and women not be good at both? I consider myself to be verbally talented, but believed my real talents to lie in the more scientific arena; despite the frequent misogynistic attitudes I encountered. The single best and most inspiring lecturer I have had, a Cambridge Mathematics graduate, was female. So was she just some mad exception that proves the rule?

I believe the struggles I have with my studies not to be gender related, but genuine difficulties with a very tough course. I also think that many boys find the course as difficult as I do, but have been trained to think very differently; if a boy says to someone that they will be reading Mathematics at University, the reaction will be, in general, very different to the reaction I get.

I don't know why I have such issues with self belief, whether it is a gender stereotype related problem or whether it is something more personal, but I strongly believe that women studying and working in all of the sciences, not just Maths, need much more encouragement and support than they are getting. It is no good having equal numbers of boys and girls starting scientific degrees, if the women are only going to get disheartened and depressed by the misogynistic attitudes of their peers.

11 April 2008

Female apprentices earn less than male

Perhaps I should stop reading the BBC News website so often, but it just provides such good fodder for blogging!

In the latest, female apprentices earned £147 compared with the £186 per week that male apprentices could expect to receive. In yet another example of brilliant investigative reporting, the beeb suggests that this is because;

The difference is mainly due to the fact that female apprentices tend to work in lower paid sectors than males.

Hairdressing apprentices earned £109 a week while apprentices in electro technical posts earned £210 weekly.

Those in early years posts earned £142 a week compared with £189 for those in engineering and manufacturing, the research commissioned by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Dius) said.

However, they don't take it upon themselves to investigate why it is that we seem to value - and therefore reward - traditionally male occupations so much more highly. Particularly telling of our screwed up values system is the low wage which is attached to early years care. Why is this not more highly paid? Either we do not as a society think that being able to access high-quality childcare is especially important, or we have found that we can get away with paying the (predominantly) young women who do significantly less than what they could hope to get if they chose to work in other sectors.

Actually, I think it a combination of those two factors. Firstly, patriarchy has a general impression that childcare should be free - after all, women did it for years without being paid for it. Why should the uppity bitches expect money for it now? Secondly, it does seem as though the people who actually do these jobs accept their low wage packets as part of the deal. Perhaps this is because, as with nursing (another female-dominated low wage profession), there is an element of altruism which means that the people entering the profession do so for more than financial gain. However, just because someone does something with the best of intentions does not mean that they should not be adequately compensated for their time and effort. Traditionally female jobs, such as those within the "caring" professions, should have their salaries brought in line with jobs from other sectors which have similar levels of skill required.

As a final note, I actually think that, as society could not function as it currently does without people filling these roles, and taking care of the more vulnerable members of society, their pay should reflect that. However, at the moment, I think that at least increasing it to the levels of other similar jobs will have to do!


Nothing really to say about them, apart from Sharwood's Chili and Cumin ones are YUM!

Groundbreaking research of the day!

The BBC has discovered that boys and girls choose to play different musical instruments to each other! What I really love is that the article makes statements like
"And it's somehow easier for a girl to cross over into 'boys' territory and play a trumpet than for a boy to take up the flute."
Hmm, I wonder why this could be? Perhaps because basically the worst thing to be called/associated with/likened to in our culture is a girl. Gendered insults like "slag", "pussy" and of course, "cunt" demonstrate this. However, it is easier for women to emulate men because there is a general assumption that they are the "norm", and women are somehow deviant from this. Therefore, it actually upholds a patriarchal values system when women express a desire to engage in similar activities to men, because it maintains the assumption that what men do has inherently more worth and value to society, than what women do, which must be regularly derided, and absolutely not emulated.

What is really sad is that children as young as 6 are able to pick up on these cues, and choices which they make are guided by these prejudices.

10 April 2008

Knives Out

Reading this article concerning the epidemic of male violence against women earlier this evening reminded me of a rather horrible experience I had on a train from Cornwall to Bath last Friday. A very scary drunk man threatened me, and, although I was oblivious to this particularly nasty aspect of the encounter, he had a knife. He slashed his throat in the buffet carriage before being carted off the train in Bristol by 4 policemen, presumably armed. However, before the train got to Bristol, he was seated right across the aisle from me. He didn't harm anyone else on the train, although the women he had shouted obscenities at and otherwise threatened were undoubtedly, like me, rather shaken by the experience.

The niggling thing, for me, is this; at what point would it have been reasonable to consider him a very real threat? At what point should action have been taken? Looking back, I was in very real danger for that whole train journey. It was extremely easy for that man to be on the train and cause so much trouble - and he was left totally to his own devices. What can we do to increase the safety of people in a confined environment, such as a train?

c'mon Italy, join us in the 21st Century!

Ok, I know I had a go at Berlusconi yesterday, and I have to say that I actually love Italy, but clearly the Italians have got some work to do on women's rights. This article comes up with the shocking statistic that just 46% of Italian women have work, because women are considered to be less good candidates than men. People who say that sexism doesn't exist in the western world anymore: what more proof do you need?

09 April 2008

"get your tits out for trafficking"

I did not come up with the title of this post unaided, it actually comes from the excellent article written by Julie Bindel highlighting the fact that more and more charities are using highly sexualised - and sexist - images of women in order to further their cause.

What really bothers me about the actions of charities like Peta is that it is never OK to subjugate the rights of one group in order to further the interests of another. I don't accept the argument that "the women volunteered/agreed" or whatever. We can all be agents of our own oppression. Just because someone has agreed to something doesn't make it not sexist.

I wish that these charities would think up some ways of appealing to the masses (which they must obviously do) which doesn't simultaneously objectify and alienate a whole group of people by likening them to animals, and perpetuating the sexist vision of women which a great deal of society sadly has anyway.

Feministe has more.

Idiot of the day: Silvio Berlusconi

Apparently, Silvio Berlusconi has really hit the left where it hurts; left-wing women are ugly! Why is it that when right-wing politicians or activists are feeling threatened, they find it appropriate to compare the relative attractiveness of their female supporters? Says a lot about the values of the right.

As an aside: Berlusconi has pledged to appoint 4 women to his cabinet if he is elected at the next election! Wow! That will be so amazing and representative! Thank you Silvio Berlusconi!

07 April 2008

Abortion in Nigeria

I read this article on the beeb with tears in my eyes. I can't bear to think of women dying so needlessly in Nigeria, because a procedure that is relatively straightforward in the west is denied to them. However, the reason I particularly wanted to highlight this article, is because of the way that it ends.

Two attempts to change the law were stopped by conservative women's groups.

They say a change in the law would promote promiscuity, and weaken the moral fibre of Nigeria.

"Making more abortions available is not the answer," says Saudata Sani, a female member of the House of Representatives for Kaduna state, in northern Nigeria.

"Women need to be educated about their rights over their body and given opportunities to plan their families, but it must be done in a way that protects public morality."

Other medical specialists say that the law is just a part of the picture.

"Even if it was possible to get a legal abortion, many women would not be able to get a safe one," said Dr Francis Ohanyido, the president of the International Public Health Forum.

"Medical facilities vary widely and it is almost impossible to guarantee quality."

Cultural taboos mean even if there was a clinic in their town, it would be impossible for most women to go there, he said.

Firstly, making abortion illegal apart from to save the life of the mother, which is the current situation in Nigeria I believe, clearly and obviously does not prevent women from seeking abortions. It does, however, create a climate in which women find it increasingly difficult to access the care that they require. Furthermore, they are frightened of going to seek medical attention if they start to experience severe pain or bleeding etc after having received an illegal abortion because they are worried about the consequences for them, and for their families. This is costing women their lives.

Secondly, I wouldn't want to presume that I know how to solve all of the problems facing women in Nigeria, when it comes to their reproductive rights. I can fully accept that simply legalising abortion there will not put an end to unsafe practices, and the death of many women. That is why I view it as a first step. Just because something is difficult, does not mean that we should not attempt it in the first place.

My First Post

So this is my first post...feminism and food, two things which really interest me!

06 April 2008

It's a Jungle Out There

I am in the middle of reading the hilarious and down to earth offering by Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon. I will write a review when I'm done, but at the moment, it gets 10/10!

Back to blogging...

I am in the middle of the craziest law course in the whole world, but I am going to try to start blogging more regularly again. Watch this space!

10 January 2008


This is one of my favourite dinners!

1 red pepper
1 aubergine
1 onion
2 courgettes
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp mixed herbs

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add the courgette and red peppers. Cook until slightly softened, and the onion is translucent. Add the tinned tomatoes, aubergine, tomato puree and mixed herbs. Put in the oven at a medium temperature for about an hour.

You could serve this with couscous, pasta, potatoes, bulgar wheat, rice. The possibilities are endless! I like a bit of grated cheese on mine too.

Review: Sex...with Mum and Dad

I know, I know, the title is horrendous. But actually I think that this programme on BBC3 is worth giving a chance, particularly for teenagers and their parents (who the show is primarily aimed at). The basic premise is that the relationship between the teenager and their parent(s) has broken down. They go to visit Maria Schopman, who is a Dutch "sexologist" and family therapist helps families to talk about sex and their experiences of it, and attitudes towards it.

As a family, they have to involve themselves with various tasks which involve a great deal of nervous giggling and red faces. Some of the tasks have included making clay penises, putting dolls into a variety of sexual positions, and drawing stick people of the number of sexual partners that you have had. But, despite the initial embarrassment that these tasks of course cause, they seem to work. Teenagers and their parents use these exercises as a way of opening up a dialogue about sex which has been missing previously.

One of the most positive things about this programme is that fundamentally it accepts that teenagers are sexual beings, and that that is OK. Whilst teenagers in the last show (who were using casual sexual relationships as a way of trying to seek intimacy) are encouraged to moderate their behaviour, I actually don't have a problem with this. Once they had been able to be honest with themselves and their parents about sex, then they actually made the decision for themselves that they did not necessarily want to engage in that particular behaviour any more. They were not pressured into making this decision, and Maria Schopman appears to be entirely unshockable and unjudgmental.

I think that not talking to children and teenagers about sex, relationships, STDs, pregnancy, and a wealth of other issues relating to sex means that they can feel lost. They engage in risky behaviour because they are not aware of safe sex. As Maria Schopman points out, in the Netherlands, teenage pregnancy and the rate of STD infection is significantly lower, and she believes that this is because they discuss these issues with their children in depth, giving them the tools to go and and enjoy sexual relationships safely, and knowing that they have the support of their parents. We should be doing this in the UK too, as this programme aptly demonstrates.

09 January 2008

Spanish abortion clinics to go on strike

Now, whilst I support wholeheartedly the aims of the Spanish doctors involved in this, I am not sure that further limiting women's access to abortion is really the way to do it. The BBC reports that over 2000 women could be affected by these strikes. Some of the women will no doubt be able to get the procedure once the strikes are over, but they will still have had to endure being pregnant against their will for longer than they should. Unfortunately for other women, who are up against the time limit for abortion, they will be forced into childbirth. This is not a happy situation for anyone.

Spain: sort out your laws so that women can access abortions quickly, safely and legally, and doctors can perform them without fear of criminalisation.

But what about teh menz?????

I'm a bit late on this one, but it is just too important to pass by. The LA Times published an article about "post-abortion syndrome" in men. Lets just take a moment to remember that this is not a proven illness in women, so it is totally bizarre to be referring to this "illness" in regard to men.
(Just to warn you, if you don't like swearing, don't read on!)
So, to the article;
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Baier talks often to the little boy he calls Jamie. He imagines this boy -- his son -- with blond hair and green eyes, chubby cheeks, a sweet smile.
Interesting to note that it is a boy that Jason Baier imagines. Clearly, this would be his preference, as everyone knows that women/girls are only half-human anyway. Why would he be bothered if his fiancee had aborted a daughter?

Baier, 36, still longs for the child who might have been, with an intensity that bewilders him: "How can I miss something I never even held?"

These days, he channels the grief into activism in a burgeoning movement of "post-abortive men." Abortion is usually portrayed as a woman's issue: her body, her choice, her relief or her regret. This new movement -- both political and deeply personal in nature -- contends that the pronoun is all wrong.
Yeah, because abortion definitely affects men more than women. How could we have been getting it so badly wrong for so long?

Last spring, the Supreme Court cited these accounts as one reason to ban the late-term procedure that opponents call "partial-birth" abortion. The majority opinion suggested that the ban would protect women from a decision they might later regret.

Women's testimony was also used to justify a sweeping abortion ban passed in 2006 in South Dakota. (Voters overturned the ban before it could take effect.)
Now, I don't want to be unfair here. Women can also act like assholes about abortion. Just because you regret your abortion love, doesn't mean that you should be able to restrict the access of other women to the same procedure. We are sentient adult human beings. Sometimes we will make choices that we will later regret. That is up to us. It is part of life. We do not need to be "protected" from procedures which we decide that we need to have.

Therapist Vincent M. Rue, who helped develop the concept of post-abortion trauma, runs an online study that asks men to check off symptoms (such as irritability, insomnia and impotence) that they feel they have suffered as a result of an abortion. When men are widely recognized as victims, Rue said, "that will change society."
Interesting. More proof here that women are clearly less human and less important than men. Yeah, sure women have been moaning on for years about abortion and how they feel about things. But we can't take them seriously, after all, everyone knows that women are irrational emotional creatures. But teh menz? They are so different. If they are sad, we must all take notice! Because they are so strong and manly, their tears are really important. Almost as important as the sacred sperm.

But the activists leading the men's movement make clear they're not relying on statistics to make their case. They're counting on the power of men's tears.
God, yeah, statistics and shit are so dull and irrelevant. Lets just get some men to cry on telly, and then women won't be able to kill teh baybeez without our sayso anymore!

Even abortion rights supporters acknowledge that men may benefit from counseling when they and their partners face an unwanted pregnancy. Sociologist Arthur Shostak has interviewed thousands of men waiting in abortion clinics; though they tried to project strength to help their lovers through the ordeal, many told him that they felt powerless, anxious and alone. Some dreamed about the children they would never know.
Now, I am not denying that abortion can be a difficult experience for everyone involved. All medical procedures are stressful, not just for the person receiving the treatment, but for anyone who loves them too. I am sure that men do experience regret after their partner has had an abortion, but that does not give them the right to limit other women's access to the procedure.

Chris Aubert, a Houston lawyer, felt only indifference in 1985 when a girlfriend told him she was pregnant and planned on an abortion. When she asked if he wanted to come to the clinic, he said he couldn't; he played softball on Saturdays. He stuck a check for $200 in her door and never talked to her again.

Aubert, 50, was equally untroubled when another girlfriend had an abortion in 1991. "It was a complete irrelevancy," he said. But years later, Aubert felt a rising sense of unease. He and his wife were cooing at an ultrasound of their first baby when it struck him -- "from the depths of my belly," he said -- that abortion was wrong.

Aubert has since converted to Catholicism. He and his wife have five children, and they sometimes protest in front of abortion clinics. Every now and then, though, Aubert wonders: What if his first girlfriend had not aborted? How would his life look different?

He might have endured a loveless marriage and, perhaps, a sad divorce. He might have been saddled with child support as he tried to build his legal practice. He might never have met his wife. Their children -- Christine, Kyle, Roch, Paul, Vance -- might not exist.

"I wouldn't have the blessings I have now," Aubert said. So in a way, he said, the two abortions may have cleared his path to future happiness.

"That's an intellectual debate I have with myself," he said. "I struggle with it."

In the end, Aubert says his moral objection to abortion always wins. If he could go back in time, he would try to save the babies.

But would his long-ago girlfriends agree? Or might they also consider the abortions a choice that set them on a better path?

Aubert looks startled. "I never really thought about it for the woman," he says slowly.

I think we can all agree that this guy is a complete wanker. Instead of feeling bad that he went to play softball instead of going with his partner of the time to support her, he only wishes that he could get "the baby" back. It is interesting that when it was most convenient for him for his girlfriend to have an abortion, so that he could continue with law school etc, "it was a complete irrelevancy." When he benefitted from the abortion, it was fine. Now, he has the insulation of many years. He is married. He is never going to be in a position where a baby could ruin his chances. Now is when he decides that abortion is wrong. Strange that isn't it?

Also, he would rather go back and "save the babies" from his two failed relationships, rather than enjoy the children he has now, with a woman that he (presumably) loves? I think that goes to show how shallow and hypothetical the whole anti-choice argument is. He is able to say these things because he never has to act on them. He is able to oppose abortion now, having benefitted from it in the past, because he never has to face an unwanted pregnancy. He is able to have the best of both worlds, because now he can moralise about the effects of abortion, and say "it wasn't my fault", so that he doesn't have to be responsible for the choices that he made when he was younger.

The final comment, "I never really thought about it for the woman", says it all to me. He doesn't consider women to be anything more than fuckholes and incubators, who unfortunately have brains and mouths attached, which inconveniently mean that they blather on about their "rights" and their "ambitions". God, why don't they just shut the fuck up and let him fuck them and father children without having to worry about any of the consequences? Jesus, life is just so unfair, he is so discriminated against.

My heart bleeds, fuckwit.

07 January 2008

Idiot of the day: Pervez Musharraf

Oh, I get it, Benazir Bhutto was the only person to blame for her own assassination, not the person who pulled the trigger. Silly, silly me. Thank you for telling us the truth President Musharraf.

via Feministing


My exams are over! So I'm hoping to get back into a bit more of a routine with my blogging.

In more important news today, Which? has conducted a survey of cosmetic surgery providers, and found that many of them do not fully explain the risks, and do not give people long enough to decide.

I'm not a massive fan of cosmetic surgery anyway, and this just convinces me further of how convenient it is that we make women feel so shit about the way that they look, so they spend literally thousands of pounds on makeup, anti-ageing products, weightloss remedies, magazines offering miracle cures, etc etc, and when that fails, and they still get older, they resort to cosmetic surgery. What a moneypot!

05 January 2008

Britney blogging

I try to stay away from 'celebrity gossip' and things of that nature. A little while ago I realised that both women's magazines and the gossip rags just make me feel shitty, and so I made a decision to no longer read them. I have not regretted it yet.

But it is impossible to avoid the Britney Spears media circus. I find the whole thing really depressing, because whilst some people may argue that she put herself in the public eye, so she must live with it, I just don't think its as simple as that. Just because someone is famous doesn't mean that they are no longer a person who has a right to privacy. What I particularly despise about the way that Britney is portrayed in the media, is the obvious glee which every mistake or incidence of poor judgment is met with. I'm not claiming that Britney Spears is a saint, but she is clearly going through a difficult period in her life. The glare of the world's media is not going to aid her recovery, and at the moment, we are voyeuristically watching a young woman on what seems to be a journey of self-destruction. How is that entertainment?

04 January 2008

Walking home from the Tube

Yesterday, when I was walking home from the Tube, a man decided to follow me about 3/4 of the way home making animal noises at me. Although on the face of it, this was not necessarily intimidating behaviour, it was intimidating for me. I think it is important for women to talk about these everyday experiences, to demonstrate how frequent they are, and how normalised they are by our society.

Idiot of the day: Andy Dolan of the Daily Mail

Entitled, Beware of the Office Piranha: Male bosses warned of man-eating women who are preying on them, the article goes on to outline the shocking risks which men face from women every day when they go out to work. Women are seducing poor defenceless men who are, it seems, unable to say no. Some of these men who end up having sex even have wives, but they can't help it, its not their fault. In fact, I'm surprised that the author of this article, Andy Dolan, has not set up a charity to help the poor victims of these evil man-eating women. One of the worst crimes these women commit is that if they become pregnant, they actually expect the fathers - these poor preyed upon creatures - to pay child support! Outrageous! What has happened to the days when a man could bang his secretary with impunity, and then go home to his wife? What is the world coming to?!?


via Shakesville

Obama and Huckabee lead after Iowa

I don't know yet how I feel about Barack Obama. I desperately want America to diversify their political profile, and so, from that point of view, I would like to see either Clinton or Obama become the Democratic candidate. However, they both have problems, and I don't want to support them simply because they either have a vagina or have black skin.

I'd like to see more of them, and of John Edwards too, before I decide who my personal preference would be.

On the GOP front, I am not surprised that Huckabee is leading, he has seemed the most popular in polls for a while. In some respects, perhaps he isn't that bad a candidate if the world has to endure another Republican as US President. But, if you are in the majority of the population by being either a woman, or gay, he is bad news.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the New Hampshire primaries on Tuesday.

03 January 2008

Something I love...

Coming in from the cold, putting on thick socks and a big jumper, and looking outside. I love the feeling of snugness!

Iowa caucus day

I just wanted to share an interesting article I found about Mike Huckabee on the Guardian website. Huckabee is one of the leading Republican candidates, and looks set to do well in the Caucus today. However, his record on women's rights is diabolical, as Kira Cochrane describes. She points out that whilst his refusal to be drawn on whether or not women should act as ministers is not in itself a big issue, it reveals a great deal about his unwillingness to discuss issues of equality.

One of the things which worries feminists the most though, is his release of rapist Wayne Dumond, nearly 25 years early, despite having received letters from Dumond's victims begging him not to release him. Dumond went on to rape several other women and murder at least one. He died whilst awaiting trial for these crimes.

In general, I don't feel that incarcerating people for great lengths of time is necessarily an answer to anything. I genuinely believe that even the worst criminals can be rehabilitated to the extent that they are able to enjoy a relatively free life. However, what I'd really like to call Huckabee out on here is his hypocrisy. He is a man who supports jail as a punishment for wrongdoing. He is a man that supports the death penalty. Why, then, go against all of your supposed beliefs to release a man who has committed serious and violent crimes, and is likely to commit them again?

But most concerning of all is Huckabee's complete disregard for women's reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. I can't really say it better than Cochrane here;

Staunchly opposed to abortion (which he has compared to the Holocaust), one of Huckabee's first acts as governor was to block Medicaid, the health scheme for people on low incomes, from funding an abortion for a 15-year-old with learning disabilities who had been raped by her stepfather. This went directly against federal law, which requires states to fund abortions in cases of rape.

It is the sheer, unbridled cruelty of this decision that gives the lie to Huckabee's claims that he cares for the vulnerable. If there is anyone more vulnerable than a disabled teenage rape victim, I certainly can't think who it might be. Who hearts Huckabee? Only fools or misogynists.
Cochrane is right in her description of this decision as cruel. Clearly, Huckabee is unable to empathise with anyone who has a uterus. Fingers crossed that Huckabee is not the next American President!

02 January 2008

3 bean chili

I love this on jacket potatoes, even though this is totally non-authentic!

1 tsp olive oil
1 red/green/yellow pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 chili, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tin baked beans (I like the Whole Earth ones, but any will do)
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin other type of beans
12 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar

Fry the onion, pepper, and chili together. Then add the cumin and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the beans, with the juice from the baked beans as well. Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato puree, and sugar. Cook for about 30 mins, until slightly sticky in consistency.

Season to taste. I like to serve this on jacket potatoes, but it would be equally good on rice or in burritos or on tortilla chips. Serve with a good dollop of natural yogurt or sour cream.

Councils face £2.8bn fine in backdated pay for women.

The Guardian today reported that following a Local Government Employers study, councils in England have been discriminating against women significantly and consistently. This is bad enough, but the biased way that this serious issue has been reported reveals a great deal about the attitude of the mainstream media towards women. The Guardian is supposedly a thoughtful, left-leaning broadsheet, but this report reads more like it has been written by one of the rags.

Curtis criticises women for resorting to no-win no-fee lawyers in order to try to seek justice:

Council leaders and trade unions today warn the bill could escalate because local deals being thrashed out are under threat from firms of no-win no-fee lawyers. The lawyers, who pick out individual cases, say they are simply fighting for women to get the full six years in back pay they may claim, but the local deals typically reach smaller settlements to ensure all women, systematically, receive some money without making deep cuts in services.
However, later in the article, she cites an example of a woman who was offered a pitiful and insulting sum to 'repay' her for the discrimination which she has suffered.

Rosaline Wilson, 60, from Guisborough, near Middlesbrough, earned £6.50 an hour managing a team of 13 care workers for Redcar and Cleveland council. She was offered £5,000 to settle out of court but won £32,000 with a no-win no-fee lawyer.
We should assume that Polly Curtis thinks the stupid bitches should just shut the fuck up and stop creating such a big, expensive mess.

Why shouldn't women claim the money that they are owed? They have worked just as hard as the men at the same jobs, and whilst I understand that it is a problem if the money to repay these women is coming out of the budget for other areas of the council's work, the question of how this bill is to be financed is really not their problem. Women shouldn't have been discriminated against in the first place, and if the councils don't like it, then there is a simple and effective solution to make sure that this does not happen again: Do not discriminate against anyone.

Law exam hell

I am currently in law exam hell so my posting may be a bit sporadic for the next few days.

But, in the meantime, here is an interview the BBC did with Julia Roberts, supposedly about how she balances motherhood and her career. However, despite quoting Roberts, who said that the emphasis placed on appearance in Hollywood has a detrimental effect on acting - they then go on to spend over half the article describing Robert's appearance. They describe her clothing at the interview and then mention that she stripped "down
to a floral fuchsia bikini for her role as a wealthy Texas socialite in Charlie Wilson's War."

They only briefly quote Roberts on motherhood right at the end of the piece.

It is a tough trick to pull off, as any working parent knows.

Still, if you are Julia Roberts you are in with a chance.

"I have a really great husband, who's also a great father. I have great girlfriends and I'm in a position where I can have somebody help me with my kids when I need that - I'm not doing it by myself."

Well done BBC on another sparkling example of journalistic integrity, incisive articles and intelligent discourse.

01 January 2008

Belated post: Idiot of the day: Norman Wells

Apparently, the reason that the teenage pregnancy rate is not dropping as quickly as the government hoped when it set its targets for 2010 is because schools are relying on sex education and contraception too much;

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, told the Sunday Telegraph that the government had allowed the "systematic removal of every restraint that used to act as a disincentive to under-age sex".

"The problems associated with teenage pregnancy will never be solved so long as the government persists with its reliance on yet more contraception and sex education," he said.

Yeah, because abstinence only education has such a great history of success in the states! And we really aren't making young people feel bad enough about their sexual choices. I think single mothers are getting a particularly easy ride. Norman Wells, thank you for enlightening us.

Happy 2008!

My plans for 2008 include:

Finish my law course
Find a job for when I finish law school (in 2009)
Continue to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with negative emotions
Go to Fiji to see my Grandmother
Go to India
Continue to blog regularly

and probably a million other things too!

Tom the Dancing Bug

I love this cartoon!

From salon.com