Friday, 27 June 2008

Don't Worry Your Pretty Head About It

I just noticed that I didn't post about it at the time (something I apparently make quite a habit of - your up-to-date news! Three weeks after it's of any use!), but there's some stuff that I think needs saying about the Lisbon Treaty.

As you may or may not know, the Lisbon Treaty was created to replace the rejected EU Constitution, and so as not to have the same trouble again, most of the MEPs decided not to put the treaty to referendum in their countries. The only exception was Ireland, whose laws make a referendum on matters such as this compulsory. And, of course, the Irish voted No. Despite the fact that all member states have to ratify the treaty in order to be enacted, I believe the current EU plan is to pretend Ireland didn't say anything, though some have suggested changing three words and making them vote over and over again until they get sick of it.

I don't understand why the EU is so surprised at the Irish No. The Constitution was roundly rejected and the Lisbon Treaty looks quite a lot like the same old thing in shiny new packaging, and nobody seems willing to dispossess us of the notion in any specific terms. Nick Clegg (aka Cameron 2.0) of the Lib Dems said the treaty was "very different" to the Constitution, and Gordon Brown said the treaty wasn't the same as the Constitution because it said it wasn't (I don't have a link for this, because it's from a speech he made on the Breakfast News). Apparently, the first page of the treaty says something like, "This is not a constitution, because the people said no to a constitution, so this is something else instead." I'm sorry, but that is hair-splitting, manipulative guff. I could say "I don't speak English" but it wouldn't make it true. Writing "Not A Constitution" (I am so sick of typing that word) at the top in big letters doesn't make any difference to the contents at all.

We simply do not trust anything that comes out of Europe these days - I speak of Europe as a Parliament as opposed to a continent - because they simply do not see the need to tell us anything. Oh, they complain loudly about the "misinformation" distributed by the Irish No campaign, but they don't offer any specific refuting evidence. The BBC informs us that the treaty is indeed largely similar to the Constitution (argh), including the same loss of veto powers and redistribution of voting weights, which was a huge problem last time. The BBC, I assume, has read the treaty. I tried reading the (insert C-word) when it first became available for public reference. I planned to read the whole thing, translate it into human language and post it on my website. I got about sixty pages in before my head exploded. It was not written with the intent of being read. I came across numerous ambiguously suspicious passages, but I could not say with any degree of certainty whether a certain passage meant the end of autonomy for national banks or meant absolutely nothing. You cannot read it and extract the intent behind it - it has been written with the express purpose of concealing intent. You have to know what it means before you read it. Were we told what it meant? Were we hell. We were told it was no big deal, just a silly little document, something about trade, don't worry your pretty little head about it. The big men in suits will take care of all the nasty words. And frankly, even if it was just a silly little document with no wider ramifications whatsoever, we do not take kindly to being told that, and we assume, quite sensibly, that they're trying to hide something. Now, I don't think it's necessarily the case that the public has to know everything about the way the country is run. In fact, it's probably a bad idea more often than not. What's also a bad idea is making it quite obvious that you're not telling them ANYTHING. Here it is in dramatised form:

The British public: The treaty is pretty much the same as the Constitution.
The British government: No, of course it isn't. We rejected the Constitution and this is something entirely different.
The British public: What makes it different?
The British government: Oh, this is just a little something about trade, not even important enough for you to vote on. Don't worry about it.
The British public: This is hugely suspicious.
The British government: Suspicious? It's not suspicious! Who's been spreading these lies?

So when the time came for the Irish to vote on it, were they going to trust the people who said, "Don't read it, just sign it!" or the people who told them actual stuff that was actually in the document? Perhaps these people exaggerated, or were scare-mongering. Yeah, maybe. But they were giving out information. The European Parliament could easily have given out a few sheets of easy-to-read facts about the more boring stuff included in the treaty, but they chose to tell us instead that thinking too much will give us wrinkles. So there's really no call for them to be surprised when Ireland decides to take the only information it's got. To most of us, the whole thing smacks of taking the old Constitution round to the tradesman's entrance and pretending it's just the potato man.

Public: We weren't expecting a potato man.
Government: Oh, come on! It's just potatoes! What harm can that do?
Public: Is he going to charge for these potatoes?
Government: Oh, sweetie, we take care of the money. Go and knit a nice rug, that would be productive.
Public: This potato man looks weird.
Government: RELAX! Jesus, you and your damn prejudices.

So, really, guys, let's have a little more respect around here. We're already vaguely suspicious of anything you do because you're politicians. Telling us not to worry about it is both insulting and counter-productive, since we all immediately start wondering what we have to worry about. I am interested to see where we go from here - I want to know exactly how respectful Europe will be towards the Irish No. I could imagine some serious problems if they decide to ignore it, but somehow I really don't see that stopping them. Watch this space - I'll attempt to make it interesting. Possibly with more dramatisations and some one-line comic relief characters.

Why Nobody Should Vote For Cameron

I just feel the need to make a couple of points in regard to this, which I wrote just after the votes on the abortion limit and access to IVF were cast (both, surprisingly, to my satisfaction). I want to clarify a couple of things, and it also gives me an opportunity to have another go at Cameron.

It is frankly ridiculous that in this day and age our MPs are still obsessed with heteronormative parenting - "Father, father, father!" says Duncan Smith, but I did that last time - and still convinced that abortion is really a bit icky. We're not America, so we don't even attempt (at this stage, anyway) to outright ban it, but enough MPs are willing to go on record whining and crying about the poor little dead babies. That sentence makes me wish I weren't allergic to LOLcat speak, but I just cannot write "teh p00r ded baybeeez" as though it's a reasonable journalistic or literary device. Even after the Bill was defeated, they just can't let it lie and have to get up and hurl themselves at it again. The original Bill offered MPs the option to vote for: no change, limit lowered to 22 weeks, limit lowered to 20 weeks, or limit lowered to 12 weeks. The Times helpfully printed a guide as to which members of the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet voted for which (and I will try and find it), and the three Labour MPs who voted for 12 weeks were all Catholic. Even most of the Tories shied away from voting for 12 weeks. I just want to make clear that there is a HUGE religious motivation behind this. David Cameron, the Tory leader, voted to lower it to 22 weeks. He also voted for the stupid "father figure" bill.

Now, there is no real reason to vote for this. It is not a medical issue. It is not something our doctors have a problem with, unless they're religious doctors. Since a vote for a lower limit would also be counted as a vote for the 22 weeks, we can rule out Cameron as a religious man hedging his bets. I suspect, too, that Cameron has a smiliar position to Blair on religious PMs (i.e. that we the British public will cease to trust you because you're a nutter, which is true). There is only one message that a vote for a 22-week limit from an aspiring Prime Minister sends out: I Am Willing To Be Persuaded. He won't vote for the very low limits because that will turn off the young women, but it also says to the nutters with their overblown rhetoric and emotional blackmail, as we can see here, that he might be talked into seeing things their way. Reason 20, by the way, is a picture of a foetus-face. I will make a couple of comments on these "reasons": several involve extremely isolated cases of one or two, and one involves surgery in the womb, which must be fucking awful for the woman (yes, there's a woman. The foetus is inside her). Babies can survive at 24 weeks in TOP NEONATAL UNITS such as fucking MINNEAPOLIS. Oh, that's a good idea. Let's just send every pregnant woman to Minneapolis! Fucking hell, this is about British law. Don't bring in bloody Minneapolis. Several reasons are "oh, but it's a baby!" crap, and one of them is that David Cameron supports a cut. Let me explain why.

David Cameron has absolutely no opinions on anything, because opinions are not politically expedient. He certainly has no opinions when it comes to this sort of equal-rights stuff, because some people don't like that and he doesn't want to alienate them. Mmmm... precious votes. My opposition to Barack Obama becoming US President is precisely because he reminds me so much of Cameron, with his vague language and refusal to vote on anything contentious. I once saw a post in support of him comparing his position to that of John McCain, and the first two pro-Obama points were "he has stated no position on this". Classic Cameron. He wants us to believe that he cares about the imaginary babies, but also about the women, which is a fucking lie. Back when he first became leader, he did an interview with Cosmopolitan, in which his reply to all the journalist's questions about women's issues was basically, "I sympathise, but I'm not going to do anything about it." He informed us that he supported the reduction of the abortion limit to 22 or 20 weeks, and that he wasn't planning to do squat about rape crisis centres (my city doesn't even have one) because "we don't have the budget." Look, asshole, if Boris fucking Johnson can find the budget for THREE new ones in London, you can do something about cities without any, OK? Since then, Cameron has not made abortion or equal rights any part of his agenda, waiting instead to jump on the bandwagon of someone like Nadine Dorries. This way, he's not pushing for women to give up control of their bodies, but it slyly shows folks like Cardinal Arsehole that Cameron and the new Caring Conservatives could well be brought around to his point of view.

Ever since Brown took over from Blair, I've been wondering what the hell I'm going to do when an election comes round, because I really don't like Brown. He actually creeps me out, and I don't really trust him. Lies and war and all, it was a reasonably easy decision for me to cast my first ever General Election vote for Blair. Brown? Not so easy. I feel like he thinks of us as being in his way. However, Cameron has made up my mind for me now. I will vote Brown because HE DOESN'T CAST BIGOTED VOTES. He doesn't vote for bizarre throwback amendments demanding that some sort of man be around to help out. He doesn't put himself in this sort of company. He doesn't vote to demand that women give up control of their bodies. Cameron, on the other hand, seems willing to be persuaded that the ownership of a woman's body should transfer over to a foetus until said foetus is done with it. I will not vote for that. It's not even his conviction that that's the right thing to do; he's just happy to allow someone else's convictions to govern his decisions if he thinks it'll get him through that big black door.

Cameron, listen up: I will never, ever vote for a bigot. I will tell everyone I know what a bigot you are, and they won't vote for you either. Your votes have been homophobic and misogynistic, and I cannot and will not support that. If you want any hope in hell of getting my vote, and the vote of young women like me, understand this: It's not a baby, it's a foetus. Until it is no longer living inside the mother, it isn't and should not be considered a baby, from either a legal or political standpoint. Sure, emotionally, it can be a baby, but you are not here to deal in emotional reactions. You are not here to legislate personal ethics. You are here to represent and protect the best interests of the people in your country, INCLUDING WOMEN and not including bloody foetuses (foeti?). My uterus is not a pawn for you to risk in the political chess game. My uterus is not a small sacrifice you may make in order to win more seats. YOU WILL NOT DO THIS. I WILL NOT LET YOU. Last time I wrote about this, I offered the assumption that you were just a nice guy who loves his kids and couldn't imagine not wanting them. I'm still willing to believe that - I'm sure you're basically a nice guy. But you cannot make political decisions based on that sort of fluff. You cannot assume, as I said before, that every man is like you and every woman is like your wife. You cannot think in the sentimental terms of "oh, but it's a baby! Aren't babies lovely!" You may be swayed by technological advancements which can keep premature babies alive, but you're then assuming that any woman who doesn't want said baby can just pop it out at 24 weeks and carry on. No, she can't. She has MONTHS left to carry that thing around. It's painful, it's uncomfortable, it's emotionally devastating for someone who doesn't want a child, and she's stuck with it. Don't chirpily tell her she can just have it adopted. Don't tell her just to hold on when what she really wants to do is scrape it out with a coat hanger. You think she won't? Have you ever known desperation?

When it comes to your vote on the "Father figure" bill, you are out of touch at best and seriously homophobic at worst. A child needs loving parents, but why on earth do they need one of each gender? From what I know of this bill, it comes in part from straight-up gay-bashing and genuine, irrational fear of Child Seeing Gays (stand up, Sir Patrick Cormack), and in part from this strange idea that men are this and women are that. A child needs a woman to give it cuddles and a man to play sports with it, or something. I know it would make things easier for the government, but even if you stretch to name all qualities either masculine or feminine, you will find that in a sample of men and women, none will have all of these qualities and most will have a significant proportion of the other gender's qualities. People don't divide into boxes like that. If you're pro-cute babies, why not allow a couple that really wants one to conceive, instead of forcing a child on a woman who doesn't want one? I assume that as an intelligent man who hopes to run Great Britain would never dare tell a woman that she should have been more careful and must now deal with the consequences. Why can't two women have a kid and raise it together, if they're fully committed to parenthood and the wellbeing of their child? Why not? Why do they have to prove there's a man around somewhere? What is the logic? Seriously, tell me. Then come to your damn senses, you whacking great bigot.

Wow, that was longer than I planned. Next entry will not revolve around my uterus, honest.

Monday, 16 June 2008

My Uterus Is Not On The Free Market

OK, last one today, I promise.

I'm confused by this. Not the article itself, which makes points that need to be made about an issue that makes me very cross. I'm confused by the comments. Why are so many people saying "Oh, but of course we must respect the free market"? The free market protects your right to open up yet another coffee shop, but this isn't bad coffee, this is medical health. You're not a shill, you're providing the medicine that your customers' doctors have decreed necessary for their health. You are not part of that equation and you do not have the right to tell someone that they cannot have the medication they need. I don't understand why anyone, much less a woman, much less a feminist woman, would defend the right to open up a pharmacy that will not give you your medication. This is not about people being able to choose which supermarket they go to or whether they give their money to Starbucks or Costa, this is HEALTHCARE.

Note this:

"We try to practice pharmacy in a way that we feel is best to help our community and promote healthy lifestyles," said Lloyd Duplantis, who owns Lloyd's Remedies in Gray, La., and is a deacon in his Catholic church. "After researching the science behind steroidal contraceptives, I decided they could hurt the woman and possibly hurt her unborn child. I decided to opt out."

He decided. So what if a doctor prescribed it? This guy looked it up on the internet and he decided not to allow women access to their meds! He thinks you can "opt out" of contraception. No, mate, you're a pharmacist. You don't get to do that.

When feminists, of all people, are arguing for this guy's right to "decide" whether or not women get their medication, for his right to throw misleading information around a field in which he is supposed to be expert and trustworthy, his right to try and conform any woman who walks in to his warped idea of morality, we've got trouble, my friends. Right here in River City. I don't think this kind of thing would fly here (the sheer arrogance of "I decided" is enough to put most of us off supporting him), but Americans are having trouble holding on to their legal abortions as it is. Bush has been eroding the abortion laws, McCain will surely do the same and I do not believe for a minute that Obama will be a pro-choice stalwart (I think he's wishy-washy, light on policy and could just as easily be a Republican if he thought that would work better for him - sorry), so I can't see that this erosion will do anything but continue. And with feminists who make noises about the "free market" when it comes to their own health - if a woman needs contraceptives for ovarian cancer, as is one Feministing commenter's experience, and a scary fake pharmacy steals her prescription and sends her away, the fake pharmacy is not just screwing with this woman's health, it's risking her life. A few people on the thread pointed out how rare pharmacies are in some parts of the US, and for some people "I'll just go to another one" is not feasible. And even if the Pill's only use was pregnancy prevention, so what? We're feminists. We should be defending our reproductive rights with every damn ounce of strength we have, not making stupid weak noises about the "free market". NO. STOP IT.

I think we reach a point where we have to stop saying "but I can see both sides of the argument" or "technically under the law it might be possible for them to argue this, and we should respect that". Anti-choicers are rabid. They will make no concessions to our side. They will just yell that we're bad, we're evil, we're baby-killers, we're corrupting society, we're causing all these wars and deaths and tornadoes and things. So why are we trying to see their side? Of course we want to debate more intelligently than they do, but why can we not tell them they're wrong, they're liars, they're hypocrites, they're doing enormous damage with their deliberate use of misinformation? Why do we have to "see their point" and bend over backwards to make cases of gross malpractice like this fit inside the law? Are we that desperate to be seen as reasonable?

I tell you what, I am so sick of this whole "reasonable" thing. The word is a stick with which to beat women. Call us "shrill" or "hysterical" when we disagree and you've won, because then everything we say is born out of irrational feminine emotion and is hence not relevant. We've internalised that we won't be taken seriously if we are seen to get angry at all over any issue, no matter how worthy of the anger that issue may be, and we try as hard as we can to seem reasonable. Mum and I had the TV on while doing the crossword this evening, and we caught part of a show called Mary Queen of Shops, based on the standard TV premise of sending an expert into a failing business and making it work again. The clothes shop under scrutiny was run by a husband and wife team (mainly the husband, with the beaten-down wife on grunt-work duty), and was doing terrifically badly because the man had no idea about clothes. He also wouldn't listen to a damn word anyone else said, and rejected all the expert's plans out of hand. Repeatedly. She, of course, got frustrated. So he, in the voice of a true git, said, "Now, just calm down. Calm down, relax. I'm trying to explain." Any female blogger knows those words. They're "shut up, you silly little woman, and let the big man explain it to you" words. I've seen most episodes of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, and even though he goes ballistic in most episodes, nobody has ever told him to calm down, or relax. Certainly nobody would dare to invite Ramsay into a failing business and say, in impossibly patronising tones, "I'm explaining it to you, so you'll understand." I've seen people who think they know how to run their own business better than Ramsay would, but I've never seen anyone who thinks they can teach Ramsay a thing or two about cooking. Eventually the git gave in, the expert did her thing and of course made it eight million times better, but I got the sense that the git would have almost preferred to go bankrupt, just so as not to be bested by a woman.

This is what we're up against. We can't be "reasonable" because we are not in a world full of allies. We are in a world full of men who would happily throw our rights away, and powerful but stupid women who would happily help because they don't seem to understand that no exception would be written in for them (I don't get these women. Help would be appreciated). We have to fight loud and hard, and it's not even for progress. It's for the privilege of staying where we are. We're not making hard-won advancements, we're struggling with hard-won stagnation. In the interests of managing, if not reducing, sexism, feminists have to come out in defence of women they despise. I have found myself defending both Ann Widdecombe and Ruth Kelly, both of whose views conflict on almost every level with mine (Ann Widdecombe bothers me on a personal level as well, whereas Ruth Kelly's track record on issues of equality and reproductive rights just make me nervous), and several American feminists talk about the sad necessity of defending someone called Ann Coulter, who is by all accounts rather mad and one of the powerful but stupid women I mentioned earlier. We not only have to defend these women, we have to watch out for opportunities to defend them, because we know how pervasive and insidious sexism is. We also know that we can't be weak about it. We have to make people listen to us, we have to stand up for our cause at every opportunity, we have to fight like hell. We all know this. So why are we so concerned with seeming "reasonable" to the point of defending medical malpractice that runs totally contrary to our belief system? Why are we allowing some man to "decide" which healthcare we are and are not permitted to have, with no medical training at all? Why are we amused by them, calling them "stupid and wrong" in the same dismissive way that we talk about people who used to bully us at school, instead of using more serious words like "dangerous" and "malpractice"? I learnt a harsh lesson when the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican churches over here noticed the power that their counterparts in the US had and started digging in their heels for a little piece of that here (letters to the Times from various reverends state that all this talk by the bishops of Christian-hating and marginalising from the government and the public is rubbish and they haven't noticed anything of the sort). If it happens anywhere in the Western world, it can happen everywhere in the Western world. And when it's happening in your own damn country, you cannot afford to sit back and say "free market". My uterus is not to be negotiated by the church, the government, my family or even my partner, and it sure as hell is not on the free market. Read that guy's speech again. He's denying women their medication because he decided to. The decision isn't his to make, but we're letting him make it anyway. He decided, and we let him.


This is extremely good. I also want to be sure that I have it linked so that I can go back and read all the links in the article. There's never enough to read these days if you're some sort of word monster like me.

Useless Information from the Big Wide Internet

Apparently Himmler has an IMDb page. I'm not sure if I find this amusing, disturbing or just plain weird. Is IMDb expanding into war criminals or was Himmler just in a lot of films? I haven't looked at the page - I'd almost rather not know. Partly because it's funnier, and partly because a glitzy database of actors and filmmakers doesn't seem like the right place for a Nazi.

I learnt this from a little news item about The Sound of Music, which I've always had a soft spot for. Apparently someone is planning to turn the real Baron von Trapp's house into a hotel, and Himmler used to live in Baron von Trapp's house (presumably not whilst von Trapp was still there). So for numerous reasons, turning it into a hotel is inappropriate. I agree that it's inappropriate, but I sort of want to go there now. Well, mainly I want to march round the fountain singing, but then I'm terribly juvenile, as we all know.

Also in Creepy House Information, the house that Heath Ledger died in was the models' apartment in season (sorry, cycle) two of America's Next Top Model.

The Internet is weird.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

An Epic Rant: Tad Safran is Tosspot McGee

Tad Safran just wanted to remind me that he is a useless tosspot.

I don't know why he bothered, since my memory of this is still pretty strong in my mind (Safran argues that British women just don't spend enough money making themselves look like eighteen-year-olds, is horrified about being set up with a woman he deems insufficiently attractive and is more horrified still that this ugly beast might still need to be sold on the good qualities he insists that he has - I think I may segue on to this piece, because it reads like a self-parody), but just in case, he informs me here that equal pay for men and women is "inherently unfair". The piece, if you're link-phobic, is written as a conversation of sorts between Tosspot McGee and a "reader". On the one hand, yes, get a woman in to argue with him, but on the other, get a journalist. And if she is a journalist, why isn't she credited as such? Lord knows. It seems to be a series, too, as another link on the side says "Tad and Molly: Why Women Are Sluts and Men Are Studs." I didn't have the stomach to click on it.

So anyway, let's humour him for a minute. Why, Tad, is it unfair to pay women the same as men? Why is it unfair to men, corporations and the economy in general? Do tell.

"Well, in most industries, there is a period of training, which is at considerable expense to a company. With male employees, the expense will be amortised over the next four or so decades because men will work until they die or retire. The majority of women will choose to stop working after a decade or so and the money spent on their training will be thrown out with the dirty nappies."

No, seriously. That's what he says. We should pay women less because some of them have babies and it's a waste of training. He makes no further points in the rest of the article, except to claim that men still "pay for" women (hence, they need more money) and then as his final line, says "I'm starting to think you get paid by the word." Oh God, yes, won't these women just shut up? And isn't he witty! I so want to shag you now, Tad.

I could make several arguments against what he's saying. So let's do that.
1. Tad is living in the 1950s. Men don't stay in the same job (and certainly not in the same company) for forty years anymore. Everyone chops and changes, quits for a better offer, decides it's not for them after all and trains to become a tennis coach instead.

2. Perhaps Tad intends to lock his imaginary wife up in the house with the dirty nappies, but most women actually, y'know, go back to work again. If we go with Tad's theory that the majority of women leave work after a decade, most of them don't stay at home with a thirty-year-old child wondering why they're still changing nappies. We go back, so as not to waste the corporations' precious time and money.

3. What, I wonder, would Tad's reaction be if women agreed to give up having kids in exchange for equal pay? If Tad wants a baby, he can grow one in a damn test tube. I sincerely hope Tad doesn't want a baby, because how fucked-up will that poor kid be?

4. Tad wants to know if it's fair that male and female docotrs are paid the same, since female doctors are more likely to go part-time. Tad, mate: Do you honestly want to be operated on by an underpaid surgeon? What if she is full-time and has been damned by your "all women are the same woman" theory? What if she is insufficiently attractive (use Tosspot McGee scale to determine) to catch herself a rich workaholic husband? What if she has to work eighty-hour weeks to keep herself afloat? Do you want to be cut open by that woman? I'm giving Tad the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he doesn't think women can't be surgeons, more for my sanity than anything else.

5. If a man opts to become a stay-at-home dad, can we ask for some of our money back? After all, he, by virtue of being male, cheated us into thinking he would work FOREVER, and now he's not.

6. Tad says men pay for women. Tad also says that the American women he knows spend about £850 a month all told on beauty and fitness, and remarks with disgust that the British women he knows don't even spend £700 a year on that stuff. Once again I am proud to be British, but Tad cites as an example the old "well, women don't pay in restaurants" schtick. If Tad is spending £850 on women's meals in a month, he's even more fucking pretentious than I thought. Also, if I went out to dinner with him, I wouldn't fucking pay either. He would a) have expected me to spend that much looking attractive enough for him to be seen with (his equivalent is "putting on a clean shirt") and b) have already cost me about half my IQ from having to listen to him all night. As we learn in the last line, Tad isn't keen on women getting chatty when he has some VITALLY IMPORTANT MAN-KNOWLEDGE to impart to the silly little women.

7. Tad is a whiny, entitled little ass who knows full well it makes no difference whatsoever to him if the woman he's arguing with in the article (whose responses I haven't copied out because she is mostly just telling him he's a useless fucker, which is fair enough) is getting paid the same amount he is. It makes no difference whatsoever to him or any of the rich idiots that he knows if everybody operates on the same scale of pay. He knows that, and he's not arguing from any objective position of fairness. He just likes having that superiority. He likes to know that he's earning more than his date, because it means his opinions are worth more and he doesn't have to listen to her. Entitled little brats like to remain entitled little brats, and he doesn't want any uppity woman coming along and reminding him that he's not that special.

As we move on to the earlier and most amusingly parodic of the two articles, I remind you that were Tad not earning more than the women he dates, were he not more so-say successful than them, he would have much less of an inbuilt 'right' to demand that women devote all their time, money and energy into being sexually attractive for him. Well, American women already do that, he notes with approval, but then they spoil it by being - gasp! - shallow. How on earth do you manage to spend £850 a month on your looks and not be shallow (or, at least, Tad's version of shallow)? Let's look at this, shall we?

We start off with: Bridget Jones is soooooo gross. And I bet all you women reckon that you're going to have Hugh Grant and Colin Firth fighting over you, right? Well, you won't, because you're all gross too. Ha! Take that!

Then we move on to: eighteen-year-olds are hot. Why don't you stay eighteen? That's what I'd like. Stupid bitches. I sense that none of this article was directed at me, because I never resembled the "sublime rose" he describes in tones that are, frankly, gross for a man twice the age of these girls. "They dressed as if there would be a prize at the end of the night for the girl wearing the least" says Tad, dreamily. Ooh, yum. Women are Tad's shiny, naked objects. Then he goes to America and comes back and horrors! The gorgeous women have been eaten by fat lager-swilling slobs! No, seriously, that's what he says.

We get into what Tad considers to be "standard beauty maintenance" and a "simple and sensible investment in [a woman's] future". Here's what he lists:
haircut, highlights, manicure, pedicure, waxing, tanning, make-up, facials, teeth whitening, military fitness, spinning sessions, vikram yoga, Pilates, deep-tissue sports massage, personal training, the occasional spa day, a week-long “bikini boot camp” in Mexico at the start of every summer and seasonal splurges on personal shoppers and clothing. Apparently all his female friends in America do all this. I think that's bullshit, largely because I find it hard to believe he has any female friends at all.

Then comes my favourite bit: Tad's disastrous date with a woman not groomed to his exacting standards. "Now, I'm not saying I'm the greatest prize out there..." says Tad modestly, sort of ruining it by making clear in the rest of the article that yes, that is exactly what he's saying. Remember the list of all the things women were supposed to spending money on as he says " least I'd put on a clean shirt, shaved and brushed my teeth." Brushed your teeth, Tad? Brushed? Ooh, big spender. Anyway, apparently this girl (whose name he has kindly changed) used to be stunning, but now had the audacity to not be dressed like a slut, not be a gym bunny and not smell the way he would prefer. "I was hurt," says Tad, "that my friends thought I'd be remotely interested in Sophie." He was hurt! Guys, you hurt him! Setting him up with a nice woman like that! How could you! Then one of his friends attempts to show off Tad's successes to Sophie, in order, I assume, to demonstrate that they weren't just competing in a reality show called Who Can Set Up Their Friend With The Biggest Git. Tad, outraged: "I could not believe it. She was selling ME to HER!?" Yeah, I'm totally with him. I mean, obviously she was a moose (I know because Tad told me, in euphemistic language that was presumably meant to be funny), how dare she not grab on to ANY MAN who comes her way? How dare she have standards? I also think it's fairly clear that he was acting like the Biggest Git and the friends felt that some selling of this horrible tosser was needed. He informs us snottily that Americans don't touch carbs after 2pm, which is why everyone in the States is married and nobody in Britain is. It's also why the States is renowned for being the thinnest nation on earth and not at all characterised by the words "fat" and "stupid". He actually blames carbs for Sophie's single status, as opposed to the fact that her friends obviously hate her and keep setting her up with horrible people.

Tad, ever the egalitarian, does go on to blame the friends (well, the woman, as is only right)... for not "managing his expectations, whatever the fuck that means. He calls Sophie an "orc" which might be the least clever insult I've ever seen in print. He then compares Helena Bonham-Carter to Michelle Pfeiffer, calling them "equivalent". Erm, no, dear. There is no such thing as an "equivalent" to Helena Bonham-Carter. He quite hilariously implies that you never see American celebrity women looking rough. Tad lives in a very strange world.

It's all the fault of British parents, of course, for not shaming their little girls about their looks. Tad then talks about going for a manicure (HA! I'm sorry, men can get manicures if they want, etc, but HA!) and nobody wanting to talk to him. Of course they didn't, you asswipe. You were in fucking Britain and you were a creepy man trying to talk to strangers in a manicurists'. You claim to have lived here since you were three - have you learned nothing? We don't DO THAT. Who knows, they might have recognised you. "Oh, fuck, it's Tosspot McGee. Pretend you're Cantonese, quick."

It's also our friends' fault, because we're nice to each other. We don't tell our friends they look like shit, or need to lose weight, or are wearing clothes we don't like. First of all, I have very English friends who have done all three of these both to me and to other people. And no, I wasn't fucking grateful, and you know why, Tad? You know why? BECAUSE I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK. I don't care if you think I'm fat, or unattractive, or dressed badly. I just couldn't give a shit. I'm terribly sorry. When you go on to say that yes, we like shoes, but men don't care about shoes, WE DON'T CARE IF YOU CARE ABOUT SHOES. I have never in my life put on a pair of shoes and thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if these will make me more attractive to that git over there." I've never even thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if my partner will like these shoes." Hear that, Tad? I have never in my life bought shoes with a man in mind, and I don't know any woman that has, unless her man is a fetishist. We may think, "I wonder if he'll like this extremely hot piece of lingerie" (answer: yes. Every time, yes. Even though I've never been to a spinning class in my life), but a lot of us don't even care what you think of our clothes, and we certainly don't care what you think of our shoes. Shoes are for us, not for you, hence all the time and money we selfish Brits spend on them.

It's also just as off-putting if you're absolutely perfect except for one minor flaw. So, Tad, if that's just as off-putting, why should we bother at all? We obviously can't bring ourselves up to your level.

Tosspot McGee concludes by reassuring us British girls that we're miles ahead in the personality stakes, and devotes several misogynistic paragraphs to talking shit about the American women he was praising to the skies at the beginning of the article (remember that? All the way up there? I am pissed off today, I tell you). They're vapid, they have no social skills, they ask too many questions, they're annoying and confrontational and think sleeping with men makes the sexes equal (Tad sniggers a little, because of course nothing could make a woman equal to him), they're grasping, they're shallow, they've all got new faces from the plastic surgeon that they lie about. Ew.

He assures us that we're wonderful, we really are, "[b]ut when it comes to making the all-important first impression, do you really want it to be, “I’ll bet she was really hot ten years ago”? I couldn't give a fuck, Tad. I couldn't give a fuck if your first impression of me was "Ugh, fucking hell, that's a moose and a half." I'll say it one last time: WE AREN'T DOING IT FOR YOU, YOU ODIOUS PIECE OF CRAP. I don't wear make-up in the hope that some loser will think I'm hot. I am not going to starve myself so that some man who thinks he's entitled to a hot girl will think he's entitled to me. Also, your standards are YOUR fucking standards. Most men (I can generalise too) can't think of anything worse than a woman who spends a grand a month on her looks. No woman has to spend a grand a month on her looks to be thought of as hot. Poisonous people like you (and you are poisonous, Tad) try to convince us that we have to do it, no man will want us if we don't do it, but I've discovered the big secret: It's a huge fucking lie. My partner doesn't care if I've waxed or not. He doesn't notice if I put on a few pounds. He doesn't care how nicely-shaped my nails are. Unwaxed, period-bloat, straggly-haired, naked-faced me doesn't repulse him at all; he seems to quite like it. None of this stuff matters to most men. And frankly, if he did tell me to wax, I'd tell him to go first. It's taken a long time learning, and maybe I'm not quite there emotionally, but the logic stands, Tad, that I don't have to do squat to be attractive to men. Nor does this Sophie you were so scornful of. I can guarantee you that out there somewhere are several men who know her and think you're absolutely nuts. WE DON'T HAVE TO TRY. And when we do try, it ain't for you. We buy nice shoes because they make us feel good. We're more likely to put on a face full of make-up for other women than for you.

It upsets me that Tosspot McGee wrote all this, snark potential aside, because I remember being in a place where his words would have stung me, and perhaps he would have been successful in convincing me that I should "take better care of myself" and try to mould myself into his vision of attractiveness, and I am so grateful that I didn't see this then. It upsets me now because so many women still are. And he knows it, the nasty little tosspot. He knows he can convince women to change for him if he can get them to believe that he deserves to get what he wants. If he can pass himself off as someone so utterly wonderful that all women are throwing themselves at his feet - and thereby stand in for all men, who all expect this kind of care and attention to looking the way you're told to look - he can make us believe that he has all the power and we have none. Men like Tad look at the world as if there's only one bachelor left and all the hot women must compete for him. Women like me must stand atop Tad's roof and scream, "IT'S A LIE!"

And I have. My fingers are bloody exhausted.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

It's Not Just Me

Other people are annoyed by whingeing bishops too. I was gratified to see that several vicars had written in to the Times to say that they aren't being persecuted at all and these people are being daft. On the negative side, if the ordinary ministers aren't feeling it, another mark has to go in the "We Want More Power" column. Sigh.

I have some more substantial ideas for posts all ready, but they might need some work. Hopefully tomorrow I can provide some fun quiz facts.

Sunday, 8 June 2008


I found this lying around on a comments page:

"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits." - (MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)

It has been made clear to me on multiple occasions that this Chris Matthews person is a bigoted craphole, as evidenced by "the women like this war" (who are "the women"? The strange and shady group lurking in the shadows with their love of war and their need for diamond-buying heroes). However, I will have to agree that generally speaking, we can think of nothing worse than being governed by a "hero".

In other news, I am fifty pages into my script and terribly conflicted about it. I don't write action. I'm not an action girl. Since my stuff revolves around people and not exploding buses, I have yet again forgotten to put in any actual happenings. Dammit. I must finish it though, rubbish or not, because I need to get these damn characters out of my head and work out a basic plan for NaNo, which I know is months away, but I'm going to try going in with a plan this time. I win when I know what I'm doing, or someone else has given me an idea. Winging it doesn't work for 50,000 words and I should know that by now.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Sex and the City and Me

First of all, what happened to the font? It changed. I didn't ask it to. Stupid Blogger.

In small news, there will be spoilers. I warned ya. I went to see Sex and the City despite not watching the TV series ever. Because I'm such a gore-and-violence wimp, I have to jump on pretty much anything else if I want to go to the cinema. I quite liked it, but at the same time it kind of depressed me.

OK, the likes. I liked seeing a film about women. I like seeing a film about women who look like actual people (if very attractive actual people) as opposed to the sort of waxy idols you usually find yourself watching. I liked all the insane clothes. I really liked them all piled on the bed listening to Walk This Way while Carrie tried on a load of her old clothes. I liked the little dig at the iPhone, which looks daft to me. I liked Samantha's story arc. I loved that she bought the dog because it humped things.

The dislikes. Small ones first. The bag Carrie bought for her assistant was beyond gross. I'm sorry, but if she's an extremely poor label fanatic, get her a classic bag. Don't get her a nasty pink/purple/gold piece of ick. I know she loved it, but ew. I didn't like either of Carrie's wedding dresses. Even I, with my extremely limited knowledge of the show, know about her normal taste in clothes. Nicely put, it's 'eclectic', otherwise, it's 'bonkers'. All the Vogue wedding dresses were nasty, but the one she chose was big and white and boring. Yes, she wore a bird in her hair, so what? And when she actually did get married, it was worse. It was boring, it was matronly, it was a bad length on her, and considering how big a deal they make out of Carrie being a label queen, it seemed wrong to me that she got a 'no-name' dress. Even with a pair of blue shoes, it was boring.

I didn't like Big at all. His acting was wooden, his character was stilted and unsympathetic, and were his eyebrows always that pointy? It was really distracting. He looked kind of evil all the way through.

More seriously, I didn't like that the only couple not to break up at some point were barely ever seen together, and I really didn't like that Miranda and Carrie both forgave their errant men. One sleeps with another woman (which everyone else in the film makes out to be not much of a problem), and one pisses off and abandons her at the altar, and they get forgiven because love is all great and stuff. Oh, and it was kind of the woman's fault too, y'know, for not having sex enough and for wanting a big wedding.

I mean, I get that if your partner goes off sex it must be frustrating. But the film was striving to inform me that Miranda had to take some of the responsibility for Steve's cheating. Why? Why did we have to hear "you didn't give me much of a choice" so many times? I have zero tolerance for cheating at the best of times, but if my partner cheated on me and then tried to blame it, in whole or in part, on what I was or wasn't doing, I would kill him. If my friends tried to tell me it was no big deal and I should stop being such a drama queen, they would be in huge amounts of trouble. I get that they have a long history, and a child, but I just do not understand the mindset that adultery is less bad or less significant if you've been together a long time. I really don't understand.

And really, forgiving a man for fucking off on the wedding day? No way. Forgiving a man for fucking off apparently because she had a veil over her face and didn't turn around when he would have liked her to? Really? And then blaming that on the big wedding? I just don't get it. If you're going to say that a wedding is 'girls' stuff' and not get involved, don't fucking complain when it's not exactly what you want. He could have said what he wanted (just the two of them at whatever the American equivalent of a registry office is), but he didn't. He left it all up to her then got snotty when she didn't plan what he wanted. He got all weird because she didn't answer her phone on the morning of the wedding, then left because she didn't turn around. How much effort would it have taken to call to her out of the car window? And she actually took some of the responsibility for it. I saw the film with two friends, and when Carrie and Big made up, one of them started clapping in her seat. I was just disgusted (as was Friend Two, who I suspect would chain me up in a cellar and throw wet sponges at me before she'd let me go back to a man who'd done that to me, and that's far more comforting then you'd think).

I left the cinema thinking Is that love? It's OK if he cheats, it's OK if he leaves you at the altar because he's a freak, as long as you love him? I got the impression this was meant to be a liberated viewpoint, as in it's a huge mistake to leave your husband if he fucks up once and marriage can overcome infidelity in these modern times, and look how happy they were once they dispensed with the traditional marriage, but it came across to me like Doormat Central. If a man can get you to love him, he can do what he likes. If a man ever betrays you, it's at least 50% your fault, for not wanting what he wants, or wanting something he professes not to care about but actually has a very specific plan which you must extract from his mind via telepathy. If men aren't happy, they won't tell you. And if you don't use your telepathy and sort it out, they will act out and shake you to your very core and it'll be your fault for not understanding them. I felt lonely, and kind of insecure and scared. I don't believe any of this stuff, but if such a message catches you off-guard when you're in a vulnerable place, when you've gone in prepared to invest a little bit of yourself in the characters' personal relationships, it can worm its way in and throw you off-balance, and it has, somewhat. I don't believe my partner is a cheater, or a leave-you-at-the-altar scumbag maggot, but apparently if he was, this new liberated world would think it was my fault. My wedding dress is too big, my sex drive is too small, I'm too fat, I'm too busy, I'm not busy enough. My fault.

I obviously have the wrong values for this particular film (which, yes, I am taking too seriously. I do that), but is it just these writers, or is it a trend? Am I going to come across more people who think cheating is not a big deal and/or the fault of the cheated-on? Does the world think I have a responsibility to plan the wedding my partner wants without his involvement? Is it me that's wrong? Should I be thinking, "Yeah, sex once, no problem, doesn't have to get in the way"? I don't know.

I'm glad the film was made, and I'm glad it's doing so well, because hopefully it will start to wedge open some doors for more films based around women's friendships, and proper relationships as opposed to Disney for humans, and also because on a superficial level, I did enjoy it quite a lot. But it's shaken me a little, and I wonder if maybe there's some questioning I need to do.

This post has been brought to you by the Maudlin Society. Sarcastic ranting will resume in a few days. Thank you.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Brits for Hillary!

I just want to link this to remind myself that it's not just me who doesn't want to see President Obama. He's the American David Cameron, just catering to a slightly different crowd. And Obama's supporters frighten me. Thank Christ Cameron doesn't have supporters (well, I'm sure he does, but we support our politicians by telling them they're crap, which is much less scary).

Despite every news source telling me that Obama has this wrapped up, I'm still pro-Clinton. I don't have eight hundred policy reasons for this, because I'm British and don't really have to. Quite aside from the fact that Clinton has been portrayed as the kind of uppity bitch I expressed my sympathy for here, Obama worries me. He put me off with his "marriage is between a man and a woman, unless I've been blinded by society's prejudices" thing. He then proceeded to piss me off by saying that the mistake pro-choicers make is to overlook the anti-choicers' 'moral' arguments and that a woman's pastor should be involved in the decision-making process. As you know, religion + politics = Angry Jen. He further went on to shock me by interviewing, quite astoundingly, that he once knew a gay guy but liked him because he "wasn't proselytising all the time". What the fuck, man? He sounds afraid that he might catch The Gay. Oh, and after Bush, I would appreciate a candidate with a basic knowledge of human biology. You can't make people gay, ass. It would be like trying to talk someone into switching gender. Or saying, "oh, go on, grow an extra limb! It'd be great!" You just can't do it. It concerns me that he has such a fundamentally flawed view of the human race, and such an apparent fear of so many of the people he's hoping to govern.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Homophobic? How dare you!

Christian registrars don't want to perform same-sex ceremonies and are complaining that they're being bullied as a result.

"[Ladele] said she was picked on, shunned and accused of being homophobic for refusing to carry out civil partnerships."

This should be fairly obvious, but just in case: She was accused of being homophobic BECAUSE SHE IS HOMOPHOBIC. She claims she was made to feel like a second-class citizen when THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT SHE WAS DOING. I would shun her too, because I don't want to be around someone who uses religion as an excuse to treat other people like dirt. That's her fault, not her colleagues'.

I do not believe that someone doing a job should be able to pick and choose which bits of the job they fancy doing. Christian pharmacy workers should not be allowed to refuse to fill a prescription because they disagree with it. Muslims should not get a checkout job if they don't want to touch pork or alcohol. And no registrar should be allowed to decide who can and cannot get married. Should a racist registrar be allowed to object to an interracial coupling? No. Should a homophobic registrar be allowed to object to a same-sex coupling AND THEN fucking object to being called homophobic? No. Jesus fucking Christ.

I apologise for my overuse of the shift key, but religion should not give you carte blanche to attack those who aren't to your taste, and being a Christian does not make you a special snowflake. This woman is no more and no less of a person than anyone who comes to her to get married, and they come to her for the help she claims to give for a living. I am somewhat tempted, when I get married, to specifically ask for a registrar willing to perform same-sex ceremonies. There will be gay people at my wedding, and I don't want to be united in matrimony by someone who is hostile to them. I wonder, is that discrimination? Would she complain if I rejected her as my officiant on those grounds? Is it acceptable for her to discriminate based on the way people are born but not acceptable for me to discriminate based on her bigotries? It's a shame I don't live in London, because that would be an interesting experiment.

As for her tribunal, I hope she loses. Her manager makes an excellent point but the council representative could well have dug himself a hole with the "she was confused" defence. Simply put, you should be required to do your damn job and flaming hypocrisy such as this must not go unpunished by the cosmos.