Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Isn't it time for a change?

They've named the 10 worst Britons of the last 1,000 years and guess what... they're all men! What a big surprise. Seems that us feeble little girls just aren't very handy when it comes to murdering, genocide, etc. Or maybe we're just a fair bit more moral.

Well I think there's an arguement for putting Maggie Thatcher in there but then she really wasn't making much of an effort compared to this lot:
1900 to 2000: Oswald Mosley(1896-1980)
1800 to 1900: Jack the Ripper
1700 to 1800: Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765)
1600 to 1700: Titus Oates(1649-1705)
1500 to 1600: Sir Richard Rich (Lord Rich of Leighs)(1496/7-1567)
1400 to 1500: Thomas Arundel (1353-1414)
1300 to 1400: Hugh Despenser (The Younger)(died 1326)
1200 to 1300: King John(1167-1216)
1100 to 1200: Thomas BecketArchbishop of Canterbury(c.1120-1170)
1000 to 1100: Eadric Streona

And before anyone complains - there were two women in the top ten Greatest Britons: Diana and Elizabeth 1st (and yes I know the votes were done a bit differently, hey I don't run the BBC, more's the pity). Not bad going in spite of all the oppression we've had to put up with over the years. Might have been more if Victoria had had a better press, also you've got to imagine Mary Seacole is splitting the Florence Nightingale vote (and arguably deserves a mention more than Flo).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Anti-Christmas

That's pronounced "anti-christ" "mass" by the way. Since presumably the Christ and the anti-Christ share the same birthday...? I'm not sure on the details anyway I'll be mostly spending it at home with the cat, the telly guide and a bottle of red wine. Have a good one!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Worse than we thought

Latest numbers out suggest women in the private sector are paid 45% less than men. And people say the battle for equality is over!!

The wrong message

Just a couple of weeks after the Aberystwyth rape case was thrown out because the victim was too incapacitated to remember the incident, the great British judiciary is again giving rapists a clear signal to carry on as normal. Apparently "I was sleepwalking" is an acceptable defence. This is a disgusting outrage, it doesn't even matter whether the perpetrator was asleep or not. Non-consensual sex took place and that's rape. If anyone ever has the misfortune to meet the perpetrator I suggest you "sleepwalk" into the garage and get a nice big axe then "sleepwalk" in and show him the sharp end of it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Memoirs of a Bloke

I am so fed up with all the fuss about the new Memoirs of a Geisha film. I lived four years in Japan and have seen Geisha working in Kyoto and read a fair bit about the culture. Now the trouble with the whole thing is that it's a hugely romanticised concept based on the idea that men have "ordinary" wives and then go out to indulge their fantasy for "extra-ordinary women" with Geisha girls. Well that doesn't seem very fair does it? Firstly where are the "extra-ordinary men" for the women to hang out with and what about those women who are extra-ordinary wives to start with?

The basic historical context is that since women in ancient Japan were barred from holding down proper jobs they were faced with two options: become a full time house-wife, entirely dependent on hubby for everything with no hope of escape and entirely at his mercy or remain single and work in one of the few professions that allowed women. Geisha was one of those few professions.

Housewives typically had a very tough life in Japan, and to some extent still do, excluded from everyday culture they were effectively slaves in the home. Geisha endured a gruelling beauty regime and continuous training and then worked in an industry in which their job was to pander to the needs of the men who payed their wages. It was devil or the deep blue sea...

They may have a startlingly iconic image that photographs well and reminds us of Japanese historic culture. There may also have been aspects of the life of Geisha which were enjoyable. Ultimately though we're talking about a book - Memoirs of a Geisha - written by a white man. And much as he may have interviewed ex-Geisha as part of his research, he presents the romantic parts of it, not for example the harshness of the other lifestyle options these women faced.

Plus the film uses almost all Chinese actresses! For those of us who know more about the far east than special fried rice, it is really obvious that those actresses aren't Japanese. Look at the shape of their faces! And how rude to trample across centuries of Japanese culture, picking out the bits that suit our westernised tastes and not even invite Japanese actresses to play the parts. Has anyone noticed that on the posters the Geisha girl has blue eyes? Not very realistic lads.

For those who would like to understand Geisha culture, I can recommend Geisha, a book by anthropologist Liza Dalby who spent several years living in Japan and working as a modern day Geisha.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The trouble with trouble with L-O-V-E

The second debate was on Tuesday night, sorry I didn't write it up earlier, key surprise was that Gareth Sibson "women shouldn't drink pints or play sport" from debate one didn't make it. Something about being too scared... The rest of the debate went ahead and was quite fun. One big issues that seems to keep on and on coming up though is this "men and women are different, we have to accept that". Well I think people, as individuals, are all different from one another and deserve respect for their differences. Seems like a lot of people out there really subscribe to the Men are from Mars, ... theory.

I'm not saying there aren't differences in the average man versus the average woman. Like guys are taller than girls ON AVERAGE. But as soon as we say "guys are taller than girls so girls shouldn't be in the fire brigade" we're missing a big point. Some girls are taller than some boys! Similarly there were people claiming on Tuesday night that women are more nurturing and men more ambitious. Well maybe on average. But I know some really ambitious girls and some really nurturing guys. We need to take people as people, give them the freedom to choose their own path and support them doing it.

I think this is the last one for now. I will be doing a new one in January about financial fitness and how best to manage your finances. Not sure what the format will be or who the other speakers are yet though.

Misguided giving

I had the evangelists from Samaritan's Purse round my house this morning to wish me Christmas Greetings (I insisted on calling it Yuletide and pointing out to them that it's a pagan festival... why do pagans never come round evangelising? I would be so much more interested...) and asking me to donate gifts and money for them to send off to poor children around the world with Christian tracts in!! I did explain that each one of those tracts could be replaced with a nice hot soup mix and that this would save lives but they seemed to have other priorities.

Please watch out for these people, they present themselves as a straightforward charity, personally I don't think they should be allowed to operate as such. Here are some much better non-religious places to offer support to the third world this Yule: Wateraid, Merlin (I did the London marathon, ugh, for these dudes a couple of years ago and was really impressed with their projects), Children International (for child sponsorship).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

If you haven't read this...

...you should. Susan Faludi's Backlash. I have no idea why the Guardian are reviewing it now, nearly 15 years after it was first published. Still it is a seminal piece. And just as relevant today as it was then. I don't think Ms Faludi would think much of Lad Mags...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Should they re-name these things?

The Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Should we call them the Male Sports Personality of the Year Awards? All of the awards this year have gone to men. The mens cricket team and Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne. Have we forgotten that England's women also won the ashes this year? The best coach, of course, is a male football coach, Jose Mourinho. The lifetime award has gone to a male football star, Pele. There are some great female footballers in this country who deserve recognition too, especially since they have to do it with a fraction of the funding and a fraction of the support.

Lord Coe, Geoff Thomas, don't get me wrong, they've all achieved great things. None the less if I was Ellen McArthur I'd be really annoyed.

Changes to UK law?

Apparently it's now ok to murder disabled kids. I find this totally shocking. Euthanasia is illegal in this country. It's considered murder. It sends out a really nasty message about the value of disabled people's lives.

Still on Lad Mags

The BBC Radio Five Live debate went very well last night, thanks to those who listened in and got in touch afterwards. On every single point I pretty much came out on top. And I got the guy who was defending them to agree that we should pass a law making it illegal to sell them to under-18s!! Go Cru! You can listen to it on BBC listen again on the web here. Just click on Sunday's show.

Cretin of the week

Some little toe-rag has responded to my article on the BBC with a defence of Lad Mags. The article is here, and it seems, as usual, to fall to me to respond to it.

His first point I had already addressed in my article. He claims that these magazines are not meant to be read by women, or people who might be offended by them. My point was that they are very widely available and that it is impossible to avoid them in modern life. That they have effected the "normalisation" of porn.

His second arguement seems to be "Lads just ARE like that", as though men aged as young as 12 - the readership of these magazines, are somehow immune to media influence. As counter-point to that I offer Diane Russel's work "Pornography as a cause of Rape". This proves thoroughly and conclusively that reading pornography increases the likelihood that men will commit rape.

He goes on to define "the Lad" (his capital letter, not mine) as being like a "six-year old alcoholic child with a sex drive", sending round tasteless jokes, and as a "tattooed 20-somethings wearing football shirts and swilling lager in the town centre while whistling at anything wearing a skirt". OK I see that demographic, what of it? Well apparently the world NEEDS lads. Yes. And here's why: "the world needs Lads, for young women to puzzle over and be frustrated by, for older men to look back on with fondness, and for mothers to pamper and tell off. Even if the pleasure you get from Lads is that you glory in not being one, at least they give you that joy"

I mean that arguement is just a huge pile of stinking b*ll*cks! It makes as much sense as the following:

The world needs Pedophiles, for police officers to puzzle over and be frustrated by, for children to learn the importance of not taking sweeties from strangers, and for therapists, to keep them in business. Even if the pleasure you get from Pedophiles is that you glory in not being one, at least they give you that joy.

Or has someone really missed the point?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cru-blog live!

I'm being interviewed tonight on BBC Radio Five Live. About my views on Lad Mags. It'll take the form of a debate with a lad mag "reader". We'll see. Please listen in, you can do so on the web here. 11pm UK time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

If anyone hasn't seen it:

Here is the BBC link to Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize acceptance speech. You can click "watch the video" and see the whole thing. It's quite quite brilliant. He talks a lot about US military interventions and the way in which they are ignored in the media. Those interested in a bit of further reading on the subject should try Killing Hope by William Blum. The link there offers the chance to read the index page which is frightening enough in itself. The book is out of date insofar as it doesn't cover the last ten years, but I think there's enough there to spot a sickening pattern forming...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Silly, silly, silly

In this BBC article teachers are worried that the government's new "trust schools" plan could lead to religious fundamentalists taking over state schools. Of course the irony is that our schools policy at the highest level is decided by Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly. Two people who I can only describe as... erm... religious fundamentalists!

And the Lord spake unto them...

...saying beat the living cr*p out of anyone who disagrees with you. Compassionate Christianity at work again here. A professor who had been instructed to teach "intelligent design" and rather sensibly thought he should teach it under the heading "mythology" has been introduced to God's love through a beating which left him hospitalised.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Start early with sexism...

Turns out parents typically spend almost twice as much on boys as girls for Christmas presents. They claim this is because girls don't want so much... Rubbish! I've spent time with a bunch of kids over the last few days and I can tell you exclusively that they all want everything. They will keep asking for stuff until they are told they can't have anything else (and beyond that too).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cru-blog on the BBC

A version of my the-trouble-with-lad-mags article was published today on the BBC website. Quite prominently actually! Here's the link. And here's the full, original version (with the c-word!).

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.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Definition of "moral"

Well my dictionary says "Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary." Now of course goodness is a matter of individual viewpoint in a lot of cases. However I find it very difficult to relate the actions of the pharmacists of Arizona to the term "moral" in this article.

Have a read and see what you think. Now I know some pro-life people are going to turn round and say that they thing the morning-after pill should be allowed in cases of sexual assault, just not in other circumstances. However, I would raise the point that only one in five rape cases is reported to the police in the UK*. If we only offered the M.A.P. to women who had been sexually assaulted we would have to ask them to prove it and we'd exclude 80% of the victims of rape.

If it was available over the counter it would save a lot of worry and a lot of unwanted pregnancies.

The other half of the story is more complex. The contraceptive injection is being promoted by the NHS as the miracle answer to teenage pregnancy. Now the usual suspects are on their high horses shouting about how it'll lead to a collapse in the moral fibre of our youth! Seems like they have all forgotten that people have minds of their own and the right to use them. If the only reason they're not having more sex is fear of pregnancy then perhaps we should take that fear away and let them have more sex. So at one level I think we should just offer it to anybody who wants it, end of story.

On the other hand I speak as somebody who's tried a number of different contraceptive pills and hated every one. Pumping hormones into your body every day isn't a very natural or healthy way to live and I've never managed to stick with one for any length of time. The injections last three months but there's no way of stopping them if you don't like them. I think it's not a very good idea to push them in the way that the NHS seems to be doing. It also promotes the idea that womendeal with contraception and men don't have to think about it. I think these things need to be a two-person thought process, just like the rest of the relationship and having kids, etc.

And the miracle solution to teenage pregnancy... actually I do know what it is. Of course I do! The number one factor which will predict a high rate of teenage pregnancy...? Poverty. So more money going into education and better benefits for those on low incomes. Obvious really.

*The remaining 80% may have rightly figured out that it is a total waste of time to do so when only 6% of reported cases result in conviction. Good news for rapists - only 1% of rapes result in convictions in the UK.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What's wrong with Lad Mags?

The Guardian Weekend (Saturday's paper version, sorry no link) boldly claims that feminists aren't really bothered by the proliferation of so-called Lad Mags. They haven't actually interviewed any feminists, nor have they cited any sources of this conclusion. Strangely only the other week they were quoting feminist statements from the Cru-bog on their very pages so they are clearly aware of the existance of my blog and it's slant. You would think it would be a straightforward exercise for them to take a peek and see that I've published several articles complaining about different aspects of such magazines. I've never written anything specifically about them as a genre though - I thought it was obvious we all abhorred them. So to set the record straight here are my views:

1) Porn degrades women. I covered the backbone of my reasons for believing this here.

2) Lads Mags often claim that what they show is merely "titilating" and not actually "porn". Wrong! Women in a state of undress deliberately photographed and displayed for the purpose of sexually exciting readers IS porn. The average lad's mag has around seventy SEVENTY topless photos per issue. That's actually more than Playboy, etc.

3) Furthermore many magazines claim to be "soft core" porn. By which they mean they don't actually show cunts*, just tits. Well I don't think we should measure "soft" versus "hard" in purely anatomical terms. The images shown often allude to violence - women tied up, etc and often allude to sodomy. Articles such as "How to talk your girlfriend into having anal sex" and "How to hypnotise women into bed" re-inforce the allusions. In any case I think soft porn degrades women too.

4) The articles and text that come along with the photos are generally very heavily drenched in terminology which objectifies and belittles women. Articles routinely refer to women as though they were animals or non-human. For example in the context of "how to train your girlfriend" and refering to breast augmentation surgery as "a refit", breasts as "air-bags", etc, etc. The notorious "Win a boob job for your girlfriend" feature I have covered in greater length here. Articles standardly refer to women as poor drivers, incapable of performing simple DIY tasks, indecisive, irrational, excessively talkative and obsessed with their appearances and shopping.

5) These magazines go to great lengths to give the impression that a large majority of women are little short of desperate to appear in them. Articles such as "Street Strip Challenge" where women are recruited as topless models on the street and photos sent in by women. The message being sent out is that if you don't wish to participate in the degrading circus you're in some way abnormal, prudish, etc.

6) The celebrity women interviewed are never offered a platform of any sort for their achievements beyond the superficial and titilating. Their views on politics/business/culture/etc are glossed over in favour of innumerable questions about whether they've ever had a threesome/lesbian experience/etc.

7) These magazines are not "top shelf", they're not available only in brown paper bags from shops with dark shutters, they're available in ordinary newsagents, on flights and trains and doctor's waiting room tables. The arguement that if you want to you can ignore them is invalid. Every woman who leaves her home to work or socialise runs the risk of seeing these magazines every day. They have single-handedly (in every sense) legitamised porn for public consumption. Their readership extends to boys as young as 10 to 12 years old. Of course amidst all the sexual imagery there is little or no mention of (1) contraception (2) STDs, (3) unwanted pregnancy or, heaven forbid, (4) responsibility for other's feelings int he context of relationships.

So yes, on balance I would say that, as a feminist, I am VERY bothered by the latest generation of so-called "Lad Mags"...

* In case anyone is thinking of proposing that I'm being sexist/offensive/unconstructive using this word, it's my term of choice for three reasons (1) It comes from the old English for "triangle" while vagina comes from the Latin for sword-holder, I don't like to think of mine as having a primary purpose as a recepticle for a weapon, (2) I think the vagina is a small part of a full on triangle (or as I call it "cunt") of key anatomical-parts: clitoris, labia, etc and (3) certain people get really pissed off when I say it, usually the kind of people I really want to piss off, i.e. misogynists.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Not got time for the whole story but...

...article in today's Guardian Weekend section (paper edition) interviewing the editors of the "major" lads mags - Nuts, Loaded, etc. Anyway the article dismissively claims that "feminists" don't seem very bothered by the proliferation of degrading images of women and sexist jargon that fills the pages of these nasty magazines. As usual no feminists were interviewed in the making of this article. I'm very bothered by the situation and so are all my feminist friends. I'd be very happy to be interviewed and indeed to write an extensive article about the issues, many of which I have addressed in previous posts on this blog. Most notably:



Saturday, October 15, 2005

Totally circular arguement

Following on from the announcement earlier this week that the first state-funded Hindu school in the UK has been approved to open (see Cru-blog below), Margaret Hodge has said she wants faith schoools to open up to children of other faiths... She doesn't mention what atheist children should do. Her comments included the remark "cultural practices such as forced marriages that are unacceptable within Britain must be banned".

Now I don't want to make any direct connection between Hindu-ism and forced marriage, because I think that arranged marriages (which are considered socially acceptible as long as you've thoroughly brain-washed your kids in advance into believing they shouldn't make a fuss) are more of a cultural than a religious thing. However I would be prepared to bet pretty good money that kids sent to secular schools with a mixture of religions, including Atheists and Humanists, etc, Pagans, Animists and Jedi knights, are a lot more likely to stand up against their parents on these kinds of issues than kids sent to a specialist Hindu school where I'm guessing 100% of the students will be from the same cultural background.

Two major rip-offs

Firstly I went to Birmingham last night (to perform at the fantastic Glee Club, which is not a rip off at all but a really lovely comedy club...). However due to not checking out times and prices in advance I had to go with Virgin trains. Return from London Euston to Birmingham... £100! Seriously, and that's standard class, not business or first or whatever! Surely government watchdog people checking train fares shouldn't be allowing that sort of thing? Then on the (two and a half hour last train) journey back the intercom system was broken and every 30 seconds there was a deafening "PING-PONG" noise as if an emergency announcement was about to be made. So no chance of sleeping or concentration on my paper. Just made me really irritable, grrr...

The other incident which I was able to laugh at was that the drinks trolley came round and I asked for a cup of tea to which the woman replied "I haven't got any stirrers so if you want sugar I won't be able to stir it". Fair enough but she said this deadly seriously while the train was rocking about from side to side like a rollercoaster. "I don't think stirring is going to be a problem", I replied clinging for dear life to the arm rest. She looked at me blankly and poured me a tea.

Rip-off number two though is the new identity cards... £30 for the basic card and £93 for the accompanying passport. Even the lower £30 is a lot of money for people like elderly women receiving a fraction of the already pathetic standard pension. And without the card they won't even be entitled to healthcare... There are a lot of more worthwhile causes I can think of who would really be able to put this money to good use.

On top of this no-one seems to be quite sure what the point of the cards is. Clearly they'll do little to combat terrorism since all the London bombers were British citizens. And they open up carte blanche for would-be identity thieves to simply steal the card and not need to bother with learning the signature and figuring out the pin numbers, proof of address, etc. I don't want to pay £30 (or more likely £93 if I ever want to travel) for the right to be arrested and randomly locked up if I mis-place my card. I don't much want my irises scanned or fingerprints taken either thanks. It's totally intrusive.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pointless out-of-context science "fact" of the day

According to the Guardian "Girls less likely to use condoms than boys " - that's the shocking headline. The implication is clearly that contrary to what "we" would all expect, actually girls are the irresponsible ones, tut tut tut. I'd like to see how exactly a girl is supposed to use a condom without a boy present!?

They then offer a breakdown of the 3,300 students interviewed... "...aged between 12 and 17 in the Midlands and the north-east England. One in four was said to be sexually active with half the active girls having sex without condoms, compared with 42% of the boys. " Thats all the numbers we get.

We really don't have enough information here though to form any actual conclusions. We need to know (1) what % of teenage girls versus boys are sexually active, (2) the age ranges of their partners, (3) the breakdown of heterosexual and homosexual relationships within these brackets and (4) the nature of the relationships they're in - marriage, casual sex, etc. I fail to be shocked that lesbians get through less condoms than gay men, which in theory could fully explain the discrepancy. Some of the girls may be married to men in their late twenties and thirties, we just don't know. All we know is that yet again we've got sensationalist headlines along the same-old, same-old "women should be locked up" lines from jounalists and sub-editors who don't appear to have actually understood the research in question.

To add insult to injury the remaining paragraph does exactly the same thing for racial breakdowns of the students: "The study also revealed that black boys were more likely to suffer from sexual health problems than their Asian or white classmates because they lose their virginity at an earlier age.". No data, no explanation. I guess black boys must be almost as awful as girls, eh...?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Our Father who art in the classroom

Isn't it obvious that the state-funded proliferation of single-faith schools is going to do absolutely nothing for race and inter-religion relations in the UK? Today the first state-funded Hindu school was approved. This will, in the long-term, take 240 students out of mixed-faith and secular schools and segregate them from the rest of the community. The remaining schools in the area will be deprived of some of their cultural diversity. Who is this good for? Well it's good for the religious leaders who want the chance to really drill their religious doctrine down the throats of young people...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Welcome to the increasingly famous Cruella-blog!

Thanks to a few people for pointing out to me and getting me copies. The Cru-blog was featured in the paper edition of the Guardian on Saturday 1st October for my comments on the Elizabeth Lloyd article they'd published a few days earlier.

Possible typos in the word of God...

Fantastic article in the Times, highlighted to me by fellow blogger Stephen Newton. The church has decided to let people know that it thinks there are a few minor errors in the text of the bible. You know the bible? Yeah the book their whole religion is supposed to be based on. So don't read the book, just listen to us and we'll tell you which bits we think apply. The word of God is all very well but you'd be better off listening to the word of a bunch of self-appointed "holy" men.

Anyway here are some of the key points:

1) Good news for women, we are no longer to be "ruled over" by our husbands. Bad news for generations of women before us who were taking that bit literally when God really wanted them to be liberated. Of course we're still not ready to be ordained, but progress is progress eh?

2) Creationism, that's not true any more. Neither version. All that un-scientific nonsense is to be scrapped. Good news all round.

3) The virgin birth and the physical resurrection from the dead of Jesus. These are apparently true still. So some un-scientific nonsense is being kept. The earth isn't flat any more and it wasn't made in 7 days but God can still raise the dead and impregnate virgins.

4) The ten commandments. We're keeping those, in spite of their inadequacies. For starters they're totally contradictory. "No other Gods but me" and "Honour thy father and thy mother". What if your parents are Muslim/Hindu/Shinto and want you to worship their God(s). Or indeed "Respect the sabbath and keep it holy". What if they're atheists who run a Post Office and want you to man the till on a Sunday? Also the fact that God never bothered to include one about not playing noisily with your Game-Boy on public transport...

5) Sermon on the mount. That's still true. The meek are still getting the earth. Go the meek! I'm not sure the meek want the earth.

6) Revelations. All false. The whole thing's rubbish apparently. Lakes of sulphur, horsemen of the apocalypse, all that fun stuff is going. Wonder why we ever had that book in the first place. They must have had some real good hallucinogens back in those days.

Speaking of Revelations. I was at a pub quiz a few month back and one of the questions was "Who are Pestilence, War, Famine and Death?" and my mate suggested "The Queen's corgis?". Hahaha.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Modern art

I know a lot of people like to loudly claim that they "don't get" modern art, as though stupidity were a virtue. Could they make it more obvious though than these religious zealots in Russia. I haven't even seen the piece but I can't help thinking that a sculpture of the Virgin Mary in caviar is probably going to be intended to make people think about the contradictions between extravagant lifestyles and religious belief. Probably, if anything, the correct response from religious people is to campaign against those who dine on caviar while outside on the streets people are starving to death. No, no, no though, down with art. Yeah I guess pointing out the ridiculous contradictions between what people profess to believe and what they practice in real life could be construed as inciting religious hatred...

...and the good news is that it'll be illegal here in the UK too soon. Artists, musicians, performers, comedians, secular activists and free-thinkers watch your backs!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Busy weekend and bit of fun

Well I spent last night in Wells, compering at the Long Paws Comedy Club. Britain's youngest comedy promoter, Ben Williams (16!!) had put together a really brilliant line-up (Simon Evans, Will Hodgson and Chris McCausland) for me to introduce. Made my job very easy indeed. Got back about 3am though, dzzzz.... You can read all about it on the club's website.

And that came right on the heels of compering at Amused Moose Soho on Saturday night with another fabulous line-up: Addy Van Der Borgh, Hal Cruttenden and Topping and Butch. Recently I have spent a lot of time compering new act nights so it feels like a bit of a luxury to be introducing acts who I just know are all going to be great. Long may this trend last...

And next Saturday (Oct 7th) I'm compering a music show at the Rhythm Factory. All the info is on the website. Looks like that'll be another late night, and I may have to dust off my old 60s black-and-white dress too! There's no guest list but please come along and have a boogie if it sounds like it's your bag.

Meanwhile if you're really bored you can express your views on the Tory party and have a bit of a laugh at the Pimp My Party website (note: not MY party, THEIR STUPID party...).

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sorry guys but word verification is now on...

Seems like every time I log on now there are 300 messages saying "interesting blog, why not come and have a look at my blog about penis enlargement drugs". While Cru-blog has the deepest sympathy for those less well endowed in the trouser department, we suspect that there are plenty of internet resourses available to those who wish to buy the new v!agra or to consolidate all their existing loans into one "easy" payment... So if you wouldn't all mind just doing the copy the word into the box thing that would be cool, I love comments whether you agree or disagree with me or want to ask question or have a laugh but I can't be doing with spam spam spam all day. It will make the blog easier to read for you all anyway. Ta.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

How much are we really doing to help?

A few days ago we read that a brothel in Birmingham had been raided and a number of victims of human trafficking found working under duress as prostitutes. They had been brought to the UK on the false expectation of legitimate work. They had had their passports stolen, had been forced to remain under the supervisoin of brothel owners 24 hours a day. There was even an electric fence out the back of the building. On top of this of course, they were forced to have sex against their will repeatedly.

Amnesty International commented at the time that "there [is] no protection in law for victims of trafficking, who are usually classed as illegal immigrants and deported. Most are deported without any care or support or assessment of the risks they face if sent back. Communities might not want these women back if they know what has happened to them and there is evidence of people being re-trafficked." The police responded by saying that these women would "be treated as victims".

Todays new shows a slight shift in story. This report says that "six of the women removed from the premises have been handed over to immigration officials". So just shipped straight back to communities where they will likely be unable to reintegrate. There clearly hasn't been time for them to have received proper medical attention since they have been released from the brothel. At best they return to the same situation which led to them being trafficked in the first place. At worst they might well be excluded from their families and communities.

What sort of country do we live in? Surely in the circumstances the women should be given proper medical care, a few weeks/months in safe houses to recover from their extended ordeal with appropriate counselling and rehabilitation, the opportunity to engage in training or education to improve their employment prospects and reduce the risk of repeated trafficking, the right to choose for themselves which country they wish to stay in and support to enable them to do so. Surely we owe these women that much.

Also I would like to see a proper police search for the men who were using the brothel. The sex trade exists because people pay money for it. It is illegal to visit a brothel in the UK. We should seek out people who do and prosecute them in the normal way. This might reduce the number of people who go to these places and in turn make it less financially profitable to run such places. Isn't this obvious?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Must-read article!

This is a brilliant piece of writing, providing a whole new sane slant on the issue of ever-growing influence of religious leaders on our schools and education systems. Not that we would expect any less from Prof Dawkins!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Yes, yes, YES...?

The Guardian women's page never fails to have me twitching in delight or disgust or just general bemusement and today is no exception. An interview with Elizabeth Lloyd is offered. Fair enough, she's written a book about female orgasms, lets see what she has to say...

Now apparently the crux of her arguement is that "the female orgasm is not a biological adaptation with evolutionary advantages - it's just a light nature forgot to turn off". And being generally interested in evolution theories I'm curious to see the explanation for this. The Guardian interview doesn't bother with any such thing however. It merely offers Ms Lloyd's remarks that "In my book I examine 20 explanations which turn out to be completely unsupported by the evidence". That's a null arguement. If her explanation IS supported by the evidence, then we should be shown that evidence, just to say that other theories aren't supported by the evidence doesn't mean that an untested theory must be the right one. Now weirdly Elizabeth Lloyd agrees with me, since she adds "my view isn't necessarily the right explanation". So we're not learning much from this interview. I have a few points though...

Firstly, what isn't addressed is the widely-known fact (especially if you've ever seen The Vagina Monologues, which is well worth a trip if you get the chance) that the clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the penis. So the arguement that it's a biological left-over, compared in the article to male nipples, doesn't hold a lot of water.

Secondly so what? I mean I don't really care WHY it's there. What difference does that make? The article claims that Ms Lloyd's work has enraged feminists... Yet it doesn't name-check any feminists who have been enraged, nor does it offer any quotes from feminists or opportunity for feminists to respond to the comments made about them in the article. I should like to register now that I, a feminist, am distinctly un-enraged by a discussion on biology.

And finally, and this always gets me, why is biology the main thrust of every other article on the women's page. Is X biological? Are women pre-programmed to do Y? These seem to be the perpetual undertones of a majority of articles they feature. As if the question we all need answered is "do women deserve to be treated as second-class citizens?". It doesn't really matter what biological pre-dispositions we all have, what matters is that we're all given a fair and equal chance of success in this society. Save the biology for the science pages and address the issues that matter: the pay gap, discrimination against women, violence against women, the pensions gap and the rights of women around the world to live their lives in the way that they want to.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Big Brother is really watching you

What kind of police state are we living in? Now they have arrested the woman who "leaked" the information about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. You remember, the information that he wasn't acting in the least suspiciously, that he wasn't wearing a "bulky" jacket and hadn't skipped the ticket barrier at the station? The information that made it quite clear that either the police were deliberately trying to shoot someone to give some credence to the notion that they had stepped up security after July 7th or that they were entirely incompetent in dealing with a straighforward mistake of their own making? Now it may be technically against the law to leak such documents but when the action is so clearly in the public interest surely whistle-blowers, in any industry, need protection, not intimidation!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The new pope...

According to this report on the BBC the new pope has announced that he doesn't want any more gay priests. That's pretty offensive, although not much more so than the policy on no women priests, etc, etc. What really amazes me though is that he can get away with claiming this policy is a reaction to US priests being involved in child sex abuse. Now even the BBC hasn't picked up on this and is reporting it as if we all see the obvious connection. Being gay and wanting to sexually abuse kids are, as far as I know, different things, no...? How horribly offensive to link the two!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Babies and biological clocks and so on

Seems to have been a lot of it in the news again. Most of the usual sources (BBC, Independent, Times, Daily Mail, etc) have been eager to highlight to women (who we all know are the only ones involved in baby-making) the "dangers of waiting to have a family". Well here's a bit of reason on the subject from the Grauniad, pointing out that the fact that men in their late twenties are fed a steady diet of how-to-be-a-swinging-bachelor by the battery of lifestyle magazines aimed at them might just have something to do with it. Not to mention the fact that we all know getting pregnant ruins your career which might just be putting some women off.

I wanted to make a different point though. It really does seem that everyone has assumed that all women want to have children. Or at least that all women have a definite, 100% view on whether or not they want to have children and all women feel that those kids must, at all costs, be biologically "theirs"...

Maybe it's not a question of "waiting to have a family" but in fact of only deciding later in life that you actually want a family. And maybe the focus of medical advice should be to think twice about having a family if you're over 35, rather than encouraging women to get started now in case they decide later that they did want a family. Maybe older couples could be encouraged instead to consider fostering or adopting children if they are worried about the risks of pregnancy later in life? They would be ideal candidates to adopt older children who are often much more difficult to find good homes for than those put up for adoption at birth.

There is no shortage of babies in this country, no pressing need for more screaming ankle-biters around the place. In a fantasy Britain, governed by me, no-one would be allowed to have kids (yes, I know, Hitler tried this and it wasn't very popular, still run with me on it...) until they'd completed a programme of parenting skills classes at the end of which, assuming they passed all the assessments, etc, they would foster a child for a three-month period. It would, I suspect, significantly reduce the birth rate, increase the adoption rate and solve the problems of unwanted children and the shortage of foster carers. It would probably also do wonders for community spirit and race and inter-faith relations since inevitably people would be fostering within their own communities and sometimes across races and religions. ...well, ok, so we would all be living in a fascist state too. Realistically we couldn't make such a programme compulsory. Available and encouraged would be good though. Here's a link to Hackney's foster parenting scheme website.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just what Hurricaine Katrina victims need!

...a day of prayer in their honour! I wonder how the Atheist (with a capital "A" like the rest of you, thanks), Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist and Devil-worshipping members of the devastated comminities feel about that. I am always infuriated when cases of mass deaths are responded to with Christian rituals. Also I can't help thinking that possibly a bit more aid a bit faster might have done rather more good than a day of sitting around doing nothing!

Well far be it from the Cru-blog to refuse to participate so here's a nice bible quote for all of you to muse on this Friday (or any day you like!).

(Nahum Chapter 1, verses 2-8):
" The LORD is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and wrath. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and furiously destroys his enemies! The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet. At his command the oceans and rivers dry up, the lush pastures of Bashan and Carmel fade, and the green forests of Lebanon wilt. In his presence the mountains quake, and the hills melt away; the earth trembles, and its people are destroyed. Who can stand before his fierce anger? Who can survive his burning fury? His rage blazes forth like fire, and the mountains crumble to dust in his presence. The LORD is good. When trouble comes, he is a strong refuge. And he knows everyone who trusts in him. But he sweeps away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He pursues his foes into the darkness of night. "

Praise be!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

God bless America

If one news story could ever highlight in one simple go what's wrong with America's undying love for organised religion.... this was it!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Here we go again

I see the ever-popular Guardian gender section cover story is back... Men, it turns out, according to the latest wannabe popular scientist, are smarter than women. As usual the focus of the article then witters on to whether women's progress will be turned back 200 years when word gets out. There are a few points which the article doesn't really get into in all the detail I'd like. So I've suggested some alternative headlines:

1) Lets assume IQ and IQ alone dictates ability to do a high-level job. Now we're told that the study shows that "there are three men to each woman with an IQ of more than 130, and 5.5 men for each woman with an IQ above 145". So why isn't a woman for every 5 men in a position of national leadership?

Here's the numbers by the way - amazing I can get my pretty little head around them I know - there are about 200 countries in the world. Most have one or two main leaders, a president and a prime minister, or just a prime minister, I'm ignoring monarchs who don't have any actual political power like the queen. So lets say a total of 300 key world political players.

And women in those roles:
Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka (1994- )
Mary McAleese, President of Ireland (1997- )
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia (1999- )
Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999- )
Tarja K. Halonen, President of Finland (2000- )
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines (2001- )
Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1991-1996, 2001- )
Luisa Diogo, Prime Minister of Mozambique (2004- )
Yulia Timoshenko, Prime Minister of Ukraine (2005- )

I make that nine. Lets assume I've missed one (I haven't, I'm smarter than that but hell...), so thats one woman for every 30 men in a position of global political power. So the headline should be *IQ study suggests women should have six times more political power*. That's not turning back the progress of the womens' movement...

2) This loser's so-called scientific research also shows that *Black people have a lower IQ than white people* by 15 points - three times the alleged male-female differential of 5 points. Why did the Guardian not choose that nugget of "information" as their headline? Well because the public would have reacted with understandable disgust to such a suggestion. And we're back at square one here where racism is rightly shocking but sexism is the acceptable face of prejudice.

3) So what? Since when has IQ and IQ alone been a reliable indicator of ability to do a worthwhile job or earn a certain salary? In my professional life there has always been a lot more need for hard slog than for genius inspiration. And we all know girls get better exam results than boys... "Prof" Lynn tackles this point with confidence:

"Asked why girls consistently outperform their male peers at school, he said: "When you're talking about better exam results like GCSEs and A-levels, this is partly a function of intelligence and partly a function of motivation and conscientiousness.

"Many of today's exams involve coursework, and women are more conscientious than men. This explains why girls are doing well at this level despite their lower IQs.""

So how about running with the headline *Women more conscientious than men*. Since given our super-low IQs we must be doing a hell of alot of extra work to take more exam glory across the board than boys! And isn't coursework - where you can use reference books, look stuff up and ask for help if you need it - a lot more like real life work than sitting in a dusty exam hall? Not that I have seen any evidence to suggest that coursework is the area where girls overtake boys.

4) Funny how whenever IQ is mentioned in any other context the media is quick to dismiss it's relevance. Suddenly when there's a chance to put women down or justify the pre-existing prejudice they've all been subscribing to for hundreds of years, it's the be-all and end-all again. So perhaps *no headline at all* would be a good choice?

5) No difference in average IQs justifies a deliberately discriminatory policy in the workplace, in the academic arena, or anywhere else. A difference in averages relates to averages. If a woman has the skills to do the job, give her the job. Assess people on an individual basis. Surely that's obvious. Again I think I'm going for no headline at all, although they probably need to fill paper space so *Vacuous pseudo-scientist publishes pointless report*

6) Personally my IQ has been measured a few times and has to date come out consistently in the range 156 to 164. This makes me one-in-five-thousand, but remember that means one-in-thirty-thousand since I'm a woman too, and therefore stacks more conscientious. So my final suggested headline is *Cruella for prime minister* ...join the campaign now!

Shock! Horror! Cru-blog gets it right!

Remember this post? Where the team here at Cru-blog postulated that handing out plastic surgery as competition prizes sent out the wrong message? Well the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons agrees with me. It says so on the BBC! It also provides more helpful information about the original competition, explaining that to enter men were asked to send in a picture of their girlfriends breasts and state which celebrity breasts they would prefer them to look like. And comment-adders came on here and said it wasn't degrading... Would anyone care to comment now?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

End of festival

Well I really went out with a bang on Monday night, performing in a BBC-run "60 acts in 60 minutes" show - I went on 30th marking the halfway point of the hour - and right before the legendary Tim Vine which made me feel like I was in brilliantly good company. Lots of my comedy chums were in the audience and everyone said I did really well. We were all given a free tequila shot as we came off stage so ended up with loads of acts all getting very drunk. One of the acts, who shall of course remain nameless, had brought along some very powerful "space cake" and although I'm not normally a big partaker of such things I figured what the hell for the end of the festival and ended up out and about talking absolute rubbish until 7:30am!

Train back yesterday and chatted with a mate the whole way through the hangover and many many cups of tea. Slept for 14 hours non-stop last night. Has been a brilliant experience but nice to be back in the real world now too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ironist of the year awards...

Is that even a word? Well most ironic moment/person seems to me to be a clean sweep for born-again Christian Pat Robertson who has suggested on television that the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. Now there are two key points I wanted to make on the subject:

1) Check your bible Pat. Mine says "THOU SHALT NOT KILL". In fact I seem to recall those words were engraved on a big stone tablet. Don't recall God putting an asterisk at the end and a footnote "*thou shalt not kill Americans, Venezuelans are fair game".

2) The BBC article, linked above, has a wonderful concluding line: "Venezuela is the fifth-largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States. ". I'll leave Cru-blog readers to figure out why that information might be relevant to the story.

Anyway while we're conducting the day's round-up of noxious perpetrated by persons of a religious persuasion here's a nice one from Japan. Nice in the sense of vile.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Rat...

The new Pope has apparently warned against "the dangers of secularism"! Now if he got up and warned about the dangers of Islam, the dangers of Judaism or the dangers of Hinduism I think there'd be a bit of a kerfuffle. He doesn't seem to have pointed out what any of those "dangers" actually are but weirdly he warns that of minority breakaway religious groups "some are even able to make a profit from it". Mmmm, I can't help thinking he's not doing too badly out of organised religion himself. Nice house, private cinema, bowling alleys (seriously he has private ones in the vatican), nice car, lots of big jewellery, etc.

The real issue though is that he's trying to encourage catholics to listen to everything he says not just the bits that suit them. Now the number one area where I don't know a single catholic who really does what the Pope says is contraception. And good. I'm glad no-one listens to the old Nazi whinge-bag. Partly because I don't like to see thousands of people dying of AIDS, but also because the less kids born into religious families, the less religious people in the next generation! Statistically (got this from the NSS) two religious parents gives 50-50 secularist and religious children, one religious parent gives 25% chance of the child being religious and when neither parent is religious there is an almost 0% chance of the child being religious. Like it or not we secularists will eventually take over the world! [Manaical laughter...]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Some voices of reason

Have had a couple of very cool links sent in to me, wanted to share them. Firstly this great piece which explains why intelligent design is not a credible alternative to evolution. Secondly this piece from the Guardian about the role that religion has in society and how much better off we would be if people just admitted it was nonsense and stopped treating religious beliefs as different to any other gibberish people subscribe to. Love it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The official rating system for prejudice

I am dead against all sorts of prejudice. Seems to me though that we have different reactions to different kinds of prejudice. Today rap musicians are talking about homophobia. And rightly so, there's no doubt that there is a problem with homophobic lyrics in rap. Hasn't anyone noticed though that sexism is also rife in rap lyrics? I don't know any other type of music where women are routinely referred to as "bitches" and "whores". But of course if I complain too loudly I am being racist - the least socially acceptable prejudice of all - because the genre is "black music".

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone who was discriminated against could unite against all types of prejudice?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Four stars!

Well the Amused Moose Comedy Hot Starlets show was reviewed at last on one4review.com and they gave us 4 stars (out of a possible 5). Here is the link. Considering the show is a showcase of new and new-ish acts, this is great news.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The baby culture

Britains fertility treatment laws are being overhauled. There are a whole bunch of issues coming up. Here are some of them. I'll give my views but really I'd like to see what people logging on here think too...

1) IVF. I don't think we should provide IVF as standard for those unable to conceive naturally on the NHS. It's massively expensive, involves enormous physical discomfort and indignity for the woman and has a very low success rate. People who aren't able to conceive naturally can apply to adopt. We should really focus on stripping away the societal pressure on women to have kids and to have kids which are biologically theirs. People who are ultimately determined to undertake the process will have to pay for it. Very little media attention is given to those women who go through the process many many times without success, the stories are always about the few "miracle babies".

2) Embryo screening and "designer" babies. Well I think we should allow screening in cases where there is a medical need, i.e. to provide a bone marrow donor for a sibling or something like that. And I'd allow it in the case of a significant family genetic problem. Would have to be a significant thing though, a major disablity, not to be used to choose blue eyes and blonde hair. Also not to be used to choose to have boys or girls. Bit tricky this one though because those people who really really want it will end up going overseas and getting it.

3) Paid-for IVF and eligibilty. I think if IVF is being paid for then anyone who wants to have it should be allowed to. It really annoys me when I see women being refused treatment because they're not married or whatever. Women are perfectly capable of deciding whether or not they are ready to raise a child. Trying to restrict fertility treatment to those we deem morally suitable for parenthood is one step away from a fascist state. I've yet to hear of an unmarried man being refused viagra so lets allow women to determine their own treatment options too.

Welcome to the famous Cruella-blog

Yes, that's right, I've been listed on the Metro guide to UK blogs so hopefully that means a fair bit more through-traffic on the site. Here's the link for anyone who wants to see who else made the cut or just revel in my reflected glory. Better still come up to Edinburgh and see my show!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Festival update

Show number five today for the Hot Starlets. We were very nearly full tonight, seems like momentum is gathering for the show. I'm really hoping we will start selling out eventually and then I'll be off the hook for flyering and more. Also momentum is gathering for me(!), I did two other shows today, a local pub's lunchtime show, which I compered, then a ten minute spot on Park's Circus - a really nice straightforward stand-up show nightly at Roman Eagle Lodge. They have a different guest every night and I was very flattered to be asked to do it. Was a lot of fun, nice crowd and nice evening.

In terms of other shows, I have a couple of recommendations: Firstly Appelby's Journey to the 21st Century which I can't go see cos it clashes with my own show but (a) she did a snippet as part of the Hot Starlets and it was great and (b) Debs and I are sharing a flat so I've seen the rehearsals and nearly peed myself in the living room. Secondly We Are Klang in Yee Ha Klang which I saw last night is a really funny sketch show. I'm going to go again later in the month, it's that funny!

Farewell freedom of speech

Note that radical Islamic clerics who support violent reaction to the situation in the middle east are now being threatened with the rather medieval crime of "treason". I believe the punishment is supposed to be deportation to the tower followed by decapitation. Now I think terrorism's wrong (including that perpetrated by Bush and Blair around the world) but I think people are entitled to their opinions. Without free discussion on the subject these problems will never be resolved. Just because someone's ideas are offensive, we can't make it illegal for them to hold and express those opinions. Like the BNP, their views are disgusting but we have to let them have them and express them. It's a basic human right.

Of course encouraging people to be violent is and should be a crime. But stating that you believe, for example, that a violent response to the occupation of Iraq is justified, that's your opinion and you are well within your rights to hold it and state it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Alternative theories

I am in stitches looking at this post from boing boing about an alternative to the Intelligent Design theory - the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! If enough people send this letter to the Kansas School board, well they may think we're all crazy and they won't listen to any of us. Then again it is a very good point.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another step backwards

I notice that Bush has been promoting "intelligent" design, i.e. creationism again. Its really obnoxious to have these kind of backwards ideas presented as credible scientific fact.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Is it any wonder...

...that convictions in rape cases are as low as ever and not improving? This article in the Observer today points out that a large number of judges consider the sexual history of the victim relevant to rape prosecution. We should just throw out judges like that.

Off to Edinburgh

Well I travel up to the festival tomorrow, technical run-through Tues and the show opens Weds. The first few days are cheaper (preview prices and 2-for-1 offers) so i recommend any Edinburgh-resident blog-readers come along on earlier rather than later. And just to be super-thoughtful to you: here's the direct link to the ticket sales page. You're just a credit cards away now... mmmm.

Friday, July 29, 2005

One for the little guys

Brian Haw has won the right to continue his protest against UK foreign policy towards Iraq, despite parliament passing a law specifically aimed at him. Hahaha. A couple of points I wanted to make on the subject:

1) The government claims that Mr Haw "posed a potential security risk". What a load of rubbish. He's been there four year and hasn't so much as chucked a free range egg at a politician so far, I hardly think he is going to start on the molotov cocktails any time soon...

2) For those who believe (as far as I know only Tony Blair himself) that July 7th and Sept 11th attacks were not related to Iraq or UK/US foreign policy, and for those who wish to justify that argument by pointing out that the Sept 11th attacks occurred before the official most recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq... Hmmm Mr Haw has been protesting about policy towards Iraq since well before Sept 11th. Could it be that UK and US foreign policy has been hostile to Iraq for longer than he's letting on? I mean my memory may be failing me but I think we've even invaded Iraq before. And weren't there some sanctions in the 90s?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Praying for a better education?

You might want to start! Turns out that kids at religious schools are getting a much better education than kids at non-faith-based schools. Not fair is it? Meanwhile everyone is talking about cutting out extremism and fundamentalism and the influence of education on that. I don't see many secularist suicide bombers. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if state-provided education was non-religious and parents were left with the freedom to provide whatever religious education they wanted for their children at home and on weekends?

Good news though in education is that apparently as a kid you have a legal right to be taught the facts of life! As if previously anyone thought it was OK to send young people out into the world without even knowing how their own bodies work. Hopefully this will cut through some of the religiously-promoted nonsense that is so widespread at the moment.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

How the other half lives...

...I pay so little attention to the culture of "lads" mags that it would have been quite possible for this one to pass me by. Luckily the Guardian have taken the time to discuss the Zoo Magazine "Win your girlfriend a £4,000 boob job" competition.

I've never been a big fan of magazines which present themselves as being somehow cultural or mainstream and are in practice just pornography. How weird though to imagine that anybody's girlfriend would be thrilled to have their fella come home bragging "I've won you a boob job". Here are six little-known facts about boob jobs, specially compiled for you by the top staff at Cru-blog (that's me):

1) Some women have big boobs naturally and don't want a boob job.

2) Some women with smaller boobs prefer their slim, sporty image and don't want a boob job.

3) Some women don't fancy the idea of invasive surgery and a lengthy recovery process, pain and bruising, and don't want a boob job.

4) Having a boob job significantly reduces the sensitivity of the breasts and hence sexual pleasure, for this reason some women don't want a boob job.

5) Having a boob job usually means a woman will subsequently be unable to breast feed any children they may have. For this reason some women don't want a boob job.

6) Sometimes surgery goes wrong. Aside from the results not living up to expectations, having a boob job can be fatal. for this reason some women don't want a boob job.

If your girlfriend wants a boob job I suggest talking to her about why she feels that way and the dangers associated with surgery. It's probably a self-esteem issue. Probably related to the fact that you're a rubbish boyfriend...

If your boyfriend wants to win you a £4,000 boob job, just dump him, he's an idiot.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Forgotten People

Is the US ever going to do anything about Guantanamo Bay? The inmates have been there now for nearly four years. Unsurprisingly a number of them are trying to get the attention they well deserve by staging a hunger strike. Anmesty International describes conditions in the camp as including substantiated reports of "torture and widespread cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment", and remember the letter that came out at the start of this year?

Surely four years is enough to have gathered whatever evidence they wanted to press charges against the detainees, many of whom incidentally contest their innocence. Amnesty's background report provides for shocking reading. How can we take seriously the foreign policy of a country who behave in this way? We need to step up the pressure on the US and make it clear we are still watching. Anmesty has some suggestions on how to do this.

Some of these guys have family in the UK. In particular Shaker Aamer who has a wife and four children who are British citizens. How can Tony Blair be calling on the British Muslim community to "root out extremism" while he is doing nothing about member of that community illegally detained and tortured at the hands of someone he has round the house for tea on a regular basis?

As for Tony's suggestion that the London bombings have nothing to do with Iraq... is he trying to do us comedians out of a job?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Great article

About the media enthusiasm for any report which backs "innate" gender differences. And they way that reports showing the opposite - much more numerable - are swept under the carpet.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Told you so

Guess what, we were right and the Life (destruction of women's lives) Group were wrong. Selling emergency contraceptives in pharmacies hasn't led to an increase in risky behaviour or sexually transmitted diseases. It even says so on the BBC. In fact what has clearly happened is that since the same number of M.A.P.s are being distributed, we must be saving doctor's valuable time and cutting the cost of healthcare in the UK. Except, of course, for those who are refusing to sell it. To go back to the point of a previous post (and re-iterate a point made by a commentor...) distributing drugs is the job of a pharmacist. If you don't want to distribute the full range of legally available drugs, get a different job.

Thanks for checking

Both I and the cat survived the London bombings, although i was evacuated from the gym this morning and made to wait around in Finsbury Square feeling like an idiot in my shorts for several hours. My email if anyone ever wants to get in touch again is smurfjapan@yahoo.com.

In fact yesterday I was out of town at the Newbury Comedy Festival where I am through to the final of their new act of the year competition. The final is next Thursday but already sole out so unless you already have tickets - sorry!