Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Line

Sometimes the headline is enough: Rape victim given 101 lashes for becoming pregnant.

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The Porn Generation

This is not new news - many researchers have shown links between porn and sexual violence and harrassment before. I don't even understand why we need research to demonstrate a link - isn't it obvious? Still whenever I mention it I am always scrutinised for the exact details of the research in an incredulous way so I'm posting up the link since it's in the news today.

"young boys who see pornography are more inclined to believe there is nothing wrong with pinning down or sexually harassing a girl"

Now I know that young people today have more access to porn than the did a few years back. Did you know that the average amount of time per week that teenage boys spend watching porn is 90 minutes? I'm not sure what exact age range this (shoddy journalism) is but it's frightening because there is a real sense I hear from people that there's no point passing laws to keep kids away from porn, they're going to see it anyway. Well I understand they'll spend a couple of minutes curiously peering at it, and I can cope with that. 90 minutes a week? That's more than they spend studying science in some schools! No wonder they come out with a totally messed up attitude towards women.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

A Quick Recap On The Whole God Thing

Just in case you've been asleep for the last 500 years or accidentally cancelled your subscription to New Scientist - turns out there is no god. Someone clearly forgot to tell the BBC. In the wake of the Haitian earthquake, while debates rage about what action governments should take and aid agencies appeal urgently for funds and support, the BBC have the nerve to publish this piece entitled "Why does God allow natural disasters?". Really. And remember they're the same people who never fail to put inverted commas around the word "rapist" or "murderer" even if there are dozens of victims with the same story (e.g John Worboys) or corpses everywhere. Where are the inverted commas round "allow". I mean "god" is a fictional concept, how can a fictional concept "allow" things?

The article itself is frightening.

"Archbishop of York John Sentamu said he had 'nothing to say to make sense of this horror', while another clergyman, Canon Giles Fraser, preferred to respond 'not with clever argument but with prayer'."

So even the most "respected" theologians in the country don't have a ruddy clue. You would think the next paragraph would start "uh oh, looks like their beliefs don't hold even the slightest drop of water here, maybe all that virgin birth, everlasting life stuff is nonsense too...". Instead:

"Perhaps their stance is understandable. The Old Testament is also not clear to the layman on such matters."

Yes but they're not "laymen" are they? One of them is the Archbishop of York.

"So what should believers say?"

How about "I'm clearly wrong"?

"To make progress, we might distinguish two kinds of evil:

•the awful things people do, such as murder, and
•the awful things that just happen, such as earthquakes"


You can't really do that actually. The earthquake in Haiti might come under the heading of "natural disasters" but if the country wasn't so poorly run and if the international community had been more engaged in improving life there, more accepting of Haitian refugees and faster to respond after the earthquake there's no doubt the loss of life could have been massively reduced. So it is a largely man-made disaster. And by the same token the difference between reckless driving and manslaughter can be down to weather conditions making the road slippery. If there were a god, she could intervene at any time with a well-placed lightening bolt.

"It's OK, some will insist, because God works in mysterious ways."

Weird how if I'm trying to be mysterious I talk in half sentences and avoid eye contact, god does it by throwing rubble on the heads of 200,000 Haitians. And the last line of the article is:

"If a deity exists, why didn't he prevent this?"

In other stupid questions: If cheese is purple, why doesn't it taste of blackcurrant? If Spain is next to Antarctica, why is it so warm? If goats usually wear mini-skirts, why isn't there one in the Spice Girls? (enough stupid questions...)

Lets try this question instead: Given that no deity exists, why do I keep assigning a gender to a mythical concept?

Or this one: Given that no deity exists and prayer doesn't work, is there really any use for this great big stained glass building and if there isn't how many parcels of medical supplies could we buy and deliver to Haiti with the money we'd get selling it and wouldn't people respect us a whole lot more if we did that instead of wandering about in embroidered frocks smilingly admitting our religious beliefs don't hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny?

Just me?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Cause and Effect

The BBC website reports "Sex website row led to wife murder, Swansea trial told". Yet somehow I feel like the main cause of the gruesome murder was not that a woman had the temerity to question her husband's use of websites aimed at those trying to arrange casual sex encounters but instead the fact that he's a brutal homicidal misogynist criminal. No? I mean why doesn't it say "man's use of sex websites led to murder"? Because I'm pretty sure if he hadn't been on the sites, she wouldn't have asked about it. Do we really live in a world where a guy has a right to log on to sites seeking casual sex but a woman doesn't have the right to even question that behaviour? If anything "led to" Kirsty Grabham's appalling murder, you would have to say it is Paul Grabham's history of serious violence against her.

The article also claims that both partners "worked" as prostitutes. Then is says she had sex for money while he hung around in the background. He meanwhile sought casual sex and dogging on the internet and beat her up. I'm not sure I'd call him a prostitute. I think the word might be "pimp" here.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Keeping It In The Family

A minor, but worrying development - the BBC website has changed the title of it's "Education" section to read "Education and Family". In my experience when politicians or think tanks, etc talk about "family" it is bad news. "Family values" means "get back in the kitchen women". People who talk about the importance of "family" are usually trying to stigmatise single mothers or something similar. It's meaningless anyway because we're all in families. Whether you count me, Mr Cru and the cat or whether you include other relatives who don't live with us - it's all family.

This seems to have been timed to co-incide with David Cameron banging on about tax breaks for married couples. This is now the top story on what used to be the education section of the BBC site. Underneath it says:

"'End of nuclear family' forecast

Cameron backs family support

'Toxic cycle' of family breakdown"

Which all comes back to this hideous notion of assuming that "family" = good. When we know perfectly well that for 2 women a week in the UK "family" = murder. We know that child abuse is happening all over the country, domestic violence, forced marriage, marital rape, all these things. Seems to me that if we're going to have a news section about "family" these things should get some coverage - not just David Cameron's largely meaningless quotes.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I HATE Boris

I used to hate Boris on an intellectual level - I thought his policies were dreadful but they didn't affect me so much personally. Today that changed.

I made the mistake of leaving home without my Oyster Card. Do you know you can no longer get a one-day bus pass without an Oyster Card? So I paid £2 out and £2 back AND if I go out again later I'll still have to pay again. It also means the at-stop ticket sales machines now only offer one of the four options they used to sell (since you can also no longer get a young person's rate without an Oyster card) which is a real waste of technology. It means people from out of town, people who forget their card and people who don't understand the system could end up spending £10 or £12 just getting around town on the buses for the day.

Recently there has been criticism of low-cost airlines who then charge a huge fee for "booking with a credit or debit card" - their argument being that if there is a way of not paying the fee - however arduous or obscure - then can claim the fare without the fee as the quoted fare. Then of course they charge you for having luggage, choosing a seat, etc. It's a scam. What Boris is doing on the buses is the same thing - unless you apply for and allow time to receive an Oyster card and don't lose it, have it stolen or forget it - travelling around London by bus becomes ridiculously expensive. The fares with an Oyster card have also gone up.

And I'm totally cornered. I won't drive for obvious reasons. I'm not to be trusted on a bike (and it exacerbates my Raynaud's to ride everywhere). So my only other choice is to walk. Realistically I won't do that every day, I'll not have time. I may well end up getting more cabs though since the price differential is less and less these days.

I see this as a warning of what will happen under a tory government. Really - he has fixed the full underground and all systems passes - the most expensive ones - and he's trying to screw more money out of those who try to save and use the buses.

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Today's Question Is...

What's the minimum age you need to be to work as a BBC correspondent? I am not making this up - they have a feature today called "Yemen: Exotic, remote and 'a little bit scary'". Brilliant. Could the BBC not have tried to explain it's insight in a slightly more nuanced way? And does the use of inverted commas somehow justify saying something that could clearly come across as xenophobic? Tune in next week for "France: Cultured, sophisticated and 'full of cheese-eating surrender monkeys'"...

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Sisters Doing It For Themselves

Oh dear - Luisa Dillner in the Daily Mail. Has the civil war in Darfur suddenly ground to a halt and peace spread across the middle east while I was napping? Because otherwise I don't see much in the way of a valid excuse for padding out a page-worth of a national newspaper (o.k. I exaggerate - the Daily Male) with this absolute dross.

It's called "Your best friend - and deadly rival: Why the love-hate bond between sisters is the most precious relationship of all" which sort of means "I don't really have anything to write here but I'm trying to make it seem exciting". She describes her two daughters "One has stolen the favourite spot in the bed, and the other feels short-changed on cuddles." Brilliant - this is the sort of information than when someone starts telling me on the phone I switch on the TV subtitles so I can murmer along in agreement while actually catching up on House or Scrubs.

"No one can hurt you like your sister. With a man, you have the nuclear option: you can leave. You don’t have that with a sister." Well unless that man is your brother. Or father, son, etc, right? And actually you can leave your sister. If you really don't get on you can - once you reach adulthood - part company and lose touch if you want.

"It doesn’t seem to matter how big or small your family, or whether you live in Britain or Outer Mongolia - if you’ve got a sister, you’ve got the woman who can change in a heartbeat from being your best friend to being your deadliest rival." Really? Cos my sister and I get on pretty well when we see each other which is a few times a year. If she's my deadliest rival - or best friend - she has a pretty clever way of hiding it by acting like she lives in Southhampton and works in HR...

Who on earth actually lives in Daily Mail world? No-one! Really Luisa Dillner - give up now, there has to be something better you can do with your life!

[And fittingly that is not a picture of me and my sister. It's me and my friend Karen from down the road - I'm having to improvise because I don't have any recent pictures of me and my sister...]

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Interesting Link Of The Day

If you've got 20 seconds to spare today - I thought this was interesting about the scale of the universe.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Frightening Read of the Day

The deaths of Christelle Pardo and her little boy show just how screwed up our system is. Those able to work are offered benefits but those unable to are refused. Seems like all they care about is getting something back. Note that because the jobseekers allowance was cut off because she was pregnant, no guy, not even a single dad in an otherwise totally similar situation, could find themselves in the same horrific predicament.*

*Thanks to Incurable Hippie, currently guest-blogging at The F-Word for pointing this out to me in an email!

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Out, Out, Damn Spot

Oh dear - I just laughed so hard I nearly lost bladder control.

There is an article in The Times about how the female G-Spot is a myth. I will deal with the article shortly. First though take a look at the very first comment added below the article...

"John Chamberlain wrote:
First of all the Dr. was British, Second of all, the doctor was a man.

Heck he'd have a better chance of finding the Ark of the Covenant.

I have been with over a hundred women and they all had G spots, 10% of them saying no man had ever made them realize they had one,

Just because your doing it wrong, doesn't mean it doesn't exist..
."

So the G-spot is right there but all these women just couldn't find it on their own until miracle-boy came along? What percentage of them were just saying whatever the hell they thought would stop him scrabbling about pointlessly down there? I'm going 100%, no? Strange how despite his miraculous sexual technique at least the first 99 of these 100 women didn't end up in a lasting relationship with him?!

Can men really be this delusional? Say it like Obama: Yes They Can!

Here's the skinny boys - if a woman tells you she rarely or never has an orgasm from penetrative sex the best response is to find out what other activities do give her pleasure and then be sure to include some of them in your foreplay (look it up FHM readers). Do not spend the next four hours teeth gritted, dryly grinding away in hope of a miracle. A quick survey of my straight female friends suggests the vast majority have faked orgasm, always for the same reason - just to get him to stop before it starts to really sting and without hurting his feelings.

Now the elusive G-Spot. Does it or does it not exist? Well it depends what exactly the definition of "G-Spot" is. The most sensitive part of a woman's (or man's actually) legs might well be the back of the knees. But no-one talks about the mysterious "knee-spot". Most women would agree that different parts of their vagina are differently sensitive too. The most sensitive area for many women is about 2-4 inches in on the front side. But that doesn't make it some sort of magical spot that exposed to so much as a warm draft sends a woman off multiple-orgasming like some sort of professional bonfire night display. It's just the most sensitive bit so if she's into it, and you're into it, it's not a bad place to focus some attention on your way round.

I feel like I just turned into some sort of sex advice agony aunt. Address all problems to "Dear Cruella..."

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Economic Tits

So I know - I should expect this sort of thing from The Sun. Seriously though, I would do a line-by-line except as with most Sun stories there's only about three lines. Apparently the recession's over because more people are going to strip clubs. So....

1) Where are the statistics on this? There aren't any. This is based on one guy saying so - one guy who in return gets his chain of misogyny shops plugged in Britain's best-selling paper.

2) Hooray - lets see what other dodgy industries we can use to prop up the economy. People are buying more heroin than ever. Hired assassins have never been so popular. The demand for mugging old ladies has gone through the roof. Oh whoops, except economic benefits don't justify an industry that's riddled with exploitation.

3) If this is all true then it's very very frightening news indeed. Women are already seriously over-represented in the ranks of those affected by the downturn. We earn less across the board and are way more likely to suffer discrimination, way more likely to have dependent family members to support along with complicated caring arrangements. How many more women will start to feel that their only viable economic choice is to work in one of these horrible places? And then when they're not making as much as they thought, feel like they have to start offering sexual services too...

4) Again if this is true then why exactly would we imagine that lap-dancing is more resistant to economic conditions than other activities? What other industries appear to have strong resiliance against bad economic conditions? Alcohol and cigarettes. Stuff that's addictive, stuff that is actually doing you no good at all but over a number of years you've become so used to that you can't live without it. If lap-dancing is really just the "harmless" fun that these assholes constantly claim it is then when money's a bit tight guys would stop going and come back when they have more disposable income. Not happening.

5) Our reliable correspondant says the customers are city bankers. So bad news for the female city bankers who wanted to get ahead with a bit of networking. He also says more and more women are going to strip clubs - I wonder how many of them really have a "different" attitude to "sexiness and fun" and how many of them are just worried about losing their jobs if they don't go along with the team for the socialising.

6) Of course - random excuse to show more tits in The Sun. Why is this "newspaper" not sold on the top shelves? This is not news. News would have found actual market trend statistics, interviewed an economist rather than a pimp, and included, for balance, comments from those who feel that a rise in strip club attendance may have it's negative side too. This is porn. Pure porn. Porn goes on the top shelf - away from where children can reach it.

The Sun "newspaper" has so much in common with strip clubs: Bad for women. Bad for men. Bad for business. Bad for society.

Two footnotes here: (1) on the subject of how young women are now supposed to have a "different" attitude to "sexiness and fun". When the revolution comes and I am magically able to access whatever pleases me whenever I please I'm going to demand regular hot baths poured for me and about an hour a day of cunnilingus. Going to a grimy, tacky strip club full of drunk blokes letching at women who we all know for the most part really don't want to be there strikes me as neither "sexy" nor "fun". (2) The photo - I took it just before xmas in a major chain book store on Oxford Street (I forget which one - Waterstones or Borders I think). There under a huge "we recommend" sign are the gifts for the man who likes to spend his festive season thinking about women's bodies in a strangely dismembered way. The Big Book of Legs and The Big Book of Breasts. I guess great literature isn't dead...

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Words and Their Meanings

There are many excellent dictionary sites on the internet, most are available for free. What a shame that well-paid lawyer Yale Galanter hasn't logged on to one lately. BBC reports that Charlie Sheen put a knife to Brooke Mueller Sheen's throat and threatened to kill her. Mr Galanter responds by telling the media that they are "very much in love". Err no, she may be in love with him (she'd have to be to put up with that behaviour) but the whole knife-throat-death-threat-thing is the big clue here about his feelings for her. "Love" is more of a cuddles-poetry-flowers-dinner-dates-fireplaces-long-walks sort of a thing. Knives and death threats would be "hate".

And before you ask - yes those are my skinny knuckles biro-ed up in the photo. Am going to try to use my new phone to take my own photos for the blog this year rather than borrowing from around the web as I have in the past. Well we'll see how long that lasts!

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