Sunday, April 22, 2012

Heavyweight Smurthwaite

I LOVE this cartoon made about me by Lucas Black.  Thank you!! Do go and read more on his blog here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ultimate gig

Just a very quick blog post for the benefit of those who don't follow/use Facebook or Twitter. Tonight and tomorrow I'm hosting two of the most awesome comedy shows of the year in central London. If you've been thinking about coming to a show for a while or wondering when is a good time to come to a show - this is it!

If you're a leftie, atheist, awesome comedy fan this is the time to grab a ticket and come along. Lee Camp is an American political comic (look up his online "Moment of Clarity" vlogs) who only visits the UK a couple of times a year. He's on both nights, as is Jason Rouse, a Canadian act who is notoriously dark and twisted and outrageous and also a really talented skilful comedian with it, not just a generic shock-jock. Fans of free speech, don't miss out! Tonight the opening act is Paul Sinha who like me spends most of his life on the BBC arguing with idiots from Jim Davidson (not very far to) the BNP. Tomorrow the opener is Hal Cruttenden, another must-see act with political leanings and a tendency to outrage.

Oh and I'm MCing too. It's all at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square, doors half seven show at 8pm. Tickets are (unbelievably) only £10 and that even includes a free glass of bubbly after the show. You can get them online at the Soho Comedy Club website. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Career Girls. This really needs a line-by-line.

I don't know which to feel sorry for the most - my head or my office wall, for there is no doubt that the two will be making repeated thumping contact over the next half hour or so. The Daily Mail has decided in it's infinite wisdom to explain why women only want careers because they're unable to get themselves a man. Yes, really. So here goes:

"Do girls only want a career because they can't attract a man? Provocative study casts high fliers in a new light

Well lets see shall we? Are there any women who are ALREADY IN A RELATIONSHIP who still want careers? Yes, loads. But what a horrific insultory headline! Implying any woman who works hard at her job is desperate. Fuck off!!

"Forget ambition, financial security and that first-class degree."

I do whenever I see a pair of uncomfortable shoes...

"A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married."

Hang on - lets test this hypothesis further: do you know any unattractive married people? Yes, lots right? And are there any attractive people who are unmarried? Again loads. So even the notion that you have to be attractive to get married is absolute crap.

"The research team, made up of three women and two men,"

Well why are we reading this research then? We know the female researchers are only doing it for the chance to date a lab technician.

"said that when men are thin on the ground, 'women are more likely to choose briefcase over baby'."

Personally, I prefer my men both thin and on the ground. But that's another matter. Are we really surprised that women who aren't raising families are more likely to decide to have a serious career? You're not choosing career over family if the option of "family" isn't really there. You're choosing career over daytime TV and having no money.

"And the plainer a woman is, they claim, the more she is driven to succeed in the workplace."

They will have measured this on the official SCIENTIFIC plain-ness scale right? The only possible way to rate attractiveness is to ask others to judge. Everyone will judge differently. Are you asking straight guys to judge? Or other women? And then we will also have to adjust for whether she's trying to make herself look professional for the office or whether she has loads of free time to get her hair and nails done, right?

"Central to their argument was the idea that women have evolved to become homemakers and men, providers."

Yes the parallels between hunting buffalo and being an accountant are overwhelming. Similarly those between building a fire pit and ordering groceries online. And lets look at our nearest relatives the chimps and bonobos. They DON'T HAVE homes!! They just build a new (individual, usually) nest each night. So we're left wondering what evolutionary principles we're working from here.

"They said this means that when men are scarce in a particular area, women, and particularly less attractive ladies, may decide they need to provide for themselves with a well-paid career."

That's not evolution. That's fact - if you haven't got another source of income - you have to get a job. In other news - hungry people tend to congregate around supermarkets and restaurants.

"The researchers carried out several experiments to come up with their startling argument."

Clearly none of these experiments involved looking up the word "startling" in a dictionary.

"The first looked at the number of eligible men in an area, which they called the 'operational sex ratio'."

How exactly are you defining "eligible"? I hope you had a group of sexy young women in the street shouting "Phoar, look at the operational sex ratio on that!"

"After collecting data from across the U.S., they found that as the number of eligible men in a state decreased, the proportion of women in highly paid careers rose."

So with less men around, women had better jobs. Ooops! I think you just discovered workplace gender discrimination.

"In addition, the women who became mothers in those states did so at an older age and had fewer children."

So with less men around, less women got pregnant? Quick ring the press!! Oh, you already did. Seriously?!

"To prove that a lack of men was behind the trend, the researchers then carried out practical experiments."

Removing the men from a series of small towns? Or maybe just rendering them "ineligible"!! Sounds like the sort of thing I used to do in my late teens...

"These involved showing women newspaper articles"

Hmm, well lets hope they weren't Daily Mail articles, since all you guys publish is a load of sexist dross.

"or photos that gave different impressions of the sex ratio in an area"

Photos? Of the queues for local speed-dating events? Stranger and stranger.

"and then quizzing them about which was more important – work or family."

Stand AMAZED at the magic of SCIENCE! Really? Aren't there people working on a cure for cancer out there?

"When they were led to believe that men were scarce, they were more likely to prioritise career over family."

Wow amazing. Of course there's no way guys would be less interested in their work when there was a sexy woman around. No way.

"However, when questioned, the women didn't believe the shortage of men would lead to more job openings for women. Instead they thought there would be more competition to find a husband."

Was there a tick box for "both"?

"The final experiment tested the researchers' suspicion that less attractive women would be more interested in careers because they might find it difficult to secure a partner."

So they had a suspicion about a correlation AND they had already pre-decided what the causality between the two would be? When is this research up for peer review exactly?

"The 87 young women were given mocked-up newspaper articles describing the sex ratio in nearby university campuses and were asked about their views on family and career."

87 young women? No room for statistical error here then? And remember statistically we would expect 8-9 of these women to be lesbians. So that might slightly skew the husband-seeking activity spectrum?

"They were also asked how attractive they believed themselves to be to men."

Oh THAT totally objective measure. Was Samantha Brick surveyed?

"Those women who saw themselves as being less desirable than average were highly likely to be career-orientated."

So women tended not to say "I'm great at work and totally gorgeous", almost as if they didn't want to come across like Samantha Brick. Or maybe smart women don't see such big advantages in beauty and prefer to play it down? And maybe less educated women lacking job prospects are more likely to feel their looks are important and have built their self esteem on them?

"Researcher Kristina Durante, from the University of Texas at San Antonio, said: 'Does the ratio of men to women in a local population influence women's career aspirations? Real-world archival data and a series of laboratory experiments suggest that the answer is yes.'"

Yes of course it does. More shagging equals less working. I hardly think this is a gender issue.

"In Britain, there are slightly more younger men than women. However, females aged 36 or older are in the majority. And at universities, female undergraduates now outnumber males."

Is this one of those fake newspaper articles intended to trick me into wanting a family? What impact can we expect this "slight" imbalance to have? Maybe a "sight" one. One not worth ringing the papers about. Call me when there's an international man shortage, I have heard the Daily Male suggest this a million times and yet somehow despite it all, I am still getting laid. Who knew?

"Economist Ruth Lea said that on a basic level it made sense that women would have to support themselves if the odds of being supported were low."

Yes on a basic level, it does. I can't help thinking that men will have to support themselves if others don't do it too. That's rather the cruel nature of our free market economy, no? Unless this is a sneaky trick to show Daily Fail readers how important it is to a generous welfare state in place.

"However, she said many factors, from aptitude to ambition, played a much larger part in a woman's career path."

So a better, less misleading, headline would have been: Availability of hot men doesn't have much impact on women's career choices.

"And agony aunt Pam Spurr said:"

Oooh here comes the next bit of science - an anecdote from an "agony aunt". Dear Pam, I've got these strange pimples on my frou-frou and I'm worried I caught them from sleeping with my teddy between my legs after he fell down the loo. Also I can't find anything else to write in my stupid misogynist article and it's only half a page long so far. Love Fiona xxx

"'I often find that women who were getting on well in the workplace will in private conversations with me, express wanting to settle down.'"

Women who have one thing also want another? It's like they're HUMAN! Alert! Alert! Conclusion of article contravenes Daily Mail's official editorial policy! Alert! Alert!

"The study, which was carried out by U.S. and Dutch researchers, is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology."

I must subscribe. It sounds great. In next months issue: People with ear wax problems buy more of those sticky cotton buds things that you're really not supposed to stick in your ears but it feels really fucking good when you do EXCLUSIVE.

There is honestly not a single iota of newsworthiness in this whole article. It is just the Daily Mail randomly deciding to attack women by suggesting that successful, ambitious ones are ugly. Well Fiona MacRae - you wrote it and lookie lookie, your name is up there in big letters in a big national newspaper. Don't go getting too near any mirrors huh?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

BNP irony overload

You may have noticed that BNP's candidate for mayor of London is, erm, how do I put this...? Well, the guy, he's, erm, he's foreign. Seriously, born in Uruguay to Spanish and Italian parents. Of course I think foreigners should be allowed to naturalise in this country and should be allowed to run for office. It's just the BNP who don't. He's their former head of policy.

He and I have a little history. He doesn't like me very much after I completely trashed him in a debate on a Russian TV station.

And so he wrote a piece on his blog about me called "Kate Smurthwaite and the Third Reich", in which he accuses me of basically being a Nazi. Argh! The irony! I can't take any more! His "point" (in the loosest sense) is that I support the work of Marie Stopes who a very long time ago were involved with eugenics. Of course I don't actually support eugenics (surprise Melanie Phillips and interesting how you and the BNP can only come up with the same transparent arguments eh?). I don't make the assumption that anyone who eats Kellogg's cereal is an anti-masturbation campaigner, though again there is a historic link. A strong one actually.

There is however a serious point here. We are widely aware of the BNP's very very unpleasant attitude towards anyone who isn't white-British. We can forget sometimes that they're also horribly horribly sexist. And yes they have female members and candidates but as we've seen they also have members and candidates who aren't white-British. One of their stated policies last time I looked (their website is down today, sorry fascism fans - try the Conservatives site instead) is that any single mother who wears a short skirt should have her children taken away.

Footnote: When I agreed to do the interview Russia Today did NOT tell me I would be up against a BNP guy. They said it would be a religious anti-choice person. I don't particularly have a strong view on when one should and shouldn't "no platform" an organisation like the BNP, I was live on air when I found out who I was debating with and made the snap decision to carry on. Love to hear views on whether that was the right choice or what you-all would advise if it happened again another time...?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why thank you Daily Mail, so THAT'S how my body works?

The Daily Fail really has outdone itself today. First grab a handkerchief or something you can ram into your mouth if you don't want to annoy the neighbours with uproarious laughter. Now let me tell you : A MAN has written an article explaining about female orgasms. I know, I know, but don't worry, he knows exactly what he's talking about because he's checked with "science".

Perhaps most worryingly since most people only read the headline, it is titled:

"Put away the road map, lads: Scientists present new proof that women can climax through intercourse alone"

Gee I would have guessed (straight, male) Daily Mail readers were crap enough in bed already, PLEASE don't encourage them to not even bother working at it! And here's the first few lines:

"For decades it has been thought that the clitoris was the only key to a woman's sexual satisfaction."

Only men have ever thought this, and the kind of men who don't speak to women about these things. In other words strange men who are shit in bed.

"That meant men who wanted to satisfy their partners believed they must spend hours getting to know the little button-like organ, its location - and the kind of treatment which excited it."

Finding out what pleases your partner - what a chore, eh? Who are these people, and more importantly - who the hell is sleeping with them?

"But now research shows..."

Oh "research", great, that's going to save me hours of boring boring masturbation.

"...that not only can women climax through sexual intercourse alone,"

Really - sexual intercourse ALONE? No kissing, no petting, no getting in the mood. Just three, two, one, penetrate? Even if that were true, who would want to do it?

"but the resulting orgasm is wildly different to those reached by clitoral stimulation."

A "wildly different" orgasm, so why is it still called an "orgasm"? Sounds suspiciously like they might be talking about "a really nice feeling that isn't really an orgasm" or even "a feeling so unpleasant it's worth faking an orgasm just to get it to stop"?

"The new conclusions will chime with many who have found that there is more than one way to satisfy a woman in bed."

Yeah but will they chime with WOMEN? You know, cos it is sort of us having the orgasms here. I mean how weird to try and confirm your scientific research about female orgasm by corroborating it with a bunch of straight men.

Anyway I'm not going to line-by-line the whole thing cos it's infuriating.I was performing at a comedy night the other day though and one of the other acts, a guy, was talking about sex and said one thing he hates is talking during sex. I think thats pretty sad really. I mean I understand that a lot of us are a bit inhibited and it can be awkward, but really if you're not communicating what you want, it is pretty unlikely you'll be getting it.

And the attitude promoted by the Daily Mail that (1) all women want the same thing, (2) men are supposed to magically know what that is based on "science" and get on with it and (3) good news, that magical thing is actually just a quick bit of penetration and then some snoring is not really helping anyone.

Worse still half way through the article it reveals "female orgasm happens in the brain" as if a dismembered penis could have an orgasm on it's own. And then insists women can have them just by thinking about them. "Darling, I'm sorry, this really isn't doing it for me", "Maybe you're thinking about it wrong?". Sounds a bit like a manifesto for guys who are rubbish in bed.

To be honest I hate expressions like "G-spot" and the notion of different kinds of orgasms. It gives the impression that women's bodies are made of mystic magic buttons and zones. But in fact the definition of a "G-spot" is just an area thats more sensitive than other areas. No-one ever refers to the back of the leg as a magical "knee-spot". There might be some broad generalisations to be made but every woman, and indeed every person is different. And far from being a tick-box list of different types of orgasm to be achieved, finding out what the other person likes IS the fun bit.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Tough pro-choice rally

I'm briefly seen (but not heard) shouting through a megaphone in this interesting video.

What was horrible about the anti-choice protest was that 40 days for life is an aggressive extremist group who use really nasty tactics - intruding on the privacy of women seeking medical treatment, waving pictures of bloody foetuses (for the record most medical procedures look gross, not just that one), approaching women and handing out false "information" about risks and side effects that don't exist. Really sickening. But that's what crazy extremists are like right? Only this time they were being joined by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Westminster (Alan Hopes) - who is a part of the "mainstream" Catholic church in the UK. A guy who claims to speak for thousands and thousands of people across the UK, including many who would call themselves pro-choice and many who will have had an abortion in their lives. I mean if he wants to write to MPs that's one thing, but joining this extremist group? That's scary, that's a sign of how this issue is going to be in the future.

Also note fascists lined up among the anti-choicers. Well spotted stavvers, but unsurprising.

I went there thinking it would be fun but when I saw all those people praying it really made me angry. How dare they film women and intimidate women and then act as though some invisible cloud fairy was telling them to. If you're going to hate women - don't pretend it's cos your imaginary friend told you to. Bleuch!

On the upside since I had megaphone to hand when they all knelt down I was able to lead in a big chorus of "kneel down if you hate women!". Which I enjoyed.