Poor Tam Cowan. The comedian – and, by all appearances, total knob – is the latest to fall victim to “the liberal elite” aka “the baying mob” aka “the media firing squad” aka [insert your own not-at-all hysterical synonym for ‘people who don’t agree with total knobs’]. Other victims include the Daily Mail, Page Three, smacking and private schools, those great British institutions which are constantly under attack from smug, privileged, obscenely powerful people who just don’t know the common man (at least, not in the way Boris Johnson or Paul Dacre do).

Cowan is in trouble – or, to use the words of Kevin McKenna, accused of “crimes against humanity” — because he wrote a pathetic, sexist little rant about women’s football. Because of this he is facing “a lynch mob” or, to use a slightly less tasteless expression from McKenna’s defence, facing one of the liberal elite’s regular “executions”. That’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? I mean, yes, he’s written a steaming pile of crap but surely he doesn’t deserve to die for it? Come on, metropolitan chattering classes, have a heart! (more…)

I wasn’t going to blog about the whole Daily Mail / Ralph Miliband saga because, well, I haven’t much to add to it. The Daily Mail is unremittingly awful and no one throws “the god of Deuteronomy“ into opinion pieces unless they’re aiming for anti-Semitic innuendo. The end. Except it isn’t because now it’s no longer about the reputations of the dead but the egos of the living.

It’s no longer enough to hate the Daily Mail. You have to be hated by it, and if not, you need to find a showy reason why actually, you’re even more righteous than the Daily Mail haters/hated. We’re defining ourselves by our relationship with a newspaper we’d rather didn’t exist. Is it just me or has it all become incredibly hard work? (more…)

Calling all B-list celebrity mental health monitors! Do you ever fear that when it comes to ex-Nickelodeon actress Amanda Bynes’ descent into her own personal hell, you might lose track of which entertainingly mad thing happened when? Then fear no more! For MTV has created Amanda Bynes: A Timeline of Her Troubles. Never again shall you fret over whether the being “kicked out of gymnastics class over talking to herself” came before the appearing in court “looking dishevelled in an ill-fitting blonde wig, sweatshirt and sweatpants”. At last someone’s taken the time to document it all, from the racist tweets to the involuntary psychiatric hold. Phew! Guess this means we can finally relax and get back to more serious tasks. Who’s up for placing bets on the next Z-list suicide attempt?

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Bynes fan. It’s not that I’ve never seen any of her films; who needs to? My main gripe is that I wish she’d done a bit more lashing out before getting carted off to the institution. Or perhaps if she’d self-harmed in public, that’d have been fine (providing we got pictures). This, after all, is what modern celebrity-watching is like. Waiting and hoping for famous people to implode, and then wallowing in faux concern. After all, these people need our armchair diagnoses, delivered via the Sidebar of Shame. How else would they cope?
(more…)

It would be interesting, if disheartening, to know how much time is spent debating the supposed “rights and wrongs” of rape, sexual assault and harrassment, as opposed to time spent supporting victims and educating potential perpetrators. I’d guess that it’s a lot. We don’t get that many pieces on why rape is bad because apparently that’s something we all know (all of us, that is, apart from the “nutters”, as Caitlin Moran would say). By contrast, there’s plenty of time spent picking over the supposed nuances, the grey areas, the “he said/she said” and whatever other flippantly offensive terms pop up whenever we’re sitting in judgement on those who make accusations (but rarely their accusers).
(more…)

Dear Liz Jones

Today you wrote a column about women like me, that is, middle-class women who became mothers in our 30s. Thank you. Usually no one ever pontificates about our lives, motivations, shriveled eggs, outrageous sense of entitlement when we’re out and about pushing a buggy the size of a 4×4 etc., so it makes a pleasant change. Nevertheless, while listing all of our flaws — and heaven knows, we late breeders have got them — there’s one you missed out. Yes, we might be selfish, overly obsessed with our offspring, fussy, flabby and over-tired, but do you know what else we are? Really fucking patronising. Therefore allow me, Liz, to patronise you. (more…)

“If working parents didn’t feel guilty enough about leaving their children at nursery, now new research has found …” starts the 1,00,695th Daily Mail article on the crapness of “working parents” (aka mothers in paid employment). Yes, fellow “working mums”, it’s our turn again. Just when you thought all eyes had been turned on stay-at-home mummy bloggers, it appears we’re back in the firing line. Bring it on! (more…)

Beneath my sharp, witty, so-damn-cool-you-wouldn’t-believe-I-had-kids exterior, I am a total mummy blogger at heart. Here are just some of the hot topics about which I’ve blogged:

When it comes to immersing oneself in a virtual “cupcake-scented world”, I’ve got it covered. All of which makes me just the kind of woman Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones would pity. (more…)

So we’ve finally started talking about how many of us don’t like Page 3, what with it marginalising women in general and female consumers of news media in particular. Great. Good for us. And while we’ve been busy doing that, the Telegraph has sneaked in and revamped the “women’s area” on its website. Called – I kid you not – Wonder Women, it claims to be “a new daily online section filled with sassy, irreverent and intelligent content about politics, business, family, life and sex”. To demonstrate the sass quotient, we get a series of headshots showing smiley, preened, young-ish female commentators, all of them vaguely reminiscent of The Day Today‘s Collaterlie Sisters. Wonderful. As a woman I just can’t handle my politics without that added bit of sass. (more…)

If you are an able-bodied politician or journalist who’s feeling left out during the Paralympics, don’t worry – there’s a competition just for you. It’s called “the most shameless way to exploit Paralympic achievements to promote self-serving right-wing arguments”, and it’s been going on since way before the Opening Ceremony. Competition is fierce, but don’t be shy – everyone’s having a go.

For instance, here’s Cristina Odone, writing about work capability assessments in the Telegraph on 30 July: (more…)

In 1987, the year in which the film Wish You Were Here? was released, I spent most of my time in a mental hospital. I was 12 years old and suffering from anorexia. For most of the summer and a good part of the autumn I was on on bed rest, intermittently awarded and denied “privileges” based on weight gained and lost. For several weeks I was denied visitors, phonecalls and reading material. Fortunately, one day I found a copy of 19 stuffed down the side of the bed. For a long time the magazine was all I had to look at, other than the carpet, the wall and the ceiling. So I read it again and again. (more…)

I am having a moral dilemma. Well, to be honest, it’s not much of a dilemma. I know I am doing something morally unacceptable. I’m just trying to work out how prepared I am to do something about it.

I do try to be good. Whatever else I might think about myself – that I’m unattractive, stupid, lazy – I would like to think I try to do the right thing. For years, however, I have attempted to convince myself that part of doing the right thing involves getting over-familiar those who do the wrong thing. And thus I’ve sought to justify endless hours spent reading hateful nonsense, both online and in hard copy. (more…)

When people do terrible things, it can be hard for external observers to understand why. While it’s easy to rush to judgement, it’s vital to take into account the context in which hateful acts are committed.

Perhaps we’ll never know what was going through the minds of Luke Salkeld, Andy Dolan, James Tozer and Jill Reilly when they decided, in response to the deaths of Ceri Fuller and his three children, to compose an article trawling through the Facebook status updates of the grieving mother left behind. (more…)

My car has a scratch in it. Not a little scratch, a big one. And the paneling around it is slightly dented. That in itself is bad enough, but do you know what? Of late I have been considering causing even greater damage. I have thought of arming myself a screwdriver and scratching the following into the paintwork above where the big scratch is:

See that big scratch? Well, if the person driving this car happens to be female, please note that she did not make it. It was her partner. Her partner who is male. And also a fuckwit when it comes to gateposts.

Moreover, that would not be a fib. It was my partner who made the big scratch. But I have yet to make the littler ones (I’m practising – it needs to be neat so it’s clear that I didn’t somehow write it by accident. Although the Daily Mail will still think I did). (more…)

So things got a bit heated between Ed Balls and George Osborne in the House of Commons yesterday. Well, when I say “a bit heated”, I mean only insofar as things ever get “a bit heated” in there. This is of course very different from things being “heated” in real life. For instance, whenever I have a genuine, heartfelt argument about things that can make or break other people’s lives, it’s all a bit stressful and sad. I don’t have an army of jovial ex-public schoolboys sitting, arms crossed, behind me, guffawing excessively at my latest clever riposte. But perhaps that’s because when I get het up about such things, whatever I say or do has no influence whatsoever anyhow. And besides, we can’t blame Osborne or Balls for acting like tactless, self-satisfied tossers. It’s not their fault; they’re at the mercy of their hormones. (more…)

Suri Cruise is six years old and very, very rich. My eldest child is nearly five and has but a few quid stored away in a lonely Child Trust Fund.* Neither of them have done a day’s work in their lives, but Suri Cruise is loaded and my son isn’t. Still, at least my child can have a tantrum in the Disney Store without the Daily Mail writing him off as a precocious brat from hell. (more…)

From the perspective of an arts scholar, I’ve long considered Back For Good to be one of the most hugely overrated songs in Take That’s back catalogue. There is one line in particular which I hold responsible: “Got your lipstick mark still on your coffee cup”. You hear it for the first time and think ooh, that’s poignant. It‘s those little things that remind him of what he’s lost. If, however, you listen to it enough times, you’ll come to the same conclusion I have. Lipcote was available in the mid-1990s. Failing that she could have just wiped it off with her finger, as any normal person would. Gary Barlow’s ex was just inconsiderate.

One thing I hadn’t considered before, though (until my partner pointed it out to me), was just how rubbish the song is by way of an apology:

Whatever I said, whatever I did, I didn’t mean it

I just want you back for good

(want you back, want you back)

See I want you back for good

Now as far as I understand it, a prerequisite for being sorry is knowing what you’ve done wrong in the first place. “Whatever I said, whatever I did”? What does that even mean? Is it “sleeping with a best mate” sorry, or just “not taking the rubbish out” sorry? These things actually matter. If you think you can just offer a blanket “sorry” (while making your self-serving motivations clear enough in the very next line), well, that’s not good enough. After all, if, potentially, you didn’t mean anything you said or did, does anything you say or do now mean anything also? What about the bit about wanting your ex back for good? Or even the bit about not meaning the bits before? It’s not quite the Cretan Liar Paradox, but we’re getting there. Crikey, the more I think about it, the more I’d be tempted to leave Max Factor on the crockery and get the hell out of there, too.

Before we leave it at that, though, I’ve found an apology that’s even more of an apology for an apology than that previous apology was. This time it’s not from Gary and the boys. It’s from ex-editor of Loaded Martin Daubney. This time it’s so bad it’s not even laughable. In fact, it’s made me really rather cross.

Daubney was the longest-serving editor of shit magazine Loaded, before he stepped down due to the magazine being sold, sorry, for moral reasons, back in July 2010. Since then he’s come to regret his involvement in peddling soft-porn misogyny and has given all of his ill-gotten gains to charity. Oh, hang on, he hasn’t done that. He’s sold his story to the Daily Mail (click on the link for the article, plus some tit-tastic Loaded covers included for illustrative purposes only i.e. wanking over them just wouldn’t be in the spirit of things). Anyhow, while what Daubney’s written for the Mail is an apology, turns out it’s not one for being a misogynist bastard. It’s an apology for sexual objectification, hardcore porn and rape. And since it’s in the Daily Mail and not in Loaded, it’s far more damaging this time because there are still people actually reading it.

Daubney’s “Loaded is shit” epiphany came, he claims, when his son was born (the magazine having dwindling sales is just a coincidence). Clearly, one needs to be a parent to have any empathy at all. Obviously, I was a right bitch, too, until the arrival of Eldest (if you’re reading this and you’re not a parent, well, I’m sorry; you can’t have any morals yet). Anyhow, prior to the arrival of Sonny, Daubney was a horrible person. I guess you have to be to edit Loaded. It’s not just the content and its crass objectification of women. It’s the editorial view of the clients:

The average Loaded reader — largely white, working class, 20-something blokes — had a simple palate, so we gave them what they wanted.

Ha ha! “Sitting around a boardroom table with six other university-educated men”, Daubney treated women like shit to produce shit to sell to men he viewed as shit. Wow. There’s an awful lot of shit there. But, not being a parent yet, he didn’t notice.

It’s not that no one tried to point this out to him:

Pretty soon, we were accused of being pornographic, and there wasn’t a month when a minor Lib Dem MP or feminist lobby group didn’t try to make a name for themselves by demanding we were placed on the top shelf, or banned altogether.

This is rather marvelous, isn’t it? Anyone who said Loaded was sexist at the time was clearly motivated by nothing more than nasty self-interest. This, remember, is being suggested in Daubney’s retraction of his former ways. How could he have known the damage he was doing when the only people who made a fuss had ulterior motives? You know how it is; the number of perks and bonuses that come with being a high-profile feminist, it all gets confusing. Just ask Andrea Dworkin (oh no, she’s dead. Was it the life of unremitting luxury that got to her?).

So how would having a child change all this for Daubney? Well, it enabled him to stop seeing women as mere objects; now he could see them as possessions and/or the objects of their own children’s gaze!

I started seeing the women in my magazine not as sexual objects, but as somebody’s daughter. Some of Loaded’s models had children themselves, and I’d think ‘what’s your kid going to think of you when they’re old enough to understand Mummy used to get her boobs out for a living?’

To think that the girls who posed for our magazine had once had their nappies changed, had once been taught to take their first steps and had once been full of childlike hope . . . it was almost heartbreaking.

To be honest, I find the whole “had their nappies changed” bit getting towards a whole new level of perviness, but I’d rather not get into it here. The basic point is, Daubney’s “transformation” has fuck all to do with starting to see women as people. As an anti-objectification message, it was already summed up in 1982, when The J. Geils Band released My Angel is the Centrefold (‘my blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold’ – I’ve actually posted about this song before, what with it being one of the worst in human history). This, pretty much, captures the whole of the Daily Mail anti-objectification message. It’s not because women deserve respect; it’s because these tits need saving for their rightful male owners.

And yet, this isn’t the worst of what Daubney is saying. Not by a long shot. Not only does he underplay the sheer nastiness of his magazine, he also overplays its influence, dreaming up a post-Loaded society in which hardcore porn is the norm and women are abused because hey, the poor men can’t help it. The real victims of Loaded are not, apparently, women, but the helpless boys who will grow up to assault them:

How will these tainted children be able to interact with real women later in life if the first ones they ‘meet’ are on-screen mannequins? By allowing children free access to pornographic images, the next generation of young men are becoming so desensitised, I genuinely fear we’re storing up an emotional time-bomb.

Porn objectifies women, demeans and cheapens them, because it sells a fantasy where men are always in control and get what they want.

But real life isn’t like that. In porn, women cry, ‘yes, yes, yes!’ but in real life, they often say, ‘no’. Not all men have the intelligence or moral fortitude to understand they cannot take what they want.

Fuck off, you useless, hateful man! Abusive, misogynistic porn is not all around us. Where we find it, feminists call it out (and not, you’d be surprised to know, to get some kind of status boost, or even the payment you’d get for your average Daily Mail article. Just because it’s, y’know, wrong). Not one of us shrugs our shoulders and says “crikey, since it’s this bad, looks like rape’s an inevitability and it won’t now be the perpetrator’s fault”. Not one of us talks about “an emotional time-bomb”, not least because many of us, like you, are parents of little boys. We don’t think of them as “tainted children”. We think of them as people and teach them that women are people, too.

How dare Martin Daubney overplay the power he had and misused. Sales of magazines such as the one he used to edit are falling rapidly. Hence we also see Terri White, former editor of Nuts, providing her own crappy (but less damaging) mea culpa in the Guardian. Why don’t they all piss off? There’s plenty of intelligent and committed people prepared to take on misogynistic porn for the right reasons. We don’t need Daubney, White and their two-faced apologies (although perhaps they do need the money now they’re no longer the top porn peddlers in town).

Gah! I am actually pretty fucking furious about this. Need to calm down a bit. Will think of Take That.

[5 mins "quiet time"]

Ah, yes, anyhow, another rubbish line in Back For Good is that one about how “we will never be uncommon again”. Has anyone, ever, used that phrase in real life? I also don’t like the bit about “in the twist of separation, you excelled at being free” as it makes me think of the eHarmony ads.

And you? Which bits of Back For Good irritate you most? On a scale of Shine to vaguely listenable, how bad is it really? And, most importantly, how much would you just want to explode if you ever came face to face with Martin Daubney?

PS And another thing: Gary Barlow doesn’t sing the song properly because I’ve now had two comments correcting my rendering of the first offending lyric (amendments duly made). Barlow needs to enunciate properly!

This weekend I found myself inadvertently starring in a film. Directed by Mike Leigh, “Jubilee” takes place over the course of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and it explores the lives of a couple whose own children were born around the time of the Silver Jubilee. The gritty realism of family life contrasts sharply with the red, white and blue jamboree shown via the living-room telly. There’s ironic tragi-comedy; for instance, my dad, a keen fisherman, is mourning the death of the garden goldfish due to accidental weedkiller poisoning. There’s bittersweet social embarassment; for instance, my disabled sibling tries to take everyone out for a meal but becomes hugely distressed when not everyone wants pudding. There’s also a complex exploration of intellectual snobbery/ prejudice; my mum wants to know why I think Snow White and the Huntsman is rubbish, given that the Daily Mail reviewer likes it. I tell her I disapprove of the gender politics and promptly look like a knob. It is, in short, a classic, a painfully accurate observation of social mores in 2012. Only it didn’t get filmed, if only because my mum isn’t Alison Steadman and my dad isn’t Timothy Spall.

I would, though, be a totally believable character/cariacature in one of these films. The daughter who leaves home and returns with her head full of posh words, too distracted by women’s rights and feminist theories to bother about disability and mundane goldfish disasters. It’s not quite true – I do, in fact, really feel for my dad, as he loved those sodding fish – but I can see it might be the way I appear. I don’t want to start explaining to my mum how and why Snow White is utter bollocks (I can always refer her to my 4,000 word review). But I sit there thinking “why am I so out of tune with you?” And also, in less charitable moments, “why is everyone else in this family so sodding stupid?”

Since seeing Snow White and the Huntsman I’ve looked at other reviews of the film, wondering whether, actually, it is just me. I’m not surprised to be in disagreement with the Daily Mail – it’s the least I expect – but surely everyone else can see what I see? Apparently not. Here, for instance, is what Grazia has to say:

Kristen’s Snow White is no shrinking wallflower. She gets her hands dirty, fights off monsters and leads an all-male army into battle. As ass-kicking princesses go, it’s an impressive performance. But it’s Charlize’s chilling turn as Queen Ravenna that’s got everyone talking.

This. to me, sounds like a completely different film. It sounds positively feminist (which I did suspect was the idea when the camera focused in on Stewart’s literally dirty fingernails – but why does Grazia fall for this crap?). And then the Guardian is not much better. The fact that Philip French is critical of the film, and clearly isn’t writing a promotional piece, makes the absence of any mention of misogyny all the more obvious (still, he does clear up the dwarf-counting issue – there were eight to begin with). But I read all this and I think, what is wrong with the world? Or what is wrong with me? How come I’m so at odds with the standard line? I thought feminism was meant to be all mainstream these days. And I also thought that, as far as feminism goes, I’m hardly what you’d call hardcore.

In The Future of Feminism, Sylvia Walby argues that “feminist demands may be be explicit or embedded, found in projects that are mainstreamed or not, intersecting with other projects or not. Feminism continues in new forms and new coalitions, even when it does not name itself ‘feminist’”. While I’m not sure I wholly agree with this, I see what she’s getting at. Perhaps you shouldn’t have to label yourself “a feminist” in order to achieve a feminist goal. But the trouble is, I’m starting to worry that in terms, at least, of popular culture (i.e. the frilly stuff that isn’t meant to matter so much but does), feminism isn’t concealed. It’s not just going by a different name on the basis that the word itself is all a bit uncool. It’s just not there at all.

On the internet I know that my perspective is distorted by the people and blogs I choose to follow. There’s the f-word! Feministing! Vagenda mag! The Guardian women’s bit! Plus loads of sodding brilliant individuals! Way-hey! And then there’s the Fawcett Society and Abortion Rights and lots of other organisations who, in the feverish fantasies of men’s rights activists, are mere seconds away from world domination. There’s all of this but what I can’t stop coming back to is the fact that there’s the Daily Mail. There’s still the Daily Mail, and it’s bigger than all these other things that I’ve mentioned. Way bigger.

In this month’s Glamour Caitlin Moran says she decided to write How To Be A Woman because “I thought no one had gone near feminism for 15 years”. I can’t help thinking this is incredibly insulting to all those women who’d spent the past 15 years actually being feminist activists and making a difference. I wouldn’t have thought writing for The Times would make you that isolated from the real world. But then again, how much is feminist activism part of most people’s “real world”? I mean, if you’re going to write a book on feminism, you ought to engage with it, at least a bit. But how much, practically, does anyone else?

Part of “consciousness raising” is accepting that feminism and women’s issues are low on other people’s radar, and that this needs to be addressed. But I kind of expect them to be higher than they are. And when I find they’re not, I want to get all shouty and go “what the hell’s wrong with you? Are you all, like, thick, or something?” As far as consciousness raising goes, this is probably not the best course of action. Still, it would be good to get it out of my system.

And I probably will one day. During a dinner party, in a film called “Coronation”.

In terms of both attacking the whole of womankind and of making individual women feel utterly worthless, the Daily Mail has, to put it mildly, got some serious form. I first became aware of this in 1993, upon arrival at university. I was eighteen years old, shy, a self-identified feminist but with no self-esteem to speak of. Our Junior Common Room received every newspaper going, but I’d always gravitate towards the Mail, if only for two reasons: 1) it didn’t feature topless women (or at least, not as a daily feature), and b) it wasn’t a massive broadsheet (back then, you couldn’t get the Guardian or the Independent in a half-way readable format and I was too self-conscious to sit alongside other students struggling beneath a newspaper the size of Helvellyn).

In the early nineties the Daily Mail was obsessed with the new “trend” of “date rape”, or, rather, the new “trend” of young women “crying rape” just for the sheer hell of it. Of course, it’s not a new trend at all; we women have always been “crying rape”, often when people have forced us to have sex against our wills. Anyhow, twenty years ago the main victims of this rape-crying epidemic appeared to be poor male students. I remember two cases in particular. One involved a female student who’d claimed she’d been raped despite the fact that someone had pinned a sign saying “slag of the year” on her door. To read the Mail, you’d think this was all the proof anyone needed that she was a liar. The “slag of the year” sign! Must be true! The other case involved a young man who was acquitted of rape, then posed for a multi-page feature with two “female companions” kissing him on either cheek as he explained how he was great with the ladies and that raping them was so not his style.* I don’t know the truth about these cases. I only know how reading these stories made me feel, in a place far from home, a place dominated, both numerically and socially, by male students (one of whom drunkenly broke into my room in the first week).** It didn’t make me feel outraged; it made me feel really bloody terrified.

These days I’m not scared of the Mail. What’s the worst that can happen? So I get raped, beaten, old, ugly, discriminated against, told I’m useless. World, do your worst. The Daily Mail itself is a mere backdrop to this, the muzak in the lift that moves between levels of genuine hate. To a large extent, I don’t believe in the Mail any more.

What has happened between then and now? Why could it frighten me then, but now leave me unmoved? Part of the reason is that I’m older, and no longer live in a dodgy hall of residence with doors that don’t lock properly, surrounded by men whose hormonal impulses could be used to justify anything and everything. But that’s not all. The other reason is that I think the Mail is not what it used to be. It’s gone beyond itself, beyond parody. The logical response to it is not to feel fear; it is, quite simply, to laugh.

Let us now examine the features in today’s Femail, right now, on Friday 25th May 2012:

  • piece on why women today are too fat because they don’t do enough housework (illustrated by 1950s women doing the hoovering vs 2012 woman lying on sofa eating chocolate – yay! go 2012 woman!)
  • Olympic volleyball team strike a pose in bikini and briefs (although if you ask me it does look a bit nippy out – I’d recommend a nice cardi)
  • ‘What went wrong when I let my boyfriend cheat three nights a week’ (Really? I can’t possibly think what could go wrong with that. After all, you did get that article published)
  • Toe curling tootsies: Jennifer Aniston’s feet are veiny, Kate Moss’s have a serious deformity and Penelope Cruz’s need surgery! (still, let’s hope having crap feet keeps Jen’s mind off being a barren failure of a woman)
  • Can corsets ever be comfy? (no)
  • ‘It is not my job to create something comfortable’ (i.e. Christian Louboutin basically admits he’s shit at designing shoes)
  • What pregnancy did to our bodies: Six brave women reveal the toll having a baby has taken on their figures (interesting definition of ‘brave’, eh? Reveal your perfectly acceptable self in the one place it’ll be deemed ugly as hell. I think the word we’re looking for is ‘fuckwitted’)
  • Amanda Platell on why women over 40 shouldn’t be offered IVF because they’ve just been pissing about having careers and stuff, and it’s about time they realised life’s not all fun and games (for some reason this piece is illustrated by a photo of Amanda posing seductively in a red dress. Is there a message regarding Special K somewhere in there? How come I’ve missed it?)
  • Dating at 38? Men will run a mile vs How women over 30 are more likely to have sex on a first date (so what is it? Is life for us over 30s shag-central or not? Or are we all shagging fellow women while the men continue running that mile? Anyhow, all sounds cool to me)
  • How almost 70% of women would sacrifice sex for the perfect bikini body (i.e. shocking indictment of men’s sex skills / tremendous endorsement of women’s wanking skills. Gotta be one of these, because let’s face it, who can be all that arsed about wearing a bikini?)

I could go on. Let’s face it, all of this is hateful, but it’s also laughable. Is it possible to get upset by this any longer? Don’t we all suspect, deep down, that the Daily Mail has been infiltrated by a feminist network, headed up by the amazing Samantha Brick, and utterly intent on causing the whole thing to implode, leaving only rubble, bile and desperate mocking laughter? I’ve long wondered whether this could be the case, but the Samantha Brick affair has convinced me of it. Samantha is not a person; she is a figurehead, a focal point upon which everything converges. All she has to do is say the word, and the whole edifice will come crumbling down. If she didn’t exist we’d have to invent her. But she does and we don’t!

There was no Samantha Brick in 1993. Only the “slag of the year”, whose face you never, ever saw. Ladies, the time has come to say that perhaps we’re moving forwards. Perhaps it’s not all bad, and perhaps some small victory is within our grasp. Samantha, we’re counting on you.

* You often hear it being claimed that merely being accused of rape is the worst thing that can happen to a man. Good job they’re able to get over it. Strangely, I’ve never seen a rape victim posing triumphantly with her “male companions” following the conviction of her attacker. Isn’t it about time these victims lightened up a bit?

** The room break-in was not the start of an attack, at least not on me. The student was midway through a row with his girlfriend and had got the wrong room. Perhaps looking for something to say he asked me for a piece of paper and a pen. I don’t know what he did with them – maybe he wrote “slag of the year” on her door, shortly before kicking it in.

Hey, anyone up for a game of “judge the abortion”? Excellent! Let’s go!

Which of the following women should not really have been allowed to exercise her fundamental “right” to choose:

  1. a rape victim
  2. an educated, middle-class woman in a stable marriage who already has one child

So, which of these did you go for? If you chose neither, then congratulations: you are in possession of some basic human empathy! If you chose 2, then don’t worry; we just need to work on your understanding of the word “choice”. And possibly also “person”. If you chose 1, then you are Bel Mooney. Hey, hiya Bel! Been writing any cold-hearted diatribes for the Daily Mail of late? What’s that? You did one only yesterday? Hey, can I have a look?

It turns out that in yesterday’s Mail, Bel wrote a corker of an article, and I missed it (I was too busy ranting about Marie Claire and being fat – it’s an important life I lead). In it, Bel reveals herself to be that very middle-class married woman who has an abortion. And what’s more, she has “no regrets”. Shocking! Can you imagine reading that in the Mail? Shouldn’t we be burning her alive or something? Well, actually, it would appear not. Contrary to all preliminary appearances, Bel’s abortion was in fact a “good” one.

The thing is, Bel wasn’t one of those feckless women who doesn’t use contraception. She simply forgot to take her pill “in the chaos of moving house” (i.e. she’s a probably homeowner – how can you be cross at a homeowner?). Plus she’d had scepticaemia and her first baby “needed specialist nursing skills” (which is of course fair enough). And then her GP told her “if you were my daughter I’d counsel a termination” (who says the medical profession is paternalistic?). Anyhow, the fact is, you’ve got to see a termination such as Bel’s within a very specific human context. There are so many factors to take into account within one woman’s life. The trouble is, Bel, the same is true for every woman. Even those you dismiss of being “grown-up women” who “are just too sloppy to take proper control of their own bodies” (give them a chance, Bel. They might be moving house).

But alas, Bel is angry. Angry because “countless unborn babies are being sacrificed because women [presumably the ones who aren't exchanging contracts with the estate agent] are too irresponsible and/or indifferent to treat sex and fertility with the seriousness it deserves”. Which poses an interesting philosophical conundrum. If these women are only getting pregnant due to their irresponsibility, then surely if they were more responsible, said unborn babies wouldn’t even exist? And surely some women who’ve been irresponsible go on to have their babies anyhow? Look, can you see where I’m going with this? The thing we all need to ask ourselves is HOW MANY POOR UNBORN BABIES NEVER EVEN COME INTO EXISTENCE DUE TO WOMEN ACTING “RESPONSIBLY”? It’s a fucking tragedy. Perhaps I’d have given birth to the next Einstein if I hadn’t been so sodding responsible all these years.

It’s not that I think a very small proportion of women having repeat abortions is a good idea. It seems a remarkably painful and faffy way of avoiding motherhood, if you ask me. But the sheer numbers involved – as babies “lost” – doesn’t bother me at all. I just can’t see the value in worrying about the never-born. Considering how common both miscarriage and abortion are, I wouldn’t be surprised if most women have had a pregnancy which didn’t lead to a live birth. I’ve had one. The baby, if it had ever become a baby, would have been due on 14th March 2007. Thinking about this doesn’t make me sad. It creates a kind of parallel life, one in which other people wouldn’t exist and other choices would have been made. But it doesn’t really matter. I value the children I have.

Of course, other women suffer as a result of the choices they’ve made and the regret they feel. Just to reiterate this point, Bel publishes a selection of their letters from her “postbag” (I’m presuming she means email inbox and/or letter in-tray; perhaps she just enjoys pretending she’s on Blue Peter). Having established the sheer, incontravertible “rightness” of her own abortion, she dwells in painful detail on the feelings of women who lack the same confidence and have become absorbed in lives that never were. It’s really kind and empathetic of her. I’ll definitely be adding my missive to the “postbag” next time I think I’ve fucked up.

Oh, and the rape victim thing? That comes in the penultimate line:

The old feminist battle cry of “right to choose” certainly never meant getting caught out because you were too drunk to say no.

Erm, I think you’ll find it did, Bel. I think you’ll find what you’re alluding to here is rape. And I think, to be honest, feminists such as myself will be breathing a strange sigh of relief on reading statements such as this. At one time I thought I was weird in believing that a society that doesn’t fully recognise a woman’s bodily autonomy through abortion law is also one which is more likely to condone rape. Thank you, Bel, for making my point for me.

[Trigger warning - it's the Daily Mail, after all]

Why did it take the police so long to believe the victims of the Rochester rape ring? That’s the question I have to ask myself, even if, like most feminists, I’m not remotely arsed about female victims of sex abuse being believed. Thank god the Daily Mail’s on the case.

You could of course say it’s all down to the entire world being saturated in Political Correctness Gone Mad. No one’s going to believe a white girl’s statement against that of an Asian man. As the Mail suggests, here we have “the horrific consequences of Britain’s “Islamophobia” witch-hunt” (boy, we’ve missed you, Melanie Phillips). The trouble is, to be perfectly honest, I have to say this interpretation DOES sound a little racist to me. Not to mention completely fucking implausible.

I have decided to do some further research into this myself. Only I am lazy and only have my lunch hour in which to do it, so I’ve stuck to the Daily Mail website. Still, it’s all proven quite enlightening. I now present to you my three key findings revealing why the Rochdale victims were not believed. And it’s fuck all to do with race:

  1. Women lie about rape all the time. They lie because they’re jealous. They lie because they’ve cheated. They lie because, basically, they’re scum. We hear far more about women lying than we do about them telling the truth. So what’s a reasonable Mail-reading bobby meant to believe?
  2. Young girls are there for our delectation. Like here, and here, and here. And also, they’re total slags. Hence the Rochdale men’s defence seems perfectly plausible.
  3. It’s only rape if you’re in a dark alley with a total stranger. Otherwise it’s a “grey area“. It’s hard for men to know where the boundares lie. That applies to paedophiles as much as it does to police officers. Jeez, it’s hard being a bloke.

So, there you have it. Worry no longer, Daily Mail. The answer to this moral conundrum was there in your website, all the time, there in all the stories that simply HAVE to be told and which don’t distort our perceptions of men, women and reality in any way whatsoever.

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