Sweeping it under the carpet: Depression, Prozac and Giles Fraser

I’m writing this post to dispel a few myths about depression and the use of medication. I should mention, however, that I’m none of the following: psychiatrist, psychologist, pharmacist, biologist, philosopher, renowned expert in happiness and the inner workings of every human soul. That said, neither is Giles Fraser, the Guardian’s Loose Canon, but he hasn’t let that stop him. Besides, unlike Fraser, I’m in a permanent fog of drug-induced pseudo-contentment, hence I’m even less likely to demonstrate any degree of restraint.

In a piece entitled Taking pills for unhappiness reinforces the idea that being sad is not human, Fraser rehashes many common stereotypes about depression, mental illness and SSRIs. To be fair, he doesn’t do it quite as nastily as some people. He’s no Julie Burchill, for instance (sorry, Giles!). Nonetheless, making tired, half-baked claims in a seemingly well-meant manner can be even more damaging than just being an out-and-out bully. Continue reading


Hadley Freeman, telling Beyoncé she’s not helping feminism isn’t helping feminism

Right now, I am not, strictly speaking, “helping feminism”. Indeed, if you knew which café I was sitting in to write this, you’d say I was complicit in all sorts of badnesses. An absence of active feminism-helping is just the tip of the iceberg. All the same, by ‘fessing up to this, I am at least making a show of solidarity with Beyoncé, who currently stands accused of having let the sisterhood down.

In an article in today’s Guardian, Hadley Freeman tells the singer / entrepreneur / superstar that “being photographed in your underwear doesn’t help feminism”. Got that, Ms Knowles? You’re dead fit and everything, but the sight of your scantily clad form is not promoting gender equality. To be fair, I’m not so sure Beyoncé ever thought that it was, but Freeman’s told her all the same. Cue lots of gleefully sexist CiF comments about how feminism’s all gone to pot and women are confused and anyhow, don’t those girls who go on slutwalks claim to be helping feminism? Ha ha! That’ll teach ’em. Continue reading

Remind me again, which bits of the news am I supposed to read?

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. 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

When “good” people read “bad” things

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. Continue reading

Oi, masculinity! Mind having your latest crisis in peace?

Can anyone remember a time when masculinity was not “in crisis”? I’ll be honest with you: I can’t. Whatever the time, whatever the place, men have always found a way in which to be society’s real losers. Poor old them.

I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic. Oh, okay, actually, I do. I am sodding well sick of white male middle-class journalists linking petty struggles with their own egos to the plight of unnamed working-class males. Once you bring the working-class males into the mix, no one is allowed to be unsympathetic. Especially not feminists, who are all middle-class anyhow.
Continue reading

The humble thoughts of an ordinary, feminist, atheist, republican woman of the people

For people who’ve just enjoyed several days devoted to a no-expenses-spared celebration of our Diamond Queen, royalists aren’t half a miserable and snide bunch. Or at least some of them are. For instance, there’s one who features in the Guardian letter’s page today. Jesus Christ! And this is the Guardian! Imagine what the Daily Mail must be like.

Can we make this clear once and for all? If anyone has the right to be pissed off following the Jubilee celebrations, it’s we republicans! Us! And I use “us” very lightly. I, for one, am a crap republican – witness the BNP Table of Doom, which my partner and I created just because “we ought to do something”. But to be fair, I wasn’t angry about the celebrations in particular, at least not until this morning. Up till then I was more annoyed about the Jubilee Stewards outrage. It was only when I saw the Guardian letters that I remembered to be annoyed about everything else (and this has NOTHING to do with having been woken up at 5:30 am by a three-year-old throwing bunting in my face. If it wasn’t for the Guardian letters I’d be in a perfectly good, if sleep-deprived, mood).

I’m loathe to quote a letter in full – it feels like singling someone out – but there is no other way of conveying the spite directed at anyone, basically, who doesn’t want to be on their knees before their betters:

For all its faults I love the Guardian and would never buy another newspaper, and I even love my fellow readers most of the time, but at times I cannot warm to their snide remarks about things of which they do not approve, such as the Queen. They are neither original nor amusing. And as for Polly Toynbee, I have long ago given up on her ever being right on anything or connecting with ordinary people or indeed anyone outside her own set.

It may not be very welcome, but the majority of the population respect the Queen and even the monarchy, and do not want some superannuated politician as president. Get over it and worry about things that really affect ordinary people.

Do you get that? We now have a new distinction between ordinary and not-ordinary people. It’s no longer between the monarchy and us (except it is, really). But in the imagination of some, it’s between ordinary people who respect the Queen and the Polly Toynbee set who don’t and thereby are not “ordinary” at all.

As an atheist feminist republican, I don’t claim to speak for the masses. Or for Polly Toynbee, for that matter. I’m just trying to say what I believe is right. And I’m fully aware that to declare oneself an atheist feminist republican requires a willingness to be a total tosser in the eyes of some. To some, I’m just a teenager yelling “it’s not fair!” and stomping off to my room. Yeah, well. I know that’s how I appear to some people (particularly those who are mean). It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

I have children. I have a job. I am approaching forty. I am not still sitting in my room listening to Joy Division. And to be honest, the tantrum-call of people my age is not “that’s not fair!” It’s “that’s political correctness gone mad!” That’s what the forever-teenage idiots yell, before they stomp off to their rooms to rant about the liberal elite who use those illicit weapons known as thinking and being nice.

If most people support the monarchy, then I think most people are wrong. “Most people” have done plenty of stupid things. It’s not arrogant to disagree with them, not if that’s just what you think (that Sophie Scholl, eh? Who the fuck did she think she was?).* It’s not like I willfully disagree with most people on everything. I like chocolate, for instance. And booze. And yes, Terry Wogan is a national treasure.

See? I am “ordinary” after all.

* I’m not comparing myself to Sophie Scholl. I’m a right fucking coward, for starters. But I can’t help feeling there are plenty of people out there who died for what were, at the time, their stupid, wussy, teenage beliefs. Only we all agree with them now. So, er, that’s okay.