Saturday, July 31, 2010

Changing Times

By the way there is a feature about me and some other comics with interesting life stories going up to Edinburgh in todays (now yesterday's) edition of The Times. But I can't link to it cos their website now charges.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top Ten White Male Stand-Ups...

The Telegraph needs you to know who they are (well OK one of their top ten rising stars of comedy is a male-female double act, but ask yourself this: is that really good enough?). Makes you wonder why the rest of us bother...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Express Cru-Blog

I'm quoted (in my role as vice-chair of Abortion Rights) in today's Sunday Express. You can read it here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's So Liberating, Not Being A Feminist

Are you like me? Do you just hate having the vote and wish you could be excluded from education and the professional workplace, subjected to forced marriage and motherhood and violently attacked with impunity by men? What a fun bunch we are! Let's all meet for lunch, well those of us with permission to go outside on our own anyway, and read the Daily Male together!

Today's literary masterpiece (misspiece? missogynist crap?) is from one MISS Kelly Rose Bradford. Her point, in the face of the 6% rape conviction rate in the UK, is that she doesn't want to be called "Ms", she likes "Miss". Lets have a little line-by-line shall we, just for fun eh?

"This is quite straightforward: I am a Miss. I do not want to be addressed as Ms or have it as the only option (apart from Mrs or Mr) on forms."

Good for you - I have yet to see any forms that don't offer "Miss" as an option, though there are plenty without "Ms", and I have yet to hear anyone refuse to refer to someone as "Miss" when asked to. Should that become a problem though feel free to write "I'm not married" in big letters on your forehead.

"Miss sums me up wonderfully - it has connotations of youth and a footloose and fancy freeness. A Miss will have an impish smile and a head full of mischievous ideas,..."

Yes, that's actually half the problem - that impish smile and fancy freeness doesn't really say "C.E.O." to some people.

"...while the more staid Ms smacks of an arch-feminist devoid of fun and up for an argument."

Ewww icky no-fun feminists with their equal rights and their readyness to argue rather than put up with shit. Gosh I sure hope I'm not one of them.

"In any case, as an unmarried woman, I am a Miss."

Yes, you can look it up in any Victorian etiquette book. Also remember never to speak in public and never to refuse sex to your husband - after all - he's had a busy day. Why not dress in a fucking crinoline while you're at it!

"I have always been a Miss and, as far as I'm concerned, always will be. My stance causes outrage among my friends."

Really? It provokes mostly pity in me...

"One girlfriend - who tears up letters addressed to Miss and left her dental practice when its computer system refused to refer to her as Ms - thinks I should be addressing the issue of equality. She says I should be examining why women want to be called Ms rather than just dismissing it as a title used to cause provocation."

Good grief no. Examining women's reasons for making choices in their lives? Who does she think I am. I work for the Daily Male remember, my job is to keep it fluffy and submissive.

"Another claims it would be ridiculous for her to be a Miss at 48, especially as she's been married twice."

Yes because as you said "Miss" implies the impish smile and the footloose and fancy free air which she probably neither has nor wants.

"Yet I take untold pleasure in declaring myself a Miss at the age of almost 37. When 'Can I take your name, please?' is asked of me by receptionists and clerks, I proudly declare 'Miss Bradford', and immediately and firmly correct anyone who calls me otherwise."

No doubt when they ask "Would you like to vote in the election?" you proudly declare "Absolutely not!", "Would you like justice if you got raped?", "I would not!", "Would you like to be allowed to work as a journalist with a national paper?", "No way, Jose!"

"There's something endearing and fascinating about a Miss. Misses are characters, people you remember."

I hope that's not true - I'm already trying to blot you out.

"Age has nothing to do with it - could Miss Marple, Miss Havisham or Miss Ellie be retitled Ms? No, they would be entirely different."

Oh gosh Kelly, I hardly know how to tell you. They were all fictional characters. It's ok, you weren't to know. Have a biscuit.

"Misses run the gauntlet of femininity and female wiles: they are little girls in twirly frocks, beauty queens, the cunning and attractive Miss Scarlett in Cluedo and little old ladies with a mischievous glint in their eye and a longing for devilry."

Of course they're not Prime Ministers or Justices of the Peace or anything like that. But seriously - a "longing for devilry"?! I know your attitudes are medieval, why let that spread to your choice of language?

"Misses are the life and soul of the party, dancing and drinking champagne, while Ms stands dourly in the corner."

So Misses are binge-drinkers? I thought the Daily Male was against young women who drink too much. Next they will be mysteriously getting pregnant all on their own.

"I realise I am very much alone in my views. My friends declare the title outdated and sexist, a term designed to label and oppress women. Most are appalled that I choose to use it."

'How can you bear being called Miss?' asks my friend Sophie, her face screwed up with horror and incredulity.

'It's a horrid, sexist invasion of privacy. You can't tell if a man is married or single from his title, so why should you be able to intrude into a woman's privacy this way?'"

Go Sophie! Get out of that one Kelly...

"While I see her point, I don't entirely get it."

We know.

"I want people to know I am unmarried. I am single and proud of it."

Then tell them. Try using the words "I'm", "not" and "married".

"'But it's a gender issue,' says another friend, Jo. 'I am always Ms. It's not that I mind people knowing whether I'm married or not. I just resent the fact that women are defined by it, but men aren't.'"

So you like being defined as unmarried do you Kelly? If not explain yourself!

"Dislike of the title Miss can lead to extreme reactions. 'I filled in an online form as Mr the other day because it was closest to the missing Ms option,' my colleague Eve tells me. 'But I am much happier not using a title at all.'"

And that's an extreme reaction? No extreme would be finding the guy who created the form and head-butting him. Ticking "Mr" is a pretty minor reaction in my world.

"I asked my friends if they judged me on my preferred prefix - if they thought my use of it immediately held me open to exploitation, sexist behaviour or inequality. It seemed not.
'You are the exception,' my pal Lindsay told me, a resolute user of Ms despite officially being a Mrs. 'You are the person for whom the word Miss was invented and you will be Miss Kelly until you're 92 and on your sixth husband.'"

First up - the whole point of "Ms" is that it replaces both "Miss" and "Mrs". There is no point at all in your friend Lindsay using "Ms" if she then changes it to "Mrs" when she gets married. She's not "officially" a "Mrs" - she's a "Ms", always has been, always will be, get over it. And part of the problem with "Miss" is that you can't keep using it when you're on your sixth husband - you can only use it between husbands or you will get corrected by everyone in sight.

"Excellent. Exactly what I'm striving for. Like I said, Misses are characters, from Miss Brahms to Miss Moneypenny, Miss Potter to (Driving) Miss Daisy. And me: Kelly Rose Bradford (Miss)."

Again, again Kelly, I have to tell you - those other Misses are FICTIONAL. Where as you're not. I wish you were though.

And really sadly what hasn't been addressed in this piece - but ironically applies directly to Miss Bradford - is the issue of unmarried women with children. The judgement passed on those who openly call themselves "Miss" and have a child in tow is enormous. "Ms" offers huge advantages for mothers who wish to protect themselves and their children from stigma surrounding single parenthood. But no, if it makes you feel like "Driving Miss Daisy" then you stick with it. In fact why not change your name to Daisy and hire a Nicolas Cage lookalike to drive you round all day? Or you could live in the real world.

Footnote: When I wrote this I wanted to include a picture of Miss Bradford. And I found one which showed her with her son in the Express. Which seemed relevant since the fact that she has a son massively impacts her choice of "Miss" over "Ms" - by instantly (thought in my view totally unjustly) stigmatising said child with the negative prejudices of single motherhood. The picture didn't have any watermark on it or copyright written near it, and I know lots of other bloggers have used Express photos and as along as a link is provided back from the photo then nobody ever seems to have had a problem. Well I heard from Kelly and the photographer. She was furious that I should have published a photo of her son. Of course a photo she has already published in a national paper (which probably has a slightly higher readership than Cru-blog!). Anyway I have great sympathy with people who are wary of privacy issues around small children. Certainly if Miss Bradford were my mother I would want to play it down a bit! So I removed the picture (though you can go see it on the Express website here). But then I read a little further down and get this... Apparently I can use the photo if I want provided I pay a £500 fee. Mmm. Is that protecting your kid or pimping him out? I just can't tell.

Apparently she doesn't like the rest of my article either (colour me surprised). Apparently I'm quoting too much of her article. Honestly Kelly I wouldn't have if it weren't that ever single line is so deserving of my twisted sarcasm. I just had to... [Or to put it another way - no-one is reading my blog rather than buying the Daily Male]. Next time though rather than trying to charge me for photos of your kid or bully me in to retracting my article, why not just write some decent quality journalism in the first place?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Scandal When We Want It

Just made the mistake of leaving Come Dine With Me running on the TV. In case you've been lucky enough to miss it it's a show where each contestant throws a dinner party for the others and they score each other. One of the contestants was a Sri Lankan woman who made a traditional spicy meal. One of the other guests, a white working class guy, decided uninvited to go through the woman's drawers and found some decorative bangles which he promptly put on and came down to the dining room in. There's a good chance they have religious or family significance, and I would be really infuriated at the intrusion on my privacy, but the hostess, no doubt hoping to score well, graciously laughed along. Five minutes later this guy was a bit drunk and as dessert was being served he shouted "How about a kebab love?". He also described her several times as Indian.

Now personally although I think his behaviour is deeply inappropriate, I actually think that one of the most interesting things about reality TV is that it exposes how widespread attitudes like this are.

But more importantly, is this behaviour any better than that which led to Jade Goody being vilified on national TV? No, not really. So it seems we our media does react to racist behaviour but only when it suits them.

I see the trailer for the remainder of the series shows the same guy telling women contestants that he "does love a good pair!" and asking them "where are the melons?" and rather than questioning whether these are appropriate or could be seen as sexist - they are the "highlights" picked out to be shown in the trailer. No doubt the media will be suitably up in arms. Not.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Some Deeply Surprising Facts

Hello Trolls,

How lovely to hear from you. Here's some advice for trolling on the Cru-blog:

1) The blog is now moderated. I used to have a policy of letting you all post comments at will on the basis that you would eventually say something stupid enough to discredit yourself and also because I figured that in answering your "points" hopefully I was helping others out there understand the issues more clearly and deal with people like you they might be unfortunate enough to meet in real life. But of course one of you had to take it "too far" and start being extremely rude and vulgar about not just me but other people. You have only spoiled it for yourselves. But just to clarify - there is no point posting the same obnoxious comment over and over again. No, your "send" button is not broken - you are a fuckwit.

2) No I am not impinging on your right to "free speech". This is my blog. You may write whatever you wish on YOUR BLOG. I reserve my right not to bother reading it.

3) In answer to your charming questions: Yes my sex life is going very well thanks and no it is not limited to the visually impaired. You may move along now.

Love Cru

Real Men Read Robert Jensen


Monday, July 05, 2010

Cru Answers Back

I was on The Big Questions again yesterday. The first question I was answering was "Are women bishops more trouble than they're worth?", which is frankly an odd question. I'd think a better question would be "Why are there so many misogynists in the Church of England?". The second one I got in on was "Does Britain need more hugs?". I did feel that I didn't get as much chance to get my points across as I have on previous shows (the debate often seemed to be between fundamentalist Christians and moderate Christians) but I've had lots of positive feedback. So if you want to see what happened do take a peek here.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Threatened With Arrest

I wrote previously about the death of Sebastian Horsley, who I knew. Because I knew him I was paying attention to what the papers and other sources were saying about him. I suppose I had unthinkingly assumed his funeral would be a quiet nondescript affair. A cremation attended by close family. Of course I was very wrong. The funeral was announced widely as planned for St James' Church in Piccadilly (yes church - that would be the Church of England honouring the man who wrote, and never retracted or apologised for, these words: "I remember the first time I had sex - I still have the receipt. The girl was alive, as far as I could tell" and "I have slept with every nationality in every position in every country. From high-class call girls at £1,000 a pop to the meat-rack girls of Soho at £15, I have probably slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes, at a cost of £100,000.") and featuring an all-star cast of celebrity names: Stephen Fry giving a eulogy, Nick Cave, a member of the Clash. And, to me most sickeningly of all, his coffin was to be conveyed in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Soho. Oh and of course the whole thing was to be filmed for a documentary glamorising him and his life and death.

Well it put me to thinking about the other people in the prostitution industry, the ones who didn't inherit vast fortunes, or win big on the stock market as Sebastian did. The ones trafficked into the country, promised legitimate jobs that never appeared. The ones trapped on drugs and in a situation of poverty that leaves them with no choice but to endure night after night of gang-rape in every possible orifice (Sebastian bragged of being an "expert" on anal sex). The ones who try to escape or fight back and end up dead and rotting in some unmarked ditch. The children. The CHILDREN. The average age of entry into prostitution in the UK is 14. Based on the statistics he himself gave and the studied indifference he, by his own admission, practiced towards the sex workers he used and abused it is nothing short of fair to conclude in all likelihood Sebastian Horsley at some point paid to have sex with a woman who was in fact a child.

And it is not a matter of seeing the best in someone because they're dead - where were Stephen Fry and Nick Cave when Harold Shipman died? Being dead doesn't make you a nice person if you were a serial abuser before you died.

So I went and stood outside the church (silently and sombrely) with the sign pictured here. The reaction was interesting. The first person to approach me, who was a mourner, said I was making a brilliant point and she was glad I was doing it. Not long after however people started screaming at me. They were, I was reliably informed, offended and upset. Ironically that is exactly what I felt when I learnt that Horsley would be given this grossly indulgent funeral. Even more ironically having debated Sebastian on matters of porn and prostitution he always insisted he was an advocate of "free speech", no more so than when when a graphic column he wrote about anal sex was published in The Observer drawing large numbers of complaints from those offended and upset by it. I honestly believe he would have defended my right to express my views as I saw fit, and not the "rights" of anyone in the vicinity to not be offended or upset. One particularly aggressive woman loudly suggested to her friends that she would set fire to my sign. She came back (perhaps to do so, or to shout some more) but a security guard stepped in and protected me, saying he would prefer if I moved further away from the church but I was on the pavement so I had every right to be there. He then tried to stand in font of me so my sign could not be seen. So I held it over my (and his) head. From the start lots of people noticed the sign and read it and several photographers took pictures of me holding it.

Then a police officer came over and asked to speak to me. She told me I had to stop holding the sign and give them my details. I explained that since I wasn't in a motorised vehicle I didn't need to give my details unless I was being arrested in which case I would do so at the station to the superintendent there. She told me if I held up the sign again she would arrest me for harassment. I might have persisted but my fear was that the whole process of being arrested and at some point released, given a warning, whatever might happen, would take forever and well, frankly, I have a lot to do today (see me tonight as Super Sandra at Ariadne the Greek WAG's Comedy Bag).

So I abandoned ship and went home just as two beautiful horses arrived followed by the polished black funeral carriage draped in layers of sumptuous red velvet to convey into the historic church, lavishly decorated with sunflowers and a grand piano, the body of a man who bragged that he couldn't be bothered to check if the prostitute he was fucking was alive or not.