A Fresh Start, Though Not in All Ways

Over the past few weeks, when I haven’t felt too tired to sit up, I’ve glared at this oddly familiar white space on my laptop screen, not knowing what to write about.

It’s been so long that it felt weird jumping into pseudo-political blogging, and it also didn’t seem right to turn this blog in a completely different direction after a year’s silence just because I wanted to talk about myself.

So, let’s take a round-up of what’s happened politically and personally over the last 10 months or so.

1.  I got myself a (mostly) full-time job. If anyone tells you that working in retail is easy, please point them in my direction.

2. This in turn has stressed me out, and even though I spend most of my day running around like a blue-arsed fly, it appears I’m still managing to gain weight.

3. Politicians seem to be up to more conniving tricks than when I last appeared on here. Most recently it has been Maria Miller (don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out, love!) cheating her expenses – followed by the Downing Street chums and goat-herds to claim she “only did it because an MP’s wage is too low”. IS IT BUGGERY! Note: my ire has not weaned.

4. The sky is still blue, politicians still lie, and I’m still pissed off about it.

 

 

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Banknotes, Boycotts and Backlash

Oh, Sheldon. I finally understand what you were feeling when you uttered my favourite line in The Big Bang Theory. “There isn’t enough chamomile tea in the world to quell the rage in my heart.” I feel the same way, but with Mini Milks.

It seems like every time the feminist movement takes a small step forward (in this case, Jane Austen replacing Charles Darwin on the £10 note), it takes two steps back. I won’t go into my personal feelings about Austen replacing Darwin in this blog as I feel another post would be necessary. That’s not the problem, it’s the tirades of abuse the leader of this campaign has received on Twitter over the past few days along with the reaction of some people I’ve been made aware of.

Since the success of her petition, Caroline Criado-Perez has been the target of frankly horrifying abuse. No woman should ever be the target of rape threats and yet the users responsible for her abuse still have accounts on the site. Criado-Perez reported the abuse she was getting to the manager of journalism and media on Twitter. His response? To protect his account. Clearly to Mark S. Luckie, a problem ignored is a problem solved. For those interested, there has been a petition started to draw those in charge of Twitter to action here.

Upon learning of this earlier this morning, my feed lit up with journalists being horrified and sympathetic to Criado-Perez’s plight. These women are often the subject of abuse (from inside the feminist movement also) and are tired of having their opinions on twitter silenced.

Not being one to back out of a confrontation myself, I’ve been told I’m “too ugly to rape” among other things, for daring to comment that criticising a Wimbledon champion on her looks is not appropriate. This cannot be tolerated.

These journalists, namely Caitlin Moran, Helen Lewis and Suzanne Moore, have proposed an idea. That women who do not want to stand for this abuse and being silenced on social media silence their accounts for one day, to show what the social media site would be like if instead of standing up, women just left. It’s not the greatest idea ever, but what else is there to do if the site itself isn’t acting?

I’ve said it before, the most detrimental thing about feminism today is the constant in-fighting between the women (and men) involved. When this idea was proposed, it was met with the usual suspects who automatically decry anything Moran or her journalist allies say saying it’s a terrible idea. Fine, but do you have anything better to suggest?

Instead of providing something positive, it always appears to be much easier to just shit all over someone else’s idea. Would Moran’s cause have more merit if she was just out on the streets of Crouch End bawling at random strangers to fuck the patriarchy? At least these more high-profile feminists are trying to do something, instead of sitting at home criticising others’ attempts.

And so it rumbles on, my frustration reaching a fever pitch that not even Mini Milks can calm down. Sheldon, I really do feel your pain, though perhaps another one wouldn’t hurt.

Go Home, Barbara Hewson, You’re Drunk

I thought that everyone was pleased to have Operation Yewtree bringing justice to the victims of historical sex abuse. The victims’ mental scars will never fully heal, not just from the abuse itself, but from the people they may have told and didn’t believe them as they were just children. Yet today, a barrister has written an article for “Spiked” magazine, which has found its way from this small corner of online life into the mainstream.

The age of consent is there to protect minors from sexual abuse – from the predation of successful, much older men like those who’ve been charged in the wake of Operation Yewtree. It’s there to provide a solid line to show when teenagers would be able to make the decision to consent for themselves – understanding the potential outcomes from the situation. It has nothing to do with the age young women go through puberty. Just because you can have children, doesn’t mean you have the maturity to deal with sex and its potential consequences.

What I found most worrying about this article is that it’s penned by an extremely well-educated woman. A woman who went through puberty like the rest of us, knew the pressures from young men. Western society (where she and I are talking about) is a frankly terrifying place to go through puberty as a woman. In a small town where I grew up, it’s still commonplace for drunk guys to shout at teenagers to “show us yer tits” at 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. And if you ignore them, it only gets scarier. I wonder if Barbara Hewson was ever followed along a busy street with a man shouting at her, for other people to utterly ignore it.

Operation Yewtree is not about “persecuting” these well-known people in society. It’s about bringing people who raped and sexually assaulted children to justice, no matter how long it’s been since the incident, or how successful they have been. Having sex with a 9-year-old girl is not a “minor misdemeanour”, it’s rape. How can a girl that young possibly make an informed decision about sex, especially in England and Wales where sex and relationship education is not mandatory to be taught in school? Would a 9-year-old know about contraception, or even her right to say no?

In her article, Hewson suggests removing complainant anonymity – which in our Daily Mail fuelled media is nothing but outrageously dangerous. Events in America around Steubenville and the young girls who’s anonymity was not protected should make that abundantly clear. Victims of sexual assault and rape have enough problems just trying to come to terms with what has happened to them without society and the general media pointing the finger of blame squarely on them. It’s been said countless times – the victims of rape are not to blame, the perpetrators are.

Barbara Hewson’s language choice is also disturbing – claiming that “even” a deputy speaker in the House of Commons perpetuates the very ideas Operation Yewtree is dispelling. Just because a man is in the public eye, does not make him immune to committing sexual abuse and rape, and definitely should not make him above the law. The NSPCC is not a pressure group, it’s a charity there to help vulnerable children, such as those who have been abused.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

No-one is suggesting the three actions listed there are rape. They are, however the sexual abuse of a minor and should be prosecuted as such, no matter how long it’s been since they took place. To say otherwise maintains the prevalent rape culture in our society, making it appear that men in positions of power are untouchable in the eyes of the law. Late justice is still justice.

You’d think a barrister would understand that.

Bieber Visits Anne Frank Museum, Educators Have a Meltdown

Many young people only recognise one of the people pictured – which one? Source: radiolive.co.nz

I must confess, I have never visited the Anne Frank museum, mainly as I have never visited Amsterdam. There is an eerie fascination with what happened to those oppressed by German occupation, especially in regards to Jewish families such as the Franks.

I have seen photos from inside the secret annexe, there’s even a virtual tour you can take online, showing you how small the annexe was. Her shared bedroom was tiny, and decorated with pictures to brighten it up a little (the same way Beliebers have pictures of Justin blu-tacked to their walls?), they shared a wash room which only had a sink. She spent her days with her family, stuck in one small room. If I was cooped up for that long with my family, some of us would not have survived long enough to be caught by Nazis. It must have been terrifying.

If I had the chance to visit the museum, Anne Frank’s choice of music had she been a teenager today would be the furthest thing from my mind. Can you even begin to imagine how terrifying it must have been, the slightest noise potentially sentencing yourself and your entire family to certain death in concentration camps?

Yesterday, “news” surfaced that Justin Bieber had visited the museum in Amsterdam. This would not usually have made it into national newspapers – it would have just been a young man wanting to discover history. What made the story, though, was his staggering sense of self-importance. Instead of writing about his experience opening his eyes to her plight in the 1940’s – he wrote: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” Wow.

This, however, was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to uneducated teenagers and tweenies. “Beliebers” everywhere provided a staggering indictment of their respective education systems. Let me provide you with a few examples:

Want more? Greg Hyatt on tumblr retweeted a few more.

Recently, the history curriculum in England and Wales has come up for discussion. I had no idea that they were potentially discussing putting Anne Frank and her diary back into the teaching of World War 2. Or are these kids too obsessed by the coiffed little boy to pay attention to the teaching of fundamental historical knowledge?

I remember on at least 3 separate occasions, being taught the story of Anne Frank. I think myself incredibly lucky that my parents encouraged me to read her diary when I came home from school and said we were learning about her.

Now, however, even the BBC’s childrens’ news (Newsbeat) had to explain who Anne Frank was – to avoid another outbreak on twitter of “Who even was she?”

Her story is a fundamental part of forming empathy for the literally millions of victims of the German Nazi regime at this time. It’s truly, deeply worrying that so many young people are ignorant of her story.

For the sake of your own mental health, when you see young people being this ignorant on your timeline – do not go digging for more examples. It’s incredibly disheartening.

Louise Mensch’s Rose-Tinted Glasses on Thatcher’s “Feminism”

I’ll stop adding pictures of Tories to my posts when I stop writing about them, ok? Source: thetimes.co.uk

It would appear that certain breeds of Tory women stick together. Had Margaret Thatcher been a member of the Labour party (let’s face it, had she been around in today’s political climate she could have been), would Louise Mensch be so staunchly defending her as a feminist icon?

Sure, as I have said in my previous post, her election as the first female prime minister was impressive and a positive step towards equality for women politically in this country. However, something must have gone wrong along the way as the UK has a mere 22.5% of representatives in the House of Commons are female. Have we regressed in equality since Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister?

Today on twitter, Louise Mensch popped her head up from over the Atlantic to have an argument with Owen Jones (neither covered themselves in glory, petty points scoring over a dead woman is pretty poor show), then proceeded to inform her thousands of followers her screeching voice will be appearing on the 10PM ITV news to talk about Margaret Thatcher in terms of her feminism.

 

Her ignorance is staggering, it truly is. During her 11 years as Prime Minister, she had one woman in her cabinet. One. Every other member of her cabinet was male – hardly a feminist thing to do. Men and women should be on a level playing ground politically, and there doesn’t seem to be anything level about only having one woman in Thatcher’s cabinet.

Thatcher was openly critical of feminism also. She believed that women’s liberation had run its course, “The battle for women’s rights has largely been won. The days when they were demanded and discussed in strident tones should be gone forever. I hate those strident tones we hear from some Women’s Libbers”. She rejected the idea that she was in a position of great privilege, having the money to be able to pay for childcare when she went back out to work.

How any woman can possibly claim Margaret Thatcher believed in equality for her gender when she so openly opposed any opportunity to increase the gender balance in government and in the workplace. A man would be able to make the choice whether to have a family or to work – a woman in Thatcher’s mind was expected to put a stop to her career to reproduce.

Her life and politics can be proved to show equality in one way – she was just as heartless to the working class as any man could be. She actively used her power against working women, and that’s just against like…the rules of feminism (Mean Girls quotes are relevant at any time, it would appear).

Also, I want Louise Mensch to leave this country alone. I actively avoid the Sun, but don’t believe someone who lives in America should be writing about the intricacies of politics in a country she no longer wanted to live in. She needs to but her nose out, and spend more time with her family (the reason she left her job as an MP in the UK). Surely her parenting can’t be done on twitter, so I want her to go away. Perhaps a little break might give her brain cells a rest – she might see she’s not the stalwart of feminism she so clearly sees herself as.

A little self-awareness is all I ask for, surely that’s not too much.

Too Young to Comment on Thatcher?

Since when was a politician’s only effects felt when they were in office? When Winston Churchill was no longer prime minister, did the UK go back to war with Germany? When Tony Blair was replaced by Gordon Brown did we automatically pull out of Iraq? The policies and ideologies which Margaret Thatcher implemented during her period as prime minister are largely still with us today, so why can’t I comment on the life of a woman who has affected the world I was born into and have grown up in – just because I wasn’t around when she was in office?

It really is tiring to justify yourself and your opinion to people older than you – so often you are given a patronising pat on the head like “Well done for trying, but you’re too young to understand.” I understand just fine, thank you. Child poverty during Thatcher’s government was the worst in the developed world at the time (the current Conservative government are doing their damnedest to surpass those levels, though – what a goal!). This surely was helped by her government putting countless working class people out of work by closing shipyards and coal mines, to name just two examples.

The fact she was the UK’s first and only female prime minister meant almost nothing for women of her gender – she actively despised feminism and what it stood for, believing that the women’s liberation movement had gone far enough (in the 80s, really?). She actually proclaimed feminism to be “poison”, surrounded herself with powerful men – and certain publications have been trying to portray her as a feminist icon. Give me a break.

Thatcher became an archetypal Conservative by her striving towards privatisation (aside from the NHS and National Rail, which have since been at least partially privatised by different Tory governments). She is the woman who is behind the massive electricity and gas bills you have received in the last few months, hiding it under the banner that prices will go down due to competition.

Her political ideology has been picked up by Southern republican politicians over in the USA, and surely that can’t be seen by a positive thing. Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all claim to have been influenced by her politics, further clarifying that all three have been cut from the same cloth – making all three of them unelectable, at least to me.

Thatcherism is still alive and well today, it serves as a driving factor to widen the gap between the richest and poorest in this country. Frankly, it’s disgusting. Surely the only right thing for the current government to do is to provide Thatcher with a funeral/cremation, funded by the private sector. It’s what she would have wanted.

I am bycotting all news sites and TV news until the woman is buried on 17th April. Good riddance to her, it’s just a shame her politics didn’t die with her.

Am I Seeing Through the Matrix?

You are now entering…England? Source: http://easypcsetup.co.uk

As I have mentioned on here before, I am from a small town in the south of Scotland. As much as I complain about not being able to walk one length of the high street to the other without meeting someone you know, it’s actually pretty nice if you’ve been stuck in the house by yourself all day. People from the outside probably see it as being a bit backwards and more than a little quaint.

However, I’m not entirely sure this place actually exists outside of our own imaginations. The region I live in is called the Scottish Borders, and my hometown has the office of an MSP in it, so I am pretty sure this is Scotland. Yet somehow, it doesn’t seem like it when I turn on the TV, or read news online.

Scottish Television (STV) is not available here. In fact, my channel 3 is entitled “ITV Border” which means nothing of the sort. My “local” news is entirely focused upon Carlisle and Newcastle. When did I suddenly move across the border?

There’s not even a section for anywhere south of Midlothian on the STV news website.

There is however, one upside to this. I get to watch certain Champion’s League football games which are shown on English TV and not in Scotland.

I just find myself wondering – if Scotland votes for independence in 2014: will STV actually recognise us as part of this country?