Monday, May 26, 2008

I HATE Jeremy Clarkson

There are some things that just need saying. I HATE Jeremy Clarkson. Phew, now I’ve said it. Maybe it seems harsh of me to single him out from a number of car show presenters and general public personalities. I feel he merits it though and I’ll tell you why:

Clarkson is not just a car show presenter, he’s the car show presenter. He defines the genre. For many years he’s been the driving force behind the way the television-shows-about-cars industry works. When he first worked on Top Gear in 1988 it was a show that mostly reviewed different cars and advised would-be buyers on the advantages and disadvantages of different models. When it was re-modelled in 2002 he was the main presenter.

Now even when the show first started it had a mixture of male and female presenters. The new version has always been 100% male - and for that matter 100% white and British. And the standard of the banter went with it. Cars that Clarkson doesn’t like are referred to as “gay” or “girly” - as though those were insults. Women are standardly referred to as “birds”. The focus of the show shifted from reviewing cars to frivolously taking pointless journeys, racing sports cars against military vehicles and aircraft and sometimes even destroying perfectly roadworthy vehicles.

As the environmental movement raised awareness of the impact carbon emissions had on the climate, the show could have incorporated advice on reducing emissions, on lower emission vehicles and emphasised that high-speed low-efficiency sports cars were the sort of things to be driven occasionally as a treat if you enjoyed that sort of thing. But with Clarkson at the helm of course that didn’t happen. We can only imagine that after all those years of being given privileged access to fancy cars and events he was so far in the pockets of the motor lobby that he couldn’t see the wood for the burnt stumps where once there were trees. Instead he started making insulting remarks about environmentalists. He bragged about breaking speed limits and complained at length about fuel and congestion taxation, which aims to cut emissions.

Now that in itself would be enough reason for some people to hate the man. I am not so quick to use such strong terms. I can sympathise that there is a market for that sort of misogynist, homophobic* planet-murdering prattle and someone was always going to step up to the plate.

The trouble is he isn’t just a (or the) car show presenter any more. He’s gone to great lengths to present himself as a spokesman for the white middle-class male adrift in a sea of political correctness. His website (and I know, I know, it’s a joke…) says “Jeremy Clarkson - Clarkson information, books, DVDs, forum, and news from Britains next prime minister?”. And if that’s just a joke, why have nearly 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking for him to become prime minister? He writes newspaper columns - and they appear in the political pages, not the motoring pages. His books include collections of poltical essays. The style may be “fun” and chatty to read but he’s covering topics like Basque separatism and war in Iraq.

The first article on the Top Gear website is clearly a 100% political piece written by him and titled “CLARKSON: Soon the annual tax bill for a commuter will be £10k”

Firstly that is a straightforward lie. Road tax on even the most polluting vehicles is £400 a year. If your commute goes in to central London (and if so why the hell are you driving!) you’ll pay £8 a day congestion charge (5 days a week, 49 weeks a year = £1960) and if your commute is 50 miles each way (then get the train! or at 8 miles per litre, 65p tax per litre, 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year = £1991) then that’s £4351 a year - less than half the number he is suggesting.

Secondly the whole point of increasing tax on higher emissions vehicles on unnecessary routes is to encourage drivers to switch to other means of travel and lower emission cars. He grumbles the cost of a tax disc on a Lamborghini Gallardo could rise to nearly a thousand pounds. But given the car itself costs £133,000, I think owners can afford it. And given it emits at least 325g of CO2 per kilometer (more than twice that of, for example, a Renault Megane or a Vauxhall Astra) my feeling is great, lets put the tax up even higher. No-one needs to drive a car like that.

Thirdly - and for the sake of my mental health I’m trying to limit myself to only looking at one of his horrible articles - the thing is littered with offensive remarks. The first sentence refers to a woman as “some bird”. He refers to a female politician as “some orange-haired old bat”.

Then he gets on with denying climate change. Now of course he never says it’s not happening, because it is. Instead he says certain events may not be a direct result of it. Sure, sometimes a freak wave gives you wet feet when the tide isn’t actually coming in - but when it’s up to your knees, best to fold up the deck-chairs just in case. People are already dying around the world as a direct result of climate change. There’s no probability about whether or not it’s happening, it is already happening, the uncertainty is how much worse is it going to get.

His conclusion on the cost of taxing so-called “super-cars” is this: “That’s not taxation. That’s rape.”. I won’t even say anything, I think it’s pretty obvious that’s not an appropriate thing to say.

And that’s on his car show website. So it’s not that he’s been “spotted” on his car show and asked to branch out in to politics - he’s actively choosing to use his car show as a platform for his political opinions. And here’s the real rub: It’s working! He’s kind-of accepted on TV as some sort of lovable right-wing not-afraid-to-speak-his-mind pundit. He’s on Have I Got News…, QI, even Who Do You Think You Are? as though he’s an institution that we’re all comfortable with in the UK.

But are we really all comfortable with vicious anti-environmentalism on the basis of lies? With misogyny and homophobia* from someone who is genuinely trying to influence policy-making in the UK? Personally I’d like to present the alternative point of view in a one-off BBC TV special called “Jeremy Clarkson: Who The F*** Does He Think He Is?”

* Actually he’s been pretty racist too, I’ll leave that for now, I think we’ve got enough to be getting on with!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Anyone Else Uncomfortable About This?

This post starts with a massive disclaimer. My show at the Brighton Fringe Festival ran 6 days in a dusty (but charming) 40-seater theatre at £7 a ticket. This group are doing two shows a day for a full month in a much bigger purpose-built venue and charging around £20 a ticket. So there is a definite risk you are reading the bitter ramblings of a jaded performer.

That said, lets press on. Is anyone else uncomfortable about the runaway success of The Lady Boys of Bangkok? The only conversation I have heard about them all week is straight guys asking each other “Yeah but would you though? Would you?” and telling the uninitiated “They are so convincing, I have to be honest, I was nearly getting a stiffy there at one point”. The show is as far as I can make out, an old-fashioned freakshow where the “exhibits” are 16 transexual women. I really refuse to believe that the dancing (and lip-syncing to pre-recorded music) is any part of the draw.

Further I have concerns about the well-being of the performers. Two shows a day, each close to two hours long is a lot of stage-time, especially in uncomfortable clothing (high heels, heavy make-up, etc). Add to that the economic imbalance between Thailand and the UK and you’ve got to wonder whether at least some of the performers aren’t working - and potentially having medication and surgery - under some sort of financial duress.

I am sure that promoters would assure us that they are well looked after and willing and enthusiastic about performing. However the Lady Boys themselves don’t seem to ever give interviews - to the point where I can only assume they are contractually forbidden to do so - or appear away from the rest of the group either at functions or just out and about at festivals (and I have been to a lot of festivals). To me those are some of the signs that abuse may be going on.

And yet the reaction of festival organisers is not to question the spirit in which the shows are staged or the working conditions for performers in the show, but to put up street signs (pictured) around Brighton to advise motorists how to find the show. And evidently the public are traveling in from around the area to see the show.

Am I the only one who doesn’t quite feel comfortable about it?

Reposted from the F-Word.

Friday, May 16, 2008

End of the Road for Strip Pub

If you are wondering how the Stop The Strip Pub campaign ended I have given the full and unedited version on BBC London here. Yeah!

Hey Barack, Sweetie...

I guess it won’t have passed you all by that US presidential hopeful Barack Obama took the unwise PR decision to fob off a female reporter with the phrase “Hold on one second, sweetie”. The reaction has been unsurprising - he has apologised and described it as a “bad habit”, insisting he “meant no disrespect”, she responded saying she “had been called worse”.

I’m the last person who wants a big fuss made about one teeny little unscripted word. And a part of my head is warning me not to say anything on the subject in case I hear myself being quoted on Fox News in a special “International Reaction To Obama’s Career-Ending Insult”. First of all remember Mr Obama is likely to be standing for election against John McCain - a man whose election would undoubtedly see US gender equality sent packing back to the dark ages. This is a man who voted AGAINST the equal pay act. This is a man who has openly said he thinks Roe vs Wade should be overturned. Obama is undoubtedly the more woman-friendly candidate.

However it does really annoy me when guys I’m dealing with professionally call me sweetie or darling or love or pet or other patronising terms of endearment? Of course I don’t mind, in fact I quite like some cute nick-names from my boyfriend or really close friends. But I often stop people and ask them not to use the term.

Of course I only make a fuss when it’s not going to affect my career - it would be professional suicide not to be a bit thick-skinned from time to time. But I do object to it regularly from shop-keepers, tradesmen, taxi drivers, those kinds of people. And the reaction varies - of course every individual is different:

1) Some (very few, mostly shop-keepers while the money is still in my hand!) apologise. One even said “sorry darling”!?

2) Some try to engage with me in a discussion about feminism, usually with an opening gambit like “oh, so you’re one of them are you”. And usually end up going on about Heather Mills and women receiving large divorce payouts resulting in giving the rest of us “a bad name”, and things having “gone too far”, or potentially about how there’s a “girl in our office who doesn’t mind it at all”.

3) Some argue it. I’ve been told - less politely than this - that I should put up with it because it’s either (a) a traditional local term, (b) a traditional working class term. To which I can only respond that if we insisted on sticking to traditions at the expense of all else we’d have to bring back witch-dunking and burning heathens at the stake.

4) Some really make a fuss. I’ve been spat at, called “lesbian” and “dyke” (not of course insults in my world, but clearly intended as such) and “bitch”, etc. One guy went out in to the street and loudly told his colleague that I was “one of those uptight cows”.

On the other hand I was on a train the other day and they guy in front of me called the woman behind the buffet car counter “sweetheart” - she asked him not to to which he responded that women like being called sweetheart. So I unexpectedly chipped in and said “No they don’t” and he skulked off looking miserable and she and I had a good laugh about it.

I consider correcting people who address women with these patronising terms a cumulative act of feminism. Each individual time makes very little difference but if we all do it whenever we reasonably can, we will make a difference. Please add a comment if you’ve corrected someone recently and let me know what happened!

(Reposted from the F-Word)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Women's Rights Under Fire

Sorry for not posting for a while - I've been applying myself a little more practically to some of the issues which I am normally discussing here. In particular the abortion law in the UK which despite being forty years old and in desperate need of updating* are in fact in danger of being rolled back. A cross-party group of MPs including of course all the devoutly religious ones and all the devoutly anti-women ones (there is a big overlap) are proposing amendments to the HFE Bill currently making it's way through parliament. At a debate next Tuesday evening (20th May) MPs will have the chance to vote on amendments which would lower the abortion time limit to 22 weeks, 20 weeks, 18 weeks, 16 weeks, 14 weeks or even 12 weeks.

I find it very difficult to understand what is really going on in the minds of those signing and voting on these amendments. Here are my best ideas:

1) They are deeply religious and have been fooled into believing that the anti-choice movement represents God's will on the subject. If so then firstly it's a real shame God didn't bother writing clearly in the bible that He opposed abortion - because it just doesn't say that anywhere. Meanwhile it does say that God doesn't want His followers to tell lies or be jealous of their neighbours, sleep in their husband's bed during their period, eat bacon or shellfish, etc. And there's that great line in Leviticus where it says "Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed.". Yet I see no amendments tabled that would bring back capital punishment for those caught playing "yo momma" in the schoolyard. Why should religious laws be applied to those of us who are not religious? If you don't believe God wants you to have an abortion - don't have one - don't try to stop me from having one.

2) They think women should have abortions earlier not later. Which is all well and good if women know they're pregnant and have access to abortion on demand when they want it. Instead women who are too young to have started their periods, post-menopausal, using contraception or who have irregular periods may not know. Or they may have been messed about by the NHS and other service providers causing needless delays. The two doctors requirement obviously delays the average UK abortion time by a certain amount. And don't forget those women who get pregnant happily but then whose life changes. Pregnancy is one of the most likely times for a partner to turn violent or walk out and there is also the situation that an existing child develops problems which the mother feels could not be properly dealt with whilst tending a new-born.

3) They think feotuses feel pain in the womb. They don't. Women on the other hand do.

4) They believe there has been an increase in viability of foetuses born before 24 weeks. There hasn't (not according to British Association of Prenatal Medicine, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Medical Association and The Royal College of Nursing). Furthermore so what if there was. Advances in medical science may well at some point in the super-distant future mean that an ovum can gestate to full term in a lab rather than a womb. At that point will we make it illegal for women to have periods?

5) They just hate women. That would be it. Amazingly some anti-choice campaigners suggest that there are reasons for banning abortion for the sake of the woman's physical and mental health. Which is unbelievable because in terms of physical health a pregnancy is much more dangerous than an abortion and in terms of mental health - what do you think forcing a woman to carry an unwanted foetus to full term is going to do for her mental health?

But you can do something. Just do it NOW cos the vote is really soon. There is lots of info on the Abortion Rights website. But to summarize: contact your MP. Ring 020 7219 3000 and ask for them by name. If you don't know your MP you can look them up on They Work For You or just ask the House of Commons switchboard (number above) to check for you who is the MP for where you live. When you get through you may get to speak to your MP or if they are not available a researcher or sometimes and answering machine - just let them know you are a constituent and you support 24 weeks. Ask them to vote against the reductions in the time limit being proposed. Alternatively you can email them again through They Work For You. Do it soon though - the vote is Tuesday night.

And on Tuesday from 5.30pm there will be a protest outside the House of Commons. Please come along if you can. Details again on the Abortion Rights website.

* Abortion is currently the only medical procedure in the UK which requires two doctors signatures, there are also many GPs who react to requests for abortion by berating women, refusing to refer and delaying tactics. Typically women who seek terminations on the NHS have to wait several weeks. Even those able to pay privately are often delayed.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

For Your Listening Peasure

Blogstress Cru (that's me) will be appearing as part of a panel to discuss the week's news tomorrow on the institution that is Women's Hour on BBC Radio 4. Please tune in at 11am, or failing that try the "listen again" option any time in the following seven days.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Last night a number of F-Word writers and readers were in attendance to see Hackney Council refuse to give Satchmo’s a license to become a Sex Encounters Establishment (strip club).

Thank you and well done to everyone who wrote letters of objection and showed up for the hearing - it worked! More info on the website.

Photo by adman_as, reposted from the F-Word.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Schools and Relationships

The NSPCC, and I'm sure not going to make myself popular arguing with a group as respected as them, are saying that schools should teach more about relationships in sex education. This comes in response to data from Childline suggesting 50 children a day ring up saying they feel pressured to have sex. And in that light the NSPCC suggestion sounds wildly sane but I have to admit it actually made me flinch a little.

At the moment schools are only obliged to teach the facts of human reproduction. The first thing that frightens me is that if the syllabus is expanded out to include relationships, what is the risk that the facts of biology will be lost? I think children have a right to understand how their bodies work in factual scientific terms. Many especially faith schools are reluctant to teach these facts and given the chance to hide them discreetly behind a barrage of warnings about the unholy nature of any kind of relationship not fully approved by religious leaders, the message could be watered down beyond recognition.

It's also difficult to understand how children will react to hearing the facts of biology lined up next to what can be nothing more than advice about relationships. I think a clear line needs to be drawn between the facts of how the human body works and advice about how to deal with the stresses and strains of relationships.

And finally who exactly is going to set the relationship agenda? I'm sure religious leaders would love to. And so would some of the virginity cults that we seem to be importing from the US at the moment. The uproar from religious parents if their children were taught that anything other than chastity and fidelity was acceptable and enjoyable means that the education is always going to be skewed. Who is going to let kids know that promiscuity, safely practiced, can be a lot of fun? And we all know the fuss that ensues if you teach children that it's ok to be gay.

All that said, I'm not totally against raising in school the subject of dealing with pressure to have sex. I think children should be taught that they have human rights, and that one of those is the right to make their own decisions about sex (or this could be covered under the women's studies addition to the national curriculum that I've been talking about forever). But I'd like to see that taught separately from the biological facts of sex.

(Reposted from the F-Word, photo by Reading is Fun)

Beached Whale

Talksport DJ James Whale has been sacked from his job for telling his listeners to vote for Boris Johnson. Apparently this constitutes a breach of the impartiality laws, who knew!?

Now I had the joy of working with Mr Whale a couple of years ago on a rather low budget panel show called Where In The World? which is still occasionally shown on SkyTV's Overseas Property channel. Two things I remember:

1) He asked a male comic who had been a panelist to come and be a guest on his radio show. He also invited me to do so - but only if I sat in the studio naked. I declined the offer.

2) During a break in filming someone brought out a tray of pastries and I grabbed donut and promptly spilled half the jam on the floor. When everyone realised what I'd done, I looked round and jokingly said to the other guests "sorry, does anyone have a tampon?" whereupon Whale launched in to a dramatic and extended rant about why-o-why do female comics always have to go on-and-on about their periods. This was the only remark I had made all day on the subject and - if he's bothered to come see it he'd know - my normal stage routine doesn't mention periods, period(!). And so what if it did - there are enough male acts out there talking about their dicks, about masturbating and defecating and urinating and all kinds of bodily functions - including for instance the rather poor masturbation joke that TalkSport use as an advertising slogan on the London taxis they sponsor (pictured). And what's so disgusting and unbearable about the totally natural process of menstruation? Unless of course you're a big misogynist.

I just hope that this move turns out to be a genuine death knell for his career, that he's not hired next week by an even bigger radio station.

(Reposted from the F-Word, photo by James Cridland)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Light Relief In Our Hour Of Darkness

I guess many of you are feeling as miserable as I am about the prospect of four years of Boris Johnson running London. Very few of you though have the privilege of a Facebook account stacked with friends from the world of stand-up comedy. Seems like everyone I know has a “status update” with something to say about their mood today. So I thought I would share my top ten. If they make you laugh - why not have a flick through Time Out and see when they’re on near you and check them out!

10) Jamie Goodwin urges the last person to leave London today to turn the lights off. RIP London.

9) Chuquai Billy says: See? I told you so!

8) Mark Watson can only hope that now, London doesn’t become an overpopulated, expensive, dirty, unfriendly dystopia or anything like that. (Sarcasm.)

7) Brian Damage is ruing the day I thought it would be quite funny if Boris actually became Mayor.

6) Sam Stone says chill. None of it is real. We are all in the matrix including the mayor.

5) Stuart Goldsmith hopes that Boris ruining London will remind the rest of the country that Tories are cocks, JUST IN TIME.

4) Chris Mayo is *insert negative Boris Johnson comment here*.

3) Josie Long is pissed off you didn’t listen to her. She goes away for three little months and you fools let the Tories in.

2) (OK, a journalist not a comedian, but a very witty one…) Johann Hari is going to hang himself about Boris. Have I Got Noose For You.

1) (pictured) Broderick Chow is clawing at the bathroom mirror trying desperately to get back through it.

Letting The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good

Might I start by advising any readers who “couldn’t be bothered to vote”, "voted for Boris as a protest/joke" or "voted for Boris because they genuinely thought that was a good idea" that they would do well to avoid me for the next few days… But what makes me the angriest (I think, it’s so hard to chose) is that if all the Lib Dem and Green Party voters had put Ken Livingstone second choice - we wouldn’t have a sexist, racist, homophobic idiot running our nation’s capital. Brian Paddick has apparently said that he put Linsdey German as his second choice candidate.

Now Lindsey German is a great candidate with some great policies. However if voters didn’t want THIS to happen then whether they voted Paddick, Berry or German, they had to put Livingstone as second choice. German was never going to make the head-to-head so a second choice vote for her was a total waste. That’s really the point of a first and second choice system: you can vote idealistically first and tactically second. Not idealistically, twice. THIS did not have to happen.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Trouble in Comedy-Land

What a day - Mayday protests, an election and now I discover my own profession is being brought in to disrepute with those who care about women's rights (and lets hope that's pretty much everyone).

I'm talking about Johnny Vegas's behaviour towards an audience member during the show hosted by Stewart Lee at the Bloomsbury Theatre last Friday. I wasn't at the show myself so I can only comment on reports from those who were. One audience member James Williams, posting on the NOTBBC forums said the following - and I apologise for the long quote but it is quite hard to locate the original post on the forums so easier to read it here, also I don't want to quote pieces out of context without the disclaimers James himself includes:

"It was pretty contentious, so I'm slightly concerned about misrepresenting what happened if you didn't see it with your own eyes. I can't give you the complete context without recounting the whole set, and that would take forever and I'd probably get it wrong anyway. With that in mind, I'll try to explain what happened, but please take what I say with a pinch of salt and bear in mind that it's my intepretation.

Anyway, fairly early on in his set, he stated that he had no material, and that he was there mostly to get laid; it came across as quite possibly the truth spoken in jest. He started chatting up girls in the front row in an exaggerated, slightly cartoonish way, and quickly focused on a girl who was about 18 or 19 and was very obviously unnerved by it. To cut a long story short, he fairly insistently press-ganged her into getting carried onto stage by six members of the audience, while pretending to be dead. The premise was that they would then lay her down on the stage and he would bring her back to life with a kiss, and he warned her that there probably would be tongues. Honestly, you couldn't have found a nervier or more passive girl if you'd scoured all of London - she was like a rabbit in the headlights, but she was giggling and clearly somewhat enjoying the attention, so it just sort of went ahead without so much as a yes or no from her.

Once she was on the stage with the 6 'bearers' lined up at the back, he told her to lie very still and he turned back to the audience for a bit. She couldn't stop her nervous giggling, so he told her to shut up and look more dead or he'd kick her in the ribs. There was a menacing tone to his whole set, so I have to admit it didn't come across to me entirely as a joke. There wasn't anything funny about it anyway, unless you find that funny in itself.

Eventually he got down next to her and started stroking her breasts. That hadn't been mentioned before, and in the light of of the repeated refrain of "don't fucking move" it seemed like an abuse of power. She could have got up and walked away, but it would have taken a lot of courage to do that in front of a large room full of people, against the explicit orders of the famous guy with the microphone. Then he started running his hand up her leg and pulling her skirt up. Every time he looked up to address the audience, she'd reach down and pull her skirt back down, but he kept pulling it back up and ended up fingering her through her clothes for a second or two. Then he straddled her, completely pinning her to the floor, and kissed her quite full-on for quite a while. Then he asked if they could bring the curtain down, which they couldn't, so there was an awkward minute until Simon Munnery came out and brought down an improvised curtain consisting of his coat.

It was pretty hard to know what to make of the whole thing. I came away with the distinct impression that she was given very little chance to say no, if at all. The six 'bearers' made it even more grim, as it seemed their sole purpose was to make it look more acceptable - more endorsed, if you will. If it had just been him and her on the stage, I think it would have been rather harder for the half of the room who laughed through it to do so.

I say half, as my impression at the time was that people were going along with it and broadly enjoying the set, but on leaving, I heard nothing but "that was disgusting", "that was practically assault", and so on. My girlfriend was quite upset that she'd sat through it and not done anything, but I'm not sure what she could have done - walk out, I suppose. I was just fucking confused by trying to find a way in which it was acceptable. I don't like to think that any area is out-of-bounds for comedy, even if the comedy is lazy nonsense (which on this occasion, I think it mostly was) - but that really only applies when you're talking about words and ideas. Once you've got someone pinned down on the stage, it becomes a rather different matter."

Alternatively there is an eyewitness account of what happened on the Guardian blog website.

Two other eyewitness accounts, the reviews posted by the Evening Standard and Chortle make much less mention of the incident.

Now here are my points:

1) Why has no-one used the word "rape"? William's account says she was held down forcibly and Vegas was "fingering her through her clothes". If that's true the word for the situation is "rape". "Sexual assault" is a term for assault that does not include any penetration. Trying to soften the language used to describe violence against women is one of the all-too-common ways in which people trivialise and normalise it, we should fight it at every turn.

2) Why has no-one been to the police? Surely with several hundred eye witnesses, someone has the decency to contact the police.

3) Why is anyone asking what the boundaries of comedy are? Yes, it's ok for comics to say offensive things - that's because we all have freedom of speech. We all have the right to say offensive things if we want to. Personally I think we shouldn't reward comics who make sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist jokes, and in some cases there may be a case to be made against them for inciting hatred or crime, but that's a totally separate issue. None of us, including comedians, have the right to rape or sexually assault. That's nothing to do with comedy, that's everything to do with the laws of this country. Would we be having this "discussion" if a comedian had injured someone physically on stage? Of course not.

4) Most frightening of all are some of the comments on the various websites. Of course these aren't necessarily representative of what the public at large think, but they are representative of what the people who posted them think. Comments suggesting that the woman's nervous giggles indicate that she was "having a great time" throughout suggest to me that people don't understand what rape is - giggling is not consent, and without consent penetration of any kind is rape. This brings me back to a point I have been banging on about for a very long time: We need education about women's issues and women's rights to be compulsory on the national curriculum. Now.