Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Boris Johnson made an election promise about rape crisis funding. He said he would increase funding to £744,000 to pay for four new centres as well as funding the one that already exists. Studies suggest that as many as one in four women experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault in their lifetimes so really who ever thought one rape crisis centre was enough for a city the size of London? So far, so good.
Well Happy Christmas London. Johnson has just made an announcement about that funding promise. To cut a long story short it went "Not really!". He now says he can only spare £233,000, which as I recall is basically the orignal budget which he had pledged to improve.
Now I call that news. Shocking, awful, distressing news. But news. News of a more important nature than some bloke in sequinned tights (apologies to male readers who choose to wear tights - I bear you no grudge) prancing about in front of Bruce Forsyth. Or is that just me? The news only got out of the GLA because Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones took the time to ask him what was happening with the funding and issue a press release.
Come on media - what is going on? Do your job please!
I'm not so far aware of a protest or sponsored shoe-throwing being organised but readers wishing to do so could certainly write to Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better still write to your local or national paper and ask them when they plan to cover the story.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
What a relief to know that I've been well and truly "spoiled" by feminism and am not at risk of being set up with the kind of jerk who thinks he can buy women on this sort of site!
"'Ah, I'm after the scent of the souk,' she cried later, like a madwoman peeling a fresh concubine"
Has Moir bothered to double-check the definition of a souk? It means market in an Arab or Berber city, like the one pictured. Which bit of that is supposed to be overpoweringly sexual? Moir explains further...
"'They infuse everything with a glorious sweetness,' she whispers, and rolls them around in the palm of her hand. Then she proceeds to chop them. For they are onions, of course. How shameless."
It's shameless to like onions now?
Or could it be that Ms Lawson represents a successful woman who is actually good at something (cooking and presenting rather smug TV shows about it), confident about her own sexuality and in control of her own image? Now that is disgusting, right?
Never mind that a few channels away NutsTV is running back-to-back shows with names like "Make Me A Glamour Model", "Sextastic Double Header"and "UK Uncovered with Nuts Babe Search". And of course the Daily Mail itself is simultaneously running photo-heavy articles like this one "Small Wonders: Luxurious Underwear to Warm the Cold Nights", "Nicola McLean's Famous Assets Get Covered in Snow" and "Rihanna Narrowly Avoids Wardrobe Malfunction as She Performs in Yet Another Barely-There Outfit"
But no, of course, that dreadful slapper Lawson is the problem.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So let me make a quick announcement: If you buy me anti-wrinkle cream for Christmas I will be offended.
Just as if you had bought me a book called "Reiki For Controlling Bad Breath" or "How To Overcome Binge Eating Through Feng Shui". Not that I think there is any shame in having wrinkles or bad breath or an eating disorder - but if you are giving me something to help me resolve that problem then you are (a) telling me I have a problem which I might not be aware of or comfortable sharing (or actually a problem I might not have!) and (b) implying that you know better than I do how to address that problem. That will not fill me with festive cheer.
And if anyone does get you anti-wrinkle products for Christmas I recommend a little trick my sister came up with when someone tried to pull that stunt on us a few years back: look surprised, delighted, but a little embarrassed and hold it up while loudly saying "Oh gosh, for my bum! How did you know? Thank you!".
The one we were bought was one that claimed to fight "the seven signs of aging" which led to a four-day debate on what these signs were...
"Wearing cardigans is definitely one."
"I think buying Peter Gabriel albums might be one"
"Knowing the words to ABBA songs...?"
"Making a noise when you stand up?"
"Inability to use predictive text?"
Etc, etc. Feel free to add your own comedy signs of aging in comments if you know one!
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
1) I was on BBC Breakfast TV this morning talking about Lad Mags again. They had me on with a guy (Derek) who used to edit Loaded and Maxim (or something like that). We were discussing whether the current voluntary code (which no-one adheres to) of not selling them to children should become a compulsory code. His argument was no because "some people enjoy them".
If there's one thing I hate more than those who argue in favour of porn, it's those who argue in favour of porn with logically meaningless arguments. So I said "some people enjoy child pornography - should we legalise that too?". And then it sort-of kicked off and there was a lot of raised voices and a lot of me interrupting him and making sure I got my point across since his wasn't even a point.
By the time I got home my inbox and text-box were full of messages from people saying "good job" and "well said", etc. Here's a sample one: "I saw you on telly this morning as I was getting ready for work. Your peremptory manner left the slimeball umming and erring. It was great to see.." (thanks Crispin!).
Then I got a facebook message from a guy I don't know. He must have looked me up by my unusual name. Fine. I get lots of people doing that to say they agree or the disagree with me. Cool. But instead he had messaged me to say that he hoped I didn't mind some unsolicited advice and that while he agreed with me he thought I should have been less forthright, and listened more.
As an incident this really shows how deeply entrenched male priveledge is doesn't it? Has he been invited to make repeated appearances on TV? Does he write an award-winning blog? Does he work as a professional public performer? Not that we know of, and yet he felt like he would just send me some advice, as a "favour". And that advice, as it happens, was to sit back and take it while a pornographer defended his sordid industry.
So I declined to respond (if you message people on Facebook they can then access your friends, etc for a month...) and instead reported it as harrassment. Still seething a bit though. Jeremy Clarkson can count himself lucky I didn't run into him today!
2) One thing I didn't get the chance to rant about today is the impact Lad Mags have on my industry (stand-up comedy). All of them publish sexist jokes which have become increasingly acceptible in recent years and as far as I can tell they more or less invented the "women aren't funny" myth.
At one point FHM (I think) ran some comedy awards and in the "Funniest woman" category were Catherine Tate, Jo Brand, Lily Savage*, Dame Edna Everage* and the option to vote for "none of them". As I recall despite the tone of the the piece Catherine Tate managed to win it.
I've actually been introduced to the stage and before I get to the mic heard audience members (guys) go "Uh, oh lads it's a bird, lets go to the bar...". And if some of them are saying that out loud you can bet some more are thinking it and before I've even started it means I have a harder job than the guys on before and after me.
The BBC of course takes a much more fair and gender-neutral view of comedy, as witnessed by these photos taken at the British Comedy Awards.
Comics: Male 2, Female 0
Comedy actors: Male 4, Female 2
Random totty: Male 0, Female 3
*Footnote for overseas readers. Lily Savage and Dame Edna Everage are male comedians who perform in drag.
(Photo by Matt Farrington Smith)
Monday, December 08, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Well I was in a lift this lunchtime with none other than Clarkson himself. I was over at BBC Two to talk to appear on the Jeremy Vine show to discuss the Miss University London pageant. No idea what Clarkson was up to.
While in the lift he said "This is actually too low for me", standing on tip-toes and jabbing the light fixture with his head. And since I did want to be on the Jeremy Vine show I didn't say "You might want to try not standing on your toes, unless of course you're trying to bang your head which would explain a great deal about your offensive low-grade presenting patter."
Now he sounded very bunged up as he said this and someone asked him if he was ok and he said "I sound awful [check], but I feel fine, I never get flu". I thought wow - even flu viruses won't go near him, amazing.
It was a pretty small lift though. There would be a certain twisted irony if I actually caught some horrible bug off of him now.
While I was waiting for the interview I also shared a sofa in the waiting area with Jason Donovan. Eat your heart out groupies. Nothing exciting happened, he laughed at my flippant remark about the government reaction to the credit crunch (the radio was playing with people arguing about who would win and lose from the latest proposals and I said "They should just send everyone a fiver"), I made some tea, I got called throught to the studio.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Firstly this article is in the "Femail" section. This is an article of interest to women. Presumably women who don't want to get shot in the head at point blank range...? Sick.
Secondly large parts of the article are not about the case - they are about Jon himself:
"I’d love to live somewhere like this if I could afford it, I think ruefully as I drive through the village"
"I show him my Press card. ‘You look too scruffy to be a journalist,’ he says. We both laugh. Then I bid him farewell and drive away."
Of course lots of great journalists include their own reactions to situations, but this isn't his reaction, it's the minutiae of his day, the stuff of "Dear Diary". And it shows a kind of lack of respect for the victims I think. He's more interested in being jealous of the area they lived in and having a laugh with the local police.
But it gets much more sinister than that. The murderer is portrayed as a nice guy...
"According to his friends, Foster adored his family."
According to the gunshot wounds, he didn't. That is not the hallmark of adoration.
Then our intrepid journalist goes to meet Ian, a friend of Foster's. The guy explains that Foster was a big spender who liked to spend money ostentatiously but who was actually going bankrupt. And then mystically the subject of divorce comes up:
"‘I empathise with Chris,’ Ian says. ...‘I’m going through a divorce at the moment. I probably seem normal and relaxed to you, but inside I’m finding it very stressful."
OK, now I do find it weird that anyone would tell a newspaper that they empathised with a multiple murderer. I see where Shipman was coming from, that Peter Sutcliffe was so misunderstood...
"‘We’re supposed to be manly,’ ... ‘We’re not supposed to get upset. We’re supposed to be the breadwinners and the providers, especially in our children’s eyes. We’re supposed to do miracles.’"
According to who? I have never said this. Who is telling people this? As far as I am aware - mostly journalists at the Daily Male.
"‘When I went to the divorce hearing, my wife’s solicitor suggested I sell this house and split the proceeds. The judge agreed. He knew nothing of the case — he’d just read a brief thing.’"
The judge agreed to a 50-50 split? What an evil bastard...
"‘If I sell the house I’ll have to sell the horses, too. My kids live for those horses. For someone to take that life away from the children…’ There’s a silence. ‘It’s heartbreaking,’"
I think your kids would rather lose their horses than their lives. And if your kids live for their horses maybe they need a more fulfilling family life. Maybe they would benefit from more time with their father, rather than just a lot of expensive toys.
"'Fair enough, it’s my wife who’s trying to take things away from me, but it’s somebody else who’s giving her that authority."
Giving her authority? She's been in this marriage as long as you have and she's been raising the kids too, it sounds like with rather little help from you. I think she's entitled to half the house. No-one is giving her that authority, the court is defending her right to it which you are trying to take away.
"‘You’re as mad at them as you are at her. That’s where I can empathise with Chris. The idea it puts into your head is getting back at the Establishment."
How does it get back at the establishment to murder your wife and daughter? He seems to have forgotten that they are people, not items of property that the state might have wanted to put up for auction.
"When you hear about bailiffs turning up the next morning, as the bodies were still smouldering, you think: “Fair play”."
You do? You hear of the bodies of two innocent women smoldering and you think "fair play"? Then you should be shot at dawn you creepy weirdo asshole.
Are you hearing what I'm hearing? That the reason Chris Foster murdered his wife and daughter was because of the difficulties of getting divorced? The article glosses over things like his being a member of a shooting club where the members tell obscene jokes and talk about suicide. The article doesn't bother to expand on the risks of the fact that he collected guns as a hobby. And when his career is mentioned it is to suggest that the state has no right to reclaim money owed by Foster. Yet even his business career had signs of danger in it, like this one:
"At the High Court, on February 28, 2008, Lord Justice Rimer said Foster was ‘bereft of the basic instincts of commercial morality. He was not to be trusted’."
But most incredibly of all after all this: Chris Foster wasn't getting divorced. His wife knew he had no less than eight mistresses and yet still "played the dutiful wife". Clearly she would have been much much MUCH better off if she had gotten divorced a long time ago. But that's not what the "Femail" section is there to tell women is it? Not when they can have a male journalist tell them it's their own fault when they're murdered.
Photo by Ian Britton, from FreeFoto.com
Monday, December 01, 2008
Someone is paying good money to get an airbrusher in to create an image that is unrealistic, unattractive and weird. Mel B is a great-looking woman with a great figure. But somehow for the advertisers - that's not enough!
Now an important point to remember here is that a caution can legally only be issued if the criminal admits the offense. So these are cases that should in theory at least be easy to prosecute fully. Of course every case is different but I can't think of a scenario in which a caution would be the right response to rape. So my feeling is we should find the officers who've issued these cautions and do a fair bit more than just caution them.
Photo by Ian Britton, from FreeFoto.com