Has anyone else noticed that when cis, fertile men get sentimental about pregnancy, it’s most likely to be when they’re suggesting pregnant women shouldn’t be allowed to have abortions? This is the moment when the most rational amongst them can turn to mush; witness Mehdi Hasan in his now-infamous New Statesman piece on being an anti-abortion lefty:

I sat and watched in quiet awe as my two daughters stretched and slept in their mother’s womb during the 20-week ultrasound scans. I don’t need God or a holy book to tell me what is or isn’t a “person”.

Aw, isn’t that sweet? (Providing you squint a bit and ignore the part that reduces a living human being to a mere “mother’s womb”.) It’s always nice to find men who are in touch with the cute side of pregnancy, even if it’s only in order to tell the unhappily pregnant that they just don’t “get” it.

When we’re discussing a normal pregnancy – that is, one in which a woman is appropriately receptive to her “with child” state – it’s a different matter. Sure, men write about it, but it tends to be in sarky, distancing (dare I say paranoid?) tones. There’s a real fear of engaging too closely with the subject; you might have been able to impregnate your bird (“he shoots, he scores!” as a million fatherhood manuals quip), but actually showing an interest in the implications of this would undermine the manliness and virility which you’ve only just demonstrated. In a wonderful (and unusual) article on becoming a new father, Sarfraz Manzoor notes that the books he found on the subject “tended to be written by men who deludedly believed they were funny. The blokiness was deeply dull”. God forbid that men should be expected to take pregnancy and birth seriously. It’s way too girly for that. (more…)

Is writing articles about feminism a complete waste of time? Certainly for me it isn’t (I might not influence anyone, but I do find that WordPress controls my Ebay addiction). But for people in general – and proper writers in particular – what does writing a feminist piece achieve? It might earn you money, but will it change the minds of the people whose minds you really want to change?

Today I read two articles – one by Deborah Orr on No More Page Three, and another by Dina Rickman on Everyday Sexism – both of which I thought were great. I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with them, but in many of the online comments it was clear that some of those commenting hadn’t even bothered to read the pieces. For them it was simply a matter of honing in on the subject matter and trotting out a pat anti-feminist retort (even if it completely misrepresented the writer’s position). And I couldn’t help thinking “what a total waste of time – for everyone involved”. And then I wondered whether these people wrote their comments – at once so offensive yet so familiar – from scratch. Because that’s perhaps the biggest waste of time there is. All the retorts are the same. How much more efficient would sexists be if they could streamline their article-commenting technique? (more…)

Women can be incredibly annoying, plus they don’t half witter on. How do I know this to be true? Well, I’m a woman and I do both of these things. And as for the rest of the female population – well, look around you. Just listen to them. Blah blah blah makeup blah babies blah vagina-flavoured cupcakes blah blah blah (by the way, are you female?  If so, is that not exactly what you sound like?).

Do you know what is even more annoying than women babbling on about total nonsense? Loads of things: wailing toddlers, Special K adverts, Jeremy Clarkson, the ongoing misuse of the word “empowering”. And plenty of other things besides, many of which are, as you might have guessed, precisely the type of irrelevancies that women see fit to harp on about. Which is ironic, when you think about it (which you shouldn’t, since it’s a total waste of headspace. Why not think about war or the economy instead?). (more…)

On Saturday I had afternoon tea in Selfridges in Birmingham. This sounds a lot posher than it actually was. It was in the food hall, it was really crowded and hot, and there was some confusion about where you could sit if you’d paid for things from different stands. For “tea at Selfridges” it was an altogether plebby experience. But the blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake was nice.

To accompany our tea-at-Selfridges experience, and to allow for any lulls in conversation, my partner and I had bought a copy of Grazia. As it happened, we didn’t run out of things to talk about. Snow White and the Huntsman kept us going all weekend. But we did have a cursory flick through the magazine and happened upon a feature entitled The New Rule Britannia Crew:

To mark the Diamond Jubilee, we asked the Brits who’ve shaped the last 60 years to nominate the people they reckon will be the next big thing. Take note of tomorrow’s stars…

It’s interesting, first of all, to see who Grazia considers to have “shaped the last 60 years”. These special people include David Gandy, Louise Mensch, Julian Fellowes and Katie Grand (a stylist, apparently. I’d never heard of her, but then I’m not stylish). Let’s be honest, though: I know if you’re bodging together an article in celebration of the Jubilee it might be hard to find people who really have “shaped the last 60 years”, but this is really taking the piss. Louise Mensch? I hardly think so. And if we’re looking ahead to the next 60 years, I sodding well hope not. It’s tremendously depressing, out of 25 judges, to find not one feminist. Just someone who uses the hashtag #feminism on Twitter when they, and they alone, are attacked. This is not what changes the world.

But if these are the stars of yesterday, who are the stars of tomorrow? Well, they come in all shapes and sizes. Only kidding – they’re all thin. What I meant to say is, they fit into lots of different categories, such as ‘Daddy’s girl’ (for John Rocha’s daughter), ‘English rose’ (the actress Lydia Wilson) and ‘Great expectation’ (the actress Vanessa Kirby, who did, to be fair, play Estella in Great Expectations – but let’s face it, anyone would run a mile from a ‘great expectation’ category. It totally sounds like the kiss of death). Anyhow, these are all quite boring categories, made for pretty arty/fashion-y people. The two that really interest me are these: ‘Political treasure’ and ‘Activist’.

The ‘Political treasure’ nomination goes to Conservative MP Chloe Smith. Let’s see what Louise Mensch has to say:

She’s a great image of a modernising party, a humanist and future Cabinet minister. Maybe even the first woman Chancellor?

Well, maybe, maybe not. But hey, perhaps I should vote Conservative, just in case? It all sounds really ace and forward-looking.

The ‘Activist’ nomination, meanwhile, goes to journalist Laurie Penny, whose ‘strident rants attract fierce debate’. Here’s what India Knight has to say:

I disagree with 70% of what Laurie writes, but the whole point of youth is verve and fearlessness, and she has plenty of both. AND she has glorious hair.

Ha ha! Silly little Laurie, with her “strident rants” and 70% wrongness rate! But hey, let’s patronise the shit out of her, because she’s young and amusing, and has that fire in her belly that will eventually die out, once she learns to toe the line and do what Grazia tells her to. Hee hee!

I mean, for christ’s sake, Grazia. I never thought you were Morning Star, but do you have to make your political allegiances THAT obvious? If it’s like this when Grazia actually likes you, god only knows what it’s like to fall out of favour with the editorial powers that be.

Well, I for one am going to spend the next 60 years continuing to be as unsuccessful as possible, in order to avoid ever appearing in a Grazia next big thing listing. And ideally, by the time I’m 97, I hope to see Laurie Penny, by then aged 85, still having as many “strident rants” as she sodding well likes. By which time Chloe Smith will have seen the light and turned on Louise Mensch for blinding her with the Conservative light of misery. All of this will come to pass. In the meantime, I’m not bothering with tea in Selfridges again. It’s just not all it’s cracked up to be.

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