Trying to make sense of censorship

If you criticise another person’s use of the word “censorship” does that therefore mean you’re trying to censor them? It’s a serious question. The trouble is, I’m starting to think I don’t understand what censorship means any more. Perhaps I just shouldn’t mention it, only then that would be self-censorship – or would it? Honestly, I just don’t know.

I ought to be better at this since apparently censorship is my “next move”. That’s at least according to a comment I received today, from someone who doesn’t like the fact that I find James Bond films sexist. I mean, yeah, I don’t like them – they fucking well annoy me – but I genuinely didn’t have any further plans. Believe me, I’m not that well organised. Now I’m worried I’ll need to get my censorship plans in place pretty sharpish. Otherwise, come the Feminist Revolution, I’ll only disappoint all the noble sexists lining up to lay down their lives for the right of Daniel Tosh to make shitty jokes. There they’ll be, waiting at the foot of the scaffold, and I’ll be all “what? I just said I didn’t like the jokes! I haven’t even bought a noose or anything!” Continue reading

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Parenting regrets? Apparently we’ve had a few…

Parents of small children! Have you been in paid employment today? Were you aware that this working “habit” of yours is something which, in years to come, you will deeply regret? In case you didn’t notice this – in case, for instance, you completely failed to take note of all the complete strangers around you saying, on a daily basis, “enjoy them while they’re young!” and “ooh, don’t they grow up fast!” – Huggies Little Swimmers have commissioned research in the top 20 regrets of parents today. Continue reading

Five complete and utter lies about women and food

Many of the jobs I’ve done have involved a degree of marketing. This usually means crowding anxiously around a table, thinking about one’s “target market”, and pondering the “positioning” and the “message”. Eventually, at some point or other, one person will ask, portentously, “but what’s the actual benefit?” Whereupon we will all ask ourselves just what it is that our product is offering to those who buy it. You’d think that by this time we’d already know. To be fair, we generally do, albeit in a long-winded, wordy manner. The difficulty is translating this knowledge into a snappy message that will speak to the customer straight away i.e. a message that patronises the hell out of said customer while simultaneously looking as though it respects his or her intelligence. Such a task is, in my professional opinion, a complete and utter bugger. Now and then I relish it as a creative challenge. However, on the whole it just makes me feel like a knob. Continue reading

Free speech: The rules

I am trying to negotiate the rules are on free speech. Obviously that’s assuming that there are rules (you’d really think there shouldn’t be, what with said speech being “free”, but I don’t think that’s how it works). Because I am morally immature (liberal, feminist, atheist) I can’t do this on my own, so I’m using Cristina Odone’s response to Nick Clegg’s same-sex marriage “bigot” gaffe to help me.

This is what I’ve been able to work out so far (if you are similarly immature in terms of moral development, please pay attention – it’s perhaps more complicated than you’d think): Continue reading

The right kind of feminist

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m having morning-after regrets. I thought I’d have one last grumble about Naomi Wolf – just one – and before I knew it, I was engaged in full-on, out-and-out ranting. And yes, it felt good at the time – these things always do, particularly when a person’s as annoying as Wolf is. But now, in the cold light of day, I feel somewhat ashamed, not least after reading this measured analysis of Wolf criticism by @weekwoman. Clearly it’s possible to disagree with Wolf without launching an unbridled attack. So why is it so tempting to just let rip?

So Naomi Wolf is arrogant and dismissive of others. So she selectively uses scientific studies to draw far-fetched heteronormative conclusions about gender relations. Big sodding deal. So too do Simon Baron-Cohen, Steve Pinker, Steve Bidulph and a great many more men (a high percentage of whom have names which start with an “S”*). They don’t attract the same public dressing-downs. Why is that? Is it because deep down, even the feminists who criticize Wolf have bought into ideas of male infallibility? Continue reading

Wants: A meme

I’ve been tagged in a meme by @babberblog. I’ve never been tagged in a meme before! Way-hey!* Best of all, it’s to do with writing a list of wants – and I’ve got loads of them! Want, want, want, that’s me. So I might as well get started:

<Drum roll>

I want…

Fairness

In a lefty feministy sorta way. I’d have to leave someone else to make all the finer decisions about this because I am, on a personal level, a selfish sod. But globally, I really believe in fairness. Hey, it’s a start. Continue reading

My feminist perspective? You don’t need to read this crap

I am a feminist. I don’t have a qualification in women’s studies. I’ve never been the spokesperson for any pressure group. I’m not tremendously well-read in anything other than German Romantic literature (an area which is not, I fear, particularly pro-enthusiastic consent). I’m still a feminist. So there.

I read feminist literature when I have the time and the energy, which isn’t very often. I like Backlash and The Women’s Room. The New Feminism drove me up the wall, The Myth Of Mars And Venus is ace and I found How To Be A Woman hilarious but tremendously ego-driven. And that’s about all I’ve looked at <guilty face>. Oh, and some Julia Kristeva, which I don’t really count as feminist, just annoyingly vague (guess that’s the semiotic chora for you). And then there’s also a tiny bit of Naomi Wolf – that bit in The Beauty Myth where she discusses anorexia. I used to read that section whenever I popped into WH Smiths (I never actually bought the bloody book). When you have anorexia, as I did, even supposedly feminist diatribes against the beauty industry can serve as a bit of much-needed thinspo. “It is dead easy to become anorexic” – isn’t that what she claimed? Good work, Naomi! Continue reading

Barry Norman, this is why you’re wrong about sexism

Llandudno, 1983. I’m eight years old and on a family holiday. It’s raining so we’re in the cinema for the afternoon, watching the latest Bond film. We’ve reached that point where Bond happens to find himself in a bedroom with a “feisty” woman who a) doesn’t wear much and b) needs “taming”. And so we watch Bond force himself on her. She struggles, tries to push him off. Eventually she gives in. It would appear that she wanted it really. And I’m eight and I’m thinking is this normal? Is this what goodies do? Is this okay? No one else seems to find it strange – not my parents, not my 11-year-old brother – so I assume it must be normal. After all, he’s James Bond! He’s the good guy! This is what good guys do. I know it’s a fantasy – I’m eight, not an idiot – but I’m uncertain. Is this really a fantasy of how men are meant to be, and women are meant to respond? I can’t make sense of it. If only I’d had Barry Norman, film critic extraordinaire, on hand to explain it all to me. Continue reading

Does this post sound whiny to you?

It’s SO unfair! I’ve just had yet another comment left on my blog accusing me of “whining”. Me? Whine? How could anyone write such a thing? That is just MEAN and WRONG and I’m NOT going to talk to ANYONE EVER  AGAIN.

<stomps off to listen to Joy Division in darkened room for, like, ten million years>

[ten million years later]

Right, okay, I’m back now. I hope everyone’s sorry. As you can see, I just don’t do whining – passive-aggression’s much more my thing. Continue reading

Dear ‘Wealth Creators’

Dear ‘Wealth Creators’

You know when you got bullied at school and went home in tears? Well, actually you probably don’t, since most of you will have been boarding at Eton. But anyhow, let’s imagine you do. When that happens, do you know what mums always say? They’re just jealous. That’s right. They’re just jealous. Whenever anyone upsets their kids, mums always decide that the perpetrator just has to be seething with envy. After all, what else could it be? Continue reading

Sexual assault: The philosophical defence

A woman is sexually assaulted in a public bar in Arizona. When passing sentence, the judge tells the victim “if you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened”. While I’m no expert in English grammar, I find the use of tenses here quite shocking (surely “hadn’t been there”? Or is it me?). Nevertheless, the actual logic is flawless. If that particular woman had not been in that particular bar, that particular event would not have occurred. The judge has since apologised, but I don’t know why; after all, she’s right, isn’t she?

I fully understand that it’s annoying for judges to waste precious court time in stating the bleedin’ obvious. Even so, a public apology seems a bit extreme. I’m sure there are plenty of other things that judges say which don’t need saying. Even the standard stuff – such as “has the jury reached a verdict?” – is perhaps unnecessary, what with the number of Law & Order re-runs we get these days. Continue reading

Well pardon me for breeding…

Sometimes I wish I’d called one of my sons Johnny. This isn’t because I particularly like the name; it’s just so that the next time some child-phobic misanthrope saw fit to comment on his less-than-adult behaviour, I could say, in an exaggeratedly mumsy voice, “just you leave my little Johnny alone!”. I bet that’d really piss them off (for good measure, the other son would be called Timmy Timpson, after Spoilt Bastard in Viz. Obviously it’s too late now. Why do I never think of these things at the time?).

Two children I imagine are NOT called Johnny and Timmy are a pair of 14-week-old twins whose parents took them on flight and provided “apology” gifts to all the other passengers, to excuse in advance the shocking behaviour of those who’ve had fewer than six months on Earth in which to learn the rules of polite society. I read about this in an excellent blog post from Scribbles from the Middle. Mummy and Daddy – “AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer” – are clearly feeling uneasy about the intrusion of their offspring into other people’s quiet lives (not that I recall adults on plane flights as ever having been particularly quiet. In fact, do you know what I’d find really cool? If all those people who are scared of flying and get totally pissed in the departure lounge were to scrawl barely legible “apology in advance” notes on the back of their boarding passes. Each ending with “ah fuckin’ luv u”, obviously). Continue reading

Feminism: Is it okay to be a bit crap at “the sex bit”?

This morning I find myself reading yet another review of Naomi Wolf’s Vagina: A New Biography. It’s really quite compelling, not because Wolf’s ideas seem terribly novel but because, if Jenny Turner’s reading is accurate, the work seems so monumentally bad. And I’m tempted to believe she’s right – not only due to that notorious “cuntini” extract, but also because of a rather more positive review from Sarah Vine in the Times (sample quote: “[Wolf] argues, with really quite commendable courage, that being fulfilled as a woman means being treated like a lady. And if that isn’t a radical feminist message I don’t know what is“. You’re right, Sarah. You have no fucking idea what a radical feminist message is).

Obviously Wolf’s work isn’t the only feminist – or “feminist” – engagement with the cunt, and thank heavens for that. Turner’s Guardian review mentions a ton of other books about vaginas, none of which I’ve read (although apparently they’re way better than this current “effort”). The fact that I’d never heard of these books does disconcert me a little. Am I still a proper feminist despite this obvious lack of interest in the political implications of feeling horny? I mean, it’s not that I’m not concerned about efforts to suppress female sexuality and expression. But when it comes to my orgasm and what it means, I really can’t be arsed. Or vagina-d. Or whatever. Continue reading

Poor? Spawned a genius? Your local private school needs you!

Have you ever wanted to send your child to private school but not been able to afford the fees? Well, guess what? Now you can! Don’t worry about the cost – all you have to do is ensure you’ve spawned a fucking genius.

On Wednesdays, head teachers from 44 independent schools wrote to the Times, announcing that they would like to “admit pupils on merit alone, irrespective of whether their families can afford fees”. Way-hey! That’s big of them. I mean, they’d still want the government to match-fund the fees. And we’re still talking about “merit” here – whatever “merit” means. I suspect it doesn’t mean that just anyone can be swanning off to Dulwich College. You’ve got to be clever. How clever? I don’t know. I’m not clever enough to work it out, but I suspect it’s pretty damn clever if it makes you halfway as valuable as a rich kid. Continue reading

Female journalists: Like normal journalists, only annoyingly female

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?). Continue reading

Pink LEGO vs the Imagination Police

Up until this morning the whole LEGO Friends kerfuffle had passed me by. I knew the product range existed and had guessed it arose from yet another desperately unimaginative attempt to appeal to all girls, ever. Nevertheless the only child I know who happens to want a LEGO Friends toy is my youngest and guess what? He’s a boy (and in case you’re wondering, it’s the Adventure Camper, £36.95 – and no, I’m not dipping into the Shoe Fund to purchase that). Anyhow, I wasn’t particularly annoyed that this range existed. After all, there are a million other crappy toys just like it. Indeed, some of them aren’t even that crappy. Looked at independently, “girls’ toys” aren’t any worse than those marketed at boys. The problem is our failure to think of them simply as “toys”, and the way in which, through marketing, this message then gets passed on to our children. Continue reading

Competitive crap parenting: How do you rate?

My son goes back to school tomorrow. Alas, I’d assumed it was today. So there we were at the school gates, with him in his uniform and me all set to drop him off and make a dash for work, when … Well, actually, that last bit was a fib. I found out I’d got the day wrong the night before, so managed to palm him off on a classmate’s mum. But that’s not as good an anecdote. As far as parenting’s concerned, if you’re going to mess up, you really should do it properly.

As a parent I’m really quite competitive when it comes to making a balls of things. What’s more, I don’t think I’m the only one (which is something of a relief; there’s nothing more pathetic than being desperately ambitious when no one else is arsed). Like most mums and dads, I realised long ago that being the best parent ever is totally out of reach. On the other hand, being the most ridiculously, comically incompetent parent feels much more doable. And hey, it’s an achievement of sorts. It shows you’re not just coasting when it comes to this parenting game. Continue reading

What do feminists do all day?

What do feminists do all day? Apart, that is, from bra-burning, man-hating and taking an inordinate amount of time to have a piss due to the need to get in and out of dungarees? Well, one thing certain feminists do is muse pointlessly on the nature of “feminism”, having witnessed the following exchange on Twitter:

woman: the feminists are making the female population look like idiots!

man: no just themselves

woman: oh well leave them to their dungarees and bra burning while the rest of us toddle along being sensible!

In case you are wondering what “being sensible” means, I have worked out from “woman’s” timeline that it involves the following things:

  1. deluding yourself that having a male partner is a unique achievement, and one which will annoy all feminists you encounter
  2. making a big deal of the fact that you “do science” while being in possession of blonde hair
  3. ranting about women who make themselves “an easy target” for becoming the victims of rape

Having assessed myself against the above criteria, it would appear that I’m not very “sensible”. But that stands to reason, what with me being a feminist. Continue reading

Jabba the Hutt cake: The “sod it, that’ll do” version

So my son asked me to make a Jabba the Hutt cake in time for his fifth birthday and guess what? I said “yes” and then totally failed to deliver. But in my defence, this was only because I’d decided to put it off until his party, which is this Friday. Also, I’d kind of assumed it would be easy to make the cake anyhow. Surely there’d be something I could get off the internet?

Well, there was. Stuff like this and this i.e. ace cakes that I couldn’t replicate in a million years and which didn’t come with instructions anyhow. So I decided to invent my own “lesser” version. One that would basically “do”. And as a way of motivating myself I took pictures so that I could share the experience with anyone wishing to do the same.

This is not a cake for a parent who’s seeking to impress. It’s for someone who has a son or daughter who’d like a Jabba cake and knows that as long as it’s Jabba-like, it’ll just about pass. So anyhow, here’s what you need to do: Continue reading

The economy’s just not that into you

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: Continue reading