Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Today's reading...

Is from The Nation. It's a slightly longer piece about Dr David Hager, stalwart of the US evangelical God-bothering right-wing nutters. He's one of the main people trying, against the majority opinion to prevent the morning after pill being made available over the counter. Of course remember the MAP needs to be taken within 72 hours to have a chance of working and sooner than that if possible. So if you need a prescription to get it, and lets say for example you ripped a condom on Friday night and it's a bank holiday weekend...whoops!

Anyway I never understand how the key FDA people responsible for women's health are men. What the hell do they know about it? Personally I always ask for a woman doctor even if I have ear-ache. I once had a male gynaecologist and mid-smear-test he flippantly told me that he thought women who felt taking the pill affected their state of mind were imagining things...! To which I replied "you take it then!". Then I left, loudly told everyone else in the waiting room what I thought of his services, refused to pay, threatened to sue for trauma and never used that surgery ever again...

Anyway later on in the article Dr Hager turns out to be one of those nice wholesome Godly family men who thinks nothing of repeatedly anally raping his own wife... Amen brother.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Abortion in the US

The BBC has a lengthy article about the latest state of affairs. Some shocking things have emerged. Did you know that in Mississippi if a woman under the age of 18 is impregnated by her own father she still needs her mother's permission to get an abortion?! I'd like to see her given the option to have a free abortion and follow-up health-care, move into a foster home immediately, have several months off work or education with extensive counselling and full legal aid to have her father sent to prison. Am I weird?

They also legally have to tell people seeking an abortion that it will increase their risks of breast cancer. Despite the fact that that's a LIE!

Now don't click this link if you're sqeamish. But here's what happens if you make abortion illegal. This one's a FACT.

Roundup of problems facing women

The Guardian has spontaneously decided to put one together. And for once I think it makes some decent points. Have a read.

Monday, November 28, 2005

How rubbish are the police?!

Just been reading this rather unpleasant story on the BBC. About women trafficked against their will from Eastern Europe into the UK to work under duress as prostitutes. The brothel they worked in was advertising using cards in phone boxes. Mmmm. Have the police never thought of going through those cards, which appear in most phone boxes around London and just checking whether the services offered are legitimate? Seems like an obvious thing to check up on. Probably too busy standing around in tube stations looking for people with bulky or "warm" coats and rucksacks...

Outing God-botherers!

They're everywhere you know! Sneaking into public life, taking over our government with their "faith-based" policies... Spotted this one on the BBC: Nadine Dorries. Who is your hero? Jesus. Mmm. Interesting. And how do you feel Jesus' teachings on the importance of giving all your money to the poor would reconcile with Tory policy of reducing overseas aid? And how does it reconcile with the amount you've spent personally on fake tan? Could have saved a couple of lives with that money... And "thou shalt not kill", this was a bible "biggie". Stone tablets, burning bushes, God was pretty sure about this one, wanted to make it pretty clear. How would that fit in with your party line on bringing back the death penalty for certain offences? Or does your version of the Word of God feature a sub-clause 47 "* unless they've been really naughty". She even spells faith with a capital "F"!

Ultimately what this spells is yet another MP who hasn't really thought through the things they believe in and subscibe to and are attempting to foist onto the rest of us. Tut tut tut.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The normalisation of cosmetic surgery

Seems these days cosmetic surgery is a normal part of life. More worryingly it's referred to repeatedly without the risks being highlighted. The latest strange move is that the NHS is offering staff a 10% discount on cosmetic treatments.

Now - just to try something really dramatic - compare and contrast having plastic surgery and having unprotected sex...

Plastic Surgery has a 0.21% (one in 476) mortality rate. That's based on data from St George's hospital, you can see it here.

The mortality rate from unprotected sex is basically related to the risk of catching HIV, since other STDs are generally considered to be manageable or curable. Unlike plastic surgery you might get another 20 years or more of life with HIV, but lets treat it as instantly fatal. The risk of catching HIV from unprotected heterosexual sex in the UK? 0.0006% (one in 1.7 million). The numbers I've worked on are below, with links to justify all my working...

So you're three and a half thousand times more likely to die during plastic surgery than to die from having unprotected sex. And actually thats a pretty conservative estimate as you can see from all the allowances I've made.
Now of course I'm not encouraging unprotected sex, of course not. But I don't think the NHS would want to encourage their staff to engage in it, do you? Why is it that cosmetic surgery can be talked about freely without mentioning the risks, while much less dangerous activities carry innumerable warnings?
What we need to address is why so many women (and it is almost always women) feel that they need plastic surgery. What is society doing to continually reinforce critical focus on their appearances? And isn't it irresponsible to do so without talking about less dangerous ways to improve self image? Such as ignoring media messages about idealised feminine forms?

And here are the HIV infection risk calculations:

There are approximately 58,300 people who are HIV positive in the UK. Here's the link. That's out of an overall population of 60,400,000. Of course we have to take into account the way in which HIV affects the population. So lets assume that it only affects people in the age range 20-49, there are 48,800,000 of them. Data here. And lets assume that 40% of them are, for religious or personal reasons, entirely celebate or at least monogamous throughout their lifetimes with one partner. So we'll exclude them from our numbers. Now on the other hand I think its fair to assume that two-thirds of HIV-positive people know their status and are careful to insist on precautions to avoid infecting others. So we have 19,400 HIV positive people who are at risk of passing it on, from a sexually active population of 29,300,000. Now of course one incident of unprotected sex with an infected person does not guarantee transmission of HIV. In fact it's estimated that the likelihood of transmission from one incident is 0.0009, or 0.09%. Data here. I'm ignoring the skew towards gay communities and intravenous drug-users in HIV infection, which would reduce the risk for women and those not involved with intravenous drug-use communities. Anyway we end up with a risk of 0.00006% per incident of unprotected heterosexual sex in the UK. (One in 1.7 million).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A lot in the news about rape prosecutions

Seem to be a real plethora of stories about at the moment, most of them depressingly predictable and likely to encourage women up and down the country to not bother reporting the disgusting crimes perpetrated against them.

Firstly the judge has thrown out a case involving two students in Aberystwyth. The situation is a little complicated insofaras the victim was so drunk she can't remember exactly what happened. The judge has thrown the case out claiming that since she can't remember she may have consented and that despite being drunk to the point of total incapacity, that alleged consent should hold. They're missing a key point - the law now requires that the burden of proof fall to the defence to prove that she did consent. They of course have not one scrap of evidence to support this case. Still, if she was drunk she probably deserved it eh?...

The evidence that she is unlikely to have consented is strong: the sex took place in a corridor, few women's location of choice, the victim asked the defendent to walk her home specifically because she was afraid of being attacked and concerned that she was too drunk to look after herself, the victim has subsequently said there is no way she would have consented. Furthermore it's fairly obvious to me that she wasn't in a condition to provide consent. Having sex with an unconscious woman IS rape. Even if she wasn't fully unconscious, it's obvious from the fact that she asked for help getting home that she felt unable to take care of herself.

A second case is at least a little more promising. A woman in Sheffield who was raped (allegedly...) on her way home in a minicab has won the first round of the battle to have him prosecuted. The case here couldn't be clearer. She called the police the minute she got home, there was no delay in reporting the incident. The police told her they wouldn't be able to prosecute because (1) she didn't have enough physical signs of trauma, (2) there were no witnesses and (3) she had a previous conviction for a violent crime. Outrageous in itself. Once again the very least that should happen is that a court should be allowed to decide whose evidence seems the more reliable. Now it emerges that the woman doesn't have any previous convictions and they just made a data error.

Thirdly in case we were in any doubt as to the police's attitude to rape... a particularly violent and unpleasant case of a woman raped (allegedly...) at the hands of two policemen! They deny the charges, she's aborted a child she wanted because she was afraid it might be one of theirs. One of them denies another count of rape against another woman...

The BBC have also got an interview with a rape victim who didn't prosecute explaining why she decided not to. Her reasons are frighteningly predictable: wouldn't be believed, knew about the low conviction rate, etc. Every time this happens, or a case is thrown out or the CPS refuse to prosecute, that's one more rapist on the loose in our society AND a clear message being sent out to other potential rapists that they will get away with it.

And there's been a fair amount of discussion on here on the subject too.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I've been there...

No-one tell my mum... Actually our guide even pointed out the spot where the abductions happened! The full blurb about the rather less eventful, but still thrilling, trip I made is here.

Asking for it?

More data out on the appaling way that rape is still viewed and treated in this country. We are supposed to be enjoying the liberties of the 21st century and the first world. Still 25% of people believe women are at least partly responsible for their own rapes. I think if I meet someone with that kind of attitude it is partly their own fault when I hit them really hard in the face...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Made me laugh

A letter to the National Secular Society, published in their newsletter this week really amused me. It's from someone called Bruce Pitt, don't know who you are Bruce, but very funny indeed, cheers...

"I do get the 2 Rowans confused. As I understand it one of them is comedian who dresses up in period costume and talks nonsense, and the other is opposed to a new law that that says I can’t say what I just said about the first one. Have I got it right?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ok, ok, ok

The usual scores of people have been bugging me for a gig list. So here's a gig list for the next few weeks:

Tonight: She Ha at Sahara Nights, King's Cross
and Grafton Arms, Warren Street

Thurs 17th 99 Club Soho, Red Lion Pub, Great Windmill Street
Mon 21st Pearshaped, Turnmills, Clerkenwell, this is a kind of freakshow so I'll probably be doing something deeply under-rehearsed in character!
Tues 22nd Amused Moose Camden
Weds 23rd Mirth Control West Hampstead, I'm compering
Sun 27th Hogwash at the Hogshead, Lisle Street
Mon 28th Famous Puffin, Progress Bar, Tufnell Park
Weds 30th Scabby Tabby, Red Lion Pub, Great Windmill Street
Mon 5th Dec Err something in Kingston, think it's going to be good, watch this space...
Weds 7th Dec 99 Club Angel, Camden Head Pub, Camden Passage
Fri 9th December - my 30th birthday!
Sat 10th December - birthday related party, mail me for an invite if you think you deserve one!
Sun 11th Dec 99 Club Soho, Red Lion Pub, Great Windmill Street
Mon 12th Dec Entertaining Tales (brill storytelling) The Enterprise, Chalk Farm
Tues 13th Dec, Relationship Debate, as discussed below

Then after that I've got a little spell of compering "residency" Mon-Tues-Weds at the Scabby Tabby, Red Lion, Great Windmill Street. Sometimes I feel like I live there...

See you soon.

Carnival of Feminists

Cruella-blog was featured in the latest edition of Carnival of Feminists over at Sour Duck, for my article about the trouble with Lad Mags. Hurray! Head on over to revel in my reflected glory or have a browse through some of the other great articles that have been recognised. And next time someone tries to tell you no-one's really bothered about feminism these days, you'll be all ready to correct them.

The Trouble with Love

Well I participated in a debate about L-O-V-E last night. Other panellists included Elaine Sihera, author of "Money, Sex and Compromise" and Gareth Sibson author of "Single White Failure". A couple of points came up that I wanted to re-iterate/bang on about/whatever...

1) This whole idea that the second a woman likes having a door opened for her she's no longer entitled to equality. There was a lot of moaning about women who liked a guy to pay for dinner on a first date. Personally I'm not too fussed who pays for dinner, but I have absolute respect for women who like that and I think they're still entitled to equal pay too!

Women don't have it easy, discrimination, inequality, societal pressure to be super-woman, domestic goddess, etc. We don't have equality. We'd love it, but we're miles away from it. At the current rate of shrinkage it will take 80 years to close the pay gap between men and women. So many women do have less money than men and may well be specifically looking for affluence, financial security and generosity in a guy. If that's what you want, fair enough, and a great way to tell if these things apply is to let him pay for dinner. Good plan.

In asking for the benefits of "men's world" to be shared with us, women aren't obliged to give up every tiny little upside of womanhood. Did you ever hear anybody suggest that black people, if they want equal rights will have to stop having carnival? No of course not. Instead white people just started going to carnival too. I've been going for years and it's great. Men now enjoy the possibility of dating a woman who can afford to take him somewhere out of his normal price range. Lucky you lads, enjoy it, in the same way that we traditionally have.

2) We talked a lot about the impact of women getting stronger. My problem with this is so huge I couldn't really get into it properly last night.

I don't believe women are "getting stronger". I'm from London, as are my parents and most of my grandparents. I'm not aristocracy, I'm social riff-raff so the likelihood is that a couple of hundred years ago a fair few of my female ancestors were prostitutes. The rural ones may have been farm hands. Even the ones who were housewives would have lived in the days before contraception so would have been raising six, eight, maybe more kids, without washing machines, without even washing powder, making their own clothes, no fridge, etc. Whatever life they had they had to be really tough.

Most of the audience last night was black. Some of those people will have had female ancestors who were tribespeople, gatherer-hunters, living in primitive accommodation, in the company of dangerous animals, warring tribes and no real healthcare. I reckon they were pretty strong. Others will have ancestors who were slaves in the Carribean, British colonies, America, etc. ...which is accepted as the most gruellingly awful way of life ever to befall humanity. Any woman who was weak in that environment wasn't going to make it.

We're not getting stronger. We've been strong all along. In the past men appreciated our strength. In my experience a lot of them still do. Not Gareth Sibson though...tut tut tut. You can go whine at him on his website here! He even said he thought women shouldn't drink pints (guess what a whole bunch of us ordered in the interval!).

There is a part two coming up, 13th December, details on here when they come through: Tiemo Ents

Friday, November 11, 2005

Latest numbers on the pay gap

Women are now paid 17.2% less than men for work of the same value. "Unless radical new action is taken, another generation of women can expect to suffer the injustice of unequal pay" says the Equal Opportunities Commission. Chances of radical new action being taken? Very low.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The biggest income gap

Women in the UK take home less money than men. There are a number of "reasons". 72% of the money for work of the same value is one. The fact that more women take on part time or short-term work, and that conditions and pay for such work dramatically lag those for full-time work is another. We could talk about the ways in which society and manipulative and sometimes violent men push women into becoming primary carers for the dependents of the family. We could talk about the 94% of pregnant women who are victims of discrimination in the workplace. We could talk about glass ceilings and glass waterfalls, harrassment and prejudice. There are a lot of issues here.

The biggest discrepancy however is among older women, the pensions gap. Because women's work at home and as carers and home-makers is not recognised by the Department of Work and Pensions, only 16% are entitled to a full state pension. The result: extreme poverty among that section of the community least able to overcome it, preventable deaths from illness, hypothermia and poor nutrition and women cut of from society, unable to afford to leave their homes farther than they can walk, and resultant risk of mental illness and breakdown. I think addressing this should be a lot higher up the governments agenda.

Friday, November 04, 2005


This is a total disgrace. Even the investigation into the investigation into the investigation isn't being done properly. It's one thing when the initial investigation goes wrong. Then we have to stop, take a step back, and send in an independent team. But seems like we've sent in about six teams and no-one's done a decent job of sorting it out. The parents of one of the victims have managed to find vital information that's been overlooked on their own!

The levels of corruption that must be present in all three police forces and the army itself at Deepcut make it blindingly obvious why these four youngsters were not offered the support they needed when the problems started. Probably the whole place should be closed off until it's been sorted out properly.

Memorial Service

The service for the victims of the July 7th London bombings was a few days ago and I watched most of it on TV. The blatantly Christian service in which representatives of other faiths (but not none) were invited to light candles etc really annoyed me. Seems like once you're dead, as with Robin Cook, the church is there in seconds to start claiming you as one of theirs. Inevitably greiving relatives, traumatised and eager to cling to a little hope are not stopping them. The thing is though that we now know the Iraq invasion kicked off because "God" spoke to George Bush. And it's obvious that our participation in the illegal invasion has led to us becoming a target for so-called terrorism.

So here for the record, in public, are my requests (orders!) on what happens if I die (and this includes if I'm captured personally by Osama Bin Laden and held as a hostage for six years first, no excuses for changing them to suit your purposes anybody...)

1) Body if retrieved to be cremated in secular service.

2) Figures to be invited to the funeral and memorial service (assuming I die in such a conspicuous way that people want to come): George Galloway, representatives of Liberal Democrats and stop-the-war movement, Mark Thomas and Rob Newman, Germaine Greer and representatives of the National Secular Society.

3) That's it. No Tony Blair, no-one from the Labour party or Tories, no royals.

4) No biblical readings, no hymns (not even Jerusalem), no crosses.

5) No flowers, no expensive stuff. Donations to third world development charities (even if I've died of a disease which has a big charity prescence in the UK). Not including Christian Aid or anyone who's ever handed out bibles instead of food.

Err that's it. Pick some decent music too please. No tuneless singing.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Testing of Britishness

The BBC is doing a have-your-say thing about the new testing of Britishness thing. My comments are too long for their dinky little box so here's the full version:

I'd like to feel that Britain had a set of values that were worth promoting. What concept of Britishness could we genuinely claim to be upholding though?

Freedom of speech? Not with the new religious hatred laws, no.

Personal freedom from persecution? Not with the prospect of being held without charge under the anti-terror laws. Nor with the random application of ASBOs meaning you can now go to prison for swearing or sitting about in a car park.

Equal rights for men and women? Not with the current pensions imbalance. Nor in a climate where 94% of pregnant women believe they are discriminated against. And where women receive 72% of the pay men do for the same work. And where one in four women is a victim of domestic violence. And where less than 2% of rapes lead to conviction.

Racial and religious integration? Not while we're increasing our quota of religious schools effectively ghetto-ising those who don't wish to have their children raised religiously.
Protection from torture? Not while we're accepting "evidence" from overseas which has been collected through torture.

Acceptance of gay and lesbian lifestyles? We still have people getting murdered for their sexuality.

The right to a good education? Not while there's a massive shortage of places at schools around the country. And the rise of "parent power" means only those kids whose parents kick up a stink can expect a decent education.

Healthcare? Not while we're continuing to cut funding across the board. Not while women are having to sell their own homes to pay for treatment for breast cancer. Not while waiting lists are growning.

Until our own house is in order we have no right to expect anybody else to live by our standards.