Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Go George!

Anyone who didn't see George Galloway giving evidence to the US senate, you're in for a treat. Take the phone off the hook, make yourself a nice cup of tea, put your feet up and click here on this link. Now go to the video section. Its a long piece - 47 minutes, and the first ten or so are kinda slow as the senators present their accusations, you can skip that if you like. Its a pure joy though once Galloway gets going. Even the most right-wing nutters would have to admit he really made them look like the bunch of nasty idiots they are.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This is quite frightening...

Two months ago we heard that a young girl was raped in her own home in Essex by an intruder. She was quoted as giving a very detailed description of her attacker: "a black man, aged 18 to 20, with dirty teeth, one of them being distinctively clean. He is skinny and wore a grey top and loose ripped trousers, with a loop of chain down one side." Later an artist's impression of the attacker was released again based on her description. Now we are told that the rape claim was false. Now I have no way of knowing the details of the case and what is going on but I do know that only 6% of reported rapes lead to convictions in the UK and that police and prosecutors failing to "believe" victims is a key problem. I'd like to see the case reviewed.

Monday, May 16, 2005

In praise of casual sex

For once the Grauniad's "gender" pages have produced something I can relate to. An article about the morning after pill. For those of us who aren't deeply religious (or even shallowly religious) and don't subscribe to any stupid notions about three little cells having a soul, the availability of the morning after pill offers the freedom to be more spontaneous and have sex even when you've forgotten to pack for it! Hurray!

And before anybody bothers to mail in their comments on the potential risks of having unprotected sex, let me remind you of the risk of NOT having sex: You might wake up one day, discover you're 85, your sex drive has long since dried up, you've got about a fortnight to live and you're still a virgin...!

Something else which is all our own fault...

The charming Yvonne Roberts in the Grauniad reports that working mothers are putting in up to 125 hours per week holding down jobs as well as taking on nearly all the housework and child-care and in many cases preparing meals for the men of the household too. However she says these women "have nobody to blame but themselves". All they need to do is "Do less - and make sure that what is done is properly valued at current market prices." So its now a woman's own fault if her husband doesn't do much housework? Does she really expect women to let their families go hungry for a few weeks until he realises he should probably go to the supermarket? The article is full of enthusiasm for how "It's not difficult to end the rule of 'Supermum!' and bring about a revolution", yet there doesn't seem to be any actual practical advice on how that can be achieved.

There's no doubt that a better model for division on labour in the home would benefit many women. Seems to me however that the problem needs to be approached in a way that doesn't leave the toilet uncleaned and festering with germs for six months at a time while young children are around. One minute she is talking about the plight of single mothers and the next she adds that all they need to do is "let him wear the pinny."

But then for some reason the women (who can blame Yvonne? She probably has kids to feed too!) who publish this sort of preachy misogynist nonsense always get a lot more column inches than those who highlight the real issues. I guess newpaper editors must feel more comfortable reading about how women's problems are all their own fault...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The trouble with Star Wars

Well I'm not much of a film buff but apparently we're off to see The Revenge of the Sith with the guys at work soon. Piccies here on the BBC. Now like most people I love the original three (although I think there should be more female Jedis) and am Lucas-warm about the new three. And here's the thing. The new three lack one key element that the old three have - Hans Solo! Or a character like him. A character who doesn't take himself too seriously and laughs at the way the others do. A character who is motivated by self-interest rather than grandiose ideals. A character we can genuinely identify with. And Hans makes the ludicrous parts seem all the more believable because he's sat in the middle of it going "I can't believe this either".

Without him it ends up feeling more like a third rate version of Lord-of-the-Rings. Well hopefully this next one will be better. Seems like everyone out there agrees the new three aren't as good as the old three but no-one can indentify why. Well problem solved folks. Also there should be more women in it with interesting roles (but that's true of every show on TV more or less).

No school for the wicked

I was rather horrified to read this article. I think religion should be kept out of schools. I had a similar problem when I was a kid, the best local school was C of E so we asked a local vicar to write a letter saying I was a regular church-goer. He obligingly did so even though my entire family are atheists and never go to church except the occassional carol concert. Why should religious kids get a better education than secular kids? Thats really unfair.

Also I think religion should be taught, if at all, in the home, not forced on kids by the school. Schools should teach science, languages, history, geography and life skills, not superstitious mumbo-jumbo about Jesus walking on water and God appearing in a burning births...people rising from the dead... I don't pay tax dollars so the government can teach children rubbish like this as if it were fact.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The porn post

Well this question seems to come up one way or another pretty regularly so lets answer it now and then I'll be able to post the link... Is porn damaging to women?

On the surface of it sexy piccies of consenting adults don't do a great deal of harm. Of course women can be simultaneously sexy and valuable to society in other ways. There are I think three problems with it though:

1) A lot of pornography seems to be more to do with power, celebration of subversive hatred of women and generally trying to make women look foolish and stupid, rather than sexy.

2) Evidence suggests that large portions of the pornography market are exploitative, paying low wages to the women, co-ercing women into participating. A significant amount of production takes place illegally and sometimes minors are involved.

3) Since men are able to easily and readily access a vast range of pornography, and this has become the cultural norm, we create a society in which the acceptable way for men to deal with sexual desire or frustration is to access porn. Women are rapidly headed the same way with the proliferation of sex-toy shops, porn for straight women, male strip clubs, etc. Now I wonder if this is really the healthy way forward...

Not being prudish (hell no) but if you spend more time downloading porn than you spend ACTUALLY HAVING SEX, you should really be asking yourself what went wrong. With the abstinence-only policies spreading round the globe I think we risk becoming a society that sits in their rooms alone downloading the daily allowance of porn approved by the government and the porn offered by the big corporates in return for eating ten happy-meals and buying four pairs of trainers... All a bit "Brave New World" isn't it? Already our advertising billboards and magazines are full of quasi-porn-based adverts. Sexiness shouldn't be a quality designed in a media executive's office based on the results of an extensive market research campaign. It should be discovered and invented by two people in an act of intimacy. Insofar as the proliferation of porn weakens sex as a weapon of human connection and intimacy, it threatens us all.

Phew! Think I need a cold shower now.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blame yourselves girls!

Oh god, here we go again.... Another poster campaign telling women how to behave if they don't want to be violently assaulted. This poster warns, we are told, of "the dangers of drinking too much - from losing valuables to being assaulted".

Why do we continue to run these kinds of campaigns, implying that at some level it's women's own fault if they are a victim of crime? Aren't we trying to build a fair and free society? Isn't it the perpetrators of crime who we are supposed to be locking up, not the victims?

I go out and get at least moderately drunk on a relatively regular basis, once every week or two. Often an unlicensed minicab is the only way to get home and, yes, sometimes I go on to parties or to houses with people I don't necessarily know all that well. I refuse to be told that I can't live my life as I choose to and I refuse to accept that it's my own fault if I'm attacked (which I've never been in a good 15 years of behaving like this).

Now also - men are more frequent victims of muggings and assaults than women. As demonstrated in this Home Office report (see page 8). So why is it that women are being singled out for warnings? The same report states that: "While women were slightly less often victimised, they were much more fearful than men". Lets warn men that if they go out drinking, they could get mugged...

The report also states that "Roughly a third of those who had been mugged reckoned that their assailants had been drinking; of those assaulted, over half believed their attackers had been drinking". Now what this probably indicates is that the kind of people who become muggers and assaulters are more likely than others to develop a drink dependency problem. Alternatively however it could indicate that people who've had too much to drink are more likely to commit these kinds of crimes. Note that "The vast majority of alcohol-related assaults involved male offenders only", that's from another government website, It goes on to say that 90-95% of drunken crime perpetrators are male. So perhaps we should be encouraging men to avoid going out drinking in case they turn into criminals.

When I'm drunk I may well dance like an idiot to 80s music and I might well snog someone I hardly know too. I'm at very little risk of physically attacking anyone though. So don't tell me how much I can and can't drink. Thank you.