Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Carnival Crazy

The Cru-blog's article on Misogyny as a Mental Illness was featured yesterday in the 4th Carnival of Radical Feminists. Thanks for the link!

Could Your Failed Pregnancy Make You A Murderess?

Today's compulsory reading. Not very comforting... From Lawyers, Guns and Money.

And I thought the BBC had warned us about all the dangers of being pregnant. Being arrested and tried for murder wasn't on the list.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Please Sir, Can I have Some More?

According to the Washington Post, women ask for more money or wage increases less frequently than men do. We hear this a lot as though it were the conclusion of the debate on women's wages. Clearly there are a number of other issues going on:

1) Women are taught from an early age that it's rude to ask for more. When I think about the issues - I know personally my gut reaction is to feel I should be grateful for what I'm offered, but then I remember having that drummed into me as a kid.

2) I've never asked for a raise without first testing the waters - dropping a few hints to see if it's worth asking. Lots of women are undoubtedly being discouraged from asking, being "let know" not to bother. I know I've transferred departments before and on joining the new team been told "You're doing very well for yourself for a young girl like you...". Didn't take me long to figure out it wasn't worth asking for more.*

3) When I have asked for a raise and been refused, to save face my employers and I have generally "re-framed" the conversation. "I'm glad you're interested in joining the new project, I'm just sorry we don't have quite the right spot for you"... So maybe refused wage rise applications don't get counted as applications for wage increase but as other types of meeting.

4) Applications for wage increases do not help companies so women should be congratulated for using up less management time and demanding less money. To ensure they do not fall behind on wages we should immediately introduce compulsory annual wage reviews which address at the gender pay gap specifically. We also need to make it compulsory for companies to offer transparency on wages - so women can see if they are falling behind.

And then if you read to the end of the report we discover the horrible truth - in the study, men were less prepared to hire and work with women who negotiated for more money. But indifferent about whether the guys they worked with negotiated or not. So we discover that women who seem the negotiating type never get hired in the first place. No wonder we have all learnt not to stick our necks out!

*Although I did ask not to be referred to as a "young girl" when I was nearly 30 and doing all the actual complicated work on the team. Filling a "Hermione Grainger" role...

Incongruous News

We are at present expected to simultaneously believe the follow two pieces of "news":

1) The world owes the US a debt of gratitude for the war in Iraq (according to Gordon "clearly not any better than the last one" Brown).

2) A third of Iraqis are now in need of emergency aid (according to aid agencies who would know).

Arriving Soon At Your Local Shopping Centre...

Yes - the knickers and bums are printed ON to the skirts. From Ruby in Bury - apparently they are all the rage in Japan (although you hear that a lot in the west and if you go to Japan no-one knows what you are on about). Still I can't see them catching on here...

The Ultimate In Outsourcing

Apparently now you can have your baby carried by a woman in India and just delivered (literally!) to you when it arrives. That should cut back on discrimination at work.

Of course the article is really about surrogacy in cases where the mother has fertility problems. I still can't help thinking it would be better if we encouraged adoption more enthusiastically.

Random Facts Meme

This is one of these trendy in-things for bloggers. Witchy-woo has tagged me to supply eight random facts about myself, so here goes:

1. I have a cat that winks. Really. He had a lump over one eye and when the vet removed it he left the skin a bit tighter on one side than the other so he tends to wink at people. It's quite disconcerting. Matthew Hopkins would have had me burnt in a heartbeat! (That is not him pictured by the way, that is just a cute cat...)

2. I can recite all the books of the bible in less than 20 seconds. And boy am I fun at parties...

3. I used to run a women's football team in Tokyo and I once played football for England (Supporters Club).

4. I don't believe in the death penalty except for people who walk about in cable cars when there's a sign telling you not to.

5. My mother in law (Mr Cru's mum) wrote the "Who Shot JR?" episode of Dallas. That's like a proper claim to fame!

6. I don't have a brother despite the fact that half of my stage act is about "him". He is a mixture of fiction and an amalgamation of various male friends of mine and he's called Joe...

7. I have a maths degree. Every stand-up comic should have one. I specialised in functional analysis.

8. I once saved a friend's life, dragging them out of the south China sea. So pay attention kids, there's a reason they make you get bricks from the bottom of the pool in your pajamas.

And now I apparently need to tag eight (seems a lot) other bloggers. Ok I tag The Yank Abroad, Chris Coltrane, Ruby in Bury, Shut Up Sit Down, BazzFazz, Radio Free Stan, Bumphreys and Ann Coulter (ok, that one was a joke but I was running out of friends!!).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

You Know You've Made It When...

...The Republicans set up a website to attempt to discredit you! Al Franken - whose fabulous book "Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them" I read recently - is running for the senate in Minnesota. And the Republicans have responded thus: Frankly Franken - a website that alleges three things:

1) He's a loser/idiot/uncool/whatever. To which I can only say - read his book, it's great.

2) He doesn't really live all the time in Minnesota. I have no idea where he lives on a day-to-day basis but I can assure any Minnesotan readers that they're better off with a New York-based smart candidate than a local Republican idiot.

3) He "flip-flops" on war funding. Well he flipped once. Or was that flopped. He covers this at length in his book. When Bush told everyone there were WMD and Iraq was a real threat, he believed Bush, as many people did and thus supported funding for the war. Now he realises Bush was even lying about something as important as the reasons for going to war, and now believes that funding for the war should be cut off. Personally I have great deal more respect for someone who is prepared to revise their opinions in the face of new evidence than for someone who dogmatically sticks to whatever his evil henchmen tell him to do.

There is a good article on Talking Points Memo. And when you've read that perhaps you could warn the republicans about the ominous threat posed to them by the Cru-blog because I AM TRYING TO BRING THEM DOWN!!

BBC Warning Service - Round-Up For Pregnant Women

I pointed out yesterday that the BBC had one of those annoying "women warned..." stories about weight gain and loss during and after pregnancy. Then I realised it was a real trend on the BBC. So I thought I'd offer a quick round-up of the warnings the BBC has for pregnant women and new mothers:

WARNING: Watch out for bogus midwives!

WARNING: Don't take too many vitamins!

WARNING: Don't let your kids watch too much TV!

WARNING: Don't take too much iron!

WARNING: Don't drink any alcohol at all!

WARNING: Don't eat too much!

WARNING: Don't take painkillers!

WARNING: Don't be over thirty!

WARNING: Don't give birth in November in Cornwall!

WARNING: Don't have your baby at home!

WARNING: Don't smoke!

WARNING: Don't eat unpasteurised cheese!

WARNING: Don't be old!

And just for good measure (although this one isn't for once explained in a "women warned" way) stress can damage your baby. I wonder if pregnant women can sue the BBC for giving them pregnancy stress?!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Answering Back

This video is just great. Why don't journalists ask these questions?!

The BBC Warning Service

Why does the BBC still use these "warnings" headlines? The latest reads "'Yo-yo' weight warning to mothers". Apparently (and how is this news?) rapidly fluctuation weight between and during pregnancy isn't good for you or the baby. And in a secondary warning we read that overweight parents have more overweight children. Did anyone not already know that.

But more importantly why is it phrased as a "warning" to mothers? Do they think women are deliberately allowing their weight to fluctuate? Do you know any women who like to see their weight "yo-yo"-ing? If the BBC is so worried about the welfare of the babies they should be "warning" the government to offer more support to pregnant and post-natal women, and warning the media to show more normal-weight women, or whatever will actually help. "Warning" women will - I guarantee - do nothing!


This piece on the BBC is interesting. Apparently women who live into old age increase the number of children their own offspring have. The study is based on data from around two hundred years ago from Finland so I doubt the connection is so strong these days, when a lot of older people live miles away from their kids and grand-kids. It reinforces something I have long thought - that the menopause is really a huge compliment for women from evolution. The menopause tells you "you are valued for more than just your ability to produce children". Some people should bear that in mind before they treat women as though reproduction is the be-all and end-all of our lives.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Can I Get A Job As A Psychic?

Or just a senior government adviser? I said some time back that the new "diploma" scheme wasn't the way to improve the education service. Now we find that universities don't like it either.

Seems like most people around the country know certain things years before the government works them out. Here are my top five (in reverse order):

5) The Olympics is going to cost more than everybody thinks.

4) These diplomas aren't going to take off. Good schools will start offering baccalaureates.

3) Rail fares are going to keep going up and this is going to reduce the number of travelers on the trains, and increase cars on the roads.

2) The government is eventually going to force through unlimited random detentions and ID cards, which no-one wants.

And at number 1...) The war in Iraq is going to go on and on and when we do eventually pull out, whether that's next year or in ten years time, they are going to have a civil war.

And there isn't a party out there I can vote for who are going to fix these huge, obvious problems. Maybe I should run myself. Cru for PM...?!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not Coming To Edinburgh?

For those of you who live in London your last chance to see Mr Cru and my Edinburgh show "Sing-Along-A- The-Joy-Of-Sex" is this coming Monday (30th July). 8pm upstairs at the Roundtable pub, St Martin's Court, just next to the Wyndham's Theatre, near Leicester Square tube.

And as a special treat you will also get to see the fabulous Paul Kerensa performing his one-man show "Genesis". All for the princely sum of £5 or less that that if you can convince me you really can't afford it.

And because it's the last one before Edinburgh and we won't see you for ages there will be drinkies afterwards. Please come!

All Blog Together

If you've been following the Bill O-Reilly attacks on Daily Kos (Mr Cru has a great piece on it) you're probably feeling really sickened that anyone lets the guy get away with lies, lies and lies. If you've read Al Franken's great book "Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them" you'll be familiar with Bill O'Lie-lly. If you want to do something about it there's a neat little campaign running to let Fox advertisers know when the channel they sponsor tells lies.

And while we're on the subject just in case of of my American readers haven't had the chance yet and want to - here's the link to the campaign to draft Al Gore for president.

Excuse Me While I Spit A Few Feathers!

I've just read the worst article I've read in years. Zoe Williams explains in the Guardian why hotels shouldn't stop offering pornography to guests. I think I'm going to have to do a full autopsy on the piece.

Firstly let me explain the news in the article: It's about Travelodge (cheap hotel chain) ceasing to offer pornography in their hotel rooms. They say they will lose some revenue in the short term but hope to attract more family visitors. Sounds like great news to me.

Starting with the title "The market beyond porn". Beyond porn. I don't really know what that means. Does that mean in a world where we no longer have porn? Clearly we live in no such world. Or a world where we have all accepted porn and stopped being concerned about it? Clearly if you read the feminist blog-o-sphere you will see that is not the case. Furthermore we can never disengage from discussing porn because there will always be an issue of how much we can show. I have spam e-mails in my inbox this morning with the title "real rapes - hidden cameras". It's not just feminists who are uncomfortable with that - it's everybody who doesn't deserve to be lined up and shot.

Quote one: "... Apparently it will cost the company millions in lost revenue, but it is thought to have weighed this against all the crystal meth, sorry, knitting patterns it'll flog to the new influx of mothers, and decided it was worth it."

That paints a portrait of mothers that I am not familiar with. Knitting and/or crystal meth? That's just insultory to mothers isn't it? Lets try the racism test - if "humourously" I wrote that a company was trying to appeal to the black community "in an effort to sell more crystal meth, sorry, knitting patterns" would the Guardian publish it? Nope! But as the Travelodge has clearly worked out, there are plenty of mothers (could even be some fathers too!) out there who are interested in taking their children on holiday and staying somewhere where those kids won't be exposed to porn. Great news.

Quote two "[on porn] Did lad culture make it funny? Does objecting to porn mean you have no sense of humour? At what point does it cease to be ironic? If the irony is in the mindset of the beholder, does that make it a thought crime (you are not appreciating it ironically enough), and if so, is protest dated, insanely authoritarian, to the point of being meaningless?"

Looking at Lad Mags I see the only joke seems to be how stupid they can make women appear and how insultory they can be to women in general. I'm not into homophobic or racist humour either. That's not because I lack a sense of humour - come see one of my shows - but there are plenty of funny things that aren't insultory to women/gay people/other ethnic groups. Just because its supposed to be funny, doesn't stop it being offensive. And nor does it make it somehow"insane" to protest against it.

Quote three "(1)Feminist remonstration has its own grey areas to wrestle over. The rhetoric of objectification relies on the idea that it's one-way traffic, that only men objectify, and only women are objectified. Before you even consider where this leaves homosexuality, (2) you can only accept this model if you take as a starting point that women have no physical imperative - or if they do, it's an imperative for cuddles - (3)and while there is an alarming number of people calling themselves feminists who persist with such ideas, this area is at least now open to debate."

(1) No - the point is that pornography normally only objectifies women. Everyone is capable of objectifying and being objectified. But the vast majority of porn is about women being made to look stupid and powerless. That objectifies them. I don't know many feminists who would argue with that.

(2) No-one is suggesting women don't have a "physical imperative" - which I think means sex drive. But we're being drawn in here to the idea that porn is about sex and it's not. Women like sex and so do men. If that sex drive is what generates porn, then we would have to assume women DON'T like sex because where is all the male porn? Demand for porn has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with misogyny.

(3) There are very few feminists who believe that women don't like sex. There are those that believe modern sexual standards - heavily influenced by porn - have standardised forms of sexual behaviour that are more centred on male pleasure than female. There are even super-extreme feminists who believe that the best way for women to escape male oppression is so give up sex or have only lesbian relationships. But no-one I know is saying women don't like sex, jeez it was us feminists who first explained to the world that women DO like sex. And we had a hard enough time getting out point across then!

Quote four: "(1)So, say women do objectify men to the same degree, on the same grounds as they themselves are objectified. How degrading is porn, then, and for whom? (2) Besides which, we can't ignore the way the mainstream has embraced pornographers themselves; the fact that the most despised aspect of a man like Richard Desmond is now his personality. (3) Suffice it to say, a discussion about the flaws of the business is mainly now about working conditions - are the participants willing, are they paid properly, does the taboo around the industry leave them unprotected by industrial standards? The discussions are no longer about the ethics of the business itself. That's where the cultural curve is now."

(1) The last paragraph suggested women could objectify men too. Now we are asked to assume that they do and that they do to the same degree as men objectify women. In any case it isn't men who objectify women - it's porn that objectifies women and that's why it's degrading. TO WOMEN. Doh!

(2) Richard Desmond bought his way into the mainstream. I can't really distinguish between hating the fact that he publishes a magazine called "Asian Babes" and hating the bloke himself. Everyone close their eyes and count to 100 and see if when you open them Zoe Williams has a brand spanking new column all of her own in The Daily Express ... two ... three ...

(3) Working conditions are awful, the participants often coerced, pay unreasonably low and protection for participants virtually non-existant. Those are all good reasons to add to the list of why Travelodge is quite right not to support the industry by selling on it's produce. Actually it's unlikely Travelodge could vet the pornography they circulate to the extent that they could guarantee none of those problems were present. Even if they could, the debate is still very much out there on how best to keep porn away from children. There was a motion in parliament only this time last year on the issue.

You would think the supposedly left-wing (at best centrist) Guardian would look for gender issues page contributors who had at least a cursory knowledge of basic feminism. Or who bothered to do any research.

Oh and well done Travelodge.

Standards Falling

Tuesday's Evening Standard ran an article which sadly isn't available on the wed by Lucy Cavendish and her husband entitled "Why I Had To Give Up My House Husband". I should really have hung onto it so I could quote vast chunks and then dissect them but I left it on the bus, I think. Anyway the gist of it was "Lucy and her husband spent a year trying to have him raise the kids and it didn't work". The not-very-hidden sub text was "men can't raise kids, women should do it". But the article - when you read it through - was, well, odd for a few reasons.

1) He wanted to be a house-husband mainly because he thought it would be easy. He told neighbours he'd have time to go out for a game of squash every week. He doesn't seem to have realised that his kids need full-time supervision. It didn't work because he felt so tired and hadn't anticipated it being a full-time job. So his point is - men shouldn't stay home, it's too hard, only women are capable of doing such hard work. Neither of them bother to discuss the implications of that on the state of the women's pensions deficit.

2) Ms Cavendish herself hasn't ever been a housewife. She's been a journalist all along (and a very successful one thanks to big name papers publishing low-quality stories like these). So when at the end of the piece she says how she enjoys dropping them off at classes, buying their stuff and making their packed lunches, etc, even though she finds it below herself, she doesn't mention that she then enjoys having a meeting with her editor and planning her next two-page feature about how other women should live their lives.

3) She does however work from home an claims to have found it impossible to go out and leave him in charge. So who was in charge? And is it any surprise he couldn't do the job up to her standards while she was stood over one shoulder all the time looking angry?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Not Enough Honour

The three men convicted of the so-called "honour"* killing of Banaz Mahmod have been handed lengthly prison sentences. Those sentences are: 23, 20 and 17 years (which for overseas readers means realistically with good behaviour, etc they'll serve 10-15 years each). Which is long, but I guarantee if the victim had been white and blond the sentences - for two hours of rape, sexual degradation, torture, including stamping on her neck, and ultimately drawn-out agonising murder - would have surely been "life" with a substantial minimum tarrif.

But for me regardless of sentence-length - I still feel that the response is NOT ENOUGH. There are three other defendents who should be in the docks today too.

1. The Community

Look at the quote in this report from Judge Brian Barker: "You are hard and unswerving men to whom apparently the respect from the community is more important than your own flesh and blood." If we accept that respect in that community** here in the UK is best gained by murdering your own daughter, then we have to face up to that. Going back to the first report (linked top), we read "Relatives weep as three men are sentenced". That may well be bad reporting, perhaps they in fact wept at the details of the murder and/or the relief of seeing justice done. The way it's explained though it sounds as though there were people present who believed the men did the right thing and were bewailing the 'injustice' of their convictions.

Encouraging crime like this is itself a crime, as is harbouring the criminals and covering up the crime. We need to let people know that the law comes first, not religious or cultural considerations.

2. The Police

As the BBC reports "Ms Mahmod had asked police for help four times but her claims were said not to have been taken seriously." Apparently on one occasion she called the police after being trapped by her father at her grandmother's house, having broken a window to escape, and they threatened to arrest her for breaking the window. Police need better training to identify those who may be at risk from this kind of thing and to be able to offer such women immediate protection and assistance in escaping the community.

3. The Government

Attempting to control the behaviour of someone through acts and threats of violence infringes on their human rights. We need to make sure everyone in our country knows that. We need safe houses for those who wish to leave communities who are mistreating them in this way, and we need to make sure everyone knows what to do if they believe themselves to be at risk, or if they no longer wish to live in these communities.

Mahmod Mahmod in prison or out poses a limited threat to others. Of his two daughters, one is dead and the other has run away from him. Other women in the community however are still at risk and until all three of my suggested co-defendants address that head on, they will remain that way.

*Using the term "honour" to describe someone raping, torturing and murdering their own daughter is clearly the wrong term. We should find a better one.

**And I don't mean "The Muslim Community", because many Muslims are as horrified as I am by the murder. I don't believe that we can treat Muslims as a single amorphous group. Besides which there are other religions within which the concept of "honour killings" exists.


The final installment is apparently out today - last night on my way back from performing at the the very classy Bath House Comedy Club I saw the queue of sleeping-bags outside Waterstone's on Oxford Street and I though what a strange thing to do.

Personally I haven't read the books. I saw one of the films once and thought - oh good another little white boy for children to look up to. And don't bother telling me that Hermione is "really clever" because why should little girls grow up wanting to be the "really clever" one who still has to play second fiddle to the boys? On the other hand though Emma Watson, the actress, is pretty cool.

But I also wondered why adults would read children's books. Feels a bit like sticking your head in the sand to me. Ideal for those who can't really deal with grown-up subjects. But if that's your thing for a bit of occasional escapism, who am I to stop you. I'll even help you out with some fake covers so other people won't know what you're up to.

And finally, remember children: Harry is an evil pagan who deserves to die... Isn't there some sort of law against doing this to children?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Does Ann Coulter Have A Cunt?

The insane woman's latest offering, opens with her top political suggestion:

"Women shouldn't vote."

That's right. That's a direct quote. She's saying women shouldn't have the right to express their political opinions in, hold on, her own political opinion piece. Which only leads me to conclude that she's not a woman. And as a representative of woman kind (I do have one) may I say I am delighted to cross her off the list. She was never much of a team-player. And in answer to the title question - Ann Coulter IS a cunt.

Cruella Gets Her Hits Out

Thanks to my good friend - Ms Abi Roberts for the pun. Cru-blog has been pretty busy lately what with the carnival and all the links flying up from other places so I thought I would put together a quick run-down of the most popular and, I think, most interesting posts on here for the benefit of those who may be new to the blog.

The Original Lad Mags post (as featured on the BBC, repeatedly)

Sex vs Surgery (I'll take sex, thanks)

Tabloid Policy Making

Meet The Morons

Thinly Veiled Hypocrisy

I tell jokes. It's my job.

"Family" Planning

Modern Sport is Rubbish

I blame the parents. And I want check-ups on them.

Feminism and the empowering nature of taking your clothes off.

Facing down more porn in Pornographers Gone Wild

Reviewing Jessica Valenti's book in Big Sister

Getting abuse and Taking It Personally

The Terror Alert Hits "Critical"

How the other half live at YouPorn and PornTube, Really

(P.S. That photo of the woman wing-walking ... that's me. Really!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Fall Guy

There's still some good stuff in the Independent thought. Mark Steel's latest offering is spot on and very funny.

More Kudos For The Cru-blog

While I was all busy putting the Carnival of the Feminists together, the fabulous women over at abyss2hope were busy including my post about YouPorn and PornTube on their Carnival Against Sexual Violence.

Over at Shakesville I got a mention on their Friday blogroll of recommended sites.

And Alas, A Blog featured my post on the rape of a 12-year-old in their Link Farm.

Thanks very much! Glad you like the blog!

Oxford - City of Mums?

News flash: the whole women-with-careers thing is over. It was fun while it lasted eh? But now we've all decided we want babies and OBVIOUSLY we can't have both. Well that's the news according to today's Independent anyway, which reports female students at Oxford are literally queuing up to "choose having a family over having a career".

Now the whole article is a series of specific examples, there are no actual statistics involved which already has me smelling the sweet smell of Eau De Rat.

I went to Oxford ten years ago and my female friends from there are now:

Alison - teacher, married, no kids
Sam - lawyer, married, one kid, going back to work as soon as maternity leave's over
Susie - accountant, married, one kid, now back at work
Laura - works for a charity in Kenya, two kids, still working
Plus me - stand-up comic, no kids

So, err, I guess that's enough research for my own article on "Oxford Women NOT Rushing To Quit Their Careers".

Now maybe my friends are freaks, or maybe the "trend" has changed in the last ten year. Maybe even the women still at Oxford are young and haven't experienced the thrill of having their own jobs, their own steady income and making their own choices in life. But then if you're going to start an article claiming to have identified "a trend", wouldn't you want to ask why that trend is taking off?

Firstly the article doesn't question why women should feel they have to choose. When I was a student we were all set to do battle with anyone who said we would have to choose. Secondly I always hear this posed as a "give up" your career thing. Unless you plan on home schooling, why not "take a career break" and return to work when, for example, the youngest child goes to school.

And then there are some really bewildering lines from the interviewees:

"She believes women with children often find themselves sidelined or opting to stay at home, and that we should acknowledge that fact." I don't think anyone has failed to acknowledge that some women choose to stay home when their kids are small, but if we acknowledge that some women with children are sidelined at work then we should be kicking and screaming and demanding fair treatment.

"Female students believe that it remains more difficult for women to balance a family and a job because society still assumes that women will do the child-rearing." And why exactly do female students believe that they have to do what society assumes they will do? When I was a student we wanted to do anything and everything we could to upset the apple-cart. (We still do!).

"When you are in a career for a few years, you reach a point when a possible career change or pay rise comes up ... Then you have to choose whether you want a family or not." Really? Yeah it could be so hard to have a family if you were earning extra money. I guess that'd be all those hours counting it and putting it in the bank. What?!

Sad to see the Indie publishing piffle again. If young women out there do feel they can't have anything and everything they want in their lives - then our universities (not to mention media messages) are failing them.

Larry Flynt - what a nice guy?

Alternet, usually a decent source of news stuff has a post up about Larry Flynt's efforts to discredit the Republican party. This is like a specially-designed catch-22 situation - I have to choose between a republican-run US and supporting a guy who produces hardcore pornography! Well I choose ... NEITHER!

Just because he hates THEM doesn't make him one of US. He's just a different branch of THEM...

Mr Flynt's infamous hustler magazine has been peddling all sorts of nastiness for years. From the woman-being-fed-through-a-meat-grinder and woman-as-dog-on-a-leash covers to the ongoing paedophile cartoons, and right now, when I log on to the Hustler website I get ONE click to say I'm 18 or older and bingo:

1) A link to "vouyeur sex", i.e. women who are at least pretending they don't know they're being filmed.

2) A link to "Hustler sluts"

3) A link to "Teens"

4) Graphic images and videos coming up, including anal sex and women being "spanked" (hit).

5) DVDs for sale with names like "MILFs" and "Ass Appeal".

6) A link to "amateur" videos.

I don't really care if they were all filmed with over-18 fully consenting professionals or whatever. At very least they are set up to look as if they are under-age, as if they are unaware of the filming, etc. It's sickening, and his being anti-republican compensates me NONE for that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Carnival of the Feminists!!

Yeah! Here it is! Welcome to the 41st Carnival of the Feminists.

Firstly some great news - reported everywhere but I'll give you the Tennessee Guerilla Women take on it: George W Bush is frightened of women bloggers! Go team!

Now after all the trouble I've had with Jezebel, (and it seems abusing feminists on the web is all the rage these days) you wouldn't think I would be linking to a blog post about one of their articles but this one, highlighted on Pandagon, started some pretty interesting debate. Including from blogstress Amanda Marcotte herself who says "The weird thing about all this is that it tends to affect my own view of myself, but doesn’t really affect my view of other women. I don’t tend to think there’s anything wrong with a little softness, a few crow’s feet, etc. on other women, but I can be irrationally hard on myself. It’s just bizarre how it works on that level, just so personal." And on the other hand All Girl Army assures us Feminists Don't Have Self-Esteem Problems (or boob jobs).

Melissa from Pretty, Fizzy Paradise has a theory on why we still get angry about these things, she says: All Women Are Me, Dammit! Diary of a Goldfish argues some women exist in the media purely as figures for us to hate in Paris Hilton and the Iconic Blonde while Mind The Gap Cardiff wonders why so many women in the media look as if they're dead. But amazingly in the midst of all this Social Justice Feminist has found a film that offers some positive role-models for men. Staying with media roles for women Greta Christina is just livid about two little words in a celebrity magazine and Lee Kottner at Spawn of Blogorrhea (I know - good blog name!) is unhappy about the way strong independent women are portrayed. Of course even strong independent women aren't as bad as the dangerous lesbian gangs (not) intimidating Bill O'Reilly - Melissa McEwan says Release The Douchehounds (I know - good post title!).

Katha Pollitt at Alternet is unimpressed with the way the film industry is portraying pregnancy in it's latest offering Knocked Up. So I wanted to take the opportunity of the carnival to highlight a great blog which tells the whole warts-and-all truth about having a baby.

For a positive famous female role-model though 6th July 2007 was the 100-year anniversary of Frida Kahlo's birth! Invoking Frida which is somewhere between a blog and a website celebrates that with a collection of photographs and some great links for those who want to read more about her. For a more current positive role model Girlistic has interviewed Corey Houlihan, spoken word performer, who addresses feminist and gay rights issues. And science fiction magazine Helix has issued an all-female authored edition.

At the dark end of the spectrum Jennifer Ouellette at the Huffington Post looks at the latest in so-called "torture porn". I took a trip even further into the most disturbing areas of women-in-the-media, and what I found was truly awful and almost certainly criminal.

On the subject of crime a judge in Nebraska has decided a victim cannot use the word "rape" during the trial. And said victim has decided she's going to anyway! Rock! That case has started a lot of arguments. Aerik at The Science Ethicists has even had to argue with his father on the subject. Seems that finally heads have started to roll in Michigan, following a rape and murder which the authorities didn't even bother to tell the victim's parents about, according to Kindly Pogmothoin.

Meanwhile Dr Violet Socks extends the violence against women debate with some alarming statistics about ECT.

Natalie Bennett in The Guardian argues more needs to be done to protect sex workers. Come back and visit Cruella-blog in a week or two for more on that - I have an interview coming up with a former sex worker who I will be asking about of lot of these issues.

And (phew!) if that wasn't enough feminism for you - The F-Word now has a podcast you can go listen to. And if you didn't get round to submitting anything this time Miscellanous Adventures of an Aussie Mum will inspire you to do so next time!

The next carnival will be on August 2 on Uncool. Please send submissions via the blog carnival submission form, or email uncool.lina AT gmail DOT com.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Last Call For The Carnival

The 41st Carnival of the Feminists will be here on Wednesday, so I'll be writing it tomorrow. So if you want to nominate something of your own or something you've read elsewhere please do. There is a fancy form you can fill in over on the carnival website, or you can just post a comment here.

Believing The Hype

If you read this article in The Independent you would probably come away feeling that Lydia Playfoot had been pretty hard done to. She has lost a court battle for the right to wear a "silver ring thing" chastity ring to school. She has claimed that it's a symbol of her Christianity and points out that students of other faiths are allowed to wear religious bracelets and headscarves. Now I wouldn't expect the Daily Mail to get any further than a quick round of "ATTACK OF THE SECULARISTS/MUSLIMS/PC-BRIGADE" - but I expect better from the Indie. In fact the two stories are basically the same - probably because they were both lazily copied from the same press release without any fact-checking or background research.

Both articles include the same very-reasonable sounding quotes from Ms Playfoot. "I was concerned at the number of teenagers who were catching sexually transmitted diseases, getting pregnant and/or having abortions. The Government's sex education programme is not working, and the pressure on young people to 'give in' to sex continues to increase. This is often because of the media's focus on sex and the expectations of others"

Now that all sounds well and good but the trouble is abstinence programs have about the same failure rate as other methods of preventing pregnancy. And remember that abstainers also miss out on the fun of, well, shagging like crazed bunnies (which is sure how we did it when I was at school!).

But also, more to the point, as I reported ages ago, the whole case is FAKE and MANUFACTURED by a group of people trying to raise the profile of the Silver Ring Thing stuff in the UK. A group of people who are personally making money out of the sales of these rings.

So personally I am delighted the case has ended up as it did, hopefully this will send a message to the abstinence lie-promoters that British schools are not a suitable place to go evangelising.

A Few Points

Been away for a few days in very sunny France (view from our window in Samoens chateau left) and more about that later. A few things from the news for now:

1) The operation to win over the "hearts and minds" on the Iraqi people is clearly going really well when they think you're sending killer badgers to eat them!

2) Apparently it's too expensive and too time-consuming to bother finding out if children are being abused. And that's just in custody battles. I'd advocate an annual screening of at-risk children orchestrated through schools.

3) Conrad Black ... GUILTY! That's great news, it means something somewhere in the US justice system is still working.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another Good Post For You To Go And Read

(Don't say I don't keep you busy!) Forced ECT as a feminist issue?

If We All Have The Same Idea...

... maybe it's a good one! I suggested not long ago that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's proposal that girls from at risk areas be screened annually for FGM - in order to bring to justice those who abuse their daughters in this way - might be a good one. One that could actually have a major impact on the problem. There is now a very interesting interview up on the BBC with Waris Dirie, the model who experienced one of the harsher forms of it as a child (having her clitoris removed and genitals sewn up). Her suggestion? "Schoolgirls need to be checked after the holidays."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lag Mags, US-Style

Often seems that it's only us UK-based feminists who have to contend with the propaganda disseminated by the so-called Lad Mag culture. My views on that sort of thing are well known, having featured even on the BBC. And of course all over this blog too. Now the misogyny-as-mainstream-youth-culture movement has apparently reared it's ugly head in the US too as witnessed by the headline "Is It OK To Demand Anal Sex?"...

... well ... firstly it's not ok to demand anything sexually. Obviously.

Secondly at several points in the article the guys interviewed express sentiments that are just horrifying. That they asked women for anal sex because of the bragging rights it gave them down the pub later. That they liked anal sex because the woman was in pain. That they found anal sex less difficult to deal with emotionally than vaginal sex.

Anything you do in bed because of what your mates will think, because you enjoy watching someone suffer or because you are afraid of cunts is a mistake.

But really what we are seeing is another cause/symptom of the pornification of society. Pornography, which gets more and more mainstream by the second always tends to focus on oral and anal sex. Evolution certainly didn't mean to pre-dispose us to like these things so really this can be seen as evidence that pornography is not about sexual desire. Porn is about power, and you're getting much more power out of a situation when the other party is likely to end up in pain (or choking in the case of the sort of oral sex these sites tend to show). It's pretty hard to hurt a woman through vaginal sex - however hard you do it. No pain = no power = no fun.

And women are not immune to culture. The more these things are normalised, the more they feel they need to live up to standards we are led to believe are now universal.

The weird thing is, much as the media normalise these attitudes, there is demnad out there from guys who already think like that. Long ago when I was a single blogger I tried an online dating service and one guy I emailed back and forth a few times casually mentioned that refusal to have anal sex was "a deal-breaker"! To which I swiftly replied that sexual "deal-breakers" were themselves a deal-breaker for me. And he was still mailing me weeks later saying intelligent things like "you might enjoy it" and very much missing the point that I only date people who aim to please me in bed, not tick off a list of obscure practices I can or can't be talked into.

Some Good News For Once

Or at least I hope so. The Metropolitan police are taking action to address the practice of FGM in the UK. The offering of a £20,000 reward for information has it's appeal and it'll be interesting to find out whether many people come forward and offer information. My suggestion was a little different.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What Bush Really Thinks About Bloggers

This is pretty funny. Bush's video blog...

YouPorn and PornTube. Really.

There is an article over on Alternet about the rise of YouPorn and PornTube and websites which offer "free porn" submitted by other users. Unsurprisingly it turns out that not necessarily every woman featured on the websites (a) knows they're being filmed and (b) has consented to that film being made publically available. Now this smells (stinks) a bit like it has the Girls Gone Wild fiasco, which I have expressed my views on. I took a very deep breath and did the most upsetting piece of research I've done in ages and took a look at what is being shown. Firstly I note that while YouPorn asks you to confirm you are over 18 (like 12 year olds don't know how to click a button), PornTube doesn't even ask that - it immediately shows you hardcore pornographic images, like close-ups of anal sex. But the videos themselves - and there are an awful lot of them - include the following:

1) Women who work in lap dancing and strip clubs - putting paid to the idea that these places aren't in many cases, actually brothels.

2) Women who are working as prostitutes.

3) Women who appear to be under age and who are listed as "teen" and "virgin".

4) Women who are way too drunk to have given any kind of meaningful consent.

5) Women who are unaware they are being filmed.

6) Women who are unaware that the film is going to be posted on the internet, i.e. who believe they are "performing" privately.

7) Women who appear distressed and in pain, even women who are actually crying, but are being physically forced to continue with what they are doing.

Now I don't understand how it can be legal to publish pornography without the consent of everybody featured in it. Surely that is obvious. And just because a person has consented to engage in a sexual activity doesn't mean they have consented to have that activity recorded and published. Consent has to happen separately for every element of sexual activity. And consent can be withdrawn too. Consent is not a matter of a one-off nod that then holds for any and every activity you might possibly consider sexual over an indefinite period of time.

So we need a new law (or is there an existing one that would fit the bill? lawyers out there?) that says it is incumbent on the publisher of the pornography to confirm that all parties involved have given full consent for it's publication.

But also we have existing laws about sexual assault, prostitution, lap dancing clubs, under-age sex and rape. We need to apply them. Some of the material on these sites is in fact video footage of a very serious crime taking place. Shouldn't someone be addressing that?

Monday, July 09, 2007

One Rule For One...

I just don't get what the government is up to sometimes. There is this huge campaign afoot to improve educational standards for boys, to combat the fact that girls do better at school than boys. So now we're desperately hiring male teachers to act as role models. And complaining that won't be enough and some other measures may be "needed". Apparently the difference is 14% by age 14 (14% of what I don't know but anyway). But there are reasons why girls outperform boys. Girls are better behaved, they spend more hours doing homework, they fight less - right through life, look at the prison population, it's mostly men. And I'm not saying we shouldn't do anything to monitor what happens to boys in school, to check if we're failing to push them as hard as we are the girls. But... BUT...

Why is it that whenever it's men outperforming the response is "it must be a baby thing", "girls just aren't good at this stuff". When women are outperforming it's cause for immediate policy change. If boys need role models in school, don't women need role models in boardrooms, in churches, in Hollywood?

What I need to know is why aren't all these terrible outperforming girls getting the best jobs when they leave school?

I also am horrified by the suggestion, from the recent Department for Children report on the subject that "there was no case for introducing boy-friendly teaching methods because anything that was likely to improve boys' grades would also improve girls' results. This would then perpetuate the gender gap, the report argued."

...that's right - let's not improve our education system because it would only help those pesky girls as much as it helps the boys! What next - lets stop girls going to school on Mondays and Tuesdays and when they do go to class, lets ban them from taking pens and pencils and making notes. That'll sort out the gender gap.

The truth is what we have to do is make sure all kids are given the same excellent opportunities to learn and encouraged to take them up. Our education system falls well short of that mark right now. That should be the focus of the DoC and government policy. Urgh!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Boring Sexist BBC

After a report released last week revealed that contrary to popular belief, men and women talk roughly the same amount as each other, the BBC has hit back with a "tongue-in-cheek feature" on the words women use that men don't. Here are some highlights:

Feminism: If even veteran feminists can't agree on what this means then it's probably best avoided by men.

I hear a lot of men use that word, sometimes because they are feminists and sometimes because they are making rude remarks about feminists. Same word for either use.

Afghanistan: A place where the debate is rather starker

Men don't talk about Afghanistan? What about the mainly men who decided to invade it? One would hope they have discussed it a few times.

Why: As in "why do you never call?"

Also as in "why do you keep calling?" and "why can't you leave me alone?", not to mention "why is the dog upstairs?" and "why don't we go to the pub later?"

And it goes on: book club, accessorize, body image, empowering, size zero, home birth, pilates, pomegranate (? I know, Mr Cru drinks pomegranate juice all the time), agony aunt, breastfeeding, flexible working, beefeater(?), superwoman, babies.

Some of it is just weird, some is downright offensive. And I didn't laugh once. Not so much tongue-in-cheek as foot-in-mouth...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Trashing The Wedding

I heard about this a few days ago and I was kindof hoping if I ignored it it would go away. It's now doing the rounds on the mainstream and alternative media. Someone out there (we'll get to who in a minute) has launched a new cultural phenomenon... Trashing the wedding dress. And it's being presented as some sort of feminist/women's power thing. It's classic advertisers capitalising on the fact that a lot of women are not all that comfortable in a big frilly dress any more and figuring out a way to turn that into extra revenue for business.

Who benefits from wedding dress trashing:

1) Wedding dress makers

2) Photographers (who have been the main drivers behind the launch of the new "phenomenon")

Who loses:

1) Whoever has to pay for all that stuff.

2) Whoever might have bought or borrowed the dress in the future.

3) The planet, from the extra waste.

4) The bride who gets dragged through a muddy ditch while the rest of the guests are sipping bubbly. Not to mention that half the "trash the dress" photos actually make the bride look dead, as though women were used once on the wedding night and then disposed of with the morning trash.

And the rational response... If you don't want to get married - don't. Live alone, live in sin, sleep around. If you do want to get married and you don't want to wear a big dress - don't. Your wedding, do it your way. Traditions are there for you to pick and choose what you want*. If you do want to get married and you do want a big dress, pass it on to someone who might not be able to afford such a dress. Or do what my mum (not pictured!) did - get married in a white mini-dress, then sew a bit of multi-coloured ribbon round the bottom and wear it as a party dress for the next few years.

*For instance, I've been to a bunch of weddings lately and all my friends agree that the throwing the bouquet over your shoulder and the other women fighting for it is rubbish, we're not desperate to get married and we don't have any desire to fight with each other. So no-one has done that. On the other hand cake, speeches, lots of alcohol - those were kept in.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I Didn't Know You Could Get These On YouTube!

They're brilliant!

4th of July Reading Matter

What could be more appropriate today than showing some support for the American troops out in Iraq risking their lives? And how could we support them better than by reading their own words about their own experiences? So go ahead, here's your link.

Submit to Cruella!

Cue three hundred hits from S&M fanatics looking up "submit" and "Cruella" on google [should there be an alternative called "oogle"?]! What I mean however is that submissions are now open for the 42nd Carnival of the Feminists, which will be hosted right here on 18th July. There is a submission form over on their website but if you prefer you can just put your submission in a comment right under this post and I'll go and take a look at what you've written.

Spot the Lies

The BBC reports "25% of virgins 'ignore safe sex' ". Not true - the data if you read the actual article shows that 25% of people having sex for the first time do not use contraception. It doesn't say why not. Now I'm not saying some of them aren't just reckless or ill-informed of the facts of these matters, but some of them are probably trying to get pregnant and confident that they are not exposing themselves to STD risks. Informed choice is not the same as ignorance. And there again, reading something in a BBC headline is not the same as finding out what's really happening.

Beat Your Wife, Rule The World

The police (this time in the US) are so determined to stop domestic violence that they won't allow perpetrators to fill the junior ranks of their forces. Well, not when they could fill the senior ranks that is! Unbelievable.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No Pressure...

My parents, for all the psycological damage they inflicted on me, never really made me feel like I HAD to have kids. They told me the important stuff - you know like not to marry a black man (seriously, I know it was the early eighties and rural Suffolk, but seriously...), but they missed that one. Have some pity though for Flavie Boivin who at the age of seven has witnessed her mother freezing her own eggs in case Flavie wants to use them later on if the Turner's Syndrome she suffers affects her fertility.

Now any child she had would effectively be her own genetic half brother or half sister but her partner's child, which seems to me needlessly complicated. There are other, simpler, options:

1) Live a full and happy life as a useful member of society without having children.

2) Adopt one or more of the millions of unwanted children around the world.

3) Have a baby using donor eggs from a donor of her own generation, who could even be a friend or relative.

But also Flavie already has medical problems - Turner's syndrome causes impaired growth, learning difficulties and early menopause - is it really fair to encourage her to try for an IVF baby, subjecting herself to intrusive medical proceedures over months and years with absolutely no guarantee of success? Her mum insists "I do not want to oblige her to use the eggs; I want to give her the option.", I can't believe from the child's point of view it will really feel like that.

Twelve-Year-Old "Was Asking For It"

Remember last week when I was complaining about a judge's claims that a ten year old girl had (1) looked sixteen, (2) been dressed provocatively (and that excused anything!) and (3) consented to sex with two men withing 45 minutes of meeting them? The sentences handed down to the two men mean one walked free on the day and the other will serve only a few months. I did follow up on the case - trying to start one of those on-line petitions to Downing Street asking for the judge's removal from office. I was refused permission to do so because it covered "Issues for which an e-petition is not the appropriate channel". I wrote back and asked them what channel I should use to get this evil guy (his name is Judge Julian Hall if you ever find yourself wandering a lonely cliff-top with him...) out and they didn't bother getting back to me. Advice very welcome.

Well it turns out now that the case has a super-sinister predecessor. In 2003 Michael Mullen, himself seventeen, raped a 12-year-old girl on a school playing field. Now don't tell me he didn't know she was twelve - grown women don't hang out on school playing fields. Great lovers of the world - take note - if she's got a "prefect" badge on, best to just check! He freely admitted having had sex with said girl, but claimed she had consented, overlooking the fact that 12-year-olds can't consent, they are too young to do so. Well they really really were going to take him to court but then the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) said there was new evidence that undermined the victim's case. Unless it was a new birth certificate that made her 34 all of a sudden, I don't really see what that could be. Still the case was dropped, apparently because of inconsistencies in what a raped 12-year-old was saying.

The decision to drop the case and let Mullen off turns out to be a bad one. In February this year Mullen raped and murdered his two-year-old niece. That is not only a disgusting crime, it is a completely preventable one.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Critical Thinking

Apparently the terrorism threat in the UK is now "critical". I find it all a bit odd that we have words, which have meanings, but for some reason we now need to re-define those words for use in describing the threat to our lives from terrorism. So now - in the context of terrorism only - "critical" means "an attack is expected imminently" while "substantial" means "strong possibility of an attack". What is the point of these words? Surely we could just say the threat is "imminent" or "strong"?

Now firstly - those who know about these things have argued that the threat now is lower than it was a few days ago. To cut a long story short we now have several less wannabee terrorists on the loose and the ones that were out there turned out to be less competent than Victoria Beckham's voice coach.

But what does "critical" actually mean? There are many definitions, presumably the ones intended would be:

7. Being in or verging on a state of crisis or emergency.
8. Fraught with danger or risk; perilous

How can you describe as "perilous" or "fraught with danger" a sitution which for all the headlines and infringements on our civil liberties has failed to kill ANYONE in a country of 60 million people since 7th July 2005?

What I'd like to know is what the alert level is for road traffic accidents and for violence against women.

As a Whitehall source explained to the BBC: "If it [the terror alert] moves to critical, you should worry". Presumably the road traffic alert is "super-uber-critical" and the correct response to the violence against women alert is to "fucking panic"?

Everytime I Open My Mouth...

...well I seem to get included in some new cool blog post! This time it is my post Brain Scan which is featured in the latest Brit Blog Round-Up. And ok so there are mutterings about feminism and stand-up comedy as though the two were somehow incompatible! Let me be clear though - the view from the inside - we don't need any more misogynist comedians, we are over-run with them already. I sincerely hope one day (SOON!) they will be as unwelcome as racist comics now, thankfully, are.

On the Attempted Bombings in London and Glasgow

As some readers may know Mr Cru is much more of an expert than I on these matters. You can read his ode to the incompetence of both the "terrorists" and the governement response here.