Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Finally, Finally, Finally!

The "one and other" team have restored the video footage of my hour on the Fourth Plinth art project as the world's first living art forgery! For more info about what I did and why go and have a read here. And to see (at last!) the footage of me up there doing it take a look here.

My Blog, My Rules

Right - I am sorry it has come to this but I am now switching ON comment moderation so your comments will not appear on my blog until I have read them. I've resisted doing this for a long time because I find most comments are reasonable and considered, the occassional one or two that weren't I would delete when I noticed them.

This last week I did exactly that - I spotted a comment I was not prepared to leave up and I took it down. Suddenly I had a barrage of comments demanding to know why I had removed it, including from people who I had specifically asked not to comment on my blog any more. Among the wilder accusations were that I was failing to provide an "open forum" and "What is the point of having a blog in which only your views can be aired?". Well the simple answer is - it's my blog - the whole point of it is that my views can be aired. Many blogs don't allow comments at all and even more moderate comments as I'm going to. Anyone can have a blog - go right ahead, set your own up and fill it with whatever the hell piffle you like.

I often leave up comments that I disagree with. I often respond to points made. I plan to continue to allow comments of all kinds. However the following will not be allowed - so you know:

1) Offensive remarks about specific people/groups. This includes sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and classism and nasty unjustified personal attacks on individuals or organisations. Obviously.

2) Lies and distortions.

3) De-railing. If I'm writing about violence against women and you want to know why I haven't mentioned violence against men I can only say THE CLUE WAS IN THE TITLE! Why not ring up the cats protection league and demand to know why they don't help dogs? I have better things to do.

4) Blatant attempts at advertising (unless it's for cool stuff - e.g. new ace feminist blogs or events - that I am happy to promote).

5) Whatever the hell else shows up that I don't want to publish. For instance totally reasonable considered intelligent comments from people who I have asked not to comment here.

So my apologies to all my commenters who want to say reasonable things. I will try to approve your remarks as quickly as I can. Perhaps in a few months I will be able to remove this restriction if it scares away those who are causing the problem. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Am I Angry?

Last night's BBC4 documentary about the rise of modern feminism (in which I featured several times) was annoying for a number of reasons (but also excellent in other ways and definitely worth watching, which you can do here and at several points later this week on BBC TV).

One thing that I didn't like was how they kept asking the feminists they interviewed why they were so angry. As though feminism were a mental disorder. If I look at things like the 6% conviction rate for rape, the 20-30% pay gap, the pension and poverty gap, the 25% of British women who experience domestic violence in their lifetime I think how can anyone be calm? And think about this - the UK government doesn't recognise risk of female genital mutilation as a valid reason to offer asylum to women entering the UK so your tax money is actually being spent tracking girls down, imprisoning them and then forcing them on to planes to return send them to a place where they will be subjected to FGM. That's YOUR MONEY sending girls to have their CLITORISES CUT OFF. Why aren't you angry (director Vanessa Engle)? What is wrong with you?

And the notion that women "shouldn't" get angry about things is in itself sexist. When Jose Mourinho is on the sidelines of a football pitch screaming and swearing at the referee no-one asks why he's so angry. The conversation in the commentary box is usually about whether or not a penalty was the right decision. And football is a game, supposedly played for fun.

I should be angry about women's rights. You should be angry about women's rights. Vanessa Engle should be angry about women's rights. In fact I think Jose Mourhino should be angry about women's rights. A lot more than he is about some stupid penalty.

Why am I not surprised?

Apparently the new system for assessing those entitled to benefits due to disability has been telling triple-heart-bypass, terminal cancer patients that they should get off their lazy asses and get a job. The trouble is such an enormous amount of kicking and screaming is done whenever someone claims an extra £1.50 in benefit that in the panic to stop the odd dodgy guy claiming a few extra pence we are turfing the terminall ill out onto the streets.

Maybe next time it would make more sense to turn the tables for one and look at the levels of corporate fraud and tax evasion. Reclaiming some of that would have a much bigger impact on the economy and wouldn't involved tipping over wheelchairs (metaphorically ... for now). And the Tories were the ones who replaced Invalidity Benefit with the much cheaper Incapacity Benefit so there's no point them pretending they'd be any better.

Me me me (and LFN) on the BBC!

Tonight's documentary "Women: activists" is pretty much all about London Feminist Network. There are certainly things about it I thought were naff - like the persistant search for why on earth we would all be so dreafully angry (like a 6% rape conviction rate wasn't enough...) and the rather weird insistance on finding out what everybody's mother thought about them being so frightully political. But that said LFN is a great story, an on-going success story. Even since the film was made the law about lap-dancing is changing, the law about prostitution is changing, the stuff we're campaigning for is happening. And at the end of it you just can't keep a great story (or a great organisation) down. So do watch it (for the next ten days or whatever online and laso repeasted on the BBC several times this week). I am featured a lot, starting about 25mins in.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Me 'n' Stringy Again

So I was on BBC Five Live last night and rather than offer some common or garden misogynist for me to argue with (Lynette Burrows, Toby Young), I had the chance to trade blows with none other than slimy uber-creep Peter Stringfellow (pictured). I have debated him once before on BBC Leeds but this was the first time I had a change to do so on a national station. We were discussing porn and he was losing. You have seven days to hear it again (click here, click listen again to the 13th Mar Stephen Nolan show and then fast forward to an hour and ten minutes in). Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shortest Book Review Ever

I received and read my preview copy of this ages and ages ago now and I've been plugging it to everyone and just realised I haven't actually written a proper review of it. To be honest I'm not sure I need to. But here is is:

The Equality Illusion by Kat Banyard is a book we've needed in Britain for a long time. It's a book you'll want to buy in bulk and distribute to your friends and family. It explains with both statistical facts and heart-breaking, sickening case studies just how bad the gender divide is in the UK today and how in many areas things are actually getting better, not worse. You can (and should) buy it here.

Reasons Not To Let Your Kids Play Grand Theft Auto

Warning - this could definitely be triggering. And frightening.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dear The Economist

I was delighted - at first - to see you providing coverage of the dreadful pattern of female infanticide around the world. I found the opening three paragraphs naturally moving...

"XINRAN XUE, a Chinese writer, describes visiting a peasant family in the Yimeng area of Shandong province. The wife was giving birth. “We had scarcely sat down in the kitchen”, she writes (see article), “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door…The cries from the inner room grew louder—and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly: ‘Useless thing!’

Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” Miss Xinran remembers. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slops pail! I nearly threw myself at it, but the two policemen [who had accompanied me] held my shoulders in a firm grip. ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’

‘But that’s...murder...and you’re the police!’ The little foot was still now. The policemen held on to me for a few more minutes. ‘Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here,’ [an] older woman said comfortingly. ‘That’s a living child,’ I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. ‘It’s not a child,’ she corrected me. ‘It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it. Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son. Girl babies don’t count.’"

But do you seriously not understand what is wrong with paragraph four:

"In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) showed what can happen to a country when girl babies don’t count. Within ten years, the academy said, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women—a figure unprecedented in a country at peace."

The worst consequence of female infanticide you can come up with is that male children won't have anything to marry? Quelle disastre!! What will they poke their penises in to? What will clean their toilets and prepare their dinner? Let's hope the robot-makers are prepared to work overtime... Vomit.

Totally Unauthorised Guest Post

Just spotted this on Facebook from James Ross of Better Living Through Comedy fame...

Dear BBC,

Do you think that the fact a chap caught with ricin in a jam jar was a white supremacist is:
a) very important. In fact, central to the story.
b) somewhat important. Let's give it a good level of prominence.
c) neither important nor unimportant. Let's at least mention it though, some people might find it interesting.
d) somewhat unimportant. But hey, let's mention it, we've got a whole page to fill.
e) not at all important. How could a motive be relevant to a crime? I, for one, have no idea.

The BBC story. The full story.

FFS! It's not as if keeping details of white racist terror plots off your website is likely to win Murdoch and the middle-market press round to your side! Pay attention!

Good spot James!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Don't Vote Tory

I know the other choices are bad but - not this bad!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Vile, Vile, Vile: Compare and Contrast

BBC Online coverage of the jailing of Gail Sherwood on charges of making false rape allegations.

The full story from Women Against Rape.

May I State The Obvious?

Fact 1: Gavin and Stacey (written by James Cordon and Ruth Jones) was a big hit as a TV series and received critical acclaim (Deborah Orr said "amiable, unpretentious, well-scripted, nicely acted and archly amusing"), won awards (including a Bafta, a National Television Award and a British Comedy Award) and pretty much everyone I know thinks it's really funny.

Fact 2: When James Cordon and Matthew Horne wrote a film (Lesbian Vampire Killers) it was a flop, panned by the critics (The Times called it an "instantly forgettable lads' mag farce") and everyone I know thinks it's dreadful (including a friend of mine who was IN it!).

Fact 3: When James Cordon and Matthew Horne wrote a sketch show (Horne & Cordon) it was a flop, panned by the critics (The Guardian wrote "Never has a three-minute sketch felt so long, and the joke inevitably comes down to the fact that James Corden is fat and is happy to show us his wobbly bits. Or one of them gets his arse out.") and everyone I know thinks it's dreadful (including James Cordon himself!).

So let me stick my neck out here and say something radical. Maybe the talented one was Ruth Jones (pictured). Yes I know - pretty shocking stuff eh? I mean she doesn't even have a penis! Lets see if she's working on anything new we could put on TV of an evening huh?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Anna vs The Lads

Want to watch a lad mag editor squirm? Go on, you know you want to... This is so great! Anna from OBJECT takes some monster dickhead apart:

Melanie Phillips line-by-line...

Melanie Phillips is a genius. When you're faced with a real problem often there are different choices about the best way to tackle it. Different approaches may have different merits associated with them. It takes a real genius though to come up with a suggestion that has no merits whatsoever and is so terrifyingly awful that no-one would dream of taking it seriously. Here's what I mean...

Here's my radical cure for the epidemic of single mothers... pay men to commit to their families

Yes lets pay men to do something they should be doing anyway. Why not pay men to shave and have a wank too!

"Once again, the alarm is being sounded over family disintegration and the apparently unstoppable rise of lone parenthood and mass fatherlessness. Support for marriage looks set to become an election issue."

Yes the alarm bell is being sounded Melanie - by you. Everyone else is a bit more concerned about the illegal wars we're in, the recession, poverty...

"The Catholic Church is publishing a report this week urging people to consider marriage and the family when deciding where to place their vote. The issue could not be more urgent."

Melanie this is not a Catholic country. If we are to follow the Catholic Church's teachings we will also have to, as a nation, accept transubstantiation. I am out of this move.

"Devastating new research by sociologist Geoff Dench shows that not only is one in four mothers single, but more than half of such mothers have never lived with a man at all and are choosing to live alone on state benefits."

How does never having lived with a man show that a mother is choosing to live on state benefits? What it shows is that the father of her child has never lived with her. Maybe she was raped. Should she then have moved in with the rapist? Maybe she is a lesbian. Are lesbians forbidden from getting pregnant in your world? Actually don't answer that.... Maybe she prefersto live alone because she doesn't know any suitable, available men who she thinks would be a positive influence on her child. Some of these teenage mothers are actually too young to legally move in with a guy anyway!

"They believe they have no need for a man in their life and that their children have no need for a father."

Perhaps they're right. Where is the evidence that children "need" a man living in the house? I've seen evidence that two-parent families offer greater financial stability to a child (obviously, given how paltry single parent benefits are) but the only parenting evidence seems to suggest the best model (only by a fraction) is lesbian partners.

"The founding premise of the Government's £280million sex education strategy - that young mums get pregnant through ignorance - is thus very far from the truth."

I don't remember the government saying this but I know teenage mums who got pregnant because they didn't think contraception worked. I personally think a far bigger problem is lack of opportunities. We need to give young women living in poverty the opportunity to go to college. Like cutting tuition fees and quality access programmes.

"It is, therefore, hardly surprising that Britain still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe."

We also have (second to Poland) the least amount of compulsory sex ed in schools. Co-incidence? No.

"In the light of this deeply troubling record, eyebrows were raised at the weekend by prize-winning author Hilary Mantel, who claimed that girls are ready to have babies when they are 14 years old."

Well biologically THEY ARE. I think some teenage girls are surprisingly smart and sensible. But if we think teenage girls aren't ready for children we should (a) enforce the law on statutory rape - someone is fucking our kids!! and (b) make contraception and abortion widely and easily available to young girls so they have the freedom to choose not to be mothers if they don't want to.

"With so much flailing around over the family, I have a modest proposal to help break through the confusion. It is that the Government should introduce a Man Benefit."

So which societal group spends the most on drink, drugs, gambling, prostitution and abandoning their family to go off and watch football? Lets give them more money... that'll help the family. Also poking this pen in my eye will probably cure my short-sightedness right?

"Before people assume that I have confused today's date with this time next month, let me say that my somewhat light-hearted proposal is based on a deeper point that I believe has been generally overlooked."

No confusion here Melanie, if it was a joke it would be funny.

"This is that the most important force behind elective lone parenthood is not ' feckless' men, but the attitude of women and girls."

'Elective' lone parenthood is a pretty meaningless concept. I think most people would like to share their life and family with another person provided that person was the right person. Those who chose to parent alone are in my experience exclusively those who don't know such a person. So if you don't want to live with an abuser or a rapist - is that elective? What if you don't want to live with an alcohol or drug abuser who you fear may turn violent? What if you don't want to live with someone who is involved in crime? Or someone who is prone to anger and shouting or to belittling you and behaving unreasonably, someone who refuses to do their share as a parent, someone who spends more time out with their mates than with the family, someone who tries to indoctrinate your child with views you don't share or who insists you send the child to a school or church of their choosing... Who exactly is electing and who exactly is choosing "no partner" rather than "unsuitable partner"?

"It is the way they think about their interests which drives the pattern of relationships between the sexes. And they have simply changed their opinion of where their interests lie. "

Really - better tell that to the two women a week killed by their intimate partners. guess they must be thinking about their interest wrong huh?

"Back in the mists of time before the Pill, all-women short-lists and Harriet Harman, relationships between men and women were based on a bargain between the sexes which, although never stated openly, everyone accepted as a given."

Back in the mists of time women were considered the chattels (property) of their husbands, 'witches' were burnt at the stake and half the country had the plague. This doesn't mean it was good.

"Women realised they needed the father of their children to stick around to help bring them up."

Actually it's more like the mothers of illegitimate children were persecuted to the point of death in many cases.

"In turn, men committed themselves to the mothers of their children on the basis that they could trust they were indeed the father because the woman was sexually faithful."

Yes Harriet Harman invented infidelity. The 21st century is THE FIRST time in the history of humanity that a man can actually be 100% certain that a child is his. Few men seem in a hurry to prove they are fathers - many more are in a hurry to prove they're not and thus shake off the responsibility involved.

"Today, this bargain has been all but destroyed. A number of factors have conspired to make women and girls think they can go it alone without men. The first has been that so many women work and are therefore economically independent."

Ah that's it - women working - that's the root of all evil isn't it? Did Harriet Harman invent that too?

"Next was the sexual revolution which saw women becoming as sexually free as men."

Men cannot EVER have been having more sex than women unless they were all gay.

"In short order, any stigma over having babies out of wedlock was abolished."

Yes there's no stigma left about illegitimate children is there - except of course the stuff coming out of your mouth Melanie.

"Then there was the collapse of manufacturing industry, which deprived many boys of the job prospects which once made them an attractive, marriageable proposition."

And it was only men who worked in manufacturing? Nothing turns me on like a guy saying "I screw the lids on toothpaste jars all day".

"Finally, the coup de grace was administered by welfare benefits to single mothers which enabled them to live without the support of their babies' fathers."

Yes we should have just left single mothers to die on the street, shouldn't we?

"The result of all this was that many women and girls decided they no longer needed their children's fathers to be part of the family unit."

Great - they no longer NEEDED these men there, which meant they could still CHOOSE to have these men around. Also it meant that those women whose partners left them and their children didn't die of starvation.

"Today, this bargain has been all but destroyed. A number of factors have conspired to make women and girls think they can go it alone without men. This has given rise to an increasing number of women-only households where fathers have been written out of the family script for three or four generations or more."

It wasn't a bargain, it was women being held hostage by financial circumstances to stay with men whether they liked them or not and even whether their own lives and those of their children were put at risk by them or not.

"The consequences of such family disintegration - as is now indisputable - are in general catastrophic for both individuals and for society."

Show me one piece of evidence that shows that the benefits of a two-parent family cannot be largely explained financially? And how exactly is forcing women to live with guys they don't want to good for society? Is the worth of a society directly proportional to female misery?

"This problem will not be cracked, however, unless women come to believe once again that their interests lie in attracting one man to father their children and then stick with them. Which is where my proposal of a Man Benefit comes in."

I think to convince women that their interests lie in living with a guy we should maybe start by tackling domestic violence...

"At a meeting last week of the Centre for Policy Studies to discuss Dench's research, the veteran anti-poverty campaigner Frank Field came up with an inventive suggestion to counter the catastrophic impact of joblessness among young men at the bottom of the heap."

How about creating more jobs? Seems like an obvious choice...

"He suggested that the state should pay a dowry to couples who undertook to stay together, and that this dowry should be paid to the girl in such a relationship."

Lets bribe people to stay in relationships that aren't working. This will not have any negative consequences...

"It seemed to me, though, that girls already have a kind of dowry in the form of Child Benefit, paid to mothers on the birth of every child - a dowry with a destructive effect. For the great unsayable is that Child Benefit acts as a huge incentive to have children outside marriage."

Actually child benefit is paid to the parent who takes responsibility for the child. If should act as an incentive to encourage people to take care of their children. Actually very very rude here to ignore the many men who do raise children alone.

"When it was introduced in the Seventies, it replaced child tax allowances, which were set against the earned income of fathers. It was, therefore, hailed as a transfer of family income 'from wallet to purse'."

It was about getting the money where it was most likely to directly benefit the child - major research showed giving it to the primary caregiver was the best option. Where is the research showing this is no longer true? Or did you make it up Melanie?

"This was considered a great advance, on the grounds that men were universally irresponsible and would spend any welfare money on drink, while women were entirely responsible and would spend it as intended on the needs of their children. But the greatest need children have is for their two parents to bring them up."

Yes the number one thing kids need is a drunk bloke stumbling in at 2am and passing out on the kitchen floor. This is well known.

"And what few anticipated was that, along with the impact of all the other social and economic changes, some women used Child Benefit to help junk men altogether as superfluous to requirements."

Child benefit in case anyone was wondering isn't actually the same as being added to the civil list. No-one chooses to live on child benefit unless the other options are seriously undesirable. So this in fact means only that women who really don't want to remain with their partners are able to leave. As such it's vital to society. Yes society, Melanie, the thing the rest of us live in.

"Since marriage has always helped turn young men into responsible adults..."

Sadly not responsible enough to stop them murdering their partners twice a week. And anyway when exactly did it become the job of women to render men "responsible". Sort yourself out assholes and call us when you're done.

"... this marginalisation gave them a green light to be as irresponsible as they wanted - thus creating a vicious circle in which girls would dismiss these wastrel youths as a 'waste of space'."

So these dreadful girls would describe "wastrels" as a "waste of space". Isn't that the definition of wastrel?

"What's needed, therefore, is to help turn men once again into an attractive, marriageable proposition."

Sounds like a job for Gok Wan!

"The most important thing they need is, of course, a job - which is why the policy of pushing lone mothers out to work is actually disastrous, particularly in areas of high unemployment."

Yes lets have mothers stuck home in poverty and give men access to subsidised jobs so they can choose whether to bring the money home to their families or to spend it on booze and gambling. How is this better than just giving the money direct to the people actually looking after the children?

"But welfare must stop reinforcing the idea that men are dispensable. The best way of underpinning marriage is probably through transferable tax allowances for married couples."

Darling, I've been meaning to ask you for some time. Would you consider sharing a transferrable tax allowance with me? This will SO work Melanie...

"But in addition, my modest proposal is that men who marry for the first time might be given a state 'dowry' to increase their worth to women."

Ha ha ha. Bring in dowries for men. It is April Fool's right? The next line is... Also when women die can we have their husbands burnt alive on a funeral pyre? That would help me to understand how firmly committed to their families these men are. It might also reduce the two women a week killed by their intimate partners sinc ethese would now effectively be suicide attacks.

"Such a Man Benefit would also send a powerful signal that men are not worthless creeps but are essential to family life - which would in turn help address their demoralisation and consequent irresponsible behaviour."

Yes if you had to pay me to marry a guy I'd think he was clearly a brilliant individual...

"The undoubted expense of such measures would be more than offset by reducing the astronomical cost to this country of family breakdown."

Any evidence for this? What about the increased cost of medical bills for all those women forced back to live with a guy whose violent to them? The extra murder enquiries - it could all add up.

"By themselves, of course, any such financial initiatives wouldn't stop the rot."

The rot?!! The rot!! What about the 6% rape conviction rate? The fact that 1 in 4 women is a victim of domestic violence in her life? How about stopping that "rot"?!

"The main drivers of family breakdown are cultural, not economic; they emanate, moreover, from the intelligentsia at the very top of society even though their worst victims are at the very bottom. It is those limousine liberals who developed the core idea behind the recalibration of women's interests - that equality meant women should behave in exactly the same way as men."

Yes ever since feminism I do piss standing up. Equality means women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. We are far from achieving it and yet what is evident is that even given those rights and opportunities women do not on the whole behave like men. We continue to dedicate more time to family and caring, we start less wars, we commit much much less crime...

"This would have appalled the earliest feminists..."

As would your article/career/existance...

"...who fought for votes for women on the basis that women stood for moral constraints that would civilise the public sphere."

No the sufragettes wanted votes for women because it was right and just.

"The irony is that, as a result of modern notions of gender equality, it is men who now need special help to restore the sexual bargain that will not just benefit the male sex but stop the degradation of women and family life that so threatens us all."

Poor poor men. All they've got is 19 out of 23 cabinet member, nearly half as much pay again, a fraction of the unpaid work, a 6% conviction rate if they rape. Yes they probably need government hand-outs right? How will we pay for these extra manefits? How about a special vagina tax...? Long live equality!