Sunday, December 24, 2006

Keep Christmas Pagan

A little bit of festive cheer for Cru-blog's secular readers. Have a good Christmas all!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Which way to look...?

I am generally of the opinion that what MPs do in their private lives is up to them. We should judge them on their policies. The ones they actually act on, not the ones they claim to believe in and then throw away. Something about the blossoming relationship between Lib-Demmer (and on policies I've always been reasonable favourable on the Lib Dems) Lembit Opik and one of the aptly-named musical duo The Cheeky Girls however is just a bit much. Not least his long-standing fiancee Sian Lloyd finding out about the relationship indirectly. How on earth are we supposed to take him seriously now?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ripping Yarns

This article in the Guardian strikes me as compulsory reading...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Vice City

Well the papers are all over the "Suffolk Ripper". And I really don't need to say that the murders are horrific. What bugs me is the media's need to constantly refer to the victims by their occupation. The linked article is one of the least offenders, the tabloid are running with things like "5TH DEAD VICE GIRL FOUND". Now I often talk about prostitution on this blog and people post comments furiously insisting it's just a career choice and that some women enjoy it. Now firstly - all five dead women had serious drug habits, none worked the streets by choice and secondly - if it's just a career, like account manager or cardiologist, why don't we describe them as murdered WOMEN and mention that they all had the same occupation in a single paragraph later on in the article? Harold Shipman murdered old women but I never saw the headline "ten more knitters deaths to be reviewed in Shipman case".

Monday, December 11, 2006

Awards for effort?

There is a general fuss being made about Zara Philips winning sports personality of the year. People are complaining that she has had an easy route to the top. Well easier than many, sure, but it's not like Paula Radcliffe has to milk the family goat and cook chapattis on an open fire before she goes running. If the award is for the person who has worked the hardest then we'd have to start looking at people who put in hours and hours of time but then never made it due to injury or just not being naturally gifted enough. If Kelly Holmes had broken an ankle before the finals and come home without a medal would we have voted for her for trying ever so hard? No - the award is for winning stuff and frankly on that basis Zara is about the best we've got at the moment, unless you count Matt Dawson getting into the last three on Strictly Come Dancing...

Monday, December 04, 2006

I Don't Know about Agnosticism

An article on the BBC extolls the virtues of agnosticism. Sadly for a lot of us, simply "not knowing" just isn't a position that makes any sense...

I don't know if Mr Cru will buy me any Christmas presents, but I expect he will and I live my life assuming he will (i.e. by buying him some), I don't know if the next person to ring my doorbell will be coming to murder me, but I expect they won't (so I answer the door). In fact when it comes down to it I barely KNOW anything. We live our lives based on probabilities.

The evidence against God's existence is overwhelming, from the fact that globally almost all the major religions are totally incompatible to the extensive fossil record to the bizarre fact that all the so called "miracles" in the bible sound a great deal like natural disasters we can now explain scientifically. We may never know for 100% certainty that there is no God but we already know with 99.999...% certainty and we're getting more and more evidence all the time.

The trouble is when people say they are agnostic they seem to be saying that God's existence is 50-50, that the arguments for both sides are equally strong. From everything I've heard and read in my life there are no convincing arguments for God's existence. Accepting the idea that there is something intellectual about sitting on the fence is only going to slow scientific progress down.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

International Cru on the World Service

Well I've been asked to go on the BBC World Service tonight and talk about perms. As in permanent wave hairstyles - they are celebrating their centenary this year. Now the trouble is we're doing it as a pre-recorded spot for World Today and it might go out any time between midnight and 8am, GMT. Still if Cru-fans anywhere in the world happen to have the radio on in the car or the alarm set to wake you up with some radio, please tune in. To supplement the radio jokes here's a picture of the first ever advert for perms, mmm amazing they ever caught on at all...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Guardian in the Dogg House

Sometimes you open the paper and then go back to the front page to check the title. I mean is this article about rapper Snoop Dogg really from The Guardian? It makes no mention of the fact that his idea of a song title is "Break A Bitch Til I Die", featuring lyrics like "Hos come, hos go, hos runnin ya slow, So keep her foot up in her ass, unless a dick in her throat". Instead The Guardian (yes, I know, The Guardian...) refers to him as "pimpalicious"?! Meaning what exactly? That there's something good to be said for making money from human traffiking, co-erced sex and prostitution? Please.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cru vs Stringfellow

Your top blogstress Cruella (that's me) was on BBC Radio Leeds again today. Didn't get much notice so couldn't really advertise. The Liz Green show was covering the Chris Tarrant affair and his suggestion that affairs were just "something men do". My "opponent" in the debate was none other than be-mulleted fake-tan embalmed sleaseball Peter Stringfellow. A couple of cool exchanges took place.

Firstly he said that he'd been unfaithful to his wife back in leeds in the 70s but that thing were different back then. I asked whether weddings were conducted without vows back then or whether he'd just said them for a laugh. He said no-one really thinks about what those vows mean...

Then he said that having affairs was "natural" for men. And I said it was natural to dig a hole in the ground and defecate in it but I didn't want to live with men who did that!

I got the last word on the matter pointing out that I really don't have a problem with people who decide they want to have multiple sexual partners, lifestyle choices, go for it. I have a problem with people who mislead others about what they're going to do.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Premium Rates

There are moves afoot to address the TV show phone-in "quizzes" where the questions are stupidly easy and the cost of entering is sky high. Now of course if GCSE maths were just a little bit more of a hurdle in this country we wouldn't have to worry about there being people out there who don't know these things are a scam. However seems like a case of too little too late to me.

Apologies in advance for quoting chunks of the article but really...

'Broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward said that, even if some channels were running scams, "it doesn't necessarily follow that they are all doing it". '

Depends what you mean by a scam. Are they making a profit from the phone lines far greater than the value of the prize they're giving away? Yes. And all the channels are doing that.

'The government would introduce more regulation if this was deemed "proportional" to the problem, but industry self-regulation would be "quicker, more flexible and more likely to work", he added. '

Industry self-regulation clearly doesn't work because that's what's going on right now. Industry self-regulation is just a euphimism for "I'll turn a blind eye and you make sure you get me a nice Christmas present".

'Mr Woodward said that "realistically, when we take part in these programmes, you know that the odds are stacked against you".'

We? I don't take part in these shows and judging by your shifting pronouns, nor do you Mr Woodward. If people taking part in these programmes are aware that they are paying far more for the call they are making than they are on average going to win then they are gambling, and that falls under much more restrictive gambling law. If they don't know then they're being scammed.

One of the responsible parties, David Brook from Optimistic Entertainment said 'We don't wish to encourage people to make multiple calls'. Now I can't say I watch a lot of these kinds of shows but I have noticed when I do watch them the never-ending urges to call and to call again if you don't get through.

And the proliferation of these shows tells us that people are falling for it and losing a lot of money.

We've also recently heard that victims of Farepak's collapse have been told to ring a premium rate number to register claims. And the same is true of the government's benefits hotline (reposted in Private Eye so no link).

What's needed is something much much stronger than what is being discussed. I suggest a major new piece of legislation to cover premium rate lines and text message services so that they can't be used for entering competitions or providing information which the company or body setting them up should reasonably be providing to it's customers or callers.

What do you think? Dial 0898 YES CRUELLA if you think premium rate numbers should be banned...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

All Shapes and Sizes of Plug

Yes here they come. Brace yourselves...

1) Mr Cru has finally succumbed to the blogging bug and started his own. He has a significant amount of experience as a military journalist so he will be sounding off about Iraq mostly I expect but check him out here.

2) Next Thursday - 30th Nov I am performing in a lovely Christmas singing show at John Lyon Hall, at the City Lit on Keeley Street, near Holborn. The bad news is it's 12.45pm - i.e. during the day so I know some people won't make it. The good news is that it's free so please come along and enjoy our tuneful singing (and the rest).

3) Upcoming gigs:

Mon 27th Nov Soho Comedy Club, Roundtable Pub, St Martin's Court, near Leicester Sqare, 8pm. £5 or free if you mention Cru-blog.

Wed 29th Nov This Week On Earth, topical panel show live at Cypress Grill, Fulham Palace Road (Hammersmith end, just after the hospital), 8.30pm, £5.

Mon 4th Dec Soho Comedy Club as above

Mon 11th Dec Soho Comedy Club Xmas party as above

Wed 13th Dec This Week On Earth as above

Mon 18th Dec Soho Comedy Club Comedy Star-In-Their-Eyes Special, as above except we all do cover versions of famous acts...

Wed 20th Dec Electric Mouse Golders Green

Thurs 21st Dec Larfin Lion King's Cross

Hope to see you all soon!

Comedy Tent

Just found this cool picture of me compering the comedy tent at Fringe Sunday in Edinburgh. My job is so much fun... (of course I say that now, those of you who were reading Cru-blog during August will remember me moaning about being knackered all the time, etc.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Spot the Slime-Ball

I'll give you a clue: HERE. Now what he superficially seems to be saying sounds emminently reasonable. That there is a difference between someone aged 17 having consensual sex with someone aged 15 and a half and someone aged 45 having sex with a 6 year old. I agree with that, of course there is. Three things though:

1) The law already recognises the difference between thse crimes. Both remain crimes but the latter incurs much more serious penalties under UK law.

2) He's suggesting the law should be changed for GIRLS from 13 up. Surely if a girl is capable of binding consent at age 13, so is a boy of the same age. There are countries in the world where the age of consent is different for boys and girls. I think that's a bad idea. I think that's sending out a message that the sexes should have different concepts of sex. And that's unhelpful.

3) He's talking about relaxing the law for men who have sex with girls from 13 up. If he means to relax the law for men and women who have sex with girls and boys from 13 up then I'm prepared to talk. However if he's relaxing the law the I think there a good case for allowing it to be applied up to a higher age limit. Say 15 to 18 year olds can have sex with someone up to five years older than them, no more. Personally I think the law is better as it is but there may be a case to be made there.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bush's latest sneaky plan

If you can't change the law directly, there's got to be a sneaky way of having the same effect. Pass the bucket...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Operation Freedom and Love

The unsurprising news that some US soldiers in Iraq have murdered a group of people and raped a 14-year-old girl is discussed on the BBC. And to think how much of a struggle it continues to be for women who want to to get to the front lines...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Have some pity...

...for Katie Davis. On her way to prison after being convicted of making false claims of rape. Now I know it's wrong to make such claims, and of course it's traumatic for the guy who was tried for the crime, but:

(a) What kind of environment has she been brought up in to believe aged 18 that if she's accidentally pregnant her only option is to claim rape?

(b) Both parties had been drinking, neither remembered what happened fully. If someone is too drunk to remember what has happened I'm unconvinced that they can truly be said to have given consent.

(c) She was 16, only just over the age of consent, he was 24.

(d) The case was dropped because of "discrepancies and inconsistencies in Davis's accounts". Now if I was going to file a false rape claim I'd get my story straight and stick to it wouldn't you? On the other hand if I'd been raped, blocked half of the horror of it out and was trying to piece together the evidence I'm sure I would need to adjust my testamony as time went by.

(e) Even these inconsistencies only cast "serious doubt" on the verdict. No one has ever said that it was fully disproved.

(f) The guy spent 10 weeks in prison for whatever he did or didn't do. For just bringing the case against him she's been sentenced to six months.

And the police wonder why only a tiny percentage of rape victims report the crimes against them!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Fairer Sex and the Beautiful Game

Yet another misogynist idiot has for some unknown reason had his ludicrous ranting reported in the mainstream press. Mike Newell, whose expertise in the world of football has led him to the dizzying heights of being manager of Luton Town has decided that women shouldn't be allowed to work as referees and other officials. His comments come surprisingly shortly after his team lost 3-2 in a game where referees assistant Amy Rayner decided not to award his boys a penalty. Senior referee Andy D'Urso agreed with Ms Rayners decision but oddly Mr Newell hasn't been calling for men to be barred from refereeing...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Baby, Bathwater, Bandwagon and Brown

As if any of us hoped that Gordon Brown might be any more honest a prime minister than Tony Blair. Witness this piece of less-than-joined-up government. Nick Griffin, the nasty little fascist at the head of the BNP has gotten off on charges of inciting racial hatred. Despite the fact that he clearly did (for instance when he said "lets show these ethnics the door in 2004"). To me the issue raised by the case it what's wrong with our law courts? The Times offers a good run-down of this guys offensive views so the failure to convict makes me want to know more about who was the judge, why were the jury not better screened to make sure they didn't hold racist opinions themselves and who was bringing the case and why didn't they get someone competent?

Instead of course Gordon Brown has waded in and said "Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country. We have got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes. And if that means we have got to look at the laws again, we will have to do so".

Now firstly Nick Griffin's offences date from befor ethe incitement to religious hatred bill came in so we just don't know if the laws we have now would have been enough to get him. As I understand it even the old laws sound like enough to get him, but something went wrong in that process.

Secondly the issue of what should and shouldn't be allowed to be said in this country shouldn't in my view be a matter of what will "offend mainstream opinion". I have lots of opinions which some people may find offensive. For instance I believe that there is no God. Indeed I believe that the idea of cloud-dwelling fairies who can read everybody's minds and make notes and then use those to decide what happens to our eternal soul (I don't believe we have one of these either) such as being burnt in hell forever is absolute nonsense. I think those who believe it in the face of modern scientific understanding are delusional and as such should be barred from public office or going near children. I want the law to protect people from threat and intimidation - not criminalise debate.

But finally what Gordon Brown is calling for is a strengthening of the law on Racial and Religious hatred. And that's really the sneaky thing. More or less everyone I know thinks Nick Griffin should be locked up fr his offensive views on race issues. However religion and race are not the same issue. Saying it's bad to be black or Asian is wrong, because people don't choose their race. Saying it's bad to believe certain things is open to debate, people choose what to believe. Nick Griffin described Islam as a "wicked and evil" religion. Now I think many of it's modern adherents are very nice reasonable people, but looking at the history of Islam and the way it is still used in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and even in parts of the UK to justify treating women like goats, I think there are certainly aspects of it that are "wicked and evil", and believe me, I don't agree with Nick Griffin very often... But to read remarks from Gordon Brown you would think that race and religion were somehow equally weighted in terms of things you can't be judged on. I feel bad for those people genuinely trying to defeat racism that suddenly they're being co-opted onto a whole different movement. To me that feels like Brown doing exactly the sort of sneaky backhanded politics that we're very used to with Blair. Leaving me less than optimistic for the future.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Readers in the South-West?

Are cordially invited to come and see me tomorrow night (well tonight now since it's gone midnight) Sunday 5th Nov at Mirth Control, Havanas on the Quay in Exeter. Doors 8pm, show starts 9pm. Mr Cru (aka American comic David Mulholland) is also doing a short spot. It's a fiver to get in and please come say hello if you're there, I may even be buying beers!

The Red Carpet Treatment

Cru and Mr Cru were joined by Wufnik from BazzFazz (the guy who originally got me in to blogging!) on Friday night to attend the opening of Paul Sellar's latest play 2Graves at the Arts Theatre (it was also the re-opening of the Arts Theatre itself which has been closed for over a year). Paul is a stand-up comic I've worked with many times over the last few years so that was why we got to hang with the stars. Anyway I am really really not just saying this because he's a friend of mine but the play is really fantastic. Not just the writing but also the performance by Jonathan Moore is captivating. It's a one-man piece, all in verse, about a guy from the midlands in the underworld of darts, snooker and gangsters and it's very funny - largely because of the way that it rhymes - and very dramatic and meaningful too. I won';t say anymore as I don't want to spoil it but seriously recommended.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Porn again

Interesting article in The Guardian discussing views on the post-Jane Longhurst anti-violent porn bill. I agree with those in favour - we should prosecute the owners of this stuff. I seem, in this respect to come up against three key arguements:

1) (As voiced by Bonnie Greer) Once we start censoring, the censorship will spread to affect our rights to freedom of speech, etc and be a problem for artists/playwrites/etc.

Well we already have censorship in certain areas. Child pornography is banned in the UK. All we're suggesting is moving the line of what is and isn't censored. If we can't have that debate then we effectively are censored, the decision has to be open to discussion. And no doubt at some point there will be a play that shows an act of child rape which is then debated hotly by the censors and banned in some places amid critical outcry, etc. At the same time I think we have to protect against anyone who wishes to show violent horrific acts for the purpose of tittilation and then cover their backs by calling it art. Good art and good theatre can use symbolism to evoke the situation without having to be gratuitously graphic.

2) (As voiced by Holly Combe) The problem should be solved by stopping such material being produced in the first place.

Well yes that would be an ideal solution, I agree. But the internet is a global network, covering regions where we have no control over the legislation and covering a widely varying region in terms of economic power. If we allow the download and ownership of violent porn, we have to accept that we fund the production of it. Is our aim to end the production of it or just to announce that we don't want it produced. Is it not worth a small decrease in our freedoms to prevent thousands of rapes and murders around the world? Lets be realistic not idealistic. By the same token we might suggest illegalising the sale but not the purchase of drugs, which creates a totally unclear message: if you can get it, ok, but don't let us see you.

3) (As voiced by Mr Cru) But what if someone borrows your computer or you buy a second hand computer and there are files on there you don't know about.

Well sure, some people get wrongly accused of crimes. That's like saying some guy was framed for murder and that's not fair so lets legalise murder. We make the law and then we do our best to enforce it fairly.

As usual Jeremy Coutinho from Object has some great - and to my mind shocking - points to make on the subject, so here he is:

'Obviously these proposals are "a good news day" for women's human rights. They plug a legal loophole whereby the distribution and sale, but not the possession of violent material, was illegal.

Simply closing this loophole, though, does not in itself address society's attitudes towards women, which are still extraordinarily sexist and allow rape, sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. The mainstreaming of a porn aesthetic and outlook is now endemic.

So, for instance, in Virgin Airline's executive lounge at JFK, the introduction of urinals shaped like women's mouths was only abandoned after massive protest. Then there was Zoo magazine's "dictionary of porn" which described abusive porn such as "pink eye" (ejaculating on to a woman's eye ball). Zoo is sold without age restriction as a "lifestyle" magazine, often for as little as 60p.

Or take the Sport "newspaper", which described the sex life of Jane Longhurst's murderer as "an adventurous romp" on a page crammed with graphic adverts for sex chat lines and hardcore porn.

While I welcome this bill, the mainstream objectification of women has to be tackled too if the government is really serious about women's human rights.'

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gigs tonight, etc

Doubling up tonight at 99 Club Angel (Camden Head Pub, 8.30pm, £3) and Electric Mouse Golders Green (see TO for info or something, I've only just said yes, someone must have dropped out last minute!).

Also the Soho Comedy Club is now running regularly Monday nights at the Roundtable Pub, St Martin's Court (along the side of the Wyndham's Theatre, 1 min from Leicester Square Tube). It's £7 but you can get in for £5 if you mention me. I MC it every week now. It's a dinky little place, seats 25-30 but it gets rammed sometimes, especially when there are good people on. Rich Brophy and Gareth Berliner next week and Nick Coppin, Rosie Wilby and Aaron Barshack on Nov 13th. Mr Cru aka American comic David Mulholland is usually on too. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Term time

The 10-minute bill through parliament which suggested the maximum term for abortion should be cut to 21 weeks has been rejected. Not that ten minute bills ever make law anyway but nice to know most MPs are opposed to the concept. The suggestion was that there should also be a compulsory ten day "cooling off" period. Now I think other people telling me what I can and can't do to my own body sucks but one thing that really really sucks about the bill is that they say: "a woman should be given access to information and counselling about the medical risk of termination as well as of carrying a pregnancy to term". Yeah - it is much more dangerous to carry a pregnancy to term than it is to have an abortion. Furthermore the later one has an abortion the more dangerous it is so a ten day cooling off period would kill some women.

Nadine Dorries, the MP who tabled the bill also said that "Such a cooling-off period is necessary, because the decision to terminate a pregnancy or not is one with which the woman concerned will have to live for the rest of her life" by which arguement cooling off periods should also be introduced for moving in with a partner, tattoos and piercings, getting a dog or a cat and in fact deciding to have a baby, right? Or is it just women not prepared to raise a child in an environment when that will more or less certainly cost them their career whoshe wishes to have victimised in this way?

There is a very interesting article in the Guardian featuring the stories of nine women who've had abortions. None of them regret it and one says without it she would have killed herself. I've never met a woman who's regretted an abortion. And I have met some who've regretted having kids!

If you want to reduce abortions, make it compulsory for employers to provide adequate child care, chase up absent fathers who don't pay maintenance on time, provide proper benefits, chase up companies who push out pregnant employees and drag them through the courts so it really hurts.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Whoops, there go our civil liberties...

What's the big thing with flag burning? I mean so what? In fact much better to burn a symbol of the country you have a problem with than to actually hurt people from there. Next they will be outlawing holding a placard, looking a bit hippy and using the word "bollocks". All I can say to that is, well, BOLLOCKS!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Girls vs Boys

There is another report out showing that in spite of various measures being taken boys still lag behind girls in terms of GCSE results. And of course the government is "deeply frustrated". What I want to know is why all these over-achieving girls are still on the receiving end of a massive pay gap and hold virtually none of the top jobs in this country (see dozens of other Cru-blog articles for details). When girls are behind boys in some measure the reaction is "Ah, exactly, that's why women should be barred from the top jobs, see?" in the reverse case scenario it's "We are failing our men and improvements must be made".

The truth is (if you ask me) that girls are better at following instructions and getting on with working hard on things even when those things are easy, boring and repetitive. And that is probably mainly a nurture thing - being told to sit still, be quiet, smile and not make a fuss. It could have some genetic basis too - women often have better endurance than men and men often have better burst strength than women - and that might apply to mental work too. School is boring. Parents don't teach kids stuff at home like they used to and schools and curriculum designers are so paranoid about getting (a) everything covered in case they've missed something and (b) the best results possible, so that schools who shop around for easy exams will choose them that school is not challenging for a majority of kids. Now there are two reactions to that - buckle down and get on with it, do the 47-page project on how-to-light-a-bunsen-burner (I genuinely was marked on this when I did GCSE combined sciences many years ago), or refuse, get bored, muck about, etc. And coursework is always about who did the most work rather than who got to the right answer quickest, which rewards those used to doing as they're told. I had a teacher at school who used to weigh coursework projects on a set of scales and predict the grades they would get - he was never wrong! That structure favours hard-working girls. It just does, and perhaps to some extent rightly so since in most workplaces those are the skills that are of greatest importance.

Girls should be commended on having done so well in GCSEs and having worked so hard. All children should be given the option if taking extension work. I'd like to see all educational areas offering ealry GCSEs in a small number of subjects for those who wish to take them - studying at a government-sponsored after-school or weekend club and then being allowed to sit out the corresponding lessons in school in the library or other quiet room.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lifting the Veil

Seems like the last week or two I've been fielding questions on the whole to-wear-or-not-to-wear the veil question. I guess what with it being an issue of feminism and religion it definitely falls in my court so here goes:

The idea, touted by Jack Straw, Tony Blair et al that the veil is alienating for non-muslims totally misses the point. The veil is not worn to create a barrier or as a symbol to show a woman's religion. The veil is worn because Islam teaches women that their bodies should not be seen because they are a temptation to men. Now pause> rewind> play>. Men are tempted by their bodies and that's their fault and they should cover up so men won't feel bad. You know if men are tempted by the sight of me in hot pants that is THEIR problem and THEY need to deal with it. The whole idea that women should blame themselves for the effect they have on men is ridiculous and offensive. It comes under the heading of well-if-you-wear-mini-skirts-you-deserve-to-be-raped school of thought and we don't believe in that rubbish.

The veil is also not required by anything in the Quran, which simply says men and women should dress modestly and women should use a their scarf to cover their bosom (not their eyes!). The idea that the hair and even the face must be covered comes from Islamic leaders - male ones - who use it as a means to oppress women. There is no end to the things that veiled women cannot participate in fully - sports, physical work, dance, theatre, and of course now meetings with Jack Straw...

I don't think we should prohibit adult women from wearing the veil if they wish to. Remember these women have been taught that they are revealing sexual parts of their bodies if they take the veil off, that's like saying women should go to work topless, which they shouldn't unless they really need the money to put themselves through college... We should however look with pity on those women who do wear it and who often do so insisting it is their own choice. These are victims of extensive long-term cultural brain-washing and intimidation from their own families and communities. These women need more contact with the outside world, not less.

As if to prove my point for me there is a very revealing interview on the BBC with Aishah Azmi, the teaching assistant who lost her job as a result of her insistance on wearing a full face veil. During the interview she is asked whether or not she wore her veil when she was being interviewed for the job by a male member of staff. Her reply is - and this is amazing to me - "Do I have to answer all the questions?". Now I put it to you that this is NOT a woman who lives her life freely based on her own choices. This is a woman who has been pushed around, who is used to being told what to do.

This case also highlights the fact that expecting school girls to wear the veil is sick in the extreme. Firstly because it teaches them that their pre-pubescent bodies are somehow sexual and secondly because they're too young to have made up their minds yet whether or not they are religious. We should never refer to Muslim children, or Christian children. They are the children of Muslim or Christian parents. We wouldn't talk about a 6-year-old capitalist or an 8-year-old existentialist. Children should be allowed to make their own decision about religion when they are 16 or 18 or older if they choose based on fair teaching, dealing in facts. This is covered in length in Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion as recommended in just about every other post I write at the moment!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Creationist Ahoy!

A very interesting female (and indeed self-proclaimed feminist!) Muslim blogger, Zola Malay has been commenting on my post on richard Dawkins over the last few days. Something I've found very interesting since she's actually a creationist. And prepared to talk about her views - in my experience most creationists are shut off to discussion. Anyway so I thought some of you might like to read the latest from her and from me and join the discussion.

From Zola:

"Cruella my response to "who created god?" is fortunatley already given in Islamic texts.

According to the Quran, Allah tells us that He is the only creator and sustainer of all that exists and that nothing and no one exists alongside Him, nor does He have any partners. He tells us that He is not created, nor is He like His creation in anyway. He calls Himself by a number of names and three of them are:

A) The First - (Al-Awal)
B) The Last - (Al Akhir)
C) The Eternal, who is sought after by His creation, while He has no need from them at all. (As-Samad)

He always has existed and He never was created, as He is not like His creation, nor similar to it, in any way.("He" is used only out of respect and dignity - not for gender, Allah has no gender).

A number of sceptics ask this question. But God by definition is the uncreated creator of the universe, so the question 'Who created God?' is illogical, just like 'To whom is the bachelor married?', i.e. God cannot be a creation if He himself is the creator?I will try and post more on this on a seperate piece on my own blog. "

Well fair enough, let me respond to that...

Starting, if I may, at the end with the notion that the creator cannot him/herself be created. That for me doesn't hold water. Only this afternoon I created a very nice tray of cinnamon shortbread. And by your reasoning I was created by Allah, which makes me both creator and created. And before you suggest that it was in fact Allah who created the cinnamon shortbread let me remind you that (a) I don't believe in Allah so it sems odd that he would help me out in the kitchen and (b) I've also created some very interesting variations on the bacon sandwich. I'm sure Allah wouldn't have wanted to help me with those. So if you believe I was created then a creator can be created. So for me the issue of who created Allah remains.

Evolution offers an explanation for how life on earth came to be. Your argument is that A created B and A "just does" exist. That's not an explanation, it's a refusal to address the issue. You might as well cut out the middle man and say life on earth "just does" exist.

Now secondly the proof you offer of your theory comes from a book. Surely if that's proof enough then I might say "Evolution is a fact because it says so on Cruella-blog". There are books about teenage wizards, talking rabbits, two-dimensional planets and inter-gallactic time-travel, it doesn't mean that such things exist.

And finally, strangely, the book you choose to accept as fact is littered with contradictions and inconsistencies not to mention things that are simply horrific. A pertinent example of a contradiction is in Quran 02: 256 "There is no Compulsion in religion. ", then in Quran 9: 29 "Fight those who do not profess the true faith". And for general horrificness Quran 4: 34 "As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and beat them."

And now some more questions - open to anyone who wants to answer them:

1) What is your view on the dinosaurs? Did Allah bury stacks of giant reptile bones as a big trick to confuse scientists?

2) There are millions of people around the world who believe just as strongly as you do that the earth was created by a God other than Allah. How can they all be wrong and you right? Do you think you would believe in Allah if you had been raised by, say, Japanese Shinto-ist parents?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Two of my Favourite Subjects

Pharyngula has a great article on "Why religion is like pornography". I'm not sure which side comes out worst!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Going on the Game

This BBC article makes for disturbing reading. It's focus is on the plight of women who have been trafficked into the UK to work in the sex industry. And the situation is genuinely shocking whichever way you look at it.

The "incidental" information in the article is pretty shocking too: one in ten guys in the UK visits prostitutes. How does that affect the way they subsequently deal with and react to women in their workplaces and homes (the typical prostitute-visitor is married)? The report suggests that visiting prostitutes is increasingly becoming "normal" behaviour. "Divorce rates, sex tourism, stag weekends, lads' mags and the ubiquity of internet pornography have all been blamed." Of course any rational person will realise it's the guys who visit brothels who are to blame... Apparently there are even websites on which people can write reviews of prostitutes they have visited!

Now the point of the article is that there is a campaign underway to encourage guys who visit prostitutes to report to the police if they suspect that the women may have been trafficked. Hmmm. So what are the signs to look out for? "Not only is there likely to be some distress on the victim's part, but there are other clues - like being offered an Italian woman, but finding an Albanian who speaks no English. Other clues might be that the price quoted is lower than normal, or unprotected sex is offered". Right so we're asking guys who want to pay the minimum price to have unprotected sex with clearly distressed women who don't speak English? Are these guys really the best people to turn to for help? Shouldn't the police be identifying and searching brothels, putting these men into jail for rape (if she doesn't speak English I don't see how she can consent - and if she's clearly in distress I'd take that as a no) and getting the women into safe, secure homes where they can get medical treatment and counselling?

Worse still we're told that some of the punters are aware that women they're having sex with are illegally trafficked and working under duress and "Some enjoy the women's plight, police say". Police say? If the police hear of someone who enjoys having sex with a woman under duress then they should surely arrest them for rape immediately...? What planet are we on? And again I'm not sure I want to work and live around these people.

Finally the campaign betrays itself with a piece of classic misogyny: "Awareness campaigns have emphasised their status as unwilling participants and men have been reminded of how they would feel if it were happening to their own sister, girlfriend or daughter." Yes suddenly we're expected to believe bthat men will not want to rape women who might have an older male family member who might be upset. Don't rape her - she might belong to someone else... And it's not about how she might feel being raped up to 30 times a day, it's about how other men who know her might feel. Screw that. Women have rights, even women without older male family members or long-term partners. I don't have any problem perceiving male suffering as part of human suffering which affects me. I do have a problem understanding how this sort of project gets underway without someone noticing that's it's implicitly condoning the misogyny which is at the root of the problem itself.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Putting in the Hours

There's a report out today that more or less all the gains of the last few years in terms of women in top company boardrooms has been wiped out.

Now one thing about the Guardian report linked above really drives me mad: "some employers were improving attitudes to flexible working, they tended not to apply the same principles to very senior jobs."

What that's telling us is that the reason women aren't making it to the top of these professions is because they need to work flexible hours. Now firstly - not all women have major family commitments that prevent them working fuller hours. When I worked in the city I often worked 15 or even 18-hour days. Male colleagues doing half that were consistently promoted ahead of me. Women I worked with accepted that they would have to put in more hours than colleagues to try to overcome ingrained sexist corporate cultures.

Furthermore if it were true that women are held back by having to shoulder a greater percentage of the burden of family care than their partners then we would notice that the few women who made it to the top jobs were women without children. That's simply not true. Dame Marjorie Scardino, one of two remaining female FTSE 100 heads has three children, Dorothy Thompson, the other, has two, Linda Cook, the only other woman mentioned in the article for her role at Shell has three, Margaret Thatcher has two, Segolene Royal, now running for the French Presidency, has four and even Hilary Clinton, potential US presidential candidate, has one. The truth is girls that sacrificing your plans for a family to concentrate on your career is a waste of time. It's not the burden of raising children that will hold you back. It's workplace misogyny. Stacks of it. Across sectors, across industries and across nations. And we should stop pretending it isn't there. It is.


Very interesting - 61 people complained to the BBC after Jonathon Ross suggested council estate residents should be chemically restricted from having children. To me this brings up three issues:

1) No-one makes a fuss about the idea that there should be restrictions on who can adopt a child, and very stringent ones too. They check everything from your criminal record, to your income, your sexual orientation, marital status and even how clean your house is and stuff. If he had said people living on council estates shouldn't be allowed to adopt children I'm sure no complaints would have been raised. Now I think that volunteering to adopt a child in and of itself makes you a more suitable candidate to raise a child than being able to get a shag. I'm not opposed to running a check on people to see if they have obvious reasons for being unsuitable but I don't think nonsense like marital status and sexuality, for instance, should be taken into account. This would help reduce the number of children in the care system and make it possible to offer more foster care to parents who are struggling.

2) We're back to the "wrong kind of babies" argument. While (white) university educated women with good jobs and so on are consistently on the receiving end of criticism for not having enough babies, teenage mothers and anyone from a lower class (or minority ethnic*) background is moaned at for having too many babies. What we need is of course (a) a bit less racism and (b) an education and welfare system that allows children from under-privileged backgrounds to grow up into the "right kind of adults". And we have a long way to go on that right now.

3) 61 people is not an awful lot, but it got a news story onto the BBC website. As a group, the people who share my views on things like secularism and feminism reading this blog and and so on number quite a lot more than that. It's amazing how small a group is needed to agitate on an issue. We should use this as a means to get our voices heard.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dawkinsian Feminism?

Currently top of Cru-blogs hot hunks list is still Richard Dawkins. I've just found this great article on embryonic stem cell research.

Of course these distributors of God's love to the world are not new to the idea of defending embryos however small, they've been doing it for years as part of their wildly successful ongoing campaign to make life as miserable as possible for women in general. Large parts of the US now hold essentially no abortion facilities and in many places it is close to impossible to obtain the morning after pill. In the UK we already have pharmacies refusing to dispense the pill and the MAP on the grounds that they prevent implantation of a fertilised egg rather than fertilisation.

What gets me is that you never see the "It's Against God's Will" placards turning up outside IVF centres. It's surely just as much against what God wanted to make babies when he had planned for you not to. But then women refused IVF might escape lives of domestic servitude and perhaps use the available time to assemble and protest the way the church has been treating them for the last 2000 years. And if medical intervention is against God's will then why have hospitals at all? Or even pharmacies? Surely God will not let you die unless it is his will for you to die. And why wear a watch? Surely God will not let you be late for brunch unless it is his will for you to be late. And why why do anything at all unless you really feel like it cos surely God will make you do what he wants if he wills it so...?

And here's another one. Since God didn't want us to have that extra-marital sex* anyway then how can he want you to keep the resulting sprog? Pretty mixed messages there. Also the demand for abortions might be a whole lot lower if women getting pregnant outside of wedlock weren't totally ostracised for being "loose women" by their church and local community in these areas.

* Widely preached in churches but the actual bible is very ambiguous on the subject. Not keen in the new testament and reference to adultery in the ten commandments but the rest of the old testament contains innumerable references to women working as hookers or concubines and no-one seemed to mind.

London Free Papers - As Rubbish As The Rest

Glad someone else noticed this. Personally I usually look up the latest news on the BBC on my 'phone on the way in. Eventually I was tempted however and picked up one of the freebees (actually I picked up about three - I had to to clear a seat so I could sit down on the bus). And the coverage they offer is RUBBISH, utter RUBBISH. Posh Spice, Jordan, Kate Moss, articles about "Why I like reading this free paper rather than the other one" and general piffle.

One of them today (the one without a website) had a front cover headline along the lines of "Modern Life Causes Breast Cancer". The point is sound of course: increases in obesity, drinking, poor diets, lack of exercise, etc have led to dramatic increases in breast cancer rates (women being bigger means there's more breast matter to be at risk for starters). However the article headline to me at least implies that the rise has been caused by women getting the vote, joining the workforce, etc and the article itself glosses over the factors above and focusses on the fact that we're all not having enough babies before we hit 30.

Now I don't know any specific numbers but here's a straightforward FACT that I am sure about - the risks of having a baby outweigh the risks of not having one. True all over the world ladies - if you want to live longer, don't have kids. Another thing that isn't mentioned is the amount of women having breast "enhancement" surgery, I can't help thinking intrusive surgery to insert a sack full of silicon that might burst at any moment int your breasts probably doesn't reduce your cancer risk...

...that sort of article really is what I call a waste of trees!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Heavenly reading matter

I'm now finally in possession of a copy of Richard Dawkins new book "The God Delusion", a fantastic read. He states in the introduction that he's hoping readers will by the end be ready to publically declare themselves atheists. Well I'm only on chapter two but count me in please! And if any religious people are reading this - consider this: I've read the bible, the whole thing, from cover to cover, and I'm still an atheist. So if you're so sure of your beliefs, why not read this book? What are you afraid of. Mail me and I'll lend you my copy.

And religious protectionism is still apparently on the rise. Berlin's Opera House is cancelling a show because it features the heads of two guys from the 1st and 7th centuries.

I can only respond to this by quoting Professor Dawkins himself talking about the Danish cartoon furore: "if you want to get excited about affronts to Muslims, read the Amnesty International reports on Syria and Saudi Arabia".

He might, if he'd noticed how quickly the US and UK forces were abandoning Afghanistan after they got their oil deal signed, have added Afghanistan or at least Taliban-ruled southern Afghanistan to that list. Suggesting that women have a right to an education, a job or to be treated better than a goat is a capital offence there these days.

Avert your eyes

A more humourous contribution to the Lads Mags debate...

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Johann Hari's response, in the Independent, to the on-going pope vs. muslims debate is well worth a read.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

So was it worth the $2trillion?

Harking back to something I posted on a while ago now. It's always nice to know that your money's been well spent.

Why can't we have REAL NEWS?

There's been a lot on the news about the allegedy failings of the UK care system. This BBC article for example, which offers the shocking news that "Of the 6,000 who leave care each year, 4,500 will have no qualifications and a fifth will be homeless", and a number of other similarly shocking statistics.

Now I'm not saying the UK care system is good, nor indeed as good as it should be but there are a few things they haven't mentioned here:

1) At what age were these kids taken into care? After 15 years with bad parents and 6 months in a foster home, I think the blame for a child not achieving his or her potential might in some cases lie with the local authority for not spotting that the child needed to be taken into care soon enough.

2) Why were these children taken into care? Now I grew up in what can only be described as an abusive household. However I had very good results at school in tests, etc and I was never in trouble with the law (not least because I knew what would happen to me if I did). So no-one ever questioned whether I was in a suitable home, etc. The "triggers" they look for are things like poor school results and criminal activity. And then they're surprised that the kids they find have low academic resuts and high rates of criminal activity.

I'm all in favour of improving the system but doesn't seem that current criticism can be taken to mean very much given the lack of statistically useful data.

Welsh Cru

Cru and Mr Cru had a lovely weekend away celebrating Bitter's birthday (of the gothic storytelling/comedy duo Bitter and Twisted) and taking the opportunity to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology, second time there for me but new on Mr Cru and Twisted and fascinating for us all. Recommend a trip if you are in the area any time. Last time I stayed at the eco-retreat tipis, though I can't find the proper website for that although it is available as a weekend through lots of the "experience"-selling websites like here.

And I'm back in Wales (sort-of) tomorrowas a guest of Nicola Haywood-Thomas on BBC Radio Wales. I'll be there sometime between 1.30pm and 2pm explaining why Britain being top of the European league-tables for plastic surgery is nothing to be proud of. Please listen in and if you like dial in and back me up too!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Brutal? Yes, Truth...

Tony Blair's latest speech to the TUC just had me foaming at the mouth with fury. Firstly there was the string of excuses for his attrocious policy-making:

1) "government is a hard, difficult business."

2) "for those of you who think that you'll ever get a government where everything is fine - that doesn't happen."

3) "the brutal truth about all politicians and all political leaders is that you have your difficult times and have your better times"

4) "the decisions you take are often very, very hard to take"

If the job's too hard for you Tony - give it to someone who can do it. Like me...

Secondly, there were some protestors there with banners saying "Troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq" and he told them (quoting from the radio here, it's not in the article, nor in the official scripts because it was a response to what was going on) "we have to protect democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq against the threats from the Taleban and Al Qaeda". Now I fully accept that the Taleban would like to run Afghanistan but if Al Qaeda are in Iraq, then thats our fault. Saddam Hussein while not at all a nice guy was definitely keeping Islamic fundamentalists out of his country. The struggles in Iraq right now are a mixture of trouble we stirred up and attempts to get us out.

What I see and hear when Tony Blair speaks is a the paranoia of someone who knows they've done a terrible terrible thing and is clutching at straws to try to cover their own back. I strongly doubt Gordon Brown is any better but he couldn't be any worse.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ever feel like you've been Cheated?

The Red Lion, Great Windmill Street, Soho is closing. Tonight. Forever. They're turning it into offices. Now I've been compering comedy in the upstairs room there for about three years on and off and there's been comedy in that room for more than five years. More importantly it's the room in which Karl Marx was commissioned to write and wrote the first draft of the Communist Manifesto. That's a pretty major occurrence in modern history. Without it things might have been very different indeed.

Now National Heritage-type issues are really not my bag. I'm all in favour of them but I just don't consider them "my" causes. I do womens issues and secularism (although Marx had some very interseting points to make on both). Still I am utterly furious that it's being closed down without so much as a wimper. I only found out myself a few days ago. I called English Heritage and they told me it's not grade 2 starred listed - only grade two, so it's nothing to do with them, I have to speak to Westminster Council. The latter hasn't answered it's phone or returned my call since. We're having one last comedy night there tonight. Aaron Barshack (the comedy terrorist guy) is coming along and has contact a few other people of the activist type to see if there is any interest in making a fuss.

Karl Marx is audibly turning in his grave.

Back to Life

Apologies for the blog silence over the last couple of weeks. The success of the show led to me being invited to take part in a number of "showcase" shows in front of some very large audiences. My favourites were "Spank!" - a very noisy late night gig where I weirdly bumped in to an old friends who turns out to be the cousin of one of the other acts on the bill - and "Lunchbox Live" which at about 1pm seemed very early to be doing skits about orgasms and, well, those of you who've seen my set will know the rest...

Anyway so that's my excuse for not being on blog. When we got back we mostly just slept and vegged out. Doing a few shows though too.

I see while I was napping something truly unexpected has happened - the Guardian gender page has published a real feminist article. Actually one which ties in with some things I've been saying for a while.

Also "while I was out..." there's another new bill in parliament which sets out to ban viewing violent pornography (it is already illegal to produce or distribute it). Lots of people are moaning about the bill saying it's the producers of such vile things who should be prosecuted. Which in theory would completely solve the problem but in practice would have no effect at all. Why?

1) We live in a world full of economic unbalance. If the demand for something exists in the west, the supply for it will emerge in the third world.

2) It's already illegal to produce it and yet it still exists.

3) I don't want to work and interract with people who spend their evenings indoors with their high-speed internet access and a box of tissues watching women being violently raped and murdered.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Festival Update

All well here with the show and the festival. We had another lovely review on a website called The Groggy Squirrel. Please have a read. We sold out last night for the fourth time and the second night in a row.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Surely it's Obvious...

...that forcing kids into religious services is going to turn them in to atheists faster than GCSE science classes ever will! Statistically in the UK kids with two religious parents are 50% atheists, with one religious parent 75% atheists and two atheist parents very nearly 100% atheists. Rationalism will prevail and the religious nutters are helping us more than anybody else. Cheers guys...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Catch me for Free Tomorrow

If you're up in Edinburgh come over to the meadows to the comedy tent where I shall be performing from 12.50pm for ten minutes and then compering from 2pm til 5pm. Thank goodness I have the night off afterwards!

Just a Reminder

Fertility treatment is not something to be undertaken lightly. With all the unwanted kids in the world it strikes me as very wrong that society encourages people to feel that they should risk their health and indeed their lives trying have kids which are genetically "their own".

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poor Old Dears

The government appears to have noticed something that us feminists have been banging on about for years: that very few women retire on a full state pension, compared to men. Well the reason is simple - it's because women often suspend their careers to raise families and therefore wind up not having enough years of N.I. contributions to qualify for full pension. Now it's not so much of a problem when there's an additional widow's pension available and the divorce rate is low. However these days that's no longer the case. The government's response? Tell women to save more! Or in other words make it completely clear to all and sundry that the government does not value home-making and child-raising as real work. My advice to women worried about their futures? Don't have kids, don't waste time and energy caring for elderly and ill relatives and don't even think about voluntary work - that way lies poverty.

Hard work this comedy lark!

Well I've promised for the show to take up any adrenaline challenge presented to me and today I was tested thoroughly on my willingness to go through with it by Stuart Andrews who kindly (?) volunteered to teach me free-running. Yes, that's the jumping from building to building stuff. Fortunately he didn't make me jump from anything higher than about four foot up (that was scary enough though) but I did end up about 20 foot up at some points wondering if this was really a sensible place to be perched. As for the stuff he was showing me - amazing! Clinging to tiny little ledges and climbing stuff with no apparent foot or hand holds whatsoever. And he was jumping over 'phone boxes too! Photos promised to follow! My back is so sore now, and my arms, and legs, neck, stomach, phew!

Show tonight was good, lots of heckling, which I loved. Felt a bit regretful that I had to go back to material afterwards, I would rather have chatted all night really! Perhaps I should plan a chunk of it I can drop if I'm having too much fun with the hecklers...? If you fancy coming for a heckle yourself please do - click here for tickets!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Belated Cru-blog in the Guardian

Only just found this today - the Cru-blog made the guardian a few weeks back! Thing I wrote about homophobic lyrics. Cool!

Smoke Signals

We could see this going on from central Edinburgh yesterday. Actually Mr Cru was walking up Arthur's Seat at the time (sadly without his barbeque set).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Another four-star review

Show opened last night, we were very nearly full, only a handful of empty seats. I was really happy with the show AND we had a reviewer in from National Student magazine who has already sent us her review. Four stars! And here's what they said:

Kate Smuthwaite
Charming, witty and with just a hint of a wicked glint in her eye, Kate Smuthwaite’s exuberant and affable personality is a little reminiscent of an excitable, slightly irresponsible head girl luring impressionable fourth formers into some illicit fun. You’d have to be made of granite not to warm to her as she relives first hand experiences of extreme activities undertaken in pursuit of an adrenaline rush, making bungee jumping and sky diving sound positively blasé. The characters she introduces are a little hit and miss and the show would benefit from better visual presentation, but for an evening of thrills and chuckles you’d do worse than seeing Ms Smurthwaite: she’s great company.

I was dead happy with that. Tickets, as usual, available here for the rest of the run.

Friday, August 04, 2006

First show tonight

This is me at the technical run-through. Those lights are going to really hurt my eyes once we get going. Really looking forward to tonight though. It's preview prices (a fiver or four for concessions) so please come iof you can. Tickets from here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Spotted my posters in the street!

So couldn't resist duplicating the pose!

Nice article about me

There was a piece about publicity stunts on the Edinburgh Fringe website, featuring a piccie of me on the wing of a biplane and talking about the stuff I've been doing for my show.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Arrived in Ed

Got here yesterday and settled into the flat. Very amused to see four huge posters of me about fifty yards from the flat. This could go to my head. Am flat-sharing with Mr Cru as usual and the wildly talented Anna Black. She is a short film maker who has a lovely website and is also blogging about her festival exeriences here.

Wrecks and the City

I very rarely regret having left this industry...

Friday, July 28, 2006

More Edinburgh Plugging!

That's what the back of my Edinburgh flyers will look like. Cool huh? You can still book tickets by clicking on the website here.

Guess I Found My Brand!

Yes the soft drink for me is Coke Zero. I just adore their advertising campaign that compares their over-priced unhealthy fizz to something beyond our wildest dreams. Thats right folks, apparently Coke Zero is the soft drink equivalent of "a stag night without getting married".

Now since we all know stag nights are for guys (as opposed to hen nights for girls) we would seem to be working on the assumption that men don't want to get married. Well then don't. Save us all please! Statistics suggest women are much happier after a divorce than men so clearly marriage isn't doing very much for women.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who says romance is dead?

Apparently not Joseph Dobbie as featured in today's Guardian and two thirds of e-mail inboxes around the world. He met a woman at a party and rather than just asking her out for a coffee he decided a firsst contact e-mail was a good point at which to mention that she made "time stand still" for him and that her smile was "the freshest of my special memories". The woman in question returned the favour by forwarding his e-mail to the four corners of the earth.

Well just for a change I was on BBC Leeds talking about it. It's kindof fun because it's all very Shakespearian the idea of someone under false presumptions declaring their undying love and then being made to look like an idiot. It's also a little odd though that someone should be so keen after a first meeting. Especially given he admits he was drunk at the time.

It's also funny how often the subject of "what women want" comes up. As if women are a totally homogenous group. If woman A wants flowers woman B must also want the same thing. And sometimes you even hear it about men too - that they all want the same thing - usually sex, big tits or a blow job, etc. This whole men-from-Mars, women-from-Venus thing is wildly unhealthy. As soon as we make assumptions about people based on gender (aside from "he's probably not pregnant") we're in deep water.

Friday, July 21, 2006

New blog

I have discovered a wonderful new blog by a young (so young she makes me feel old!) British feminist. It's called Diary of Barbie's Worst Enemy and you should go read it now! It rocks...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wagging the dog?

Zoe Williams really goes to town in the Guardian on media coverage of the so-called WAGs - the world cup footballers wives and girlfriends. And now we're hearing about the G8 WAGs and the Ryder Cup WAGs (who even wear matching outfits like girl guides or drum majorettes) and really the biggest problem I have with the whole thing is that it pre-supposes all the participants in the "main" event will be heterosexual men (it also assumes they're monogamous and in relationships). Well thats not true and not helpful.

Throughout the world cup every match started with some gesture towards the "Lets Kick Racism out of Football" campaign and I think that's great and I hope it works. Next up lets have a campaign to kick sexism out of football. I'd like to see the following measures campaigned for:

1) Equal funding for boys and girls youth development.
2) If women's tournaments do not have equal prize money to mens, then women must be allowed to play in the mens game - globally.
3) Half of all referees and assistant referees to be women, also physios, first aider, commentators, photographers and reporters.
4) Women being encouraged to train for and apply for roles as coaches and managers.
5) Greater media coverage of the women's game.
6) Players who beat their partners or are convicted of sexual assault or rape to be permanently barred from the game (like George Best, Gazza, Lee Sharpe for instance)
7) Stadium bans for fans who shout/sing sexist chants.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Religion and Feminism

Very interesting interview with Fadela Amara over on the Guardian website today. I've made the point before that religious freedom is all well and good but shouldn't be prioritised over human rights. She says "the first victims of fundamentalism are women. I don't care if it's Islamic fundamentalism or American evangelism. A fascist is a fascist". And she has a new book out.

This Made Me Go Ewwww!

I am not normally sqeamish about food - although I certainly don't go for McDonalds or other reconstituted corn starch-based fast food ick. I've eaten dog (in Vietnam), whale (in Japan - I know, i know but it had already been bought and paid for when I arrived so seemed like I might as well satify my curiosity), lamb's testicles (in a Lebanese restaurant in Oxford, I was convinced I was going to grow a beard afterwards!), etc. This guy has really made an effort though. There is a great article in New Scientist this week about the rise of noxious farming practices and how the political environment makes it increasingly difficult for us to get hold of quality food. Sadly only the first few paragraphs are on the free-to-view part of their website. Then you have to subscribe. It will have you racing for the grilled scorpions as fast as you like.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just to Highlight

From a comment on an earlier post. Those interested in the anti-Lad Mag campaign and related issues, like strip clubs, lap dancing and the portrayal of woman in the media - Object are a fantastic organisation doing lots of good work to raise awareness. They have an online petition on the Lad Mags issue, please sign it link here.

Men rendered obsolete

Scientists can now make sperm without men. They've long been able to inject alternative DNA into existing sperm but this new step means that scientifically men are now obsolete. I wan on BBC Leeds yesterday talking about it with a real idiot.

I think it's a real shame that the fertility race seems to be speeding up more and more. There is no shortage of babies, there is however a shortage of good caring child-raisers. We need to celebrate those who dedicate time in their lives to raising children and encourage those who would like to do so to consider fostering and adoption as an option whether or not they have fertility problems. Any man who is only contributing sperm to the child-raising process is already obsolete, we just don't need any more of those.

That wasn't the way the on-air chat went however. What happened was some guy called Ian, qualifications unknown, started haraguing me on how feminism has "achieved nothing" and is just a load of boring old nonsense. Well I'm kinda glad to have the vote and the right to work in more or less any job I choose (obviously I don't have the physical strength to be a bishop... still) and I don't think it happened by accident.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Edinburgh tickets

I'm told these are selling well at the moment (hurray!) so if you want one, log on here and buy one (or two, three, four, etc...)!

The Voice of Public Opinion

Who knew it was THIS IDIOT?!! Yes it turns out that the Catholic Church in the form of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor thinks, yes thinks, no evidence, that public opinion has changed on the subject of abortion and that the public wants the time-limit reduced from 24 weeks...

Now, speaking as a member of the public ... speaking as a young woman in a relationship, rather than a celibate priest, and hence a member of the public much more affected by abortion law than Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor ... I should like to say:

a) I don't want the law changed. I didn't before and I still don't, my opinion is unchanged.

b) I don't want Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor considered a spokesperson for my opinion, not on any subject, ever.

The wrong KIND of babies!

Remember the problem of the declining population in Scotland. Those were the days eh? "Move to Scotland" they exhorted young people, especially university graduates. And they told the Scottish to be more friendly to in-comers. Now I notice there's a slightly different plan afoot. They're going to make drug and alcohol addicts promise not to have children. I guess the first plan worked too well. I guess they're trying to ease off on it now... Or is it? Maybe they want more babies in Scotland but only the RIGHT KIND of babies.

Here's a radical solution: how about offering support for kids throughout their childhood so that it's possible for the kids of drug and alcohol addicted parents to become university graduates?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Official Scale of Permissible Prejudice...

I think it's great that homophobic artists are being forced to cancel shows in the UK. Isn't it time though we did the same thing with artists who use misogynist lyrics, such as Eminem?

Here are some lyrics from "The Eminem Show", for which the noxious little misogynist won a Grammy:

"Now I don't wanna hit no women when this chick's got it coming
Someone better get this bitch before she gets kicked in the stomach
And she's pregnant, but she's egging me on, begging me to throw her
Off the steps on this porch, my only weapon is force"

For more information on the subject check out the Tolerance website.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Lines now open...

Tickets for my four remaining shows at the Etcetera Theatre are still on sale, the shows are 6pm (finished by 7:15pm) on 7th, 8th, 22nd and 23rd July. The Etcetera is upstairs from the Oxford Arms on Camden High Street. Tickets are £7.50/£6 concs and you can book 'em on 020 7482 2857.

For those people coming up to Edinburgh (or already there) tickets for the festival are now on sale online. Click here to buy some! The first couple of days are "previews" so are cheaper and then the next couple we're offering 2-for-1 so cheaper if you have mates.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Want to help?

I had a brief e-mail conversation this week with Clare Curtis-Thomas (the MP who is pushing the anti-Lad Mags bill in parliament). She's very much in need of support and asks those who support her efforts to have Lad Mags (and the Daily Sport "newspaper") classified as pornography and moved to the top shelf to undertake the following:

If you wish to have this bill supported, please contact your local MP and ask for their help.

It may also be useful if you could write to Robert Walker, the CEO of WHSmith. His address is WH Smith PLC, 180 Wardour Street , London W1F 8FY Alternatively you can also write to Juliet Cavilla who deals with complaints – she is at W H Smith, Greenbridge Rd , Swindon , SN3 3LD

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Me me me on the Bee Bee Cee...

Done a couple of things on the Lag Mags subject over the last couple of days. Firstly I was interviewed on BBC News24 on the subject. I don't think I can find the clip on the web but they put me up against a representative of newsagents who said that no newsagent would put them on a low shelf or sell them to under-18s.

Firstly, yes they would. We've all seen them lined up next to the Beano and Dandy. Secondly, if they already do this, changing the law will not affect them whatsoever so lets just pass the bill anyway. Too easy.

Then I've written a piece for the BBC website as part of a "New" Lads Mag. It's quite fun. I also wanted to write a spoof quiz too on the same theme but it was a bit too saucy for the BBC, which is fair enough... For those of you who'd like to see it though... here it is!!

Would a woman sleep with you … twice?

So you’ve finally managed to seduce the woman of your dreams. Great! Good for you! But is there really any hope she’ll be back for a second date? Test your re-shag-ability in our quick and easy test!

1. While out on your date together you run into her friend. What will she say about you while you’ve popped to the bathroom?
a) I didn’t know the zoo let you take your sponsored animal out for walks …
b) Not bad, has he got a rich brother?
c) I hate you. You get all the good men!

2. Massage is …
a) “Only five dollar to you, meester” from a lady boy in Bangkok.
b) Two minutes of muscle kneading on the physio table after the match.
c) Once I get her feet, she’s mine!

3. Your idea of foreplay is …
a) When you deliberately aim at someone in golf.
b) A few minutes of snogging while you take your clothes off.
c) When you keep teasing her until she tells you that if you don’t put that condom on right now, she is going to beat you to death with a wooden spoon.

4. To spice things up in the bedroom. Do you …
a) Beg her to take it “up the Khyber”.
b) Suggest downloading some internet porn.
c) Start by kissing her shoulders and gradually work your way south!

5. You could tell she was enjoying herself when …
a) She didn’t seem to flinch much.
b) She smiled politely and assured you it was “very nice”.
c) The neighbours came round to complain about the noise.

6. Did she have an orgasm?
a) Org-what?
b) She grunted a bit but it might have been asthma.
c) She lost her voice screaming “YES!! YES!! YES!! …”

7. When you were coming, you shouted …
a) Nothing in case it woke your parents.
b) “Who’s the king, baby, who’s the king?!”
c) Her name.

8. After sex did you …
a) Throw your clothes on and sprint for the door?
b) Fall asleep after the mandatory five minute cuddle?
c) Cuddle and pillow chat until you were ready for round two?

9. The next day did you …
a) Go to the pub to watch the footie, you didn’t stay over anyway?
b) Call her up to tell her it was great and schedule the next time?
c) Keep shagging and send out for Chinese?

10. When her friend rings up the next day to ask how it went, will she say …
a) I’d rather not talk about it.
b) Well, I got laid!
c) I’m sorry, I can’t, oh … talk right now …


Mostly As – How on earth did you manage to seduce her the first time? We’re not sure how you did it but we’re pretty sure you won’t get away with it twice, unless she’s as drunk as she was the first time. It’s time for a serious re-think of your social skills.

Mostly Bs – Well, you’re pretty average. Unless she normally finds her dates from the cast of The Flintstones, she’s probably not impressed. She might give you a second shot, but only to see if she caught you on a bad day the first time. If you want a third date it’s time to up your game between the sheets!

Mostly Cs – Congratulations, you’re the master of the mattress mambo! She’ll be back, beating down the door and begging for more, but then you probably already know that. On the downside, if you break up with her, she may hide in your shed for a couple of years. You won’t care though, you’ll be out every night dating all her friends!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Adrenaline, Etcetera

More Adrenaline coming up in London. I'm doing a series of "pre-dinner" shows 6pm (finished by 7:15pm) on 7th, 8th, 22nd and 23rd July. They're at the Etcetera Theatre, upstairs from the Oxford Arms on Camden High Street. Tickets are £7.50/£6 concs and you can book 'em on 020 7482 2857.

Last couple have gone really well. You can see what people have written about me on the chortle website here (then click on my name).

Lad Mags again...

A Labour MP, Claire Curtis-Thomas, has put together a motion about Lads Mags, asking for a new body to be set up to ensure they are kept on the top shelves of newsagents. Of course it's only a 10-minute motion and these very rarely lead to any actual legislation. Still it at least draws attention to the situation.

The article on the BBC goes on to quote Piers Hernu who wrote for and edited vadious of these mags.

He says: "Parents and teachers are not up in arms about minors buying lads mags simply because they do not".

Yes they do. 25% of Lad Mags are sold to under 18s. I know parents who worry about their kids being exposed to them. And I know teachers who have had to ban children from bringing them in to school.

Then as usual he goes on to have a personal attack on the MP, calling her "embittered". She says "I'm not embittered. I'm a woman of 48 with three young children. I happen to think about their welfare first and I put the profits of... companies like yours second, and most of the people in this country share that sentiment."

Desperate Housewives

I was on BBC Radio Leeds yesterday discussing this article and the use of the term "housewife". My view is that as far as individuals are concerned whatever term they want to use is fine but the name for the job which these people do is "home maker". Keeping a gender-specific term can only serve to stigmatise those men who wish to do it. And the "housewife" term isn't just inappropriate for men who keep house but also for unmarried women. Given the diversifying range of people who do that set of jobs these days we'd need "housewife", "househusband", "houseuncle", "housegrandma", "housefriend", ... much better to use the term "home maker" as the default term.

Of course there was someone of the other line to accuse me of political correctness gone mad. I don't really know what that means. I think our use of language has a very powerful influence on our perceptions so if we can change our language to better describe what we mean then we should. Why not? The implication is that a new word or two is too much for these people's tiny minds. Which I suppose it might be.

Also there was someone on air with the "my wife likes to be called a housewife" line. Great but so what? One case hardly proves anything, in her case it may be the correct term, doesn't mean anyone who does a bit of ironing wants to hear it. Also kinda funny how the wife herself wasn't on air to express her views. Probably too busy darning his socks for him ...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tabloid Politics

Lord Falconer is out and about advocating the victims-have-a-say-in-sentencing thing again. It's wrong. Completely wrong. He wants families of murder victims to be allowed to speak in court before sentencing takes place. What is the point of this? Should a criminal receive a longer sentence if the person they murdered has a particularly emotionally appealing parent or partner? And should sentences be shorter for murdering people with no immediate family around them - orphans for example, the homeless, tourists over here on their own? Or do they imagine families will be honest about the balance of the situation and thus help judges out: "in fairness your honour, my mother, who was brutally murdered, she could be very irritating...".

Either the judge is going to re-calibrate sentences based on perceived suffering of families. [Cruella runs from axe-wielding maniac shouting "don't kill me, my sister's a great actress..."] OR sentencing will not be changed based on what the victims families have to say and in which case it's just a waste of tax-payers money paying for the justice system to sit around ignoring some people crying.

No amount of input into the court process is going to bring back a murdered loved one. The healing process is not something the courts are there to help with. Families should be offered support outside the court process, and judges allowed to get on with their jobs efficiently.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Adrenaline in London

Had a fabulous time in New York. Thanks to everybody who came along. Especially Elayne who I know only from the blog-o-sphere and who made a four-hour round trip to come to the show and join me for curry afterwards.

For those in London, my formal preview run in London starts this Saturday at the Etcetera Theatre, upstairs at the Oxford Arms pub on Camden High Street.

Sat 24th june 9.30pm,
Sun 25th june 8.30pm,
Then 7th, 8th, 22nd, 23rd july 6pm.

All shows £7.50 (£6.00 concs),
Box Office: 020 7482 4857

Hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Adrenaline in New York

OK got all the details now.

Adrenaline: Kate Smurthwaite

Sunday 18th June, doors 5:30pm, show 6pm, $5

cinema classics
332 e 11th st
new york city

If you need directions click here. There are no advance bookings, but it seats 50 and I've never played the US before so I don't have any particular following. If you get there at 5:30 you should get a seat. The other advantage of the early show time is that we can all have a drink afterwards and a chat.

Please bring friends, tell people, etc. It's too late for me to engage in any real marketing so I'm really just relying on word of mouth. Dead excited about playing in New York though!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Curious to know what other people think...

Had a great show tonight (Crack Comedy Club in Kingston with Dave Ward, Paul Kerensa and Tony Cowards) and was all full of good cheer on the way home when some bloke walks up to me in the street and without saying anything deliberately obstructs my way. He does this with his arms out so I can't walk round him, and starts chuckling at me: heh, heh, heh... then gesturing at my tits and chuckling some more. In proper middle-class fashion I slapped him round the face with a copy of the Observer and told him to "F*** Off, C***". Twenty yards later another guy deliberately blocks my path and says "Not so fast gorgeous where do you think you're going?" so I swore at him too. Further down the road a car pulls up to the side of the road, stops next to me, beeps the horn at me, winds the window down and a guy says "Want a lift darling?" while his three male friends laugh loudly and three cars further along another car beeps, opens the window and two guys shout "Oi slag, you want some?". And by then to be honest my good mood had given up the ghost and I was felt more like crying.

Now don't bother telling me that these guys just fancy me and want to let me know, or that they mean it as a compliment because they don't. If you think that's how compliments are paid then you shouldn't be reading this, it's past your bed-time, you also certainly shouldn't be allowed to drive a car. Don't tell me they're just drunk, the first two might be, but the second two are legally in charge of a motor vehicle. Now I don't think it matters what I'm wearing, I think that sort of thing shouldn't happen, but for the record I'm in a high-necked dress AND a pair of jeans, so unless the sight of a pair of naked arms is too much for you, you really ought to be able to control yourself.

I just don't know any women who behave like this. And - surprise surprise - men don't act like this when I'm out with my boyfriend either. It's horrid, it's misogynist and it really proves that there are a lot of men out there who really hate women. It also makes me wonder if there are any decent online burqa stores?

What am I supposed to do when this stuff happens? Any suggestions?

Stop Press, Cru-blog hits New York

I've been offered a space to do my one-woman show in New York next Sunday 18th June. 6pm. Save the date in your diaries! More details to follow! I wonder which airlines allow plastic crocodiles on board...?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Human Rights: Should Women Have Them Too?

The government has shelved plans to criminalise forced marriage. They claim that legislation might actually have made life more difficult for women in that situation who may have resisted reporting for fear of their parents being jailed. They also claim that existing legislation on kidnap should be sufficient to prosecute anyone they wish to.

Seems like we have lost our way a bit. If the existing legislation is strong enough, why are there so few prosecutions and still hundreds of (predominantly) women suffering in this way?

What is needed it seems to me is a decent-scale campaign to let women from "at risk" groups know that they have rights which we in this country consider sacred. They also need to know what to do if they feel they're becoming a victim, that support is available (and it needs to be available) and how to access it. Radical huh?

The Trouble with Men and Victoria Derbyshire

I took part in a live debate last night called "The Trouble with Men". The panel was me and a load of men with bees in their bonnets about one thing or another. There were a few points I thought were interesting:

1) A lot of men were saying they wanted more advice about parenting. Seemed to me that there is loads of info out there for parents, but these men wanted information aimed specifically at MEN. They weren't happy to read info for parents in general because they thought that was "women's stuff". Well that's really the price you pay for being a misogynist: I don't have any problem reading car manuals or football magazines if there's info in there I want... Get over it lads.

2) "Political correctness has gone mad." Don't people get bored of saying this? Now I've heard just as many old wives tales about people who insist on calling Heather Mills-McCartney under-limbed or pedestrianly challenged, but I've never actually seen it happen. I'm not saying that the line of what is and isn't acceptable can't be drawn in the wrong place but I want to live in a world where I don't hear terms like "nigger", "bitch", "ho" and "faggot" used without so much as a blink in mainstream media. I don't think political correctness has "gone mad" when those terms are considered unacceptible. And importantly I also don't think that just because a woman uses the term "bitch" or a black person says "nigger", the terms are suddenly not offensive any more. It's about what most people think, not one or two.

I was also on the radio (BBC Five Live) yesterday morning on the Victoria Derbyshire show talking about an old favourite: porn. There wasn't much new ground broken, they had a woman on who runs a porn business and claims the girls are treated well, earn great money and enjoy their work. All of which may well be true for her case. The remaining 99.9% of the industry doesn't have such an accountable past!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Terrible 'Orrible Murder

A german woman has been convicted of killing eight of her own newborn babies. Now I'm as horrified as the next person by repeated willful murder but in cases like this you really have to question what kind of environment these people exist in. In this case the defendant claims :"We already had three children, and my husband didn't want any more children, I always hoped my husband would notice the pregnancies of his own accord.". Now I may be wrong but that sounds very much to me like the voice of a woman in a deeply abusive relationship. So keen to please him she will kill her own children and he so self-obsessed he fails to notice eight times over that she's pregnant. Or he does notice but decides to ignore it. I'm not saying she should be let off the hook, although a secure mental home might be more appropriate than prison. What I'm saying is that the courts should look into her husband's behaviour and see if he needs convicting for anything... at very least failure to report crimes taking place right under his own nose.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Idiots, Idiots, Idiots

Yes half of Britons believe in the paranormal. Cru-blog begs to differ and blames Gillian Anderson for starting all this...

Fear of Censorship

There is a big stink being made by Amnesty International and to some extent the BBC at the moment about censorship on the internet. Now I'm a big fan of Amnesty and I'd probably become a member again if they stopped chugging on the streets of Soho (I think chugging - charity mugging - people with clipboards on the street asking people to sign up to direct debit contributions to good causes - should be banned but that's another story...).

And indeed in this case I agree with them again. Governments locking up dissident bloggers and banning the public from accessing the BBC website and so on goes down as wrong in my book.

What bothers me though is that again and again we have this idea bandied about that censorship is - 100% FACT - wrong. Well I think excesive censorship which limits peoples' access to information or political discussion is wrong. But I also think downloading child pornography, violent pornography, incitements to murder or violence or footage of apparent crimes recorded explicitly for the purpose of selling the footage (be it happy slapping or rape), is wrong and should be banned. All of which makes me ... wait for it ... PRO-censorship! I'm just anti-unhelpful censorship and pro-helpful censorship. All this absolutism "censorship is wrong" malarky really annoys me.

The internet is the fastest and most effective means of international communication there has ever been. Couple this with the fact that we live in a world of monstrous economic imbalance and there's a problem. It's not enough to ban the production of images we would all find abhorent in our own country, we have to ban the downloading of them too. Otherwise a few desperate people in the third world, able to earn many years salary from just a few such images, will inevitably ultimately be tempted to produce them.

In fact it's much worse than that... I don't have any great up to date data but back in 1999 it was estimated that there were 170,000 pornographic websites, increasing by 300 a day, bringing in around $700 million per year. And many governments have very little control over what is being downloaded and by whom. At least off-the-shelf pornography is policed for offensive images. Not so the internet: "click here to confirm you are over 18". Mmmm. Maybe a little bit more censorship is a good thing. And the news that Saudi Arabia is censoring websites which criticise gulf governments...? Of course they are, the same way they censor books which criticise their regime. Why would we expect them to make an exception for material published on the internet. I agree their approach is an infringement of human rights but it's not a change of policy for them. It strikes me as odd to imagine Amnesty and co. ever thought the internet would suddenly be treated differently to other published media...