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!).