Saturday, January 24, 2009

Something Good Happened!

Obama has lifted the ban on US funding of groups that provide abortion and abortion advice overseas. Wow. And didn't I hear only the other day that he was going to close Guantanamo? I almost like this guy - which is pretty rare with me and politicians. Lets hope the run continues. Would be great to see all women in the US (and the world) given access to free, safe, confidential abortion on demand. Truth is though - we're not even there in the UK yet.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Playboy all over the Western World

Spotted the above at Barratts - the shoe-shop on Oxford Street - it's a Playboy branded satchel. Now admittedly it's on a rail with adult women's leather handbags - but it's a child's eye level rail and who the hell buys satchels as a grown up? These are just the right size for school books and a pencil case! If that doesn't really hang right with you you can let them know at their "contact us" email address Do let me know if you hear anything back. Probably just a co-incidence but the whole time I was in there browsing a kid young enought to be my son who was serving me continually referred to me as "love". I did complain about both.

And while we're on the subject I was looking around the web for comedy clubs - like most comedians I regularly scout out for new places I might potentially work. Stumbled across this one in the US - Playboy Comedy. Seems like they book mostly male comedians though... The women on the bill are "playmates" who "appear" during the night! What a lovely industry mine is!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Kind Of Taxi Do You Want To Get Raped In?

Remember not so long ago the police having the charming idea to tell women that it was their own fault if they got raped in an illegal mini-cab? Well now it turns out that licensed black cab drivers are also rapists. This nasty piece of work had been telling female passengers that he had won the lottery and offering them champagne, which turned out to be drugged, before raping them.

Where is the campaign to stop this kind of rape? Are the police going to tell women not to go out at all or not to drink free champagne when it's offered to you? Women - don't do anything that seems fun in case it's a trick. I have a better idea - maybe we should ban men from winning the lottery - that way women will know they're lying... Either way at least this time they seem to have caught him and got him to court, lets hope they get a clear conviction and a long sentence to make it clear that women have a right to safety at night.

Bit Low On Anger Today?

These two articles might ramp your anger levels up enough for the time being...

Firstly a young woman in Australia who had been the victim of extensive sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father. The guy took more than 10,000 pornographic pictures of his step-daughter over a four-year period. One day he forced her at gunpoint to give him oral sex then put the gun down behind him. She picked it up and shot him in the head. Are you thinking what a brave young woman? Wrong! She's now being put on trial for murder. I told you you'd be angry.

And the second one is a follow-up on a case I've discussed before. A woman with a mental age of 8 was gang-raped and then covered in caustic soda by her attackers. Now firstly you'll notice that the original report says "up to ten men" attacked her. Other sources also say "ten men". The second report is about the sentencing of three men. The Daily Mail claims one of the men has since been shot and hence only nine could have been punished. Still I guess it's only the worse gang-rapists we should punish - not all of them. And the three who have been sentenced got 9 years, 6 years and 6 years maximim sentences - and it has been suggested they could be out in 2 and a half years with good behaviour, etc. Angry yet? At least the sentences are now being reviewed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Women's Hour

Sandrine Leveque (from Object), Rebecca Morden (from LFN and Scary Little Girls) and I were all interviewed this morning by Woman's Hour for a piece to be aired on Wednesday about the rise of "lad" culture and the backlash against women, etc. I think although we were interviewed for ages probably it will wind up being a 30-second clip that is used. For overseas listeners you can listen online at 10am UK time here.

Not Getting It

I was busy and couldn't go to the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition on Saturday night. I did want to as I was in the final myself last year (as some readers will remember) and it is pretty much known to be the best competition for newer acts in the industry. So I went online and read the review of the show at industry-standard review site Chortle. I can't comment on the reviews as such because I wasn't there but based on my knowledge of the acts some comments seem fair and others less so - but of course they may have been having a better or worse than usual night.

I will briefly mention Ro Campbell (pictured) who came second. He did a run-through of his set at my club the night before. He is correctly described as covering some fairly brave subject matters - abortion, rape, etc. And the comment reads "Very wrong, rather funny." which I think is unfair. Unlike a LOT of acts on the circuit Ro does not condone rape in his set, quite the opposite in fact. And his attitude to abortion is to condemn the hippocracy of those who oppose it so vehemently. My response when he was at my club was "Very right, very funny". Sadly he lives in Glasgow so it may be a while before you get the chance to see him again in London but whenever he is back we will be begging him to come and play Soho Comedy Club so let me know if you want to go on the mailing list!

But here's the thing about the review that really made me sit up. And it's an act I haven't seen so I can't comment on the act - only the review. "Craig Murray ... was happy to play along with Northern typecasting as vegetarian- and gay-averse." Can anyone tell me the difference between "homophobic" and "gay-averse"? I don't know whether the actual material is homophobic or whether he is in fact reflecting critically on character traits he sees in himself or those around him. I just have a rather visceral negative reaction to the use of the term "gay-averse", because it seems to be trivialising a very real cultural problem.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quick Link: Alpha Female

This is from back in December but I thought it was interesting - a discussion of the media paranoia about so-called "Alpha Females". It rang a bell with me because Chortle (one of the biggest comedy websites around) reviewed me last year when I was in the Hackney Empire final and said "she was funny ... [but] ... I sympathised with the underdog rather than Kate’s alpha female". I wonder how much criticism a confident male performer like Chris Rock or Al Murray gets for being an "Alpha Male"? Answers on a miniature postcard please.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Having a Hoot

Nikolai Grushevski is either a nutter trying to grab five minutes of fame or he might just be the most exciting new feminist on the block. He's taking Hooter's - the restaurant chain that serves objectification of women as well as disgusting food - to court because they won't give him a job.

I guess I've wondered several times whether Hooter's couldn't be effectively brought down from the inside by a series of cases like these. Would be really interesting to see if older women or disabled women could also sue over the restrictive employment policy.

Sadly we live in a culture where misogyny is so rife that even supposedly young and trendy, right-on news sources like Current TV where I found this article feel the need to add remarks like this "Thankfully, the lawsuit says that Grushevski isn't trying to stop the restaurant from hiring Hooters Girls." So don't worry, even if he wins you'll still be able to eat gross food and stare at women in tight T-shirts and tiny shorts.

And of course the comments are even worse: one says "no dude wants to sit down expecting a hot chick to come up and then get a dude waiter at a suggestively-themed restaurant". Which may be true but I can think of at least one "hot chick" - me - who would really love to be a fly on the wall and watch that scene! Go Nikolai!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sex and the Classroom

Seems that suddenly sexual harassment and sexist bullying in schools is being taken seriously in some quarters. I hadn't really thought about it until now, at that age I was rather preoccupied dealing with the abuse I was getting at home (which I'm sure made me an easy target, but so what what - easy targets deserve to be bullied no more than anyone else). But thinking back sexual harassment happened a lot when I was at school. When I was about 12 I remember boys in my class making sexual remarks to me and pretending they were aroused by me as a way of teasing me. At 13 I had moved on to upper school and there was a boy, older than me who sometimes followed me around and grabbed my bum. When I turned on him and demanded he stop he denied that he was doing it and ridiculed me for "thinking he might fancy me" (I didn't - I thought he was trying to upset me). Like Cath I told no-one. I was far too embarrassed about it - but also I didn't know it even really counted as bullying and I certainly didn't know that anyone would deal with it without humiliating me in the process.

And sexist bullying - well it's hard to know what was sexist and what was just "regular" bullying but certainly it was a fairly constant feature of school for me. Getting punched and kicked and pushed around and screamed at by boys was what happened at school. I was bullied a bit by girls too so it's hard to draw a line but of the four bullies I remember the most vividly, three were boys.

Some of the stories coming out in the documentary and recent surveys do seem to me to suggest the problem is growing and I can't help thinking of course it's growing - school boys these days have access to Lad Mags, to internet porn and to a much wider standard of sexism in the media. Hey if Jonathan Ross and Jeremy Clarkson do it on national TV - why can't I?

Photo by Ian Britton from

Monday, January 05, 2009

And I Should Have Blogged This Earlier But...

...I'm on tonight (Sunday US time) at the Comedy Store in L.A. - upstairs in the Belly Room, doors 8pm, show 8.30pm $5/two drink minimum. See you there.

Guess Which Paper...

...ran today with the headline 'Sex Clinics "To Open" In EVERY School So Pupils As Young As 11 Can Be Tested...Without Parental Consent'? Ten points if you said the Daily Mail. And minus ten points for having ever read it.

Now firstly how can you have a headline with the words "to open" in inverted commas. Either they're going to open or they're not. When they use inverted commas it's a good guess they're not!

Secondly a third of secondary schools already have an onsite clinic which is able to offer sexual health services like contraception and pregnancy testing. So really the headline should be 'Inequality In Provision Of Health Service To Young People "To End"'.

Thirdly all young people are supposed to be able to access these services. They are provided on the NHS at your nearest appropriate clinic. This issue is the inconvenience of having to travel to access these services, especially for young people who may have to rely on others for transport.

Fourthly if children as young as 11 need sexual health services we should DEFINITELY provide them. I think that's obvious.

Fifthly children who have a good relationship with their parents will turn to them when they are worried about sexual matters and sexual health matters. The average pregnant eleven-year-old probably doesn't have the best relationship with their parents. And of course no mention is made of children whose parents (a) would harm their children if they knew they were sexually active, (b) are not interested in their children and wouldn't bother to help them seek out the services they need or (c) are simply not there and their children are fending for themselves or in the care of the state.

But far be it from the Mail to be reasonable about the issue. Instead they quote the crazy comments of the researchers at the National Children's Bureau "Not all young people will need to use a sexual health service at school age, but providing a service in school is the best way of making sure that those young people who need the service can use it.". Does anyone really not get that?

Lets hear instead from anti-sex campaigner Norman Wells: "The fact that these clinics keep parents in the dark is also a great concern. Confidentiality policies drive a wedge between parents and children and expose young people to the risk of abuse and disease."

Now lets remember that 99% of sexual abuse of young people happens IN THE FAMILY - surely offering services confidentially from parents will reduce the risk of abuse by empowering young people to understand what is going on and seek help to stop it. And providing contraception also reduces the risk of disease...

Well I could go on all day. I just believe young people have a right to know how their bodies work and make their own choices. Young people respond poorly to an abstinence-only program because it's based on lies. Sex is not immoral.